Archive of ‘Life’ category

Love & Long Distance

By Natalie

As I’ve been married I’ve grown more of an appreciation for those who are able to maintain a relationship long distance. I don’t know if appreciation is really the right term to use. Maybe fascination because I’m not so sure that I would ever be able to do it, and couldn’t imagine having to make that type of sacrifice. I have two friends who are in this boat, and I’ve asked them to share their stories for me, and for all.

Casey is a marine wife.

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Her husband Ethan has recently come home from a 7 month deployment. They’ve been married for 2 years.

During his last month of deployment I kept track of her updates. She was preparing their home, and eagerly awaiting his return. As I myself was anxiously awaiting I thought for sure that he would be home any day, and when I asked she said that he wasn’t due to be home until another couple weeks. If I’m on the other side of the country getting anxious about it, I can only imagine how she must feel as his wife. I’ve mentioned before that I have what Brandon calls light at the end of the tunnel syndrome. I’m telling you, I couldn’t do it. To wait 7 long months husbandless, as a newlywed at that. Knowing all the wonderful joys that marriage brings, and then all of a sudden your husband goes off, and you’re left to live your life by your lonesome. Those last couple weeks I’d curl up into a ball I tell you, unable to cope with the anxiety.

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Casey’s experience with long distance in her own words…

I have started this, erased it all, and started again nearly 100 times now. Each time I wrote out a page, it sounded so depressing and sad, and I didn’t want it to be that way, because being in a long distance relationship, or in my case being married to an active duty marine is in fact easy, and not sad at all.

It’s hard to explain to most, even fellow marine wives will give me a look like I am wearing one of those tinfoil ‘hats’ from the movie signs “What do you mean it’s easy!?” They’ll say.

It honestly is easy! Okay, I will admit that there have been a few rough times where I’ve sat in my room and had a good ugly cry for about 15 minutes, but I got up and went on with my day.

When I began dating my husband I knew within two weeks that I was madly in love with him. No, I was not a psycho or a stalker, he felt the same. He even had a romantic night planned to tell me, which I ruined when I couldn’t even go two minutes without wanting to blurt out I love you.

Another thing that was different for us was that two weeks later he was gone, starting his journey in the Marines. So we really got to know each other better through letters, texts, phone calls, email and skype. 

In our relationship so far we have spent about 28 months apart. That’s basically half of our relationship. To make it last we knew we had to put our best foot forward and just do it, clinging to the old quote “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Honestly, I couldn’t describe it any better myself. I knew I loved him before we began a distance relationship, but I fell even more in love with him through getting to know him from afar.

-Casey


Maggie has been dating her boyfriend Brad for just over a year and a half. They met in college, and after going their separate ways after graduation they found that living and hour and a half away from each other wasn’t all so bad. They visit one another as much as possible, alternating weeks making the trip to the other’s home. When work gets too busy and even the bi-weekly visits become difficult, they meet halfway for dinner and enjoy the presence of each other’s company.

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Maggie’s experience with long distance in her own words.

My experience with long distance relationships is unique. I have seen so many friends in relationships with more miles between and harder circumstances, so I am grateful in so many ways for just seventy miles between us. There are days where that trip feels like a few neighborhoods over, and days—more often, nights, that turns the seventy miles into seven hundred. The unfortunate part about those miles, aside from being apart, is that anyone local understands that a lot of traffic can happen between Arlington and Spotsylvania. It took us a few tries last summer to understand how we could make visits work without taking too much time away from family, work, and most of all, savings. With the support of both of our families as we live at home for now, we have successfully managed alternating weeks to visit and understanding when life happens and visits can’t.

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In any difficult situation, I believe the most important, and quite often, the toughest part is staying positive. We are both so thankful for everything in our lives, and thankful that we are able to be together at all. I think that’s when it struck me that this was going to be a serious commitment and change in the relationship.. and I wasn’t scared. I was and am happier giving it my all an hour and a half away, and on those visits, than to be with someone else who is conveniently next door. Cheesey? Maybe, but I don’t care. I can speak for both of us when I say that we will be happy when the gap between us is closed, and though I am not sure when that will be, I know in time I will be grateful for this last year in our commuter-relationship. The experience has made our relationship stronger, we value our time together in a different way now, and we can know now without a doubt that distance sucks — but it is able to be conquered.

