Having a (Bowling) Ball

Two weekends ago, B and I found ourselves with a rainy afternoon to kill in Mason City, IA. So, we headed out to the Rose Bowl, breaking our habit of bowling only once a year (with his family on Thanksgiving).

We started out surprisingly strong, and were feeling pretty good about ourselves:

B's Happy Dance

My Happy Dance

However, that streak didn’t last very long for me, and I ended my first game with a whopping 81 pins. B did better than that–he actually ended up getting what we’ve decided is a new PR for him (because he can’t remember his one from before): 138.

B, the bowling stud

So, we decided to shake things up a little for Game #2. We used my iPhone to pull up the directions for Funky Bowling, a game we’d learned with his family at our last Turkey Day outing. Funky Bowling is great for those of us with no strategy to speak of. It kicks the boredom that usually rolls in about Frame 7 for me, and lends itself to a fabulous photo shoot.

Bowling with my opposite hand

Sometimes we used the same strategy for the challenge:

B bowling with two hands

Me bowling with two hands

But other times we had different approaches:

B bowling backwards

Me bowling backwards

We had to hop on one foot:

One-legged bowling

And sit on the floor:

B's sitting bowl

It's hard to get a lot of oomph from this position

Then came the scary part:

B had to bowl through my legs.

Flying towards him!

For the last frame, we could bowl however we wanted:

My choice

There’s something to be said for marrying someone who can turn a rainy afternoon in rural IA into one of the best dates we’ve had in a long time.

What’s the best date you’ve had recently? Or, when did you have a surprisingly good time?

Breaking Out On Our Own…

In this old post from almost a year ago, I mentioned the wonderful relationship that B and I have with our church. We’ve since been married in that church, and have continued to attend regularly. We truly enjoy all of our involvements with the congregation, from youth-advising to handbell choirs, adult education classes to book club. However, we’ve continued to face one struggle: truly being adults in the environment where I was raised as a child.

You know how people tend to fall into their familiar roles when they’re around their family? I’m talking about the adult brother who still pulls his sisters’ hair, and the middle-aged woman who can’t help but roll her eyes and her dad’s jokes, or the grown-up children who still talk back to their mother. Well, I think it’s like that at my church.

At church, I’m surrounded by people who raised me. First of all, there are my parents. We sit with them every week, I ring handbells in the same chior as my parents, and my mom and I co-host book club meetings. Then, there are my friends’ parents. You know, the ones who hosted me for slumber parties, took me to the pool, and watched me struggled through my “awkward” years alongside their adolescent children. Sitting in the congregation are also my old Sunday school teachers, choir directors, and youth advisors. The adults who laid down the law in my teenage years, and knew me when I still brought my American Girl doll to church with me every week. Now, I’m asking them not to see me as little Katie anymore, but as grown up, married Katie.

And I feel frustrated when they don’t.

But, I’m making the conscious decision to let go of that frustration. This week at church, we had our annual potluck with our Covenant Groups, which are small groups of 15-20 people to which each member is assigned. This was the first year I was not a part of my parents’ Covenant Group. B and I went to a different room, brought a salad to contribute, and introduced ourselves as a married couple. A separate, grown-up entity. Of course, we weren’t fooling anyone. Most of the people in the room had known me for 10+ years. However, we were accepted in our new life and as our own familial unit. It felt good.

We’ve also signed up for some volunteer and fellowship opportunities in the near future. Having been a member of the church for such a long time, there are few things I haven’t participated in over the years. But these are a couple new activities that we’ll get to experience for the first time together.

I know that I’m not the first person to make this transition from youth to adult in the church. I’ve talked with many other members who’ve had similar experiences. Our church is something special, and I think it speaks a lot for our congregation that its members are willing to make the effort.

Ahhhh… Sunday Nights…

B and I have been married for almost eight months now. That’s not a very long time. So I was feeling pretty guilty about the fact that when B recently started playing basketball on Sunday nights, I was basically ecstatic about the prospects of having the apartment to myself for 3+ hours. Then, I read this post from Nathan Badley (a blogger who has me laughing out loud with every post he publishes). And then my aunt commented that “I’ll only come to appreciate those times even more,” and I realized that I don’t need to feel guilty. There’s no reason to feel bad about appreciating some time to myself. (Or, at least some quality time with the dogs.)

