Long Distance Sisterhood

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My sister and I are only 20 months apart so I don’t remember a time before she was born. She’s always been my built-in best friend.

Growing up our bedrooms were right next to each other and we shared a bathroom with only one sink. We have our fights and disagreements but at the end of the day, she understands me better than pretty much anyone else.

I never really thought about her moving away. I guess I just thought that we would live in the same place together forever.

And then a couple of years ago she met this guy in the Navy who she would end up marrying. It changed our family and I thought that I’d be upset about it but I’m not. I love watching her be happy.

She has now lived in New York, Hawaii, and New Hampshire. I have had the opportunity to travel to new places to visit her on a few different occasions. It’s hard being apart and I always hate when she leaves after a visit but I know she’s happy and that makes the distance worth it.

When she first decided to move with him I was worried that I wouldn’t be there if she needed me. I wouldn’t be a 20 minute drive away if there was an emergency. It’s been hard to let her go but I know that her husband is taking care of her. I also know that she’s a strong, independent woman and she doesn’t need her big sis to bail her out.

Long distance sisterhood has been hard. It’s taught me that I need to have more friends than just my sister. It’s also taught me that it’s okay to set boundaries with family.

We didn’t have the hardest childhood but we had our challenges that we got through them together. Adulthood presents another set of challenges and even though we aren’t together geographically anymore I know that we will still get through it together.

Do you have any siblings? How do you handle growing apart as you get older?

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Marriage in Quarantine

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One thing I quickly realized because of quarantine was that my marriage was far from perfect.

Every relationship has it’s problems. You can’t have a relationship without fights and disagreements because each person has their own ideas that make them an individual thinker.

I realized that my marriage wasn’t perfect because I didn’t feel like I had enough one on one time with my husband. I didn’t feel loved or appreciated because I wasn’t spending enough time with him. I guess it can be considered a good problem because after all these years all I wanted was to spend some time with him. I craved an at home date night consisting of dinner and a movie. Nothing complicated or expensive.

Being asked to stay home has been a blessing because I’ve been able to spend so much time with Brett that we normally don’t get to have together. I realized how much I missed him even though I see him everyday.

Brett has a million hobbies which means that he is always on the go. I travel with him some of the time but it’s too overwhelming for me to go to every single airshow and amusement park especially when I have migraines. This has forced him to slow down and stay home with me.

We still aren’t perfect but I’m so much happier. I know once our stay at home order is lifted Brett will be right back to traveling but I hope this time has shown him how important our time together is too.

How are your relationships holding up?

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Meet My Husband & His Blog

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Over the past 6+ years I have mentioned Brett a million times but have never really introduced him. Brett and I have been together since 2011 so he’s been part of this blog since the very beginning and was my original fan and supporter.

Recently Brett decided to launch his own blog, Universe of Adventure, so I thought it would be fun to do a little Q&A with him. It’s still a work in progress but I know he’s worked really hard on it and it’s been a fun project for us to work on during quarantine.

I came up with some random questions to ask Brett and I thought I’d share his answers.

  1. How did we meet?
    “We met through a mutual friend that I did theater with. We started texting and went on our first date a couple weeks later.”
  2. What is your blog about?
    “My blog is about all of my interests. I chose the name Universe of Adventures because a universe can be broken up into different worlds. I will be blogging about beer, travel, amusement parks, weather, aviation, and sports.”
  3. Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
    “100% an extrovert but I sometimes have introverted tendencies.”
  4. What is your dream vacation?
    “I would have to say Prague for the beer and the history.”
  5. What’s your favorite blog post that I have written?
    “Probably all the posts about the trips we have taken. All the way back to 2014 when we would visit my grandparents in Florida.”
  6. What was your major in college?
    “I was a double major in Aviation Science and Administration and Geography with a focus in Economic and Regional Geography.”
  7. What is your favorite part about being married?
    “Ummm…..having someone to share everything with and to create memories with.”
  8. What are 3 words that describe you?
    “Interesting, fun, and smart.”
  9. What’s the first thing you want to do after quarantine?
    “Travel but I might not be able to do that right away. So I want to just be able to leave the house and go to a bar or a restaurant. That would be really nice.”
  10. Where’s your favorite place that you have traveled to?
    “This is hard for me to choose because there are so many good places. If I had to narrow it down to my top 3 I’d say Florida, England, and Italy.”
  11. If we started a band, what would our band name be?
    *thinks hard and giggles to himself* “I honestly don’t know. I’ve never thought about it.”
  12. What’s your motto in life?
    “Take your life seriously but don’t forget to enjoy it. It’s okay to have fun.”

I hope you enjoyed meeting Brett! We had fun working on this post so let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to answer together!

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Five on Friday #19

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Happy Friday!