-Margaret


Out Here on the West Coast

By Natalie

On Thursday we waved goodbye to Virginia, who unfortunately is still married to humidity, and we traveled all the way to California to get away from it all. To take a break from the work week. A rest from the hustle and bustle of life. A time to rejuvenate ourselves, and enjoy experiences together. Leaving our crazy ball of energy labrador in the most trusting hands of a good friend. That was the only hard part.

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Saving, and planning for a vacation may not ever be the most fun thing to do, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. We’re the type of people that would rather sacrifice the day to day pleasures, and conveniences, like cable, a huge house in the suburbs, and a car for each of us, to be able to save for experiences. I would highly recommend such a lifestyle.

Because travel does the heart and mind good.

Waking up extra early to go to the airport isn’t always the most fun, but when you find that you and your father in law are twinsies, and you’ve hardly slept from the excitement of packing, it kind of makes it all better.

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I love love love flying. I have to say though, while once flying standby may have tainted that particular experience, it has not quite tainted my love of airports, and all the cultures they bring together. I still get anxious when I fly, like most people. Claustrophobic, oddly hungry, and worst of all for the window seat, a bad case of the nervous pee’s. But! It hasn’t shied me away from traveling yet, because when I travel I feel refreshed, creative, and at my most loving, and observant state. Which as a writer is of the utmost import!

For now I’ll leave you with just a little something.

What’s in Natalie’s Carry on?

  • Yarn, and crochet hooks – To work on a new baby blanket for a particular new niece who’s coming soon!
  • My most recent book club book – The Book Thief
  • Chapstick
  • Phone – For photos mostly.
  • Notepad – For jotting down my observations.

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And surprise! It’s a sleepy Brandon. He is the greatest. He worked so very hard to get us out on this vacation, and planned every little piece of it. I promise you, I couldn’t appreciate him more.

Stay tuned for more on our trip! 
 
Love,
The Poes

Samson, My Samson

By Natalie

Today I miss you.

Most days I miss you.

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The sweet dog smell that I loved to take in for the first time in my life. I miss our cuddles. I miss how you laid behind me while I cooked. I miss how happy you would get when we’d come home. I miss your sweet low groans when you’d get excited about something.

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I loved watching you play. I loved rescuing you. I loved giving you a home. I loved the feeling of attachment I had with you. But it made it so much harder. I can’t explain to you the traumatizing emotions I felt when I had to see you in the shelter after you were taken away. Dozens of dogs barked constantly around you. Volunteers screaming behind closed doors. And there you sat in your own filth because who has the time to take out a dog who’s on death row? I want to forget the nightmare. I want to ignore that they never gave you the toys I left. I want to forget how you whined in confusion while you watched me walk away.

But I never want to forget the last time I held you. In that small little room, just the three of us, and with tears in my eyes I tried my best to apologize to you.

I am so sorry my Samson. Sorry I couldn’t give you a better life. Sorry the opinions of people hold so much value. But thanks sweet boy, for being such a joy to me while I had you. For teaching Brandon and I to grow closer together through it all. For showing us who true friends are. And simply for being the light in my life that you were.

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The Trouble with Reviews

By Natalie

What is our trouble with unhappy endings? I’m not just talking about the stories that end poorly, I’m talking about the stories with unsatisfying endings. They get to us. And there we are pleading desperately for more closure. I recently stopped by the library downtown to pick up a couple of books. Because books lately have been a healthy food to my mind. I just needed to pick up a few quick reads to get me through the weekend. I finished a book called The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, and it was a book that caused me to think. Which is more than I could ask for in an author. The story was kind of tragic really. But the more I think about it the more I attach myself to the story.

The trouble with book reviews and any review for that matter is that everyone has differing opinions. I become frustrated with the people who rate everything 5 stars because not everything is worthy of 5 stars. But I also grow frustrated when I see people rate stories so poorly. There’s just too great of a spectrum. Too many different genres to compare one from the other. You must compare mysteries on the scale of other mysteries. Classics on the scale of other classics. Just because something was a different genre doesn’t necessarily mean that it is worse. Different stories speak to different people.

Let’s unpack this for a second. Reviews should be based on such things as storyline and character development. Intrigue certainly has grounds to be judged, for what good is a story if it does not capture you? Emotion of all things certainly should not have a large role in a review, because we are all innately biased. We are creatures of opinion, with differing morals, and all walks of life. This is why it frustrates me when people rate a story too low simply because they do not agree with the lifestyle of the characters.

