Monday, November 18, 2013

They Lived Happily Ever After

 As little girls we learn all about fairy tales. At the end of every story it states, "And they lived happily ever after," as they kiss or get married or ride off into the sunset.

But . . . then what?  They lived happily ever after . . . and then what?  Life just doesn't stop after the beloved characters fall in love.  Oh, no, technically, this is just the beginning of the story!  Prince Charming has to get a job and Snow White is in the bathroom dealing with morning sickness.  The laundry is piled up, the dwarves are fighting, the car won't start.  Life is not a fairy tale.  Or . . . is it?

This past Saturday, November 16th, Jacob and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary.  Well, technically, we didn't really celebrate.  We acknowledged it and instead celebrated our daughter's 2nd birthday with family.  (We have plans to celebrate this Saturday, but that is neither here nor there.)  When Jacob and I got married it was just like everything I learned as a child in all the fairy tales I had heard.  I found my prince, he asked me to marry him, I got to wear a beautiful gown and with little cherubs buzzing around us I said, "I do," and we lived happily ever after.  Right?  It strikes me as funny that in the movies and the stories when the guy gets the girl that is the end, but really it's the beginning, isn't it?

Jacob and I have been together for over 13 years, married for 11 years.  We have three kids and life is far from boring.  We try to make time for each other every evening.  We have a date on the couch where we sit together and watch a show or two before heading to bed. I see this man working hard every day to support his family, to fix things around the house and make sure vehicles are running properly. He makes time for his kids and he helps me around the house. He surprises me when I least expect it.

Sure, there are days when a vehicle won't start, something is leaking, something is broken, the laundry seems to multiply as if by magic, the kids are all unhappy or sick, and money always seems to be tight.  Yet, at the end of every day, I tuck my kids into bed, kiss them on the forehead and walk down the hall.  And there he sits. When he sees me he holds his arm up, inviting me to sit beside him. He smiles and his eyes meet mine and all those butterflies I had 13 years ago when we were dating come fluttering back to my stomach.  We sit together and talk for a little bit and then watch TV for about an hour, all snuggled up together.

And even with everything life throws our way, we actually, really DO live happily ever after.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tight Budget CAN Equal Happiness!

As a mother, I know what it's like to try and keep a tight budget, keep up with the laundry, the house cleaning, cooking meals (on a tight budget), helping with homework and school projects, attending school meetings and assemblies, shopping for groceries (again, on a tight budget) and birthday and/or Christmas gifts (yup, on a tight budget).  I also know what it's like to have to take all three children to doctor's appointments--quite often.  You have your dentist and eye doctor, your pediatrician, but we also have a neurologist, pediatric orthopedic, speech therapists, occupational therapists, tutors, all three of my children have had surgery and two of them have had surgery in just the past 5 months . . . they keep me busy!

We moved to a new town a few months ago and expenses have all been higher.  However, you will not hear us complaining because the house is bigger and better than what we had and we love how beautiful this town is!  We also live on one income because so much of my time is occupied with doctor's appointments and therapies.  But, that saying, "Money isn't everything," is so true.  We are happy.  We have everything we need and it has been so much fun for the kids and for us to come up with creative things to do as a family. I remember hearing stories that my grandparents once told me about how life was when they were children.  My grandpa talked about the few toys he had as a child and I remember thinking, "That's it?  How sad."  He didn't seem to think so.  He said that they appreciated all that they had and took nothing for granted.

I look at the world around me and I see that we take a lot for granted.  We seem to think that we deserve to have all of these things.  Spending money, having things . . . it makes us happy, right?  While we haven't been able to afford a lot of things or spend a lot of money on things we don't need, I have learned that this isn't exactly true.  I think my grandfather's family had it right.  We don't need a house full of things or a brand new, expensive car.  We don't need to live in a mansion.  Imagination, creativity, laughter and love are better than filling my childrens' rooms with store bought stuff they say they want (Not that they don't have rooms full of toys, but you get my point, right?).  My children are learning to appreciate all they have and are learning what is important in life.

While it is stressful at times for money to be so tight, it has actually been a great lesson for all of us and (dare I say) a blessing. Money can buy a lot of stuff, but it can't buy happiness.  Instead of focusing on all that we want we are now focusing on all that we have--and we are so thankful for it all!

And, let me tell you, right now . . . we are happy!