some advice for sleep-lovers

If you don't know this about me: I am a sleep-lover. Like, LOVE to sleep, if I don't get at LEAST 8 hours I'm a grump, sleep-lover. In college I learned the hard way the importance of sleep when I got mono [but that's another story for another day, I suppose]. After the mono occurrence my sophomore year, I was not your typical college student when it came to sleep. Sure I still would sleep in until noon if my schedule allowed, but I'd try to be in bed for sure by midnight most nights [I know, I KNOW, that's not early but COLLEGE?! Yes, it's early]. I'm not a big napper, but if I don't get at least 8 hours, you better believe I'm willing to rock the nap if I can.

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I can stay up decently late [read: rarely if ever past midnight], but typically I'm in bed by 10, 10:30 at the absolute latest. If I have to get up any time before or near 7, those nine hours of sleep BARELY seem like enough. Most days I get a solid ten hours. And still don't want to get up in the morning.

Some may see this as lazy. I think it's just part of my makeup.

But I promised advice, so here it is:

If you are a sleep-LOVER, especially to the degree described above, you should marry someone who is not.

Now before you get all up in arms and shout, "But EVERYONE likes sleep to SOME degree!" let me clarify: marry someone who can function normally on about 6-7 hours of sleep per night MAX.

Why? Well here are some of the biggest perks:

1. Your spouse will let you sleep in on the weekends while he/she tends to the kids for awhile. Jr. wakes up at 8? Not a big deal to them. They can pop right out of bed and have pancakes flying in no time while you're still trying to remember what day it is and who you are.

2. You always get to maximize your sleep time because they don't mind showering first. You both need to be out the door by 7:30? He or she pops up at the first sound of the alarm and is through the shower and fully dressed before you even realize you've hit the snooze five times.

3. They can perform errands etc. to save you time, therefore allowing you to sleep in. They get the coffee going and take your car up to the gas station to fill it up for your commute to work, all before your feet hit the ground and you realize that somewhere in your slumbering you lost a sock.

Now, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't talk about a few of the downsides, just to be fair:

1. Your non-sleep-LOVING/needing [because let's face it, for you it is a NEED] spouse will make you feel like a bum. Not because they say that to your face [or let's hope they don't anyway, cause then you may have entirely different problems], but because they have clocked a ten to eleven mile run and eaten breakfast and showered before you've even gone to the bathroom or put a bra on.

2. If you are running late for something, it is inevitably ALWAYS going to be your fault. Seriously, it will be. Just take the blame as graciously as you can and know that those 10 extra minutes of sleep were worth it [usually].

3. You don't really ever get to use the excuse, "I'm tired." Just trust me on this one. It may backfire. Don't believe me? Okay. Try it. Tell your spouse that got 6 hours of sleep last night and then got up with the kids two hours before you did that you're tired. See what happens. [Unless you're pregnant: then that trumps everything and you can dance through the house shouting "I'm tired! I'm tired! I'm creating human life!" and there won't be a thing he can do about it ;)].

Now for those of you sleep-LOVERS that have already married another sleep-LOVER. I'm sorry. I really am. I'm sure there is a constant battle over who gets to grab a few extra zzz's on Saturday after the kids are up, and I'm sure the battle for the second shower is an intense one. When Brent and I lived in Kentucky I had a longer commute than he did, plus I had to be at work earlier. This meant some days he was still asleep when I left. I remember telling him that so many times when I tiptoed through the dark and then bent down and kissed him and told him goodbye, I was literally SO MAD at him. Because he was sleeping and I WAS NOT! He could not stop laughing when I told him that. But it was the truth. The rolls are reversed now, and I don't know that he has ever resented me for being asleep when he tells me goodbye.

So again I say: marry a non sleep-LOVER. Just trust me on this one. You'll be so thankful you did.

And I will leave you with this:


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security blankets

Blythe has this blanket. Her "bankie". She got it as a baby gift, and around four months old when we stopped swaddling her, she immediately became attached to the thing.

We soon referred to it as her magic blanket.

We tried to find other blankets in case something happened to THE blanket, or it needed to be washed during a nap time or something, and we found two that were nearly the same. But they weren't exactly the same so they just wouldn't do.

