Category Archives: Marriage

Top Ten Nuggets of Newlywed GOLD.

JCP_4509 bwKellan and I celebrated a year of marriage on March 2nd. My sweet husband planned an incredible surprise weekend in New York City, and we lived it up because hallelujah we made it! Reflections on our first year of marriage are coming later.

Today, in honor of one whole year, we’ve compiled a list of valuable pieces of information that NONE OF YOU MARRIED PEOPLE bothered to share with us before we said “I do”. [And here I thought we were friends!] On our wedding day, Kellan and I were blissfully ignorant of, oh, just about every pertinent thing that we needed to know about married life. Engaged friends: I want to spare you that same fate. So without further ado, I give you…

OUR TOP TEN NUGGETS OF NEWLYWED GOLD.

  1. Kellan discovered, much to his chagrin, that not all haircuts cost $9.95. Gentlemen, over the course of your married lives, there will be a great many things worth fighting about.  Look me in the eyeballs: this is not one of them.
  2. Bathrooms. Brace yourselves friends, this one is not for the faint of heart. Let’s just say that ONE of us is consistently indignant at a left-up toilet seat and pee-pee splashes, and ONE of us can’t see the counter top underneath piles of makeup and hair products. Our bathroom looks like it’s home to a horde of dirty, angry hobbits with a curious obsession with Clinique products.
  3. Kellan came to the rather startling realization that dishes don’t magically clean themselves. My darling husband grew up with a magical dish-fairy that I like to refer to as his mother. He was deeply upset when he discovered that she hadn’t followed our U-Haul to New York. [Come to think of it, so was I.] Free nugget: ladies, tell your husband that watching him do the dishes is the SINGLE HOTTEST THING THAT YOU HAVE EVER SEEN. You play your cards right, and you’ll never wash so much as a spoon again.
  4. Kellan was positively baffled to learn that dinner does not have to come from a can, box or packet. Related: ovens are not merely counter tops for microwaves, and can actually be used to cook. [This is not a joke. Before we got married, Kellan’s sad little microwave sat heroically perched atop the stove that he had never once turned on. At the time, I thought it was endearing. Now, I understand that the UNIVERSE WAS TRYING TO WARN ME.]
  5. I was alarmed to learn that there are people in the world that need something commonly referred to as “alone time.” Repeatedly checking on your spouse to see how their alone time is going will only prolong the whole, miserable ordeal. I’ve discovered the hard way that they probably don’t need snacks, water, or updates on current events.
  6. My sports-loving husband was both surprised and dismayed to learn that a magical button on our remote control could take us to TV stations other than ESPN. Also, in a rather disappointing turn of events, it turns out that “Cupcake Wars” does not, in fact, involve any bloodshed.
  7. Kellan made nice with an old friend that I that I fondly refer to as “baggage claim”. Oh, they’d parted ways years ago in the name of “efficiency”, but after a year of traveling with a woman whose hair products do not come in “travel size”, he and baggage claim are well on their way to becoming BFFs again. Engaged men, wrap your minds around this: for any kind of extended trip, she’s going to check a bag, son.
  8. Bless his heart, Kellan discovered that when he orders food, he needs to mentally prepare himself for me to eat any/all of it. And fries? Fuggedaboudit.
  9. We’ve decided that excellent husbands keep an emergency stash of chocolate. Y’all. This is Kellan’s SINGLE BEST nugget. Our earliest married days were a dizzying blur of late-night chocolate runs. Gentlemen, your wife won’t always buy it when she shops. She will earnestly tell you that she doesn’t want it in the house, and she will mean it. [And with Target photo-shopping the lady-parts off of poor, unsuspecting swim suit models…who can blame her?] BELIEVE THIS AT YOUR OWN PERIL. She will exhibit laudable self-control at the grocery store, turning up her nose at every double-stuffed Oreo and box of brownie mix that she passes by. It is YOUR job to understand that her remarkable resolve will inevitably crumble somewhere between 7:30 and 11:59 at night. And then? Well, joke’s on you, because nobody’s getting any sleep until that craving is gone.
  10. Finally, now that we’ve covered Kellan’s best nugget, I’m going to let you in on mine. OhmyLANTA. If I could tell a newly engaged woman only one thing, I would grab her by the shoulders, look her dead in the eyeballs and implore her to GO BUY A KING SIZED BED. I don’t care if you have to beg, borrow, or sell a kidney on the black market, you need to make this happen. This is, without a doubt, the best thing that Kellan and I did before we got married. I think a lot of engaged couples assume that they’re going to fall asleep snuggling every night, an idea so deplorably naive that I’m not going to dignify it with a response. When I fall asleep at night, the very last thing I do is a “bed angel” [think “snow angel” but on sheets] to make absolutely certain that I can’t touch Kellan. If my leg so much as brushes his, I kick until he rolls over to the six inches of allotted space that I have graciously bequeathed to him. Back of gentlemen: he found me first!

