I’ve paid $6 to park my car for an hour. I’ve paid $6 to get on an airplane faster. I’ve paid $6 for a substandard burrito and I’ve even paid $6 for a bottle of water. As I look around my house there are very few things still around that I paid $6 for, because while $6 may seem like a lot for some things, $6 will rarely buy you quality or permanence.

I have amassed a collection of Post-It notes from Cody, every once in a while he’ll paper the house with them while I’m asleep. They don’t say anything particularly profound, but I keep every last one, and tuck them away where I can hold them, see his handwriting and know that for however many minutes he was thinking about me and what I’d be doing in a day to find his little notes.

Love Notes and Valentines
Cody isn’t quite as sentimental, but for the last four years he has left a Valentine’s card from me hanging on the fridge. Perhaps it’s because he would have felt guilty throwing away a $6 piece of paper or perhaps he agrees it’s the most accurate card in the world. Whatever the reason, the card has stayed on the side of the fridge where we can both see it. Even when things got really hard last Valentine’s, the card stayed. Even as more and more artwork came home from school, the card stayed.

As far as I’m concerned the card isn’t going anywhere and it will be a centerpiece at our 50th wedding anniversary.

He’s spent money on flowers, I’ve spent money on candy, we’ve both spent money on fancy Valentine’s dinners but none of those things can be hung on the fridge or held in your hand three years later. Suddenly six dollars doesn’t seem like so much money, does it?

There is a line at the end of The Fault In Our Stars that reads “While she was not loved widely, she was loved deeply.” I am loved deeply, I always have been but I have always fought back against Cody’s love because I never truly felt as though I deserved it.

I thought I was in love when I met him, I thought I was in love on our wedding day, I even thought I was in love when I gave him this card four years ago—and I was in love, but it was always guarded. For the last several months I have been all in, it’s scary and thrilling and quite possibly the best feeling in the entire world. I know why we made it through last year, and it is because Cody never, ever gave up on me. Not even for a second. He knew that the girl who was so excited to give him a glittery $6 ketchup card was somewhere inside and he fought like hell to get her back.

hallmark ketchup card

With text messages and email being commonplace now, it’s rare that we have simple, tangible, evidence of sentimentality anymore. If all the computers and phones went away, what words would your loved ones have to literally hold on to? My kids aren’t going to have access to my flirty text messages with their dad in 30 years, but they will someday find a box filled with little love notes, cards and sticky notes between their mom and dad. Greeting cards and love letters, as archaic and outdated as they may seem, still have a very important part in our history as humans. Don’t let them die out in your own relationship because $6 seems like too much money for a piece of paper at the time.

How will you #PutYourHeartToPaper this year?

A special thanks to Hallmark for sponsoring this post.

Cody once worked with a guy that removed his wedding ring depending on the type of customer he was serving. Cody and I both thought it was pretty smarmy and gross (and we still do) but we didn’t know much about marriage as we were wee babes ourselves.

After our own vows and rings were exchanged, I can remember going to a wedding reception when Cody forgot his ring. I flew into a crying fit in the parking lot “HOW WILL ANYONE KNOW WE’RE MARRIED! PEOPLE WILL THINK WE’RE JUST ENGAGED! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?”


You could say I was passionate about rings.

Over the years a number of different things made wearing rings difficult: basketball, gaining weight, having babies, going to the gym, and swimming. There were even times we would go on vacation and both opt to leave our rings behind “just in case.” By this point, we knew we were married and it didn’t really matter if he was marked with a gold band or not (one thing I’ve learned over the last 14 years is people don’t often care if someone is wearing a ring or not. Keep it classy, society.) So while our rings hold enormous sentimentality and symbolism, neither of us will forget we’re married without them.

Back in 2009, when I went through Lupron hell, I was lost. Gone. Completely messed up in every area of my life. I felt completely abandoned by Cody, and own brain as well. When Cody and I decided to stay together, I had this intense need to drown out the emotional pain I felt from the previous six months and in some way show Cody how dedicated I was to making our marriage work.

So I got his name tattooed on my butt.


I did get a tattoo. One that has even deeper meaning to me than a ring. Rings can be lost, stolen, left behind and removed when the situation desires. Tattoos are kind of there forever. I didn’t tell Cody I was getting them, and later I sent him a picture and a statement that said “I’m sorry, but I had to do this for me.” (He was totally anti-tattoo at the time, not only for religious reasons, but he is also terrified of needles.) A week later he came out to see me at my parents house and he asked me about getting them, I told him that the obnoxious stinging and buzzing was a welcome sensation compared to all the other things I had been feeling recently. Later that night, he pulled me aside and took off his shirt to reveal the exact same tattoos on his own shoulders.

We matched.

We went together.