At a certain point in time, we had to cut her off a bit. She only got her blanket when she went to bed, and sometimes in the car. Of course, if she got hurt or was sick or something set her off and she couldn't calm down…out would come the magic blanket.

To this day, when it is bedtime we give her her blanket and she snuggles in and falls right to sleep. She doesn't need us there. But she needs her blanket.

I was thinking the other day about this "security" of hers. When we drop her off in the nursery at church and she is a little hesitant, we hand her her blankie and she is fine. It comforts her.

And I thought, "How silly would it be if every adult had something like that they had to have with them wherever they went?" Like what if you walk into a meeting with your boss and he's holding his teddy bear, while you drag your blanket behind you?

It's a ridiculous thought, isn't it?

But then I realized: we all still have our own security blankets, they are just harder to recognize once you're an adult.

Some people place their security in their job. Others in their money. Some in their families. Some place them in their possessions, or their home, or their health. Still others place their security in whatever addiction they have because they feel like they are in control of it.

I remember in college hearing a sermon in which the pastor talked to us about our need to feel safe all the time. How this desire for constant safety leads us to be tempted by fear and self-control: we are either in a perpetual state of fear, feeling our safety is being threatened, or we try to micro-manage every facet to feel like we have everything under our control.

And so we make things our security blankets. And then we turn these security blankets into our idols. And then we try to control them. And when we can't control them, we are afraid.

I was reminded of this again when I was reading Jonah the other day. While he is in the belly of the great fish, having already run from God, Jonah realizes: "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. " 

I know Blythe will outgrow her security blanket at some point.
But I wonder when I'll trust God enough to get rid of mine?
Am I ready to stop forfeiting the grace that could be mine?

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the best kind of weekends

Last weekend Brent and I made the trip up to Wisconsin to visit my college roommate, her husband, and their two kids. We left around five on Friday and didn't get to their house until almost midnight. But did that stop us from sitting up and talking until 1:30? Heck no!

They asked if I would snap a few pics before I left-- when they are this cute! Of course! :) 

Renae was truly a Godsend in college. Something just worked with us and we easily could live with each other: even if it meant I had to tolerate her 53 naps she took a week, or her blue-tooth talking she did, and even if it meant she had to tolerate how loudly I typed and how infrequently I showered. It just worked.

And then she got married. And I got married. She moved to Chicago. I moved to Louisville. We still made the effort to get together once or twice a year. And low and behold, our husbands fell in love with one another too! It just kept getting better!

Then she moved back home to be close to her family and start a family. Then I moved back home to be close to my family and start a family. And we still have managed to make the 6ish hour drive once or twice a year…though it is proving harder with children!

We are always able to jump right in where we left off. Don't you love friendships like that? You don't have one? Go get one right now! This weekend we kept it simple: they made us breakfast, we lounged around, the guys took the kids for a walk, we talked and talked and talked. It was Renae's birthday, so Saturday evening her parents came over and watched the kids and we went out. The four of us hardly knew what to do with ourselves. Yes, they get time to themselves occasionally, as do we. But to be out with great friends! Kid free! For an entire evening! Renae couldn't handle the endless possibilities so we went to one place and got a cheese fondu appetizer and then hit the road and went to another! Because we were in Wisconsin we got cheese curds for our second appetizer at the second place and, let me tell you, we are still talking about them. And then…THEN…they treated US! On Renae's birthday. These guys, I'm tellin' ya, are the best. The food was great, the conversation was awesome, and then it was time to head home to kids that had already been put to bed! So Jared made us milkshakes and we all went to bed feeling a little sick from having eaten so much! It was a good night indeed.

Sunday morning we hustled around and got out the door with three kids and four adults and only managed to be about ten minutes late for church. Brent and Renae talked about how much they hate being in a hurry and being late, and Jared and I were like, eh, whatever…which is why our matching works :). There was a nice brunch after the service and we forced egg casseroles down our kids and then headed home for naptime and the Packers game, of course. We lounged around and played cards until the kids woke up, then later had some frozen pizzas called it a night. I'm telling you, it was the best kind of weekend.
just the girls
my favorite picture of us

Monday we took our time packing up [Brent had Monday off because of Veteran's Day], and then hit the road around eleven. It was so incredibly cold and it snowed that morning, but Blythe was an absolute peach in the car.

