This Is the Rest of Your Life

My thought as I took this photo in 2000?
“This is soooo going on my future web journal when I get this film developed.”

I forgot to point out a special anniversary/birthday earlier this week.

This blog turned 12 years old on July 28.

If it were my child, it would be going through puberty now. But I feel like blog years are sort of like dog years in that things grow and change rapidly, so in Internet/social media/technology years, my blog is really almost 200 years old.

I’m pretty proud of my archive over there.

For fun, I’m sharing with you some photos that were taken around the time I first started blogging/recording our history in 2000/2001, as well as the podcast Martin and I created a few years ago about that year.

You’ll see skinny Martin. Such a hunk.

Oh, and in recognition of my blog going through puberty (sort of), I’m also including one of the most delightful things I’ve seen on the Internet yet.

Enjoy. And happy belated blog birthday!

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Shut up. This was one of my clubbing outfits. Not even joking. There are no other photos of me in this shirt.
Grateful there were no cell phone cameras back in 2001. Thank you, Jesus.

His and her vehicles. Mine was a 1988 Ford Sierra and Martin had a 1992 Honda Civic.

Martin and his mother in fall of 2000, the day he left for Bundeswehr basic training. Love. That. Hair.

Martin wearing my BCGs — birth control glasses — from basic training while talking on the phone in my Kaiserslautern apartment to my family in the states in early 2001. I can assure you he did not put those glasses on himself.

I traveled a lot back then. This photo was taken in Berlin while I was visiting my friend Pam. I found the people in Berlin to be very friendly, although they had a thing for very strange hats.

Martin, his sister Carola, my dad, and my ol’ roommate, Stephanie, in Nuremberg in early 2001.

Dress shopping in the summer of 2001 while visiting Ohio.

That’s Martin on the far right during his Bundeswehr days. Look at those computer monitors.

Getting promoted to airman first class! Two stripes! YES! That was in the spring of 2001.
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On another note,  some habits die hard.

It’s gray and dreary today, and as I wrangled the kids out of the house this morning, I called over my shoulder, asking Martin to grab me an umbrella I could take to work with me.When I saw which one he brought me, I blurted out, “Oh, no! I can’t use that one!”

And he said, “Julie. It’s fine. It’s pink. And you are not in the military or in uniform anymore.”
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They Came, They Saw, They Smelled

The stinky flower finally bloomed.

After a good solid week of web-gazing at the US Botanical Garden’s live-stream of the Titan Arum “corpse” flower, the girls were thrilled to see that it finally released it’s petals — and it’s stench of death and decay — over the weekend.

They were, however, disappointed they missed the opportunity to inhale and welcome the odor into their nostrils.

The smell only lasts for a few hours, and apparently, the smell was strongest overnight on July 21st.

Alas, that didn’t stop Martin, Jaz, and the girls from heading on over and waiting in line to see the tall flower Tuesday when they dropped me off at work downtown.

Martin sent me photos of the kids in front of the bloom. Jaz looked a bit unimpressed (I usually make the same face in long lines, too) whereas the girls were hams, of course.

Later in the day, Martin also forwarded me an email he received from a woman they met there in the gardens.

He explained that Miss C started chatting with a lady as they stood in line to see the stinky flower, and both girls began sharing all the things they learned online about the flower, and how it bloomed, and why it stinks, and why it happens for such a short time.

The lady was so impressed, she offered to send them a photo of the flower from when it was in full bloom over the weekend, since she got to see it herself.

Martin gave her his email address, and the lady did as promised, sending the image below to Martin who forwarded it to me.

It’s an amazing, colorful photo of the inside of the flower as it’s petals are peeled back and fully stretched out.

And as I looked at the email address and her signature information, I realized the lady who sent it is THE special events coordinator for the Botanical Gardens.

I immediately wrote to her, thanking her for her kindness, and she wrote back saying my girls were so sweet, and their interest was immediately apparent. She said it was a pleasure to speak with them.

It made me so, so excited for my curious, charming, and chatty girls! So many lessons came out of this. A little bit of biology. A little bit of botany. Some social media. Some networking. And the knowledge that even the stinky stuff can be a lot of fun.

Photo courtesy of the US Botanical Gardens.

Just Add Zing


I think it happens in all marriages or long-term relationships:
at some point, that zing — that mysterious and powerful tension — that cackled and sparked in the early days of the relationship dissolves into something that’s a lot more tepid.

