Archive of ‘My Dearest’ category

Life Lately

By Natalie

hipster

My sister called me a city hipster recently. I have no idea what she means.


Our schedule has been all over the place this new year. While I’m ready to slow down and take a break I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed our busy schedule.

Bing hotel

We kicked things off in January with a week long hotel stay courtesy of our apartment complex. They had been undergoing some renovations for the past few months and needed to do some work in our apartment. We were grateful to get away from the noise and have our own mini staycation.

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Geese

Grant is learning the difference between a duck and a goose.

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Bing tent

We thought we’d take advantage of the warmer weather and plan a camping trip the first weekend in March. Of course we ended up enduring 30 degree nights, but the days were warm and we had the perfect amount of quality friend time.
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kabobs

Pam camping

Pam makes a stinkin good S’more.

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We spent our second weekend in March taking the Coggins up on my Christmas present. A weekend spent at family’s condo in Atlantic beach. We’ve really been missing out on off season beach trips and have totally decided to do it more often.

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Brandon Beach

It was just about exactly what we needed.

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I finally tried Hex coffee. Definitely in the top five.

Your coffee won’t last around here if it can’t stand on it’s own. There’s just too many places that have it figured out.

Hex


I took a break from social media and have a whole new outlook on it. I know, myself and everyone else right? I simply realized that I wasn’t living as much in the small moments that I could be. Through taking a break I was able to appreciate the small things for what they were and not for what others thought of them. Before I took a sip of my mocha at Hex I started an Instagram story.

“How do you like it?” Brandon asked.

“I haven’t taken a sip yet. I’m doing an Instagram story.” I told him.

“No one really cares about your cup of coffee babe.”

You see after nearly six years of marriage the truth sometimes comes flying out without any sort of sugar coating.

While I wanted to take complete offense I quickly noticed he had a point. It’s not so much that nobody cares. It’s more so that I was diverting my attention away from Brandon. He was excited for me to try Hex. He took time out of his day to take me out, why would I spoil that to sit and sift through a dozen photo filters? Nodding my head as he tells me what’s new in his world, while my full attention is zeroed in on that little device. Is it because it feels normal? Because I seek gratification in the opinions of others? I started to really question my reasoning for sharing.

This is a deeper issue and a touchy subject for most. But it is something that’s been on my mind and my heart. We do live far from family and to a certain extent social media has become a way to keep up with them. Lately I haven’t had the energy, or the words to compile a single blog post but I do wish to share a tid bit on Instagram. I think reasoning for sharing is different for everybody. For many social media can be a healthy and useful place. For a while there it evolved into a toxic place for me to compare myself to my peers and seek their approval for my own life. That caused me to seriously shift my perspective. It’s still a place for memories to be captured and shared with those I love. But now I’m more mindful of where I am and who surrounds me in that blurry space beyond my phone.


I made this beauty one weekend recently. I was in love with similar wall hangings I’d seen on etsy and knew I could come up with something from my yarn stash.

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Our allergies hit us like a ton of bricks again. When I finally had the stamina to make it to Trader Joe’s for our weekly groceries my cashier made small talk with me. He asked if I had plans for the weekend. I told him I was getting sick so I’d be resting all weekend. He asked if we’d lived here long, that allergies can be rough for newcomers. Yada yada. I said yes, could be allergies. Then he grabbed the pink tulips I picked out and said “You know, I’m going to give you your flowers for free so you feel better. You get lots of rest this weekend.”

How sweet is that? I told him that wasn’t necessary and he insisted. He made my day with his kind gesture. He also ensured my loyalty to Trader Joe’s for life.

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City Living

By Natalie

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We moved recently to the Southend of Charlotte. We’re three blocks down and a couple over from the Panthers stadium, a five minute walk to Brandon’s work and a whole lot closer to everything we love. Two months ago we were in that pickle of deciding to stay where we were which was a great space, just not quite what we envisioned, or to move on. Brandon and I are move on until you get it just right kind of people.

