The Father of My Child

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I want to talk to you about the father of my child for a minute.

He’s pretty handsome, right? Not to sound totally shallow, but it’s pretty fun waking up to a handsome face every day.

His handsomeness is not what I’m here to talk about. I just think it’s fun.

What I really want to talk about? How excited I am to have a baby with this person.

On some level, I always knew Joey would make a great dad. I don’t think you marry someone without at least considering whether or not they would be a good parent unless you are dead-set against having kids yourself. I was pretty sure I did want kids, so I thought about it. And yup, I thought, he would be good at it.

Which isn’t to say we both didn’t have some growing up to do first. When you get married in your early 20s like we did, you probably have more growing up to do than most. And when you get married in your early 20s like we did, it’s not always a smooth, simple process.

I’m incredibly grateful, though, that we grew up and together. In fact, I think Joey and I have never been a better match than we are today.

I’m also incredibly grateful that we both grew into people that, I’m pretty sure, will be pretty good parents. At least, I know Joey will.

Joey is the kind of guy who remembers my friends’ various diet restrictions, just in case they want to come over for dinner, so he can cook them something they’ll like.

Joey is the kind of guy that, when he figures out something that makes you laugh until you almost pee your pants, will find as many excuses to do that thing as possible because he just likes seeing you crack up.

Joey is the kind of guy that babies notice from across a room and instantly grin at, as if simply seeing his face is the best part of their day.

Joey is the kind of guy who, when you’ve spent all day carrying your pregnant belly around to just limp home and collapse on the couch and lazily ask for a glass of water even though you’re two feet away from the kitchen, he’ll immediately get it for you without any fuss even though he was probably already making you dinner. No heavy sighs or dramatics. He just wants to take care of you.

Joey is the kind of guy who, in birth prep class, will make you try every practice labor position on the birthing ball and test every massage apparatus so we can be sure we’ve found the ones I like best. Then he’ll commit to memory what I liked so he can help as much as possible when we do this labor thing for real.

Joey is the kind of guy who, when I’m exhausted and finally starting to get tired of this growing-a-human thing and let myself complain a bit, tells me what an amazing job I’m doing and how brave, strong, and great he thinks I am.

Joey is the kind of guy who wants to read to the baby every night, but first he wants to wait until I feel her moving so he knows she’s awake and “paying attention.”

Joey is the kind of guy who never, ever loses that look of amazement and wonder in his eyes when he feels the baby kick or move in my belly.

Joey is the kind of guy who whispers to my belly before we go to sleep, sharing a private moment with his daughter that always ends with him telling her how much he loves her and can’t wait to meet her.

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to think of a guy better suited to being a dad.

I’m so glad I married this man. I’m so glad we stuck it out through the not-so-smooth-or-simple parts of growing up together. And I’m so glad I get to have a baby with him.

And that’s what I wanted to talk about today.

You’re the best, Joey. You’re going to be so great at this — you already are. I love you from the left to the right.

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All photos by Figment Art & Photo Co.

What I Learned When I Was Miserable

You may have noticed it was all crickets and tumbleweeds on the blog last week. I never apologize for not posting anymore (hey, how am I supposed to have anything to write about if I never have a life, right?), but last week actually has a good explanation: I was horribly sick.

{my nurse)
{my nurse)

After what I thought was allergies evolved into what I thought was a cold into what I think was a flu into what was diagnosed as a throat and ear infection, I’m now on antibiotics for the next six days and feeling much better. But I literally didn’t go into my office once last week and spent most of the day drifting in and out of naps with Boges and the rest of the time feeling miserable.

Never one to ignore the opportunity to find a silver lining, I realized there are a few things that being really sick teaches you:

1. I have really good friends. My friends texted, called, brought soup, and came over to sit on my couch and watch TV with me. Good friends make being sick feel not so bad.

2. I have a really good job. Not only is my job flexible enough that I can get pretty much everything done from home, I also work for people who not only don’t make me feel bad for missing work but who also encourage me to stay home if I feel terrible. I mean, sure, they’re also total germophobes looking to avoid infection, but they also genuinely know how much it sucks to have to go to work when you don’t feel well and didn’t want that to happen to me. That’s pretty dang nice.