I am so glad it’s almost the weekend! It’s been a tough week and I need to re-charge. I’m still working from home since the Michigan stay at home order was extended to the end of May. Are you still under a stay at home order?

Without further ado, here are five random things for your Friday morning.

  1. I’ve seen all over social media that people are struggling with anxiety right now which is helping me feel less alone during this time. I’ve had pretty good control on my anxiety for the last couple of years but now I feel like I’ve lost control. I know it’s just temporary and it helps to know that everyone is feeling anxious right now. I started taking a magnesium supplement for my migraines but my Neurologist said this also might help my anxiety so fingers crossed! Let me know if you have any other ideas for dealing with anxiety.
  2. The weather is finally starting to warm up in Michigan and since everything is cancelled this summer Brett and I are working on a little backyard refresh. My dad just built a new fire pit in our yard and I’m trying to decide on what patio furniture to buy. We have a double lot backyard so we have lots of room to work with. I’m thinking a badminton set is a must!
  3. I selected the items for my summer 2020 FabFitFun box a couple of weeks ago and I was so excited to see that they included the DryBar Prep Rally Prime & Prep Detangler. I got this detangler in my winter box and loved it! I have really thick wavy hair and this makes it shiny and soft. Do you have FFF? What did you pick for your summer box? My sister and I got my mom a membership for Mother’s Day and it was so much fun choosing our boxes together!
  4. Brett has been doing all of the grocery shopping for us over the past couple of months which means that I haven’t really left the house at all. We are hoping to go to Costco this weekend to stock up on some essentials. We usually go to Costco once a quarter but haven’t been at all this year. I’m anxious to leave the house but I think it’ll be good for my mental health. Plus, my grandma made us super cute face masks to wear!
  5. Brett and I have been making it a habit to have Saturday night date night since this quarantine started. Brett’s schedule is usually crazy so we rarely have dates. Our date nights have consisted of grabbing takeout from a local restaurant and watching a movie but I still really enjoy the one on one time. I actually think staying home has been really good for our marriage. What have you been doing during quarantine?

Do you have any plans for this weekend? Other than date night I’ll just be at home getting stuff done around the house.

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Photo by Emiel Molenaar on Unsplash

Five on Friday #18

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It’s finally Friday and I couldn’t be happier! This week was so busy for me, mostly because it was the end of the month and end of the first quarter so work was incredibly crazy. I’m happy to be busy though because I’m not feeling bored while quarantined.

Without further ado, here are five random things for your Friday morning.

  1. I received my spring FabFitFun box a couple of months ago but I just started using the Gravity weighted sleep mask that was in my box. I think many people were disappointed with this product because we have seen a few eye masks from FabFitFun already. However, I am a big fan of eye masks because they are really helpful when I have migraines and need to block out all the light. I’ve been sleeping with this one this week and the weight is so comforting! It sounds weird but wearing this eye mask is soothing and I fall asleep really quickly!
  2. This was my first full week of being quarantined and I think it went really well. I have my normal work setup at home so it’s not super difficult for me. We have a great phone system that allows us to work remotely and have video conferences easily so that hasn’t been an issue at all. How are things going for you?
  3. I’ve been loving cooking dinner lately! I’m trying to be more creative with meals now that we are exclusively eating at home. I got a few Keto cookbooks for Christmas from my mom this year so I’ve been using those in addition to just making recipes up as I go. My favorite Keto cookbook is this one by Amy Ramos which is usually under $10 on Amazon!
  4. If you knew me in real life you’d know that I pretty much always have a Sparkling Ice water in my hand. I’ve loved them for years and drink at least one a day. I don’t eat sugar so these are my sweet treat and a great substitute for soft drinks. When I was visiting my sister in New Hampshire I tried the Sparking Ice + Caffeine waters and they were a game changer! I don’t drink coffee but every once in awhile I need a little caffeine. I can’t buy them at any stores around me but I did find them on Amazon. The Blue Raspberry is my favorite!
  5. I have been loving watching YouTube lately. For three years Brett and I only owned one TV which was fine by me but I got used to not ever watching the TV so instead I’d watch YouTube. I like to play videos when I’m cooking, cleaning, writing, etc. I recently discovered Jen Chapin and I love her grocery hauls, meal prep, and day in the life videos. She really inspires me to create a healthy work-life balance.

I usually share my weekend plans in these posts but these days I have nothing going on. I have to admit, I am enjoying my one-on-one time with Brett. It feels like everyday is a date while we are eating our meals together and watching movies. I’m really glad to have some time to just spend with him.

Do you have any plans for this weekend? What are you loving lately?

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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Love in the Time of Quarantine

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A few years ago my family lost someone very important to them unexpectantly. The loss came out of nowhere and we carried our grief for a long time. I had so many regrets swirling around inside of me about what I wish I would have said to this person. How I wished that they knew that I cared about them and believed in them. But it was too late and I couldn’t say any of those things.

