This year, Father’s Day means more to me than it ever has before. You see—this year, I am married to a man who is HANDS DOWN the most wonderful father I’ve ever known. You’ve probably heard that before, but it clearly wasn’t true until now. Obviously.
Never in my wildest dreams did I picture myself ending up with a divorced man with three kids, but I have to tell you—I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, our life is often pretty complicated as we have several schedules to coordinate and regular interactions with a woman with whom at one point in time he was in love and began a family. Ouch—that one hurts to think about. However, with those complications comes the incredible blessing of being with a man I have more respect for than I could even remotely begin to explain to you.
One of the first things RM talked about when we met was his kids. His cubicle at work was decorated with photos of them and pictures they had drawn for him. His face lit up when he talked about them. Even though I knew that dating a man with kids was a HUGE deal and wasn’t sure it was something I was prepared to take on, I couldn’t help but be drawn to his positive and sweet spirit (not to mention his dashing good looks), and so much of that had to do with seeing what kind of dad he was.
There is a reason why women hit on men with babies at the grocery store and can’t help but say “aw!” It ignites something biological in us. I’m going to go pre-historic for a moment and say, that at a certain level, our cave woman is looking for that provider. We want to know that a man will be a good father. That he’s going to stick around. So often when we’re dating, we have to imagine what kind of father the man would be. Well, lucky me; I didn’t have to imagine it. I was able to see it firsthand.
You’re probably wondering at this point—what are the things about RM that make him such a wonderful father? Well, here it goes…
He makes a concerted effort to show each of the kids attention and ensure they feel loved.
He has developed a relationship of trust with them, in which if he says the words, “I promise,” the kids understand that is the real deal. Daddy doesn’t break promises, and neither do they.
He teaches them life lessons like what it means to build credit, how to manage money, and how to compromise and solve problems amongst themselves.
He gets up early every Saturday morning to make the kids a special breakfast. And if I’m still sleeping, he serves me breakfast in bed.
He teaches them about the Gospel and encourages them to pray.
He doesn’t expect me to jump in and do everything for the kids, like I’ve heard so many men do to their new wives/stepmoms of their children. He allows me to be as involved as I want to be and respects that sometimes I need time to myself.
He teaches the kids survival skills. They know everything from how to start a fire to how to fend off an attacker.
He knows the exact balance of when to tell them to buck up and when to let them cry on his shoulder (even when they’re not really hurt).
He rarely raises his voice, and if he does, the kids almost always listen immediately. (Okay, sometimes they have to go to their rooms.)
Despite being pulled in several directions, he gives 110 percent to ensure everyone’s needs (including mine) are met—even if that means putting 40,000 miles on his car in only a few months.
He encourages the kids to play outside, and in the past two years, I’ve only seen the kids play a video game ONE time at our house. That was two weeks ago, and it was a really old version of Pac Man. 😉
While he sometimes puts movies on for the kids for the long drives, the majority of the time, he prefers to talk to them to hear about what’s going on in their lives and spend quality time with them.
I could go on, but I’m guessing you get the picture. So why am I writing this? Well, I have a confession to make. I’ve been racking my brain over what to give RM for Father’s Day, but I’ve realized it’s this. I need him to know that even though there are times when I get frustrated or tell him that I need more time sans kids, I am more grateful for the father that he is than I’ll ever be able to relay or show in some gift I pick up from the store.
RM, I am so proud to call you my husband. Happy Father’s Day.
… hitting a goal I had set for myself in early November of last year to run at least 3 times a week until 1 March, followed by my first 5k on 15 March.
This has been me since the race and our subsequent wedding on 22 March…
It’s time though, friends. The Post-Wedding Binge has GOT TO STOP. The fact that I had met my running goal and that I no longer had to worry about looking thin and beautiful in photos that I’ll look at for the REST OF MY LIFE, meant that I could let go a bit. Take a break from running. Indulge. Reward myself. Unfortunately, that has gotten a bit, well, out of control. I’ve literally only run about 3 times since that 5k. However, I’ve decided that I refuse to fall into the “getting comfortable,” married slump, and it’s time to get back to the grind. Sure, I don’t want to be one of those people who gets married and then lets themselves go (especially when we haven’t even reached the two month mark!) but in addition to that, when I’m running, I feel better. It keeps me sane. It makes me happier. The days are longer in Seattle now, and there’s even a good amount of sunshine. If I ran through the winter, there’s no excuse now. Let’s do this.