3. I have a really good husband. Joey knows that I rarely get sick, and I almost never get really sick. It’s also impossible for me to be home for an extended period of time without doing dishes, straightening the living room, reorganizing my closet, etc. So when I start lying around the house instead of dusting the book shelves, he knows things are serious. He would come home every night with cans of soup, vitamin C packets, and virtually anything else I said I wanted. He even came home a little earlier each night because he knew I was bored after a long day in quarantine. A kind, considerate husband makes just about anything easier to deal with.

So I felt miserable last week. But I’m feeling really good this week. (Minus a little mental fog from the antibiotics.)

I’ll take that trade-off.

Blogger Clothing Swap: Joey’s Thoughts On My Style

I’m pretty excited about today’s post.

 

So I have these two friends, Kayla and Madison. (If you don’t read their blogs in the regular, you’re seriously missing out.)

 

The thing about Kayla and Madison is that not only do they write great blogs, not only are they both incredibly talented, not only are they the nicest gals you could ever hope to be friends with, they’re also incredibly stylish. (As I tell them every time they post anything outfit-related on Instagram.)

 

Which is why I was so thrilled a couple of weeks ago when we all decided to participate in a clothing swap. We each sent the other two three items from our closets that we never wore anymore, and I can’t wait to see how they styled the items I sent.

 

But first, we thought it would be fun to kick off our swap with an interview with our husbands on what they think of our style. Joey’s responses were predictably hilarious, but also a little enlightening. It was also like pulling teeth to get him to say anything critical about what I wear. What can I say? The guy likes me.

 

Here’s what he had to say:

 

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Q: How would you describe my style?
Joey: Classy and individual. You have your own style. It’s kind of trendy but not like everybody else. None of our friends dress like you.

 
Q: What is your favorite thing I wear (and why)?
Joey: I think your accessories always make your outfit. Most notably your shoes and necklaces. You always look good in boots…I would say boots. I don’t want to sound pervy. [Justine note: Bahahaha]

 
Q:What is your least favorite thing I wear (and why)?
Joey: Flats. They’re a bit plain and boring. [Justine note: REALLY?] Yeah. Something else I hate — that fortunately you don’t do — is when girls wear platform sandals. I think that’s a thug thing. And what are those flood pants? Khaki things? [Justine note: Capris?] Yeah, maybe I don’t like those either.

 
Q: Do you remember what I was wearing on our first date?
Joey: I believe it was a blouse and jeans with a scarf of some sort…very casual for Chili’s. [Justine note: It was a navy dress. The strawberry margarita must have clouded his judgment :)]

 

Q: What do you wish I would wear more often?
Joey: A smile. [Justine note: Come on.] Bikinis? I don’t know.

 

Q: What store best describes my style?
Joey: Banana Republic or J. Crew. [Justine note: Nailed it.]

 

So there you have it. Check our Kayla’s husband interview here, and Madison’s here. And stay tuned for most posts about the swap, including what the girls sent me.

Remembering to be happy

I’ve been thinking a lot about this post I wrote a while back. Recently, an old friend reached out to me and told me that she has read this post multiple times and it really helps her remember to find joy in things even when life isn’t perfect.

That kind of knocked the wind out of me because, honestly, I haven’t been doing such a great job of that myself over the last two months.

Things have been really stressful at work since the new year. I’ve been feeling a bit homesick for the first time in four years. (Not always for a place, but for the people and life I used to have at the time. Ahh ’twas simpler back then.) Compounding all that is our impending move, needing to finish packing, needing to actually find a place in one of the most cut-throat real estate markets, needing to move all our stuff…

It can be really hard to find the joy when you’re dealing with a perpetual stomachache and stress headache.

But I’m not doing anyone any favors (least of all myself) by dwelling on the things I can’t control and just have to deal with. So, in the name of the Happiness Project, I give you a list of things that I am happy about:

1. Joey and I had a really fun date last night. We’ve been so busy lately (me with traveling and work, him with side jobs and work) that we haven’t really been connecting as much. And because my patented stress management technique is bottling up my feelings until I finally burst into sobs over something as unimportant as breaking a dish, I know I’ve been wall-ing myself off instead of opening up and letting him help me. So last night we used up some Outback Steakhouse gift certificates he got from work (SUP.), followed it up with some fro-yo and The Walking Dead, and basically unloaded everything we were dealing with. I know I felt tons better. My husband is pretty awesome.