If you were to put us in a group of a million other people, you would know we go together. That is an intensely intimate and comforting feeling, something no ring will ever be able to encompass or represent.

Someone the other night commented on the fact that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring in an Instagram photo, it made her think that my marriage was in trouble and we were most certainly headed towards the end. But what you can’t see in the photo are my shoulders, my shoulders that match Cody’s. The tattoos that have us linked forever no matter what happens. They’re not flashy or showy, but they are deeply meaningful. Not only for what they represent, but for the season of life in which we both got them.

So that’s why you won’t always see me with a wedding ring, while I may wear my heart on my sleeve, I wear the love for my husband in ink on my shoulders.


(But what do they MEEEAAANNN? You ask, well. If you ever saw Ghost, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore said ‘ditto’ instead of  ‘I love you.’ Loce is our ditto.)

For the first time in our almost 14 years of marriage I have finally allowed myself to be completely and hopelessly in love with Cody. I’m so in love with him I struggle to find words adequate enough to encompass how I feel about him. When I talk about him I generally end up in tears because through everything, he never ever gave up on me. I have hated myself for so long, and in hating myself I tried to convince Cody to hate me so I could be even more justified in my own self loathing. Up until recently I never let myself believe that he truly did love me, he was only with me out of obligation and circumstance.

I was always guarded with him, not on purpose, but more from life experience. If you don’t open up yourself up completely, you can’t be hurt as badly.

I am full on belly up with all my soft spots exposed to this man for the first time in my life. My heart is absolutely exposed to him with no defenses in place aside from trust. It’s that feeling you get when you first lean back in a climbing harness, wondering if it will catch you or not. Up until now I’ve always played it safe, keeping at least one hand and two feet on the wall at all times. Now I’m completely reclined, with complete faith in his ability to carry me.

We should have ended. I see so many other relationships end and I wonder how ours made it (although I know how ours made it and it’s because of Cody.) Several people have written to him or me asking how we survived, desperate for some sliver of hope in their own relationship. The only response I can even give is that he never gave up on me.

In letting him love me I have learned to love myself. I don’t second guess if I’m worth loving anymore. I have known love, but the love I have learned from Cody has me absolutely overtaken. It’s scary, and yet it’s not.

I wish everyone could experience this level of intimacy and absolute connection with another human, all the pain that has led me to this point has been worth it. I hate that I hurt Cody so badly in the process, but will forever be grateful that while I was falling apart, he knew the girl he fell in love with was still inside and he never gave up on her.

He has her now. More wholly and completely than he has ever had her in his entire life.

This mug encompasses almost everything I feel right now.

I can say with absolute certainty that at this moment, I am happy in places I never thought I could be.

I am in no way perfect, but I am loved deeply — and that is enough to get me through anything.


We all ended up with various stages of the flu over Christmas, all of us except Addie. I take this as proof that she has officially outgrown that kid thing where they lick weird and random stuff. Vivi on the other hand, stand close to her for too long and she will for sure lick you.


I’ve been stuck in a bit of a funk, the fourth annual Midwestern winter funk.

A friend’s dad has been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long time, and earlier in the month he tried to take his own life. Her dad and I are very similar in how we experience our depression, and I wonder if there will come a time when I’m just too tired to fight back against my depression. Like if my emotional strength is similar to my immune system and over time it will just grow weaker until it betrays me and takes me out.

If that’s the case, is this the happiest I’ll ever be?

Don’t think about it too hard if you do deal with depression because it will make you really depressed. (Which is why I stopped thinking about it and focused more time and energy on petting my cats.)

Who else is excited for a shiny fresh new year? I’m okay to see 2014 change over, even if it changes over to three more months of cold gloom.

At least it won’t be 2014 anymore!


Thanksgiving 2004.

day one.


One Year. Hated Cupcakes.

the moosh.

Barbie the Island Princess and her little cake too.

four year old wish.

my five year old. on her birthday.

six candles

7th Birthday

Friday - Disney Cruise

Addie's 9th Birthday Party


10th Birthday-1

Ten is a real kick in the face.

Happy birthday my love.

Spiders, cake, and princesses sum up your current existence perfectly.

I decided to go headfirst into this whole Santa thing, and you know what? I’m SO GLAD I DID. Last year Hallmark sent me a pack of Northpole Magic Mail but I didn’t do it for whatever overwhelming reason. Tonight I pulled it out as a test, I gave the wish list to Addie and asked her to fill it out for the entire family.

“Vivi! What do you want Santa to bring you?”


“What else?”


Addie took that as her cue to fill up the other 27 lines with her requests. She squeezed in a few for Cody, the cats and me at the end as well.