Upon finishing The Spectacular Now I felt so empty. Before giving this book a low review I stopped to think… In a way the author did his job. I felt just as empty as the main character of the story. And isn’t that the point? To relate with in some way, to feel what the characters feel? To emerge yourself in the story and be overcome with emotion over the characters. Ok ok you’re about to have an intervention with me. Natalie… too many books. Never. Like I said, reading has been good for the mind. Swirling my imagination in every which direction. Giving me fuel to write myself. It is one of the only things that keeps me writing.

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 And so… I just had to say that not all stories have happy endings. And that’s difficult to accept because we all want happy endings. Hence the reason the movie version of this book just had to take the extra five minutes to provide closure. To give you what you wanted. But is that honest? Is life really full of all happy endings? No. And that’s why I kind of loved this book. The main character Sutter Keely was the most tragic character. In the end he felt he was this certain type of person and he loved this girl, but he wanted what was best for her. And it wasn’t him. As much as you wanted it to be him, you know it wasn’t. But you admire him for doing all he did for her anyway.

This is all just to say that the next time you review something take a second to think about the story. Did you not like it because it was poorly told. Or did you not like it because it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to?

Little Boys & Legos

By Natalie

It’s not a coincidence that I work in pediatrics. My mom has always been in the school or social system. One of my sisters is an elementary school teacher, and my other sister is a children’s pastor. There’s something in our blood that aids us in connecting with children. Who doesn’t want to listen to kids chattering on about nonsense? And build lego towers with them, or make everything out to be super exaggerated? Or maybe that’s just me. You never know what to expect from their little minds.

I loved passing out Goldfish to tiny preschoolers in Kid’s Church. I loved being a nanny, and watching princess movies with 3 little girls. I love discovering all the new versions of Connect Four with the kiddos at work. I love watching sweet girls that somehow know just what to do with baby dolls. They cradle them, and feed them as if they were their very own. It’s a mystery to me. And the boys, they are even more of a mystery to me. I am fascinated by their ability to build structures from a few simple blocks. I attempt to give my hot wheels cars a vroom sound, but it is nothing in comparison to the dozens of different sound effects little boys are able to concoct.

One day I was watching my two little nephews. We sat on the living room floor in the midst of wooden train tracks leading to nowhere. Toy cars, planes, and lego pieces scattered along the rug. I picked up a green lego and began doing what I typically revert to when it comes to legos. Build a house. Find that square flat green piece, and build yourself a house upon it. Do you think the thought to build a house even crossed my nephew’s mind? Maybe, but the thought to construct a plane was much greater at the moment.. While I was busy swiveling the front door to my lego house he was jumping all about, plane in hand creating sounds I can’t even begin to mimic. “That’s a nice plane.” I said. “Aunt Natalie it’s a biplane. Because It has this piece on top.” He pointed to the top wing I guess you could call it. “Well then, I stand corrected. A biplane.” I had no idea. The next time we drove by small Shannon Airport I excitedly pointed to the plane narrowing in on it’s runway. “That was a biplane.” I told B. “What? How do you know that?” he asked suspiciously. “Our 4 year old little nephew taught me that!” B nodded his head in assurance that little boys know their planes.

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Keeping the Wedding Bliss

By Natalie

A guide for the bride to be


With wedding season fast approaching I’ve felt an itch to do a wedding series. I figured I’d start out with some honest truths, then we can get into the fun stuff. I have found that there is nothing sweeter than a bride to be. She sighs and complains of her wedding planning as if it’s a chore. But deep down she is ecstatic and has been waiting for this day all her life. Yes, I walked around with those bridal magazines that were a total rip off as they are mostly full of ads, and overpriced dresses. But I wasn’t ashamed, I finally had the privilege of flipping through those pages, I was going to take it.

Every couple wishes for nothing more than an engagement that’s full of sunshine and daisies. But unfortunately as some of us know all too well there are those brief moments where reality sets in. You know reality. That thing that comes along and squashes all your hopes and dreams. Nobody likes him.

When the love of your life becomes your Fiance you refer to him as such with perfect annunciation. You gladly retell your proposal story over and over while you hold your left hand out to be admired. You’ve decided where you are going to say your vows, decided what you will wear. And you’ve experienced all of those moments in between where you said yes, and made important decisions with your soon to be spouse. I would love to say that I took the time to sit back and cherish all of those moments. But no, like most brides to be I was completely overwhelmed. Mr. Reality crept his crummy little self in.

