Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Friends My Husband Has

~ friends send you a text message to let you know they are thinking about you and expect nothing in return, knowing you hate texting

~ friends print a picture from your wedding and bring it to your dad's hospital room just to see him smile

~ friends know your family--are your family--and accept all of the secrets, too

~ friends reminisce and laugh about the same old jokes for the last twenty years, then offer advice and encouragement for the next twenty years in the same breath

~ friends run over to your house to play, whether you are eight years old and bring toys, or thirty-six years old and bring wine

~ friends invite you to events, places, aware you may not respond, but aren't offend

~ friends tell you what you need and how to handle the financial, emotion challenges so you don't have to decide

~ friends remove stressors by making the phone calls you are dreading and handling any task they can without you

~ friends make it unbearably hard to choose a "best" man

~ friends hop on a plane at moments notice and fly across the country to sit by your side as your dad is dying

These are the friends my husband has.

For this, I am thankful.

As a wife, I offer support, say the right words, embrace and comfort him.  No one will ever love him or look at him like I do.

However, he has a special group of friends that provide him a different kind of strength.  So, when he texts and says he doesn't know what time he will be home tonight, I don't worry.  Especially not tonight.  He needs them.  The stories they will tell.  The memories they will share.  The solace they will provide.

Instead, I revel in having the house to myself for a beat.  We get reacquainted on this cold night, snuggled in blankets next to the fire.  I control the remote and watch the mindless and meaningless.  For a moment, my mind is able to focus on something else because he has found a blessing in them.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I believe family is created, not inherited

My Advanced Composition students begin their semester by writing This I Believe essays inspired by NPR.  As I introduced it this semester, I found last semester's example.  With a little tweaking and revising - and the help of my students telling me I needed an "I believe" statement - it's ready for sharing. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Polar Vortex Causes Weekend Hibernation

A no school day because of cold temps feels different than snow.  Neither make me want to leave my house, but on a "snow" day, it's because I'm trapped.  A "cold" day, it's because I'm a wuss.  Maybe mother nature knew the Smittys needed to hibernate.

A Polar Vortex has settled over the Midwest.  At first, I thought this was a cleverly named weather event for the frigid temperatures we are experiencing, much like "Snowmaggedon or Snow-pocolypse"

Then I learned it is an actual climatological feature, and soon flashes of scenes from The Day After Tomorrow invaded my mind.  Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal will soon appear and tell me how to survive in the New York Public Library.  After some research, I realized it bears much resemblance to what actual occurred in the movie: an Arctic cyclone spinning cold air from the North pole down to the Midwest.  Thanks for the delayed gift, Santa.

The timing was good.  We needed an excuse to be lazy.  Our weekend consisted of football, movies, blankets, and snuggles.

Sunday started with some baking.  We do weekend breakfasts right in our house.  Whether it is meeting my parents at our new local favorite, PerkUp Cafe, or making a mess of our own kitchen with eggs, pancakes, and bacon.  This Sunday, I wanted to make the house smell good, so to Pinterest I went.  These Apple Streusel Muffins were calling my name:

They melted in our mouth and shocked us both at my baking skills.  Casey asked, "Did these come from a box?"  Nope, all me.

We watched a lot of close football playoff games.  I know more than I ever thought I would about Pro Football and often impress my husband when I shout at the television, "Come on, even I knew Kaepernick was going to run that; he always runs!"  Casey smiles with pride from across the room and mutters a "You're right, baby."  I guess I'm not doing too good at convincing him I don't want to watch football four days a week, seven months of the year.

All of this while the wind howled outside.  More ferocious than I have ever heard, it felt like the wolf was literally trying to blow our brand new house down.  Living on a corner lot seemed like a great idea when we were looking for houses.  We only have neighbors on two sides of us, giving some privacy we desired.  To the north of our house is a farm field that is gorgeous on a summer night providing peace of the country side.  This translates to a vicious northwest wind ripping the side of our house off in the winter - which just happens to be our bedroom.  The wind vibrated the gutter so loud it woke us up.  Casey had to rig it to stop or the dog (and Casey) would have been barking at it all weekend.

I grew up in a cold house where the answer was, "Go put on more clothes."  Ever since winter arrived, Casey walks around in two or three layers to my t-shirt and no socks.  When this happened, Casey simply stated, "Don't tell me it's not cold."

