Category Archives: Marriage

Finding Joy this Holiday Season

Finding Joy this Holiday SeasonThe 2016 holiday season is now in full swing. (I say “now” in full swing so some of you don’t burn me at the stake for “skipping Thanksgiving.” You know who you are.) Now, we can all go full on Christmas mode and not be shamed for maybe or maybe not having our trees up early. Personally, I’m feeling quite ready for the holiday season. 75% of our gifts are in route to my house, my calendar is laid out in pretty colors, and Christmas cards are on their way. And most importantly, I have a certain peace about this season that I haven’t had in a very long time.

I’m not sure if my calmness over the holiday madness comes from the life-changing events of this year or from my age. I wouldn’t say that I’m more prepared than usual, maybe even the direct opposite. However, I’m simply not feeling the anxiety that I’d normally feel as the happiest time of the year approaches. Let’s look at the facts.

Reasons why I should be worried:

  • As of noon last Wednesday, we had 0 gifts purchased.
  • I ordered Christmas cards later than planned and could have throat punched that stupid website.
  • This past weekend was our last weekend without something planned until January. January!
  • We’re testing out some new holiday traditions this year.
  • I’m heavily involved in the success of a plethora of holiday events coming in the next several weeks.
  • We’ll be hosting family in our home a few times and some things still aren’t finished or “ready.”
  • I know, with certainty, that we’re about to be exhausted for the next 30+ days.
  • My decorations aren’t ready.

Reasons why I should NOT be worried:

  • Matthew and I got a heavy dose of perspective on life in 2016. I’m simply not as bothered by things that used to cause me stress.
  • My new home is lovely and I’m happy to host people here!
  • We made a huge dent in holiday shopping (online) over the weekend.
  • We know exactly where we’ll be and when over the holidays. There will be no obsessing over who we’re visiting when and who’s going to be upset if we don’t show. Plans are set and that’s that.
  • I’m transitioning into a better place of making decisions that are best for Matthew and I – without so much emphasis on what others want or expect. This is a GREAT place to be, by the way.
  • We’ve had a fantastic year. We’ve not only survived, we have thrived. And basically, no one or nothing can steal that joy from me right now.

I could likely keep listing reasons for both sides of this argument. I’m just too excited to get bogged down in the minutia this year. Matthew and I have so much to celebrate, and I simply won’t allow the madness or chaos of this busy season distract from that. My #1 intention for this season is to truly enjoy spending time together and with those that we care about. The details might not be perfect and we might be outrageously tired after the first week of events. Nonetheless, I’m not concerned. We will attend each event that we’ve selected and we will enjoy ourselves with those people in that moment. We will have gifts for those we’re buying gifts for and even if they’re not the most perfect gift possible, they’ll have been selected with care and love. I will not live this season in guilt over not doing everything that everyone wants. Instead, we will enjoy this holiday season and celebrate the close of this life-changing year.

My new perspective could come from having faced one of the most trying obstacles we’ve encountered thus far and making it. Last Christmas, we would have never imagined the heartache 2016 would hold for us. I think experiencing something like that is sort of like a near death experience or severe illness – when you’re faced with something of that magnitude, and then get another shot to do better, those tiny details and expectations of others that drain the life right out of you, suddenly seem trivial. You’re forced to take stock of your life and how you’re living it and when you see things you’re not happy with, you make unrestrained adjustments. If this fresh perspective on the holiday season is a result of the flood, this will be another seemingly unrelated area of our lives that has been altered by the events of this past spring. On the surface one would think we simply had to remodel a house, fight insurance battles, buy new stuff (That’s fun right? Not really.), and be homeless for a bit. Quite the contrary. There’s really not an aspect of our lives, our business, or our relationships that wasn’t altered somehow because of this experience. If my take on the holiday season is another one of them, I really wouldn’t be too surprised.

Another possible factor in this newfound peace could be my age. Someone once told me that as you get older, you’ll slowly (and then suddenly) stop caring about what other people think. Whereas at one point you might live and make decisions based on the feedback you’d get from those around you, you suddenly stop doing that and do whatever in the hell you want to. For me, I’ve always lived in the mindset of guilt. I made decisions or did things to avoid the guilt I’d feel if I didn’t do them. What was best for Matthew and I might have been a different plan entirely, and yet we’d go with the flow and oblige so that I didn’t let anyone down. Even people that would let me down in a heartbeat if something was inconvenient for them. Lucky for me (not), guilt has controlled me for much of my life. Therefore, we’d get up, dress the part, and attend every single event possible. We’d show up boasting food or gifts, regardless of whether we wanted to be there or not. Suddenly, I no longer feel the need to do this. And I won’t feel guilty for letting that obligation go. If this is indeed some coming-of-age moment for me, I cannot wait to see what other areas of my life in which I’ll get some relief.

