A Dose of Us Via Email (Why miss a post? Be part of the story. Sign up below!)

Birthday Traditions on a Budget

Remember that hat I bought and started making Birthday traditions?

What great memories this one hat for less than $20 has experienced.

The eager anticipation from the young ones.

The youthful moments in the older ones wearing it.

It all is PRICELESS and I haven't even had a chance to wear it.

Marriage isn't a Sprint.....it's a Marathon

But, try telling that to John and I 15 years ago. We were on the way. When I say on the way, I mean driving in the car on the way to elope. We were headed to Virginia, a state for lovers, to tie a knot. In truth we were already a knot in my mind. Actually a mess of multiple knots that were a tangle after he "practically left me at the alter!"

On the real day we wed the following things happened.

1. I got pulled over by a police officer and explained where I was headed. "Sorry officer, I am eloping to get married. Was I really going 5 miles over the speed limit? What? "Congratulations" you say? Thanks for NOT giving me a ticket on our wedding day. You are the best!"

2. I called out of work. (Later I got reprimanded at work because I wasn't truly sick. Ummmmm ok, change it to a personal day. #whatever. But, truthfully I was love sick! You just think about that next time an elopement happens!)

3. Our car was hit around Washington D.C. and the offender just kept driving. (Could this day be anymore blissful?) Hit and Run???? FYI, This should not be on anyone's check list.

4. The lady, with big hair, that married us forgot to say you may kiss the bride. (But in reality I didn't need her permission to get kissed!)

5. Our parents already knew we were getting married. But, we called them to let them know it was official.

6. I went numb for awhile asking, "Did that really happen?" I don't really remember the ride home. Except a Song, something about "Big Hands," was playing on the radio. The song is catchy but awful in every way.

7. We had a very romantic dinner at Red Lobster. #classy I don't care serve me up some buttah with that lobstah. I have grandparents from the state of Maine.

8. We stayed at a Howard Johnson that night. At least, it was clean. There also was a keg party the next room over. Chug Chug Chug!!!!!!

9. Everyone thought we were getting married because I was pregnant.

10. We continually were convincing everyone I was NOT pregnant and that we, get this, actually loved each. That was why we got married.

11. John explained multiple times he loved me to me. Cause, I just wasn't sure.

12. Exactly 2 weeks from our wedding night..... I got pregnant.

13. 4 weeks later after convincing those that judged our choice and had to be convinced that I was NOT pregnant was told I was, indeed, pregnant! Yay! Surprise! Life is a trip!

We were sprinting. It was survival. Things were getting thrown at us left and right. From the beginning we knew life was hard. None of this was planned. We had a dream to be together. That dream died. Then it was resurrected and here we are 15 minutes, I mean years later. Life can fly when you are busy living it.

It was nonstop chaos in my life for at least two years after that. There was an emergency C-section, a baby in the NICU, multiple surgeries for that baby, and emergency eye surgery for me.

We eventually said our wedding vows 3 months later in a "somewhat" day that was supposed to be planned for April 13 earlier that year. It was a dramatic and exhausting. I felt awful that day but let no one see it. I was happy to be with John but things were flying at a rapid pace and morning sickness is not just in the morning. Morning sickness landed me in the hospital way more then once. I am ready for the romantic honeymoon to Paris but it will have to wait. #oneday

I want to explain something though. Eventually, we got the right pace. Then something would happen and our life would be thrown off again. That is what life as a married couple is. A series of events that your life has to navigate around, under, over, and mostly through to get where we need to go. Marriage is a "never ending destination" and a promise to travel together just the same.

I didn't marry John because I didn't think anyone else could love me. (I am a winner. We all know this!). I didn't marry him because I was pregnant. (Hopefully, by now you all can count between June and April!!!!! Go ahead and count, I WILL WAIT!)

June-April... 1,2,3,........

I didn't marry John because he was my life. I married him because I couldn't imagine my life without him.

Some people can't imagine why I would take someone that humiliated me back. I am NOT pathetic. I was a hopeless romantic that believed fully in us when he didn't. He was the one that made a mistake and it took guts to admit that.

Marriage isn't easy but it is an adventure. I wish I could say I wouldn't have it any other way but that is not truth. Every REAL couple has their troubles, drama, sickness, poor times, and tempting times to say "Forget You!" I just learned from the times that are crazy, when the crazy fades away, rest! Another adventure is around the corner. Rest up well! Marriage is a marathon and if you have to walk, then take a freakin walk! Enjoy the scenery, pick flowers, and if you get tired carry each other. That is what marriage is.

I will take MY kids whenever I can!

I am a dreamer. Many of the roads I have been on I would have never foreseen. I have had an amazing personal life and my home life, although not perfect, is filled with love.

My dreams on many occasions have taken me away from my family. Sometimes, women have to choose between following through with their careers and being at home with their family. No one would ever second guess if a Dad had to work over a holiday yet mothers would be crucified if they skipped a preschool graduation, a holiday, or took a business course to further their education. This is a double standard that doesn't fly in this house. When I am gone, the situation has given my kids a chance to lean on each other and their Dad when they can’t lean on me. I find this healthy.

But, when I can take them with me, I take them with me. There is a time for family. There is a time for work. There is a time for just my husband and I.

This approach to family and life has cost me some jobs and added financial stress. But, "WE" have no regrets. I would rather be a work "with" my kids mom than a millionaire mom. If my kids, or just one, can come experience a businesses' product and/or service that I have been asked to represent I consider this a win/win for both company and family business.

This approach to family has added some outsider stress. Kids aren't meant to be everywhere. The perspective John and I have is where our kids are not welcome, we are not. They are part of us. This is especially sensitive at family events. We will plan dates on our own time, on our own terms, and when we need them.

My biggest fear—isn’t that our choices, –would make it harder for our bank account or my relationships. My biggest fear is that my kids will be scared to negotiate with corporations and fear discussions with loved ones and not be able to tell them what they really feel.

Our 3 kids don’t need to be with us. We don't need to have them with us. We WANT them with us. I think this is beautiful.

We don't need our kids to be watched by us or protected. We want our kids to know that our approach to family is we tackle problems together, we celebrate together, and we own a family business, TOGETHER. All of us, together. I want them to see the purpose of togetherness.

Often, my kids remind me of the wonderful adventures I have taken them on. They do not know much about the many NOs I have said on their behalf and I do not care. My kids have seen me work. They have seen me boldly define success. They have seen me stand up for family. They have seen me stand up for me. When I say me, they know I mean "us."

I know that when they bring these memories back to life at the dinner table they are saying more than "Remember that? That was a fun time. Thank you!" What they are really saying is "that last family celebration was great to be part of. I like this family! I KNOW there will never be a memory like it again!" They will remember that meeting they sat in the corner and read a book while I negotiated a social media strategy was long. But, they will remember the airplane flight, hotel stay, pool swim, and one on one time with us, together, was super fun.

So, if you are starting a family don't look at kids as an interruption to your life. Instead be prepared to interrupt theirs. Interrupt them with letting them see how hard you work, how hard you play, and how beautiful together can be because these days will.not.last.forever.