What are your favorite decorative items/pieces of furniture/household features?
I love writing about my house and taking photos of the little things hidden in it that make me smile. For the last two years, I've slowly worked through taking photos of my favorite rooms and sharing them on my blog. (Though I suspect you will never get to see pictures of Joe's office, never.) Not because we live in some amazing architectural wonder, or a big house or a fancy house or a supremely organized and clean house, but because we live in a colorful, warm, and above all comfortable, friendly kind of home. It is totally ours, and of course, still in need of some fix ups, but aren't we all? So here are links to the Bravely Obey Just Like Cribs, Minus the Bentleys Edition posts for your voyeuristic pleasure:
And here are my two favorite decorative pieces in our house:
This is a painting that I got to watch my father make one afternoon sitting at his art studio. He gave it to Joe and me as a wedding gift almost eleven years ago. It's huge and bright and active and has some of my favorite colors. It's from one of my favorite people in the whole world, commemorating one of my favorite days in the whole world. I'd say that's a win.
And then I had to include our photo wall. This is the long wall that starts in our living room/foyer area and extends into the hallway. It's covered with pictures of our travels, family, friends, and contains the history of our separate families and our last nearly fifteen years of shared history. It is epic and cluttered and chaotic and constantly changing. The cable guy took one look at it, eyes wide, and said "Man, that's a lot of photos." Yes, it is, sir, yes, it is.
What skill have you learned in the past year that you are proud of?
In 2011-2012, it's been all about practice, practice, practice. I've learned to be a better cook by just doing it more often. I've learned to be a better writer by just doing it more often. But I think the skill that I honed the most this year has been work related. Earning my certificate in professional fundraising was a significant thing for me. It boosted my confidence, it enhanced my ability to help my clients, and it made me realize that I'm good at this and the only way to get better in this area is to keep studying, find great mentors and practice, practice, practice, so I just need to keep doing it more often. Which is good since that's what they pay me to do at work everyday.
What was your hardest parenting or partner moment?
I don't want to jinx myself here, but Joe and I haven't had any serious fights or problems in our marriage. Just the little irritating ones. We are lucky. We work at it, but I think a lot of our relationship comes naturally and easily to us because we just fit together well. We are friends. We have enough similarities so that we get each other, but enough differences to keep things interesting and surprising. We've struggled occasionally, we are human after all, but it's usually exterior issues that have been difficult. Family problems, deaths, personal struggles, those things that you need to be there for, with each other, holding each other up, listening, caring, supporting, and laughing together as much as humanly possible.
And since things are so undramatic over here at the Sands house, and I know this will sound silly, but the minute I read this post I thought of a stupid fight we had over dirty dishes and how Vince Vaughn helped resolve it. Have you seen the entirely mediocre movie The Break Up, staring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, as a couple in a long term relationship who live together in some insanely expensive looking Chicago apartment that you know they couldn't really afford? Anyway, this movie is not particularly funny, or romantic or sad, it's just another movie that couldn't quite decide what it wanted to be. But there is an argument between the couple that happens early on in the movie. Jennifer Aniston's character has cooked some kind of elaborate meal and cleaned the house for a dinner party and once all the guests have gone home she asks Vince Vaughn to help her do the dishes before they go to bed. (And of course I had to pull this clip from Spike, the television network for men. Ugh.)
|The Break-Up - Argument About Doing Dishes|
But it's a fight I'm guessing a lot of us have had. Joe and I used to have some version of it all the time. It included passive aggressive cabinet and dish slamming from me while I cleaned and he sat on the couch watching TV. And then resentful confusion on his part about why the dishes couldn't wait and what I was so peeved about in the first place. Basically we just had shitty communication on this topic. I felt put upon and filled with a righteous martyrdom, and he felt blind sided and nagged. But we saw The Break Up and found ourselves lying in bed the next morning talking about the movie, our basic dislike of it in general, but more about how much I related to that scene, only with passive aggressive dirty Calphalon pans that I would leave waiting for him in the sink. It was a great, open conversation. And ridiculous that it took Vince Vaughn's mediocre acting to make us have it. We talked about how differently we feel about cleaning, about my nearly OCD need to have things clean and organized and the fact that he barely notices those things. It's just not on his radar. But that simple conversation pretty much fixed the problem. I stopped being passive aggressive and just asked for what I wanted. We split up the basic kitchen duties, I fill the dishwasher, he empties it. Whenever I ask. And then if I want help with pots and pans, I have to tell him, but I can't expect him to drop everything and do them just because they bug me. Because if I just leave pots in the sink thinking he'll take the hint, they'll still be sitting there waiting to be washed in 2098. Because the dishes aren't a priority for him. He doesn't see them. He doesn't sit on the couch like I do after a meal with the dirty dishes whispering in his ear that they need to be done. He will never want to want to do the dishes. But if I'm not whiny and shrill and I ask for what I need, like an adult, it all seems to work out a lot better. Oh, I still huff around now and then, human remember? But it's 1,000 times better than it used to be. And it only took 5 years of marriage to get there. Think how good we'll be at this by the time we've been married 25 years.