We began our apartment hunting after the change of ownership at our old complex. In efforts to be sure we would get exactly what we wanted this time we toured nine different places. Including one gorgeous loft in the city with exposed brick walls. We had to say no to it, after we realized we would only have street parking, and the laundry was in the basement of the building three flights down. That kind of thing is only fun to watch in sitcoms, not so fun to do in reality. After careful deliberation and discussing with supportive friends we happily chose one of the first places we saw.

We packed up our precious belongings and trashed or donated the rest to uproot ourselves once more. Each time we move we’re refining our lives to be just where we want them. Getting down to our essentials, and creating a cozy nest full of only things we love. By no means are we true minimalists, we both enjoy too many hobbies for that and we’re still the slightest bit sentimental. However, we do well downsizing every now and then.

Our space isn’t just this little apartment, it’s spilled onto the sidewalks all over Southend. It’s on every street corner that I catch a glimpse of the skyline and am left feeling inspired. It’s in the downstairs lounge where we shared coffee this morning before Brandon had to head out to work. It’s in the coffee shop across the street and the park down the road.

Last week Brandon was sitting in nearly an hour of traffic to get home. Now he’s meeting Bingley and I on the sidewalk corner for lunch at a hot dog stand. The woman at the cart asked if Bingley ate people food. We said yes, and she cooked him up a broken hot dog she was unable to use. Lots of hungry laborers stretched their hands out to pet Bing and give him lots of love. To my left I saw a city I love, and to my right my very happy family. Friendly faces all around and my heart was full. This is my safe place. I never thought I would feel safe exposed out on the sidewalks. Not until I saw dozens of other dog walkers in the evenings. Men and women all dressed up with their earbuds in walking to work in the morning.

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I kissed Brandon on the street corner, and he walked back to work, while Bingley and I walked back home. It’s perfect here.

God’s been teaching me alot about contentment. When we were dating I used to tell Brandon my plans for the future. It all sounded canned, and naïve. When he questioned me about it, I’d say, “because that’s what everybody does.” It makes me cringe thinking about it.

Brandon would say “Who’s everybody?” and I had no answer for him. That’s when I really got to thinking about it. Is there one right formula in which you should live your adulthood? Absolutely not. Some people prefer the space of the countryside. Some people prefer the bustle of a city. Some moms wish and are able to stay home, some wish or need to work. I see a never ending ladder people our age are scrambling to climb, desperate to reach certain points when our peers do, and frantic if we don’t. Something inside me really wants to kick down that ladder. It’s why it seemed like a step backwards that we bought a 3 bedroom house, and now live in a one bedroom apartment. In reality for us it’s 2 steps back in space, and 10 steps forward in quality of life.

You know that old verse your Sunday school teacher would tell you when you had a test coming up, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me Philippians 4:13. Have you read the context lately?

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned to be content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

In a recent married women’s study I learned the context of that verse. Be happy, and content where you are. Don’t wait until you have it all to start living. You see, we live in a world full of comparisons. That’s nothing new to you. And you know, I think I’m done with it. As I was writing in my journal recently I felt like God was saying “Let it go. The life I have designed for you will be so different, there is no use in your scrambling. It merely shows your lack of faith in me.” Woah right? Sometimes we need God to tell us like it is. Whether I have what they have or not, I’m good. Whether they approve of my lifestyle or not, I’m good. I finally started paying attention to what works best for us, living in the faith that God has a different set of ladders for each and every one of us.

Hey There Raleigh

By Natalie

Raleigh just so happens to sit right in between where we live now, and our hometown. We’d never visited the capitol of our new state before so we decided to spend the day and stay overnight on our way up to Fredericksburg recently. The only troubling thing about doing that was how nice it was to split the drive in half. I say every trip up to Fredericksburg deserves a stop in Raleigh.

We had a stinking ton of fun meandering around this city. Charlotte is modern and rustic and beautiful and sketchy all at once. Raleigh was so different. It was smaller than we imagined which made it quaint and full of character.
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Right off the bat we tried some eastern Carolina barbecue at The Pit. You know it’s good when they can get away with a name like that.

Across the street we stopped in at Videri Chocolate Factory to sip on americanos and gobble up some decadent truffles.