Married friends, what would you add? Don’t be shy—share for those poor engaged couples that still think that all of those little quirks are JUST SO ADORABLE.

Bless their hearts.

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Filed under Marriage, The love of my life., Then I found $5.00, Uncategorized

G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetWell, we did it. A week and a half ago, Kellan and I picked up the keys to our new house and said goodbye to apartment 1304. Closing the front door on the first eleven months of our marriage was bittersweet.

The morning after Ian’s funeral, we packed up a Penske truck with a couple of duffel bags and SO MANY BOXES of sweet wedding gifts, and started the fourteen hour trek towards New York. Or as I like to call it, the Trail of Tears because WHY AM I MOVING TO NEW YORK. My Mama ran out to the truck wildly waving my Grandma’s red-handled rolling pin in the air as we were pulling away, and thrust it through the passenger side window. Here, take this! You’ll need it for pie.

Priorities, people.

A cancer diagnosis a month after our engagement had left precious little time for premarital counseling. [Read: WE HAD ZERO CLUE WHAT WE WERE GETTING INTO.] I remember after we crossed the New York state line, Kellan glanced over at me and hesitantly offered, “…well, I guess we should talk about chores?”

Given that we were a mere four hours away from the 1,000 square feet that we were about to call ours, I graciously acquiesced. Yeah, how were you thinking we’d divide things?

Kellan paused, looking for all the world like he was mentally composing a peace plan for the middle east instead of attempting to determine the best way to tell me that he had absolutely no intention of ever picking up a mop. Well babe, I was thinking I would take care of outside stuff, and you could take care of inside stuff.

Yes, because our apartment complex is going to need a lot of mowing and hedge-trimming. Good heavens, I do hope you can find time to sleep.

As we journeyed on in our chores discussion, my newly-minted husband casually mentioned that he had NEVER CLEANED A BATHROOM. Color drained from my newly-tanned face into my pedicured toes, and my hands grew clammy. I willed myself not to dry heave while contemplating throwing myself out of the truck and tucking and rolling onto the highway because ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

[Kellan says in the spirit of fairness, I need to inform you that I have never mowed a lawn. In my defense, that is mainly because I don’t want to.]

It was raining when we pulled up to our new apartment building. Kellan carried me over the threshold into our freshly-painted apartment, and just like that, I lived with a man. I proceeded to spend the next several days unpacking a veritable mountain of boxes while he went to work, and every spoon unwrapped and dish carefully placed in a cabinet was a sweet reminder that we were deeply loved by the friends and family we had just said goodbye to.

Our first night in the apartment, we collapsed into an exhausted heap onto Kellan’s suede brown couch [I know. Commence dry heaving: round two.] to watch tv, and several minutes later I began to itch. We leapt off the hideous monstrosity masquerading as seating only to make the rather startling discovery that tiny little bugs were biting us.

Try not to be intimidated by our glamorous lifestyle.

[The bug-infested couch was gone the next day.]

We ate our meals on the tile kitchen floor for the first month when we didn’t own a table. Or chairs. Or really, anything except for one black recliner with a glaring rip in the faux-leather arm, and even that was the benevolence of parents. Our existence was very Little House on the Prairie, with fewer Indian raids and the welcome addition of indoor plumbing.