2. WE SOLD THE CHINA CABINET. I know the all-caps might imply that I’m more excited about this development than the date night, but I think I’m just more surprised.

I had originally posted my (elegantly crafted) Craigslist ad on President’s Day, and despite getting a few nibbles, no one ended up buying it. I renewed the ad on Monday and got three offers by the afternoon (and another one last night). Last night, a woman who lives in our town came by and said she would take it. Left a deposit and everything! So it will hopefully be in its new home by Saturday night.

Lesson learned: No one Craigslist shops seriously on President’s Day.

You guys. I am so relieved. I have literally been stressing about reselling the thing since we decided to move. And it’s especially nice to cross something off my things-we-need-to-do-before-we-move list.

3. I’m looking at apartments tonight! Which isn’t exactly positive necessarily, but it could be. At least I’m doing something besides emailing countless ads only to be told that place I’m looking at has sold but would I like to look at some uglier apartments in bad neighborhoods?!?

Answer: No. And I hate you for tricking me.

So anyway. Those are the things I’m being happy about. Not a bad list, right?

Everyone leave a comment about something that’s making you happy. LETS START A REVOLUTION! (OF JOY!)

5 Entertaining Tips for Newbies

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Yesterday, Joey and I had a few friends over for dinner and dessert. It was by no means the most elaborate or biggest party I’ve ever thrown — in fact, the whole thing came together spontaneously and in about six hours — but despite it’s simplicity, we had a lovely time with our friends eating, laughing, and catching up.

Because I grew up with a hostess-with-the-mostess mother then worked in the wedding industry and now work for one of the most famous hostesses in the world, I’ve always been fascinated by what details make a really great party. I still have a lot to learn, but I thought it could be fun (and helpful for anyone planning a party in the next few months) to share my favorite tips for planning a fun, stress-free event.

Here are my top five entertaining tip for newbies:

1. Set the table and make the salad ahead.

I always do these two tasks at least two hours before guests arrive. The table setting I might even do the day before if I have enough notice. For one, it forces you to start cleaning up. In my house, we use the dining room table to hold mail and other odds and ends that need to be put away. There’s usually a coat or two slung over a chair back. (I won’t name names as to whose coats they are…but they’re not mine.) The back corner of the room has also become an unofficial craft storage area. (Okay, that one’s on me.)

The point is, there’s quite a bit to be sorted out before it’s company-ready. All of which has to be done before the table can be set, so saying I’m going to set the table means I’m going to get the dining room ready. Plus, setting the table in advance means you can take your time, and the extra effort goes a long way. As for the salad, trust me when I say it will be the last thing you want to worry about when you’re trying to get dinner on the table. Make it early and keep it in the fridge.

2. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

I rarely make dessert or purchase wine for events in my own home. In my area, I rarely invite someone over who doesn’t accept with the phrase, “Sure, what can I bring?” Letting someone else bring a few drinks or a dessert lightens your load both physically and financially — let people help.

3. Presentation is everything.

There’s nothing wrong with serving something store-bought as long as no one ever sees the package. I’m not saying you should deceive your guests (if someone asks you for the recipe, ‘fess up), what I mean is that if you can’t be bothered to cook, the least you can do is serve the food on a pretty platter.

This goes for the table as well. Use place mats or a table cloth, and break out your nice dishes even if the meal isn’t all that fancy. (Hey, when else are you going to use them?) A pretty table sets a more festive mood even if the get-together is laid-back.

4. Two words: Cloth napkins.

Everyone feels a bit fancier and, at the end of the night, you just throw them all in the laundry hamper. Easy-peasy.

5. Clean up right after guests leave.

You will want to fight me on this one. After a day of cooking and cleaning and possibly a week of planning, at the end of the night you’ll want to put your feet up or answer your bed’s siren call while the dirty pots and dishes sulk in the sink. DO NOT DO IT. Believe me when I say there is nothing better than a successful night of hosting except the feeling you have when you wake up to a perfectly clean apartment. Odds are, the last time it was this clean was moments before your guest arrived. Don’t you want to revel in it a bit? So suck it up, wash the dishes (and dry if you’re feeling extra ambitious), clean the tabletop, swiff the floor, and take out the garbage. Then sit back with one last glass of wine before bed. You’ve earned it. (And you’ll thank me in the morning.)

Happy entertaining!

