Friday, September 30, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Take 27)

--- 1 ---

Yesterday I took a tour of a local crisis pregnancy center in the area to learn about their volunteer opportunities.  They have many opportunities to volunteer with administrative work, but I also have the ability to go through training next month to be a counselor and work one on one with pregnant clients seeking support.  I would really love to work as a counselor, but I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make an adequate time commitment once the baby arrives in a couple months.  Whatever I decide to do, I am very excited to be involved.  What great timing that I'm starting during the 40 Days for Life!

--- 2 ---

I wrote a post yesterday about how I'm finally getting this housewife thing down.  As soon as I finished writing it, I realized that everything is going to change in a few months once the baby is here, and I'm going to have to relearn all over again.  Of course, I'm so excited for the baby to arrive, but very anxious about adjusting to the change.  If it took me over a year to figure out how to keep house, how long is it going to take to figure out motherhood?  Or is that something you ever really have "figured out"?

--- 3 ---

I've tried several recipes from Pinterest so far, but haven't done much in the way of attempting the many amazing craft/DIY projects I've pinned.  I'd love to make one of these monographed/initialed wall decorations for the baby, but not knowing the sex makes it difficult.  I'm not saying that if I could do it over again, I would find out the sex, because I definitely wouldn't - I love the mounting excitement that comes with the surprise!  But now it leaves me debating whether I should make one of each of these (with the respective initials for the boy and girl names we've chosen)...

Source: via Mandi on Pinterest

--- 4 ---

Earlier this week, I bought my first Groupon deal.  I feel like I'm probably the last person to get on the Groupon bandwagon, but I tend to be a little slow in understanding the new "it" things on the internet/social media (I was a slow starter on Pinterest and Twitter too, but I think I'm getting a handle on those too!).  I bought two tickets to a comedy show for $8 (the deal was for $18, but Groupon sent me $10 off code for opening an accound just  few days before).  Did you hear that?  Date night for only $8!

--- 5 ---

I picked up this book, Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet, at the library a couple weeks ago and only got the chance to start it the other night.  When I saw it on the shelf, I just couldn't resist - a book about the history of ballet!  Oh man, I am such a history nerd AND a girly romantic that once told my parents I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up.  I probably couldn't have picked a more perfect book for me.

--- 6 ---

I like reading articles about athletes that are strong in their Catholic faith.  I recently came across this one about NFL player Philip Rivers.  I love that he attributed the strength of his marriage to Natural Family Planning.  While much of the news about sports players has become focused around their various sexual daliances and affairs, I found this to be refreshing!
--- 7 ---

My husband is working until at least nine tonight.  I know that many wives often have to endure their husband working long hours or being gone on business trips, so I feel like I'm being a baby about it but I just don't know what to do with myself while he's gone because he's never worked later than six o'clock or so.  I have a long, lonely evening ahead of me!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hitting my Stride as a Housewife

Last month, I wrote a post about how I was home all day but couldn't seem to get anything done.  But this week, I feel like I've finally hit my stride as a housewife.  I'm getting housework done, trying new things, and filling extra time with edifying activities.

A couple things have helped me to be more productive. I'm making sure to get out of the house at least once a day to run errands or for social interaction.  I make a to-do list every night for the next day (I really like this printable daily page).  I printed out daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal cleaning checklists (courtesy of Martha Stewart), put them in page protectors in a binder, and made a point to check off a few chores every day.

But let's be honest, the key to my new found housewife success (well, success is probably too strong of a word, maybe competency is a little more like it) has been Pinterest.  I've been on Pinterest for quite a while now and had a really hard time getting into it.  At first, it just seemed like a place to save pretty pictures, take note of the clothing I would never be able to afford, and admire the crafts I would never be able to execute.  And really, it can still be those things, but I've found that Pinterest is what you make of it, and I've found a way to make it work for me.  I've mostly used it to pin and find recipes, and found it particularly helpful to make two separate boards for recipes - one for new recipes I've found and another to move recipes to once I've tried and enjoyed them.

I've also really liked pinning potential gifts so I have a bank of ideas to draw from when gift-giving occasions arise.  And I've pinned some craft ideas, although I've made sure only pin the ones that are feasible related to my crafting ability (nearly nonexistent) and financial resources (actually nonexistent).