That little apartment taught us a lot. It’s where we learned that high heats will shrink oxford button-ups and make your husband look like Spanky from the Little Rascals, and turning off the heat in the dead of a New York winter while you’re away will make your pipes freeze. We learned to fight without entirely dissolving, and when all else fails, to dance in the kitchen. We learned to meet in the middle and buy “some pulp” orange juice. And I think more than anything, we learned that marriage is a whole lot of hard, unglamorous work that nobody but Jesus will ever see or applaud you for—but goodness, is it worthwhile.

Even if your spouse doesn’t clean the bathrooms. ;) 

[FINE, or mow the lawn.]

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Filed under God's faithfulness, Love, Marriage

An Announcement Not About Babies.

photo (4)Things have been rather quiet around my blog lately because quite frankly, I haven’t had a hot second to sit down and THINK.

However, the show must go on and inquiring minds need to know, so here it is: we bought a house! A real adult house with our very own yard and our very own Home Alone basement that I shall refuse to enter for the duration of our time in New York. I can hardly believe that we actually took the plunge, given that I still feel like I am totally faking my way through adulthood. This is related but not limited to the fact that yesterday, my lunch consisted of frozen chicken nuggets in assorted shapes of small woodland creatures. Which is related but not limited to the fact that I am skimping on our food budget so I can buy a cute pair of earrings I found online at Anthropologie.

But really, if you think about it, food only lasts for a minute [unless we’re talking about Indian food, Lord help us all], but dangly earrings are FOREVER. I just know you understand, unlike my indignant husband whose heart happens to be made of COLD BLACK STONE. Fear not—every time he complains that he’s hungry, all I hear is, “You look ravishing, darling. I cherish you.

We’re actually pretty far along in this home buying process—we close tomorrow! And it’s not a moment too soon, because I leave at dark thirty on Thursday morning to go to the Dominican Republic with HOPE, conveniently leaving Kellan to fend for himself and move the rest of our things without me by Friday night. As soon as they place those keys in our hot little hands, we’re going to bid apartment life a bittersweet adieu and begin the arduous process of schlepping our worldly possessions across town. Hallelujah for that, because the little two bedroom number we’ve called home since we said “I do” is beginning to look like a pack of drunken water buffalos held a kegger in our living room, and if there’s one thing that I can’t stand it’s a mess.

Which, of course, bodes well for the upheaval of the next month of our lives.

Y’all come see us up here!

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Filed under First World Problems, Marriage, The love of my life., Uncategorized

Androgynous Marshmallows.

Well, it’s happening.

We all knew it would, of course—but nothing could have prepared me for November snow flurries. When I was a little girl, every time the air grew frosty outside my third grade teacher would confidently declare that it was “snot freezing weather”.

Y’all. IT IS SNOT FREEZING WEATHER.

Once upon a time when I was just crazy in love enough to delude myself into believing that snowy New York sounded JUST FREAKING MAGICAL, [a year ago], I asked for a new coat for Christmas. I understood that the flimsy little North Carolina jacket I’d been skating through fifty degree weather in wouldn’t cut in in the arctic north.

My Mama and I drove to the mall where I picked out a feisty little pink number, because if pink is good enough for Elle Woods it’s good enough for me. Also, nothing says WHAT’S UP Y’ALL like a pink pea coat wandering into a sea of black puffy-coated, disgruntled New Yorkers.

[Black is the new black around these parts.]

Two days after that fateful Christmas, Kellan and hopped an Albany-bound flight to go apartment hunting. I deboarded the plane, happily belted my brand new pea coat and waltzed out of the sliding airport doors…

…and died a thousand deaths. It took approximately three tenths of a second for the bloom to rub off of New York and panic to set in—cold like this was INHUMANE. Meanwhile Kellan took one nervous look at me, scooped me up into his arms and carried me over a snowbank towards the waiting car.

Great in theory, except the aforementioned car was BURIED UNDER A MOUNTAIN OF SNOW. If not for one defiant little rear view mirror bravely peeking out on the left hand side, we might still be wandering around that parking lot!

