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Archive for January, 2011

On organization

Mike and I are attempting to be a bit more organized so there isn’t so much crap weighting down our lives. One move we made in that direction was to get a small filing cabinet. We had one on our wedding registry but never received it, so when Christmas rolled around and his dad was looking for ideas, we threw the filing cabinet out there and voila! we got one.

So recently we went from this type of organization:

To this:

Bathing it in sunlight was not intentional, it’s just that glorious. We spent a whole day a few weekends ago sorting through all our saved paperwork and organizing it in these two drawers. The filing cabinet now resides the room that serves as our office/storage room/Mike’s closet. So far it’s worked well — we went from two separate messy systems for keeping important documents to one cohesive (and stylish) system. Ah marriage.

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Well-informed

Well, I think we’ve finally done it, we’ve learned about all the adoption options available in our area. Tuesday night we went to the West Michigan agency, Adoption Associates, Inc. There is one or two other places we could look into, we already know that they focus on adoption from foster care. If we decide to ever go that route, we’ll do more research. But we feel pretty comfortable that we are fully aware of the options available and the agencies that offer them.

I may be a little biased, because actually my aunt works at this agency, but I was impressed. I think I’d describe them somewhere in between Bethany (the big intimidating agency) and Greater Hopes (the small homegrown agency). Adoption Associates is much like Bethany in that their fees and services are similar, and much like Greater Hopes in that the staff seems genuine and very personable.

If Mike and I decide to adopt an infant, I think we’d decide between GH and AAI. We have a lot more questions to ask before making that decision, but it’s good to know we have two good options. Oh, actually AAI didn’t mention anything about religion, so I’m not sure what that means. There’s definitely a religious component to their purpose and mission, but I don’t know how that reflects in requirements for adoptive parents. I didn’t ask.

But that’s where we’re at. We have a lot of things to figure out and settle first — more on that later — and it’s hard because I’m kind of ready to get started with the adoption thing NOW!

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My friend Erica, of Photography by Arika Reed, the photographer at our wedding, is having a wedding contest. It’s a pretty sweet deal, so if you’re looking for someone great for an upcoming wedding, you should check it out. She did an amazing job at our wedding, and I’m in love with the photos we have from that day. Mike and I both highly recommend her, so get your entry in before the deadline! Also, if you don’t have an upcoming wedding, but know someone who does, spread the word. She’s willing to travel.

Photography by Arika Reed

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Answers, part VIII

Daytime Night Owl asks:

Are you an introvert or extrovert and how does that affect your relationship?

Shan says:
I’m an introvert unless I’m with my family, then I’m a social butterfly. I’ve dated some extroverts, and while I admire and was sometimes motivated by their ability to be that way, it usually meant we had different ideas of fun. I’ll let Mike decide if he’s an introvert or extrovert, but I know we both like to stay home and hang out together more than we like to go out and be around lots of people. And that helps our relationship immensely.

Mike says:
I’m an introvert by nature, but when put in a social situation that I’m comfortable, I can be extrovertive without too much trouble. Usually when I have an opportunity to share knowledge on topics I know a lot about.

What do you value most about each other?

Shan says:
His cooking. I value many many things about Mike, but without his cooking I may have died of malnutrition by now.

Mike says:
Her eating. Without her eating, I’d throw too much food away. Seriously though, her organization. She keeps us afloat (and our blog up-to-date).

If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass on to your children, what would it be?

Shan says:
I’d like to pass on my nonjudgmentalness. Is that a word? Basically, I consider myself to be a pretty nonjudgmental person, and I hope my kids are, too. What I don’t want to pass on is my anxiety! Dear Lord spare my children the anxiety!

Mike says:
My helpfulness. I’m the guy that walks into a social situation and says ‘what needs to be done?’ I hope my children are helpers. I get easily annoyed by the people who just stand around and watch when there’s work being done.

What was the best piece of advice you received from your wedding/reception?

