Black & White

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So I always thought I was a cat person.  I had no idea dogs – especially puppies – were such wonderful creatures.  I had a dog growing up but since we lived in the country, I spent very little time with her, we never trained her, so she was pretty wild and independent.  We never had a real bond between us… she wasn’t an inside dog, and I never played with her outside very much.  Maybe it started with that little dachshund making it’s way into our garage and us keeping it a few days, trying to return it to whoever lost it.  It was so sweet – so different from a cat – I couldn’t get over it.  No one in the neighborhood claimed her, but she ended up being wanted by an awesome lady who works with my husband!

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But this dog… this little dal… is soooooo sweet.  He has become my new best friend – seriously!

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He goes everywhere with us… loves kids (chases little kids though because they run away… lol must work on that).  He’s friendly!!!  Wants to please!!!!  And oh-so beautiful.

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How to Teach a Boy to Look for a Good Wife

This morning, my son and I were out with the baby shopping for a few groceries.  We’re about to leave for a vacation next week, so we were only there for a quick run-in to buy the few items we need to survive for a few more days.  Lately, I’ve been in such a rush after I get the baby in, our shopping items, and my son is all in, I take it for granted that his seat belt is on, and  try to drive away.  This never happened before the baby!  I always made sure he was strapped and buckled in, but apparently, I’ve lost my mind. :)

My husband has been told about these instances… lol, I always get told-on, which is good, it keeps me accountable.  Whenever I try to drive away without checking if he’s strapped in, our son will now scream at the top of his lungs “I’M NOT STRAPPED IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

… it gets the job done.

He knows, we’ve had the conversation before, that good parents love their children… and part of showing that love is ensuring their safety. Laziness is the opposite of love.  He knows he’s valuable… he knows he deserves to be strapped in when we’re driving.  He’s really mature for a 5 year old.

So this morning, I remembered to ask him before driving away, and he thoughtfully said as we were driving off towards home that if he marries a bad woman that never straps his kids in, he’s going to tell them to scream to be strapped in.  He thinks bad women don’t care about their children, and you know… with all the abortion, child abuse, and neglect, he’s really not off in his thinking. Again… he’s mature for 5.

Hearing him talk about a “bad woman” has mixed emotions for me… 1) I told him that I don’t want him to think of marriage as simply happenstance – that it’s inevitable or unavoidable to marry a bad woman.  I told him that he has choices, that he will have many choices, and will hopefully be able to pick a good wife someday, and 2) the fact that he even thinks knows women are capable of being “bad” is a good thing and makes me proud.  Most men are conditioned to believe that the majority of women are good, angelic and innocent creatures, and have a man’s best interest in mind.  Women, to the contrary, have been proven time and time again, that they mostly only care about their own self-interest, and could care less about the reality, the feelings, and the happiness of men.  Hearing wives and husbands talk about the dynamics of their marriages on the Dr. Laura radio talk show when growing up was a real eye-opener to me – the majority of wives do not care about their husbands, that is the situation of the American Woman.

So since we’re not looking into moving to Europe anytime soon, a major part of raising a son is making him aware of what makes a good wife.  Teaching him the red flags as well as the good attributes are part of responsible parenting, it’s giving him an appropriate education so that he can plan out the course of his life using knowledge to guide him.

Here are some things we talked about this morning, basically it was just asking him to think about what he cares about in his life and future:

1) Do you love God?  Yes, he really loves God… this boy loves church and loves learning about the stories in the Bible.  Sunday is his favorite day of the week.  I asked him if he cares if his children will love God?  Of course he does!  He already talks about “when I’m a dad…”  “when I have kids…”  He’s a planner, and like I said, very mature… he knows he’s going to be the leader of his family someday – and that includes being the spiritual leader.  I explained to him that if these things are important to him, then it needs to reflect in who he looks for as a wife.  A good wife, therefore, according to what he values in life, needs to love God and be a firm Christian.  I do believe that a non-Christian can be a very good wife and mother – it is important for the boy/man to understand what he values