The true magic in Pinterest is that it's forced me to be adventurous and try new things, which has been a huge motivation in getting things done.  Here's a little sampling of some of my new experiments around the house:

End of Summer Harvest Slow Cooker Recipe

I made this for last night's dinner with vegetables I got at the farmer's market last weekend.  I had to go all over the city to find the dried white Cannellini beans (finally found them at Whole Foods), but it was definitely worth it.  It was the first time I'd used our crock pot since receiving it as a wedding gift over a year ago, but I am definitely hooked on slow cooking - I spent a half hour chopping vegetables and putting everything in the crock pot in the morning and didn't have to worry about cooking for the rest of the day.  And I loved how it made the whole apartment smell.  Mmmm...

Roasted Fall Vegetables

                                                                           Source: via Mandi on Pinterest

I made these roasted fall vegetables with fish for dinner Sunday night.  I'd never made roasted vegetables before, although I had some recently at a friend's barbecue and had been wanting to try it.  When I came across this recipe, I was inspired.  Although the weather is still a little too warm for all this fall-themed food, these recipes looked just too good to resist!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

                                                                         Source: via Mandi on Pinterest

I made my first batch of homemade laundry detergent yesterday.  I haven't had a chance to use it yet, so I'm not sure how well it will work, but if it does, it definitely will save us quite a bit on laundry detergent in the future.  Plus, it was kind of fun to make.  I felt like a chemist mixing ingredients (yes, I know that was a really dorky analogy, but why does my husband get to have all the fun working in a lab?).  

If you've enjoyed reading about my new housewife adventures this week, 
you can check out more adventurous bloggers at Alicia's Homemaking.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Marrying Young: Keeping House

One of the biggest difficulties I had adjusting to life as a wife stemmed not from the new marriage, but from the fact that I had never managed a household, something that I attribute to my age.  Many of the women I know who married in their late twenties or beyond had lived alone for years, many of them owned their own homes, and they had already learned housekeeping skills.  Of course, keeping house is a bit different with a husband, and later on with children, but many of the basic skills need not be relearned. 

Although I hadn’t lived in my parents’ home for five years, those five years were spent very much in “college living”.  I lived in the dorms the first year, and the same house the next four years while rotating through various roommates.  Living with other people in a non-family setting meant that chores weren’t done regularly or with any rhyme or reason.  I could cook a few decent meals, but I rarely bothered making full meals because it seemed like a lot of hassle for one person and with my busy work and school schedule, I felt my time was better spent doing something else.   Looking back, it  was very shortsighted of me to neglect the development of these basic skills.  For some reason, I was assuming that when I said my marriage vows, I would suddenly be endowed with “wifely knowledge”.   Yet over a year later, I am still struggling to keep my home clean, stocked, and welcoming.

My husband has never complained when the house was cluttered, the cupboards were bare at dinnertime,  or laundry overflowed the hamper.  He’s always pitched in around the house and I was incredibly lucky to marry a man that actually likes to clean.  But despite his support, my lack of housekeeping skills put a great burden on me because I felt like a failure as a wife.  I had a picture of how I wanted my household to run, but couldn’t make it a reality.  The emotional, intellectual, and spiritual components of marriage and the blending of two lives is a difficult adjustment for any newlywed couple, and had I not had to worry so much about daily household maintenance, I would have had more attention to devote to those more important aspects. 

Of course, this certainly isn’t a reason to postpone marriage.  But I do want to mention it because young women can do much to prepare themselves for marriage so that they will be ready no matter when that marriage will occur.  Don’t make the mistake that I did, believing either that you would have many years before marriage to learn those skills (you never know when God will send you your husband) or that you would magically pick up the housekeeping skills that take many women a lifetime to learn. 

Instead, identify the women in your lives that have mastered these skills - perhaps your own mother, another family member or a friend, and ask for advice.  If there is something that is difficult for you, ask for explicit instructions - although there isn’t necessarily one best way to execute a household chore, some methods are certainly better than others and they aren’t always obvious.  But most of all, practice!  Even if you are the only one who will see or appreciate the fruits of your labor, cook and clean as if you have an audience.  If you still live at home with your family, they will appreciate the help.  If you live alone or with roommates, you will be surprised by the difference that a little more care around your home may make to other areas of your life (I notice that I am much cheerier and more productive if the room I am working in is clean).  And when you marry, you’ll have a little less to adjust to and more time to spend getting to know your role as wife, not just housewife.   

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my On Marrying Young series.  