When my sister asked what our plans were in Raleigh I told her, “Oh I don’t know, walk around and eat. We’re foodies if you haven’t been able to tell already.” That’s totally what we did. We stopped in some eclectic shops, and we ate. We don’t eat pricey truffles the size of nickels very often, but when in a chocolate factory, that’s what I always say.  
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In between lunch and dinner we stopped in the museum of natural sciences. We got there an hour before they closed and had no idea how huge the place was, so naturally we went back the next morning to ensure we saw it all. Also, to check out that boa constrictor again. It was wrapped so snuggly around the branch in its habitat that Brandon was convinced it was fake.

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Brandon and I never really were great classroom learners. We like learning on our own terms. We’re do your own research, extract what’s important to you and throw out the fluff, tinker around with your own projects until you get it right visual kind of learners.

I once had a chemistry teacher who went blue in the face trying to teach me moles after school. It wasn’t clicking. The lightbulbs in my head were not even flickering. She repeated the logistics on and on, and could not understand why I wasn’t grasping the concept. All I saw were numbers on a paper. Once she started playing Mythbusters in the classroom I started getting interested. Not because we were watching a show in school, but because I desperately needed visual, experimental aide.

Get us in a museum with all that knowledge at our fingertips, where we can move along at our own pace and we’ll be the last to leave.

But seriously, we had to pry ourselves away that evening before they closed, like a couple of science geeks.

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When we thought we had eaten our hearts out we noticed our hotel had a snack bar. It was much too tempting to pass up, so we grabbed some goodies, and sat out on the lounge balcony to chat. I love these heart to hearts on trips. Whether it’s a week, a weekend, or even overnight we always make it a point to wrap up our stay with a genuine heart to heart. Brandon will tell me where he’s at, and I tell him where I’m at, we talk about our explorations, and then we talk about our future.

Face to face time is such important work in a marriage. We enjoy ours most with coffee at the kitchen table or on the couch. But having them on a trip where our eyes are opened to new possibilities is always a pleasant setting.

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Myrtle Beach & The Future

By Natalie

imageimageIsn’t it interesting how you make up these plans for your life, so certain that they’ll come to pass.. And years later you find yourself chuckling at those plans. Because you were a different person when you made them.

Brandon and I sat on the pier in Myrtle beach this past weekend after filling up on fresh seafood.

We took turns talking about our favorite memories together in our five years of marriage. Our wedding. Our honeymoon in the mountains. Our vacations. Our moves. Our growth. All of it.

We took some time to talk about our future too as we watched young kids splash around in the water. We had a plan for where we’d be at this mark, but it is so far off from what we ever imagined.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal journaling lately, leaving little to be shared here. But this is a safe place, so I’m just going to toss it out there.

I thought I’d be dying to get pregnant by this point. And part of me does feel that way, sure. I have a happy home, a dog who loves licking sticky fingers, and a supportive husband, why wouldn’t I feel the urge to expand our family?

But sometimes ya know.. I really don’t. If it happened tomorrow, I’d be happy. If it didn’t, I’d still be happy. Babies are scary right? God allots you the strength you need, and the patience to get through parenthood, which is incredible. But I’ll admit, after so many years it gets hard to imagine what it’ll actually be like.

I stayed with my sister last trip to Fredericksburg. My eyelids were growing heavy, and I was dying for sleep when I looked over, and saw Nem passed out beside me. I walked into the kitchen to clean up, and I saw my brother in law fast asleep on the couch. I squinted to see the time on the microwave, telling me it was close to midnight. I walked into the living room, and saw Maceo sleeping in his swing. This tiny little human rendering his whole family exausted. I got myself ready for bed, and was about to slip under the covers when my sister’s alarm on her phone went off. It was feeding time. AGAIN. My brother in law woke up as delirious as ever, and Nem came to, eyes tired. We spent another few hours awake, caring for Maceo, and watching Caribbean Life on HGTV.

People say you’re never ready, and I believe that’s certainly true. It sort of seems like you get convinced to do it, then once you tell everyone how hard it is, they give you this knowing nod.