I got the vapors and channeled Tiny Tim as I stood shivering violently in the frigid cold while Kellan dug the car out. The car which, I kid you not, died in the middle of the highway ten minutes later.

Welcome to New York!

It was clear that my darling pink coat wasn’t going to cut it. I would be forced to join the androgynous, marshmallow ranks of puffy coated New Yorkers everywhere—a dismal inevitability that my color-loving personality abhorred. [Kellan once informed me he needed sunglasses to look into my closet. This, from the man that carefully rotates four pairs of socks.]

After packing up my life and moving to Albany, I began asking around. The ugly coats you people wear—where do you buy them? [And yes, I’m making SCORES of friends up here. Why do you ask?] Everyone told me to head to the mall, and so on Saturday Kellan girded his loins and bravely accompanied me.

I think God knew that this one needed to be as swift and painless as possible, because it didn’t take long to find a knee-length, down, puffy number for 35% off. The impulsive addition of a sassy pair of striped socks served as the proverbial sugar that made the medicine go down, and ten minutes later I was the indignant owner of a marshmallow coat. Kellan gushed about how I “looked like a French model”.  I shot him a look that could have melted all of the snow in New England, and in a voice that sounded eerily like Simba’s criminal Uncle Scar, calmly told him to stop. trying.

Mama told me there’d be days like this.

New York, I’ve caved and bought your uniform. But I’ll have you know that every time you see me waddling around in my black coat, I’M WEARING COLOR UNDERNEATH.

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Filed under First World Problems, Marriage, My ghetto-fab life, The love of my life.

The Wedding Video.

I apologize for the radio silence around here. Just be grateful that you’re not my husband, who is currently living on dreams and scrambled eggs.

I am straight-up exhausted.

In typical “us” fashion, we decided that we should buy a new house, join a new church AND start my new job allatthesametime. It all feels like LIFE, and after six months of death, I am grateful for every overflowing trashcan and stale bagel around these parts. I am deeply, deeply thankful for life.

Yesterday, I drove to Massachusetts. As happens on all of my long, quiet drives now, I missed Ian more and more with every winding, New England mile. I arrived home to a sweet surprise—our wedding video!

My heart jumped into my throat as I relived the frosty March day that Kellan and I looked hard into each other’s eyes and promised for better or for worse. I’ll say what took me months to admit out loud: it’s often hard for me to think about our wedding day. There was so much impossible pain and so much extravagant love woven into March 2nd, so inextricably intertwined that it was impossible to tell where one ended and the other began. I had tightly held Ian’s hand as he slipped away just three days before, and suddenly, impossibly, I found myself clutching my Daddy’s arm in a white dress, waiting for the sanctuary doors to open. Breathtaking piano music swelled and I thought my heart might burst from the indescribable pain and beauty of it all.

I had to remind myself to breathe.

Just a week and a half before, my Dad and I had been sitting beside Ian’s bed in the ICU. Monitors flickered in the dark, vacillating wildly between hopeful and heartbreaking. Exhausted hearts rose and sank with oxygen levels and hand squeezes, and no one knew for certain whether Ian would live or die. We were afraid to hope, and still, could do nothing else.

My wedding day was fast approaching, though I did my best not to think or talk about it. Somehow, my stubborn sister heart still resolutely believed that the frail shadow of my brother laying on the hospital bed in front of me might still walk out of that hospital room and waltz with me on March 2nd. Truthfully, I was never able to wrap my heart around the idea that Ian might die. Oh, I could say the words, but they rang hollow every time.

Over the course of planning a wedding for six and a half months, my easy-going Father had never inserted his opinion or asked for anything at all. That day in the ICU, he looked at me and quietly asked me to find a videographer to capture the day, in case Ian lived to see it.

The wedding was days away. Numb and exhausted, I called my dear friend Amy, who spent countless hours in the ICU with us over the course of those weeks. Amy, Dad wants me to find a videographer. Do you know anyone?

Firmly, she told me not to worry about it, that she would figure it out.