The first week, I watched a chick flick and played Sims on my computer. The second week, a friend and I split a bottle of wine and enjoyed a couple hours of girl talk. Last week, I finished up my reading for that week’s Faith Club meeting, then indulged in some slow churned ice cream. Last night, I blogged (ahem) and read while sipping a glass of moscato.

Each week, there’s only one rule: I do whatever I want.

Who knows where these Sunday nights may take me? A solo movie night (I’ve only done that once in my life), a new Yoga class at the gym, or maybe a raging house party may very well be in my future. (I feel pretty doubtful about the latter, but I may just be feeling it one night…)


Dirty Laundry

I have to take a few moments to brag about my husband. A few nights ago, I came home from a busy Saturday of running errands, and found this on the bed:


Yes, that is all my laundry. Cleaned, folded, and sorted into hangables and foldables.

This could get an “Awww, sweet…” if it were a one-time thing. But, instead, let’s give him a big HIP-HIP-HOORAY! because this is not a rarity. I honestly cannot remember the last time that I put a load of laundry through.

I felt a little guilty when I was having dinner with a friend recently. She’s about to move in with her significant other, and she asked: “So, how do you and B split up the chores? Like laundry, dishes, trash…”

“Um,” I responded, “We don’t. He just does them all.” She kind of gave me a funny look and I realized how horrible that sounds. How horrible that is, actually.

But, the thing is, I am the Manager of Life in our household. I pay the bills, manage the bank accounts, keep track of prescriptions and doctors appointments (for all four of us!), set up our social activities, and keep in touch with our out-of-town friends and family. I also do all of our shopping and cooking, and most of the deep cleaning and organizing.

B, on the other hand, does the laundry, the dishes, and takes out the trash. He lets the dogs out most of the time, and he makes the bed every morning. In addition, he does all of our ironing. (This is mostly because I’ve never even owned an iron, but he came from a family where socks and boxers were ironed weekly.) If it weren’t for B, our laundry would be piled up in the corner of our room, the dishes would sit in the sink for 2-3 days at a time, and the trash would stink up the house until I managed to drag it out to the curb. (Sounds an awful lot like my college dorm room, actually!)

Although it looks awfully uneven on the chore chart, this breakdown works for us.

I’m curious… How do you and your SO (significant other) split up the household duties?

(Trying to Get Better at) Sharing Closet Space

My inept organizational skills are really quite disgraceful. And I’m pretty sure it’s driving my husband crazy. At least, if I were my husband, it would be driving me crazy.

My to-do list over Winter Break boasted one goal: Organize the closet. However, my two-and-a-half-week-long sinus infection had a different goal: Knock Katie onto the couch.

Unfortunately, in my two-week break from work, the only step I took toward that goal was to buy the shoe rack and bins I needed from Bed Bath & Beyond. (The bins were on clearance, and I had a 30% off coupon for the shoe rack, so I was able to get 10 bins and the rack for only $50. Woohoo!)

Anyway, with a three-day weekend and a great audiobook, I was finally ready to tackle the closet. With about two hours of hard work, I got rid of this much clothes (I had to include the pups in this picture, because they were just being so darn cute):

Clothes for Goodwill

And got these plastic crates and drawers out of our room to take up to my classroom:

Previous High-Class Storage system

I don’t have any before pictures (I don’t know what I was thinking; it may have been out of subconscious embarrassment at even showing you what our room was looking like). But, here are some afters:

The bottom half of this side of the closet is all that B actually gets (pre-shelves).

Previously, that entire top rack was STUFFED full. I’m talking, like, no more hangers were going to squeeze themselves in there no matter how much coercing. I moved all my sweaters, hoodies, tanks, and tees to bins and drawers. Then, I sorted the remaining hanging clothes into “Going Out,” “Comfortable,” and “Work” clothes.

New shelves for bins

The next day, B helped me hang some shelves on that vacant right side. Now I can stack those bins vertically.

The remastered shoe pile

My shoes used to be thrown carelessly on the floor of this half. After paring down my collection into shoes I actually wear, and putting summer shoes and sandals into under-the-bed tubs for storage, I was able to actually fit all of my shoes on this 20-pair rack. Wow!