This post linked at

Saturday, September 24, 2011

30 Weeks

At 30 weeks, my pregnancy is approximately 3/4ths over.  What a bittersweet time.  On one hand, I am getting ever more anxious to meet my little one and to hold him or her in my arms.  On the other hand, I've loved being pregnant, loved holding and caring for my baby in the most intimate way as he or she grows within me. 

This past week, the baby has been moving more than ever.  It's such a strange feeling; I didn't expect that some of the kicks and movements could be so painful and uncomfortable.  But I don't really mind the short-lived discomfort because it reminds me that baby is alive and healthy.

This week we've also been making great strides toward preparing a space in our home for the baby.  Just today, we hung decorations in the baby's room and the daddy-to-be put together our travel system.  Although there are still some essential items we need to get over the next two months, we have all the things we need to be able to bring baby home: clothes, diapers, and a carseat. 

I still can't comprehend that we'll have a baby here in our home and in our lives in just a few short months.  Nor can I truly understand how much the baby will change our lives.  But I do know this: we are filled with joy to find out! 

On Marrying Young: Married Young in New York

I am pleased to introduce yet another guest post in my On Marrying Young series.  The response that the series has received has really blown me away.  It's a topic that's been on my mind quite a bit since I "married young" last year, and I'm glad that other people can relate.

Liz found my blog while she was looking for other Catholic “newlyweds”.  Well, she certainly found a like soul in me, because we soon discovered that we were married on the very same day!  I love Liz's guest post because she does a great job explaining why they decided to get married when they did, as well as making it clear that it wasn't a decision they made lightly.  I have no doubt that they made the right choice!


Living in New York, we are considered to have married young. We were both 26 when we got married in July 2010. However, we do have several friends that got married right after college. Interestingly, we got married because we thought it was the right time in our lives. My husband had just passed the NYS Bar Exam and secured a well paying job. I finished my Master's degree and had stable employment.
We often say that we have been "married" for 7 years. Seven years ago we started dating. Ten years ago we met on the Freshmen Retreat at our Catholic college. When we met, I was interested in him but we became best friends and stayed like that for the next few years. We decided to start dating during our senior year of college. We were faithful to each other from day one. There was little discussion as to whether we would stay together after college. The hubby decided to move to NY for law school and I moved home to find a job. Based on our lifestyle over the years, marriage wasn't that large of a step for us. The transition from a dating couple to a married couple was smooth and came with ease. Many people often tell me that the first year or so of marriage is the hardest. Well, if that’s the case then the rest of our lives should be a picnic!
When the hubby proposed, one of the things he said was that he didn’t want to be apart anymore. He decided that he would propose when I was leaving him at the train station on Sunday night. He would  come each weekend to stay with my parents and I and on Sunday he would go back to school. We hated being separated so much and living together without the benefit of marriage was just not an option.
Since my husband had been to law school and I had been to graduate school during the time we were dating, both of us are saddled with very large school loans. Many of our friends have chosen to get married without completing upper level degrees.  Others choose to live with their significant other without getting married. We were blessed to have our parents contribution toward our wedding. They were both in favor of the marriage and continue to support us with their love and encouragement each day.
Presently, we live on a strict budget, without children (YET!), in a rented apartment, with one car, without cable, without an internet connection, and without a land line. If we had waited to get married, things would have been different. We may have been more financially stable and been able to have a few more luxuries. However, we are comfortable and happy in our simple life together. We do not feel as though we are missing out on things. Many of our friends cannot imagine their lives without a big house, multiple cars, and various technologies. We cannot imagine our lives without one another.
We are fortunate to have the hubby’s parents as a wonderful example of making a life together from very little. The hubby’s father was a missionary and the hubby’s mother lived overseas. Due to political turbulence in the country they were in, they had to return to the United States. Upon returning to the U.S., the hubby’s father was in his 40s and his mother was in her 30s. The hubby was born within the year. They eventually bought a home, both found jobs, and the hubby was well educated. This is everything we would like for our family.
The hubby’s parents always told us that marriage was not something to enter into lightly. You get married once and you work through the difficult times. There is no divorce. Marriage was something we never thought twice about. We frequently talked about "when we are married" when we were still in college. In the weeks leading up to our wedding, many people asked us if we were nervous because we were getting married so young. Both of us were surprised by this question. Why would we get married if we were nervous about spending the rest of our life with the other person. Many people thought this was a big decision for people who were so young. Well, we made that decision and many others responsibly and with great thought. Our choice to marry at 26 was something that we don't regret.
It may take us awhile before we can buy a home but, we will be making a life together from the bottom up. One couple that we look up to is my husband's Godparents. They have been married 50 years and were married in their very early 20s. After all this time, they laugh together, dance together and celebrate each day as if they were still newlyweds. I love that their marriage is so alive. They will be the first to tell you that marrying young as immigrants wasn't easy but they don't regret it for a minute. They are able to see their children grow up and have children. They may even live to see their great-grandchildren. Isn't that a wonderful thought?
One of the reasons we got married young was because we would like to be young parents. We would like our parents to be young grandparents. I grew up with older grandparents who passed away before my youngest brother was even in high school. My husband never met three out of four of his grandparents. We would love for our children to be able to enjoy younger grandparents. We would be thrilled if they were able to spend lots of time to together and experience all kids of things. If we were to have married later, we would have had children later and therefore our parents would be older.
My husband and I never felt like we were getting married young because we have friends that were married far younger than we were. We felt like we were both completely educated and mature enough to enter into this next phase of our lives. When we first got married we weren't ready to have children financially. But, over the past year we have seriously considered if we will ever be really ready. Is there ever a good time? Will we have have enough stability to have a child? Is it really up to us or is it up to God? We have decided that ultimately it is up to God. Why should we stand in the way?
Our faith has always been important to us. We both attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through college. We were raised in faith filled homes. (To give you a reference point, my brother is studying to be a priest in Rome.)  We were told when we put our names into the lottery for the retreat (where we ultimately met) that if we were picked, we were picked for a reason. Clearly, God brought us together. While we were dating, we attended church with my family in the church where I grew up. When we visit other places, we made it a point to attend church wherever we were. We are grateful that God brought us together and has blessed us with so much. When it came time to plan our wedding, we were definitely getting married in a Roman Catholic church.
Our Pre-Cana experience left much to be desired. We had had many conversations with one another about all of the “important things”. We had never considered NFP prior to Pre-Cana but, unfortunately our class leaders just popped in a video and that was the only exposure that we had to it. Just before getting married, we did a lot of research and decided that this was the way we were going to go. I only knew one other person who went that route and she was a great support. Recently, we decided that there was no longer a reason to postpone pregnancy and became open to life.
While we are young, we know that there is an appointed time for everything and God will decide what path we will take.