So much of life is about making choices. We choose what we’re going to do and not going to do. And more importantly, we choose what our attitude will be surrounding these experiences. We can be positive or we can be negative. It’s a choice, and I’ll be the first to admit that my anxiety-ridden self was the first to buckle under the pressure of the holidays in the past. I let the minutia of this detail and that one steal my joy. I think my anxiety and exhaustion (and sometimes dread) often stemmed from feeling like I didn’t have a choice in the affairs of the holidays. I sometimes felt like I was one “Merry Christmas” away from losing my mind. However, deciding to choose our schedule for December brought with it a fresh perspective and a sigh of relief. We’ve chosen our plans for the holidays, and I’m choosing to experience them all with joy. It’s a Christmas miracle!

If you find yourself getting drug along by the hustle and bustle, take a little break and remind yourself what this season is truly about for you. Remember that it’s an opportunity to share in a wonderful season with the people that you love. Remember that there are many wonderful things about this season and if we focus on those, it might lift our anxiety and frustration just a bit. And most importantly, remember that no matter what, nothing about this season must be perfect. We don’t have to give the best gifts in the entire world (and we certainly don’t have to go into debt for them). The Christmas treats don’t have to be perfectly made, and our halls don’t have to be perfectly decked. As a matter of fact, if we look with an adjusted mindset, we can probably see beauty in the imperfection. Furthermore, if the season brings with it some sadness over loves ones lost or misfortune of the past year, we can still work to see the best even in the unfortunate situations. Over time, we can condition our minds to find something good in almost every situation, especially if you’re looking for it. Truth be told, you will always find whatever it is you’re looking for. If you’re looking for joy, you will eventually find it. And if you’re looking for despair, it’s certainly there.

During this holiday season, and in the upcoming year, I encourage you to choose your perspective. Choose your path and celebrate those decisions you make, even if things don’t go as planned. I wish you the happiest holiday season, no matter your circumstances, and I truly hope you can find joy amidst the seemingly unavoidable chaos. This life, and this season, are what you make of it!

Hitting Refresh on Your Marriage

Four Year AnniversaryThis year for our four year anniversary, we went to the ever-so popular Dubach, La. If you’re not from around here, you won’t understand that and if you are, you’ll say whyyyy just like everyone else. Dubach is a pretty small town just 50+ miles from Monroe and is unlikely be a place where someone would choose to celebrate their anniversary. However, there’s a good reason we did and we’re happy about it.

When planning for our anniversary, we considered going several fun places near and far. We talked about returning to some of our favorites like Nashville or Kansas City. If you remember, we were in the throes of trying to get back into our home in July, so an “adventure” was really the last thing we needed. The last several months had been some of the most stressful times we’d experienced together and we were both mentally and physically exhausted. As a matter of fact, we’d had zero quality time together in months because all of our spare time had been spent talking about insurance or paint colors. Remember, this wasn’t us building our dream home that we’d planned for years for. This was us trying to get our home back after unexpected tragedy. We’d experienced loss, anger, frustration, confusion, helplessness, and a host of other emotions that one doesn’t welcome into their life willingly. It goes without saying that our marriage and relationship had been pushed to new limits and tested in new ways.

As our anniversary approached, we discussed what we needed most. First, we needed to celebrate that we’d made it this far…mainly through the last four months. Secondly, and most importantly, we needed to take a time out, reconnect, spend some quality time together, and remember WHY we chose to take this journey together. Without a doubt, we needed a break from our current reality and to spend some time nurturing our marriage.Cabin in the WoodsHitting Refresh on Your MarriageLuckily, I remembered stumbling across this wonderful little cabin in the woods of Dubach and knew it was where we needed to go. We didn’t need to travel for miles and miles and add new experiences to our passport. We needed to go somewhere simple where we basically did nothing. And to make this cabin even more of a done-deal, it had NO cell service and NO internet service. Sign. me. up.

We arrived at our little cabin on Thursday and took a look around. It was raining and the owner called to let us know that the creek running in front of the cabin sometimes rises into the yard. We’d also seen a “high water” sign on the drive in, less than a mile from cabin. I almost aborted the mission! High water was what we were trying to escape!! We stuck it out and I trusted that we would be just fine tucked away in our little cabin. Talk about irony though…Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageWhen we first walked in, I fell in love immediately. The living and kitchen areas were decorated with an eclectic charm that made my heart sing. You knew that every piece in this cabin had some message accompanying it or some story to tell. It was quaint and cozy and just the place you’d want to be curled up at on a rainy day. Did I mention that I found my favorite dishes ever there?? So beautiful.Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageRight off the kitchen was the owner’s art studio. It was basically the room of my dreams and solidified the fact that I wanted to create a creative space of my own at home. The host invites you to bring your own supplies and use the room, though I could have just sat in there for hours dreaming of the beautiful things that had come and left that room.Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageThe front portion of the cabin was definitely my favorite, though those flowing white curtains, overlooking the woods (rainy woods in our case) in the bedroom were incredibly relaxing. I’ll admit it, naps were taken. In addition to the design and collection of fascinating things, the cabin offered a serene environment that was both inspiring and relaxing, a feat that can sometimes be difficult to accomplish.Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageThe night of our anniversary, we drive into Ruston for dinner at Beau Vines, one of our favorite restaurants. The hostess so kindly took our picture because I have a photo from the night of every anniversary so far and I intend to keep that up. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend the steak medallions and the TKO if your a spirits drinkers. Although, everything there is delicious.

