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The Present

Yesterday I talked about the early days today I’m going to share a little bit about the present.

It’s fun to look back and reminisce on days gone by. I had a great time looking through the old pictures to add them to my post. As I was sorting through them all we shared stories, we laughed, we smiled. We had a great time and we both said we’d love to go back and re-live some of those moments.

Truth is, that I wouldn’t give up what we have now to go back.

Our life now is pretty amazing. We have loved on each other hard, we’ve struggled through some dark days together, we’ve had plenty of adventures, and we’ve got two awesome kids. The thing is, it’s not over!

We are having such an awesome time now introducing our kids to the things we love. It’s so fun.

It’s amazing to watch Curtis be a Daddy. He is the apple of E’s eye and those two are a perfect pair. He loves L with all his heart and she rewards him every time he comes home with a very enthusiastic squealing of  “da da da da da da” it makes my heart melt.

I have to say, my man, he’s awesome. The two of us we really are partners. We both pull equal but different loads in our home. He’s a great provider, he is a hands on Dad. He loves chocolate chip cookies so much that he has taken over that department because I couldn’t keep up with the demand. 🙂

Our life is so fun. We have something real, something special, and something that we both want to foster and grow.

We’ve grown together, really we’ve become adults together. We’ve changed over the years, we’ve matured, we’ve learned.

Here’s the thing, we’re not done. So while the last 12 years have been amazing, I love our now, and I am excited for our future.

I hope that some day down the road we’re that little old couple that everyone thinks is so sweet because they’re so in love.

 

Photo Credit: Jennifer Foik Photography

The Early Days

We’ve been talking a lot about dreams, plans, and hopes for the future at our place lately as we try to figure out what the next “adventure” will be in the McHale household. It’s been reminding me a lot of the early days of our marriage. I thought I’d take a minute and share with you some of our back story.

We got married pretty young, I was barely 21, he was 23. A lot of people thought we were CRAZY. We weren’t crazy but we were young, in love, and naive. We couldn’t imagine doing anything in life apart from each other.

Curtis and I have always been adventure seekers. Our relationship has cycled through many adventure sports. We’ve guided backcountry canoe trips together and apart. We’ve paddled over waterfalls in our kayaks. We’ve been on kayaking trips in Mexico, hiking trips all over the mountains around here and we’ve done a ton of rock climbing too. We’re always seeking the next adventure. It’s very normal for us and we enjoy it most when we’re together.

Oh man did we have fun (and we still do).

All I can do is smile when I think about the first summer that we were married. We worked as canoe guides. We lived in a tent for the most part – we still have that tent and it still feels like home when we sleep in it.

When we weren’t in the tent we had a room off the camp office that we stayed in about two nights a week. There was no electricity, no running water, and no showers.  Our room had propane lights in it so if we were hanging out in there with the lights on we had to leave the door open. It’s true. Maybe we were a little crazy.

Here’s the thing I would do it again in a second!

When we moved west after that summer we came out for a guiding job for me. I had never had a “real” job because I had been a student my whole life and it seemed like a good paycheque. I still have no idea how we managed to pay the bills and stay afloat that first year. Maybe our naivety kept us going.

Putting our stuff into our first apartment was eye opening. The storage room was piled hip deep with outdoor gear and we had nothing else. No furniture, no bedding, no table/chairs. We slept on an air mattress for months and for YEARS our end tables and night stands were two milk crates stacked on top of each other and covered with a sheet.

I remember hosting Thanksgiving and asking our friends to bring something to share as well as their own place setting because we had NOTHING. 2 plates, 2 bowls, and 4 spoons/knives/forks etc. I remember doing our wedding registry and hardly putting anything on it because I had no idea what we needed and who wants that stuff anyway? Seriously dishes, casseroles, table cloths, towels, bleh.

Yep that was us. We would so much rather paddle a canoe, stand on a mountain top, sleep in a tent, and eat Mac “N” Cheese out of our camp pots than sleep in a house, own a whole lot of furniture and feel stuck there.

To a large extent we still feel that way. Sure our life is a little (or maybe a lot) more financially comfortable and our home is a bit more stable, but I’d still rather buy a new tent and take our kids out into the backcountry than buy new furniture.