It was a great time, as usual, and we only hate that we can't do it more often. I even warmed up to their Chocolate Lab, Dori a bit. And by warmed up I mean that I let them let her out of her crate and walk around in the same room I was in. Big deal. BIG deal. The kids played great together [Jaden will be three shortly, and Jera and Blythe are just a few months apart. Jera and Jaden did a great job of sharing toys. Blythe…well, we're working on it]. We can't wait until our next get together, which will probably include one more child. We always talked about this when we were in college: being married and then having babies and getting together and what that would be like. Well, it's chaotic and noisy and everything wonderful we thought it would be.

At the park after church on Sunday

Brent joked that I HAD to write this post because while we were there we were trying to remember if we'd been at this house of theirs once or twice. Brent swore it was twice because he remembered having gone golfing with Jared two times at two separate locations. I was pretty certain it was just once. Renae said, "Let's look at the blog!" We pulled it up, and sure enough I had blogged about it and it answered all our questions. We laughed and they told me I had to blog about our trip again in case we are confused in two more years about what really happened. :) 

We love this family
And we even got a photo of us! 

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baby blag, round 2

Two years ago I really wanted to write about the life inside of me that was still a secret to the outside world. So I opened up a new document and titled it "Baby Blog"…though in my haste and excitement, I typed "Baby Blag" instead. And it stuck. I posted a few of these last time: here here and here. I only wrote one installment this time, as we told family and close friends a little sooner, so the secret wasn't bursting inside me! :) 

September 16, 2013

Today I am 7 weeks pregnant. Seven seems like such a small, insignificant number, but in reality that number holds a treasure. 7 weeks of life inside me. 7 weeks behind me of waiting to meet my precious new babe. 7 weeks worth of developing. I read today that it is this week that my baby will start to develop what will become his/her fingers and toes-- fingers and toes that I will tickle and kiss and grasp and love. 

So yes, I feel 7 weeks pregnant, complete with the icky blah tired sicky stage that marks this territory. 

But I also feel 7 weeks pregnant!

It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago I woke up early, groggy yet full of anticipation. The month before was filled with anticipation also, and when I took a few tests knowing it was too early anyway and they showed up negative, I wasn’t surprised by my disappoint. It was time. My earnest prayer had become, “Lord, please give up the baby that will complete our family.” So just a few weeks ago I woke up early, groggy yet full of anticipation. I knew I had waited long enough this time to get an accurate read on the test. 

Brent was out on his morning run and I waited until he got home, Blythe still soundly asleep in her crib. And then there it was, that ever faint line that proved the existence of the fourth member of our family. Just like last time, I let myself doubt it was really there, and Brent assured me it was. We smiled like fools again, this time knowing exactly what adding a life to our family would mean. 

Another test the next day and a doctor’s appointment a couple weeks later confirmed it all. And now I sit here, 7 weeks pregnant. We’ve told some family and a few close friends, but are waiting it out a little longer for the big reveal. Blythe has no clue what’s going on, but as I hold her ever-stretching limbs in my arms I know she is slowly becoming “no-longer-my-baby.” 

I want to document this journey like I did last time, because I want this baby to know his or her story too. And so for now I will keep this word document tucked away on my computer, where I can come and tell these early stories. Like when we called Brent’s parents on their anniversary and, just like we did two years ago, let them know their present was another grandchild on the way. “I thought you looked bigger,” Beck joked, and then counted to himself, “Grandchild number 10...and maybe 11!” Joan had just joked to him earlier that day about us giving them this gift again for their anniversary. It was my parents’ anniversary too, but we waited two more days and dressed Blythe in her “I’m the Silly Sister” hand-me-down shirt from cousin Caroline. We took her over to the pool where my parents and the Blythe family were, and waited for someone to catch on. My mom was a little travel weary from just spending two and half weeks with her new grandson, Wesley, but was the first to notice. As she hugged me and looked at me, wide eyed, Torri shouted, “I KNEW IT!” And slowly they all figured it out. My dad, being the slowest to put two and two together, said, “Why am I always the last to know everything!” To which I responded, “We’re telling everyone right now.” 

Once it was out there, it was more real. It still felt so early though since last time we didn’t tell anyone until around 10 or 11 weeks. But weeks have passed, softball games and practices have left me tired. I’m waking up to use the restroom 3-4 times a night. But I’m 7 weeks pregnant. 