Shans says:
Someone told me, or maybe I read it somewhere, to pause a few times and intentionally take it all in. I did this a few times: stopped, looked around and very purposefully thought, “This is my wedding. This is what is happening right now. Remember this.” And the images from those moments are the ones that stick out most in my memory of that day. I pass this advice along whenever I can.

Mike says:
We advised each other to be careful about letting things get to us. If something about our wedding was stressing us out, we just forgot about it. We figured, as long as people get there, watch the wedding, eat and leave, then we’re good. And that saved us a lot of stress and potential fighting.

Are you usually late, early or right on time?

Shan says:
Early. I hate being late, hate it with a passion, so I usually overcompensate and get places early. It’s happened many times that Mike and I will get somewhere early, and then wait in our car or drive around for a bit so we don’t look like overly-eager beavers.

Mike says:
Early. And I don’t mind being the overly-eager beaver. I mostly drive around to humor Shan. 🙂

Are either of you a romantic?  (I know you are both creative and come up with the best gifting ideas.)

Shan says:
You give me way too much credit. I’m actually kind of an awful gift giver. And I don’t think I’m very romantic. We’re more silly than romantic. We’ll throw a little romance in now and then, but mostly we like to tease each other, give silly gifts, and make each other laugh.

Mike says:
I think I’m “a romantic,” but I’m not very romantic. I have the belief that we’ll always be in love, and always show it. That’s probably naive. Not that we will stop loving each other, but that the way we show it will change. But I’m not a flowers/candy for every occasion kind of guy. I’m a goofy romantic.

What are your worst habits?

Mike says:
I’m a terrible night eater, and over eater. My metabolism has gotten me through so far, but it’s failing me now. Plus there’s the whores…I mean, uh…I love my wife too much. 🙂

Shan say:
Whores? You’re so weird. And I think there’s a more politically correct term you might have chosen, dear. Anyway, my worst habit is wanting to control things. If an idea is suggested by someone, I compulsively grab on and try to make it happen. Others actually seem to like this habit because it means crap gets done that otherwise might not. But it drives me crazy and I need to learn to just let go. If I always “make it happen,” nobody else will ever even bother. Let them do some of the work once in awhile!

What traits do you possess that compliment those of your partner?

Mike says:
I’m patient to Shannon’s…um…lack there of. I’m hesitant when Shan is overly-excited about something (and vice versa actually). I’m willing to eat anything while Shannon is very selective about food, so I eat whatever she leaves behind.

Shan says:
That last one was exactly what I was going to say. The eating thing. He’s right about the other ones, too. Also, I’m short(ish) and Mike is tall, and I think those traits compliment each other well. We’re adorable right?

(And I’m even in heels.)

Mike – would you be willing to share some recipes with all of us?  We hear/read about the deliciousness of your creations, so I’m curious to try something.

Mike says:
I’ll see what I can put together. I’m kind of a bad person to ask about recipes. I see stuff in the cupboards/fridge and I throw it in a pot. There is no rhyme or reason to my culinary madness. But I have some staples that I could write recipes for. What are you looking for that you’ve read about in the blog?

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Answers, part VII

Angela asks:

If you would star in a movie what one would it be?

Mike says:
I don’t even get this question. A real movie, or the movie of my life?

Shan says:
Not sure what that means either. Like, is there a movie that resembles my life? Or what would a movie about my life be? Sorry Ang, I should have clarified with you!

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?

Mike says:
Put my money to work for me to try and live off it.

Shan says:
Pretty much the same thing I said about winning the lottery — travel, invest, etc.

After you are gone what do you most want to be remembered for?

Mike says:
The things I did for my family and friends. Also, my beard.

Shan says:
I want people to say that I really lived and enjoyed life. When I think, “Hey I want to do ____.” I usually find a way to do it. Not everything, but most things. I also hope I’m remembered as a good daughter, sister, aunt, mother, wife and friend.

Do you believe in destiny?

Mike says:
No way. There’s to much randomness in the world.