Scarf solution

Oh, and I also found a solution to the tangle of scarves for which I could never find the right place: two packs of $1 shower curtain rings from Target, and an old hanger. Yes, it was Pinterest inspired.

New laundry corner

The biggest difference for me is not having those dingy plastic drawers sitting out in our bedroom. No matter what we did, our room was just never going to look put-together with anything Rubbermaid sitting out. So, I was able to relocate my gym clothes into the dresser, and we were able to fit B’s drawers inside the closet. Now we have these nice $9.99 Target laundry hampers* instead (which saves us from the pile of laundry on the closet floor).

*I couldn’t find the exact product–but these are very similar, AND they’re on sale!

As I mention in my About Me section, I have often likened the compromise of marriage to the compromise of sharing a closet. See, the compromise is this: Just like I get 75% of the closet, I get what I want 75% of the time. Bahaha. Just kidding. (Although I’m not sure B would think I was kidding.) But, honestly, I think that taking our closet out of its state of disarray was a testament to the respect I have for B. He had mentioned a few times that my “shoe pile” bugged him, and I knew that the piles of clothes creeping out of our closet into our bedroom were making our shared space anything but a romantic oasis.

Temperatures Rising

Saturday night I fell asleep feeling a little crampy with a tickle in my throat, only to wake up on Sunday with a burning throat and that heat-radiating feeling that can mean only one thing: I was running a fever. Now, I know a lot of people are satisfied just knowing that their symptoms include fever. However, when my forehead is feeling a little toasty, I like to know my exact body temperature, and monitor its fluctuations frequently. A little too frequently, perhaps, because our digital thermometer (which had just been purchased in April) was out of batteries on Sunday morning when I went to collect my baseline piece of data. I clearly needed a new tool, and, since I was always a little skeptical about the accuracy of a digital thermometer, I felt myself called to the old school, under-the-tongue, wait-five-minutes thermometer. I was so excited about the thermometer, in fact, that I opened the package in my car on the way home from Wal-Mart–then surreptitiously drove with my hand blocking the side of my face so that next-door drivers wouldn’t think I was a total hypochondriac. ‘Cause I’m not. At all. Well, the reading was clear (and accurate) and self-evident: 99.5. I was officially under-the-weather.

See, the thing is, I’m a Type-A Personality who has trouble using the word “no” or putting my to-do list aside. However, when I’m sick, I finally have an excuse to lay on the couch drowning in episode after episode of DVR’d TV or Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix Instant Streaming. And, when you can cite your body temperature, that is evidence of your illness and therefore provides an excuse for any critical non-believers.

99.5 meant I could change into my sweatpants, curl up on the couch, and not feel guilty about the stack of grading that had sat in my car all weekend, or the dust accumulating on our bedroom furniture. The afternoon was perfect–I got caught up on recent episodes of Pan Am, Up All Night, The Middle, Modern Family, and Suburgatory. Then, B came home and we started in on our current Netflix obsession, How to Meet a Mom (which I believe others refer to as How I Met Your Mother).

Around 5pm, I deemed it time to record my next statistic, and picked up the thermometer. I began shaking the thermometer down (necessary for the old-school type). We all know this has to be done with some force. Well, I forcefully shook the thermometer–right into the remote control sitting on the couch next to me. The thermometer shattered and small balls of silver liquid flew through the air, splattering all over our couch cushions, afghans, and my laptop.

B and I looked at each other, wide-eyed, thoughts of mercury poisoning rising in our heads:

“Oh, sweet wife, I know you don’t feel well. That could’ve happened to anyone. It’s certainly not your fault and I don’t blame you in any way.”

“Thank you, dear husband, for understanding.”

“Let’s sit back and think about this in a logical way.”

“Oh, yes, let’s put together a methodical plan for cleaning up this potentially-hazardous chemical.”

“I will contribute my knowledge, being a senior hazardous waste technician for the county.”

“How wonderful to have such expertise in a moment such as this.”

