In Real Life: Week 17

Hello friends! Our week 17 was a little strange. I spent most of it sick, unfortunately.

I definitely channeled my inner house cat a lot.

Robbie had the bright idea to throw some sliced leftover chicken into instant ramen. I recommend.

Have I mentioned that our nanny is awesome? She drew this freehand!

She also helps us make sure we’re eating our old produce first.

Baby Warmachine does not wanna be awake.

I’ve been trying to spend my free time being more creative these days. This was a quick sketch before class one day.

I also played a little bit with watercolors! Not terrible for having no idea what I was doing, I think.

Don’t mess.

I liked that little sprig poking through the boards on the left.

James asked me to help him dye his hair red for crazy hair day at school. Derp!

I could almost believe that’s a diamond at the center of this little succulent.

I’ll take one of everything, please.

Inevitable nap on mom.

This arrangement has fantastic texture and movement, don’t you think?

Lush.

Lolwut?

Look out… we have a climber. Oh my.

Nature’s confetti.

And that was it for this week! But if you care to take a peek at some of the photos I took at last weekend’s airsoft game, let’s keep going. ūüėČ

I loved the way these shadows were all lined up.

Locked and loaded.

(This guy is Asian, lol)

Better run through the jungle.

Like a shot out of a zombie apocalypse movie.

Have a great week 18, everyone!

Take a look into the past…

2017 Week 17

 

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In Real Life: Week 16

Hello friends! A day late with the photo recap this week, but it’s worth the wait, I promise!

Strawberry shortcake on Sunday.

I’ve never seen ice used a garnish before, but this giant cube was totally rocking it.

Hello, pretty poppies!

BBQ chick FTW.

My boys. ‚̧ (Also, James is totally against brushing his hair these days.)

Isn’t every week Doctors’ Week?

Afternoon doodlin’.

I sketched my lavender bush. Not bad for a first attempt, if I may say so.

“What? You moved, so it’s mine now.”

The highlight of our week was having Grandma come to visit!

It was perfect timing, as Food Truck Friday kicked off while she was here.

YOLO fries because, well, YOLO.

It was a gorgeous evening to spend at the park.

Gettin’ saucey¬†over here.

Cheesin’ with friends.

…and making new ones.

Trying new things with Daddy.

Food Truck Friday is definitely worth a dab.

This reminds me of an old photo: “You been farmin’ long?”

Of course mom and I had to go down to the cliffs.

We were just in time to catch the sunset.

The ocean breathes salty. Won’t you carry it in?

Then Saturday, Grandma watched the boys while Robbie and I left for most of the weekend. We were so grateful to get away for a while! Sometimes mom and dad just need some alone time.

I got out the big camera and took photos while Robbie played airsoft. I am so rusty with this thing!

I love the post-apocalyptic feel of the field.

It really is the perfect place to play airsoft.

I got some good action shots with my Canon, but I haven’t had time to go through them yet. But I did get a few details with my phone.

The graffiti is prolific and awesome.

Never enough patches.

I definitely smashed this into my face.

Then I went and saw Ready Player One while Robbie played the afternoon game. I liked it, even though it was significantly different from the book. Have you seen it? What did you think?

Casual eats before date night.

Sorry, Robbie. There’s a new man in town.

We stopped in at this neat little cigar shop. Apparently their liquor license is coming soon. 10/10 would definitely come back.

There’s something so manly about a cigar to me.

This little sundae gem is called The Bee’s Knees.

Can you taste it?

Downtown Monterey.

I’m not sure what’s happening here.

I think he’s checking me out.

This was a fun photo to take while intoxicated. (Also a fun one to edit.)

I got so many compliments on my shoes.

Foggy morning breakfast views. It’s not every day¬†you get to see a jellyfish swimming around while you eat pancakes!

Robbie said this guy reminded him of Oliver, with the begging for food and all.

When we finally got home, I took mom down to the cliffs one last time before we headed to the airport.

This beach house is living its best life.

Until next time…

…have a great week!

