On Love and Marriage

12 years.  This year seemed different.  There was little fanfare outwardly, we had zero plans. I gave him a water filter for camping, he gave me a drawing journal and a cupcake (he knows my heart).  We decided to head to a state park and ended up driving an extra hour for a Sunday drive through the mountains and exploring new sites.  We were unprepared to be gone all day, the kids got tired of driving, I got hangry (need I say more?).  We adventured, dipped our feet in the water, climbed rocks, relaxed by a river, admired beauty.  

Yesterday seemed to show clearly that we have changed greatly in 12 years, but in the last year we have changed even more.  We are a bit battle scarred perhaps but more real as we walk through life.

I was at a counseling session recently and we were talking about love and marriage. My counselor asked, “Why does Dave love you?”  I sat for a few and couldn’t think of a single thing…I was a bit reluctant with what I felt was a depressing answer. I shook my head, “I have no idea.”  He looked at me and said, “That’s the best answer you could give me.” I was a bit taken a back by his response.  Then he explained, if Dave loved me for this reason or that reason or because I do this or that, then his love is conditional.

We are zero experts at this, friends. We’ve certainly learned heaps in the last 12 years but we came into marriage naive kids walking headlong into marriage. Thankful to have excellent premarital counseling but we had no idea what awaited us.  Most of all God has been gracious with us as we stumble through, He has forgiven us much and helps us forgive, He has loved us unconditionally and helps us to learn to love as he does.  We thought we had it all figured out, sure marriage would be hard but we could do it.  When got married and it felt like the bottom dropped out on us.  We fought, hard and long.  We didn’t forgive easily. We had little, if any, productive communication.  I had anger issues.  I had deep wounds I thought marriage would heal.  The list could go on and on.

A few months into our marriage we attended a Bible study for young married couples.  We sat in a large circle of 30+ young marrieds, everyone who spoke up (and there were many) said they never fought. Dave and I looked at each other and hung our heads.  We weren't sure what what was wrong with us.  Was our marriage doomed?  It felt pretty horrible, needless to say we never went back to that Bible study.  We didn’t know what we were doing but we just kept taking the next step. They weren’t always steps towards each other, there has been a lot of course correction along the way. 

We’ve been to counseling, together and individually, not just once but through different seasons over the years.  And don’t think we are saints for asking for help because often it took bottom to get us there.  We’ve seen so many marriages of sweet friends fall apart and that made us want to hold on tighter because we know we are not immune.  We’ve walked through much heartache and walked through much joy.  And it’s changed us.  It’s changed us as individuals and has shaped our marriage.  There have been seasons where those changes weren’t for the better.  We are scarcely the same people were were 12 years ago.

Miss A has been asking a lot about love and marriage lately, she still thinks it’s gross (phew!), but she’s beginning to wonder what it’s all about.  “How will I know when I’m in love?” “How will I know when I meet the person I’m going to marry?”  We’ve done our best (read fumbled through) explaining without platitudes and helping to paint a picture that love isn’t all feelings and is work even when you want to quit.

But maybe this is really the advice I want to pass along : learn love without condition.  Choose to love when that person isn’t their best self and you aren’t your best self. Choose to stay when you want to throw in the towel. Choose to fight for each other. Choose to ask for help when you want to run the other way. Choose to love when what you love about that person is hard to see.  And even when you don't get it right, choose to try again and again and again.


Punderdome Review

We often enjoy a game night with friends. I had hopes that Punderdome the card game would be a fun one to play during game night.

Based on the live game show Punderdome 3000! created by father daughter duo Jo and Fred Firestone, this game is definitely for the pun lovers, but maybe not so much for those who enjoy laughing (with an eye roll) at a good pun every know and then. 

Played in two rounds, round one a question is asked and everyone throws out their best pun-filled answer to the given question, the second round is to write your own pun.

This is where the game, in my opinion gets especially tricky, and maybe too tricky.  Given two unrelated words players write their own pun connecting the two words.  For us, this is where the fun stopped.  How does one think of a random pun in 60 seconds?  Or maybe I'm just not that pun-ny.  

We did enjoy the first round, trying to come up with answers to the puns.  We actually discovered Miss A has quite a talent for puns, she answered quickly with an answer that fit the question over and over again.  While there is an answer on the card, the point is to answer with a pun quicker than your competitors not necessarily to match the answer on the card, so it leaves a lot of room for creativity.

Unfortunately Punderdome was not the fun game night play I had hoped, however we did discover a secret talent in the family.  

 I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


When Beauty is Hard to See...

There is something about looking through the camera lens that makes beauty that may otherwise be hard to see come alive and beg to be captured.  

 There is a slowing down that happens when looking through this lens.  And when slowing happens there is ability to see differently.  To see and savor and give thanks.