Shan says:
Sure. Sort of. I’m not sure what I’m thinking of is called destiny, but I believe that certain people are meant to do or be certain things. Does that make sense? I just spent five minutes trying to figure out how to say what I’m thinking, but I guess I haven’t quite worked it out in my head yet.

What was the first thing that attracted you to each other?

Mike says:
Her intellect and sense of humor.

Shan says:
His match.com profile. Specifically his proper use of grammar!

If your friend’s partner was cheating on their spouse or significant other, would you tell them?

Mike says:
I’d encourage them to tell their partner and deal with it. Otherwise probably not. I might not stay friends with them though.

Shan says:
Mike totally stole my answer. We talked about what we’d do in this type of situation the other day, and he wasn’t sure exactly how he’d handle it, and then I said that I’d tell them to tell their partner or I would do it. So basically Mike is a stealer.

Who do you admire the most? Why?

Mike says:
My Grandpa. When he was alive, he was more alive than any of us. He loved absolutely everything about life. He was the most endearing sort of mischievous.

Shan says:
I have two. My dad because he taught me to love, be kind to and engage with everyone, no matter who or where they are. My mom because she has more will and courage and positive attitude in the face of unavoidable pain and challenge than anyone I know.

What do you think happens to you when you die?

Mike says:
I really don’t know. I’m not a faithful or religious person, so I don’t necessarily believe in heaven or hell. If I were pushed, the only thing I’d really be able to say I believe is that you stop living.

Shan says:
I don’t know either. I hope there’s some version of heaven, but I have no idea what that might look or feel like. I honestly think no matter what you believe, you really don’t know until you die. And then you can’t tell anyone.

What is your favorite book?

Mike says:
Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. It’s actually 7 books, and they’re awesome.

Shan says:
I think I know why Mike likes Stephen King. Because despite his brevity in these answers, he’s really quite long-winded. As for my favorite book? Why oh WHY do you ask such an impossible question? I’ve read hundreds of books in my life, I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite. To give you a little something though, one that always pops in my head when thinking of great books is Steinbeck’s East of Eden.

What do you think is the biggest difference between men and women?

Mike says:
Besides the obvious? I know it’s cliche, but women are nurturers. Shan is so much more concerned with how I feel when I’m upset. I just want to fix the problem.

Shan says:
Men are so dramatic! I know women get slapped with that stereotype most of the time, but I swear that men, at least in my experience, make such a bigger deal about things. Also, men smell more.

What does your “dream house” look like?

Mike says:
It has a huge chef’s kitchen with extra-tall countertops and over-sized appliances. After that, I don’t really care, as long as it has tons of space. A fireman’s pole might be cool.

Shan says:
Not too big because I don’t want to clean and maintain a lot of space. But open and spacious enough to not be tripping over people or pets. From the outside I like the look of darker colored houses, but from the inside I like it to feel light and bright. Oh and a big kitchen for my man. I haven’t spent much time dreaming up my dream house, so that’s all I’ve got.

What is the very first memory that you have?

Mike says:
I might have been in Kindergarten or 1st grade, and Ronald McDonald visited our school. Back in the 80s Ronnie Mac was the shit. It was pretty awesome. I believe we had orange drink, too.

Shan says:
This is random, but I remember walking down the driveway at the first house I lived in to get the mail. I think my aunt was with me (obviously I wasn’t walking near the street when I was barely old enough to have memories). I have no idea why this stuck in my head, but it’s there, very vividly. And of all the memories I have, I’m pretty sure I’m the youngest in that one.

What do you consider to be the most important thing in your life?

Mike says:
Happiness. Everything else is easier when you’re happy. There’s no way to make it through life without it.

Shan says:
My shoes. Definitely my collection of fun sale-rack shoes. After that, I guess all that crap Mike said. Happiness and whatnot.

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Answers, part VI

Musings on Motherhood asks:

What’s the last thing you argued about?