From this loss I learned a really important lesson. Always say how you feel and always say “I love you”.

Brett and I have been together for almost nine years, married for almost three. He’s my person but sometimes he’s also the person who annoys me most in the world. Our marriage isn’t perfect but I learned the hard way to always, always say “I love you.”

Every morning when I leave for work I make sure it’s the last thing I say to him. That’s how we end every single phone call. He texts me that he’s leaving work and I text right back “Drive safe. I love you!” Those are the last words I hear before falling asleep every night. Even if we are mad at each other we always make sure to say “I love you” and mean it.

My family has always been very loving. Every phone call with my mom or my sister ends with “I luhhhh you, boo boo”. There will never be a question on if we loved each other or not.

In these scary times I think it is especially important to let people know how you feel about them. I am very aware of this and try not to take any day together or conversation for granted. We might not be able to leave our homes right now but we can still call, text, or facetime our loved ones and check in on them.

Have you told someone that you loved them today?

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Daily Conversations for a Healthy Marriage

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Marriage is hard. Ask any couple who have been married for longer than a couple of months and they will tell you that’s it’s not sunshine and rainbows all the time. Your spouse is supposed be there for all of the highs and lows of your life so it’s not always pretty.

I’ve been married for a little over two years now but have been with my husband for eight years. We have had many great moments but have also had many struggles. There have been a few times where I’ve wanted to give up and walk away but at the end of the day Brett is my best friend and my person. He might upset me from time to time but there’s still no one else I’d rather do life with.

We had our first major fight a couple of weeks ago where I didn’t even want him to sleep in our room. One of my friends gave us the advice when we got married to never go to bed angry and I’ve stuck with that until this fight. I was so upset over something that was actually silly. I didn’t sleep that night even though I did end up letting Brett sleep in our bed. I woke up the next day and was really grumpy over my lack of sleep.

After that night I knew that something had to change. Brett and I don’t spend a ton of time together because he’s always busy with work or hanging out with his friends. We don’t have scheduled date nights and mostly communicate through text or when we talk before bed.

Throughout the day Brett tells me all about his day. I know what happened at work, what’s going on with his family, and what’s happening in his friend group. I tend to only share the big or interesting things so he doesn’t get to hear about a lot of my normal day to day activities.

Communication in a marriage is so important but ours was seriously lacking. I thought back to summer camp where we played the “roses and thorns” or “highs and lows” game. All we did at camp was go around the room and say the greatest moment (rose/high) and the worst moment (thorn/low) of our day. I thought this game would be perfect to play everyday with Brett.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve asked Brett every night before bed what his high and low for the day was. He usually answers that his low was going to work and his high was hanging out with friends, watching a weather documentary, etc. At first he never asked me the questions back but I’d answer anyway. Now it’s a habit and I look forward to what he has to say because his answers have evolved and have become more thoughtful. It’s a simple conversation that only lasts a couple of minutes but it really makes a difference in our marriage.

Communication is one of the keys for any successful marriage or relationship. Over the years communicating with Brett has become harder so I’m grateful that we have this new way to share things about our day.

Do you have any tips for communicating with your significant other?

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Learning How to Say “No”

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I’m a people pleaser and that’s not always a good thing. I hate disappointing people and nothing brings me more joy than helping someone in need. This people pleasing quality gets me in trouble a lot of the time because I make other people happy but don’t have time to chase my own happiness.

I’ve been struggling lately with this because sometimes people take advantage of how caring I am. I get myself in situations where I’m so busy taking care of other people that I don’t take care of myself. I end up exhausted, crying, and swearing that I’ll make a change and start saying “no”.

This weekend we had a family member ask me to do something for her and her family that went way too far. I want to help them but helping them would hurt my mental health in a way that would take too long to recover from. I don’t want to go into details but I had to have a serious conversation with Brett and luckily we both agreed that I had to say no.

Saying no is hard, especially when you love the person and want to help them. But sometimes you have to say no in order to protect yourself from damage. It feels selfish and wrong but it’s needed. I hate disappointing people and I know that this decision will hurt my relationship with the person. But this time I have to put myself first. I have to save myself from something that will damage me.

Taking care of yourself is more than just “self-care Sunday”. Taking care of yourself means protecting your mental health, your energy, and your well-being. It means learning to say “no” to things that will hurt you. Put yourself first, you’re worth it!

Do you have a hard time saying no to people? Any advice on getting over being a people pleaser?

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Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

The Truth About Closure

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When I was 13 I read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book series. Tibby was my favorite character, I even named our cat after her. In the books Tibby wants to be a film director and carries her camera with her everywhere capturing everything she experiences. I was inspired so I asked for a video camera for my 14th birthday.