[Now Pause] You should know that I often find myself needing to share the thoughts people just don’t talk about. Say what you will, but know that I cannot stop it. I have an unquenchable thirst to be a voice for the weak, and silent. An honest voice for those who are willing to listen.

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As planning commenced for our wedding I proudly stated that my mother would walk me down the aisle as if it didn’t bother me. I hadn’t spoken to my dad since before I graduated high school. He hadn’t even met Brandon. But secretly I felt just a bit sad all the way to the aisle that I had no Dad around to walk me. I’d love to say that our wedding was all planned flawlessly, and I got everything I wanted. But I settled for my dress, because it was the only one in budget. I cried after my bridal shower, because I had a head cold and felt so ill, all the while trying to smile. I felt blessed to have so many women shower me with love but I was so exhausted by the end of it all I didn’t know what else to do but cry. I hauled all of our gifts into the apartment while Brandon watched happily, and once I saw him I just lost it. One night I even panicked, and desperately considered elopement. Bride to be, don’t fret. Reality gets to the best of us, and I’m pretty sure most couples consider elopement at some point. Back me up?

By no means do I share this information for pity. I write this post for those who are desperately attempting to piece their weddings together while plans crumble, and dreams are simplified. People will let you down. Things will fall through. Limitations will close you in. Don’t lose sight of what your wedding is all about. How you and your Fiance handle those situations will show how the two of you will handle such shortcomings in the future.

So dear Bride, it doesn’t matter what you wear, or who is at your wedding. It doesn’t matter what comments have been made, who you are possibly offending, or whatever fell through. It doesn’t matter that a bridesmaid let you down, or your hair was not what you pictured. What truly matters on your special day is who you say your vows to, and why. You know this, I’m certain you do. But do you believe it? Because beautiful bride, if you don’t you should.

Mousecapades

By Natalie

The title of this post is compliments of my sister Nadir. I told her the night that we had discovered mice raiding our pantry and the very next day she asked “How’s the mousecapades?” Sometimes she has this way of saying things so nonchalant that make me giggle maybe too much. Then she smiles, eyebrows raised as if to say “ok, it was funny, but not that funny.”

If oh ever you go to pull out a sesame seed burger bun, that you are so looking forward to… You are so looking forward to those burgers that your husband has grilled to perfection. He puts the finished burgers on the counter. He takes a look at the bag of buns. “Ummm.” he says. “What’s this?” he points to small chewed up holes in the bag. Your stomach grumbles. It’s 7pm, a late night from work. You’re so hungry you don’t want to think about what could have happened to the buns, you just want to eat. But then you look closer. “No! those are legitimate chew marks in the buns. Could it have been Bingley? Did he somehow manage to bite the bag before I put it away?” The two of you wander toward the pantry. Bag of tortillas… holes. New loaf of bread… holes. New bag of chocolate chips… holes. New bag of confectioners sugar… holes. Your eyes wander the shelves and down to the floor of the pantry. Droppings…. “Nooooooo!!!! Nothing is safe! Trash everything that was open, wipe everything with bleach!”

That was our night. We ate our burgers bunless that night. They still hit the spot, though they were eaten later than expected. Once we finished dinner B went out to Lowe’s to put an end to those dirty rodents that ruined our food. We had discovered that there was a small hole in the molding that apparently must have led to our crawl space which is where they had journeyed in.

mouse holeIsn’t that just the coziest little mouse hole?

If you have mice that come in through a hole apparently all you need is the coarsest steel wool you can find. Shove that down the hole, and lots of it. They can’t chew through it, or they’ll ruin their teeth. Then apply a bit of caulk to plug it up. Voilá, no more mice invading your home.

Disney Quotes to Live By

By Natalie

Perhaps I’m a kid at heart, because there is nothing quite like watching a disney movie when I’m sick. Before you roll your eyes at the kiddyness of this post admit to yourself, we’ve all learned a little something from a disney character. Here are my top 10 favorite Disney quotes to help get you through the week. Take a deep breath, bring out the kid in you, and take the following simple quotes to heart.

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Forever is a long time, and time has a way of changing things. -Fox & the Hound

The past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it. -Rafiki (The Lion King)

Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts. -Aladdin

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all. -Thumper (Bambi)

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates loot on Treasure Island. -Walt Disney

All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.       -Walt Disney

To laugh at yourself is to love yourself. -Mickey Mouse

Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one. -Pocahontas

Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting. -Peter Pan

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