What The Lopatkas have learned...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

OK so this is probably going to be My. Favorite. Post. Ever. For 2 reasons. 1) My husband is here posting about what he has learned since marrying ME. 2) I’m sharing two video highlights from my wedding day.  Can you see me smiling from ear to ear?  (I decided not to post a ton of pictures because I did that during my wedding recap here).  This post also might be the longest post ever, so bear with me guys and keep reading! I promise it's worth it (I hope so at least).  But before I let the hubs take over I’m going to reflect a bit too.  So here it is dear readers, what I’ve learned since marrying Matt.

What Denise has learned…

As I sit here to reflect about what I have learned I just want to thank all of my guest bloggers.  It has been an honor having these fabulous ladies spill what they have learned since saying I do.  I’m not even sure I can follow them but I’ll do my best.  So here goes nothing…

     1)  Comparison is the thief of all joy. Period.  In this age where everyone posts everything on the internet via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs and a ton more avenues, keep in mind they are posting their best self.  We are not seeing the heart ache, tears or anger in their life – the fender bender, broken wine glass or fight with their husband. No one posts that stuff.   And you know what?  Maybe they really don’t have any of that.  And that’s amazing for them.  But be thankful for what you do have and most importantly who you have in your life.  That goes not just for your husband or wife but your family and friends too.  Be thankful for them and what they bring to your life.  I have learned that what I have and who I have in my life are mine – special to me and that God has placed each of these people in my life for a reason.  And for that I am thankful.  So next time your swooning over the cute new house someone just bought or the beautiful chiavari chairs at their wedding (and being sad it’s not you), be happy for them, but be thankful for what you have too.  And know that we each pave our own way and that is a true blessing.

     2)  Have secrets and keep them.  Number 1 has led me to the second thing I have learned since saying I do.  Again, in a world where everyone’s life is on display via the World Wide Web, it is important to have some secrets and keep them.  Every now and then I’ll post the flowers that Matt sent me or a sweet note, but I don’t post half of our little secrets.  Those are sacred.  The world does not need to know about our dance party last night or my surprise chocolate cupcakes – because those are things that we share and no one else.  So friends, I warn you – don’t post every little detail of your marriage or your life.  Save some secrets for those you love.  Secrets create a bond and reminds me that what I have is special and for no one else but me.

     3)  Let each other try it their way and even fail if needed.  Sounds weird I know, but I’ve learned that it’s OK for me to let Matt fail and vice versa.  I remember a pivotal conversation with my mom about two months after I got married.  I had called her because I was frustrated my car needed something fixed that wasn’t a necessity (like the automatic window or something I can’t remember) and Matt didn’t want to fix it.  And I remember saying to my mom, “but dad would have fixed it.”  (ugh looking back I sounded like such a little brat)  Right then and there my mama set me straight, and from then on I have not disrespected my husband like that again.  My mom reminded me that my dad wasn’t always the man he is now and that he’s not perfect either, and most important – that Matt is not my dad.  I cannot expect him to do the things my dad did nor do I really want him to.  I married Matt because of the person HE is and no other reason.  And in the end, Matt was completely right.  My stupid mishap on my car didn’t need to be fixed and I know he would never let me drive something unsafe.  Another example - we bought our first home about a year after tying the knot.  It was an older house with a lot of charm and character but also a lot of things that needed to be fixed.  A week after moving in the door knob broke.  What the heck.  It was late at night, we were both tired and annoyed, and my hubby wanted to try and fix it himself while I wanted to go and buy a new one at Home Depot and be done with it.  But it was then that I let him try to fix it – because his pride was more important to me than that stupid door knob.  He did fix it but eventually we had to get another one and that’s OK.  He was able to try and succeed and learned from that.  When I’m in the kitchen cooking and am burning the pasta or the casserole (which happens more than I’d like to admit), Matt lets me cook and then eats every last bite.  Despite the fact that he is a MUCH better cook than I am and I know he could offer helpful advice, he understands my need to try and fail so that I can learn.  So, don’t be so quick to correct and criticize.  Let each other try things and fail if need be – that is how you live and learn together.