Yeah, I would love to tell you that’s how the scene unfolded. But, to my dismay, it was more like this:

“Oh s***!” “Why the heck were you swinging it around like that?” “I don’t know I had to–” “Can’t you just buy a normal thermometer like everyone else?” “Don’t yell at me!” “Start pulling off the slipcover we’re going to have to throw it away.” “Not my slipcover! That was $119!” “Well don’t walk in it, you’re spreading it all over the floor.” “Stop yelling at me! My dad just gets a piece of paper and picks up all the balls. Not like that!” “Let’s just not worry about it. It’s not that much.” “What are you talking about your just said–” “Don’t vacuum it!” “Shake it outside are you CRAZY???” “Holy–It’s all over my shirt!” “Oh, great, I looked up what to do on the Internet and it basically says to call YOU.”

Our apartment quickly became a warzone. It was B vs. me vs. the mercury. None of us were on the same side. (Well, I think Delilah was on my side.) Finally, we decided we’d cleaned it up the best we could, or at least gotten it out of our apartment. But we didn’t think Delilah should be sniffing around in the carpet too much for a day or so. B decided he needed to get out and calm down, and since I wasn’t feeling well, I decided to take Delilah to my parents’ house to lay on their couch for a bit. We got D’s things collected, and B helped me carry her cage down to my car.

When I opened the passenger door to put Delilah in, there was the packaging from the now-shattered thermometer sitting in the seat. That’s when I read the wrapping.

“Environmentally-friendly. Mercury free.”

B looked at the wrapper at the same time I did.

“It’s mercury free.”


Without the utterance of even one more phrase, we collected the things from my car and carried them back up the stairs to the apartment.

“How about potato soup for dinner?” “Yeah, but first I’m gonna go buy some beer.” “Get me some, too.” “Aren’t you on cold medicine?” “Yeah, oh well.”

As we settled back onto our couch, we suddenly looked at one another… and burst out laughing. I’m talking one of those full-on, tears-rolling-down-the-cheeks, belly laugh kind of laughs. We laughed and laughed, falling together onto the couch. At that point, all the tension evaporated. We each had a beer, took a deep breath, and went on with life.

Although I hate how we handled what is going down in the books as the “Fake Mercury Disaster” situation in the heat of the moment, I’m glad that we’re figuring these things out about one another now. When B gets mad, he yells then gets annoyingly quiet. I cry and cry and whine and whine. Clearly, neither of us has a good coping strategy. But, at least we’re getting the chance to work on these issues now, in “fake disasters,” before a real situation arises, or someone else is involved. I think we would do well to have a couple more fight “drills,” but I feel confident that each will go more smoothly than the last.

Describe what your family dinners are like.

After publishing my last post, I noticed a new feature on WordPress that must have been added during my blogging hiatus. To the side of the “Congratulations, you published a post!” message, were ideas for post topics.

Although my blog began last February with a wedding-planning/apartment-decorating/relationship theme (okay, it was never that focused to begin with), life has progressed in the past eight months. Wedding planning no longer applies. Although I’m still interested in home-decorating, renter’s agreements, budgets, and time constraints leave me without a huge base of posting topics. Luckily, the relationship aspect of my life remains in the foreground, however, I can see my blog is taking a bit of a turn. So, you’ll have to excuse me, for I’m warning you in advance that I plan to break the major law of blogging. I am hereby revoking any “themes” my blog may (or may not) have had. Well, I take that back. Here’s the new theme: I like to write and I need a place to do it.

With this in mind, I’m going to stop worrying so much about find the perfect topic for a post, and instead concentrate on doing what I love most: writing. I may use these randomly-generated topics that WordPress recommends, I may review the book my Faith Club is currently reading (aptly named The Faith Club), or I may post recipes or tell you about how much I LOVE my new Nook.

For today? I believe I’ll…

Describe what {my} family dinners are like.

I grew up an only child in a family that valued spending time together. We always, and I mean always, ate our meals together. There were no breakfasts of cereals or dinners of PBJs eaten standing in the kitchen at the Johnson household. Eating dinner, for us, meant setting the table, saying grace, and enjoying each other’s company for at least ten minutes each night before we ran off to our many activities (yes, even a family with one child can have a busy evening!).

However, I’d like to focus this discussion on a particular part of a family dinner: grace.

