Flashback Friday: The Wedding Candids

Smiling during a toast from Martin’s Bundeswehr commander (not seen) after our church ceremony.

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #000000;”] M [/dropcap]artin and I celebrate 12 years of marriage this weekend as both our legal and church ceremony dates fall neatly over the weekend.

Even though we’ve observed more than a decade of anniversaries, I’m still not done talking about the best day ever. And I’m lucky that Martin still likes to talk about it, too, because it’s fun to think back to the day we were surrounded by our friends and family from both Germany and America, and pledge ourselves to a lifetime together.

Best of all, our girls are at ages now where they want to hear all about it, too. Lord knows I have plenty of photos to share with them. The smartest thing I did for my wedding was invite my friend and colleague Phillip, an aspiring photographer with his own digital camera equipment. In addition to my father who insisted on taking photos with his film camera equipment throughout the day (he literally walked me down the aisle with his camera tucked into his jacket), my friend Phillip was given free reign to take as many photos as he wanted, too.

And I got all of those high-quality, beautiful photos.

This year, I’ll be showing the girls all those photos and telling them everything I remember about that day. I’ll also be taking my wedding dress out of the trunk and let them step inside of it, too, if they want, pointing out to them that it wasn’t the dress that made me so gorgeous that day, but the love and happiness I felt — and still feel — for their father.

For this Flashback Friday, I’m posting this slidehow of photos that haven’t been posted yet here on the blog.

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Flashback Friday: Former Future Feminist Cookies

It’s the season for blizzards and Girl Scout cookies, both doing their due diligence to wreck my diet and fitness routine.

We put in two orders with two little friends, a mix of chocolate, peanut butter, coconut, and minty goodness. It’s tradition.

Every year, the packaging features new photos of Girl Scouts doing the things Girl Scouts do: canoeing, helping others, etc. There are also quotes and information about the organization, badges, and other relevant information. Continue reading

That Was Cute

Last night, as I gave the men in my house Air Force-authorized buzz cuts, Martin was teasing me, asking if I was going to get up extra early and make him coffee/breakfast as he does for me when I go to work. The thing is, though, he has to leave the house no later than 6 a.m. on a Saturday to get to the air base on time.

Even so, I told him I would do it. Continue reading

Super Moon

Photo taken from our back porch.

 

Did you see the “super moon” this weekend?

Martin and I stepped out onto our back porch shortly after midnight to go look up. I considered waking up the girls, as we’ve done in the past during such celestial events, but both of them crashed pretty late and they need their sleep.

Besides, it was nice to step outside and be alone with my husband, illuminated by nothing but the moon.

Continue reading

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.

************

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.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Three desserts.

Martin and I snuck away for an early Valentine’s Day dinner over the weekend.

This time, we went north to Leesburg to eat at an Italian restaurant in the middle of the old town. The both of us ordered the specials: his a grilled Caesar salad and mine the fillet mignon, as well as a whole bottle of red wine from the region where we used to live.


Then we ordered three desserts to share because we couldn’t make up our mind on just two dishes and really, why not?

So, I got chocolate cake smothered in raspberry sauce and cream, and he had tiramisu, and when we finished those, we shared a double-layered crème brûlée

  

Shortly before the waiter brought us the three desserts, Martin pulled out a jewelry box and presented me with a beautiful diamond and silver heart pendant. I loved it immediately, and put it on over my scarf, which I’ve been wearing lately to cover the rash I developed after stopping the antibiotics prescribed to me for my latest upper respiratory infection. (*Post edit: I was eventually diagnosed with classic Pityriasis Rosea weeks later after a few more trips to the doctor. It’s a bizarre viral skin rash. I do not recommend it.)

Because who else would develop a rare and unsightly rash a week before her husband leaves for months?

Me.

Of course.

When not stuffing ourselves silly and discussing my ability to to come down with the weirdest health issues, Martin and I also watched outside the window as vehicle after vehicle carefully pulled into the parking space in front of the restaurant on the busy main street, only to drive off in frustration after realizing the “no parking” sign next to it. (The space is reserved for law enforcement, apparently.)