     4)  Pray.  Pray often.  Pray together.  Pray for each other.  Being in prayer together has strengthened our relationship more than I can express.  Hearing my husband talk to God and pray for me and our family touches my heart in a place that is so deep.  When I am frustrated with Matt, I pray for patience.  When he is frustrated with me, he prays for grace.  Because we’re not in this alone (thank goodness) and we are not perfect – we need help.  Bottom line.  I am thankful that our marriage is grounded in our faith and that I have confidence that my husband is praying constantly.

     5)  Invest in the people in each other’s lives.  It is important that my best friends are also Matt’s friends and that his friends are mine too.  Take time to really get to know and invest in the people in your spouse’s life and love them unconditionally.  I am so lucky that Matt’s friends also have amazing girlfriends and wives too but I have truly gotten to know his friends.  I hope they know that I would do anything for them just as Matt would.  Matt has also taken time to invest in my friends.  He probably doesn’t know how much it even means to me when he comes home and says, “Have you talked to Mere lately?  How is Jack’s studying going?” or “You haven’t seen Kristen lately, you should grab dinner with her.”  It’s those statements that confirm his interest and relationship with my friends and it means the world to me.  I hope my friends know how much they mean to him too. I am also thankful for the friends we have met together.  Overall, be friends with his friends and vice versa.  It matters.

So those are just 5 little tid bits in to what I have learned since my wedding day.  I could honestly go on forever.  I could talk about the importance of distraction-free dinners, date night and taking good care of yourself to be your best spouse but I am scared you guys won’t read the whole post if it’s too long so I’ll stop and hand it over to man who steals my heart every day.  I should warn you though – this is uncensored and unedited.  Matt wrote and I posted – no edits at all – he’s a funny one too :).  So here he is….

What Matthew has learned…

When Denise first asked me to write about what I had learned since we got married in late September 2010, I thought to myself “no problem.”  But as I sit here trying to put my thoughts to words, I find it extremely difficult.  But, here are 25 things I have learned since getting married!

1)   Happy Wife = Happy Life
2)   The world does not revolve around sports, fantasy football and poker
3)   Shit happens (I used to tell myself Denise did not go #2)
4)   Bachelor and Bachelorette for women = Sunday and Monday Night Football for men
5)   Date night once weekly = mandatory
6)   Going to sleep at 11pm is late
7)   Never go to sleep mad
8)   Denise would watch E! News every night if given the opportunity
9)   Week-long vacation once yearly = mandatory
10)  It is important to be friends with your spouse’s friends
11)  The best annual Christmas present for my wife is an US Weekly subscription
12)  Listening is often more important than talking
13)  Nothing beats a good night kiss
14)  It is important to switch between romantic comedies and action movies for movie night
15)  Denise is the most beautiful woman in the world (well I knew that before I got married, but I am reminded much more frequently now)
16)  It is fun to do things we both enjoy
17)  I love Marvel movies (X-Men, Iron Man, Spiderman) – well I knew this before I got married, but still….
18)  I am the only person in my household who enjoys Marvel movies
19)  Every young couple should have a dog
20)  It is okay to agree to disagree
21)  Nothing beats making dinner with Denise
22)  I secretly enjoy The Bachelor and The Bachelorette
23)  Denise secretly enjoys watching football all day Saturday and Sunday ;)
24)  Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love
25)  Happy Wife = Happy Life

Marriage truly is a gift from God and I am the luckiest guy in the world to have the opportunity to marry my best friend. 

Isn't he wonderful? Love. Him. Sigh.  And now for my two favorite video highlights (both thanks to K2 Productions)... there is some overlap in the footage but I couldn't resist sharing both because I love the songs and they make me happy... 
So enjoy!