2) Do you care about health and fitness?  Yes!  He is a sports-a-holic, a classic little athlete.  I’ve told him before, many times, that he’s a Triple Threat: he is incredibly handsome, incredibly smart, good at school, and athletic – all these things are what girls tend to love about guys.  He’s even musically inclined and loves to play the drums & guitar.  He’s going to have lots of girls after him more than likely, even in high school.  I told him that since he cares about health, fitness, and exercise, that he needs to look for a girl who takes care of herself – probably a girl who works out.  I told him it may be wise to pick a girl that loves sports because you know she is 1) more than likely taking care of her body, and 2) that exercise and health are probably important to her.  Dance and Cheer leading count here, but almost any female sport is probably a good sign.  I asked him to think about if he’d be ok if a woman he married gained a lot of weight after marriage, or after pregnancy, used it as an excuse to stay fat?  Of course he said no, he doesn’t like how extra weight (fat) looks on women.  He actually really values keeping his own body fit, working out with his dad to Insanity (incredibly).  He gets this propensity to value an athletic physique from his dad and I, and so he’s going to expect his future wife to also value keeping her body attractive and fit.  Before the feminist Fat Acceptance Movement, this was common knowledge that men (and women) prefer muscle tone over excessive fat.  In fact, just a few decades ago, the average female size was much smaller than it is today.  Our great grandmothers understood the value of staying slender – not only because of the way it looked, but because of health reasons they didn’t even quite understand the science behind back then, they simply knew it wasn’t good.  It was not taboo to state that being overweight was bad for one’s health.  The more fit a person is as they age, the less they’ll have to worry about their body falling apart on them – knee problems, joint problems, tears in their ligaments from the extra heavy weight putting too much pressure on their cartilage, joints, and intricacies of the human body.  Quite simply put, we were not created by God to be able to take a lot of extra weight – our bodies (interior and exterior) respond very negatively to it.  Obesity is the leading cause of almost every fatal disease, including cancer as it speeds up the rate of which cancer cells multiply and spread (fat tissue causes inflammation – did a whole research project on this at university).  I asked him if he cares about his kid’s health and fitness?  Of course!  Then when picking a good mother for his children, it is still very important to look for these same qualities of a girl/woman who also values her health, body and fitness as it will carry over into the lessons she will teach his children later in life.  The best lesson, by far, is shown by example, so he needs to pick a wife that will be an excellent example for his future children.  If he loves his children, the kind of mother he picks for them should meet the standards he values for himself, and for them.

A woman who is responsible enough to take care of her health and body, is more than likely also conscientious enough (and wise enough) to be diligent about taking care of other important tasks in life, such as her children’s hygiene, school grades, friendships, etc.  She is less likely to be lazy or undisciplined… the very fact that she is disciplined enough to take care of herself, or exercise regularly, shows that a part of her is mature and responsible, a good steward over what God has entrusted to her.  A good wife is mature and responsible, and diligent enough to take care of herself.

I told him, because of the things he values and cares about, he needs to look for a woman who visibly takes care of herself – someone who takes care to dress herself well, who looks like she puts effort into maintaining a good sense of outer beauty because it accurately reflects how she feels about herself and life in general.  A confident woman relishes feeling good about herself – not in a vain, prideful way, but in a healthy, responsible way.  Like any little boy, he loves and appreciates seeing beautiful women, women who make an effort to make themselves beautiful.