For the remainder of the trip, we stayed in our pajamas and I wore lots of flannel. We cozied up, read books, played board games, listened to CDs on the old CD player, ate junk food, and talked. We had conversation after conversation, like we hadn’t done in months or maybe even years. The day we left, I felt like this trip might have truly been a turning point in our marriage. We reconnected. We identified some bad habits we’d established (cell phones) and made some plans for doing better. We discussed what we wanted our lives and relationship to look like and made plans for realizing those goals. I personally felt so much more at peace and happy after unplugging and getting back to the basics for just a few days.

If you’re struggling with your marriage or relationship in some way, I highly recommend a trip of the sort. Unplug from technology altogether and actually talk for days on end. Talk about what you enjoy doing together and make plans to do more of it. Talk about your goals and dreams. And if need be, hash out some of those lingering struggles that seem to constantly resurface. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and not nurture your relationships. People always say “marriage takes work” and a retreat of this sort can be part of that work. When you strip away the daily routines, and more importantly technology, you are forced to put some effort and energy into your relationship. You both probably need to rejuvenate and learning to do that together can be very powerful. If you’re not used to this sort of time together, it will undoubtedly feel odd at first. You might not know what to say or do. Just give it some time and let the awkwardness pass. That silent time
is usually when one or both of us would grab our phones and browse something meaningless. Without that crutch, we talked more and did more for our marriage than we had all year. Now, we’re considering doing something like this every year on our anniversary instead of adventure seeking. If you need the boost, I highly encourage a few days locked away somewhere quiet and most definitely without phones/technology.Hitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageHitting Refresh on Your MarriageWhile in Lincoln Parish, we also visited Mitcham’s Peach Orchard. We got soft-serve peach ice cream and stocked up on loads of peach this and that. It was a great little stop before settling in to the cabin.

I think back on these few days at the cabin with such fondness. It was incredibly relaxing and I was so grateful to get quality, uninterrupted time with my husband, especially after what we’d just been through. I think back on that little cabin often and would highly recommend a stay there to anyone. It’s a great place for a work retreat, to focus on creative work or reach some sort of deadline, or for just getting away for a bit. You can book a stay through AirBnb and if you do, be sure to tell her the Petruses sent you!

Anyone know where we should go next year??

Flights & Fights

Fights and Flights at pamelapetrus.comI remember our first flight together. We were barely married and I was tagging along for a work trip to Vegas. We knew so little about one another then and definitely didn’t know what to expect as we traveled across multiple states together for the first time. As soon as we sunk into our seats, Matthew pulled out a book and earbuds, and I was struck with disappointment. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t bring anything to do on the flight. Somehow, I had concocted this romantic notion that we’d spend the entire flight talking about our new life together, or dreams, or what we’d do on our trip. This wouldn’t be the first time that I romanticized a scenario that didn’t play out quite as I envisioned. (By the way, this post has nothing to do with a fight really. I just liked the alliteration.)

Now, four years later, we’ve traveled many places together. We’ve gone by plane, train, and automobile. We’ve taken long trips. Short trips. Exciting adventures and basic routes. Now, four years later, I know what to expect when we travel together. I turned the planning and route management reigns over to him. That’s marriage, you know. Giving and taking. Relinquishing control along the way. Sharing roles. Sometimes this happens naturally as you settle into new roles together. Sometimes it doesn’t happen without a fight or an immense amount of effort. Nonetheless, I know more of what to expect these days, both in travel and in life.

Today, as I sit next to my husband on a noisy flight, I go back and forth between reading, writing, and listening to music. I have several options for entertainment. I watch as his head bobs, up and down and side to side, as he doses with his headphones firmly intact. Even when he wakes, I know we won’t say more than 5 words until the plane lands. Watching his head bob is both the most adorable thing and also the most comforting. I know what to expect today. Much more so than I did on that first flight. I don’t take his earphones or reading as a sign of disregard of me. Instead, it’s just how he flies. And that’s that. I’ll delve into another chapter or another song and I’ll let my mind wander here and there.

So many of these little lessons and moments of enlightenment have come throughout the last four years, not just regarding flights and travels. I wonder, how many more shall present themselves over a lifetime. I can hardly imagine. I realize both what an accomplishment it is to be where we are today, and I simultaneously learn how more of those routines are developed. You learn so much. You learn the others person’s strengths and weaknesses. Their quirks. The things that make your mind wander with excitement, as well as the things that make you feel like you could snap their necks with your bare hands. What a concept! To share a life together and to survive doing so.