But here’s the twist. I don’t doubt we are in a place where we’re ready. Nannying for one has taught me a lot. I realized very quickly that it’s better to get out of the house for all our sanity, even if the kiddos scream and cry. I know what it’s like to deal with temper tantrums in Target, cleaning up vomit, getting sneezed on, coughed on, and prepping food for hungry bellies while my own hunger pain is eating away at me.

My mom in law tells me it’s different with your own. That there is nothing like having your own children. I cling to that truth. I know that when we have our own it will be hard, and beautiful, and fun, and frustrating, and tiresome, but everything I ever imagined.

imageTo be honest, halfway through writing this I felt like deleting it. Because what if I feel differently tomorrow? Or next week? Or just a couple months from now? I’ve decided that’s ok. It’s ok to feel like today I want to travel more. See more mountains, more beaches, more of the world. Spend more quality time with my husband, and focus on becoming a better me.imageTomorrow I can throw that all out the window, and say let’s start a family. Because no matter when you have kids you will be making a sacrifice. There’s no shame in cutting off deadlines, and living in abandonment of the path God has you on. It doesn’t mean that I can’t plan, it just means that it’s ok for plans to change. It’s ok to uproot, and move towards whatever feels right for us at the moment. Life is surprisingly much smoother that way..

And Nana Poe says no! More grand babies! I do hate leaving you hanging like this. One day Mom, I promise. One day. image

Gone Camping

By Natalie

imageI am not in the business of leading you to believe that the events which take place in our lives are absolutely golden. Because just like everybody else, that is not always the case.imageWe went camping this past weekend and we did have quite a bit of fun, but I also managed to forget batteries for the lantern, misplaced Bingley’s long leash, and very last minute we decided we were in need of a sleeping bag.

Saturday morning we shoved most everything in our tent to meet Sara and Dave for an apple festival. After meandering around, wasting fourteen dollars on tickets, and wondering what all the fuss was about, we realized we were in the wrong place. Parking at a family farm full of kiddie swings, and hay mazes rather than an apple orchard.

Naturally Brandon was all “What’s the name of the place we’re supposed to be?” And when I responded he said, “Yea, that’s not where we are.” And he pointed to the sign out front that read Peach Farm. Copilot fail on my part for the umpteenth time in our marriage.

Because I consider myself such a planner… such an organized freak, these things just get my goat. Trickling their way in to ruin things. I give myself the hardest time. I don’t like it one bit, but I do send myself into these whirlwinds of self shaming, and I’m exhausted from it. This time it was forgetting things, and getting us wrong directions. Weeks ago it was accidentally demolishing a souvenir shot glass from Sacramento in the garbage disposal. Weeks before that it was having made a dinner without 2 important ingredients that made all the difference. And so on…

I can’t stand for it. Not when it’s only simple honest mistakes. Not when I remembered everything else on our trip including Wet Wipes that I excitedly whipped out like some kind of magician when Brandon plainly mentioned he wished to rinse his hands after his S’more Friday night.
imageimageimageBack at the campsite I sat to chop peppers, steak, and onion for our kabobs. B went out to grab batteries for the lantern, and I wanted to sit there feeling terrible that it was my fault he was needing to run out. But just before the thoughts could take hold of my mind I heard a bunch of children playing behind me shouting “Daddy this, and Dad that.” All while this father set up their camp. I thought to myself as I often do, “What will it be like to camp years from now and hear those words escape the mouths of our own little ones?”

Brandon came back and I totally had to apologize for my behavior. Then we moved on, and got to skewering our kabobs.imageimageimage

Swooooon.

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Fall Camping Essentials

As told by Natalie Poe for her kind of Camping

Leisure 

  • Tent
  • Camping Chairs
  • Sleeping Bag (as a top layer for warmth)
  • Air Mattress (lightly blown up to provide support for gravel sites)
  • Pillows
  • Flannel & or fleece blankets
  • Lantern
  • Book

Food Supplies

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  • Tablecloth
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Pot Holder
  • Grilling Tongs & Spatula
  • French Press or Percolator
  • Thermos (one for drinking water, one for coffee)
  • Scissors
  • Plastic Egg Carton
  • Salt & Pepper + Other Condiments
  • Camping Utensils
  • Plates
  • Paper Towel Roll
  • Wet Wipes
  • Long Skewers (for hot dogs & mallows!)
  • Pot for Water (to make coffee in the morning!)
  • Thermal bag (to keep the non refrigerated stuff from freezing, or melting)
  • Cooler
  • Ice packs
  • Camping Stove (this is what we heat out water up on.)
  • Firewood
  • Fire Starter (bricks or gel)
  • DIY Firestarter
  • Reusable Bags

Puppy

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  • Food & Water
  • Food & Water Bowl
  • Long Leash
  • Doggie Bags
  • Treats
  • Sweater (if you’ve got a small short haired pup who needs it)
  • Glow in the Dark Collar!