The temps this weekend are supposed to be in the upper 30s.  That will be a 80 degree difference from the feels like temp of -50 we experienced Monday morning.  I'm sure I will feel like walking around without a coat.

Friday, January 3, 2014

More & Less, 2014 Edition

Each new year is equated with resolutions.  While I am a huge proponent of taking the time to reflect and improve, the idea of making a set list of resolutions in January never really struck me.

For one, the "real" start of my year is mid-August.  I regain control over a laissez-faire summer by living life under a 42-minute bell again.  This is when structure returns to my life.  Change confronts me every August in so many ways: new courses, new students, new professional opportunities, new lessons, new plans.  What's yet another new goal?

The second time I look to incorporate change is my birthday.  Falling on the first of the month after the dreaded month of November, I'm usually accepting of a new challenge for myself.  I disregard what "28-year old Nikki" did and wonder how "29-year old Nikki" will do it better.  (I'm sure this next year will bring even more reflective thoughts and actions as my age will click over to the next big milestone.)

This year as we sat over dinner on NYE at one of our favorite restaurants, Trostel's Dish, I was careful in how I phrased my question to avoid the word "resolutions."  I asked Casey what he wanted more and less of in 2014.  He then laughed when I said I wanted balance.

So, in my own twist on a resolution, I've devised a More vs Less List of things I want for me in 2014.

More & Less, 2014 Edition

More Me TimeBooks, writing, and running help me keep my sanity.  Because of the events in 2013, this often was overshadowed.  I skipped runs because I had papers to grade.  I read awful student writing instead of the new book collecting dust on my nightstand. I had eight great starts to blog posts I never finished and ended up scratching completely.  Forcing myself to carve out time for me - a date at a coffee shop, a quiet morning before the world awakes - keeps me focused for the rest. 

Less Wasted Energy:  I waste a lot of time and energy thinking about what I'm going to do.  Well, if I wake up now and go to the gym, I'll have 20 minutes on the treadmill, or I could wait until after school and go for 30 minutes on the treadmill, but I could be too tired by then. If I just read five papers tonight, that's five less than I have to do tomorrow, but tomorrow I have plans for dinner so I should read ten papers tonight but that is a lot of papers.  And the never ending cycle continues where I'm the only one getting screwed over. 

(P.S.  This is the same mind torture is excuse for the delay in wedding thank you notes.  They are still coming)

Less Whining:  Very much related to less wasted energy is less whining - now you can see where my energy goes.  Accept what needs to be done, and do it.  An accomplished task always feels better than a daunting one.Note that this does not say NO whining, especially when wine is involved.  And I am a huge proponent of venting.

More Us Time:  It's my favorite time.  He's all I need in the world.  Well, him and a beach.  Many call it a "dance" newlyweds do for the first few years of marriage as they try to figure out their footing in a relationship.  With all of the outside pressures in our life, I truly value our alone time, whether that is cuddle up on the couch with a movie or sitting at our favorite restaurant for a three hour meal. It's a habit I want to get addicted to.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013: The Year of Blessings

It was a year that brought many challenges.  Some that many couples will never face, let alone in the first few months of marriage.  But we took it head on. Together.

However, I'm an optimist; sometimes to a fault. So when I reflect back on 2013, I see all of the great blessings around me.  I don't use the term "blessings" lightly.  To me, it's like a promise. You only say when you really mean it.  But there is no other word to describe our year.

It started with a new ring and a promise on a freezing cold boat in New York City.  An escape for the two of us that I threatened to go without him if he wouldn't take me turned into the most memorable trip.

Followed by the most magical wedding.  Everything came together so perfectly.  Of course, every day has its hiccups, like my dress ripping and Casey's ring having to be reorder and rushed a week before the wedding.  But, I still got to marry my Casey.

Now, I write from our new home.  The moment I walked in, I knew this had to be our house.  It has everything I could have dreamed of.  When I look around, I see our future.  

Yes, I realistically know this next year will bring more challenges we can't even begin to imagine.  That's future Casey and Nikki's problem.  Right now, I'm relishing in all that our year was and looking forward to 2014's blessings.

The happiest new year to you and yours.