Right now, at four years, I feel like both newlyweds and veterans. We are much better at this than we were in the beginning, and that deserves some credit. Like physical awards and such. And yet, there’s still so much to learn. So many more years to learn and grow and experience things together. I’m reminded of times of seeing couples who had been married for years upon years, and to see the ease of their routines at play is amazing. It’s something to be honored and revered. And hopefully someday we’ll be a well-oiled machine like those couples. For now, we’ll truck along being our 2012 Honda selves – a few rattles and yet still miles and miles left on those tires.

Four Years!

Wedding PhotoThe hubby and ITwo years Happy Three Years!Today is our FOUR YEAR wedding anniversary. I can honestly say that this third year that we’re wrapping up has been one of the toughest yet. Along with some bold business moves allowing Matthew to come work with me full time, our home also flooded. That alone, has tried and tested us more than you could ever imagine. Without a doubt, our marriage and our relationship will be stronger because of it, and I’m certain that we’ll see more tough times along the way. Looking back on the last several months, I feel pretty certain that I couldn’t have tackled this struggle with anyone else. Even when we disagree (and by disagree, I mean stand firmly on the POLAR OPPOSITE ends of a spectrum), we still make an awesome team.

Usually, we try to take big adventures and explore new territories when we travel. Instead, this year, we’re going to unplug. We’re going somewhere quiet where there’s nothing to explore or rush off to. We’re going to rest, relax, and rejuvenate after the tough 5 months we’ve had. After all, we’re going to need some energy to finish this fight!

The photos above are from our wedding shoot, first, second, and third anniversaries. If you’d like to see what we did on these anniversaries, click the corresponding numbers. Here are anniversaries 1 / 2 / 3!

Happy Three Years!

Happy Three Years!Yesterday was my frieniversary. Today is my three year wedding anniversary! There are anniversaries to be celebrated all around!

It simultaneously feels like yesterday and a thousand years ago that Matthew and I began this journey. We’ve done so many things in three short years.

We’ve bought a house.
Two cars.
Went to nursing school.
Sold a business.
Opened another business.
Dealt with cancer.
Traveled a bunch, thankfully.
Plus, a million and one other things that haven’t been blogged about.

Looking back on these last three years, I can only imagine what the next three hold. I think that the quality that I’m most thankful for in Matthew is his desire to dream with me. In past relationships I always felt a bit held back. Instead, Matthew likes to dream and set big goals just like I do. We have big plans for our life together, and Matthew is able to identify the small steps we need to take to make them a reality. He gets just as excited about new opportunities as I do, and he completely supports my ideas and dreams. I don’t think I could live the caliber of life that I’m living without him by my side. He supports and encourages me, and most importantly, picks me up and pushes me forward when I feel defeated. With this in mind, I just can’t even imagine what all we’ll do next. It has been a productive three years. Here’s to a lifetime more of big ideas and even bigger plans!

I love you, Matthew Petrus.

In case you’re interested:
How we met and our proposal story.

A New Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes Benz C250This past weekend Matthew and I made a big, huge step in our grown up lives. We bought a Mercedes. We had been casually shopping for a new vehicle for months and months, yet hadn’t really committed to buying anything. This weekend though, things suddenly got serious.

This story begins as “that time I almost bought a Mustang.” Friday night we brought home one of the new, oh-so-fine Mustang GTs and planned to go back and sign papers on Saturday morning. We wanted something fast and fun while we were still young and didn’t need to make room for car seats and soccer equipment. I’ve never been a Mustang fan, yet this new redesign is simply gorgeous. We decided to buy it. However, after driving it home over the weekend, we realized the ride was just too rough and noisy for my daily life. After all, I’m in my car most of the day. While it would be fun to drive, it wouldn’t be as comfortable as other options or conducive to my business.

Saddened by the thought of not coming home with this fancy Mustang, we decided to drive to Shreveport and test drive four or five other vehicles that Matthew had found. We really had no intention of buying a vehicle at this point. I was coming off of a migraine from the previous evening and felt tired and foggy. Matthew had the day off though, and this seemed like a great way to spend some time together.

Mercedes Benz C250 frontWe pulled up at the Mercedes dealership first, and I just wandered around a bit while Matthew talked to the salesman. I chose two cars right away that I liked and ruled out all of the others. We drove them both and chatted with the salesman. If I were being honest with myself, I’d say that I knew right away that this black Mercedes C250 was mine. It just felt right. There were so many things I loved about the car, and I felt so much more comfortable there than in any of the other vehicles I had driven. Nonetheless, it took me hours to commit to the idea of buying a Mercedes.

Here’s why:
1. It was the most expensive vehicle either of us had ever bought. That’s a bit scary. There’s something a tad frightening about doubling your car shopping budget, even if the money is there. For me, I was making a mental list of all of the other things I could (and maybe should) do with that extra money.

2. I was genuinely afraid of what people would say. This is probably the hardest one to admit and the most prevalent. I’ve only had the car for a few days now and I’ve already heard things like, “keeping up with the Jones'” and “that’s too expensive for me to ride in.” I didn’t want to suddenly be considered a snob, just because I bought a nice car.