Clothing

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  • Layers, Layers, Layers! (especially when it’s warm during the day, and cool when the sun sets.)
  • Wigwam Socks (to keep your little piggies toasty)
  • Warm Sneakers, Boots, or Moccasins.
  • I like to wear athletic pants that I can pull fleece pj pants over for extra warmth
  • Hoodie
  • Long & Short Sleeve Tees
  • Hat (sadly not everyone has an awesome sister in law to knit them a warm hat like we do. So you will have to settle for some other ho hum hat.)
  • Fingerless Gloves
  • And of course, flannel!

The Apartment Upstairs

By Natalie

We are so backwards. When Brandon and I first got married we lived in the second floor of a house owned by an older man. The entire floor was a completed upstairs apartment featuring our own kitchen, laundry, bedroom, bath, and separate driveway. It was everything the pair of us young love birds needed.

imageAfter 2 years we left the apartment to spend the summer house sitting a close friend’s home, while she was on a missions trip. Which allowed us the time to house hunt without being held captive by a lease. At the end of the summer we bought our first house, and remained there for just under a year when we decided to uproot our lives completely and move to Charlotte, NC. Which felt very much like running away together. Being the best sort of romantic.

We found a townhouse in what we believed to be an alright neighborhood, only to find a year later that our commutes were less than ideal, and the places we enjoyed passing time were miles away. All summer I sat in bed at night flicking through our limited rental options on Zillow. Searching for homes that our little family would be comfortable in, and I couldn’t find a single thing. Which when you are aching to move, is the very worst feeling.

Then one evening I was sipping on my white mocha at our new found favorite coffee shop, and I spotted a decent apartment. Being in a smaller space wouldn’t be half bad if we were living in the area we actually wanted to live in. So we decided why not pack up from the townhouse, and move on to see what another area might be like? You see, there’s something you have to understand about us. The older we get the more often we gather to reassess our everchanging future. “Is this the right time for this? Should we wait longer to make one of those? Should we go ahead and revamp the dining chairs? Would two dogs actually be better? Nope definitely not. And which vacation should we be planning for next?”

Well this time it was a conversation about living space, and if sacrificing a little extra elbow room, and storage space was worth being part of a community we enjoyed. When you move away to find yourself, you don’t just sit in the first place you see, and figure it’s good enough. You keep striving for everything you’ve dreamed of, and moving until it feels right. Moving to an apartment in a different part of town felt right. So we went ahead and threw our name in the hat, and ended up with a move in date.

At this point you know I’m giddy. There is nothing I love more than spending a Saturday afternoon sifting through the junk all the way in the back corner of the closets. I’m not even worried about packing up our place on my own this time. Because let’s face it, Brandon will most likely be sitting in the midst of all his cables deciding which ones to keep like he was deciding the name of our first child. All in the time that it takes me to bubble wrap our entire kitchen.

As I’ve recently been deciding what stays, and what goes I’ve nostalgically been thinking back on our old apartment. And how now it won’t be referred to as simply the apartment, but our first place together. As we will technically soon be in an apartment for the second time.

Our landlord at our first home together turned out to be friendly. His outrageously obnoxious sneezes were plenty audible from our bedroom, and his grunts, and coughs everytime he ate a meal, were a little embarrassing when company was over. But that situation could have been so much worse.

The carpet in our bedroom was dark green, and the kitchen cabinets had forest green leaf handles. The standing shower with the gold trimmed doors was a nightmare to clean, and the trees in the driveway always dusted something on our cars no matter what season it was.