What Celeste has learned...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meet Celeste...
Aside from being gorgeous, sweet and a mini clone to Martha Stewart (her recipes and herb garden?!?), Celeste is also a sweet friend.  We met through a mutual best friend and I have added her blog, Raleighweds, to my daily reads.  She is honest to the core and I love her writing.  So dear readers, here she is....

What I’ve learned since saying I do… the real question is where do I start? When Denise asked me to write about what I had learned since saying ‘I do’ my mind ran a mile a minute. I had learned SO much after saying ‘I do.’ I learned that marriage was much more than I expected. That the little moments like snuggling up on the couch with the hubs or tickling him are the moments I treasure the most. I learned that laughter is the perfect solution to getting lost and running late. I learned to not take things so seriously and to just have fun with it. I learned to care more about relationships and to love harder.

Before we got married, I thought I knew all there was to love – how it worked, what it took, what it looked like. After saying ‘I do,’ I realized I have so much to learn. Every day I am learning something new about being a wife. And although admittedly, some most days the lessons are learned the hard way, each day gets better and better. 

I learned that love is a verb. love takes effort. love is selfless. But most importantly, I learned that when you make love a verb, take the effort and put your spouse before yourself, love is a hundred times sweeter {and things run so much smoother!}. By putting forth effort, love became effortless.

A few areas that I continually have to work at BUT have made a huge impact in our relationship are:

             - Giving him the benefit of the doubt. When he forgot to stop by the store and pick up the eggs, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt.. he just forgot. It’s not because he didn’t want to or he’s lazy. He’s just as human as I am. If I assume the worst of him, I am only both of us.
-            - If it bothers me, do it myself. We all have our pet peeves, whether it’s leaving the toilet seat up, dishes in the sink  or in my case, moving the soap from the sink in and out of the shower {weird.. I know}. One of the best pieces of advice we received was that if something bugs you, do it yourself. I found myself nitpicking at what he could do better, should be doing or telling him what he needed to be doing to make me happy… as if I did everything perfectly. I learned that by throwing his dirty underoos into the hamper was much more satisfying than being angry at them lying on the floor and nagging him about doing it and then getting mad when he didn’t. I do it because it bothers me {not him}. I don’t want to waste my time being upset at the little stuff when I have SO much to love him for.   
-            - Do what he likes. I’ve got to make the effort to do what he likes. I may not be interested in playing sports 24/7 or even 1/7 but my husband is. Occasionally I need to go into his world, do what he loves, AND do it with joy. I love when he joins me at World Market or watches the girliest movie available in Redbox or surprises me with flowers. I want to make him feel the same way. Feel loved. Special. Like the most awesome dude on the planet {cause he totally is}. And if that means showing up with cupcakes {or anything that contains 90% sugar} or embarrassing myself at basketball, then so be it. Because the joy that follows is more than worth it.

It’s funny because as I am writing this, I am realizing I need to try harder. I need to love harder. Actively trying to actively love my husband selflessly day-in and day-out takes work {and I fail miserably at it more often than not} but the work we put into our relationship doesn’t even compare to the amazing benefits.  I chose to spend the rest of my life with the most precious, amazing man. I want to make him feel that way every day. I want to cherish the moments we have together. The things we learn together. The places we go together. I want to share all the little joys and the big adventures with him. When we are old and crusty, I want to look back and know we gave it our all. We made it work because we worked at it.  In only a short nine months, I have already learned so much more about love, sacrifice and joy than I have in 20 some years. I can’t wait to see what more we have to learn.

And, p.s. what comes after you say ‘I do’ is so much more than you can anticipate. It takes work and there are struggles but the joy and the adventure outweigh it all.

Like all good things, this series must come to an end.  I will be wrapping things up tomorrow with what I have learned and (drum roll please....) my hubby has learned!  I know I can't believe I got him to write...  
See you tomorrow! xox

What Jessie has learned...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet Jessie...
Jessie and I met in college when we joined the same sorority.  She is one of the sweetest girls I know and I got the privilege of catching up with her a few weeks ago at the beach!  She is also the writer behind the The Long and Short of It and OH MY GOODNESS does she have an eye for fashion and decorating.  Just take a look at her kitchen renovation... I die.  Oh, and wait to you see her wedding pictures.  OK OK here she is....