Update: Liz and her husband indeed were open to life and are expecting their first child in May 2011!  God is good!

You can read more about Liz at Tales From Astoria where she blogs about life as newlyweds in NY, when she's not working as a teacher at a Christian school.  

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my On Marrying Young series.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grandma's Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

Novice housewife mistake of the day: thinking “cube of butter” meant “stick of butter”. 

Lesson of the day: If you put a whole stick of butter in a no-bake cookie recipe that calls for a cube of butter, the cookies will never harden, you’ll have to throw them out, and then make a new batch for your disappointed husband.  (And for the record, a cube of butter is 2 tablespoons, and when cut from a stick of butter, it actually looks like a cube.)

I recently saw a recipe for peanut butter no-bake cookies on Pinterest, which reminded me of the chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies I used to make with my dad when I was a kid.  I called my mom and she promptly emailed me the recipe.  It was my grandma’s recipe and my dad’s favorite treat as a child, and I remember how much fun I had baking them.  I was looking forward to making them for David because I was sure he would love them (which was a fairly safe bet considering he loves anything with sugar).

I thought that first batch looked a little more runny than I remembered, but I probably haven’t made it in ten years, so I thought I just wasn’t remembering right.  Then they seemed to take forever to harden, but again, I thought my memory was just flawed.  When David got home and they still were soupy, I looked up a cube of butter and realized my mistake.  Oops. 

