My Husband, My Hero: Five Minute Friday

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I’ve been realizing over the last few weeks how absolutely blessed I am to have a man by my side like Rob. He is far from perfect (which he’d tell you himself) but over our almost 11 years of marriage he has made it his mission to continue growing as a husband and father. This year one of our priorities has been to invest in our marriage. Last year, for our 10th anniversary we went away by ourselves for the first time since our honeymoon. It was wonderful. But it also made us realize the need to focus on our marriage more regularly if we want it to remain strong.

Rob keeping me company at my book signing. (photo taken by Kinsey Gensel)
Rob keeping me company at my book signing. (photo taken by Kinsey Gensel)

The past few weeks have not been easy ones at our house. My “part-time” job has been consuming more and more of my time and energy to the point when it fills most free moments, if not with actual work than with distractions and stress. This week we had our biggest event of the year for the non-profit I work for. We were understaffed and behind schedule. He arranged to work from home the day before so that I could work and extra long day.

Staying up until 1 AM to help me finish the Christmas wrapping.
Staying up until 1 AM to help me finish the Christmas wrapping.

The event came off, but not without several problems and some major disappointments for me. Projects I get spent hours on were made moot at the last second. After two, 14 hour days and only five hours of sleep in between, I was a wreck. The night before the event my husband helped me navigate a few last minute customer service nightmares and a power point glitch. He had to go to work the next day, but he stayed up until midnight keeping me company and boosting my tried spirits.

Wrangling the kids on a snowed in day.
Wrangling the kids on a snowed in day.

When I finally came home and crashed on Wednesday night, he let me decompress. When I was so exhausted the following day that I could barely see straight and my big accomplishment of the day was keeping the kids alive, he didn’t complain and threw dinner together at the last minute without making me feel guilty. Tonight he’s going to get takeout after the kids are in bed so we can enjoy a quiet meal, just the two of us; one that I don’t have to cook or clean up.

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Building a snowman with the kids on a bitterly cold day, so I could stay warm inside.

In many ways, this is just ordinary stuff. But I’ve heard enough from other women to realize that this kind of support is not typical, nor guaranteed. I am so grateful that Rob is not just willing, but also able to manage so many aspects of household management on the rare occasions when it’s necessary for me to be away for extended periods of time. He’s never saved me from a burning building or dismantled a bomb, but he is there when I need him most. I may not have a big house in the suburbs, a new luxury SUV or a cleaning service (not that I wouldn’t love any of those things), but I have him and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He’s my hero.

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I’m Finally Enjoying Myself: Fit2B Beginning Week 3

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This week the workouts were definitely more intense. Fortunately there were also only three of them, and just one recommended day of 20-25 minutes cardio.

Ultimate Upper Body felt very useful, given how much weight I have to lift on a given day. I’m hoping that in a few months I’ll find hauling laundry baskets, lifting toddlers and carrying groceries a bit easier. I’ve never done much work on my upper body except for ballet positions and some toning a few years back which resulted in tendonitis in my shoulder. But I’m realizing how much having strength can be a benefit when raising two kids.

I love Ab Attack. After spending the last year almost afraid to do any concentrated abdominal exercise except for the Foundational Five, it felt great to really work on my abs again. When I found out I had a diastasis and that may of the exercises I was doing were actually making it worse, I was seriously bummed. I thought that if I kept doing enough Pilates it would get me back in pregnancy shape. But it just wasn’t working. So my focus became more internal than external. I was trying to heal my muscles so they could be strong again. While I can’t claim a miracle, my abdominal separation has shrunk, but it is still there. But I am now confident that I can work on strengthening my abs again.

I felt so excited that I actually added the Aerobics II workout after Ab Attack just to get my heart rate up. It felt good to be putting in 30 minutes of solid exercise again. I know it is going to get harder to fit these workouts into my schedule, but it makes me feel accomplished. For me, half of exercise is the psychology of it.

Balanced workout is my favorite so far. It was very physically challenging and yet not complicated. I wasn’t bouncing all over my living room, rather the opposite. It involved a lot of balancing in place while using weights. Definitely one I will come back to. Used both upper and lower body and right around the 20 minute mark, which is about as much as my kid can handle before a crisis occurs, and also not too long to be managed after the kids go to bed when I’m usually quite exhausted.

So week three down, two more to go.

Starting Slow: Fit2B Beginning Week 1

Building a Habit: Fit2B Beginning Week 2

 
Join Fit2b.usDon’t forget you can use the coupon code laundryblog to save 30% off a Fit2B Studio yearly membership. That’s less than $7 a month.

Frumps to Pumps: Fighting the Lure of Cozy

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This chapter couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Since I have been working part time, I find it very difficult to avoid the lure of the cozy on none work days. It’s been cold and snowy here and after two days of hauling my kids through snow and slush and then getting myself back and forth to work, I want to spend the other days of the week in yoga pants and a comfy top. I have been recommitting myself to regular exercise, so it is important that I get myself into my workout clothes first thing in the morning. My struggle is getting out of them again. I notice this same pattern in my children. My daughter would rather spend a cold day in her fleece pajamas than to bother putting on clothes.