Hi, Jessie here from The Long and Short of It
I am so thrilled that Denise asked me to guest post and share what I have learned since I said "I Do".   My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary a couple of weeks ago.  I have to say that I have loved being married but it is not always rainbows and unicorns. It is hard work. Here are a few things I have learned (and am still working on)...

are you dying yet? she's stunning

Don't sweat the small stuff. You know that toothpaste lid that your significant other never puts back on the toothpaste, let it go. No one is perfect. ( I happen to be the person who never puts the lid back on)

Be yourself. You do not have to have everything in common. It is okay to have things you enjoy doing without the other person. 

Communication is key. This sounds so cliche and I cannot believe I am writing this. It is probably the hardest thing to learn in the first year. We are still working on this. We try to have a time when we say all the little things that are annoying us so it does not turn into bigger issues. 

Make your marriage a priority. I am bad at this. There are some weeks between work, friends, grocery shopping and laundry that I look up and realize I have not really had a conversation with my husband. Sometimes when you have so many obligations it is easy to put your husband on the back burner because he will always be around.  Make sure that you take time out of your week to make time for each other. 

Comparison is the thief of all joy. Do not compare your relationship to people around you. Again, no one is perfect. Instead of focusing on what other people are doing, focus on your own relationship. 

Say I am sorry and mean it!

While I was reflecting on the past year I thought I would ask my husband what he has learned. His response...
"I learned what ikat is."

Sounds about right.

all photos via Nancy Ray Photography

What Brittany has learned...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Meet Brittany... (oh wait, you already have)
Remember Brittany?  She was my first guest blogger... well guess what?  SHE'S BACK!  She needs no introduction so without further ado, here is what Brittany has learned since she said I do...

I’ve only been married for a little over a month, so when Denise asked me if I would want to write about what I’ve learned since “I do” I just laughed. Advice is supposed to come from people with lots of experience and time tested theories, right?!?! Wrong! Lucky for yall I am extremely opinionated and always pumped to share my point of view. In a nutshell, what I’ve learned since I’ve said “I do” is that IT.GETS.REAL! 
My husband and I live in Saudi Arabia and it is just a mess over here. The desert aint no joke sista; it is H-O-T-T hot! I’m talking like a daily heat index of 125 degrees. So while most newly-weds are busy nesting and practicing their baby making skills, I am literally laying on the tile floor in a pool of sweat because our air conditioner has broken for the millionth time and I am convinced I am going to die of a heat stroke! That’s right, you can just call me The Sexy Wifey a.k.a it just got real.

This is a country where the food can be questionable at best. There have been quite a few date nights that have been cut short because one of us have suddenly lost all color in our face and began sweating profusely. The race home is always an exciting fight for your life as we dodge the wreckless drivers on these no-rules-roads (seriously driving laws basically do not exists here), and !BONUS! once we get home we are reminded of our lack of privacy. We live in an apartment that has one bathroom, so guess what?!?! it.gets.real. 

I think the first moment I realized how real it really is was when we were unpacking our bags in Saudi and Daniel opened my suitcase to find 80 tampons; he was horrified and I loooooved it! I thrive on awkward moments. Not the awkward moments that hurt somebody’s feelings, but the moments that bring in a physical uncomfortable-ness that leaves you teetering on laughing or running as far away as possible. I still laugh out loud when I think about his reaction, “Who needs that many?!?!”. Ummm this girl does because True Life: I live in a country that does not sell them! Poor Daniel, he just found out that it.gets.real.

But getting real is what makes this journey a lot of fun. It’s not all about the tragic (a.k.a. hilarious) moments of life; there are the sweet moments too. Like when he prays for me or when he is talking to his friends or family and casually refers to me as his wife or when he grabs me for a random slow dance in the kitchen… that stuff is sweet, but the real stuff is funny! And I fully admit that I live for the surge of fear and adrenaline that runs through my veins when I realize, “Holy moly… I am married… legally bound… ‘till death do us part… grow old with me… make some babies… living in Saudi Arabia… married!”, is what keeps it fresh and it is definitely what keeps me laughing.

