How Do You Celebrate Milestones and Anniversaries?

Are you a simple celebrator?  Do you ever combine celebrations?

As we drove back from Portland on Saturday, I asked Scott a few things.  All of his answers were, “no” or “not so much,” but then he asked me something.  Something that got me thinking and lead to this post.  (Note, I’m still thinking about it…)

He noted that we have a series of anniversaries and milestones upcoming in the next few months, and he wondered if I wanted to do anything about them or for them.  (Me… the introvert?  Hmm… still thinking…)

In September we’ll celebrate one year of living in our house in our awesome ocean town, my half birthday (which is a mini big deal, thanks to having two people with December birthdays who celebrate half birthdays big time), and very likely we’ll have met a huge financial goal.

In November we’ll celebrate our anniversary and the birth of our second daughter.  Then there’s also that Thanksgiving thing.

In December, we have Susanna’s birthday and Scott’s birthday, plus Christmas.

The more I thought about it, the more I came up with categories to help me select how to celebrate.

Go Big Celebration! ($500 or more)

  • A few nights away at one of our favorite places (with Susanna).
  • A three day trip to British Columbia.
  • Investing in a few needed (or wanted?) items for our house.
  • Sticking a lump sum of money into savings.

Middle Celebration! ($100-200)

  • One or two nights away at one of our favorite state parks.
  • A larger Trader Joe’s shopping trip.
  • Something art-and-literature based.
  • Donating to one of the non profits in our town.

Low Key Celebration! (Under $100)

  • A picnic or breakfast date at the beach.
  • Sticking to our budget and new financial goals.
  • $20-25/person shopping trip to a thrift store to hunt for treasures.
  • Hiking and/or fishing at some of our favorite spots while allowing time for photographing and writing.

We have yet to finalize anything, as we’re still inching toward the milestones and anniversaries; however, if you have any thoughts, I’m all ears and eyes.

What have been the most meaningful celebrations to you?  Do you prefer to celebrate with memories or “stuff?”

The Loneliness of Step Parenting

Have you ever been lonely?  Are you a step parent or have a step parent in your life?

So I read Jess’s blog post, 9 Ways to Write Attention Grabbing Post Titlesbut never thought I’d actually use it this fast.  I do my best to keep emotions that I might deem “chancey” in check here and in life.  Maybe it’s how I was raised (Captain in the Navy Dad) or maybe it’s just me.

Yet, as I mulled over possible posts for this week, including a “temporary hiatus…we’re up to a ton…” one I felt that this topic needed to be addressed.  It’s been very dear to my heart over the last few weeks, as Scott’s teen son has been with us.  That time concludes very soon.

For the sake of background, and honoring that all step parent realities are different, ours works a bit like this.  Scott has his son for three weeks in the summer and alternating major holidays.  Now that we’re on opposite coasts, the time is pretty much finite.  Though, with any step and custody situation, there are endless variations, no? Yes?  Maybe?

With all that has gone on while his son has been here, an overwhelming existence, until the 2/3 mark, has been an extreme presence of my feeling lonely.  I might have chalked it up to pregnancy hormones before, until I had a conversation that changed things.

My feelings of loneliness looked and sounded a bit like this inside of my head…

  • No one else gets it.  Everyone else has a happily married family with kids in both of our families except for one sibling who appears to me to have a deep, positive bond with his step-daughter (she lives with him).
  • All of my friends, trusted and distant, have strong marriages and amazing children.
  • I’ve heard of blended families in our town, but really…do they exist with people I know and/or trust and/or talk to regularly? I doubt it…
  • Scott doesn’t get it… He has his perspective.
  • Talking about the angst of step parenting goes against what I know to keep my mouth shut, deal with it on my own, pray, and then communicate in a way that is private.
  • Be cautions… you’re dealing with a minor and other factors (e.g. biological mom, emotions, etc.).

Well, all of that existed and brought me to a point of extreme loneliness until I reached out to a few friends.  I didn’t even realize my loneliness until I texted a friend who is not a mom, not married, but just completed RAAM and is the 2011 female winner of the Dirty Dozen.

Somehow sharing with Anne-Marie, who responded with grace and compassion, brought me out of my emotions and into awareness of what was going on.  Once I understood it, I could acknowledge and deal with it.

Yet, those thoughts kept churning and others added to them.  Eventually I had an unplanned moment on the phone with a dear close relative.  She said, “we’re in the same spot” and she elaborated.  In respecting her privacy, I’ll leave her analogy to the moment, and just say that all of my loneliness evaporated.

In that one moment, I knew I was fully understood.  I was understood and accepted by a woman who is blood related to Scott and Daniel (that should give a big clue, no?).  She just told her story and all I could think was, “thank you…” while trying not to cry.

Being a step parent can be incredibly lonely.  It can also be a chance to strengthen one’s relationship with one’s spouse and other outside sources in a positive manner.  Through these past few weeks, I’ve battled my introvert-ness and reached out to friends.  I’ve learned their wisdom and perspective.  I’ve felt their kindness.

I’ve also spoken, at length, with Scott, and felt his support.  I’ve heard it and seen it in his face.  While it can be a lonely time, it can also be a time of much love.  It all depends on what we choose, and we have to trust that we are all doing the best we can in each given moment.

How do you work through lonely periods?  Have you ever connected with someone completely unexpectedly in just the best of ways at the right time?

Arriving at Thriving (An Article on Parkinson’s and Depression)

Have you ever referenced an article during times of mass media reality?  

I was hesitant to put this out at first, but in light of much of what has been put out in the media regarding Parksinson’s, depression, and more, I found comfort in knowing it existed.

This article, Arriving at Thriving, was written by my mother-in-law about her experiences as a caretaker of a person living with Parkinson’s and her own living with Parkinson’s for the National Parkinson’s Foundation.  Yes, both of my parents-in-law live with it, and they are some of the dearest people I know.

Dad’s eyes twinkle when Susanna is around and he’s less stubborn.  Mom stops everything (when possible) to let Susanna guide her day.  They’re a large part of why we moved to Washington, and for that I’m beyond grateful for we love it here!

Anyhow, if you feel it would be beneficial to someone, please pass along the article.  Mom is stand alone awesome on her own.  She’s humble, raised eight kids, was a submariner’s wife, and is incredibly resourceful.  There really aren’t words for her, nor Dad.

Yet, it’s her words that I felt important to share, for they add a touch of insight, of humor, and of compassion and grace in a very challenging reality.

What articles have inspired you of late?  What makes your in-laws unique in their own way?