The Revenge of the Single Girl Dinners

Whenever Joey and I are running low on groceries and lacking the funds or motivation to buy more, we’re forced to get a bit more creative with what we eat for dinner. The result?

For one, we clean out our fridge and pantry, which makes me feel better about using what we have instead of over-buying. Go, responsible consuming!

For another, we eat a lot more of what I have affectionately dubbed “Single Girl Dinners.”

I’ve discussed the gist of Single Girl Dinners before, but I feel like the topic has been coming up a lot lately as more and more of my friends pair off and get married or move in with their dudes.

Basically, it’s anything you would eat as a meal but would never serve to a guest. I’m willing to bet at least three different weird things you have eaten for dinner but never bragged about just popped into your brain.

The point is, I’ve decided to embrace the Single Girl Dinner (and possibly just amend it to the Low On Groceries Dinner). Especially since, for the last week, Joey has been taking a night class, so in general, I’m on my own for how I feed myself.

It’s weirdly…liberating. And I get a little nostalgic for my poor, single girl days. Don’t get me wrong; I love being married and love cooking real, would-serve-to-a-guest meals, but curling up on the couch eating tuna salad and crackers and watching Bravo by myself inspires a feeling I can only describe as decadent.

Plus, it makes a great lunch the next day! See?

I don’t know, you guys. Between Joey taking over the weekday cooking duties and me embracing these super easy “meals,” I’m a little worried my cooking muscles will start to atrophy. So for old time’s sake, let’s make this a quick Kitchen Adventure, shall we?

Single Girl’s Fancy Tuna Salad & Crackers
2 cans of tuna, drained
1/2 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Whole wheat crackers

Combine all ingredients (except the crackers) in a small bowl. Spread on crackers. Enjoy. (Keeps in an air-tight container for lunch the next day.)

SEE? Eating whilst single is beyond easy. Also, it’s kind of pathetic I blogged this. Having second thoughts…but it’s been too long since I posted so I’m keeping it. But Lord knows I need to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel sometime soon.

Or at the very least, start eating more dinners that don’t call for crackers.

A man who cooks.

I’m pretty sure even my husband would have no problem admitting that, between the two of us, I’ve always been more of the chef.

“Chef” used loosely here. I mean, I can cook. But nine times out of ten I’m just throwing things in a pan, incorporating one of my tried-and-true cooking methods, and then just holding my breath and hoping for the best.

One meatloaf mishap aside, I think we could say with a fair amount of certainty that this system has been pretty successful. And in general, I like cooking. It’s a good way to unwind at the end of the day sometimes.

Then I got that pesky new job in the city. (Still accepting postcards, by the way!)

And while so far I love everything about the job, the commute does limit the time I spend at home in the evening. So we were faced with a choice: Either we don’t eat until after nine every night, or Joey learns to cook.

I should clarify that he can cook. The boy makes a mean omelette, and he once whipped up a gorgeous dinner of pork chops, sautéed asparagus, and mashed potatoes. He just doesn’t do it often, and it takes him a while. (The pork chops? I kid you not, took him about seven hours from start to finish.)(They were, however, the best pork chops I’ve ever had.)

I think the main thing holding Joey back was just an unfamiliarity with the kitchen and cooking. He knew the basics, but as soon as he encountered anything new, he got nervous and just had no idea what to do with it.

In the weeks leading up to my new job starting, I tried to incorporate Joey into cooking more. Even if he was just hovering over my shoulder watching how I do things (“This is how you roast broccoli…this is how you make sure the chicken is cooked through…”), the main goal was for him to have a general idea of how to cook just about anything.

Wednesday was his first night in the kitchen since I started the job.

He made baked chicken Parmesan and roasted broccoli.

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Success! it really was delicious, and he will probably be eating the leftovers tonight.

Then Thursday, he took a play from my book and threw a bunch of veggies and some sliced chicken sausage in a pan to sautée. Then he even created his own creamy cheese sauce to put over some whole wheat pasta. I didn’t even teach him that one!

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He even threw together a little spinach salad for a starter.

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So our little experiment has been successful so far. But more important than the actual food, it has made me so grateful to be married to someone who has no problem stepping up when his family needs something. At the risk of getting mush all over this blog, it makes me love him even more every night.

And, you know, not just because he’s handing me a warm plate of delicious food.