It definitely happened in ours.


And let me be clear: I’m not talking about romance or attraction, or even THAT specifically, either. With a little bit of effort, I think all of those things are sustainable. Martin has always been good about finding little romantic things to do for me, and I like to think I‘ve done the same for him. And I’ve never doubted that he finds me attractive, just as I’ve always found him to be one good-looking dude. No complaints here.


But after awhile — and especially after three kids and more than a decade together — things become … comfortable, right? 

Like, it’s just assumed one will get a kiss from the other before leaving the house, if one’s not in too much a rush. What was once bought at Victoria’s Secret gets picked up from the clearance rack at Target. Putting on anything other than yoga pants is a sign you want to be taken out. Nobody thinks twice before passing gas under the sheets. And there are no surprises, except maybe when helping identify whatever it is that’s growing on the other’s back that he/she can’t see in a mirror.

It’s not that this level of comfort is a bad thing. In fact, being at that comfort level with each other is a comfort all by itself, in a way, because it means we’ve been through it all, we know each other completely, and are free to be ourselves.


Yet, being at that level also means that gone are the days of that zing, that puppy love and anticipation, right?


Wrong. 


It IS possible to put zing back into one’s marriage even after fourteen years together, three kids, stretch marks and hair loss. 

Here’s how you can do it, too.

1) Send your spouse or significant other to basic military training, or some other environment that’s going to completely remove them from your home for months at a time. Deployments are an alternative, but I don’t recommend them. Be sure that all forms of communication are severed, except for traditional letter-writing and maybe one phone call every two weeks. It also helps if wherever you send them uses physical fitness as punishment in the form of push-ups, situps, and flutter-kicks.

2)  While your spouse is away, write a ton of letters and feel free to share things that are much easier to share on paper than they are person-to-person.

3) Lose nearly 20 pounds, but don’t mention it at all to your spouse. On the days you reunite with your loved one, wear clothes that fit you well and show off your assets. (Hey, that’s advice straight from Tim Gunn!) In fact, wear a snazzy dress in his favorite color on you. Bonus points if it’s two sizes smaller than what you were wearing when he left. Get your nails did and your hair done, too.


4) No matter what, do NOT forget the rules. Most importantly, don’t forget that Airmen in uniform are not allowed to participate in any form of PDA (public display of affection.) This means no kissing, no hugging, no snuggling, no hand holding. Even if the closest you’ve been to holding your spouse’s hand in public in about five years were all the times you were handing a diaper bag/stroller/baby bottle/flashing the bird to him, you will suddenly want to hold his hand all the time. Nope. Don’t do it. You get about 20 seconds to do this when you FIRST see your spouse, but anything after that is unacceptable.

5) Don’t gawk too much when you finally see your spouse and you see that all the running, push-ups, sit-ups, and flutter kicks shaved about 10 years off of him, and that he still looks really, really good in uniform. Try not to stare.


6) Be prepared to feel incredibly awkward at all times. Don’t take it personally when, after the official graduation ceremony and after he’s already seen you the day before, your spouse just sort of pats you on the back because he doesn’t want to break any rules … and he doesn’t want others to think he’s breaking the rules, either. Use your kid — who is allowed to hold hands with your spouse — as a barrier. Be prepared for questions and clumsy behavior. Such as when your daughter asks in the car why Dad won’t hold Mom’s hand, and as he’s explaining the reasons, you turn on the car radio only to realize you left the volume turned up and the song that’s playing on the radio just happens to be “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. Bonus points if your husband’s wingman from Nigeria is in the back of the car, singing along as you fumble for the volume because he thinks it’s a really good song. Yeah. Awkward.



 

7) At other times, try sitting or standing far apart from your spouse so that nobody suspects you really just want to jump each other’s bones. Try not to blush when your good friends — ah, those good, ol’ friends — point out that they can tell you just want to jump each other’s bones. Be horrified when they actually capture this in photos.

 


8) When touring your husband’s dorms while wearing that snazzy dress, be sure to remember that there are chrome strips running along the floor and they’ve been polished to shine. And reflect. Since you are a lady, don’t panic: just swiftly step/shuffle over them so that nothing is revealed. But as you are leaving the dorms, lean over and whisper to your husband that a warning for such an issue would have been nice because one can see everything — everything — in those chrome plates. Pretend not to notice his jaw drop.