Just like I’ve always wanted, my babies will be about two years apart. My due date is May 5, 2014. Bring it on. 

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day after day

Do you know what I'm excited about? I'm excited that *I think* my life is slowing down just a bit and I'll get to blog again! I've missed it. 

Back in October some dear friends of ours got married. Their sister-in-law put together a book of "marriage advice" for them, and asked us to contribute. Brent and I sat and talked and came up with what we felt were most important to us, and then I typed up the list. As I did so it made me think about how "debbie downer" our society is about marriage. How when someone says they're getting married they inevitably hear from somewhere "oh…the ole ball and chain…" or "say goodbye to your freedoms…" or whatever. How sad. Marriage is great. 

Here was our letter- what advice would you add to this? 

He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing. [Sherman Alexie]

B & C--

Two become one! Marriage! It is the most rewarding thing you’ll ever be a part of, but just like other rewarding things in life, it takes effort. Brent and I sat down and talked for awhile about some of the top things we have learned along the way or seen modeled in healthy marriages, and we wanted to pass them along to you: 

  1. Your response is your responsibility. 
You cannot control every situation. You cannot control how your spouse responds. You cannot control outside factors. But you CAN control how YOU respond to everything. If the other person is acting unlovable or unloving, it has to be your choice to respond in love anyway. Just because something disrespectful was said or done doesn’t give you the right to act disrespectful in return. How you respond is ALWAYS YOUR CHOICE-- and your choice should be to respond in love and respect instead of blaming, even when it seems you have “the right” to do so. It is amazing how many fights or tense situations can just trickle away when a cheap jab or hurtful word is responded to in love. 
  1. Learn to laugh at yourself and enjoy each other. 
Don’t take yourself or your mistakes too seriously. You aren’t perfect and you won’t do everything perfectly. Your spouse will notice and it’s easier to laugh when they point out your flaws than be offended. Life will be much more enjoyable. For example: in our marriage, I [Kelsey] know I am a whiner. I whine about a lot. Most of the time my whining is dumb and selfish, and instead of being annoyed by it Brent just makes fun of it. When he is laughing at me I can’t help but realize how ridiculous I sound, and I have to laugh too. Brent mumbles when he talks. It could drive me crazy, but most of the time I just laugh at him, and he laughs, and then he shouts what I couldn’t hear the first time and we both laugh. When you realize you’re not perfect your ability to forgive grows exponentially. And enjoy each other. Have fun together. Find ways to laugh together. A lot. 
  1. Talk positively about each other, especially in the presence of others. 
The healthiest marriages we have seen, and the couples we enjoy spending time with the most, are the ones that speak positively of each other. They are encouraging to be around, and make you want to invest more in your own marriage. Be that couple for other people! It’s easy to get dragged into conversations like, “Well you think that is bad...my husband does this that and this!!” Etc. You’ll surprise everyone when you say, “What I appreciate about C/ B is how she/he does....” People will notice. Even if you walked out of the house with some unresolved issue that morning and you’re still kind of fuming at each other, don’t go airing that with your friends. Talk about the positives and you’ll be surprised how quickly the positives will be all you see in each other anyway! 
  1. Comparison is the thief of joy.
Our culture likes to pit us against each other all the time, and in a world where everyone displays their life via twitter or instagram or blogs or facebook or whatever, it’s easy to peek into the proverbial window of someone else’s house. And when you start looking at what others have, it is sometimes easy to think about what you don’t have. This can be a slippery slope when it comes to a marriage. Comparing what you have to what someone else has can distract you from each other and rob you of your joy. 
  1. You never marry the “right person” or your “soulmate”, and it is guaranteed that the person you marry is going to change.
This probably sounds completely wrong based on what you’ve heard all your life, but it’s true: there will always be something wrong or something that doesn’t “fit right” with the person that you chose to marry... but you chose to marry them and therefore they become the “right person.” From this point forward your spouse is “your type.” For better or for worse. In fifteen years it is not fair to say, “I thought you were my soulmate, but I was wrong.” There is no such thing as a perfect match. Your marriage -- your relationship-- is what you choose to make of it, and so everyday you must choose to be each others “right person.” And the person you married will change: guaranteed. 100%. And we aren’t just talking that they may one day decide to like mushrooms on their pizza, though that may be the case. We are talking bigger changes: they may decide to change careers, or go from being the extroverted, people-lover you married to an introverted, night-in kind of person. They will gain weight. They will age. But beneath all of that: he is still your husband, she is still your wife. You must choose to love her. You must choose to respect him. Embrace the changes as a new opportunity to learn more about them. You promised “till death do us part”, not “till you gain 20 pounds and start wanting to read books and go bird-watching.” Change is gonna happen-- just be ready to embrace it now!
