Monday, September 29, 2014

Here we stand.

I love my husband. If you've been reading this blog any length of time, I'm confident you know that.

I love my husband. He loves me.

And we almost didn't make it.

For the first time, I saw what people mean when they say, "sometimes love isn't enough."

My years of depression have been hard on us. But depression didn't give us a get out of life's struggles for free card and we've had other issues to deal with, too.

This summer has been hard. Hell, this entire year so far has challenged us and, at times, beaten us up in ways that we have never been before and friends, we're no strangers to hard times.

Outside pressure.
Inside pressure.
Giving up.
Giving in.

At one point we both thought it was over.
At one point, thankfully separate points for each of us, I think we both wanted it to be over.

But we held on.
More than that, we wanted to hold on.
We made that choice, vows renewed.

Why am I sharing this? Why am I airing this dirty laundry?

First, I've told you before that love songs are written on the days that break your heart. 
This is part of our love song.

Second, I'm writing this because I know a few things about struggle and silence.  Being married and being unhappy is one of those topics, like depression, that is taboo in certain circles. We don't ask, we don't tell.

But one of the things I've learned from writing about depression is that there is a power in writing it down: putting the words out there lifts some of the struggle because it is a way of facing it. You can't deny it once it's out there. You can't pretend it will just go away. You have to deal with it.

At least that has been my experience.

We think that there is something unnatural about struggle in a marriage because all of the struggles are kept behind closed doors, except for the sensational and the tabloid.

I'm not talking about privacy, necessarily, but I am talking about honesty.

And if I'm not honest about our struggles, if I don't admit sometimes we have to dig really deep and work so very hard, then when I say "I love him and we are still here" the words ring hollow.

It doesn't mean as much to say "here we stand" if you don't know how far we had to walk, sometimes crawl, and how grueling the road we had to take to get to this place. If I don't speak of the gravel embedded in our palms, the cuts on our knees, the wounds on our hearts, then our path to this point goes unrecognized.

And the path matters.

Here we stand.

There was holding on, there was letting go, and there were many painful steps. You probably wouldn't even believe all of it if I told you, and I'm not going to tell you.

He knows. I know.

Yet, I cannot say that I love passionately, I cannot say that I write it down if I pretend this year never happened, that we nearly lost each other and fought so hard to come back.

We are stronger.
We are in love.

We are flawed and far from perfect and we might fall apart all over again at any moment.

But I don't think so.

I think something powerful was forged between us, a bond strengthened. I fell and he caught me. He fell and my arms were there. We resisted the urge to push away and we gave in. We said painful things, we listened to words that broke our hearts.

And we forgave each other.

Without ceremony, and perhaps meaning it more than ever before, each day found us renewing our vows to each other, finding our way back.

This fourteenth year of marriage is a mile marker. Someday we will look back at this time and say we almost lost it all. It was almost taken from us.

And here we stand.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Get out there! 5 Cool Things About Travel With Kids.

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Our favorite hotels are the ones with outdoor firepits.

As we prepare for our #FlecksGoBig roadtrip this month, where we will be searching the South-eastern United States for the world's largest roadside attractions, I thought I'd rerun this post about family travel that originally appeared on in 2014. Also, my friend Tsh and her crew are truly going BIG with family travel starting today. Head over to The Art of Simple Travel to wish them bon voayge as they head around the world!

From October 2013:
What a month! Earlier we were in California and today I'm saying hello there from gorgeous South Carolina! We've been on airplanes and behind the wheel on the open road in October and it has been spectacular.

My family and I are on the road this week so that I can attend Allume and on the way home we will be exploring some parts of the country we don't often get to see. We're turning this week into a mini family road trip, hopefully one that will lead to longer journeys next year and beyond.

So, since I'm blogging from the road this week, I thought it might be kind of fun to share 5 cool things about traveling with kids.

 West coast to east coast - this kiddo is amazing to travel with!

5 Cool Things about Travel with Kids

1. Traveling with your kids lets you see them in a whole new light. Earlier this month I was so impressed with the way my eleven year old carried herself and the ease with which she moves through the world (certainly more poised than I was as an eleven year old) and I'm not sure I would have known that about her if I didn't have a chance to see it in action.

It was neat to see her in an environment we aren't normally in and I feel like I know her a little better than I did before our trip.

2. Travel allows your kids to see you in a new light. By the same token, I think it is good for the family dynamic for the kids to see mom and dad outside of their normal environment and routine.

Who knew that dad had such varied taste in road trip music or that mom was so good with a map? I don't know about you, but travel makes me happy and when I'm happy I'm more light hearted and laid back and even silly. It is good for my kids to see me like that.

3. See new things ... through your child's eyes. On the first leg of our journey yesterday we made a lot of stops and saw some things that I'm not sure we would have taken the time to really observe if the kids weren't with us.

From sunrises and sunsets to the adventure of driving through tunnels (far from mundane to a seven year old!) to a slightly different selection at the grocery store to the cool shaped shampoo bottles in our hotel, our kids have taken notice of items that their dad and I might have simply overlooked if we didn't have their kids' eye view to shape our vision.

4. Travel helps you relax the rules. I don't know about in your family, but in my family it is nice to travel and relax the normal rules just a little bit. Bedtimes are later, we might watch a bit more TV in the hotel, and hey, go ahead and have two desserts, it's okay!

We left bright and early yesterday morning and my middle two thought it was hysterical that I was letting them leave the house wearing their pajamas.

Part of the point of travel is to take a break from normal, so we leave some of our regular rules at home. I think this change in the routine is good for all of us.

 So glad this handsome fella is my life's travel companion.

5. One of the best ways to learn is by doing and seeing. I have really loved all of our travels this month, especially for my oldest daughter and I as the two of us have been from one side of the country to the other in the past three weeks. As she works her way through Little Passports USA and the books she's been reading in school, how wonderful to actually visit some of the places she's learned about and see them, experience them, and make them more than just a word on a page or a dot on a map.

We have a map of the world shower curtain in our bathroom which my middle two love looking at, pointing out all of the places and the funny sounding names. What a cool gift it has been this week to take them to some of those oddly shaped states and places on the map.

I know there can be some challenges to travel with kids, of course, but I think the good things, the many benefits from the experience, far outweigh the pitfalls.

What are some of your favorite things about traveling with kids?