If I were being brave, I’d admit that this was one of the main hesitations that I’ve had with buying a new car. When I was added to the Associate Leadership Council at my office, we talked about this very thing at our initial retreat. I hadn’t bought a nice car (even though I’ve worked very hard for it and spend most of my time there) because I didn’t want people to see me differently. All of these thoughts are simply holding me back and things that I have to deal with on a personal level. I took the first step though…I bought the car. Now, I’ll just hope that people will be happy for me instead of judgmental.

3. I’m deathly afraid that someone is going to hit/scratch/dent it. My last car was banged and bruised to no avail and not one person ever stopped to apologize or offer remedy. It feels like a scratch or dent is going to hurt much more in this car. Guess I’ll be that person parking at the back of the lot…

Mercedes Benz C250Mercedes Benz at nightAll in all, I am thrilled to be the owner of this new car. I can’t wait to drive it and take it on trips with Matthew. As simple as it is, my favorite features are the illuminated “Mercedes-Benz” on the door sill when you open it, the adorable blue stitching on the seats, the awesome sound system, and the light-up emblem on the front. (It’s almost always all about the details for me.) The safety features are mind boggling also, and I love how well everything is finished. I can’t wait to get the windows tinted and drive from one appointment to the next.

Let’s talk for a bit about the service we received at Holmes Mercedes. Matthew and I both have bought and sold several vehicles. This was by far one of our best experiences yet. As a matter of fact, it was even enjoyable! Most of the pleasantness can be attributed to our salesman, Kenn Posey. Kenn was the polar opposite of your stereotypical car salesman, and so much more pleasant to work with than anyone at any of the other dealerships…and we’d been to a lot. He knew everything we could possibly want know about the car and was not in the least bit pushy. It was almost like we’d brought a friend along for the experience, not a salesman. We were at Holmes Mercedes for several hours and at no point were we frustrated or rushing to leave. If you’re even remotely considering a Mercedes purchase, I recommend that you talk to Kenn first. I throughly look forward to working with them in the future.

Mercedes Benz C250There are two lessons to be learned from this story. The first is to always trust your gut, especially on larger purchases. I tried really, really hard to make that Mustang work. However, something told me that it wasn’t the right fit for us. Second, don’t make a decision for you or your family based upon fear of what someone else will think. All too often we let what friends, family, or even strangers, will think or say stand in the way of doing things that will make us happy. Buy that car. Make that move. Quit that crappy job. Dye your hair blue. Do whatever it is that will make you happy, without worrying about what others will think. They likely won’t remember in the end, yet you certainly will. Life is short and you only get one shot, so make it a good one!

Read more:
Our first car purchase. 
When we bought a house. 
And mattresses….the most riveting of the grown up decisions.

Happy Birthday, Matthew! (+ a rant about hard times)

Wild Wild West EventToday is this guy’s birthday. At first, I thought this would be a post about my thankfulness for him. A post about his dedication to our vision and our family. At first, I thought I might share my favorite qualities of his or stories about previous birthdays and adventures. I knew that I’d use this post to celebrate him and everything he does for us on a daily basis.

Then I realized that this post was going to be a bit more than that. You see, the past few weeks have been hard. Honestly, they’ve been hard in almost every facet of the word. I’ve felt like I’m drowning amidst all of the many things swirling around me. Life is like that, you know. Some days/weeks/months are harder than others. It’s part of the ebb and flow of life. You have to take the good with the bad.

Before I continue, I want to be clear about the fact that things are ok. Nothing tragic or detrimental is happening and everything will switch back to a manageable speed soon. Right now though, things feel difficult.

Matthew and I are still adjusting to his new work schedule. Today is his forth day of working in a row, and he usually works 12+ hour shifts. Tomorrow will be his only day off and then he’ll go back for two more days. In reality, working hard to take care of patients for over 12 hours a day is very taxing. At this point in our transition, Matthew still comes homes completely wiped…as would I.

In addition to his work schedule this past week, my schedule has been jam-packed and color coded and scheduled with only minutes to spare between each task. I’ve been working nonstop and putting out fires like its my job (and it is). Let me be clear. I am thankful for a busy work schedule. I love my clients and it pays my bills. On top of working like a mad woman, my social calendar has been equally full. There are state championship games, graduations, weddings, movie nights, and milestones left and right that I need to be present for. I’m closing the door on one compartment of my daily life to immediately spin and open another. The reality is, I haven’t gotten home before 9:00 or 10:00 any this week. Most of the time, Matthew has already been asleep. We’ve literally only had maybe 2 hours of waking time together for over a week.

Amidst fighting to see my husband through our crazy schedules, I’m drowning in laundry. The dishes are piling up, and I’m sure the bathrooms need cleaning. My closet room looks like a tornado hit it and is spilling over with both summer and winter clothes/shoes because I haven’t had time to sort through it all. I’m honestly afraid to look at how dirty the floors might be. I like things to be tidy and organized, and that’s not my life right now.

