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Category Archives: Marriage

Courage, or “I can’t believe I’m writing this post”

Alternately titled:

  • “For girls only”
  • “The gift I gave my husband that turned out to be a gift to me”
  • “A big step toward loving my body”

My dear husband is often frustrated that I’m self-conscious and negative about my body.  We women have had years to perfect the art of criticizing our bodies.  So for his birthday this year, I decided to gift him with boudoir pictures.

Boudoir pictures.

And I still can’t believe I’m writing this post.

Here’s the thing:  I thought I was giving him something special.  And I was.  But it turned out, I got a gift, too.

Let me back up.

I’m not into maintenance.  I don’t go to spas or salons very often.  I buy 1 tube of lipstick and mascara every year or so.  I get my hair cut maybe once a year.  I’m really happy if I get a shower every day.  Heck, I don’t even use shampoo.  Those things aren’t bad and I think it is great to spend time on looking good.  I just don’t take time for it.  I used to.

When I decided to do boudoir pictures, I went online for ideas.  Bad idea.  Those women were so polished!  I panicked.  I booked a spa day.  And while I felt like an old car going in for repair, I left feeling wonderful.  Spoiled.  As shallow as that sounds.

Of course, I wouldn’t do boudoir pictures with anyone except Tracie Birch.  The first question she asked me as we planned this together back in August was “What do you want from this?  What is your goal?”  She made me think beyond the obvious.  I told her I wanted my husband to see me feeling confident about my body.  I admitted I didn’t know how to make that happen.  I broke out in a cold sweat just thinking about the execution of these pictures!  She was incredible to work with and captured exactly what I wanted.  Tracie also made me feel beautiful and powerful.  I was surprised to find I was having a ton of fun during the shoot!  Really.  I had FUN!  Even when she made me lie naked on a fallen tree.  Even when she picked a leaf out of my derriere.  We’re pretty close now, Tracie and me.

Why am I sharing this intimate information on my blog?  I’m taking a risk that one or two women who are reading would, like me, benefit from such a daring gift.  It is a no-brainer that your partner will be over the moon.  My bets are that you will be thrilled, too.

I put Scott’s collection into a leather-bound photo book.  It won’t be placed on the coffee table, mind you.  This book is for his eyes only and will live in his nightstand.  For the shoot, I used his favorite business shirt, one of his sweaters, his work gloves and woodworking apron, etc.  I don’t think he’ll ever use those work gloves without thinking of his wife.

I’m sharing a few of the cropped and tame images so you can see how incredible Tracie is. She is a photography ninja when it comes to catching light.

IMG_c9613 IMG_c9696


I still partly feel this blog post is a big mistake!  I might delete it tomorrow.

But girls, tuck this idea away.

(And maybe do an indoor shoot so Tracie won’t make you get cozy with a tree).

Uncommon Thanks

1)  The physical act of pressing the French Press.  Such joy it brings.

2)  That Norah deals with her own loose teeth.  Loose teeth gross me out.  She lost one this morning and it was such a non-issue.  Note to self:  DO NOT forget the tooth fairy tonight.

3)  The ways my husband wakes me up.  I’m not a morning person.  Scott is.  This week, he parodied local radio personalities to wake me.  “I’m Cathy Bradberry and this is Earthsense” or “I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension.”  In October, he put a giant Halloween Snoopy inflatable in bed with me.

4)  That the girls haven’t noticed I sold their play kitchen.

5)  Popping the top on the popcorn.  It doesn’t happen often.  When I was growing up, I watched my dad pop stovetop popcorn and sometimes the lid would start to rise.  It still gives me shivers of excitement.

6)  Letters Norah leaves around the house (this one is for the house gnome.  She thinks he took her barbie.  In reality, Goodwill took it.)

I think I’ll blame the house gnome for the play kitchen, too.

Grounding me

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Today, I celebrate 14 years of marriage.  Some days I feel I might fly off into wild dreaming.  Or sink down into slodgy worrying.  Or dissolve into puddles of tears.