The thing about this paper, you have to put it somewhere cold and a magic message shows up. I wasn’t quite sure how to convince Addie her letter to Santa had to go in the freezer, but I took a deep breath and said “Hey, you know how everyone travels through fireplaces in Harry Potter? Well, Santa is trying out something new this year, he’s using freezers to get his mail this year. So when you’re done you have to put your letter in the freezer and sing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” while knocking on the door.”

She totally did it.

She opened the door immediately and was bummed the letter hadn’t disappeared. I made her wait another minute then open the door.

“It’s still here! It’s not gone!”

“Well, freezer mail is kind of new, there’s probably still some bugs to work out. Does it look any different?”


christmas card.

In that moment of squealing  joy I’m so glad I didn’t break the news to her, she still wholeheartedly believes. She’s not doing it for me or for Vivi’s benefit, the kid *believes.* Cody looked at me from across the table with a “Uh-huh, who was right on that one?” look.

He was totally right.

The message disappears completely after being outside the freezer for a minute or two, so the rest of the evening was spent with our two little girls putting their letter in and out of the freezer, out of their minds with excitement.

If you have little kids you need to get some of this stuff, and you can totally use my freezer mail story because it’s brilliant. We have last year’s version, which means I’m going to be getting this year’s version so I’m all caught up for next year. $7.95, seriously.

While I’m all high on Christmas spirit, decorating our tree the other night with Vivi was the absolute best. She’s old enough now that she doesn’t just throw the ornaments at the tree hoping they’ll stick. The John Elway ornament I bought Cody our first month together always goes on first, front and center. Addie has amassed quite the collection of ornaments over the last 10 years (she chose Elsa this year, normally our tradition is to go into Hallmark the day after Thanksgiving and pick out our annual ornaments but when I saw the pre-order option back in July, I jumped on that.) Vivi chose Olaf this year and if you come over she’ll probably make you give him a warm hug.

Christmas Photo Attempt 2013

Vivi puts our nativity to bed every night and each day Addie explains how many days until Christmas (and her birthday) are remaining.

I’m excited for this year, and I have Cody and your comments to thank for that. So thank you, sometimes we think our comments go unnoticed on the blogs we read, but I assure you every one gets read and they really do matter. It may sound stupid, but Addie still believes in Santa because people spoke up and told me I was wrong.

When I told Cody my plans on breaking it to Addie that Santa isn’t real, he grew three inches taller and said “Don’t you dare.”

It turned into quite the discussion with valid arguments on both sides. In the end he made me promise I wouldn’t tell her the truth and if she did have questions I was to send her to him.

With a heavy sigh of defeat, I agreed.

After reading the few comments on the post about breaking the news to Addie and thinking about Cody’s side of the discussion — I was wrong. I still very much want her to believe in Santa, but (maybe you can understand this) I don’t want her to get made fun of. Maybe she has figured it out but won’t say anything because she too wants to hold on to her belief. Vivi on the other hand is all revved up about Jesus’ birthday, Christmas, and Santa. Trying to keep her enthusiasm under control has only been manageable because I have my precious little Addie who makes sure her little sister understands everything there is to know about how we do Christmas.

Cody said this may be the only year we get where they both truly believe.

He also said it’s one of the few remaining parts of childhood she has left.

One of the comments from my last post was from Jill, “…I genuinely hope that he never tells me that he doesn’t believe and that I’m still wrapping presents from Santa when he’s twenty-seven years old. I know…this is my issue and not his, but it’s the one place I just don’t want to see him grow up.”

That’s EXACTLY how I feel, but I figured if someone had to break the news to her it should be me, right?

Addie turns ten in less than two weeks and it’s such an overwhelming transition for everyone. Double digits. I’m more than halfway done raising her to legal adulthood. It’s gone by so fast, when I think I was only 19 when I got married my brain shuts down. She’s still so little in so many ways: she loves to snuggle, she still loves to play with toys, play pretend and play dress-up. But she’s so big, her feet are two sizes smaller than mine, she’s on a 9th grade reading level and is doing 6th grade math. She asks grown-up questions and is capable of telling jokes and puns that are actually funny.  The other day she when she was reunited with Vivi after school she took to caring for and playing with Vivi the way I used to watch grown-up girls play with her when she was a baby.

When I started this blog 8 years ago vs. today:



This is a sponsored post. I received compensation from Visa/Gymboree to buy my products and use its Visa Checkout online payment service, but all thoughts reflected here are my own.

Hey Kid,

I have good news and bad news about Christmas this year. The bad news is that at some point between today and Christmas I will tell you that Santa isn’t exactly the guy you thought he was. I’ve seen you become more skeptical as years have gone by and it’s been an awful lot of work to keep up the Santa gig on our end, so this year it ends — and knowing you, you’re going to like playing Santa for your little sister even more than you ever liked the idea of a jolly old guy in a red suit stuffing himself down our chimney. Take comfort knowing your gifts will make it here, Santa or no Santa.

November 2014
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