For most of last week, I was just trying to make it until Sunday. On Sunday, I would clean the house. I would also sit quietly alone on the couch and decompress. I’d read and regroup. I’d relax from what felt like a treacherous few weeks. I’d finally have time to plan something special for Matthew’s birthday. I booked myself up all day on Monday when I had intended to take off and create birthday greatness for Matthew to come home to. I’ll likely feel guilty for that all day, so Sunday was now my only day to create something special for him. Then I realized it was Mother’s Day. Granted, I certainly want to spend time honoring my mother with my family. However, it felt like another task had been piled on top of me. I wouldn’t have time to rest or plan and the laundry probably wouldn’t be done. At this point, I considered running away.

flat tireThen Sunday morning came. I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. I made it through several loads of laundry and tidied here and there. I started making a lose plan for birthdaycelebrations. I attended Mother’s Day lunch with dirty hair and no make up. I intended to leave early to finish my 1,000 tasks and buy birthday presents. Then, I had a flat tire. (Razor blade??) Luckily, my brother-in-law and nephew were there to save the day. Nonetheless, my afternoon did not go as planned.

The reality is sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Sometimes you have to realize that you just can’t do everything and that your best will have to be good enough. My best in this moment is that I’ve been present for events even if I didn’t have a gift or wasn’t 100% prepared. Matthew won’t have homemade cupcakes for his birthday. He will have a home cooked meal of his choice and we will likely sit on the couch and watch movies in silence. While I first felt guilty for the simplicity of this evening, I think he will actually be grateful for the time to take it easy. We will continue to step over the heavy duty extension cord that’s powering our washing machine from the kitchen, (The laundry outlet randomly went out last week.) and life will go on. Things will level out and we’ll get back to normal eventually.

Happy Birthday MatthewWhile my original intention was to use this post to celebrate Matthew, I couldn’t really do that without explaining a bit of my struggle lately. I needed to do so to get to the heart of why this guy is so great. Even amidst the craziness, he’ll still keep going. He’ll still support me and encourage me when I feel like I’m failing at everything. He’ll still approach life with the same optimism, even though he’s exhausted to his core. He’ll be just as happy with a quiet dinner on the couch as he would have been if this house was filled with 1,000 balloons. He deserves the very best, yet he rocks on, without judging, when I deliver mediocrity on his special day. He expects nothing of me, so that when I deliver something he’s just as thrilled. That in itself is a quality to celebrate.

Despite my own craziness at the moment, I’m immensely thankful for this guy. I’m thankful for his patience and perseverance. I’m thankful for his unwavering love and support and for sometimes letting me be “good enough” instead of great. I don’t think I could make it through this life without you, Matthew Petrus. Happy Birthday.

MAP Does Dallas

MAP Dallas (13)One of my goals for the month was to make a weekend trip over to Dallas and spend a bit of time with the husband. Done! What started as a trip to IKEA, ended up being an excuse to get away and celebrate Matthew’s graduation.

Most of our trips revolve around food. Picking a cool restaurant is of utmost importance. Here’s where we ate on this trip:

MAP Dallas (14)MAP Dallas (15)The Dairy Palace (Canton, Tx):
This is one of my favorite burger joints of all time. We stopped here on the way to Dallas and on the way back. The burgers are some of the best I’ve ever had. They’re world famous and open 24 hours. If you’re passing through Texas on I-20, make a plan to stop here.

MAP Dallas (3)MAP Dallas (2)MAP Dallas (16)MAP Dallas (1)Cane Rosso (Deep Ellum):
This was our first stop when we made it to Dallas, and it did not disappoint. The selection of brick oven pizzas is mouth-watering. No need to order an appetizer here because it only takes 75 seconds to cook a pizza! My favorite thing here was the decor. The restaurant was in an old building that had been very tastefully and eclectically redone. My favorite part was the fringe lights. You better believe that I’ll be purchasing one of these if I ever come across one!

Fluellen CupcakesSol Ilandes (Downtown):
This place was in walking distance from our hotel, which is half of the appeal. What started as just picking a convenient place to eat turned into a fantastic meal! They played old country music and the place was filled to the brim with happy folks and high energy. There was a patio with roll up windows on the side that would be a great place to enjoy in warmer weather. The food was pretty great too. The menu was diverse, and the food was flavorful…something that you don’t always find outside of Louisiana. It’s definitely a place I’d recommend to anyone in Downtown Dallas. After dinner, we walked around the corner to Fluellen Cupcakes. The carrot cake cupcake was amazing and my favorite thing about this place was that they’re open late!