Fall off the edge.

This man, with one look, holds me fast to time and place.  Grounds me.

A gift for him– a bracelet with the longitude/latitude of his marriage proposal.

Reminders of time and place.

*My friend, Jessica, crafts these bracelets and much more, at Motherhood Journey.

Hey Guy

You’ve seen the Hey Girl, Ryan Gosling sites.

My husband created his own comeback.  Hey Guy, Jennifer Connelly.




My love

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It isn’t his birthday.  Or our anniversay.  Or father’s day. 

It doesn’t need to be. 

This is my husband.

I’ve loved him for 17 years.  Yes, that long. 

I still fancy him.  Quite a bit.  We stay up late talking.  And even though he doesn’t love how birth affects our family, he listens to me talk about birth story after birth story and serving families.  He hears me rant about hospitals and OBs.  He offers insights and keeps me grounded when I panic worry.  He can talk ruptured membranes/intermittant monitoring/mucus plug/nipple stimulation with the best of them because he knows it is important to me.  He’ll make a flyer for my events or pick out the perfect doula gear

He has this look.  Oh this look that he gives me when the day has been particularly challenging and the girls have wrecked the house.  The look says “we’re going to make it and we’re going to do it together.”  And I can take another deep breath as he grabs a guitar to sing with the girls or puts on Mr. Roboto for a dance session. 

When I make a mistake (which is often), he is so easy.  So quick to forgive.  So quick to move on.  So quick to laugh.  He’s slowly teaching me to fight with him instead of sulk.  I’m a slow learner.

He likes to pick out my clothes and take me shopping.  I would be much dorkier if I didn’t have him in my closet.  He is way cooler than I am.  Sometimes when I am completely lost under a pile of rejected clothes, he’ll drop everything to be my fashion advisor.   He also explains jokes and slang to me. 

He’s handy.  A fixer of things–both tangible and intangible.  Norah once said, “Daddies fix things.  Mommies don’t fix things.  Well, they fix dinner.”  I’ve since educated her on that point.  However, her daddy is a first-rate fixer.   

Finally, and this one is tough to swallow, I think he might be better at this parenting gig than me.

 So, in honor of no special occasion, I want to say thanks to my love. 


The final extremity, or a history of marriage with this man.

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Arm # 1:  (injury location–Tallulah Gorge) 

We’d only been married a few months when my husband showed up at our door cradling a sublexed shoulder.  Covered in dirt with leaves in his hair.  I don’t remember the details.  I’m sure it was a great story.  He had injured it while running the infamous Tallulah Gorge.  After bravely telling his kayak party to “go ahead without me, I’ll be fine,” he climbed out of the gorge carrying his boat and painfully made his way home.  The next day, we welcomed Dr. Baumgarten into the family. 

Leg # 1:   (injury location–Middle-of-Nowhere, NY)

Famous last words, “just one more tree.”  Scott and I had taken 10 teenagers deep into the woods to work on a project.  We were building a prayer glade meant for seclusion and beauty.  We had transported all the kids to this spot via a tractor-pulled hay cart.  The manly men of our party–two college students and Scott–were “clearing the view” (i.e. chainsawing all the poor trees in their path) on a ridiculously steep incline.  The injury was, well, let’s just say it was gruesome.  A very bumpy hay-ride, ambulance transport, and a terrible introduction to NY public hospitals = icing on the cake. 

Yes, that is my hubs in the middle.  The one brandishing the chainsaw.  And yes, the pic to the left was taken just before the drama.  The Prayer Rim project turned out nicely, though.  We can truly say it was built with blood, sweat, and tears.  The tears were mine (and Josh Finch’s). 


Leg # 2:  (injury location–icy trail, NC)

A slip on ice while hiking results in a broken leg–not the clean break kind, of course; the spiral break kind.  The kind that requires surgeries and pins.  Mr. if-its-gonna-happen-it-will-happen-in-the-middle-of-nowhere had to hike out of the wilderness by pulling himself along the ground.  Even crossing a river.  Why hello, again, Dr. Baumgarten.  Really, it has been too long.