9) In the most gracious and vague way possible, ask your husband to (gently) ditch his wingman — who has provided excellent wingman support for two whole days — because you and your daughter had your hearts set on going to SeaWorld for some family time on his first day of town pass. Pick him up early the next morning and mention that your daughter went to the early morning Shamu show with a friend, and that you guys will join them there. But the truth is, you’ve actually arranged it so that your daughter gets to spend her day at the zoo with a friend’s family. But he doesn’t have to know that.

10) Don’t be alarmed when in the parking lot of the resort hotel where one has booked one of the finest rooms in the whole place with deluxe room service and lots of food, your husband looks confused, and after a moment of silence, says, “So, we’re NOT going to Sea World?”


Zing.

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A Beginning

Martin and me cracking up as our photo was taken in 2010.

Martin called last night.

It was the first time we heard from him in almost two weeks.

Every time he’s called in the past, he always seemed a little disoriented about the dates. To him, the weeks have flown by; he’s been so busy. And with little access to the outside world and absolutely no access to the Internet, it’s been easy for him to lose track of the seasons and current events, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if he didn’t immediately recall that our wedding anniversary is later this week, but he did.

He remembered, and wished me a happy anniversary right away.

Such a good man.

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This is the first time in our marriage that we are apart on our anniversary.

Last year, we renewed our vows in a small ceremony with our family and friends in Cincinnati. At the time, we were feeling pretty settled and in a good place — in our 30s with three kids and a nice house and steady income, living the dream — and we wanted to celebrate the milestone of keeping it together for a whole decade.

At that moment one year ago, Martin joining the military again was not on our radar.

At all.

But there we were then, and here we are now.

Geographically separated.

Communicating through sporadic letters and phone calls.

Disconnected as we individually deal with stressful situations.

Despite all that, though, I feel like we’re experiencing a different type of renewal this year.

And it’s not a benchmark, but a beginning.

So I’m not disappointed at all with our circumstances this anniversary.

Because even on the days when I’m overwhelmed and feel like an unbearable clamp is on my heart from the frustration and loneliness, I feel so confident that we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

Flashback Friday: Mood Bags

 

 

Martin was a superhero the week I first published today’s Flashback Friday.
My girlfriends swooned.
My guy-friends took notes or cursed him for setting the bar so high.
At the time, I was just over a month into my new job and my new commute into the city. Meanwhile, he was relishing his new life as a stay-at-home dad, and was flexing his creativity muscles in his new role.
So, he came up with Mood Bags.
He saw that I was coming home exhausted every night, that I really didn’t want to get into a conversation about my work day, and that I was stretching myself thin trying to be everything to everyone.
So he devised a way that allowed for me to communicate with him without saying a word.
Suffice to say I’m looking forward to when he’s home for good again,  so we can participate in some more wordless communication.
Via the Mood Bags.
Of course.

All About His Hair

The before photo.

I cut Martin’s hair again last night.

For the first time ever, he let me use the number one blade from the hair-cutting kit, the blade that cuts the hair the shortest. During his first week at basic training, they will shave his head completely along with all the other male recruits.

I’ve asked him if I can go ahead and shave him now, a few weeks ahead of time so he can still grow some back and all, to appease my curiosity as to what he would look like completely bald.

He declined on the shaving.

But agreed to the close crop.

Continue reading

This Year

This is perhaps only a third of the blog photos I posted this year.

Wow, it’s been a year.

It started off with some pretty major changes for our family. A new job for me. A new job for Martin. A new way of life for all of us.

Since last January, we woke up in the same house (most days) with the same spouse (of course) with the same kids (always), and went about our business. But as it tends to go, that business fell on a sliding scale of adventure and activity  … and, well, life.

Some days were lazy. Some days were crazy. There’s no denying there’s always something going on at our house. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Based on our statistics, the entries below were the top 10 most-read blog posts published this year. Thank you to our readers who followed and supported us this year.

We wish all of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Most Viewed

She Who Had No Idea – She looked down on military service. I looked down on unprofessional behavior.

We Stay Together For the Kids – My thoughts as Martin and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary.

Former Future Girl Scout Feminist – My response to an Indiana politician who blamed the Girl Scouts on the downfall of American society.

Martin’s Blog: Are You Dad Enough? – Martin’s response to that Time magazine breastfeeding/attachment parenting cover.

Julie and Martin: The End of Our Blog – Our April Fools Day prank.

