This New Year

On this day in 1999, I was fearing for my life.

Before The Walking Dead or Katniss Everdeen had even been thought of, I was preparing for my world to become apocalyptic. I was 12.

15 years later, Y2K still hasn’t happened. The Mayan calendar didn’t really mean much either. However, we face our own little apocalypses each year, don’t we? They have nothing to do with ancient prophecy or computer malfunction. They just happen without warning, and change us forever. But if you’re reading this, you’re still here. You’re a God-blessed survivor even if you don’t feel like one.

I’ll be honest, 2014 was a rough one. Misunderstandings, loneliness, lost jobs and a lost babe, confusion and clarity alternating like a roller coaster ride.

Occasionally, the darkness cracked and some light peered in. It’s why I’m still here too.

Can I tell you about them? Can I give you some hope? Will my thoughts mean anything to you?

Tell you what. Keep reading, and when you get to the bottom, you’ll see a link to my best friend’s site, where she’ll also be reminiscing about the positive things that happened in her life this year.  I am so thankful for her. Best friends for at least 20 years now – the kind of friends that drop everything and get on a plane to go be with each other when there’s a crisis.
We are women forged by fire, but rather than sacrificing ourselves to be burned up, we’re going to allow our hearts and minds to flow and curve like water, quenching the heat, refreshing our souls, going forward.

Don’t let your hearts remain stagnant or burnt. Winter is here, but Spring is coming. Join us. Tell us your stories of 2014, and what your dreams are for 2015. Alone we are enough, but together we are stronger.

~

This year, I witnessed another precious little girl-soul come into this world. She took her first breath in the glowing light of an early July morning, in her own nursery at her parents house. A holy moment.

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Soon, my goal will be accomplished through a little piece of paper that says “Carly Hutton, Certified Birth Doula” so that I can keep drinking in those holy moments, keep helping those other women forged by fire become mothers – even if I never become one myself.

~

In September, I was a bridesmaid for the first time. It was easier than I thought it would be. I put on a purple dress, did my makeup, and ripped only 2 pairs of panty hose while someone else far more capable did my hair.
My former roommate and bride of the day gave me a pearl necklace and earrings that she made herself. Treasure, only gained by letting a granule of sand itch the shit out of you until you’re pure.

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I witnessed 2 of my best friends commit their lives to each other. They sang their vows and yet they still wanted ME to sing a song for them. So I did. It was called “Dancing in the Minefields” because that’s not only what marriage is, but life itself.

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That day was the most I’ve smiled since I lost our baby. I mean, I kinda legally had to for photogenic reasons, but it was the first time I WANTED to.

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I passed my 4-year anniversary of blogging, and at least half of my 200 followers are real people.

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And finally, we moved back to the town where I grew up. I did enjoy most of the Vancouver experience, but home it was not. Too much water; my fire almost went out.

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Here in Smithers, I am known. By the people, by the snow-capped mountain, by the back roads and the river wild.

And? My new house has a bathtub.

~

It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s only a matter of one day’s difference, and yet, it holds so much shiny promise. All the shit we’ve gone through recently, we can finally say, “That happened last year.”

I used to be the kind to make resolutions. Not anymore. But for the sake of being traditional:

In 2015, I resolve to lose weight.

The weight of condemnation and shame and guilt of decisions past. The weight of trying to be liked by all and keep everyone happy. The weight of perfection. I want to lose it. And if, in doing so, it prompts me to live a healthier life that actually affects scale, then so be it.

And in 2015, I resolve to be the 7-11 in Smithers on Christmas Eve.

It was the only place open and serving food past 6pm when my husband, my mom and I were starving. Hot dogs never tasted so good.

No matter what store it is, though, I always feel a spark of hope rise whenever I see a glowing red OPEN sign. Knowing that I’ll be able to get what I came for, what I need, today.

That’s how I want others to feel when they see me. Open. Mind, heart and arms, ready to do messy, beautiful business at any given time. Never turned away.

As this year ends, I have high hopes for 2015.

Hopes that suddenly, everyone will have an a-ha moment. An a-ha that realizes we need something else. Something different. An a-ha that knows we are meant for more than what we have been content with living.

Hopes that, this new year, shooting up schools and shooting up veins will no longer be the go-to solution for long unanswered cries for help and understanding.

Hopes that, this new year, the Battle of the Sexes will run out of ammunition.

Hopes that, this new year, we will see through skin colours, to the hearts and minds that brew underneath. Every culture and race has its heroes and assholes; let’s stand up and recognize. I repeat: PEOPLE ARE MORE THAN THEIR SKIN AND REPUTATION AND STEREOTYPE. CHECK. YOURSELF.

Hopes that, this new year, toddlers and teenagers on the brink of dreams and inspiration – adults burned low on chips and bills – elderly melting on the ice floes of their last lives – will all be valued and held accountable and loved for who they are.

Hopes that, this new year, the corrupt will be exposed and the honourable will be exalted.

Hopes that, this new year, these words will ring true:

“And in despair, I hung my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said.
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men….’
Then rang the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Let it be so.

:: A Year in my BFF’s Life ::

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How We Had a Kick-Ass Wedding (Without Kicking Our Wallet’s Ass!)

It’s not even the middle of January, and already, it seems that “wedding season” is beginning. (Did it ever really stop?)

I love weddings. And I’ve been to some pretty fantastic ones. But I have to be honest…my favourite one so far…was mine.