3) He needs to beware of women who will spend money recklessly or carelessly.  I talked to him about how some women stress their husbands out by constantly spending their money, or by being in competition with their friends over cars, houses, and possessions.  I explained that if he didn’t want to be stressed out and in fear of being poor, then he needed to pick a wife that was good with money.  Materialistic girls and women drive their men crazy and undermine their marriage with selfish habits regarding money.  A red flag is a woman who cares more about clothes, purses, shoes, cars etc. than understanding the value of money and investments.  A good wife is a girl he can tell doesn’t care about high end fashion labels, or at least does the hard work of planning & saving before buying something that expensive, as opposed to using her parent’s freely provided credit card that serves to teach her the wrong message about money – that it grows on trees.  The ideal wife is frugal, but even a wife that simply understands self-discipline and self-control in order to save up for her expensive things is better than a wife who pretends she doesn’t understand in order to excuse over-spending.

I’m sure there are many more things for a boy or teenage guy to consider in how to pick a good wife for himself, but this was as far as we got before arriving in our driveway and he was distracted by his puppy!

The Summer Party

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I love throwing parties.  I get so much joy from planning them, making the party food, decorating cakes, having friends packed into our house and backyard, talking, our kids running back and forth screaming excitedly, playing all kinds of games and getting into mischief.  We had a Summer BBQ & birthday party last night that left us all breathless and filled with the deep satisfaction that comes from being around friends you love.

We had armored duels in the hallway… my son’s friends dressed up in his knight costumes battling away….

Boys and girls splashing in the kiddie pool, or jumping and screaming on the trampoline.

One of the older daughters of our friend’s was playing her latest piece she learned on the piano in the sun room… the melody drifted along with all the squeals and screams of delight, shouting orders and instructions of kids playing together as if it was supposed to there, a kind of background music.  It was so loud inside that when I escaped to feed the baby in silence in our bedroom, I could still hear the muffled joyful noise.

Yes, it was such a joyful noise!

There is nothing that I love more than to have our house filled with people we love, kids we love, and see everyone having so much fun together.  It’s the greatest high there is… to be surrounded by friends that are like family.

There was some excitement of course, one of my vases decided to fall and crash randomly onto the floor (from the top of the bookcase no less), but one of my friends & role models took care of it spectacularly!  She competently knew exactly what needed to be done and delegated out tasks to get all the shattered glass up.  She and a man worked together to get the whole crime scene cleared – it was adorable.

BBQ, birthdays, kids, music, friends, and love and family.

If you haven’t thrown a good party yet this Summer, it’s time.

Giving in to Anger, is Gambling with Your Mental Health

“Anger is a distraction,” my mom said, “it’s a person’s way of distracting themselves from the real problems (or pain) in their lives instead of dealing with them.  And you pay a price for it.”

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my mom about why people, especially women (myself included), will often fly into irrational anger – even if they seem responsible, calm, and kind in everyday interactions.  Yes, it’s irrational anger.  To be furious at something that is true, and then to feel the superior prerogative to attack someone out of anger, is irrational behavior.  It is one thing to be angry, it is quite another to lash out at others in your anger.

“And you pay a price for it.”

This is what ultimately is the key to avoiding giving in to unhealthy actions that come from feeling angry.  When my mom was in her 20’s-30’s, she had to learn to deal with her anger, and she admitted to me that she had a lot of it back then.  It was easy to fly into it, to express her anger, and she gave little thought to what expressing it cost her.  In the 1970’s, it was popular psychology to feel confident in expressing your anger or rage.  Now, from recent science on this subject, we actually know that when you express it, your anger doesn’t get better, in fact, it actually gets worse and grows into more and more… anger.  In extreme cases, giving in to your anger can cause abuse or even murder.  Indeed, even Jesus described an angry tongue as being capable of “murdering” someone, how much more so when one is giving in to their feelings of anger in a truly violent way.

It wasn’t until my mom came across a book by Abraham Low, Mental Health Through Will-Training, first published in 1950, that she learned that giving in to anger, is “gambling with your mental health.”

When you feel those feelings of anger or “temper” as Low describes it, your peace and inner solitude are disrupted… you’re rendered ineffective and distracted from accomplishing the tasks of your daily life well.

“You can pay the price of that for days,” said my mom.  It tangles you up, wastes your precious energy, and robs you of your mental strength and health.