At one point we had a nasty run in with bugs. These tiny little vermin would scurry across our kitchen countertops, and I tried so very hard to convince myself that they were not cockroaches. Until the night I was making dinner with the stove on, and the oven preheating, when I managed to smoke out the mama roach. Screaming for Brandon to come quick I realized those were all of her babies on my counter that I had been smushing. B caught her, and later admit to me that he’d seen her before, but her quick little legs escaped him. I must have heated up wherever she was living, so much so that she needed to peek out, and that’s how she lost her life. But you know, I don’t feel bad. Because every morning, and every night I’d scrub those countertops clean, annoyed by those nasty bugs that were screwing with my cleanliness.imageNow here I sit in our living room full of furniture we picked out together. Bingley asleep at my feet, and the sound of jets soaring through the sky, and I’m thinking to myself.. “Back then, I never saw us here.”

Sometimes when I’m making dinner in front of the stove I’ll have visions of old mama roach, and she reminds me of where we’ve come from. That every difficult period, and every transition has been so perfectly placed in our lives to teach us something, and to remind us of how grateful we should be for those stepping stones that landed us on our montaintop.

How We Vacation: Charleston

By Natalie

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Who’s idea was it to vacation in Charleston in this blazing heat?? Surely we weren’t thinking clearly when we pushed our trip from May to June.

Hot, muggy, beautiful Charleston,

Thanks for the tan.

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imageThis trip was actually amazing now that I’ve had a moment to think about it. We like to vacation with no particular plan in mind. No scheduled tours, no itinerary, just a handful of bookmarked Yelp found eateries, and places we might like to see.

Which works out pretty well for our personalities.

We revisited an Inn in Mt. Pleasant which perfectly sat us twelve minutes from downtown Charleston, and twelve minutes from Isle of Palms Beach in the other direction. We stayed at this inn for our 1 year anniversary and loved it so much we decided to go back, and I’d highly recommend! Three years later and this place still had an amazing breakfast, and wonderful service.

imageAlso, this cooler bag is a must.

Through my sunglasses I watched as a younger couple argued in the sand. The man stood red faced next his cooler on wheels, as the woman pointed toward the shore. “Look, right over there.” She said.

“If we just sit it on the packed wet sand, it’ll be fine.”

The man shook his head, clearly annoyed with beads of sweat rolling down his temple. “No, no no.. this thing’s gonna tip. I don’t know why we brought it.”

And yea, unless I was providing a beach lunch for a crowd, I’d have left the rolling cooler behind too.

This ↓ thermal bag is a much more practical option. To be honest I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. Thinking it’d solely get it’s use from the occasional picnic. But it’s proven to be great for the beach, (as seen previously here) and road trips too. It fits a few ice packs, and several tall drinks. Plus.. it’s personalized.

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This is my Could we pretty please stop by that cute Cafe a few blocks up? face. Cause I was getting pretty sun tired. image

I know, I know. Rainbow Row. It’s beautiful, it’s iconic. It’s a see it once, take a pano, and move along kind of place. We’re the type of people who drove across the golden gate bridge, took a few pics from inside the car, and zipped by the vistapoint. Cause.. the experience had been had. I saw the golden gate bridge for the first time. The moment was over as quickly as it came. It wasn’t going to do a backflip for me. It just was what it was. This magnificent structure that I had the privilege to see. And that was that.

Later, during that trip B and I had lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. The fog had cleared, and the top of the golden gate was just becoming visible. I peaked around Brandon to see the bridge standing ahead.

I remember the bridge pretty well.. but what’s much more vivid in my memory is that moment spent with Brandon. That moment where we sat together discussing all the new sights we were seeing.

I had the same experience when I went to Europe with my sister. We sat at a table outside a cafe in the middle of Athens. And just to the left of Nem’s head sat the Parthenon. It was such a surreal moment. We saw it up close. We toured it, and then there it sat in all it’s ruin, while Nem and I sipped our iced coffees. The parthenon was pretty fantastic, but so was the time we spent together. Attempting to thank our waiter in Greek.

We saw the trevi fountain together, and I remember it being crowded. Everyone scrambling to toss their coin in, and get a picture. I remember that we hung back, stepped into a gelato shop instead, and devoured the creamiest italian gelato with the fountain in our peripherals.

