I’ve been writing this post for four days…and 17 years

I don’t think I was expecting to celebrate the morning of my 17th wedding anniversary finalizing (and scrutinizing) my kid’s Stanford early action application. We had gone over it several times. But somehow, the thought of hitting the ‘submit’ button made all of us want to triple and quadruple check everything. Every essay, every question. Was everything the way it needed to be?

You can drive yourself crazy wondering if you did everything right. I mean, the Stanford version of right.

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But then…it’s done. It’s sent. We are so freaking proud of that kid. And no matter what, we know that she will end up EXACTLY where she is meant to be. Stanford or not.
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I find it completely strange and wonderful and extremely fitting that the very first college application was filed on our anniversary. It wasn’t burdensome. It felt completely normal…like, this is what we do! A few hours later, after the kids shuffled off to their various locations, The Dude and I sat down at the bar waiting for our table. As we watched the bartender make our drinks, and we were finally settling down from the day’s events we kinda looked at each other and I said,

“Our kid just applied to…Stanford. How the hell did THAT happen???!”

We both shook our heads and my husband ordered us both scallop shooters. Of course.

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Before college applications, before the sun was even up, I got up and got dressed in my running clothes. My husband was still sound asleep when I whispered that I was leaving. He grabbed my hand to pull me back for a hug, whispered “Happy Anniversary” and promptly fell back asleep. After all this time, me leaving when it’s still dark out, even on our anniversary, to go on a run with Sarah is completely normal.

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That’s one of my favorite things about us. Our life is insane and full of chaos…but some of the most “normal” things make everything else fit right in. Like there’s room for everyone and everything has a place. Even if that place is tucked into a cupboard or on the very tip-top of a shelf, we’ll find a place for it all. All the chaos. All the people we love. Even all the things we need to do. We’ll get to it. We always seem to.

Photo by the oldest child in Huntington Beach
Photo by the oldest child in Huntington Beach

Going with the flow without getting swept up in the current is a big part of who are and how we live. But (really) hard work and epic stubbornness is how we’ve been able to float along together for 17 years.

The Mama and the Girls Photo by Sarah Maren Photography
The Mama and the Girls
Photo by Sarah Maren Photography

We had to fight like hell to make it. Not very much has been easy – especially in the beginning. (Hell, the first 10-12 years.) But being able to roll with the punches, and giving a lot of ‘em right back, is how we’ve survived. We’ve never given up.

The Dad and the Girls Photo by Sarah Maren Photography
The Dad and the Girls
Photo by Sarah Maren Photography

Maybe it’s because we just celebrated our 17th anniversary, maybe it’s because we’ve reached this parenting milestone where one of our kids is applying to colleges, but when I get to focus on just how far we’ve all come…WHOA, you guys. I’m proud of it.

Us...photo by Sarah Maren Photography
Us…photo by Sarah Maren Photography

 

I’m just so damn proud of it all.

Photo by: Sarah Maren Photography
Photo by: Sarah Maren Photography

 

not exactly how I planned it…

So, the our anniversary weekend didn’t go as planned. My in-laws were going to take the girls Saturday night but ended coming down with a bug. They still were expecting and willing to take the girls, but we just felt bad. Hopefully we can arrange a do-over! But since I was looking forward to having a nice “staycation” with my husband, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But you know what? It was still a really great couple of days.

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Even though we had staycation plans, we knew that our early Saturday would be busy. Beezus had a big softball practice for the team’s upcoming tournament, so The Dude headed that way with her. Ramona and I headed out to join our family tradition of Pomegranate Weekend.

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The main point of this family tradition is to seed/press the pomegranates for the juice. That juice, in turn, is used to make some pretty fantastic things. Mainly the (somewhat famous, maybe kinda) pomegranate jelly. We also have an amazing tradition of pomegranate punch. But there’s also been pomegranate ice cream and wine made from the fruits of the family labor.