***

A large part of being mentally healthy, is to understand how to remain calm, responsible, and how to deal with your own anger.

Dealing with your anger means simply not acting out in it.  It means having self-control.  Humility instead of “intellectual snobbishness” (the desire to show superiority).  To have enough character to behave courteously, friendly… in order to create good will with people you are required to do everyday life with, and strangers you may not know.  Being a mentally healthy person means you take all these things into account, and ACT accordingly.

Yes, being mentally healthy means having wisdom and discernment to know you are obligated to control your actions and behavior.

Being mentally healthy means you do not give yourself permission to lose your temper and lash out in anger against others.  To lose your self-control and pay the price of your peace, the embarrassment, the destructive temper feelings, and the shame that comes when you’re finished giving in to your emotions and realize the damage you caused.

I talk about my mom often on my blog, she was instrumental to a lot of the knowledge I have, and who I’ve become as a woman, wife, and mother to my children.  She really was amazing growing up, always giving advice and beautiful instruction on life.  It is wonderful to still have her here, and yes, she does know about & read my blog.  One of the things she did when we were young was to read a Proverbs chapter a day, based on the days of the month.  I’ll never forget the way she’d read the Bible to my brother and I as we were curled up next to her, and I’ll never forget hearing those words of wisdom as they are still with me.

Here are some of the great verses to remind us what God says about anger and losing our temper:

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.  Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.

Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense.”  Proverbs 10:11-13

***

The lips of the righteous feed many with their instructions….  The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom…. The lips of the righteous know what is appropriate….” Proverbs 10:21a, 30a, 32a

“An evil person is trapped by their rebellious speech, but the righteous escapes from trouble.

A man will be satisfied with good because of the words he chooses to speak....”  Proverbs 12:13-14a

***

“With the words of their mouth, the ungodly destroys their neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued.

Whoever shows contempt for their neighbor lacks good sense, but a person with understanding keeps silent.

“A gracious woman gains honor….  A kind person benefits their own self, but a cruel person brings disaster on themselves.”  Proverbs 11:9, 12, 16a, 17

***

“The thoughts of the righteous are just, but guidance from the wicked leads to deceit.

The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, but the speech of the upright rescues them.

A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible.  

Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right….

There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Truthful lips endure forever….

Those who promote peace have joy.

A righteous person is careful in how they deal with their neighbor….”

Proverbs 12:5-6, 16, 17a, 18, 19a, 20b

***

A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones. ” Proverbs 14:29-30

***

A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out (without self-control) folly.

The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit.

The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge….

A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.

The mind of the righteous thinks before answering, but the mouth of the wicked blurts out evil things.”

Proverbs 15:1-2,4, 7a, 18

***

When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Patience is better than power,

and controlling one’s temper, than capturing an entire city.”

Proverbs 16:7, 32

Single Women – Use Common Sense with Make-Up

A couple of weeks ago, there was a youtube video going around social media of a young woman showing the different responses she had from men regarding how she looked with and without makeup.  A friend sent it to me to see what I thought about it, and wow, was it brutal….

I feel for this woman, I really do.  One of the most important things a woman can do for herself regarding her beauty, is to have the best skincare routine possible.  This means getting rid of any acne.  Yes.  Getting RID of it… in this day and age, there is simply no excuse.

If you have a daughter, it is your job to ensure that she understands how to take care of her skin… it is crucial to her future.  My parents made sure I saw a dermatologist as soon as I started getting a single pimple.  I was given prescriptions and magic potion ointments that gave me gorgeous and flawless skin that I still have today.

I was given knowledge of how to properly take care of my skin.  For a woman, this is paramount to her future.  Acne severely diminishes her attractiveness, even making her look unhealthy or sickly, but with the kinds of ointments and powerful drugs out there, it is no longer an excuse.