Beauty has been hard to see lately.  So I dusted off my camera and challenged myself to see the beauty that I know exists around me but has been clouded by much.


Colorado Springs Food Truck Guide

Make sure to check out my latest post one the Colorado Springs Moms Blog : 
Colorado Springs Food Truck Guide. It was a delicious one to write. 



Having been raised in the Midwest, I grew up around water from a very young age.  I was on the swim team for several years and loved the water.  Naturally I thought I would be able to easily teach our kids how to swim and they would be fish just like I was growing up.  Wrong.  I tried and failed and tried and failed. 

We were generously given an opportunity to try out SafeSplash for a month of lessons. I immediately jumped at the opportunity.

We signed up each of our big kids (they are 10, 8 and 8).  None of them could swim independently and all had varying degrees of uncomfortability in the water.  I wasn’t sure what 4 lessons would do for their swimming skill mastery, but I figured it certainly wouldn’t hurt.  

First of all, let me tell you about the SafeSplash registration process. It was fairly simple: sign up with basic info online and then they call you to set up a location, time and appropriate class for your kids.  Easy enough. I got all three signed up in back to back classes at a location near us in less than 10 minutes.  No stress...I like it!

When we arrived for our first lesson, we were shown where everything was and how classes worked. I was super impressed by the cleanliness and cheerfulness of the building but also impressed by how well SafeSplash was run and organized.

They have at most 1:4 instructor to swimmer ratio and I love that this promotes safety but also individual attentions to the kids. There is also a life guard on duty in the swim area as well as a deck manager who calls the kids by name into the pool area to get them to the correct instructor for their lesson.  

The smoothness of how classes were run definitely helped me as a parent feel comfortable and created a safe swimming environment.  At our location there was a wall of windows the length of the pool with bench seating so parents could sit outside of the pool area and watch their kids swim.  Oh and I have kids that get SUPER cold (ahem and a bit grouchy) in cold water, there were zero complaints about the water and I was told excitedly by Miss A, "It's not hot, it's not cold, it's warm!"

The instructors have been so encouraging to our kids and have definitely put them at ease.  After the 3rd lesson our oldest went from being able to float on his back with some assistance to swimming independently across the pool.  The picture above is him at the 2nd lesson, I was so amazed at his quick progress at the 3rd lesson I didn't even get a picture!  Everyone progresses differently, of course, but all three kids have made big strides in water comfortability and skills in the water.  Each level has certain skills that need to be accomplished before they can move onto the next level — not just swimming skills but also water safety.

Once a month they have a Splash-N-Tell at the end of class. Five minutes before the end of class they call the parents in for the instructors to give feedback on the child's progress and let the kids show their parents a new skill.  The kids love telling us what they learned, but especially enjoyed Splash-N-Tell time where they could show us what they've learned. 

We were so impressed by SafeSplash we signed them up for more lessons.  SafeSplash has several location throughout the country and in Mexico you can sign up.  If you're local to Colorado Springs, the location we attend gives a free trial lesson and if you're a military family they currently offer a 25% discount. 

We received a month of lessons from SafeSplash in exchange for an honest review.


To the Brave

For the brave ones who aren't afraid to be themselves : thank you.

Thank you for being you. 
Thank you for speaking your mind even if you step on toes.
Thank you for sharing tough subjects that can be polarizing but doing so respectfully.
Thank you for putting words to how you feel and not being ashamed to do so.
Thank you for showing me that life doesn’t need to fit a mold.

You, being you, gives me the courage to start being me.
You remind me my feelings are mine and an my feelings valid.
You remind me that what I have to say matters, even if others don’t agree.  
You remind me that struggle is okay and that each of us has our own story.  
You remind me my story is mine to tell, mine to cherish and while every piece may not be pretty it can be knit together into something beautiful. 



By now you have certainly heard about the trending new hobby of coloring.  Many benefits have been cited for taking a few minutes to sit and color, relaxation, mindfulness, increased focus and decreased stress.

I must admit I was a bit skeptical at first. But I was surprised when I found I really do enjoy creating in these more intricate coloring books geared towards adults.

When I had the opportunity review a new coloring book on the market, of course I jumped at the chance.

Wonderland by Amily Shen is a coloring book inspired by Alice's Adventures.  From the Mad Hatter's Tea Party to the Queen of Hearts and who can forget the White Rabbit. There is much adventure to be had in this whimsical coloring book.  

The pages are full of unique details as you follow Alice's story. What truly sets this coloring book apart form the crowd is Shen's unique art style coupled with the story and puzzles you find intertwined through the coloring pages.

If you're love Alice and her Adventures this coloring book is perfect for you.

 I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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