Take a look into the past:

2017 Week 16

Dear You.

Dear you,

I’ve started and stopped this letter more times than I can count. And now that I’m here I don’t know where to begin. So I’ll just jump in.

It’s been 5 years now since I left you. So much has changed since then. I have changed so much since then. And I’m sure you have too. You may never forgive me for what I put you through, but I’m going to say these things anyway so that I may finally forgive myself.

First, I must admit that much of what we had was good. You were a bright force in my life for many years. You brought me joy and laughter and companionship. You pushed me out of my comfort zone on many occasions. You introduced me to an entire world of people and experiences that I would have completely missed without you. I learned so much from you. And I did love you. Though I know now that it wasn’t the kind of love meant to build a family or a life upon, I did love you. I loved your energy, your charisma, your generosity, your wit and your humor. You were and are a force to be reckoned with, and I loved that about you.

But the¬†truth is that I knew from day one that you were not right for me. There was a quiet voice deep inside me – one that I had not yet learned to listen to – gently whispering “no” for the entirety of our relationship. And while I offer no excuse for how unfair this was to both of us, for me to be so wholly dishonest for so long, I do offer this explanation: I was young and naive.

With the clarity of hindsight and newfound maturity, I can honestly say that I was ill-equipped to handle your love. And I do believe you loved me. I believe with genuine certainty that you cared for me the best way you knew how, despite the fact that it was often not the way I needed you to. I cannot fault you for this – I was never honest about what I needed from you. I lacked both the knowledge of self to even understand what my own needs were and the confidence required to ask for them. This is a battle I still fight. But the ultimate truth is that I could not have known that I wasn’t ready. In all honesty, I now wonder if any 22-year old is ever truly ready. But I had been pulled into the strength of your orbit, and I wanted so badly to be what you wanted me to be. I just didn’t know then how unsustainable that would be.

Looking back now I see that it couldn’t have ended any other way. I needed an Earth-shattering event to shake me awake, to show me how untrue I had been to myself and to offer a path to something more real. But I didn’t go looking for that event – it simply happened. You may never believe that. But after all this time I would admit to seeking refuge if it were true. The truth is that I thought I was happy enough when it happened. I see now that it was probably that contentment that helped me feel confident enough to even start a friendship with Robbie. And I know it may make no sense to you, but I truly believe that what happened next was inevitable. This life that I have now feels so completely right and true to me that I have to believe it is where I am meant to be. I did not seek love outside our marriage. But it found me. And when it did, it was so powerful and all-consuming and so unlike anything I had felt with you that I knew nothing would ever be the same. I knew that even if I didn’t leave you for him, there was no way I could stay. I had seen my true self, and I could never go back to pretending I didn’t know she was there.

So I did the only thing that seemed fair – I left, with haste. I can hear you now: “Fair?! Really? Sure, maybe for you.” But truly, I felt that it was unfair of me to waste any more of your time, to waste even one more day letting you believe that we could be together forever or that I could ever truly reciprocate your love. You deserved so much better than that. You deserved the chance to find someone else to build a life with, who would love you fully and honestly and would give you all the things you wanted without growing resentment.

And I want you to know that what I left you for was absolutely worth it. The love I share with Robbie remains as strong and powerful and all-consuming as it was 5 years ago. Our life and our family are beautiful and challenging and exciting and wonderful. And I say this not to torture you, but rather to let you know with absolute certainty that your sacrifice, though unwelcomed, was not in vain. I did not hurt you for nothing.

So, what I’m really here to say is… I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that I was never honest with you in our relationship.
I’m sorry that I wasted so much of your time.
I’m sorry that I could not love you the way you loved me.
I’m sorry that I married you despite my doubts.
I’m sorry that I ultimately betrayed you.
I’m sorry that my betrayal cost you not only your wife, but also one of your closest friends.
I’m sorry for the shame you must have borne with our divorce, which occurred so suddenly and so soon after our marriage.
I’m sorry that I hurt you so deeply.
I’m sorry for the pain I must have caused your family.
I’m sorry that they must have felt taken advantage of by me.
I’m sorry for the financial and logistical hardship my exit must have created.
I’m sorry for the myriad of ways you must have felt that your life had been turned upside down.
I’m sorry.