Some cases need harsher prescriptions, some need very affordable, light-weight drugs like Tetracycline – extremely affordable, I was able to have clear beautiful skin for $5/month just using Tetracycline.

Mothers, it is your job to teach your daughters to understand how to take care of her skin, but also how men perceive women who over-share their beauty techniques (ie: how a woman hides her flaws, as seen in this video).  It’s not that women can’t have any flaws, it’s that we need to teach our daughters to not be so vulnerable when putting themselves out there.  No one needs to see her beauty tricks if its going to put her in a negative light, this is something that should be kept private as she sorts out how to get rid of her acne (it is doable).

Single women, regardless of it you had a mother who taught you how to use makeup, understand men, or embrace your own femininity, it is now YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to ensure your skincare is under control.

Yes, the men were unnecessarily harsh and cruel to her, but this is the way men feel about a woman hiding her acne underneath perfect makeup.  

They feel lied to.  They think it’s false advertising.  Your daughter needs to know this, she needs to understand that using makeup needs to be done in a tasteful way, and that overall, her skincare (achieving as flawless-skin as possible), is what really matters.  She needs to understand common sense when it comes to men and makeup usage.  They like it, most truly do, but only when it’s not hiding something ugly underneath that they can’t see.  They know makeup makes you look a little better, but they don’t want to feel like you look like a totally different person.

It scares men when you use makeup in this way (and show them your secrets).  It simply does.

Andrew, from The Rules Revisited, did a wonderful article on What Men Think of You Without Makeup that offers some more manly insight!  

From Andrew:

“There is no question that you look better with your hair and makeup done than you do without it. If your boyfriend tells you that you are hotter without it, because he prefers when you “look more natural,” he is either lying or you aren’t doing your makeup correctly. Makeup is designed to make you look better; saying that it doesn’t is like saying that a fresh coat of paint on a house doesn’t make the house look better: it is only true when someone screws up the paint job by using the wrong colors or applying the right ones incorrectly.

In any case, although cosmetics give you an undeniable advantage when it comes to controlling your appearance, they come with the burden of deciding when and where their use is appropriate. The following points explain what men think about seeing you done up or in your natural state, so that you can better choose between the two when that decision proves difficult.

1. He cares about first impressions. We all do. They matter. Initial experiences leave an impression on the mind much deeper than most of those that follow; this is simply the way the human brain works. So make sure you are looking great the first few times you meet him; he will remember it. (Note that I did not say that you should be looking “your best” the first few times you meet him. This is because it is always good to keep a little something in reserve. If your “great” isn’t good enough for him, your “best” probably won’t be either. And even if it were, you would have to be completely focused on your appearance in order to barely keep him interested, making your life a living hell.)

2. He is going to see you without makeup eventually, so don’t make inordinate attempts to avoid being seen bare-faced after the first few dates. By inordinate I mean things like canceling a date because you won’t have time to do your hair perfectly, or completely avoiding a hike with him because full makeup and hair would be inappropriate. I don’t mean spending an hour getting ready for a date. Spending time to make yourself look your best is normal, not inordinate; so err on the side of doing this more frequently rather than less. Just beware that there is an upper limit to the benefit of added effort, since he will see you without makeup eventually.
3. He doesn’t stop wanting to see you done up. There is a misconception among some women that as a relationship develops, a man becomes either (a) less turned on by seeing you done up, or (b) more turned on by seeing you in your natural state. Neither of these are true. In fact, if anything, the opposite is true in both instances, since, as a man grows accustomed to your look, his sex drive starts nagging at him, inclining him to desire other women (though in a good relationship, this is counteracted by emotional investment, time investment, love, etc.) In any case, he certainly doesn’t stop wanting to see you look your best, or grow less disappointed when you reduce the effort you put into your appearance. There is no point at which you can “relax” without implications while you are both sexually active with each other. If this seems unfair, remember the analogy between confidence and beauty: you taking a break from being beautiful for him is like him taking a break from being strong and confident for you. While you could probably sympathize with your man’s desire to relax in this regard, and might even be OK with him showing his weaknesses to you from time to time (see #7 below), you’d prefer to always have him being his strongest, and you wouldn’t be any less turned off by his weakness just because time had elapsed in the relationship.