P.S. There should be a post sometime soon about how I vow to give up sugar. I know it needs to happen. I’m just not ready. So there.
While watching Access Hollywood yesterday (hey, we all have our guilty pleasures, right?) I learned of a 19-year old woman named Chantelle Brown-Young (aka Winnie Harlow) a sufferer of vitiligo who will be a contestant on the upcoming season of America’s Next Top Model. I was amazed at how this strong young woman has embraced both her inner and outer beauty and not let cosmetic changes in her skin tone hold her back. It particularly hit home for me because I also have vitiligo, which I have affectionately come to call my “Michael Jackson Disease” because it just sounds cooler.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, vitiligo is a condition in which the skin loses pigmentation. While the effects are largely cosmetic, vitiligo does put the affected skin at higher risk for cancer, and it has also been known to cause psychological problems in some individuals, especially those cases in which the disease is more noticeable and prevalent, i.e. Michael Jackson.
As for me, I have a pretty fair skin tone naturally; however, I’ve always enjoyed sunbathing and have tanned quickly and easily, so in the summer time, my complexion is much darker. Five years ago my tanning habits changed when my boss pointed out a white patch on my neck at our weekly staff meeting. “Ew! What’s wrong with your neck??” That’s not embarrassing at all. My doctor at that time mistakenly diagnosed it as tinea versicolor, and coincidentally, that spot re-pigmented, leading us to believe that her diagnosis must have been correct. I didn’t find out that it was actually vitiligo until two years later when it came back with a vengeance. The spot on my neck was back, only this time it was bigger and crept up my jaw line to my face. There was a matching white spot on the other side of my neck. I also had symmetrical new spots on each of my wrists and large spots under my arms.
It probably sounds silly when I say that I was down when I learned I had vitiligo. I felt pale. And pale meant unattractive. We’re often surrounded by photos of extremely thin, sun-kissed celebrities and told that is the norm. That is what beautiful is. And that didn’t include me. It’s so interesting to me that in our culture, a tan is considered healthy and beautiful when in other cultures it’s just the opposite. Walk down an aisle in a store in the U.S. and you’ll see an abundance of self-tanners. Do the same in an African country, and you’ll find skin bleaching lotions. What’s that they say about wanting what we don’t have?
Anyway, I feel fortunate to have a very fair skin tone when not exposed to the sun, so over the past three years, I have made a habit of slathering SPF 50 on before I head out the door every morning. By doing that, my vitiligo is barely noticeable unless under a woods lamp at the dermatologist or if you know it’s there. The spots under my arms are pretty distinct, but I don’t generally walk around revealing my armpits on a daily basis, so I try not to let it bother me. I guess I can’t say that I’ve become completely comfortable in my own skin, but it’s an evolving process, I suppose.
It’s taken the past two years for me to learn to love my skin this way and myself, even when spotted or just plain pale. It sounds so superficial and silly to share this, especially when I see people on a regular basis–people like Winnie–who have darker skin tones than I do and are unable to hide their vitiligo. I find myself wanting to say something to them like, “I know how you feel—I have it too!” But then I realize, I don’t know how they feel. If I felt down when I learned that I had it, even though you can barely see it, how can I say I know how they feel when it’s something that they have to deal with every time they look in the mirror? Every time a stranger stares at the drastic color changes on their hands or around their mouth or eyes? Or growing up with vitiligo like Winnie and being called names like “zebra” and “cow” by other kids. Vitiligo may be part of my story, but it isn’t painted on me the way that Winnie describes her experience in this video.
I’m so happy that the vitiligo community has such a wonderful example in Winnie to show young women and men how important it is to be confident in our own skin and to love ourselves. It’s incredibly humbling to see how she has handled her vitiligo. She is an inspiration to me. I know who I’ll be rooting for this season! Good luck, Winnie!