“Sexiness wears thin after a while, and beauty fades. But to 
be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, 
now that's a real treat.”

- Joanne Woodward

xoxo - Brittany

What Mallory has learned...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Meet Mallory...

AKA one of my best friends in the whole universe.  I could write novels about our friendship and how much she means to me, but she does a pretty good introduction below so I'll let her take it from here.  Oh and she writes a great blog over at Beautiful Things - give her some love.  You know you want to....

Hey y’all, I’m Mallory! For some background, Denise and I have been BFFs since 8th grade. We’ve shared lots of things over the years – toothbrushes (ew, I know!), beds, bathing suits (I’m sure this is kinda weird to some of you, too but it was normal when we were in high school and lived at the beach), best friends, a love for Jesus, hairstyles (as you can tell below), and a love for all things Spanish. In college we both ended up at NC State University, majored in communication/public relations, and studied abroad in Spain. After college comes the best part – we both married sexy little men from Wilmington (our hometown) who went to our rival high school!

Mission trip in Jamaica, circa 2001. This happens to also be where it all started with Nisey and Matteo. Must have been the hair, huh?

So when Denise asked me to guest post I was a little hesitant. I’ve officially held the title of Mrs. Russell for seven whole months which doesn’t exactly qualify me to dish out marital advice.

with Nise and matt at our wedding in November

While I have significantly less experience in the marriage department than most, the past seven months have been the most dynamic of my life. I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for what marriage would be like but I’m going to do my best to fill you in on what I’ve learned so far. And for the record, I need daily reminders for every single one!

1.  Treat your spouse as though they are the best gift you’ve ever been given ... because they are! Don’t get me wrong, being married is hard work. There are days when I think, “What have I gotten myself into?” But your spouse is a precious gift from God, just as you were a gift to them. I try to be mindful of this every day.

2.  Marriage is not a competition. I often catch myself arguing, “Yes, I did tell you about this!” ... especially when it comes to our schedules. Why do we always want to prove we’re right and our spouse is wrong? If you can realize early on that you’re teammates rather than opponents then many would-be arguments will never come to fruition. :)

3.  Check your pride at the door. Since a marriage is all about putting your spouse’s needs above your own, there is simply no room for pride in this equation. This is, by far, the toughest for me and something I struggle with on a daily basis. Luckily this perma-grin is real and Kyle reminds me not to take myself too seriously.

4.  Respect your husband, even when you really don’t feel like it. Men’s deepest need is to be honored and respected (just as our deepest need is to be loved!). What does this look like? Building him up rather than tearing him down. We often stomp on our mens’ pride without even realizing it – if you asked your man what types of things make him feel disrespected you’d probably be surprised by some of the answers. I was – Kyle told me when I say, “Kyle gets so mad when I ...” in front of our friends he feels disrespected. I have never thought twice about those words coming out of my mouth but instead of trying to reason with him I apologized and promised to not say that anymore. And I totally failed and said it a couple days later. Thankfully I have an extremely forgiving husband, which brings me to my next point ...

5.  Be quick to forgive. Sometimes it’s almost as though I enjoy being angry/bitter (for the record, I don’t, ha!). I’m sure Kyle is convinced of it from the number of times he’s tried to reconcile after an argument and I’m still sitting there with my arms crossed, not wanting to talk. Really, Mal? At the end of the day you’re kinda stuck with your spouse. That ‘till death do us part stuff is no joke. Stepping back and looking at the big picture of your marriage will compel you to forgive. You made a covenant with your spouse and God, and most importantly the point of marriage is not to make you happy, but holy and more like Jesus.