On my 14th birthday in October 2007 my parents bought me my own video camera. I took the camera pretty much everywhere with me for a year. My goal was to create a video about a year in my life. I filmed sleepovers with friends, after school activities, family events, and every holiday.

I forgot about this video camera until I cleaned out my parent’s basement earlier this year. I brought it home and stored it in our spare bedroom in a box until last week when I got the inspiration to start going through the boxes. I found the camera again and tried to turn it on but it needed a new battery. Amazon delivered the new battery the next day and my 12 year old video camera was back in action!

Going through the videos that I so carefully filmed was extremely hard. Life has changed drastically in the last 12 years and I’m no longer friends with any of the same people. I saw the girl I considered a sister give me a hug, I listened to 14 year old Hayley talk about love like she knew how it felt, I got to see baby videos of my two favorite kids.

At 14 I thought that I had it all figured out. I had the best group of friends who I thought would be with me throughout the rest of my life. I had my dorky little sister, my parents, and my amazing grandparents. I had a future career as a film director and I was going to marry my best friend’s older brother. Everything was going to be okay because I was surrounded with people who loved me more than anything.

I obviously never made the video about a year in my life. The summer before I turned 15 was when everything started to change. One of my best friends was a guy and I think we both always cared about each other a little differently than we cared about our other friends. We started dating that summer that I stopped filming and were together for the next 2ish years.

Seeing this boy that I used to care about in these videos hurt my heart a little bit. Not because I have any feelings left for him but because before watching I couldn’t ever remember being friends with him. Our breakup during our junior year was messy, mostly because I was immature and decided that there was no way we could ever be friends again. I cut him out of my life completely and lost most of my other friends along the way too.

Watching my life from my 14 year old self’s perspective was eye opening. Being brought back to a time before braces fixed my teeth, my acne was not quite under control, and I only wore band t-shirts and converse made me realize that I never quite got closure from this time in my life. This group of friends meant everything to me and I lost them.

I think that 14 year old Hayley would be really proud of me. I know that I’m proud of her.

Getting closure isn’t always about having a conversation or making amends. Sometimes it’s just knowing that it’s okay to leave the past in the past. It’s okay to be sad about what you’ve lost while still appreciating all that you have gained.

I’m thankful that I captured all of these little moments of my life. I wouldn’t have remembered the time my sister and I had a funeral for our goldfish, the way my dog Scooter snored, rocking baby Riley to sleep, or what we talked about at sleepovers.

I’m not quite sure yet what I will do with the 36 hours of videos that I have from 2007-2008 but I’m really glad that I have it.

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Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash

 

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

I love summer reading! I’m always looking for a book that I can relate to that’s not too serious. Something that I can get lost in for a little while. I had read a few other reviews for Love and Other Words and added it right away to my TBR list.

Summary:

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

Review:

I started reading this book on one of the nights where we had a bad storm and our power went out. I read for about an hour and decided that I didn’t really like it. I was disappointed because I really thought I’d like it. My friend encouraged me to keep reading it and I’m glad they did!

I fell in love with Macy and Elliott. I loved their story and their characters. I cried with them, laughed with them, and cheered them on throughout the book. I loved the flashbacks to when they first met and fell in love. There’s just something so magical about falling in love and this book was special because you get to see it happening twice.

Macy’s story was rough to read but so powerful. I loved that she was fiercely independent but didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do with her life. This book shows her struggles and you get to watch her overcome so many things from her present and her past.

Favorite Quotes:

“I give myself three more seconds to look at him, and it’s like another punch to the gut. He’s my person. He’s always been my person. My best friend, my confidant, probably the love of my life. And I’ve spent the last eleven years being angry and self-righteous. But at the end of the day, he tore a hole in us, and fate ripped it wide open. “I’m going to go,”

“Sometimes it feels like I think about you every minute,” he whispered.”

“Tell her you love her. Girls need the words.”

“Admissions make feelings intensify simply because they are given space to breathe. Admissions lead to love, and admitting love is like tying yourself to a train track.”

“Don’t spoil her with toys; spoil her with books.”

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Again, I didn’t think I would love this book after reading it for a little bit. But in the end the powerful story and brilliant characters won me over. Macy’s family dynamics broke my heart but her love with Elliott sewed it back together.

Love and Other Words was a cute read but felt more meaningful than my normal YA romance book. It brought me back to my first relationship and heartbreak. It made me feel for these people who are really just characters in a book. It made me wonder if maybe these characters are based off of real life people?

I haven’t rated a book so highly yet in my book review series. I thought long and hard about this but honestly I think Love and Other Words deserves 4.5 stars. It was almost perfect in my eyes.

Have you read any good books lately?

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