As we’ve been talking about dreams lately and where we want to go from here we’ve been revisiting some of our dreams from our early days and realizing that now with our family they are within reach. Sure we’ll have to travel slower, Curtis and I will have to carry more, but our kids are SO able to explore the backcountry with us, and it’s exciting.

It kind of feels like we’re getting back to our roots. Since we’ve had kids our life has slowed down, but we’ve also come to have only one work schedule to work around. We’re getting out way more than we did in our years of both of us working full time jobs. The pace is slower, but the journey is still awesome and you see things from a much different perspective when you have little people around.

It’s fun to look back and talk about where we’ve come from where we are and where we want to go. I would encourage you to do it too!

 

When your spouse goes away…

Ok, continuing on in this weeks marriage vein, here’s my question: When your spouse goes away do you miss them?

I’m not talking about missing the extra set of hands to help with the kids, wash the dishes or do the laundry (although sometimes those things are nice). I’m talking about the emotional, physical and intellectual connection that you have with them when they’re around.

Sounds simple enough and the resounding answer here is YES. Curtis is missed by ALL around here when he’s not home. Desperately so.

Last weekend Curtis went away to the men’s retreat with the men from our church. I have to tell you I really missed him. A LOT.

I think we noticed it even more this time because not only was he away but he was out of cell range too.

Often when Curtis goes away to a conference or something we’re in pretty constant contact with each other. Really because of the nature of his business we’re in constant contact almost all the time.

I send him texts about our day, what we’re up to, funny things the kids have done, or pleas for sanity when they’re driving me bonkers :).

Because he’s his own boss he can set his own hours and respond accordingly.

Sometimes he’ll ask me not to bug him  because he’s working on a technical project (which is fine) he’ll get back to me later. He also works from 6 am to noon or 1 pm. He’s home by 1pm most days, 2pm at the latest.

All this to say that when he’s not around his presence is missed. I love having our afternoons together. We take the kids to the park, sit on the couch and have coffee, do household chores, and cook dinner together. We’re together A LOT and we like it that way.

We know that we’re really spoiled in this respect and so thankful that he’s able to schedule his day in whatever way works best for our family.

Having him away over the weekend and not even being able to text was a very different experience. I missed our connection to each other and felt really lonely at times.

We filled our time well. Really we had a very busy weekend with swimming, friends and open houses but still. These are things that I’m still often chatting with him about even if he’s away somewhere.

Another thing that’s really normal for us when he’s away is to Skype or FaceTime after the kids are in bed. It’s a great way to see each other, catch up on the day, and just be aware of what’s going on in each of our lives while we’re apart. With him out of cell range we can’t do that. (I call my parents instead, I’m sure they LOVE it when Curtis is away.)

It’s always fun to watch movies he wouldn’t want to watch with me, chat with my Mom a little bit extra (sorry Mom), and spend loads of extra time with friends without feeling guilty about leaving him behind, but we’re always very happy when he gets home.

To celebrate his return yesterday we actually drove out to camp to pick him up then spent the day at the beach. The kids were in heaven, and I love getting to watch them be loved on by their Daddy. It’s pretty special.

Here’s to my awesome man! I’m glad he enjoyed himself got some R&R and got to strengthen his relationships with the men in our church, but I’m SO happy he’s home. I miss him when he’s away. We were made to be together and we like it that way!

Is it Extraordinary?

Our anniversary is coming up on the weekend so to celebrate in my own weird way I’m going to be writing posts this week about our marriage and relationship. Before I get too far though I want to ask you: Is your marriage Extraordinary? Think on that as you read through my posts this week.

Now before I go too far I want to share with you a resource (that caused me to ask this question in the first place) that Curtis and I have come across recently. It’s the ONE Extraordinary Marriage podcast.

I’m not sure where we found this, I think it was something that was being discussed in one of the other podcasts that we listen to, but WOW. What an amazing marriage resource.

This couple sits down weekly and openly discusses their marriage for all to hear. They air their personal business, they talk through issues that they’re having and they offer suggestions as to how to get over hurdles in your own marriage in a straightforward manner.

They don’t beat around the bush either. I have never before come across a Christian couple (or any couple for that matter) that so openly shares about ALL aspects of marriage. They talk about kids, family, sex, conflict and conflict resolution, parenting, priorities, dreams, you name it they address it.

