The Heart of the Matter.

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Ahem. My Facebook status from a few weeks ago:

“So sometimes I worry that Cassidy isn’t really listening to me when I talk, so I spout some random bits of nonsense to see if he is. Today it was:
“The Principal said I could bring one of the kittens to Back to School night. I’m going to wear her in a newborn sling.”
“On the bright side, I farted today and it released years’ of tension.”
“Today, Des pooped a baseball shape.”
(for that last one, Des agreed and pointed to his diaper)
And for the record, Cassidy WAS listening and laughed at all of those.”

I had to put that on the record. He WAS listening. He laughed at my ludicrosity. (I just made up that word, apparently) He’s probably almost always listening. And he almost always laughs at my ludicrosity. Not even at me. With me. So I’m not exactly proud of the immature test I gave to see if he was listening, but there is a reason I gave that test. It made me think that somewhere along the line, somewhere in the last six years of marriage or so, I must have felt that I wasn’t being heard.

I may have even felt it a lot. There sure are a lot of feels to feel in marriage, aren’t there?

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Guys, marriage is hard.

I don’t think people talk about it enough. Or maybe they do, and not everyone is listening? Not yet? When your days consist of diaper blow-outs and bills and work and resentment and low self-esteem, and it’s a wonder sometimes that anyone makes it work. Yet so many do. It takes that good, magic work that all love things take. As with all work, some people like it and some people don’t. Some people like certain types of work, and some people don’t like any. Sometimes you really like your co-workers, and sometimes you really don’t. Some people have a much better work ethic than other people, it’s safe to say.

Some people have a fantastic sense of humor too.

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Don’t we all want to be noticed more? Or worshipped a tiny bit? Sometimes, we take each other for granted. We don’t write love notes. We forget to show the dizzying love we may still feel. We should still feel. We forget. We glance at other people and wonder. We think about what might have been. Some people do all of those things. Some people do none. I think the average long-term married person gets to those points during the marriage. Maybe once. Maybe twice. Maybe several times.

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When I was reading “Clash of the Couples,” I was in a particularly heavy mood, that is not necessarily the mood I am always in. While this book was certainly lighter than my last two reviews, it still showed the fragility of relationships, and in this case, romantic relationships. The book showed how misunderstandings and distance and obliviousness can spiral swiftly.

I enjoyed every story. I was humored and/or heartened by every single one. I really liked Jenny Hills’ story. I would never dare to choose or call out favorites because these are ALL expertly and thoughtfully written and will mean different things to different people, but her story hit me in the heart big time. It was lovely and ludicrous and true and raw and wonderful. Jenny’s story also showed fantastic character development, and you just wanted to hug her husband by the end. And her!

Kimberly Morand’s story cracked me up. It read like a movie, with great dialogue and cringe-inducing scenes. And every word of it is true. There is a placenta story and a case of “are they identical or fraternal twins” that made me laugh out loud.

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One thing I loved about the stories, even the ones that talked about exes, is that the authors were discussing fights, spats and clashes, but they all spoke with love, respect and honor about their spouses and partners. They are all clearly IN. Are you?

For more info, check out the book info HERE and purchase info HERE.

Sometimes in this ride of marriage, you really do feel like you want to get off the ride. Or that you’re about to fall off!

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Gone are the days in which everything you do or say is an obvious delight. Gone are the days of long love letters, rather than:

“Can you pick up Des’ fluoride pills from Rite Aid on your way home from work?”

“Cool.”

And I admit that I miss that. I miss being worshipped. I miss being fully heard. However, so many wonderful things develop in those places – the cracks and the crevices that time wears off of something shiny and new. More solid flowers can grow in those cracks. And they don’t die after a week in a vase, like those dozen roses he had sent to your work when you were first dating. (or a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries our case – they don’t last long either). They come back, season after season, beating after beating, because they are strong and beautiful. These are the roots you set down once – without even realizing how firmly you were planting them down. Stamping them down. Push after shove. Until they were so far gone, you can’t even see them sometimes. Some seasons. But they’re always there and they’re always growing. And that’s marriage.

Well, my friends. I have no idea how all of that came from a book review! I’m on day four of a weird cold virus.

I Thought I was Going To Die When..

I’m doing something new(ish) this week so bear with me and come along on my adventurous ride.