Arm # 2 (injury location–Ocoee River, TN)

Kayak + big rock = broken face and another sublexed shoulder.  He’s scheduled for surgery tomorrow.  Should I bring cookies for our friend, Dr. B?

Feeling Lovey-dovey

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I’m feeling very grateful for my delicious husband.  I’m ever amazed at how he pours himself into our family and how he consistently puts our needs first.  He has sacrificed many things so that I can be at home with our daughter. 

I still can’t believe that a 16 year old cheerleader somehow meshed with the edgy deadhead in chemistry class oh so many years ago.  One day I’ll share the story of how I tricked him into our first date. 

He always has been and always will be way cooler than I’ll ever be. 

On Women and Infidelity

I have some thoughts. 

And maybe a theory.  Though even as I type it, I sound presumptuous.     

I think it would be hard to have an affair if you have excellent girlfriends.


I’m basing my theory on personal experience alone.  See, I have excellent girlfriends.  They sweep me off my feet with surprise and romance.  We routinely get carried away.  In a completely heterosexual way, of course.  

Now my sister is my best friend but she’s family.  And I expect family to support me, be there for me, etc.  She has to listen to me and come when I need her.  Ah, but friends–they could leave me (oh dreadful day) or let me down (never). 

They choose.  

How does this prevent infidelity?  My girlfriends meet needs for intimacy that my husband cannot/does not meet.  I absolutely could not expect Scott to meet all my intimacy needs.  How exhausting.  My husband is extraordinary–he listens over and over again as I process tricky scenarios or have a meltdown at the end of a rough day.  But I’ve learned he doesn’t love listening to me recite poetry.  And while he listens a few times to the same story–you know women work out our feelings by hashing the same story several times–really, two times is his limit. 

My days are filled with beautiful friends.  Most memorable moments lately:

  • apple picking
  • pie-baking day
  • sitting in a car sharing secrets while the babes sleep
  • a full day of eating yummy foods thrown together at the last minute in the midst of uncontrolled chaos
  • making vegetable soup
  • sharing a bottle of wine with one who had a rough day 
  • dreaming over the phone with the most amazing massage therapist on earth  
  • discovering this sign posted above my head only after Norah spilled her juice and ran amuk at coffee underground:

There is something utterly breathtaking about strong mommy-friends.  The shared vulnerabilities (that none of us really know what the heck we’re doing or if we’re ruining our children for life), the forgiving nature of playdates (that naps must come first–mine or the child’s–and that I may be wearing the same clothes I did the day before), and the help, oh the help (like the time Carey role-played niceness so Norah would get the hang of um, not yelling at me). 

What more could I need?

10 Years Ago

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Right about now (11am) ten years ago, Scott kissed the bride.

Some things haven’t changed much:  Scott got a kayak paddle salute as we left the church.  And since I was obsessing about equality, the lovely church ladies put “Congrats Scott and Julie” on one side of the church sign and “Congrats Julie and Scott” on the other side. 

Some things have changed:  The beloved jeep that carried us away from the church is gone.  Many faces in our wedding pictures have scattered to other places–some as far away as China.  Our flower girl is much taller than I am now.  Scott’s hair is several inches shorter.  And I would never fit in that dress!   

Ah, that fateful night a baffledirritated, slightly put-out teenage boy got tricked into a date…who would have imagined the chain of events to follow?

The Economics of a Marriage

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An unexpected gift celebrating no occasion.


Results in an apple pie baked with all my love.


And I thought of your face that sweeps over me like light, like the sun on the apple making a lovely show.  So one seeing it marveled the other night, turned to me saying, “What is it in your heart?  You glow.” –Not guessing that on my face he saw the singular reflection of your grace like fire on snow–and loved you there.  –May Sarton