4. He hates a women whose life is dictated by her appearance. The negative effect of being unwilling to do activities that would require you to not wear makeup (camping, surfing, etc.) by far outweighs the advantage you gain by always being seen at your best – especially considering points #2 and #8.

5. He loves a woman who is confident in her own skin. Confidence is a character trait that both sexes find incredibly attractive in the other (even if women value it more than men) because confidence is rooted in a healthy self-perception and acknowledgement of one’s own self-worth – which all diligent and contentious people have. The attractiveness of your confidence is much more important than whatever advantage you sacrifice by occasionally being seen without makeup.

6. He loves you looking your best during sex. Remember that men are primarily stimulated visually. While there is a certain attraction to being naked with a woman who bares her whole self to you, most of the time a man wants to be sleeping with the hottest woman he can. Again, remember the analogy between confidence and beauty, and consider how you’d feel if your normally confident man man turned into a weak pushover in the sack. I am not saying that you should never have sex without your hair and makeup done. There are some instances in which getting done up just for sex isn’t appropriate, and he’d certainly rather have sex with the “au natural” you than not have sex at all. But when you have the option to get done up, and you find yourself tempted to think “oh, he doesn’t really care” or “we love each other so much it doesn’t matter,” remember this point.

7. There is something intimate about seeing a girl without makeup. When I’ve seen my ex-girlfriends without their hair and makeup done, I’ve had two thoughts: (a) she is less attractive, but (b) it is nice that I get to see this side of her. It is an expression of intimacy – and her confidence – that she can be herself in my presence, and this is worth something. Don’t use this as an excuse to ignore point #3, but allow it to help you if you struggle with point #5.

8. He isn’t expecting you to be as hot without it as you are with it. Men understand that you aren’t going to be as beautiful without your makeup on and hair done. This is expected, and it is factored in to their evaluation of your attractiveness. Yes, there are some women who get more benefit from makeup than others, and it ispossible for a man to be surprised by how much less attractive a girl looks without it. You can avoid falling into this category by understanding your complexion and wearing makeup that is compatible with your natural look; but regardless, know that men definitely hold you to lower standards when you aren’t made up.

A final point is worth noting: a genuinely feminine woman loves looking her best. She takes great pleasure in adorning herself and amplifying her internal beauty via her external beauty. You don’t need to be a supermodel to enjoy this; you simply need to know that you are looking your current best. The more youallow yourself to enjoy looking beautiful, the less you will resent the “need” to do so, and the more comfortable you will feel when you don’t.”

Hot Club Sandwich

Some beautiful music for you!

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I’ve been thinking much on attitude and what we allow ourselves to dwell on… either beauty… or ugliness.

Its so tempting to dwell on what’s ugly – be it a woman who chooses to criticize others, or spectating as women fight with each other and go to gossip sites to find what’s new and ugly so they can dwell on the ugliness.  Perhaps that’s why we are commanded to dwell on what is noble, pure, honorable, just, beautiful and lovely, anything praiseworthy, because God understood that it would be a sinful indulgence.

To fill our hearts with a beautiful attitude that reflects what we’ve been dwelling on is beautiful.

To share the beauty of our lives is an art and divine.

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There’s nothing more beautiful than a happy baby in my opinion.  Happy and full of joy – reflecting God’s beauty in his face, his bright eyes.  Caring for him, in the words of a friend, is my “resume.”  I’m getting to spend my energy instead of in an office cubicle, actually making children into confident, happy, and successful adults – I should be dwelling more on this for myself. :)

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Our garden is growing!  With all the flooding that happened in May and June, our tomato plants have turned into monsters!  The beautiful work of planting, weeding, pruning and harvesting the fruit or veggies is worth dwelling on and relishing!  Being in our garden is just such a wonderful, peaceful feeling.