The thing that I think has resonated the most with both of us is that regardless of your beliefs the relational information they’re offering holds true. They’re open, they’re honest, they share very personal details about their lives, and yet they aren’t doing it for show. They’re not being dirty, or porny, or oversharing, just truthful and to the point.

When we stumbled across this podcast I would say that we were maintaining the status quo here. We were working together to get things done but it was all work and no play for us. We were discussing the parenting, the business, the chores etc. but we weren’t connecting with each other in a meaningful way and we were both missing each other.

I think that most couples with kids got through that at some point in their relationship. It’s easy to push your relationship aside for the sake of the kids because they’re busy, they’re fun, they’re fabulous, but they can also be exhausting and by the time they’re in bed you’re both just done.

So we started listening to the ONE podcast and have since gone back and started from the beginning – its that good. They have about 275 episodes now and we went back to episode one. We’re both listening at our own pace but we’re bringing things to the table as we come across something that resonates with us.

It had had a HUGE impact on our marriage. We’ve become closer, we’ve both been happier, and we’re way more connected. We’ve been working on re-prioritizing our lives so that we can put our marriage ahead of the myriad of other things that are part of our lives right now. It makes sense doesn’t it? I’ve committed to spend my LIFE with him till death do us part and as such I want it to be a damn good life. When the kids are gone he’ll still be here, and I want to know who this person I’m doing life with is.

So if things are awesome, if things are OK, if things are status quo, or if things really such in your marriage right now I encourage you to check out ONE. Listen to the podcast, read the blog. Spend some time prioritizing your spouse. It’s worth it!

 

Dave Ramsey Stole my European Vacation

Newlyweds running a tripping program in ON, summer 03

Newlyweds running a tripping program in ON, summer 03

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary. I know, it’s hard to believe but it’s true.  Honestly it’s been the best 10 years of my life and I hope that there are many more to come. As I write this I’m not exactly sure how we’re planning on celebrating but I can tell you that it will be great and it will be paid for. It is Friday so it will probably involve Pizza because Friday Night Pizza is a well bred habit for my Hubby going back to his childhood years and breaking that tradition is not usually well received.

My fav. pic from our Mexico trip in 2009

My fav. pic from our Mexico trip in 2009

About three years ago while out celebrating our anniversary we decided that we wanted to mark out 1oth anniversary with a trip to Europe. We started saving for it right away, not a lot but a little bit each month. The balance in the savings account wasn’t adding up very quickly but it was slowly growing every month.

Our First Family Picture Oct 14/2010

Our First Family Picture Oct 14/2010

Roughly a year and a half ago we came across Dave Ramsey. I wrote about our Debt Free experience here. In the process of emptying out all of our bank accounts except for $1000, the account that held our savings for Europe was emptied and we said good bye to our 10th anniversary European vacation. So yes, you could say (and I have) that Dave Ramsey stole my European vacation.

Celebrating my 30th birthday

Celebrating my 30th birthday

Now you ask was it worth it? 100% YES. I would do it again in a heartbeat and here’s why: Becoming debt free has opened up opportunities for our family that I never would have believed possible. Not only has my hubby tripled his income this year but we are on the same page financially which has greatly improved our marriage and reduced stress in our lives. I have been able to leave my full time job and focus on our family, as well as pursue other opportunities. Our future is looking brighter than it ever has and none of that would have been possible without someone pointing us in the right direction financially.

Cutest kid EVER Oct. 2012

Cutest kid EVER Oct. 2012

Will I make a trip to Europe someday? I hope so.  We may be shooting for our 20th anniversary, but the timing could be better then anyway. Instead of being in the middle of life with a young family we’ll be getting into the early teen years and hopefully a little bit more able to relax knowing that E isn’t melting down on Grammy by day two. (Last summer I left her with my Hubby for 5 days and she cried 24hours a day from day 2 on.) The Holiday will be 100% paid for up front and all our expenses during our travels will also be paid for in cash, so we’ll be able to travel in style without worrying about the financial hangover that comes after for so many couples. Personally I can’t wait, and a 10 year delay seems like a good trade from where I’m sitting.

The McHale Family ready to embark on new adventures in 2013

The McHale Family ready to embark on new adventures in 2013

So here’s to another 10 years with the man I love and hopefully many more after that. We’ll get to Europe one day, and I know that there will be many amazing adventures between now and then! The journey’s been great so far and it’s only going to get better.

My birthday ride this year

My birthday ride this year