  1. Don’t expect marriage to be self-sustaining. 
Just because you’ve signed the marriage certificate doesn’t mean you should stop dating and getting to know one other-- the real work and fun has just begun! You don’t want to be the couple that five, ten years down the road says, “How did we get here? Who is this person that I am married to?” Everyday try to set aside time to talk to each other and spend time together. Schedule nights for your marriage. It’s not going to be as exciting and new as when you first started dating, but there is something beautiful in promising to be a student of the other person for the rest of your life; in desiring to learn more about each other all the time. It’s a slow fade when you drift away from one another-- it doesn’t happen all at once but rather is filled with days and weeks of neglecting to pour into each other. This looks different for every couple, but find what works for you: sitting together every morning and drinking your coffee and talking, or maybe putting on your pjs and talking about the day while hanging out on the couch. Whatever it is, make it a sacred time and your marriage will reap the benefits. 
  1. Set aside time to dream big together.
At least once a year, if not more, spend some time dreaming about your future together. Talk about where you see yourself next year, in five years, in twenty years! What do you need to do to make that a reality? What are the things that are most important to you, and how can you change things or prioritize things to put them at the forefront in your marriage and in your life? It is easy to set goals for ourselves in a lot of other areas of our lives, but when it comes to our marriage and our family, we don’t. Don’t let that be the case. Don’t be afraid to dream big. 
  1. Find ways to be a part of your spouse’s hobbies, even if it’s not something you enjoy. 
One of the easiest ways to show your spouse you care about what is going on in their life is to find ways to be a part of what they love to do. This looks different for everyone but here are some examples from our marriage: Brent is active. He loves to run. I do not. But I go to his running events and cheer for him and support him. I let him talk to me about his running shoes. I bring him water on his long runs. I massage his feet [okay, not really]. Same with golfing. He tried to teach me once but we both saw very quickly [including the guy next to us that laughed out loud!] that I was not going to be a golfer. So I chose to walk with him and look for golf balls in the bushes while he golfed. I love to read. Brent doesn’t. But at least two or three times while I’m reading a book he will ask me questions about it. What is it about? Am I enjoying it? What happened next? He knows I love talking about it with him, and he doesn’t even really have to listen once I start rambling! Same thing with decorating: Brent could care less, but he lets me run ideas past him and will walk through Hobby Lobby with me. These are small things, but allow us to be a part of the other’s passions.  
  1. Always want to be better.
Don’t ever assume that this is as good as it is gonna get. Always strive to enjoy marriage and each other even more! Find good books and learn about ways to serve each other with your marriage. Find a good Christian couple that has been married awhile and ask them questions, and watch the way they go about life. You never stop learning at your job; you always want to know more and grow in your career, so why would you stop learning in your married life? Here are some great, biblically based books about marriage we recommend: Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, The Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, and The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller.  
  1. Don’t expect your spouse to meet needs in your life that only God can meet. 
If your goal in marriage is to be happy, you will be disappointed. Not that you can’t be happy, but that should not be the goal. God should always first and foremost be your source of joy and peace. If you start to expect your spouse to meet those needs for you, you’ll be disappointed. B will mess up. C will mess up. B will run out of patience. C will be selfish. It is inevitable. But God will constantly be faithful. He will constantly forgive. And He will constantly be the ultimate source of love and forgiveness-- tap into that great source always and consistently, and He will provide you both with enough love and patience and joy and kindness and gentleness and humility and forgiveness that it will have no other option but to overflow into your hearts and into your marriage. Fill your marriage with God, and it will be a full marriage indeed. 

We love you guys and are so excited that you are starting this wonderful journey of marriage! You will love it! 

Brent and Kelsey

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