But if you put the right amount of butter in it, it is very quick and easy to make, and very, very delicious to eat.  Try it for yourself:

1 cube (2 Tbsp) butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp cocoa

Mix together in sauce pan, boil one minute

Have ready to add:

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups oatmeal (quick oats)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together and drop from spoon into wax paper

Depending on the size of the cookies you make, this will make between 1 and 2 dozen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Modeling Healthful Relationships with Food

Yesterday, I wrote a post about my desire to be deliberate in cultivating family traditions that exemplify the positive values I want to teach to my children.  Along that same line of thought, I’ve been thinking quite a bit today about modeling positive body image and relationships with food for my children, especially if I have daughters. 
Family traditions often center on food – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter meals, certain foods we make for birthday celebrations, perhaps a custom of going out to dinner to celebrate large or small triumphs.  The nightly dinner table often becomes a tradition in itself, hopefully teaching children to eat homemade, healthful foods, and that meals can be used to build up family and community when accompanied by conversation.  The process of making food together and the smells and sounds of food can add to the seasonal traditions of a household.  When I was young, my mother and I would make loaves of holiday bread to give to neighbors and family members for Christmas.  They weren’t made from scratch, but they were made with love and every Christmas season I get an itch to bake breads and give them to our friends and neighbors.
These are the types of memories I want my children to have related to food - food as a positive part of life, which adds to a celebration but is not a celebration itself.  Unfortunately, these are not the only memories I have regarding my mom and food.  My mother has always referred to herself as “being bad” when she ate something unhealthful – a cookies, ice cream, or cake.  And she was “good” if she bypassed the goodies for something more healthful.  As far as I know, my mother has had a fairly positive relationship with food all her life and these comments weren’t part of a deeper issue.  They were said rather off-hand, and when she was “bad” for eating unhealthy foods she didn’t beat herself up about it.  However, these remarks made a very deep impression on me. 
I won’t blame my mother, or her comments, for the struggles I’ve had with body image and my relationship with food, because those issues run much deeper, but I will say that I started to adopt the attitude that I was bad, even sinful, when I ate sweets or junk food.  While she said those things jokingly, I took them to heart.  Thankfully, over the past few years, I’ve left most of my food and body issues behind, but I still can’t help but cringe every time I hear my mom refer to herself as “good” or “bad” regarding her food choices.  Sometimes, when she says this, I want to hug her and tell her that she is good because of her kindness, her love, her intelligence, and compassion, and that a brownie can’t do anything to change it.  But I don’t, because I know that she doesn’t really think a brownie makes her bad, she’s just using it as a manner of speech and it’s ME that’s taking it literally.  What I really want to do is hug my younger self and tell her those same things.
What do your parents do or say that contributed to your positive or negative relationship with food and your body?  How do you mindfully create positive experiences with food and body image for your children?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cultivating Traditions

With a little one on the way, I have been thinking quite a bit about the home environment I want to create for my growing family.  For much of my life, I’ve taken my own upbringing for granted.  It is only recently that I’ve realized that my parents put much effort into providing my brother and I with a home that was stable, warm and loving.  The many traditions that my parents cultivated played an important role in creating the loving atmosphere in which we grew up.  Some of these traditions were passed down from my mother’s parents, and others were created by my parents, but they all were adopted with intention and great deliberation.

Having been married just over a year, my husband and I have not had the time to develop our own traditions, however, that may turn out to be a advantage of starting a family so soon since traditions would drastically change with a child anyway.  My husband’s family and upbringing were quite different than my own, therefore, we face the task of deciding which traditions we will adopt and which we will create from scratch.  I think it is quite natural that each person thinks his or her family’s traditions are better than others, so I worry that there might be some conflict regarding those that we are most attached to.  Unfortunately for my easy-going husband, I can be quite stubborn, and this doesn’t bode well for compromise (it’s something I’m working on, I promise!). 

Just this week, I’ve been reminded of a particular birthday tradition in my family: calling and singing “Happy Birthday” to the birthday boy/girl, leaving the entire song on voicemail if the phone isn’t picked up (and then calling later and singing again when we finally get through).  This has always been normal to me, and I’m sure it is to many other families, but both my husband and my dad (both who married into this tradition) think it’s kind of hokey, especially since everyone in my mom’s family does it, so you hear the entire “Happy Birthday” song many, many times throughout the day.  But no matter how hokey it is, it makes the person feel special.  My mom told me today that my dad was joking about it when she was receiving those calls on Friday, her birthday, but he woke up this morning on his birthday and said happily, “Today’s my day to get sung to!”  He appreciates this over-the-top birthday call because it shows that my mom’s family really loves him and cares, which is all the more important because his family hasn’t acknowledged his birthday in years.

I’m not just thinking of major celebrations or holiday traditions, but also about the everyday traditions that develop in the household - discussions around the dinner table, how the family spends weekends together, how an A on that difficult test is celebrated (or if it is celebrated at all).  I believe the way these small events are handled are just as important, if not more, for teaching children about family, love, and virtues as are the major holiday celebrations.