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I like keeping it that way. Spotting landmarks, and stealing a moment to take them in, and then focus on the person I’m sharing in that moment with. That’s what it’s all about for me.

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After rainbow row, we hit up Carmella’s. The doors were wide open inviting us inside to the cooler air. The menu had italian ice listed at the top. Sold. After tasting a sampling of Coconut Cream I COULD NOT turn it down.

The woman behind the counter asked if we’d like a glass of water to which we exasperatingly replied. “Please, yes, please, thank you so much.” Because we sweat gallons this trip, and being dehydrated makes you cranky, and no one wants a cranky spouse on vacation.

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Rosy cheeks, and happy. That’s what we were going for.

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p.s. How can my husband still look so manly while eating tangerine italian ice with a baby spoon?

I love him.imageAnd that’s how our trip went. Perfectly relaxing, and restoring. With a pleasant overdose of Vitamin D.

Playing House

By Natalie

imageEvery Friday morning I grab my reusable bags from the pantry, and go grocery shopping. The other Friday as I was pushing my cart through the deli I took notice of some long stemmed Calla Lillies, and I toyed with the idea of purchasing them, in honor of Spring. But then I saw some white tulips. And the tulips look marvelous this time of year. Don’t you think?

The same thing happened in the bakery, where I couldn’t decide if I wanted the vanilla almond biscotti, or the rasberry coffee cake. And it hit me. This feels a lot like playing house. I pick and choose the food that comes into our home. I also spend hours contemplating which beautiful things are complementary to our home, adding comfort, and style to make the space feel more unique to us.

After taking the Christmas decorations down in January I couldn’t bare staring at the empty spaces that were left behind. That’s when I decided to decorate through the seasons. Just a few things here and there so our living room gets fresh scenery, and I am reminded that change, and the passing of seasons in life is something to look forward to.

I sewed a pink and red polka dot bunting for our window in February… Tossed a speckled easter egg garland on the mantle for spring, with a fabric stuffed goose seated at the edge. Switched out the fall leaves welcome sign, for a dandelion one… I repot my plants, so they grow into the healthy living beauties they are. Wash the throw blankets often so they feel worn, and puff out freshness with every fluff.

I saw a picture on Brandon’s phone of Bingley laying in the middle of the living room. Our colorful pillows were tossled on the couch, and our houseplants sat beautifully green on the windowsill… And I wondered if he was glad that I cared to make our home cozy, and inviting. I wondered if he noticed I try my hardest to make our life beautiful… That I care so much about the little things.

A few Saturdays ago I awoke to find Brandon laying on the couch downstairs. Bingley laid on the floor near his head, knowing that his friend was unwell, and in need of company.

B lay there, pale, and exausted. I sat down next to him, already feeling the heat radiating from his body, and I placed my hand on his forehead. “I have a fever.” He said. To which I nodded. Poor hubs woke early with that fever and slept downstairs to be surrounded by cooler air. After taking some over the counter meds the past few days, and still feeling crummy with a fever we thought it best to run to the doctor, just to be sure there wasn’t something worse than a cold or allergies going on.

This was our first doctor visit since living in this new town, so B sat for a few minutes filling out his new patient paperwork.

“Here can you sign this release of information form?” He said handing me the clipboard. “Where it says spouse.”

I took the pen in my hand and signed my name, looking at the form over and over. Spouse. It still seems crazy to me. That word. I’m his spouse. The one who plans the food he’s going to eat every week. The one who washes the sheets with the fabric softener he loves. The one who greets him every morning. The one who takes him to the doctor when he’s sick. The one he’s chosen to share his life with…

This isn’t just playing house anymore. This is the real deal. Every day, every night.

At church this morning Pastor Steven asked what we’re still leaning on from our old understanding. And I thought about how much I self destruct, and wait for things to crumble as they have in the past. Pushing up my guard before anyone could possibly get to me to hurt me. But then… no one gets to me either, including my spouse. Who I’m not just playing house with anymore. We’re living life alongside eachother. The best way I could make sense of all this was to jot it down. Read over and over again that we’re in this for the long haul. No matter what my former understanding of love was, and no matter what my past experiences have been. I have a new ability, and strength in love, and I’m ready to start believing in it.