MAP Dallas (9)MAP Dallas (11)MAP Dallas (10)Buzz Brews (Deep Ellum):
This might have been one of my favorite stops on the trip. It was across the street from Cane Rosso and had a very artsy vibe. It featured a self-serve coffee bar. (The peanut butter coffee was a crowd favorite…we even order a 1/2 pound to bring home!) We were also incredibly impressed by the food. My banana nut pancakes were off the charts! I was in love with the old faucets in the bathroom…so cool! The  bathroom itself is something to talk about. I heard a girl say, “It’s two doors, but don’t let that confuse you…its one bathroom.” I thought that meant you had to go through two doors to get in. Nope. It’s two doors (one for men and one for women), but they lead into the SAME bathroom. There were individual stalls/rooms on each side with the cool sinks in the middle of the room. I’d never seen anything quite like it!

MAP Dallas (12)MAP Dallas (6)MAP Dallas (7)MAP Dallas (5)One of the highlights of this trip was that I got to go ice skating for the first time! Matthew has quite a bit of experience, but I had never been on skates. I’m happy to report that I didn’t fall, not even once! They say that ice skating is a lot like rollerblading, which I can agree with…if you’re roller blading on baby oil!

MAP Dallas (4)Another highlight was our visit to the Look Cinemas. This is one of those movie theaters that have recliners, serve food, etc. Actually, they offer four different experiences to chose from. (Check out their website…it’s pretty cool.) Matthew and I chose the Look & Dine experience. My favorite part of this theater was the chairs…they were grouped in sets of two, were incredibly comfortable, and reclined! That only thing missing from this experience was a cozy blanket!

The day we headed home, we spent 7+ hours at IKEA. My birthday present from Matthew was to finish out my closet room, so we ultimately went to get some storage solutions for that. We also bought shelves for my office, a new rug, and several other goodies that you’ll likely see around my house soon. As always, it was a fun (but exhausting) day of shopping. Never ben to IKEA? Go! There’s nothing else like it.

All in all, we had a fun trip. We met up with Amanda and her sister Rachel here and there and enjoyed lots of quality time together. I also got two houses under contract while on the road, which is seriously one of my favorite things about this career.

Want to read more about our travels? Check here! Where shall we go next??

Nursing School

Nursing School

Photo Credit: Staff Photographer – Louisiana Tech University

I made a decision while listening to Grace Bonney’s podcast that I needed to share more about my “real life” here with you guys. Let me be clear up front. I never sugarcoat things or create a false sense of happiness here on the blog. I do, however, tend to share mainly the positive sides of life. I do this primarily because I want this to be a space of positivity and joy. I never, ever want this to be a place that someone leaves feeling discouraged or sad. This does not mean, however, that I don’t face struggles in life. It doesn’t mean that my life is problem-free or that I live in a land of candy canes and rainbows. And unicorns…there should definitely be unicorns. Instead, I just tend to focus on the positive, both as a way of maintaining an upbeat vibe here and as a way of controlling my own outlook on life.

However, I realized after listening to this podcast, that I want to be more “real.” I never want someone to leave this site feeling like I don’t have real-life problems or that their life is so much more screwed up than mine. Yes, I do have a fantastic life overall, but I also battle certain issues daily and have to deal with the crap life throws our way….I just don’t tend to talk about it.

Nursing School In an effort to show the real-life side of things, I thought I’d talk a little bit about something I’ve been struggling with for the past few months. Matthew wraps up nursing school this week (!!), and if I were being completely honest with everyone, I’d say that it scares the hell out of me. His graduation marks a drastic change in his career (Remember, he’s worked at the family business since we’ve met.), and this equals a complete and total change of our daily routine and way of life.

Overall, I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of change. I get so excited about progression towards equality and learning things to make our lives more efficient and safe. I think it’s important to evolve and grow, both as individuals and as a society. I get downright excited about my own personal development. However, thinking about putting my daily life in a blender scares me quite a bit.

I like spontaneity, but I like routines. I like knowing what to expect, and I don’t like surprises. Unless you’re surprising me with a cupcake that I didn’t know was coming. That’s always a good idea. Do not, however, tell me that you have a surprise for me and then not give it to me immediately. The anxiety that it causes is unreal. Don’t let me see you whispering or find out that you’re texting about a surprise birthday present either. There’s a chance that I’ll mark you off of my friends list before I even receive that mystery gift. I don’t like anticipation, and I don’t like being caught off guard. Maybe this is a control or insecurity issue. I’m not sure. I am certain, though, that not knowing what to expect makes me wildly uncomfortable and nervous.

Fork Lift

This is Matthew strapping Mom into a forklift cage to take her up to the warehouse loft.

I think this is where my fear of Matthew graduating comes from. For the past two years, we’ve had a routine. It was a routine of working and/or studying most of the time, but we adjusted to that. I know what to expect. Within the next few weeks, that will all change. Will he work 12 hours shifts? Will his off days be weekdays? Will I have to adjust my work schedule to match his? I don’t have the answer to any of these questions at this time. I literally don’t have a clue what our new routine will become, and I don’t know how to prepare for it.