Inspiration I’ve Imbibed

Not unlike a uniform, when we dress for the day we are stepping into our role. It helps get us into a mindset to be more efficient.  I know that I will feel better about myself and probably get more done when I intentionally dress for the day.

Challenges I’ve Pursued

I’m determined that this week I will manage to exercise in the mornings and still get dressed. This is a tall order with all the chaos that fills our days lately. But perhaps my efforts to prepare my mind and body for the day will help create some calm. I’m also going to take this chapter’s advice and try to lay my clothes out the night before. That way I’m not as tempted to hangout it workout clothes all day.

Do you find yourself tempted to spend the day in your comfy clothes rather than getting dressed? Do you notice a difference when you do get dressed?

Next- Frumps to Pumps:  A Quiet Spirit

Week 1 : Join the Challenge

Week 2: Know Your Why

Week 3: Dress Differently, Act Differently

Week 4: Prophesy Hope Through Accountability

Week 5: Make the Decision

Week 6: Find Your “Earrings”

Week 7: Focus Your Eyes

Week 8: A Moment of Silence for Showers

Week 9: Roll Up Your Sleeves

Week 10: Discipline

Week 11: Too Tired to Get Dressed

Week 12: Dressing in Freedom

Week 13: Is Being “Cute” Biblical?

Week 14: Imperishable Beauty

Week 15: For the Fun of It

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He Says, She Says about His Needs, Her Needs

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He Says

When Bethany asked if I wanted to tag-team this blog series with her, I didn’t hesitate. His Needs, Her Needs was a book I started to read a couple of years ago, but never finished. I wanted to finish, but this is a book that requires work, and my natural inclination is to avoid work. This is now a project I need to finish, for her, for us, for me. The better I understand her and myself – even after 10 years, because we do change – the healthier our marriage can be. I’d be a fool to not want that.

I can describe chapter one with a single word: terrifying. Harley writes most of it in the second person point of view (“You do this, then you do that”). And in this chapter, YOU are the one that starts an extramarital affair. It’s a powerful tool to drive home his point that any one of us can go against our wedding day vows of “forsaking all others.” When I read this chapter my stomach turns. Not because “I” ultimately have an affair, but because the process begins so innocently as friendship, and then in a slow, insidious way it’s happened even though it was never the intention.

Early in our marriage Bethany and I disagreed a bit on opposite sex friendships. She was still finishing college, so she still had some male friends she saw on campus. It bothered me, not because I didn’t trust her, or even that I didn’t trust them (I really didn’t), but to me it begged a simple question: why put yourself in a position like that? It has always been my opinion that, once married, I should have one and only one close female friend – my wife. Having any other woman in my life beyond acquaintances or working relationships is simply asking for trouble. Ten years later, I feel no remorse from this decision. Quite the opposite, in fact, I feel relieved. I have almost zero avenues to temptation of an affair. I think that’s worth more than gold.

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She Says

I read this book for the first time last year. I promptly passed the recommendation on to every couple I knew. My husband has been meaning to read it so as part of our 2014 goal to invest in our marriage, we are reading it together. We each read the chapter, discuss it and then blog about it together. So for the next 14 or so weeks, you’ll find our words here each week talking about the book and how it has helped our marriage.

Chapter 1: How Affair Proof is Your Marriage?

What a way to begin a book. I don’t think anyone gets married thinking that someday one of them will be unfaithful. Even as Rob and I read this, we looked at each other and couldn’t comprehend the other person ever cheating. But the point of this chapter is that it can happen to anyone.

The author makes a specific effort to use the personal pronoun you. Meaning this could be you, under the right circumstances.  He claims that creating a stable marriage can be done by following one simple rule: Become aware of each other’s emotional needs and learn to meet them.

This sounds simple, but the application is not as simple as it sounds. My husband and I have been married for 10 years and I still have to remind myself that our emotional needs are not the same. We learned this early on in our dating relationship when we read The Five Love Languages together. (another great book that I recommend to every couple). But I consider His Needs, Her Needs to be a complete and expanded way of looking at the love languages concept.

I think one of the author’s most crucial points is that most affairs are not intentional or out of some kind of malice. They usually develop gradually when an emotional need is not being met by a spouse and begins being met by someone else. Part of being married is giving our spouse the exclusive right to meet our most basic, intimate emotional needs. That makes us vulnerable, to depend on someone else this way. I as a wife need to be very sensitive to this fact, and realize that it is hard for my husband to be exposed in this way. I have the power to both love him better and hurt him more deeply than anyone else. This is part of why I wanted to read this book together. As we head into the second decade of our marriage, I want to continue to love him more and better than I did in the past. This will mean making sure I understand his emotional needs and being willing to meet them, even if they aren’t things that are important to me.

Next week we’ll be talking about our love banks and why they never close.