Our church recently had the honor of hosting Dr. Rodger Nishioka, a professor of Christian Educ. at Columbia Theological Seminary for a weekend. Dr. Nishioka has been a part of many studies and lead many workshops on effective youth ministry. He shared an interesting statistic in a conversation with our youth group: Only 32%* of mainline-Protestant youth pray regularly before or after meals. *I’m not guaranteeing this was the exact number, but it was pretty close to this.

I can’t say this number really surprised me, but it did open up an interesting conversation about what constitutes prayer and our own grace-saying routines. Growing up with my parents, we recited the conventional “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blest” nightly. A nice, simple one-liner that we said in unison and punctuated with an “Amen. Squeeze-squeeze.” Our only deviation came when I was a youngster and was confused as to why we were praying about a pizza. (“Come, large pizza” is apparently what my four-year-old ears heard.)

With my mom’s side of the family, it was the same prayer, but said solely by my uncle with a bunch of “thee’s”, “thou’s”, and “thy’s” thrown in.

There’s something to be said for the familiarity of a comfortable dinner prayer. But I know I’d be lying if I said that prayer was always the most mindful, purposeful phrase that came out of my mouth.

Before our wedding, the pastor that married us advised that B and I try praying together. She promised it would be rewarding, and advised that it may be good for two people living together in such a strong commitment. This was not a subject we’d broached before in our relationship. B did not grow up praying regularly, with the exception of extended-family dinners. And my prayers had never been voiced aloud. But, when we moved in together, we decided to instate our own grace routine, as a way of spending that time praying together daily and continuing the tradition that had begun at my childhood family dinners.

For the past six months, B and I have alternated praying every night when we sit down for dinner. It was awkward at first; it’s always intimidating to put something so personal out on the table (literally) for the first time. However, it becomes less awkward with every “Amen. Squeeze-squeeze.” (Yes, we still do the squeeze-squeeze.) And, it encourages us to reflect on the day, think of one another, and to see what weight or joys the other is carrying.

So, while I can’t say with certainty what the implication of 32% of Christian teens praying regularly has had, I can infer that from my own experiences the positive impact it’s had on my life, both now and in the past.

A Wedding Whirlwind

Now that I’m back in the blogging world, let’s rewind and recap the big event on June 11. You’ll remember our long to-do list (that did all get done!), the vendors we worked with, the wedding nightmares, our DIY projects, banners, centerpieces, and favors, as well as the invitations, and the rings. Well, I’m happy to report that it all went according to plan. Literally. It all went perfectly. I’m not sure what percentage of that was my stellar planning skills, and how much was
just pure luck, but the day could not have been any better.

The weekend actually began on Thursday night, when out-of-town guests started to arrive. I remember being somewhat surprised when we walked into B’s
parents’ house for dinner that evening and a large group of his California relatives were there. Wow!I thought. This is it! This is actually happening! Somehow, seeing these relatives made me realize the reality of
the situation. And it only got better. I can honestly say that was the best part of the weekend–getting to see friends and family that we visit with so infrequently all there together to celebrate our big day.

I’m fairly certain that we had one of the biggest rehearsals ever to happen at GCPC. Since so much of our family was in town, they pretty much all showed up at the church, whether or not they actually had a role in the wedding.

The dinner was wonderful. Since we had originally wanted to have Spin! Pizza for our rehearsal dinner (long story…), the chef at the Doubletree agreed to go off their regular catering menu and whip up some flatbread pizzas for our party. Complemented with toasted rav, chicken fingers, fruit, and cookies, our “finger food” rehearsal dinner turned out fabulously.

Brandon’s mom did these centerpieces–don’t they look great? And now we have a plethora of bud vases left over. Good thing they’re en vogue.

We used some time at the dinner to thank our wedding party and our parents. These gorgeous flower arrangements were done by our florist in these gorgeous vases from Macy’s.

Our flower girls (all four of them!) got T-shirts from PersonalizationMall.com that say “I’m in Charge of the Petals”, and our ring bearer’s says “I’m in Charge of the Rings”. The shirts are personalized with their names and the date. We even customized the hair color of the little character on the shirt. They turned out super-cute.

I gifted my bridesmaids with monogrammed tote bags from L.L. Bean (no longer available, but similar to these), as well as bedazzled “bridesmaid” t-shirts. And Brandon gave his groomsmen each a nice bottle of sustenance for the weekend.