This was the 42nd weekend that our family has gotten together to do this. The process has changed over the years, but it’s still a big deal to all of us. And obviously, this has been a part of my history for more than all of my life. Sometimes sporting events get in the way, but I loved that I could be there for so much this year. And, believe it or not, this was the first year that I took part in every step of jelly making. I think I’m usually outside and not much more than a helper when it came to getting the jelly happening. But this year? Thanks to my aunt and my gram, and (bless you) my cousin, I actually made jelly.

This is probably more shocking to me than most. But still.

I. Made. Jelly.

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Hopefully it’s just as delicious as it should be! But if it’s not, well…it’s really no wonder. I probably shouldn’t have been trusted with all that sugar and juice and such.

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If you follow Life of Jill on Facebook, you may have seen a few things mentioned about Operation Eleanor. Today is November 4th and NOT TO LATE to join us as we choose to do one thing each day that scares us. And it’s amazing what can happen when you have fear but you do it anyway. Getting out of your own way is job one. Or at least it was for me. Once I got out of my own way, I started seeing a lot clearer…and making some kickass to do lists and some pretty rad plans.

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I hope you’ll join in. It’s amazing…it’s hard…and it’s so very worthwhile.

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I forgot to show you some cute kids on Halloween:

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Or some BABIES that were married 16 years ago that just so happened to be featured on Fancy Pants Weddings.

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Yeah. I don’t have any words either. Except BABIES WE WERE BABIES OMG.

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This has nothing to do with anything, but this my breakfast yesterday. Actually, Eggs Benedict has everything to do with EVERYTHING so really it’s important that I’ve documented it here.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely weekend…it’s about to be a REALLY busy week for our family over here. So I’m glad that I could look back on a great weekend, even if it REALLY didn’t go as planned.

I’m still holding out for that DO-OVER.

my marriage is now old enough to drive

A few weeks ago, I was headed to pick Beezus up from school. There was a difference in schedules that day, so I was headed out to the high school a little earlier than normal. And as I stopped at a light not far from the school, a truck pulled up next to me.

I thought,

“Huh. That’s funny. That looks like The Dude’s truck.”

Being that I drive a car much lower than the truck, I couldn’t really see in the window. And, like always, my mind was filled on the next thing. Like my to-do list once I picked up my kids.

“Huh…funny. That guy’s arm looks like it could be The Dude.”

And then the truck’s window rolled down and I happened to look over into my husband’s smiling face.

I laughed. I hadn’t expected to see him. And so my mind ignored the possibility that it COULD be him.

Not that I shouldn’t be happy to see him, but this unexpected “running into each other at a stoplight” seeing him made me stupid happy. Like, my heart did that pitter-patter/flip-flop thing.

I rolled down my window, still laughing. And after some funny hello’s, I found myself blurting out,

“It’s my person!”

I don’t know why that stuck with me. And why it still sticks with my now. It makes my heart swell and it still makes me giggle. But there was something about that chance meeting at a stoplight that reminded me how much I love that he’s my person.

So much of this past year has been a near-constant reminder why he’s my partner in crime. We can both be such pains in the ass, but we are better because we have each other. We are a team. We are the balancing act that beats all.

We are beating the all the odds.

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Someone told me yesterday that The Dude and I did everything right.

And I laughed right out loud.

Because for 16 years as of today, I’ve joked that we did everything backwards and wrong. Because our baby was at our wedding. Because we lived with my in-laws. Because we’ve barely made it through all the obstacles. Because life was so, so hard.

Because we’ve done nothing by the book and nothing by the rules. Okay, almost nothing.

But something that this year has shown me (again) is what a crock of shit those rulebooks often are. Because maybe you have to make your own rules and blaze your own trails because the path on the map doesn’t make any sense. Instead of being worried about our rough beginning, we can be so damn proud of our present and our future. And if someone pays us the compliment of doing everything right, say THANK YOU…and recognize how blessed we really are!

My life is insane and crazy and chaotic and, well, hard. But my life is also full and wonderful and fun and amazing. And sometimes it’s nice to be able to sit back and remember all that.

So who cares that maybe sitting at a stoplight was the best date we’ve had in a while.

Don’t tell my husband, but apparently it doesn’t take much to make me ridiculously happy.