6.  Pray for your husband. As you do this, your thoughts towards him will change and as a result, your actions towards him will be an overflow of your heart rather than temporary frustrations. I’ve learned if you desire for your man to step up to the plate in an area of his life, getting on your knees and praying for God to transform him is a million times more powerful than manipulating him. When we first started dating I longed for Kyle to be the spiritual leader in our relationship. What ultimately changed things? When I started praying and stopped nagging, Kyle began to grow into the strong, Godly man I longed for. He dug into God’s Word and even joined a men’s small group.

Thanks for reading. I loved reflecting on my first few months of marriage and am looking forward to connecting with Denise’s readers over at Beautiful Things!

What Sara has learned...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Meet Sara...

Sara and I met in college when I joined her sorority - ADPi.  She was older, welcoming, gorgeous and so sweet.  She is so relatable and honest and would be there in a second if you needed anything.  I am so excited to share her with you today.  She also writes a fabulous blog over at Bill and Ted's Excellent Adentures so hop over there and give her some love!  And now for her expertise (and some gorgeous pictures of her wedding day).

A Lesson from Year 1 -- Just Say “NO!” 

I am thrilled to be guest posting on Gratefully Inspired today!

I have loved following the adventures of the Lopatkas, haven’t you?
When Denise invited me to share some thoughts on life after ‘I do,’ my initial plan was to force impart my feelings on the importance of love and respect in marriage, which I cram down every newlywed’s throat whenever the opportunity presents itself. 

But as I got to thinking about it, I decided to share something I wish I had known:

It’s okay to say NO!

After we got engaged at the ripe age of 22/23, I remember asking other married couples around our age how the first year was.  Everyone seemed to have the same answer -- "it's wonderful!" I was pumped as visions of candlelight dinners with champagne flowing every night popped into my head.  

What could be hard about it?

Loving each other is all we need to have a great marriage, right?


I don't know if said couples were telling me what it seems someone would want to hear, fooling themselves, or really had it wonderful (I hope the third), but I remember feeling so...alone...in thinking marriage was only tough for us.  We were forced to spend a lot of time apart during the week due to traveling for work, and we kept busy on the weekends hanging out with friends.  We didn't dedicate tons of quality time to each other and often chose distractions over one other.

And it took a while for us to learn, but sometimes you just have to say "no."

And I don't mean to each other...although that's necessary too sometimes.  In this case, I am referring to saying “no” to the plans and distractions that take you away from each other.  A friend recently shared with me something she heard in a marriage homily, that I love and think is so true. 

The minister directed his attention to the friends and family in the pews and said:

“For the first year of the couple's marriage, you should not have expectations of them.”

If the couple turns down the invitation to a birthday party, be okay with it.  If they say no to a family vacation, be gracious about it.  And basically just let them say "no" when they need to.  After the first year, things can be normal, but give them the luxury of dedicating the first year to one another.

I wish we had done more of that.  We have spent years 2-4 making up for it, but there are many times I remember not putting our relationship first in year 1.  There were many times when I felt like I would be letting someone down if I skipped out on their Friday night birthday dinner, so instead I sacrificed time with my husband...time that we needed...so as not to disappoint others.  

And you just can't do that...ever...but especially in the beginning when you need to truly die as the individual you are and be reborn as a union.

So remember to say "no" and choose each other.


But you get a free pass the first year, so take it :)