There is no reason to plan out all these traditions before our baby is even born, because I know that they will change and evolve on their own, however, I want to make sure that we continuously evaluate what values our traditions will project to our children.  Does the way we celebrate Christmas emphasize the miracle of Christ’s birth over materialism?  By packing our weekends with activities done individually, are we failing to nurture relationships within our family?  Do we have any family traditions that teach the importance of compassion and community?  Overall, do our traditions reflect love?

How have decided which traditions to include (or exclude) in your family?  Do you reflect on the values that these traditions impart to your children?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Spinnin' Saturday: Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?

I've been wanting to join Letters from Momma's Spinnin' Saturday link-up for the past couple weeks, but when Saturday has rolled around, I've drawn a blank as to what song to write about.  But this week, I can't get enough of this music video:

Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? by She & Him  

The song is great, but the music video just makes it perfect.  There is actually another official music video for this song, but this version was made in conjunction with the movie (500) Days of Summer, which I thought was just so adorable.  But really, I can't imagine anything with Zooey Deschanel being less than adorable.  I strongly dislike the movie Elf, but still loved Zooey in it.  I'm excited for her new sitcom, there are so few current ones that I enjoy.

There are very few female celebrities that I really feel an affinity toward and Zooey Deschanel is one of them.  She is just so... classy... and feminine... and talented.  I mean, really, who out there acts and has such an incredible voice?  Perhaps there has been some bad publicity regarding her, but I personally haven't heard any, which is so rare regarding young female actresses and singers these days.

And isn't Joseph Gordon-Levitt just so cute in the music video too?  I've had a crush on him since 3rd Rock from the Sun, it's so nice to see he's still successful (and adorable).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baby Shower: A Purposeful Reflection

I’ve been a bit absent the past week and a half or so, because my husband and I just returned from a weeklong trip to Colorado on Wednesday.  It was wonderful to be able to spend time with our families and my mother and aunt threw me a very sweet, classy baby shower. 

Having experienced several big events in the past few years (my mother and grandfather diagnosed with cancer, graduating from college, getting married, expecting a baby), I have been reflecting recently about how celebrations and major life-changing events bring out the best and worst in people.  Many people, both family and friends, who I would have expected to be there for me and my family suddenly dropped out of our lives.  The heartbreak that I felt because of their noticeable and deliberate absence cannot be described.  Yet other family members and friends amazed me by the depth of their love and kindness, using every opportunity to reassure us during the difficult times and celebrate the joyous occasions.
A few particular people reminded me this weekend of how grateful I truly am for the people who God has placed in my life (and in the life of the little one growing inside me).  They showed so much love toward my child before he/she has even entered this world!  Although I tend to be someone who accentuates the negative (a true pessimist at heart), I am going to try to be more purposeful in reminding myself that while I may have a small family and few friends, the ones I have are wonderful and bring such joy into my life: 
My mother gave me a beautiful baby shower.  She’s been searching for months for everything duckies to ensure an adorable yellow ducky theme to go with my nursery.  Not only that, she has been going to garage sales every week to look for clothes and other items for the baby and has sent us several boxes so far (we also brought some back in our luggage and she is planning to bring more when she comes after the birth).  She knows that money is very tight for us and wants us to have everything we need for our little one.  I was so nervous to tell my mom we were planning to have a child and then later to tell her we were pregnant, because she felt that we should wait until we were more financially stable, but she has been nothing but wonderful since she found out.
My aunt flew from out of state to help my mom host the baby shower. (She even made these adorable chocolate covered cookies!)  I’ve always been very close to my aunt.  She only has a son, so I’ve always been her little girl and she was so thrilled to find out I was expecting!  Her son and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby only a month and a half or so after me, but she has gone out of her way to make me and my little one feel special and I can tell that she is truly as excited for my baby as she is for her own little granddaughter on the way. 
A friend of my aunt, whom I think I’ve met once, made a quilt for the baby and sent it to her to bring to the shower.  Someone who barely knows me spent hours making something for my little one?  Her generosity and kindness remind me that many people still view babies as blessings and gifts.
A friend of mine from high school took off from work not only the day of the baby shower but every day that I would be in Colorado.  She knew I would be busy and would only have the time to see her once other than the shower, but she took off the whole time so I wouldn’t be stressed trying to fit her into a small timeframe.  Although I never saw her very often even when I lived nearby, she has never missed an important event – birthday party, engagement party, wedding events, graduation, etc.  She is one of my most loyal friends and I can always count on her to be there. 