Even though I’ve been immensely nervous about what the next few months will hold, I am incredibly proud of Matthew for his accomplishment, and I know that we’ll adjust as needed. I’m so proud that he was able to go back for another degree in a field that he had very little experience in, all while continuing to work as much as humanly possible and still be a great, supportive husband. He still took out the trash, cooked most of the dinners, and saved an ample amount of time for me. He did all of this while not cracking from the pressure. I know without a shadow of a doubt that me doing the same things would have led to multiple tear-filled breakdowns. I admire his courage and strength as he juggled being a new husband among all of his other responsibilities. Thank you, Matthew, for being strong and courageous and supportive through this process. You did an amazing job.

I say all of this without disregarding the struggles that we had along the way. We didn’t adjust to nursing school without having to realize and learn many things about our marriage. Matthew started nursing school just a month and a half after we were married, so we were (and are) still learning about what we needed from and how to live alongside each other. This didn’t come without a few tears and screaming matches. (Ok, those were both from me.) We both had to learn how to be married while also learning how he would succeed in nursing school. Matthew had to learn what he needed to survive while also learning what I needed from him. I had to learn how to get what I needed from Matthew amidst his school and work requirements, while also learning how I needed to support him in these endeavors. It took some time, but we finally hit our stride. Now, we’re embarking upon a time where we have to find a new groove, and I’m afraid of that.

Nursing SchoolWill we have the ups and downs that we had in the beginning while adjusting to a new routine? Will we struggle through the process of finding a new normal? Or will the adjustment come and go effortlessly? I honestly don’t know. I do know that I’ve likely worried about it much more than necessary. I do know that we’ll figure it out as the time comes. I also know that it’s been a struggle for me, but that deep down, I am excited to see what the future holds. I am excited for Matthew to open new doors and experience a new industry. I’m excited to see what he does next and where this new career will take us. I am also excited to share with you both my excitement and insecurities. This is real life, and that means a series of ups and downs. Wins and loss. Pain and pleasure. We’re in this fight together.

Here’s to new beginnings and overcoming fear. Here’s to a bright future ahead and celebrating both the failures and accomplishments. And here’s to my commitment to share both with you. Thank you for following along and letting me share my journey in this space. It truly means the world to me.

Valentine’s Day 2015!

Valentine's DayI mentioned last month that I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. This was mine and Matthew’s third Valentine’s Day together, and we’ve really never done much to celebrate in the past. However, I set a goal to actually do something more special this year.

Originally, I had planned to do something sort of like this. I planned to cook a nice dinner, get dressed up, and decorate the house. I’m definitely NOT going to plan a dinner outing on the same day that practically everyone else will be out, so I thought it would be fun to do something really special at home. However, after being in Orlando for a week and going out to Louisiana Dancing with the Stars the night before, I just wasn’t as motivated to go all out. I started to feel a bit guilty as the day passed though and threw something together at the very last minute.

Valentine's Day Happy MailWe didn’t dress up, but I did throw some decorations on the table right before Matthew came home from work. By decorations, I really mean a few candles and wedding photos that I dug from a box in the closet. (If you’ve never sat at a table and stared at photos of yourself, you should try it. It’s incredibly awkward.) Nonetheless, I had no red or pink décor lying around, and I thought it would be great to have a reminder of where we started.

steak fingers and mashed potatoesWe had already planned out the menu, so I didn’t have to panic over that when I decided to make this happen at the last minute. I have been wanting to try the slow cooker mashed potatoes from A Beautiful Mess, so I used this as an opportunity. The recipe calls for 5 pounds of potatoes, so I only made half. Matthew and I do NOT need to eat 5 pounds of potatoes…even if it is a holiday! I topped mine with green onions and cheese, and was very pleased with the outcome. This would be a great recipe to try if you were planning a big meal for friends or family.

When he got home from work, Matthew made steak fingers from the Pioneer Woman. This recipe is fantastic, and it’s one of my favorite things that Matthew makes…which is why we had it on Valentine’s Day. Generally, I prefer the fingers to be in smaller, more bite-sized portions, but you can make them however you like. These paired well with the mashed potatoes, and we also added red grapes, as the Pioneer Woman suggests. (If you’re thinking the grapes are an odd addition, I was skeptical at first, too. However, it makes total sense once you try them together. Give it a shot!)

After dinner, we watched a girly movie and then turned in for the night. We were originally planning on watching the 40th Anniversary Saturday Night Live Special together, since we were both looking forward to it. When we realized it didn’t come on until Sunday night, we had to make other plans. I normally do not count watching TV as “quality time together,” but if I get to choose the movie, I’ll let it count. You say cheating…I say smart.

Valentine's DayAfter being out of town/on the road and quite busy lately, a simple night at home was just what the doctor ordered. In just a few short weeks, Matthew will be graduating from nursing school and our daily lives are going to change a bit. Without knowing exactly what the future holds, it was nice to sit and chat and reconnect as we prepare for what’s ahead.

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Even though it’s not my favorite holiday, I think we might doing something special next year too!