Shan says:
Our Le Creuset stoneware baking dish. We got it as a wedding gift, and we brought it out to make a roast for first time about a week ago. It exploded. I thought it was funny, and a little sad, but mostly I didn’t care. It’s a baking dish, there are bigger things to care about. But he thought I cared, and he thought that I thought it was his fault, and he got all sensitive about it. Honestly, we don’t yell much, but there was some yelling this time. Eventually he cooled off by reading in the bedroom, I cooled off by reading on the couch (reading solves all things!), and then I went and sat by him on the bed and said, “Can we be done fighting now?” And that was it!

Mike says:
Yep, that was a low point.

Tiffany in Houston asks:

How do you handle the finances? Who is the CFO??

Shan says:
Two CFOs I think, which might prove to be a bad idea. We’ve combined finances to pay for things like: rent, utilities, gas, groceries, student loans, etc. We have a joint savings account which is pretty bleak right now, and we have a goal-setter account where we’re saving for Europe. We both contribute to these when we can. The rest we keep separate. We have our own savings and checking accounts to pay for things like books, clothes, shoes, splurge purchases. Mike handles the payment of some bills (eg: rent) while I handle others (eg: cell phones). We don’t squabble too much about money (other than never having enough) which is the best part. In past relationships, it always seem to come down to who paid for what and who paid last and who owes who what. Even before we got married, Mike and I never did this. Somehow it just didn’t matter.

Mike says:
Until we’re independently wealthy and can pay an accountant to do that stuff, Shan has pretty much summed it up.

Lauren asks:

Did your premarital counselor ask you any questions about sex and your compatibility?

Shan says:
You know, I kept waiting for that to come up, and it never did. I was surprised, but neither of us brought it up either. There were some sex questions in the assessment we took, but we never went over that section with the counselor. Maybe she was shy and chose to avoid the topic unless we broached it.

Mike says:
Nope.

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Answers, part V

Zia asks:

‎1. What drives you crazy about the other spouse?

Shan says:
When he “chews his cud” while he sleeps. When he continues to explain something even when “I get it!” long before he’s finished. When he gets this dry mouth thing while he’s talking. The way he fires questions and ideas at me when I wake up on weekend mornings. Dude, just because you’ve been up solving the world’s problems for three hours doesn’t mean I’m ready to talk yet.

Mike says:
When she bites her toe-nails. WTF? When she play-fights, but hits me harder than I can, in good conscience, hit her back. I’m fragile.

Shan says:
By the way, Mike found out about the toenail biting thing JUST before he wrote this. He’s never seen me do it, but I admitted I sometimes do after Carla did it on Scrubs. Now apparently it drives him crazy…

2. What is your taste in home design?

Shan says:
I love watching home design shows, but I have no natural talent for it. Our home decor is a random mix of hand-me-downs, thrift store finds, assembly-required furniture and whatever’s on sale that might catch our eye. Some examples from our current apartment:

If we ever do own a home, I’d love for a professional to come in and make it awesome. For free.

Mike says:
I couldn’t care less. As long as my furniture is comfortable and my surroundings are reasonably clean, I’m a happy guy.

3. If you could only go to one place for vacation your whole life where would it be?

Shan says:
I think I have to go with somewhere warm and beautiful. I don’t know enough about the warm, beautiful places of the world to narrow it down to one, but if forced at gunpoint I’d probably yell “Hawaii!” and I think I’d be happy with that (even though I’ve never been there).

Mike says:
Hawaii would be lovely. Otherwise, maybe Southern France.

4. What kind of parent will you be, strict, guiding, hippie,… Ned flanders?

Shan says:
I always thought I’d be a strict parent, but I’ve found I’m a huge sucker when it comes to my nieces and nephews, and even the cats. However, I was always such a good kid that I think I’ll struggle when my kids misbehave or make poor decisions. For me, it’s always been so logical and easy to “do right” that I’ll have a hard time understanding why my kids can’t be that way. Also, Mike and I find ourselves “logic-ing” with kids a lot, and sometimes it works, often it’s a bomb. Oh we’re so screwed!