Since we rode off from our wedding on a Vespa, it was only fitting that we spend our last day in Paris on one. It was the perfect activity for a Sunday since most of the shops were closed. We spent the day re-visiting the entire city, which by the end of the week, we had already seen by foot and by metro. Now it was time to see it all one more time, and what better way than by renting a scooter?
RM and I found a wonderful company called Paris by Scooter, which rents Vespas out by the day. It’s run by a friendly, entrepreneurial Frenchman named Xavier, who drops the Vespa off at your hotel in the morning and picks it up that evening. An added bonus–it’s even cheaper if you keep the scooter overnight. If we had found the company sooner, we probably would have rented it for the whole week. That’s how cool it was.
We were all over the city in no time. RM has been driving motorcycles for years, so he was completely comfortable zipping in and out of traffic. As we came up on the circle around the Arc de Triomphe, RM dodged the motorcycles cutting in front of us, while I held on tight with one arm and took video with my other. One of the best things about it was the parking options! Free parking, right up front, wherever you want to go. You also don’t have to sit in traffic with all of the cars because you can scoot right past them! Not to mention the cool factor. I mean, did we look cool or what?
RM and I returned last week from a weeklong honeymoon to the most romantic city in the world—Paris. If you’re familiar with my blog, you already know that I’m obsessed with all things French, despite not actually knowing the language. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can get up to speed here. I haven’t actually followed through on commitment to learn French yet. Don’t judge. RM does speak French, and his mom’s side of the family is even from France. So cool, right?
Anyway, we were looking for somewhere to honeymoon that we wouldn’t feel the pressure of sightseeing every. single. place. for the first time, and since RM and I had both been to Paris before, it seemed like the perfect choice. We had talked about seeing Paris together since we started dating. We were especially excited about seeing the city in a whole new (and relaxing) way. We envisioned ourselves eating fresh baguettes while looking up at the Eiffel Tower, taking long walks on the Seine, admiring the view of the city from the Sacre Coeur—you get the picture.
Before we knew it, there we were: stuffing our faces with an ungodly amount of pastries! (Seriously, you don’t want to know our carb intake for that week.) We rented an apartment through Paris Perfect, a company owned by an American woman and her French husband that rents out apartments all over Paris by the week. It did not disappoint! We stayed in an adorable corner unit just around the corner of the Rue Cler market in the 7th arrondissement. (If you’re a fan of Rick Steves–I’m mildly obsessed–he devotes a whole section to the Rue Cler in his Paris guidebook!) We had a view of the Eiffel Tower from the dining room and bedroom! We spent several nights in, enjoying the light show from our cozy apartment. We also learned that the light show ends at 1:00 AM. How do we know this? Well, we never actually adjusted to Paris time, which made for lots of late night jambon snacks while we admired the lights. It’s really too bad it didn’t last until 4:00 AM because we were up most nights until then!
RM and I had such an enjoyable time, and we couldn’t have done it without our family and friends who paid our way! That’s right, I said PAID our way. RM and I decided to start a Honeyfund to help us go on our dream trip together, and our family and friends really delivered! Honeyfund is a great website that makes it less tacky to ask for money for your wedding. (No, I’m not getting paid to say this, although I wish I were.) It was especially useful to us because RM and I have both been working professionals for several years, so if anything, we’ll need to get RID of things when we combine households. We registered for a few kitchen items at my shower that we knew we needed, but more or less, we knew that what we could really use was help getting to Paris. Honeyfund makes it so easy by connecting to your Paypal, where you can then transfer the money right into your checking account. It also keeps track of your gifts when it comes time for thank you cards!
Okay, I’m done with my free advertising for Honeyfund.
I’m back! My apologies for the radio silence over the last several weeks, but I was busy doing a little something called planning a wedding! That’s right–RM and I got hitched! I’m officially an old married lady. You heard it here first… or you’ve already seen it on Facebook because I’ve obnoxiously shared several photos of the big day.
We were blessed with an amazing 70 degree day full of sunshine with a view of the Olympics Mountains as we said “I do” on the Puget Sound in Steilacoom, Washington. I decided early on in the planning process that I would be the kind of bride who delegated as much as possible, and thankfully, we had so many family and friends who were willing to help out that this method worked wonderfully.