It wasn’t easy for me to leave you – I want you to know that. And I have borne years of shame and regret about our story, afraid until now to really tell it for fear of judgment¬†or invalidation of my current marriage. But now, today, I’m letting it go. And if you haven’t already, I encourage you to let it go, too.

In parting, I want to tell you that I wish good things for you. I see that you’re completing graduate school, and I am so proud of you. I know you will do great things with your degree. I am truly happy for you. I wish you love and happiness and success. I hope that one day you may even marry again, if that is what you want.

Go with peace.

With love,

~Jess

What I’m loving lately

People’s stories. Memoir has been a favorite book genre of mine for a while.¬† (This probably started with Eat, Pray, Love, if I’m totally honest.) I think part of what makes memoirs so fascinating is that, of course, only interesting stories are chosen to be published. But I find what I love more than anything is a story that’s true – one that a real human being actually experienced. All the highs and lows are so much easier to empathize with when I know they really happened. And I love the way memoir shows me that we’re all just people… each with our own complicated past to overcome.

One of my current memoir obsessions is Chef’s Table,¬†on Netflix. I first turned it on one day when I wanted something I could tune in and out of while I chased Jack around the house, but I quickly found myself wanting to sit down and actually pay attention because each episode was just so fascinating! They introduce a different chef with each episode, and they do a fantastic job of really telling each person’s story – how they grew up, where they got their culinary start, and what makes their¬†approach to food truly unique. And it’s done so beautifully, with artistic filmography and a moving soundtrack. It really hits all of the right buttons for me right now.

Some of my favorite memoirs in book form are (of course) Eat, Pray, Love, Wild, The Art of Asking, Mind Hunter, and Year of Yes. Check ’em out if you’re interested. ūüėČ

Meeting new people. When Robbie and I decided to explore opening our relationship, I didn’t really know what I wanted out of it. To be honest, I’m still not sure I do. But what I do know is that most people’s first assumptions about why we’re open are wrong. This entire topic could be a post in itself, but for now, I will say this: what has been most enriching for me out of this entire experience has been connection.

I am really enjoying meeting people with whom I otherwise would never have crossed paths. People from completely different walks of life, in many different relationship situations of their own, and – here’s the kicker for me – each with their own unique story. Even if we have nothing in common or little chemistry, I learn something new from each person I meet. Sometimes what I learn ends up being more about myself than the other person, and that’s equally as great. I’m learning more empathy, less fear, more confidence, and a greater sense of curiosity. And when you’re free to simply keep all options open, connection is that much easier. It hasn’t always been easy, but so far it has definitely been good.

Cultivating creative energy. This has come in a few different ways for me lately. Photography, of course, has been a big creative outlet for me. But I’ve also been really enjoying doodling. I’ve been keeping a sketchbook for a few months now, and in it I’ve been doing all kinds of things with colored pencils, calligraphy pens, and even markers. Sometimes I put on a song that’s really been speaking to me and “sketch” the lyrics. Sometimes I just draw random shapes in random colors, and create my own abstract designs. Sometimes I just put pencil to paper and let both my brain and my hand wander. It’s all good.

Another new outlet for me lately has been container gardening. I’ve had a brown thumb for most of my life, but I’ve recently become better at keeping my plants alive, and – dare I say it – some of them are even thriving now! I have a funny mix of succulents, flowering plants, and greenery. Each of them has different watering and sunlight needs, and it’s been fun to care for each plant individually and really cultivate them. I like growing things… who knew?

Irish punk and alternative rock. I think I have come to terms with the fact that I’m just one of those people who goes through musically-obsessive phases. I find a band or genre that I love in at a particular moment, and then I listen to it ad nauseum. Lately it’s been a mix of Irish punk (thanks, Flogging Molly concert!) and 2000’s-era alternative rock, like The Strokes, The White Stripes, and Rage Against the Machine. I’m sure it will change soon, but for now, I’m really enjoying it.