Just a quick note. We have in no way been paid for our opinions here. We just like this book and have a passion to see people stay happily married and continue to grow in their marriages. But this post does contain affiliate links which help me afford to keep blogging. Thank you for your support.

Live So That You May Write

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At one of our writer’s group meetings, my husband shared an article. It embodied things that I’ve read before. We must take time to live in order to be able to write. If all of our time is spent trying to fill the empty page we will soon find ourselves with nothing to say. But participating in life, even regular, mundane, daily life can help recharge our creative batteries.

Lately I’ve felt as though there is no room in my life for writing. Many of my long term projects have stalled and at times I worried I would have enough words to share in this space, at least not words worth reading. But something strange has happened. I am sitting down to write less often, but when I do the words rush out like water. They are rarely, if ever, the words I planned to write. Yet, they come from somewhere deep inside me, desperate to be written. I think this is in part because my busyness is changing the order of my days. I’ve developed patterns that allow me to go through my days without thinking much. Feed the kids, clean them up, read a story, put them down for naps, make dinner, pick up toys, do the laundry and the days drag on. But recently I’ve been in and out of the house. I go into the non-profit I work for once or twice a week. The ideas come to me on my 5 minute commute. As I drive, alone to the dentist with nothing but music or talk radio filling my ears, the stories, paragraphs and phrases fly through my head like debris in a hurricane. I try to snatch the best ones and mentally file them away for later. As I send work emails from my home computer I keep a tablet handy or an extra word document open on my desk top for jotting down ideas.

Even as though I feel there is no place for writing in my life, I find I have more to say than ever. Even as my work, my children and my life sap me of energy and time, they give me something intangible; creativity and inspiration. It makes no logical sense. Why would scheduling my daughter’s flu shot give me an idea for a blog post or sending invoices at work remind me of a cool idea for my novel? Somehow, by embracing the life I am living right now, rather than wishing for an ideal world where I have daily hours of quiet devoted to writing; I have opened the door to the express lane of creativity, infusing new ideas and grafting my writing into my life rather than isolating them from each other.

Don’t wish for an artist’s life, find room for your art. Make room. Carve out a corner, a cabinet or a table. An hour, an evening or a weekend. Then live your life and when you step aside to pursue your art, the muse won’t fail you.

A Quiet Cup and Kind Words: Five Minute Friday

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I don’t drink tea, or coffee either for that matter. But I like the idea of friends, especially busy moms, taking the time to sit for a quiet cup in a café or a deserted living room or kitchen while the children are elsewhere. This is something desperately missing in my life right now. I love my MOPS group and the ladies there are a lifeline, but I miss the one on one connection. In interact with others at work an in ministry activities. But in a world where snow fall seems to keep everyone indoors and one virus or another keeps us apart for fear of spreading the latest bug, this winter has been an isolated one so far.

The haze of the holidays never quiet lifted as we all sailed into the chaos of the new year and now January is nearing a close and I feel like I’ve barely left my house except to go to the grocery store, church or work. Oh, work. That job that I took up again because it seemed like a blessing from God; both the time away and the paycheck. But now it leaks into my daily life, sucking away the energy to call a friend. Of course I excuse my lack of initiative by telling myself that most of my friends are far too busy anyway. It’s mostly true, but I also know that I just don’t have the strength to extend myself into those relationships. So the proverbial teapot remains in the cabinet awaiting an opportunity to share. So as I head into yet another Friday and a busy week ahead, I promise myself that when it all calms, maybe I’ll call a friend.

Building a Habit: Fit2B Beginning Week 2

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I didn’t expect to have such a hard time getting through all of these workouts this week, but it was actually very difficult. Things have been very busy here and even just fitting in 15 minutes of exercise has been a struggle.

While I had difficulty fitting in the slightly longer time, I also enjoyed these workouts a little more. They weren’t quite as simple and therefore I worked a little harder at them. It felt good, to work, to strive to try a little harder and know that I was strengthening my body.

If I had to pick a favorite I’d say it was Tummy Safe Transitions. I did have to stop the workout three times to referee my children, but I enjoyed the workout.

As I finish out Week 2 and head into Week 3, I find myself questioning, as I always do, whether this is enough. Shouldn’t I be doing more, harder workouts sooner? But I also know my track record. If I get too ambitious too soon, I will burn out and give up. Right now I would like to do some form of exercise every day, even though I know it won’t always be possible. Sometimes I threw in an extra Foundational Five workout or played a little bit of Wii Sports just to switch things up. But mostly I’m trying to stick with the program. I want to see if I really can build a healthy habit, slowly and surely until one day I find that lifting my son has become easier, chasing my daughter leaves me less winded and all the chores of my everyday existence are well within my capability.

So, are you joining me in this challenge? If not, what kind of physical activity have you recently adding to your life.?

Starting Slow: Fit2B Beginning Week 1

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Don’t forget you can use the coupon code laundryblog to save 30% off a Fit2B Studio yearly membership. That’s less than $7 a month.