We were also striving to keep our big day under $5,000, which in this day and age is pretty much unheard of. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is in the neighborhood of $25,000. WHAT?! We had no interest in spending that kind of money and starting our marriage out in debt! We could think of several other things to spend that kind of money on… a down payment on a house, a honeymoon, kids’ college, etc. When we first began the planning process, I was so discouraged when I found that most of the venues we were looking at started at $3-4k. –And we would still have the expenses of food, decorations, photographer, dress, etc! How were we going to do this?
We knew about Steilacoom Townhall because RM is originally from the area, and while we thought it was the perfect venue at the perfect price (only $100/hour, what?!), the Townhall isn’t big enough to set up for a ceremony AND a reception, and we couldn’t be sure that the weather would hold up for conducting the ceremony outside. This is Seattle, after all. The thought of cramming in folks in the Townhall for the ceremony then asking them to stand in the rain while we set up for the reception just didn’t make sense to us.
As a result, we decided to do an intimate ceremony with just family, and if it rained, it would be easy to have the ceremony inside with most of the reception tables set up since it was such a small group. Problem solved. We lucked out and had the most beautiful day, so we had our small ceremony outside on the water. We were happy that we chose to have a smaller ceremony though because we preferred the intimate feel of having our family stand around us.
My mom made lavender sachets for the favors, and in keeping with the French theme, they were all stamped with “Merci.” She also made the ring pillow out of an old handkerchief from the early 1900s. My sister, also my matron of honor, made my garter. She and my bridesmaid, M, were there to get me into my dress and do things that only sisters and besties do, like adjust things that you can’t get to yourself because there are just too.many.layers.
I didn’t see the decorated venue until RM and I were announced at the reception, and it was so exciting to see how everything came together exactly how I had pictured it. RM’s mom did a fabulous job decorating with several family members and friends assisting, and my friend A who flew in carried much of the water making sure everything on my checklist was just how I wanted it. She even darted out and bought us beautiful champagne flutes for the toast at the last minute when I realized we had forgotten to get them! RM’s aunt made our cake and cupcakes, and they were gorgeous! I was seriously blown away. We gave her a picture of what we wanted and tah-dah–exactly like it! RM’s cousin put together a string quartet for us, and they played beautifully. We bought the flowers from Costco, and a family friend arranged them for us. Talk about DIY, right?
All in all, we had an amazing day! We’re so grateful to all of the helping hands we had to make our day so special. We are very lucky to have so much love and support in our lives. I wish I could bottle up the feeling that I had as I started to walk down the aisle and found RM’s eyes. The sun was shining. The water and the mountains were just gorgeous. It was exactly how I had pictured that moment to be. I thought to myself, This is it. The moment you’ve been waiting for your whole life. Soak it in. I wanted to remember it forever. It was the happiest moment of my life thus far, and I can only imagine that there will be even happier ones in our life moving forward.
Here’s a rundown of the deets for brides who are also on a budget (if you see something I didn’t mention, feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org):
Wedding dress: David’s Bridal, found here. It was the only dress I had bookmarked on my computer for about a year before we were engaged. I went in and found it on the “slightly defected” rack, which basically means the sizing or some tiny bead was off, so they aren’t allowed to sell it at full price. I’m not superstitious, and I know a good bargain when I see one. It just so happened to be in my size, and only $300 instead of $799. Sold. The only dress I tried on. When you know, you know 🙂
Ring pillow: Hand-sewn by mother of the bride out of an antique handkerchief
Wedding favors: lavender sachet bags made by the mother of the bride. Bags purchased from Etsy, similar bags from same seller found here.
Wedding signs/decor: JoAnn Fabrics (tip: google JoAnn coupon on your smart phone to get 20% off!), TJ Maxx, Pier One
Wedding cake and cupcakes: RM’s aunt JoLee. You can see more of her work on her Facebook page here.
French macarons: Belle Pastry in Bellevue, WA. Website: here. This was an added cost that wasn’t
necessary, but it was one of those things that I just had.to.have. It was a French theme!