My Future Little Ones…

By Natalie

imageLately we’ve been talking alot about you tinies. Little things like what names we’ll give to you, and when would be best to bring you into this world. And though it’s still a long way off, these discussions have made my heart more than content. They’ve given me a purpose to better myself, and enjoy a childless marriage while it lasts. Cause once you’re here we’ll be parents forever. We’ve been striving these past almost four years to prepare ourselves to be everything you need. Making a home for you that has love spilling out of the walls, and family written all over it.

What will it be like when we see you for the first time? What will it feel like to have you grow inside me? What will it feel like if I find for some reason that you’re unable to grow inside me? Will your eyes be brown, or will they be green? Will you be born healthy? What if you’re not? What will our marriage look like when you’ve kept us awake at night? What will our home look like after you’ve arrived?

Oh, but you… We’ve waited for you. We’ve learned how to care for one another, how to read one another, so that when you come as this little bundle of joy with no user manual we can figure it out together. As your parents, who have come to figure out so many other blessings and challenges. And you know what I think? I think you’re going to make us more in love with eachother. You’re going to stretch us. You’re going to push us into becoming better people as we have done already in our marriage. You’re going to teach us how to love deeper, and sacrifice more. You’re going to show us the beauty of God’s love through being your parents. Perhaps I need that to be written down here for future reference. When you are crying, and I’m stumped by what may be bothering you. Or a while down the road when we’re no longer your heros, but embarassing parents. Will we be embarassing parents? We’ve asked ourselves that, and convinced ourselves that we certainly would not be.. I wonder if you will one day think differently.

Some pressume you’ll be like your cousins. Spitting up, when we thought for sure there was nothing left to spit up. Exhausting us, and asking us to fall in love with you through your fussiness. I have a feeling they’ll be right. But that’s ok sweet babies. Because you’ll be ours. If I have learned to love all of the little quirks about my husband, and he has learned to love the little quirks about me, we must learn to love all of the little quirks about you. Because with us as your parents, you’re bound to have quirks.

We’re going to break each other, and mold eachother. We’re going to be a family.

Until then tiny ones, all that we do will be in preparation for you.

Christmas in the City

By Natalie

imageBrandon and I began our day in the 7th street public market in hopes that two equisitely made lattes would scare away our sleepy eyes. Much to my excitement we found that the streets of Uptown Charlotte had been hit by the Christmas bug.

This weather is not convincing me that Christmas is around the corner. The mornings are just a bit chilly, covering car windshields with the slightest layer of frost. But by the time the sun really wakes up the frost melts, and it hits the upper 50s by lunchtime… Thankfully it’s at least starting to look and sound like Christmas around these parts, even though the weather insists on being warm.

There’s nerd nutcrackers, gingerbread houses to model Charlotte shops, toy soldiers, giant presents in the park. And on top of all that you can find musicians every few blocks. I had a bundle of ones in my wallet so I decided to share it with an elderly man who was puffing beautiful Christmas music into his trumpet. I dropped the money in his jar, and with his lips still pressed to the mouthpiece he smiled at me, and gave me a thumbs up. His sound carried for blocks, putting everyone in the best sort of spirit, to be reminded that Christmas is just around the corner.

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imageWe had some time to kill Sunday afternoon so Brandon and I were pushed onto the city streets. It was the best kind of afternoon. The kind that provides perfect sweater weather, and emits love into the air. Sometimes I forget just how nice it is to walk with my husband hand in hand. It’s the sweetest thing on earth.

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As much as I am in love with the skyscrapers I have to say they are no match for the city’s Christmas tree.

Don’t you just love these extra tall Christmas trees that stop the people in the streets to gaze in wonder? It’s no Rockefeller center, but it’s in our neck of the woods, and it’s perfect.

imageAnd big giant ornaments littered along the way to match. How grand is that?

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imageMerry Christmas everybody. Here’s some happy reindeer to put all of you Scrooges in the mood. They’re happy, I can just tell.

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