No, really. There is an adventurous ride detailed in this post. And it involves tractor-trailers, lake effect snow, and bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? See what I’m doing is combining my regularly scheduled “Ask Away Friday” interview, with a “Finish the Sentence Friday” prompt. I couldn’t resist this week’s “I thought I was going to die when..” so I’ll be finishing that sentence after introducing my truly lovely Ask Away partner – Sylva Fae – Sylvanian ramblings from a little enchanted wood.

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I met SylvaFae through our Ask Away Friday Facebook page and I love her About Me page with its job stories and emphasis on her crazy and busy life in the countryside with three beautiful children and their “wellies, frilly tutus and fairy wings.”

Stay tuned for ten questions, my sentence prompt and a wonderful giveaway below!!

Thank Goodness it’s #AskAwayFriday! Get to know our new hosts, meet our new co-host, and grab our new logo! Be sure to check out our new Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with! And always feel free to contact me here or anywhere if you want to swap with me.

What is #AskAwayFriday? Well…

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County as a place for us to connect with other bloggers by asking them ten questions to really get to know them. The sky is the limit with the questions you ask!

Meeting other bloggers and making new friends is one of the best parts of this online world!

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Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
and
Amber from Bold Fit Mom

Grab our brand new button, follow our amazing hosts, hop through the great link ups and make some new friends!

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Be sure to check out SylvaFae’s answers to my questions HERE. And here are my answers to her questions:

1. If you could escape the November blues for a day, when and where would you like to be and what would you be doing?

Ooh, that’s such a good one. I’m going to have to say San Diego. It has perfect weather year-round. I only visited once, in December, and it was 65 and sunny every day. With surfers and sharks. And dolphins too. And really, really good breakfast. Did I mention the dog beach I visited? One of the happiest places on earth to catch a winter beach sunset, and then dinner.

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2. You truly are the comment queen! I’m stunned by the number of comments you get on your blog posts, how do you do it? Which post prompted the most comments?

Basically I time travel! I’m friends with a lot of other bloggers with the same desire to connect and be a part of each other’s lives. I also respond to every comment, which can be done quite easily on my WordPress app while waiting for my daughter in the school parking lot. I’m creative with time. And it matters to me. I make the time when both kids are in school, and then again when they’re sleeping and I need a break from photo editing. I try to time-manage the things that mean the most to me. The post I got the most comments on ever, was “I Had No Idea How Much I’d Need her” which was about the day we were surprised with our rescue puppy. It was featured on the rescue organization’s Facebook page, and they have thousands of fans, so I got a really high reading for that. Tens upon tens of thousands. Incidentally, our puppy’s first birthday is today!

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3. You have such beautiful children, they look so angelic in the photos, what are they really like? They say the camera never lies!

It’s funny that I’m reading this now because I’ve been taking my time answering these questions and just before I got to this one, I was wondering if my daughter would listen to me when I asked her to turn off the TV and pick up toys off the floor before dinner. For the record, she did. You can mostly always reason with Scarlet, but man does she get her shriek on sometimes. As for Des, he’s a two-year-old boy, but pretty angelic still. He totally runs around and whines and acts like a toddler, but he’s gentle and non-destructive. And we’ve never had a full-on tantrum. There is time for such things, though.

Both were really calm babies. Like.. why don’t I have a third? (answer: pregnancy phobia developed after two)

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4. I’ve seen so many amazing photos of your children and they make perfect models for your photography. I’m sure you get asked all the time what your favourite thing to photograph is so I’ll avoid that question, what is the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked to photograph?

Nice, I like it. I think getting asked to photograph candles once threw me. It was totally fun, though. And I do a lot of corporate work – shots of active chilled beams and the like. You probably have no idea what I’m talking about right? I once did a shoot for a woman in costume as a gift for her mother, but it wasn’t as strange as the active chilled beams. Is anything?

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5. You are an amazing photographer, would you share your three favourite photographs and say why you like them.

hm… I don’t even know if I could narrow it to three favorites. Another sad fact is that sometimes I look back at photographs I’ve taken and I think that I’m sh*t and nothing ever was good. So there’s that. I’ll try this out, though:

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I took that photo about ten years ago in San Diego (as with the dog photo above which is also a favorite). It’s a non-professional photo in every way, but I couldn’t stop staring at him in that cage, and harboring secret thoughts of freeing him.