Photographer: Finding a photographer was one of the most frustrating parts, as most range from $2-4k. WHAT?! We lucked out with a crazy talented photographer who we found through the google, called Phreckle Face Photography, who has much more reasonable prices. You can see some of the photos on her blog here.
Food: We decided to go with hors d’oeuvres since we were having an afternoon reception from 2:00-5:00. We wanted a more relaxed vibe that encouraged mingling, vice a more formal plated dinner feel. Sometimes hors d’oeuvres can be more expensive, but a friend of RM’s sister just started a catering business with her mother and has very reasonable prices. The food was so tasty, and everyone raved about it! Highly recommend her. Info: Hearthstone Culinary Traditions, Gini Wicklund Chef/Owner, email: email@example.com.
Ceremony Venue:Pioneer Park Bandstand (just down the hill behind Steilacoom Townhall). $350 for 3 hours. $250 separate refundable deposit.
Flowers: Costco–can you believe it? We planned on hitting up Pike’s Place the day before the wedding, but when RM and I went to scout it out the week before, they didn’t have ANY of the flowers/colors that I had in mind. Surprisingly enough, Costco had exactly what I wanted. We didn’t order them in bulk beforehand because I didn’t realize you could do that until two days before, and you need nine days notice. However, we didn’t need quite that many flowers, and I think it would have been more expensive that route. We handpicked the ones we wanted and went to two Costcos to get enough of them. RM’s mom’s friend, who works part time at a florist shop, arranged the bouquets for us.
Honeymoon to Paris: http://www.honeyfund.com. We printed out business cards with the website address on it and hand stamped them with the Eiffel Tower and included it with the invitation. We would highly recommend this! Since RM and I are more established than some folks getting married, we really didn’t need a lot of stuff as wedding presents. We were just happy for folks to come to the wedding (especially those who had to travel far!), but if they felt inclined to give something, we asked that they consider helping us go on our dream honeymoon to Paris. People were incredibly generous, and we just returned from a wonderful week in Paris following the wedding. That will be the next blog post 🙂
Here are some more of my favorite pics from the day courtesy of Phreckle Face Photography:
Yesterday I was chatting with a friend of ours who is currently living overseas and therefore won’t be able to make it to our wedding.
“Post some pictures! My girls are so excited and can’t wait to see!” he said of his twin 15-year-old daughters.
“I think they’re excited to know that a guy like RM exists,” he told me.
Our friend L lived in Seattle until last summer and witnessed the evolution of my relationship with RM and shared our dating story with his daughters. RM quickly became known as Peeta—due to his stellar bread making and archery skills, not that Peeta had archery skills, but you get the picture—and we have become somewhat of a “famous” couple to them akin to Peeta and Katniss. (We’re flattered, of course.)
His comment struck a chord with me—not just because I think it is sweet that his daughters look up to our relationship, but because I realize that I am lucky to have found a man like RM. For a long time, I also thought men like him didn’t exist.
As my close friends can attest, to say that I had to date a few frogs until I found my prince would be the understatement of the year. For that reason, I feel like I have suffered sufficient heartbreaks and douchebaggery to warrant an appropriate amount of gushing over finding the perfect man for me on a semi-regular basis on my blog. That’s right, I said the perfect man for me.
I recognize that I am lucky to have found someone with whom I connect on several levels—intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. He’s already my best friend, and soon he’ll be my husband. Getting to spend the rest of my life with my best friend to whom I’m also wildly attracted? Not a bad deal. While RM is not a perfect person (who is?), and we might not always agree or see eye to eye on things, I know he is the perfect fit for me.
Why am I emphasizing “for me?” Well, no one is perfect, and when we set out on a journey to find The One and expect him to be Mr. Perfect, we’re holding him to standards that are impossible to keep. We’re setting him up for failure. We’re all human, and surprise—men are too. They make mistakes. They’re not going to read your mind all of the time, and that’s okay. He’s probably not going to hold a radio over his head outside your window. He’s also probably not going to chase you down on a motorcycle with your Love Fern attached to the back. This is not a Rom Com. This is real life.