I understand why God put Adam and Eve in a paradise garden existence… it was to give them beauty.  Beauty that was untouched by sin.

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Lavender has been a great plant for me… I’ve been crushing it into a fragrant kind of potpourri for baths and teas!

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The afternoon sun shining down into our cute little garden.

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Summer Nights Red Lip & Bronzer

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Sorry it’s a bit serious looking, but I was trying to get the full look of a typical Summer Date night make-up look before going out with my husband.  This look is just concealer, BB cream, bronzer, red lipstick, and mascara.  The 5 things I use almost every day and they take less than 5 minutes to apply. I don’t like it when women put layer after layer of powder on… this is truly just 1 Cover Girl concealer in fair, BB Cream that’s like a tinted moisturizer with anti-oxidants in it, bronzer on the cheeks by Milani, Summery red (as opposed to Fall-Winter harsher reds) lipstick, and then L’Oreal mascara.  All drugstore brands – nothing expensive.  Typically when you buy expensive makeup, unless its a unique formula (and there actually are good ones out there), you’re only paying for the packaging.  I’m more interested in actual substance – things that work or have great pigment as I try to keep it as minimalistic as possible, but also chasing after a glam-girl look.

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Playing outside with Super!  Gorgeous dog <3

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In the sunlight you can tell the colors are natural looking.  I’m so pale even bronzer gets washed out in the sunlight unfortunately.  But this is my first Summer in years not ever using a fake tanner on my skin, so you can see my natural skin color.  :)

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And ready to go out!

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All For One & One For All

lawrenceschiller

Recently I had a man who is in charge of the psyche department in my husband’s line of work, ask me personally what I thought would help couples to survive the kind of stress that is put on marriages when the men (or women) go through their intensive training academy.  He said that often the amount of damage that is incurred to the marriage during that period of time is so intense, that even once the men are out and on the street, the “surprises” of that first year or so afterwards are still inflicting pain long after the supposedly painful period is over.  By the time the academy training is over, so much hurt and resentment has typically built up, their marriages often don’t survive much longer, or limp along in pain.

He asked me how his team could help wives of officers in particular, to be able to cope with their husbands’ stresses, changes in behavior or attitude – if I had any ideas about how to help or what would practically help them.  Our marriage and another (where the wife is a chaplain) are two of the best one’s he’s seen personally.  While this made me feel pretty great, I’m under no delusion that we are somehow better, in fact if anything, the great amount of pain and stresses we’d already experienced from outside stresses in our marriage has been what has made us different in my opinion.  Not that we somehow “get it” and others don’t, its that we’ve been through enough that we’d already be divorced by now if we hadn’t been forced to have “gotten it” already.

We talked about some implementable ideas, group talks or presentations that could be done or that I’d be interested in doing, and I told him how a lot of it boils down to helping the wives understand the bigger picture, a broader perspective.  I told him that I believe things come in seasons.  There are simply different seasons in life – even though it may feel like a particular season of pain or suffering will never pass, the truth is that it inevitably will, and that one mental shift in attitude can change one’s entire perspective on pain and suffering in life.  Understanding and having the maturity to foresee beyond your particular circumstances at the moment, the capability to visualize your life, who you want to be, your marriage in 5 or 10 years, is an ability that I learned a long time ago.

Another thing I’ve noticed in marriages, and he generally agreed, was that resentments, anger, and bitterness will only continue to build up if the couple is stuck in a cyclical way of thinking that the other is purposefully hurting them or out to get them.  When my husband was in the academy, it was the most stressful time in his life to date.  His instructors were cruel and mean, even bordering on (at times in my opinion) sadistic in causing the men and women extra stress.  Their one goal was to beat them down until they failed or gave up and walked away.  They frequently said that they wanted their worst day to be at the academy, and they made good on their promise.  The few that remained at the end of the 7 1/2 months were the ones who fought for their position and honor.