That never got old.

**************************
Did you stop by Martin’s farewell party
The party is online, and you are invited to drop in and leave a note for Martin before he boards the airplane and heads to Lackland Air Force Base.
You don’t have to have a military background to share anything: he enjoys reading and responding to everyone who posted.
Actually, the both of us have really enjoyed the whole thing. When I created the Facebook event, I did not expect it to evolve as it did. I just knew that various friends and family wanted to wish Martin well.
It’s turned into a really fun space where people have shared their own military memories and advice, some great photos, and other fun messages.
Go visit us there!

The First Tree

A photo we used for one of our holiday cards in 2002.

It wasn’t our first Christmas together, but Christmas 2002 was our first as newlyweds.

We were living in a pink, three-bedroom townhouse in a small village located at the base of the Italian Alps. It had a total of four floors if you included the finished attic and basement. The rooms echoed when we walked or talked.

Between the two of us and our former lives as single, nomadic military dorm dwellers, we didn’t bring into the marriage a lot of furniture to fill the space.

And with me bringing in the lone paycheck as a lowly enlisted E-3 with just two years of service, we weren’t exactly swimming in the funds to fill a home any time soon.

Loading up bookshelves in Germany for our drive back to Italy in 2002.


However, in the weeks leading up to the holidays, we were able to purchase an entertainment center and bookshelves in Germany, and our couch and sofa arrived from the base exchange. Martin and I were thrilled that of all that space in our townhouse, we had a comfortable living room at least.

The day after Thanksgiving, I set up my little Christmas tree, the one that stood up to my hip, that looked so adorable, even without lights, in my German studio apartment the Christmas before.

However, the living room immediately swallowed it. Martin didn’t even notice it in the corner.

So, I decided we needed to do something about our lack of holiday decor, and off we went up to the base exchange, which was selling Christmas items since before Halloween. I was nervous, though, and with good reason. There were only two normal-sized Christmas trees left in the entire store. If I remember correctly, one was frosted white. The other was pre-lit and covered in attached holly berries.

We took the pre-lit with holly berries. I cringed at the cost of it, though. But Martin didn’t say a single thing about it because he noticed a sign at the register saying we could get a 50% discount on all Christmas items, but only if we sang a Christmas carol over the store intercom. When it came time to pay, he asked about the offer, and was surprised to learn that very few people took it up. Something about not wanting to make a fool of themselves in public or something.

The cashier handed him the microphone. He handed it to me.

“Go,” he said. “I’m not paying full price for this.”

So I sang the first song that came to mind: “O Christmas Tree.” However, I forgot the lyrics after the first line, but managed to improvise lyrics about the benefits of shopping at the base exchange.

People actually applauded.

So Martin and I rushed home with our deeply-discounted tree, and set it up in a corner near the window, which was pretty easy to do since it was already pre-lit, and we only had about 10 or so little ornaments from my first little tree.

But despite all the lights and holly berries, our tree still looked remarkably naked.

That’s when I remembered that sugar cookies can make great ornaments. We were given a great cookie-cutter set as a wedding gift, so for the rest of the night, Martin and I were busy baking our ornaments. Bells. Snowmen. Stars.

I found a spool of blue satin ribbon, and we used that to hang up our work. In the midst of the baking, we also watched a movie and strung up some popcorn on some thread as garland.

A box of candy canes completed the whole look.

Despite all our hard work, I only took one photo of that Christmas tree. Fortunately, I got video of it, but only one photo.

It wasn’t even a photo of the tree: it just happened to appear in the background.

One photo.

(That was the first Christmas we had a digital camera, by the way. I was still learning.)

Of course, all those ornaments are gone. We still have the tree though, although most of the holly berries have come off and we replaced all the lights a few years ago. Our collection of ornaments has grown in ten years, of course. Almost every ornament we own has some sentimental story behind it, and I love that. Our Christmas tree looks lush and full of those tangible memories, with more hanging from the branches each year.

But if you ask me which tree I remember and love the most?

It’ll be that first one. Nearly naked. Full of cookies and popcorn.

Adorned with love.