My brother-in-law’s girlfriend flew out for the weekend to attend the shower and to meet my husband and me.  She had previously met my mother-in-law and her sister (only once), but other than that, knew no one at the shower.  I give her a lot of credit for willing to spend hours with people she just met, but she was gracious, helpful and genuinely very excited for my husband and I.  My husband and I absolutely adore her and we hope that maybe someday she’ll join us as part of the family.  (Incidentally, they met on Catholic Match, the same place my husband and I met, and I’m starting to think of it as a miracle maker!)
My husband’s best friend flew out last weekend and went with him to the Rockies game (the “male baby shower”) while the ladies were at the baby shower.  Although he was in Colorado to visit family, he made sure to coordinate the trip to coincide with when we would be there as well.  It meant a lot to my husband to have him there, and I always enjoy his company as well.  And even though he wasn’t part of the “official” baby shower, he brought us a gift – how incredibly thoughtful for a single man!  It makes me very happy to see that my husband has a good friend who will be there for him too.

My oldest friend (we’ve been friends since I moved to Colorado in fourth grade) organized for several of my friends to pool their money and buy me the stroller/carseat travel system we registered for!  What a generous gift (it still wasn’t cheap with five people going in on it).  And if this gift wasn’t enough, she also made a scrapbook for my husband and I of our relationship – she’s been saving mementos since we started dating three years ago to put in the scrapbook (including stealing the place cards off our head table after our reception). 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Marrying Young: The Age Gap

When Rachel commented on my original On Marrying Young post, she brought up a great point that I hadn't considered: that a difference in age between husband and wife could mean that one spouse marries "young" while the other spouse is marrying at a more "socially acceptable" age.  How would this difference in age affect the marriage?  Since I don't have any experience in this area (my husband is all of 7 months older than me), I am turning this topic over to Rachel for her to enlighten us herself.  Thanks, Rachel!


Mandi’s posts on marrying young really got me thinking about at what age is “young.” Not only that, but does a marriage where one person is considered young, and the other not so young, play out any differently? My husband and I married after 5.5 long years of dating/engagement. I was a young 22, while my husband was 28. So while I’ve always placed myself in the “young marriage” category, I hadn’t really given much thought to my husband being at the end of his 20s. Usually, the age gap that is between us isn’t noticeable at all (it helps that he looks to be about 25, although he will be 30 in April!) except when we talk about our childhood and memories we have. For example, in discussing the anniversary of 9/11 we recalled that my husband was in his second year of college, while I had just started 9th grade. This got me giggling. Remembering important events in our history often have that affect on us.
Our first photo at 23 & 18 - 2006

But now, with almost one year of marriage under our belt (in less than 2 weeks!), I’ve come to notice other differences our age gap has created, specifically when it comes to marriage.

How the Past Shapes Our Future
First I’d like to preface by saying that I specifically wanted to date/marry an older man. My parents are 7 years apart and my father made it very clear to me that most men were not ready to wed in their early 20s – mostly because they weren’t mature enough to handle that kind of responsibility. It didn’t take me long to figure out that at age 18 (when I started seriously considering dating someone) other boys my age were nowhere near mature. So I naturally looked for someone older than me who was ready to settle down.

I know other women who didn’t have this problem at all, and I’m sure the environment I grew up in (liberal, unreligious Southern California) contributed a lot to the way young men acted. Perhaps if I had grown up in a religious community, say in a church or at a private school, I might have had a different experience. But, at the time, I certainly didn’t run in those circles. Even the idea of “dating to marry” drew raised eyebrows from my friends.

Brian graduating with his Master's - 2007
So, living in the technical age that we are, I went to the Internet. I can’t remember how I found but I did end up on it, joined, and just a few days later got in contact with my husband. He was the first person I messaged. I was the first person he spoke with. We’ve been together ever since.

I digress – the point I’m trying to make here is that my environment (secular, liberal) and what I was raised to believe (young men are immature) ultimately impacted the decision I made to look for (and ultimately marry) someone that was older than me and religious. Everyone has a different situation and I’m not trying to advocate one way or the other.

