Goodbye Florida

  Goodbye Florida.  It has been fun, but it is time to go back home.  It turns out that 2-3 days is enough time for a vacation without the kids- at least for the first one.  We miss our little ones and our crazy life.  We feel rested, reconnected, refreshed, and ready to tackle a busy, fun-filled summer.  It was so nice to have this little time-out together.  We confirmed what we already knew on some level – we are still Les and Jess.  Sure, we are mom and dad to our three kids, but first and foremost we are individuals, and husband and wife.  We have taken time away individually over the past five years for work trips, vacations with “the guys”, or my recent trip to see my sister in Germany.  I know those trips were very therapeutic and re-energizing for each of us, but those trips also put the burden of parenting and running the house on the other partner.  We have tried to allow and encourage each other to take time away over the past five years.  Parenting can be hard work, and everyone deserves a little break to remember who they are as an individual.  It also reminds the person at home how much they value and rely on the other person.  Parenting is definitely easier and more fun together.  I admire single parents, because I know it can be very challenging and sometimes quite lonely to do that job alone.  Of course marriage and co-parenting has its share of challenges too, but I know Les and I appreciate each other and the role we each play in parenting.

I don’t think either of us doubted that we still had it as a couple, but it was just nice to confirm that we are still crazy about each other after 16 years together, 10 years of marriage, and three kids.  We still have plenty to talk about (other than the kids), we still love each other’s company, and we still have that spark.  This vacation not only made us excited for our next trip away together, but also made us more excited for our next family vacation.  There were so many times on this trip when some of the experiences we had felt a little bit empty without the kids.  We would comment how much the kids would love to see this or play with that.  For instance, “the kids would love all the shells on this beach” or “they would have so much fun playing in this pool.”  We are in a new phase of existence as a couple, one where we can’t necessarily separate the “us” of our marriage, from the “us” of our family.  We love this phase and are immensely grateful for the family we created.  We just have to remember that without the “us” of each other, we would never have the beautiful family that we do.  I guess we’ll just have to get the babysitters on reserve and pick a date in 2013 for our next trip together.  We wouldn’t want to forget what made it all possible, right?

Vacation Rocks!

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Les and I are on our first vacation as a couple in almost 5 years, celebrating a big milestone – our 10 year wedding anniversary. We are having an AWESOME time! The past few days have been pretty fabulous actually. Before leaving for vacation we enjoyed 2 date nights in a row with friends and a terrific visit with our best friends from northern Virginia. We took the kids to a fun birthday party on Saturday, complete with pony rides and a petting zoo.

We left Virginia on Saturday afternoon and flew into Tampa, FL. Les surprised me with a very thoughtful and romantic gift. He took me to the Tiffany store and presented me with a gorgeous pearl necklace, the only jewelry I have ever wanted other than my diamond ring. It was perfect because he had surprised me 10 years earlier, at our rehearsal dinner, with my first blue Tiffany box containing a simple silver open heart necklace. The pearl necklace was a wonderful surprise, but the whole Tiffany thing was icing on the cake. Major points to my amazing husband. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Roy’s and spent the night in Tampa.

We slept in – no alarm, no work, no dishes or chores, and no children to wake us. I actually thought my body had forgotten how to sleep in, but no, it remembered. We ate at our favorite Florida breakfast place, First Watch, before heading down to Sarasota, FL for the remainder of our vacation. We checked in to the Ritz-Carlton and have just spent the past 3 hours lounging pool and beachside, sipping frozen drinks and just relaxing. I am in heaven. This is my idea of a perfect vacation.

I love our life at home with our kids. It is not that we lead this really burdensome, stressful life and never get time to relax or see each other. It is just that we are in the throes of young parenthood, balancing 3 adorable kids, jobs, activities, a house, and plenty of responsibilities. We are finally in a stage of parenting where even the baby sleeps through the night and we have a few hours at the end of the night to be by ourselves or with each other, but usually there are dishes to clean, laundry to do, bills to pay, or work to do. The day-to-day basic responsibilities end up occupying those few precious hours at the end of the day.

These opportunities to disconnect from our “normal” life are rare. Opportunities to reconnect as a couple, just the two of us are few and far between. After this great trip, we are committed to trying to do more disconnecting from daily stressors and more reconnecting with each other. Maybe we can even pull off a yearly trip for the two of us. We are thankful to supportive and incredible grandparents,and the best nanny in the world, to help us with the kids and make this vacation possible. We are so appreciative of the help and the love these people show to our kids in our absence.

Well, I am going to go order another daiquiri and go for a walk on the beach with my man.

First Comes Love

  In two short weeks, I will be celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary to the love of my life.  I have been with Les most of my adult life – literally.  We met when I was 17 and he was 19.  We were two young kids working summer jobs at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel, and we were pretty much together from that first week in the summer of 1996.  We have been together 16 years, and there is truly no one I would rather have as my partner than him.  We have been through so much in 16 years.

I wish I had started this blog years ago, before it was hip and trendy to have a blog, to share and record all of these amazing memories and experiences.  I have kept a journal off and on, and Les has kept a journal at times as well.  I plan to go back to many of the experiences and memories in those journals and re-visit them here .  My memory is not as good as it should be, and if I don’t get my stories and reflections down now, I worry that they will be lost over time.  The things I have been through, and the experiences Les and I have been through in our relationship, are not necessarily unique or extraordinary.  They are things most people can relate to personally or know someone else who has gone through something similar.  In just the last 10 years we have started careers, moved away to a new state and back home again, survived cancer, bought our first home, struggled through infertility, had three kids, and tried to maintain our marriage, family, friendships, and overall work and life balance.

Today we feel blessed to be healthy and happy.  We have everything we could ever want, including three remarkable miracle babies.  I am not saying things are perfect, because nobody’s life is, including mine.  I do know better than to complain too much though, especially when I have the gifts that I do have.  I am a pretty honest and open person, and I plan to share the good and the bad here, in the most candid way I can.  My marriage is strong, but it is not strong without hard work, compromise, and commitment.  My children are amazing, but not because I am some super parent or because they are any more “special” than anyone else’s kids.  They are amazing because they are mine, and of course I think they are awesome.  Parenting is full of some hard stuff though!  I had a heck of a time adjusting to parenthood with my first child Isabella – struggled to get pregnant, rough delivery, miserable first two months as a mom with healing, nursing, and probably some postpartum depression.  My second child, Jacob, brought his own set of challenges – more infertility struggles, a better delivery and postpartum experience, hypotonia, developmental delays, and a whole host of worries and stress that continue to humble me and scare the crap out of me on a regular basis (lots more to come on all that).  My third child, Noah, was the most wonderful surprise in the world – totally unexpected, yet so welcome.  I am glad to say that this has been my most “typical” parenting experience, although nothing is easy or typical when you have three children under the age of four in your house.

What a crazy and wonderful life!  I will take the crazy, hectic, challenging stuff about this life any day if it comes with a side of wonderful.  So much of what is wonderful is having my loving, smart, funny, interesting, caring, and adorable husband by my side.  Here’s to many more years of marriage and adventure!