A Long and Sad Weekend – My post about our recent miscarriage.

Major Life Change – The one where I talk about our new jobs.

Just Another Day – The one where Martin enlisted in the US Air Force Reserve.

Julie and Martin: Mood Bags – The one where Martin surprised me with his creativity.

Things That Were Awesome – The one where Tim Gunn gave me a make-over on national television.

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Do you have a favorite Julie and Martin post from 2012? Tell us below!

Bumptabulous: 20 Moms Expose Pregnancy

The book is now here.

Of course, I’m talking about that book, the one that had me huffing and puffing until I finally delivered essays about my experience with pregnancy and motherhood, peppered with humor and my usual reflection.

Fortunately, Alinka (the mastermind behind the book) and her editors felt the essays were nice enough to publish in Bumptabulous: 20 Moms Expose Pregnancy.

I’m one of the featured authors and mothers.  Alinka found me after I earned the Parents Magazine Readers Choice Award for Best All-Around Mom Blog, and asked if I would be interested in participating.

I’m so glad I did!

From the press release: 


They will make you laugh, they will make you sigh, they will make you think and some might even make you cry! Get to know them one by one and follow their blogs after the read – it sure is an exciting one as many details have never been released before! No two stories are the same – we have different nationalities, different backgrounds, different number of children, different approaches to life. What the ladies do have in common is the ability to sit back, reflect and laugh.

The book went on sale on Amazon just in time for Black Friday and here I am posting on Cyber Monday.

Coincidence? I think not. *wink*

You can order it HERE.

Beard Be Gone

In the midst of our Hurricane Sandy preparations, Martin took a break to shave off his beard and mustache on Friday night.

The last time he shaved his face was the morning I went into labor with Jaz, before he left for work that morning. Neither of us expected that I would go into labor that afternoon, so needless to say, we were in such a rush packing our bags for the hospital, he forgot to pack his electric razor.

By the time we left the hospital a few days later, he was sporting some nice face fuzz and I mentioned that I really liked it.

So he didn’t touch it except to give it some shape when he returned to work six weeks later, and he kept it around ever since.

But now that he’s about to become a bona-fide American Airman, his recruiter mentioned he now has to abide by Air Force Instruction 36-2903: Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel when Martin reports for his monthly check-in with his recruiter. AFI 36-2903 is the official set of rules, so to speak, that all Airmen have to follow when in uniform. They dictate how one can wear his/her hair, how badges and rank are sewn, what color socks are worn, grooming habits … everything regarding an Airman’s appearance.      

So, Friday evening, Martin grabbed his electrical razor and got to work. 

I really wanted him to remove his hair in stages. I mean, how funny would it be to have seen him with some mutton chops? But alas, he scoffed at my suggestions and started with his sideburns, completely ignoring me as I hovered over his shoulder with my camera.   

The next morning, I took a photo of him after he got back from the recruiter’s office, wearing a bright blue Air Force Reserve shirt and looking like the young man he was the first time he graduated from basic training.

That was 12 years ago this month, by the way, his graduation from the Bundeswehr basic training.

Isn’t it annoying how he hasn’t aged a bit?

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This photo is creepy for so many reasons.

Martin trying not to laugh at my inappropriate mustache jokes.

Martin, returning from the Air Force Reserve recruiters, Oct. 2012 in Northern Virginia

Martin, after I gave him a military haircut in my apartment in Kaiserslautern, Germany, sometime in 2001.

 

Good Luck, Old Man

Martin, age six (I think) while vacationing in Italy

Martin celebrates another birthday today.

He’s got quite a year ahead of him, to say the least. I still think of him as a young man, but in a few months, he’ll be shipping off to train with younger men who will be nearly half his age.

Seriously.

I did the math on a calculator to be sure.

He’ll probably be the oldest in his Air Force basic training flight. A lot of the instructors yelling at him will probably be younger than him, too. He’s lucky they shave everyone’s head at the beginning. Nobody will see his gray hair right away.

I told him once word gets around — that’s he’s older and a former German tank commander, a former German basic training instructor, even — the expectations are going to be higher. They’ll expect The Old Man to step up and set the example, to get things right the first time because he’s done all this stuff before.

The eyeballs are going to be on him as he pumps out those push-ups and sit-ups. The jokes will fly when he breaks a sweat.

I don’t know if I should be worried or amused for him.

Mostly amused.

Good luck and Happy Birthday, Old Man.