Later that day, Amy texted and told me that my friend Josh [who happened to be the most talented videographer at our church] had agreed to film the wedding—and some friends [who remain anonymous to this day] were paying for it.

Hot tears slipped down my face in a sterile white hallway, as I sank to the floor outside the door to Ian’s room.

Ian will never watch this video, but I am indescribably grateful to have it. Its very existence reminds me that even in the midst of raw, searing pain, I do not walk alone. That I do not hurt alone, and that my family and I are loved. And it reminds me of how grateful I am that in the months that followed my walk down the aisle, Kellan walked with me. [Goodness, am I ever glad that I married that man!]

To Josh Sliffe, Amy, and the other friends that made capturing our wedding day possible: “thank you” could never be enough. You are a tangible expression of God’s goodness towards me.

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Filed under God's faithfulness, Grief, Ian, Marriage, My favorite people

How to Save Your Marriage for Fifteen Dollars.

Let’s be clear right off the bat: fifteen dollars cannot buy happiness.

It turns out, however, that fifteen dollars can buy you a little black fan on sale at Target, which will make enough noise at night to drown out the sound of your blissfully unaware husband snoring just four inches from your crazy-eyed face. Which, right now, feels precisely like happiness, so I should probably recant:

In breaking news, it turns out that fifteen dollars can, in fact, buy happiness.

I’m not kidding, I’m contemplating naming our firstborn child “Fan” on account of the thing probably just saved my marriage.

[Where was THAT in premarital counseling?!]

But really, with names like “Apple” and “North” on the table, I think “Fan Dickens” is totally a viable option. And honestly, I like the idea of naming our hypothetical offspring after the things that keep Kellan and I together. Though this point, “Break and Bake Cookies” would have to be in the running as well. And with a name like “Break and Bake Cookies Dickens”, our kid would never make it past kindergarten, and would be destined to grow up to become either a rapper or a stripper.

But hey–at least there would be options.

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Filed under First World Problems, Marriage

Release the Flying Monkeys!

JCP_3508Kellan and I made an impromptu decision to go house hunting this weekend.

Honestly, we’re not even convinced that we’re in the market to buy, but we’re young and had nothing better to do after church than to wander into strangers homes and stare at carpets that saw the Nixon administration.

Also, the terrifying Home Alone basements. I just. I can’t.

The whole experience went as swimmingly as you might imagine, given that Kellan spent our time making mental spread sheets while I walked into each respective foyer, stood eerily still, and waited for the house to “speak” to me. [Not one of them said a darn thing.] While I’ll admit that my strategy may not be the most rational, I remain entirely unapologetic given that  I’m pretty sure my husband wants to buy the little brick number where the realtor had made hot chocolate chip cookies, because HOT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. Nine later, and that man was ready to sign a mortgage.

So really, this is going well.

Monday morning found me at the Albany DMV, because my brand spankin’ new social security card had arrived in the mail and I had successfully geared myself up for phase two of becoming a Dickens. Y’all, I even had a FOLDER. A folder with my marriage license, passport, old drivers license, angsty poetry that I wrote in middle school and eleventy billion other scraps of my old life for just in case purposes. After sitting in a dirty waiting room for an hour and a half while the gentleman sitting uncomfortably close to me enjoyed a Hot Pocket [No, I would not like a bite], a bored, gum-smacking blonde who clearly would have rather been anywhere else called me to the front desk. [I VOLUNTEER AS A TRIBUTE!] The aforementioned blonde then proceeded to unapologetically inform me that because North Carolina marriage licenses are different from the ones used in New York, I would need to submit THREE other proofs of name change before I would be permitted to change my license. She helpfully offered the following options as acceptable proof:

  1. NYC pistol license
  2. Welfare/Medicaid/NY food stamp card with photo
  3. St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Photo ID card
  4. Veterans Universal Access Photo ID card

RELEASE THE FLYING MONKEYS.

I spent the rest of the day rolling in the deep with Adele, and making Ina Garten’s chocolate brownie pudding.

Goodbye forever.

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Filed under First World Problems, Marriage, My ghetto-fab life, Then I found $5.00