In the process of searching for—and failing to find—the elusive perfect man, I feel like we [women] have swung to the opposite end of the pendulum. We haven’t been able to find a perfect man who checks every. single. box. and never makes a mistake, so we’ve started settling for Mr. Far From Perfect. This guy appears in two different forms. The first, I like to call Mr. Safe Guy. In this scenario, we’ve come to believe that you just can’t have it all. A man who can be your best friend AND your romantic partner? A man with whom you can have serious discussions AND laugh until you cry? Well, that’s just too much to ask. Just settle for the man who can be your best friend—who cares if there is passion? If he looks good on paper, then he must be the perfect choice, right? Wrong.
Or, alternatively, we’ve settled on dating Mr. Douchebag, to whom we might be insanely attracted, but we recognize there is no future. Then when the relationship inevitably fails, we feel vindicated because we didn’t expect it to work out anyway. Yet we still find ourselves asking, “why can’t I find The One?” This is called Self-Sabotage, my friend.
The bottom line? We’ve become disenchanted and burnt out.
This was me before moving to Seattle. I had been on the hunt for a husband for several years. As soon as I graduated college and started my career, I was ready to find The One. I soon found myself with Mr. Safe Guy. He was a great guy, and he also looked good on paper. The problem? We didn’t have anything in common—no shared interests, no spiritual connection, no emotional connection, nothing. There also wasn’t any passion. It was like a platonic friendship that we called a romantic relationship—hold the romance. He checked all of my boxes though, or at least the boxes I thought were important at the time. Through lots of heartbreak (on both sides), I learned that just because someone is a nice guy and looks perfect on paper, doesn’t mean he’s perfect for me. That guy has since found someone who is a perfect fit for him, and they are currently on the road to their happily ever after, and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them.
For the next several years, I bounced back and forth between Mr. Safe Guys and Mr. Douchebags. The more disenchanted I became, the more Mr. Douchebags I seemed to be gravitating toward. I finally decided that I needed to “regroup” and spend time focused on myself, making sure that I was emotionally healthy so that when I did meet someone worth dating, I would be ready to have a healthy, positive relationship. No more settling or self-sabotaging.
I came to Seattle with that frame of mind, and I tossed out the Mr. Perfect checklist on which I had been unsuccessfully operating for years. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for anymore, and maybe the truth is, I stopped looking. I was content with my life, and I let go of the urgency of finding The One.
Conveniently, that’s when I met RM. I was immediately attracted to him—and not just physically. He exuded such positivity and love for life that I was excited to be around him and wanted to know him more. I knew it was a positive sign that when I spent time with him I felt like I could be myself. I was relaxed. We genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and conversation. We laughed so hard that we cried. We also enjoyed steamy makeout sessions, so that didn’t hurt either 😉 I was beginning to realize that maybe, just maybe, I could have it all.
Above all else, RM had qualities that embarrassingly enough, I hadn’t even thought to include on my previous checklist. He had integrity, honor, loyalty, and kindness. He respected me from the very beginning, and not a day has gone by where he hasn’t cherished me. I was so unaccustomed to being honored by a man, that I didn’t even realize that not only was it something that I wanted but it was something that I absolutely needed. If it weren’t for the introspective time I had spent taking off the “checklist blinders,” prior to my move to Seattle, I’m not sure that I would have recognized a wonderful man like RM if he was staring me in the face.
So while I think L’s daughters were probably referring to the fact that RM bakes bread, plays several instruments, shoots bow and arrows, speaks multiple languages, etc. as the impressive qualities that they didn’t think “existed,” in men—I suppose there aren’t many 15 year old boys like that—it’s those extra qualities that you can’t measure in a silly checklist that make RM so special and me so grateful for him.
Let me just close this gushy post by saying: the honorable men you’re looking for do exist. You deserve to be honored and treasured. You don’t need to settle for someone who doesn’t excite you or someone who doesn’t treat you well. Life might not be a chick flick, but thank God for that! It’s much more complex and fulfilling. Men aren’t perfect, but neither are we—that’s what forgiveness and understanding are for. Life can be sweet and wonderful if we let go of our checklists and open ourselves up to new possibilities. –And who knows? You might just surprise yourself and find someone who is perfect for you.