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A grainy self-portrait. I’ve never had another that more closely resembled how I see myself as a whole.

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The last photograph I took of my grandfather – the last time I saw him. His eyes were watering because I think he knew, it was the last time. I think I knew too, only I didn’t want to believe it. I’m really surprised by the photos I chose. None are professional and none were taken with professional equipment. I thought for sure I’d go for one of my sharper, glossier pro pics, but I guess the heart wants what the heart wants. It’s about the moment and the meaning, after all. Isn’t it?

6. I’m most relaxed pottering around my little woodland, where do you go to feel most at peace with the world?

I don’t know.. I’ve definitely had anxiety at some point, nearly everywhere. Even some “safe places” were subject to it during rough times. However, it’s just a state of mind. All of it. The peace. The anxiety. And nowhere is safe.. sure.. but on the other hand, everywhere is safe. If you can find a safe place in your mind, everywhere is safe. I’m totally rambling, right? I feel at most peace with the world at home, with my family. A roaring fire or a gorgeous spring/summer/fall day.

I’ll take them any which way.

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7. All writers and artists are a little quirky – what are your quirkiest features?

ha! How can I tell what is quirky and what is neurotic? Ah, who cares? Well, let’s see. I LOVE rainbow sprinkles. Like.. too much. Whipped cream too. I have hundreds of pairs of socks and only two pairs of them are solid-colored. They’re my extra warm ones that I bought at the outdoors store. I have lucky underwear. I can’t NOT laugh at a fart joke or story. And if I’m telling one, even if via voice command text, there are tears of laughter streaming down my face and I can’t finish the story.

8. We both have a daughter called Scarlett / Scarlet – how did you choose your children’s names?

Well, Scarlet came from so many places but I’ll just direct you to a post HERE. Desmond was much easier – it’s from our favorite character from the show LOST. And Desmond Tutu being awesome doesn’t hurt either.

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9. I see you posted a song from the Rocky Horror Show – in my youth, I saw the live show 11 times – are you a fan?

Yes! That’s the only movie I’ve seen more than 20 times, without growing to hate it. I first saw it when I was 12 and I was completely disturbed, but intrigued. When I was 13, that disturbed passion grew into just.. straight passion. I was so in love with Tim Curry in that movie too. There’s just something about the whole thing. It spoke to my heart.

10. And finally, Christmas is fast approaching and it got me thinking about traditions. Your ‘elf on the shelf’ made it’s way over to England last year. Is this something you do with your children? If not what are your Christmas family traditions?

Oh, funny that it came to England! We don’t do Elf On the Shelf. I am not for it or against it, but I admit that the constant articles about it are annoying. People, you don’t have to defend yourselves! Create your magic the best way for your family! As for traditions, every Thanksgiving weekend, we get our giant tree and decorate it. We do a Santa’s trains visit/train ride at the park in town. We go to our city tree lighting. We visit Yankee Candle headquarters. We go to my parent’s house for Christmas itself and it becomes a huge mess of wrapping paper and love. I simply can’t wait!

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Weren’t SylvaFae’s questions fantastic? And now.. I will complete the sentence, “I thought I was going to die when..”

I was young and stupid. Isn’t that how all good stories begin? I had a new(ish) boyfriend, and we had no doubt stolen each other from other entanglements and we decided to bond by driving to Montreal. Quite randomly. In January. We had a blast, eating square pizza and sliding up and down the slushy streets, and we ignored the blizzard warnings and started to make our way back to New Jersey in my boyfriend’s terrible, old car. Somewhere in upstate New York, with guardrails and potential plummets to our deaths everywhere, he lost control of the car and slid sideways into a snow bank. A giant tractor trailer was coming towards us from the other side, horns blazing. No way to stop. Seconds away. I was strangely calm and as if I were out of my body, I watched my boyfriend expertly and calmly gain control of the car and steer it out of the way of the truck, just in the nick of time. We didn’t have cellphones then, but we saw an exit sign for a Holiday Inn and checked in there. I called my parents to tell them we were ok and my mom was so relieved, she said I could use her credit card for the hotel. We ordered video games and movies too. Sorry, Mom! I was young and stupid. That incident cemented our relationship together, when otherwise we probably didn’t stand a chance. He was a cheating boy, but that wouldn’t be a problem for awhile.

Be sure to check out our Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with or to just talk about anything #AskAwayFriday!

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