Being a supportive wife during this time, while also a mother to a toddler and a full-time working woman was a juggling act to say the least.  My husband was gone… his physical body came home at night to rest and sleep, but mentally and emotionally he was just gone.  He was under the greatest amount of psychological stress he’d ever endured at that point in his life, and I was his only wife – the only one there to ensure he had all he needed resource-wise to make it through.  I would get up early at 5am, spend time with God, make breakfasts, pack lunches, get my son ready for his daycare school, then take him to school, spend all day at work, pick my son up from his school, care for him alone in the evenings, make dinner, greet my exhausted and mentally drained husband, then he’d put our son to bed, and we’d relax or study together.   Allowing him to go through this season with grace was ultimately what helped him the most, instead of nagging him, complaining about his exhaustion, lack of help with our child, the household chores, etc.  Giving him grace during this time when both of us were feeling the stress on our marriage, while keeping the perspective that it was only a season kept things calm for awhile.

They had uniform inspections everyday, their uniforms had to be ironed and starched to perfection, a piece of lint was enough to get them punished brutally as a group, so to help him, I would iron his uniforms every night.  It was here that our marriage started to experience turbulence.  Since I’d volunteered to help him with his strict uniform expectations, I would do it at my leisure… which meant sometimes the night before, sometimes the morning of, I always made sure I was done with them by the time he needed them at 5:30am.  But due to the immense stress of being late – they threatened to fire men and women who were late, and they were serious – he grew to resent my lackadaisical approach to his freshly pressed uniforms.

I’d never seen this side of my husband, angry, demanding, even shifting into a blaming attitude – we had some heated fights where we both accused each other of being unreasonable.  He actually thought I was trying to make him fail and told me so.  I thought he was being insanely unappreciative and controlling, and thoroughly enjoyed threatening him with doing his own uniforms on top of everything else he had to do.  We had one big fight about it, and in the middle of fighting I suddenly understood what was happening.  He felt too much pressure and was terrified of being late and getting fired when I waited to do his uniforms in the morning.  For him, the fact that I refused to do them at night when he preferred they’d get done, meant that I didn’t love or care about him.  I asked him if this was what really was bothering him, and he admitted that it was.  He wanted me to do them the night before so that he didn’t have to watch me doing them when he passed by in the morning and have that anxiety that I might not finish in time (even though I always did).  Merely watching me do them was stressful enough to cause him extra anxiety – anxiety that he didn’t need on top of everything else.  I realized that loving him meant helping him to feel the least stress possible, he was already undergoing severe psychological stress – why add to it when I could actually alleviate the problem easily.

We sat down and talked like mature adults do who want to work together… and figured out what would solve the problem.  I conceded to do his uniforms at night because I loved him and didn’t want him to feel extra anxiety in the morning, and he continued to love and cherish me at night to ease my own anxieties of feeling like a single parent – we were in it together, and for the long haul of it.  A major shift for both of us was realizing that the other was not trying to cause pain, but that we weren’t communicating effectively or lovingly in our actions towards each other.

Yes, communicating with our actions.  In his mind, he was already sacrificing everything… his physical and mental strength for our family, and still coming home to try to help me with our son.  He was giving literally all he had to give and more at the end of the day.  Him asking me to do his uniforms at night and my actions – brushing him off and refusing to just because I knew I could get them done in the morning – were unloving to him because it caused him extra stress.  My meeting his request with an unloving action – doing his uniforms in the morning when he was trying to be calm before leaving – had him returning with unloving actions until we were fighting like cats and dogs.

Breaking the cycle was me realizing what was really bothering him, realizing that my attitude needed to be loving him in the way that he wanted and appreciated – not in the way I thought he should want or appreciate.

Unloving means it’s all about me, for me, and on my time.  Loving is all for one, and one for all.