xox - Sara

What Candace has learned...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meet Candace...
I've known Candace for only a few months but it's been one of those friendships that feels like it's been forever.  Matt and I met Candace and Dustin at church and we all joined a small group bible study together.  They are the most laid back, coolest and kindest people in the world and would probably live on a boat somewhere in the ocean if possible.  I have been inspired, challenged and encouraged by both of them and I am honored to share her with you all.  Here ya go...
so cute i know.
Almost two years ago today, I walked down the aisle and said “I do” to my best friend and love of my life.  After almost seven years of dating, we were on top of the world and ready to begin “life” together. These past two years have been such an amazing journey. When Denise asked me to share what I have learned since I got married, it was pretty easy to name a few on the top of the list.
First of all, I’ve learned that God must be the center of a marriage. Since joining a small group at our church, we have both felt our relationship grow in unimaginable ways. Our marriage went from a great marriage to an amazing GODLY marriage. We walk by faith and trust that God has awesome plans for our life together. I have also learned that men and women are very different creatures. We think differently, we express ourselves differently, we prioritize differently, and the list goes on and on.  With these differences, Dustin and I have learned to work as a team and balance out our strengths and be understanding of each other and our little stressors in life. On a final note, I have learned the importance of spending time together and doing things that we both enjoy. Nothing is better than spending a day out on the boat fishing or diving with my hubby or even a night of shooting basketball. Time together is the best time of all. I never knew that marriage would be so easy. I feel so blessed to wake up every morning beside of the most handsome, caring, compassionate, and understanding man.  Life is good.

xox - Candace

What Lauren has learned...

Monday, June 18, 2012

I've got lots of surprises these next two weeks.  While I am away frolicking in Antigua, some of the greatest gals ever will be here posting in a series called "What I've learned since I said 'I do'."  Some have been married for a few years, some a few months, and even one a few weeks.  I am big into reflecting - what I've learned, what I would change - everything.  I think it's important in life to reflect.  And that's what these gals are going to do. So here we go....

Meet Lauren...

Lauren is the blogger and business mogul over at Flawless and she is amazing!  We met in college through a mutual best friend and I am currently addicted to her blog.  Her wedding day also holds a special place in my heart because it's the same day as mine!  So with that, I will let her impart some serious knowledge in your lives....

seriously, how cute is her family?
Hi everyone! I'm Lauren, I blog over at http://flawlessbylaurenblog.com/ about beauty tips, hair-do's, event planning, life, and a dash of anything in between! Stop by and visit my blog sometime. I do makeup + hair for weddings and events (along with event planning) if you are interested or have a friend in need, send them to my website at http://flawlessbylauren.com.  

Okay, enough with the self-plugging... on to the good stuff! 

What have I learned since getting married?! The better question is what haven't I learned! My husband, Chad, and I were married on September 25, 2010 (same day as Denise!). To this day, that is still the most unbelievable, happiest, amazing, fabulous, wonderful, day of my life. I guess in the long run we are still very much in the "honeymoon" stage, only having been married a year and 9 months... but wow a lot has happened during our marriage already! 

Marriage is very much a roller-coaster of emotions. The best part is, you get to ride the ups and downs of this roller-coaster with the love of your life and what could be better than that? A hottie by your side every step of the way. I like this theme park! 

I've learned that no matter what hills [challenges], are thrown into your marriage, if you face them TOGETHER, it always seems easier. Chad and I have had our fair share of struggles through our marriage. Some of them involve us personally, some our families, and some our friends. But never, ever, EVER, have we thought of facing these struggles alone. That's what marriage is about. Two become one, you form a team, and as the old saying goes, "there is no I in team!".  

You make sacrifices. At the time it might seem like the worst thing in the world... but you have to sacrifice, you have to compromise, because that's what makes your marriage fair. That's how you gain each others respect - by giving up something so that the other gets what they want, and vis-versa.  

I'll give you an example:
This may seem petty, and now looking back, mayyyybe it was. I wanted to go to a certain party with a certain group of friends on a certain night of the year that is HUGE for getting together and celebrating with friends (just for the point of the story, let's call this event,  New Years Eve). Chad hadn't spent a New Years Eve with his friends from home in several years. He was either with me at another celebration, or he was at college. I always spent New Years Eve with my group of friends. Always. It wasn't really a question. Until Chad decided that he would really like to spend this celebration with his friends. It was one thing he asked... he doesn't ask for much... and I normally get my way... so I gave up my celebration so he could have his. I ended up having a great time with our friends from Chad's hometown. Yes, I missed my friends so much, but this is something Chad wanted to do, so I made a sacrifice. Even though it seems small and petty, little things like this can mean so much in the long run. 