Learning how to really RELAX. I am a great multitasker. Even when I’m watching TV or in the bathtub I’m usually scrolling through my phone, bouncing between social media apps or checking my email or browsing Amazon. But, as I’ve come to realize, this isn’t really relaxing. My body might not be doing anything, but my brain is still going a million miles a minute. All the constant input just jacks me up instead of slowing me down.

So I’ve started putting my phone down more, and putting it on silent before I leave it in the other room so I can truly forget that it’s there. Sometimes in the evening, I consciously choose not to deal with the remaining tasks on my to-do list, and sit down outside instead. I calm my brain by choosing to focus on one detail at a time – the way the clouds are moving, the sound of the cars going by down the hill, the smell of a neighbor’s BBQ grill. It centers me. Sometimes I use incense to set a mood of calm and also to give me a finite amount of time to force myself to be truly still. And my brain is better for it. I’m calmer, and more emotionally resilient.

Another relaxing thing I’m loving lately is watching videos of people painting with watercolors. This video is a great example. I love to watch the way the picture takes shape and to watch the motions of the artist’s hand. Combined with the calming music that usually accompanies the video, it’s very meditative for me. Plus, watching it via the YouTube app on my phone means I can’t multitask with other apps, so it forces me to focus. Win-win.

And some other, smaller things that are saving my life? A good cup of coffee, brewed and enjoyed with intention. My own made-up yoga flow that lets me do all the poses that feel good to me that day. Silly giggles with Jack. Long hugs from Robbie after work. Kitty snuggles. Strawberry shortcake on Sunday. Cheap roses on my table. Having the board behind my desk at work filled to the brim with photos of family and friends.

Small moments add up to a big life – if you let them.

What are you loving lately?

Love,

~Jess

In Real Life: Week 15

Hi, friends! Let’s take a look at week 15…

I wanna go for a swing!

I made some pork carnitas last weekend, and shared the process on my Instagram stories.

The recipe doesn’t need an entire Corona, but I sure wasn’t gonna let the rest of the bottle go to waste.

My favorite part.

Okay, maybe THIS is my favorite part.

Bath time shenanigans.

I can’t decide what I love more – my little baby brushing his teeth, or his adorable, businessman comb-over.

Dat light doh.

Mama and baby horse.

This little yellow iris made me smile. Such a happy little guy, don’t you think?

Robbie and I have been together 5 years as of this week. It seems like a lifetime ago that we started our journey – so much has changed.

Now I’m a mama, I live in a different state, and I’m about to start grad school. 24-year old me never could have imagined what my life looks like today.

I love the smell of incense in the evening.

Is it bad that I kinda want to wear this with biker boots?

Mama got some shiny new pencils.

This guy has had a rough week. He ran a fever off and on for a few days and slept horribly for most of the week (which means I did too). Finally took him to the doctor because I thought he might have an ear infection, but it turns out he has hand-foot-and-mouth.

I think I would prefer if he just had an ear infection so we could have some antibiotics and just be done with it. But I digress.

Unfortunately, Robbie has also been sick. (Bronchitis for him.) So it was time to make chicken soup.

Homemade noodles are easier than you think. Would anyone like a tutorial? I can do that if there’s interest.

Chicken soup cures all, my friends.

Trying to keep him entertained and not trying to climb me while I cooked.

Roses were only $4/dozen when I went to the store to get ingredients. I took it as a sign and bought 2 bunches.

Gotta practice some self-care when taking care of everybody else, right?

Reserved one stem for someone special.

We’re still thinking of you, Don.

Real life moment here.

He’s starting to feel (and sleep!) better, thankfully.

I will gladly accept all the extra snuggles in the meantime.

My tiny cactus is blooming! A happy surprise.

Trying to get some good vibes going.

Idaho wine tastes better in a mason jar.

What’s making you happy this week?

Have a great week 16!

Take a look into the past…

2017 Week 15