Mike says:
I’ll be the strict parent. Shan will tell the kids to ask me every time they want something fun, and I’ll have to be the bad guy. I hope to be guiding and understanding. Also, an encourager. You want to learn banjo? Awesome.

5. What is your favorite thing about each other?

Shan says:
My favorite thing about Mike is how well he treats me. I wanted to say something silly, like his beard, which I do love. But honestly, the reason we work so well and the reason I love him and the reason I married him is because he is so damn good to me. I don’t mean roses and diamonds and luxury vacations good to me. I mean he does right by me, always looks out for me, wants me to be happy, rarely complains, puts up with me when I don’t deserve it. The good thing about having past relationships is that I can compare, and nobody has ever been as genuinely good to me as Mike is. And that’s my favorite thing!

Mike says:
She indulges me. She lets me be goofy, lets me find my own way through things. She keeps me honest. She doesn’t let me off the hook on things, and I need that.

6. What will you name your first child and why, who came up with it?

Shan says:
Someday I should share the Google Doc of “Names I like” with you guys. It’s insane. Some people collect coins or antiques — I collect names. Anytime I come across a name I like, I add it to the doc. So naming our first child will be a challenge. Not because we don’t know what we like, because we do! It’ll be hard because there are so many names we like and we only get to pick one! So that’s the first reason I can’t answer this question. The second is because, while we could share a few that we both love, I have this curse. As soon as I love a name and declare I plan to use it, it grows in popularity. A LOT! For years my daughter was going to be Avery, then suddenly I was hearing it everywhere. So I switched to Harper before anyone was using Harper, and now that name is practically in the top 10. So my mouth is shut, at least publicly, until we actually have a child to name.

Mike says:
George. Really though, I like a lot of names. I’m letting Shannon take the lead on this topic, since she has a lot of ideas. Our first born son’s middle name will be Michael though. The first son gets the father’s first name as his middle name. It’s a tradition that’s passed through several hundred years in my family, so I have to carry that on.

7. If you won the lotto what would be the first thing you buy?

Shan says:
A trip. Several trips maybe. I’d put a little thought into what else to do later, but the first thing I’d do is book some airfare and go somewhere.

Mike says:
The services of a brilliant financial manager who could make sure I can live the rest of my life on that money.

8. Is there a political or social view that differs between you both and how do you compromise?

Shan says:
I’d say we agree on just about everything politically. We don’t actually discuss politics too often because it’s like preaching to the choir. Same with social views. I can’t think of anything we really disagree on. Can you hon?

Mike says:
I think we’re pretty equal in that respect.

9. What would you consider a perfect day?

Shan says:
I’d wake up late feeling fully rested, stay in my PJs all morning while I enjoyed a bowl of cereal and a cup of chai. When I was fully awake, I’d get dressed and we’d head out to hang with my family. It’s a beautiful sunny day, by the way, plenty warm but no humidity. We’d all hang out outside, eating delicious foods and drinking delicious drinks. Talking, laughing, playing. And there would have to be a pool involved so we could swim. And that’s it, we’d just hang out and have fun. And we’d go to bed late because we knew we could sleep in the next day again.

Mike says:
Take Shannon’s day, and add that we’re at a resort with world-renowned restaurants that we get our meals from. Different cuisines from all over the world.

10. If your child was crying at 2am, who would take care of it?

Shan says:
Mike. Unless I happened to be awake anyway, which is likely, and then I’d just get up and do it. But if I was sleeping, Mike would probably do it because he knows how rare sleep is for me and hard it is for me to get back to sleep if I wake up. So I guess we’d take turns, which is the best answer anyway, right?

Mike says:
Shan, because I probably wouldn’t hear it. But if I did, then probably me. So, pretty much what Shannon said.

Shan says:
Remind me to put the baby monitor RIGHT next to Mike’s ear.

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