Okay, enough of that heavy stuff. You want to know what else I've learned? I've learned that... 
  1. My husband will never load the dish washer without me having to ask him. It's just not something he will do. 
  2. Nagging doesn't get you anywhere. At least not with my husband. The less I nag and just mention things casually without placing blame on anyone in particular, the more likely whatever it is I want to be done, will get done. If I nag, forget it. 
  3. Kissing each other is important. In public. In private. In front of your families. I don't care where you do it... just kiss, and often. 
  4. Always say "I love you" when you hang up the phone. 
  5. His socks stink. Bad. AND the longer they stay in the laundry basket, the worse they will smell. 
  6. Plan a date night. You must do it at least once every 2 weeks (if not every week). It's fun and always needed. 
  7. Golf is NOT seasonal. If I complain, he will say, "it's just for the spring, it's just for the summer, it's just for the fall..." but really, it's for the whole year. Let's be honest. Go ahead and get over that one right now. Find a group of girls that like wine and get together as often as you can when he is off playing. 
  8. Write on each other's facebook wall (yeah, cheesy, but I don't care... I still get excited every time I see he has posted on my wall!). 
  9. Adopt a family in lieu of Christmas gifts for each other. This was one of the best things we have ever done. We will always remember our first Christmas as husband + wife and the family we adopted. 
  10. Plan vacations. If you can't afford it right now, plan and start saving for one two years from now. It's so much fun to plan together and travel together. I wouldn't trade our vacations for the world. 
I am by no means a relationship or marriage expert. This is just what works for us. Every marriage is different, but I encourage you to spend time together, enjoy each other, and find your happiness together


Happy Father's Day Daddy

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meet George.  

Me in my VT Hokie cheerleading uniform.  Him in sweatpants.  Sounds about right.

When I was shopping for a father’s day card I ran across this one that said it better than I ever could have.  
 It read:

How do you know if a man is a hero?  Ask him if he has a daughter.

Yep.  I started tearing up too.  In Hallmark.  By myself.  That’s why I love cards.  They have the ability to write truth in a way that I never could.  That card is the one I gave to my dad yesterday since I won’t see him on Father’s Day and that card is the epitome of our relationship.  My dad is my hero. 

Growing up everyone called me a “daddy’s girl.”  For starters I thought his baby pictures were pictures of me and not him.  But more than that he was my best friend, the one I wanted to marry for so long.  The one I thought literally hung the moon.  The one that read to me every night.  The one who stayed and watched my ballet classes through the tinted windows.  The one who taught me patience and hard work.  The one that drove me – and all my friends – to school (HIGH SCHOOL) every morning.  The one that magically made my mom’s car start running with one touch.  The man that fixed my heart when it was broken.  The man that pretended to be “friends” with any of my old flames (keep your enemies closest right?).  The man that held my mom’s hand wherever we went.  The man that I could not bear to face when I had disappointed him.  The man that I could count on always.  And the man that did anything for me.  Anything.  He was and still is my hero.  Of course now I’ve got two heroes – one being my husband – but for so long he was the only man in my life who deserved my attention.  

christmas 2009

When I was little I really believed it was magic.  I thought he had superhuman powers and for the most part I still believe that – and it’s true.  But the older I get the more I see the sacrifice and the hard work that went into making all of those things magically happen.  The time and energy he spent fixing my car or cleaning the pool so that my friends could come over.  Sure he was tired sometimes, probably annoyed and he worked full-time but that never mattered.  His family was and still is his priority. 

Thank you for your sacrifice and for your unconditional love.  Thank you for always answering your phone (and never getting annoyed when I call 20 times in a row).  Thank you for showing me what a marriage should look like and what the love of a father should be.  Thank you for always being there for our family.  I love you more than words.

Love, Your Baby Girl

september 25, 2012.  i will remember this moment forever

Sorry for the poor quality but i love this one.  Yes, I am wearing a Redskin's outfit and yes I have a Christmas present bow on my head.
hubby and daddy
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