That night, a bunch of our friends and cousins hung out at The Other Place. We love this group picture of so many of our favorite people at one of our favorite bars.

As I already mentioned, everything came together for a perfect wedding day. I feel so blessed that I remembered my earrings, got my hair done on time, and actually showed up to the wedding–all nightmares I was scared would come true.

Mom was the best at lacing up my dress. I’d say “Pull tighter!” and she’d yank and pull until I could hardly breathe. (My MOH did have to loosen it after dinner.)

These next few pictures are from our Private Reveal.

And these next couple show proof–we did it! We’re married!

Our one bad wedding decision? Birdseed. After being pelted with those hard little orbs, I had birdseed wedged in every crease and crevice of my dress, glued in the hairspray in my up-do, and even down my dress, staining the skin of my stomach. Oh, and I forgot to mention that somebody didn’t even open the bag first. Yeah, really…

In the end, our centerpieces turned out great, the Dairy Queen ice cream cake was a huge hit, my DIY banners and place cards were bright and colorful.

So, there it is folks. Our wedding in a whirlwind of a blog post. Don’t worry–it was that much of a whirlwind for me, too. Last night, we finished our last batch of thank-you notes (I know, we took a little too long. Sorry, Miss Manners.), and I completed making our 75-page wedding album on Shutterfly. Those were the last of our wedding-related tasks to be completed, so I guess it’s officially over.

The good news is that now I’ll be one of those women who, looking back over the years, will be able to say, “Our wedding was perfect. It was the happiest day of my life.” And I’ll really mean it.

P.S. We purchased the rights to all of our photographs from RVR Photography, but I’d still like to offer them kudos and a huge THANK YOU for the beautiful images. Not all of these in this post are theirs, but some are.

My First Lesson in Marriage

I’m happy to report that we’ve made it through 5 1/2 weeks of marriage. Life doesn’t feel too different, except for the fact that I now introduce B as “my husband”, which takes some getting used to. Not that I expected it to be any different, but I would liken getting married to celebrating a milestone birthday. There was no overnight change in our relationship, just as there’s never any overnight aging realized the morning of a birthday. As a matter of fact, the morning after our wedding, we headed back to our apartment from the honeymoon suite at the Doubletree. We opened the door, dropped our bags, and looked at each other. “Well, I’m going to take a shower,” I said. “I think I’ll start a load of laundry,” B said. And we went about our business.

However, even after dating for four years before getting married, I’m learning things about B that I didn’t know before. I knew that B was a naturally cleaner person that I am. My first clue into this reality was once when I was helping him clean his old room, and he assigned me the task of dusting the power cords. Who does that?? So, although I had fair warning, I’m not sure I realized the extent of B’s cleanliness.

Let me paint you a picture. I wake up in the morning, stumble out of bed, generally to the bathroom or to the kitchen for a glass of water. By the time I return, B has made the bed and placed his neatly-folded pajamas on top of his pillow. Then, we head into the kitchen where I make a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, and settle into the couch to watch GMA. B finishes eating his Cheerios and Bagelthin, jumps up, and washes his dish and my bowl before the first commercial break. “I’m happy to do my dishes, babe,” I say. “I know, but I don’t mind!” he answers. However, I’m beginning to realize that it’s more his not being able to stand my dirty bowl sitting on the coffee table in front of me for the next half hour than anything else. After B leaves for work, I usually hit the gym and run some errands. When I return home, usually in the early afternoon, B has been home for lunch, emptied the dishwasher, started a load of laundry, and put away his clean clothes from the day before. Wow!

Don’t misread my commentary. This is certainly not a fault of my hubby’s. I LOVE that he helps around the house and is so organized. The “problem”, if you can even call it that, is that this talent so does not come naturally to me. It never has. Growing up, the cleanliness and organization of my room was a constant battle between my parents and me. They tried to help, and tried to instill a sense of responsibility when it came to the subject–but it just didn’t work. In this post I touched on the fact that my mom was never really into the stereotypical home-making or home-decorating. And, although I want to have a clean, inviting home, I truly just do not know how to make it that way.

Instead of feeling inadequate about this (which I totally do), I’m trying to view this as something I can learn from B. After all, there are many, many (MANY!) things he can learn from me 🙂