Our Young Marriage Dynamics
My husband and I dated for almost 5 years before getting engaged – a lot of this had to do with education. Because we were far apart in years I was in the middle of my Bachelor’s degree while my husband was finishing his Master’s. My husband was very firm in that he wanted me to finish my degree before we got engaged. I think he was worried that I might become too distracted in planning a wedding to really dedicate myself, or that I would want to get pregnant right away and that I wouldn’t finish my degree (we’ll never know, but it would have been a possibility). He also had concerns that I was too young to get married, believe it or not. After all, he was a good 6 years older than I was and he was just now really ready to marry. How could I be on the same level as him when I was so much younger and inexperienced?

My 20th Birthday at Disneyland – 2008
Obviously, the age difference was an issue. I think a lot of the feelings he had came from his friends, who were his age, and were extremely curious as to why he was with someone so much younger than him (and who couldn’t go to any bars!). His siblings and mother also showed some concern in those first few years, though it was made less obvious to me. So, after some long talks where we considered eloping (just kidding Dad!), we both decided we would wait until I finished college in May 2009 – he proposed in August 2009 and we wed in September 2010. You can read more about our story here.

Graduate school (my husband is currently in a PhD program) has been both a blessing and a curse for us. While I know that this is an amazing opportunity for my husband to become a Professor at a university, his dream job, it has put a lot of our plans on hold. I am currently working a full-time job to support our family, while my husband dedicates all of his time to the program. I have wanted nothing more than to be a Mommy since I was a little girl, but I have had to put that idea on the backburner until my husband gets closer to finishing his degree (we are almost there!). My husband is often burdened, knowing that if he had chosen a different career path we would have started a family as soon as we married. We are also not as financially stable as a couple that might have married later in life – I’ve only been in the work force for 2 years and have less experience to earn a higher salary. Being young, cautious with what we spend, and not knowing where my husband will find his job means that we cannot put down roots. If we had married in our early 30s we could have avoided a lot of these problems. But then again, we would have missed out on a lot of the benefits.

Our engagement dinner – 2009
Getting married early means you grow together – and because I have known my husband for all of my adult life (our first date was 3 months after I turned 18) we have a lot of shared experiences that have given us the opportunity to work through and address problems that other couples might not have dealt with until after marriage. I was young and willing to learn what it took to be a good wife and homemaker, and although my husband was in his late 20s when we married, he was not set in his ways because we started dating early. In the course of dating we were able to watch two of our close friends (his age) become engaged and marry, and it solidified in our mind that marriage was something to look forward to. Of course, not everyone should run out and start dating at 18, but I was mature enough and truly wanted to settle down, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

A Little Give and Take
Not to simplify the issue, but there are some pluses and minuses that come from marrying with a significant age difference. One of the first things that attracted me to my husband (besides his devilish good looks, of course) was his life experience. He knew where he wanted to be and he knew how he was going to get there. A man who knows what he wants! Not only that, but he had experienced a lot of the world that I hadn’t yet. He had travelled to more than 15 countries across Europe, he had lived abroad for months at a time, was getting his Master’s degree and had plans to become a professor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a smart cookie, but I really looked up to him. After all, I was starting my first year in college, didn’t know what I wanted to major in or where I wanted to end up. He inspired me.

Our Wedding, age 28 & 22 – 2010
The age gap between us contributed to some awkward experiences in the beginning: I didn’t have a lot in common with his friends, especially the girls. They were finished with school; some had even finished graduate school, and were well into their careers. There were a lot of times where I felt left out, even deliberately. For a few years, probably until I turned 20 or 21, I was viewed as the little kid of the group. Somehow my young age made them feel obligated to give me life advice that I felt was unnecessary. I’m sure my husband endured all kinds of comments about being a “cradle robber” when we first got together. While I am a lot closer to his friends now, and consider them my friends also, there were times where our dating life was difficult because of the peer pressures we felt. Now that I’m older and in my mid-twenties this part of our lives seems to be well behind us.

Vacation in Europe – 6/24/2011
Still, at 23 I’m far from the marrying norm. None of the friends I grew up with or work with are married, let alone engaged. In fact, most aren’t even dating seriously. This is probably the biggest difference between my husband and I – while he has a number of friends married, a few starting families and so on, I feel like I’m one in a million. Thank goodness for blogs! :)

P.S. A man's chances of dying early are reduced by 11 percent if they marry a woman seven to nine years younger. So we’ve got that going for us.

You can read more of my quirky, no nonsense (and sometimes a whole lotta nonsense) ramblings at Many Miracles. I promise not to hide the cookies.

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my On Marrying Young series.