A lot of people know that we dated, got engaged, and married pretty quickly. For those who are new, it was the span of an entire 5 1/2 months. And only 9 WEEKS of it was spent planning the actual wedding. We didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t have a lot of fancy ideas. We didn’t even have Pinterest. And yet, our special day was an event that friends still talk about with fondness.

Now that our time is over, and more friends are joining the revelry, they’ve started to ask our secrets. I will gladly divulge them here, through many a picture and story. Because everyone deserves to know that they don’t need $20,000+, or the best food, or the highest-rated photographer (although, we lucked out MAJORLY, as you’re about to see!).

1. I found my wedding dress at Value Village, a good two years before I was even close to getting married.

Did you know that, on average, all wedding dresses at VV cost only $130? Some of them are truly hideous, and unless you’re a skilled seamstress with a fantastic vision in mind of what it COULD be, you should try them on just for a laugh. That’s how I found mine – I was having one of those silly, fun shopping days with my ladies – where I wanted to try everything on without actually buying any of it. You know, that Best Customer of the Day Award.
As we all know, VV can offer some pretty great finds, and I was having a ball as my girlfriends brought me costume after costume. And then, the fateful words left my lips: “Hey, one of you should go find a wedding dress! That would be hilarious!”

Next thing I knew, Michelle brought back this pure white cloud of gloriousness, and I was sure of 3 things: a.) It was not common VV fare, b.) It wasn’t “my type” and c.) it wouldn’t fit anyway.

I was only right about one thing.

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It was one of those moments where you could feel the magic falling upon the room. I opened the door…the ladies gasped…I saw myself in the full-length mirror…was in shock for awhile…had complete strangers, including men, coming up to me, saying, “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know your life, but honey, you need to buy this dress.

So, I did. With the wallets of all my ladies combined. (I was totally just gonna do it myself, but they insisted. This was a great foreshadowing of situations to come.)

And then… almost two years went by. That magnificent little dress hovered in the closet like a ghost, wondering if it would ever fulfill its purpose.
And then…one week into the planning of the Big Day, I tried it on again.

It didn’t fit. I would have had a heart attack, except that the dress, in its tightness, prevented my heart from going anywhere.

2. A very skilled seamstress and a little box of Dryel go a long way.

Our wedding colours were red, black and white. When my very-skilled-seamstress friend Jeannette saw that my dream dress no longer fit, 8 weeks before the Big Day, she just laughed and said, “Oh, I’ll fix that.”

But first, we noticed it should be drycleaned. I tried to calculate another $200 into the budget, until Jeannette, once again, saved the day with her wisdom. For $25, I bought a box of something magic called Dryel. You put your items into the Dryel bag, tumble it in the dryer and voila! You’ve just dry-cleaned your own clothes.

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As for making my dress fit without making me lose 10 pounds over night…a red panel with a black lace-up was found to be extremely forgiving and super matchy-matchy.

(What are we at now? Dress $130 + Dryel $25 + Alterations $100 = $255. Who do you know that has spent $255 on their wedding dress? ME.)

3. Keep it simple, silly.

We each chose 3 close friends to be a member of the wedding party. There wasn’t really a “best” of anyone. For their Big Day outfits, I told the girls, “Just use whatever little black dress and red high heels you might already happen to have in your closet.” I honestly didn’t care. I like variety, and I think making every girl wear the exact same style of a pre-chosen dress could potentially be asking for trouble.
It couldn’t have gone better if I planned it myself.

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Since we found a mother lode of Red Converse at Army & Navy for $14.99 a piece, we told the boys we’d take care of that, as well as their red suspenders and red bow ties. All they would need to come up with is a long-sleeved black button-up shirt and black dress pants. They accomplished this with utmost flair, and our wedding gift to them was taken care of. BOOM.

Now when it came to actually finding bow ties and suspenders, that proved a little more challenging. We only found stores that carried one thing or the other, not both. And even though we liked variety, we kiiiinda wanted the reds to be the same on these particular accessories.

So we prayed a little, made some phone calls, took some chances AND!

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Van Halen fans, take note.

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Between Le Chateau (I ❤ you 4ever!) and Black & Lee, we managed to find 4 sets of suspenders and 3 bow ties, ALL the same beautiful cherry-red colour. If that doesn’t make you believe in God, I don’t know what will.

(Money Tally: $255 dress + $60/4 pairs of shoes + $70/4 suspenders & 3 bow ties + $50 special Van Halen tie = $435.)

4. Do it outdoors.

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If you have a willing friend with a big backyard, you can forget about paying to rent a church or a hall or a courthouse etc. What about the weather, though, am I right? Well, again, I prayed my butt off, and I got NOT ONLY the sunniest, warmest day in Northern BC in late September BUT I got the sunniest, warmest WEEK leading up to the Big Day in Northern BC in late September. The very next day, it rained buckets. I’m telling you, prayer gets shit done.

**We did have a big white tent on stand-by, just in case.

5. You’d be surprised at what $200 at a flower shop can get you.

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Plus 3 small bouquets and 7 boutonnieres. We set our budget, stuck to it, got the simplest arrangements, and had an amazingly accomodating florist. (Shout-out to Larkspur Floral Design & Gift Baskets in Smithers, BC!)

6. Make it a Facebook event.

I know, it’s SO not classy or pretty, but doing our invitations this way accomplished so many things: a.) time-crunch proof RSVP, b.) a list of names you can always easily access, c.) update-able to all guests if any information changes, d.) paper-free. That being said, sometimes, getting some people to actually RSVP on time is like pulling teeth. Therefore, I’m going to add an e.) with one click of a button, you can private message ALL of your guests with a gentle reminder to RSVP…and then again a couple weeks later with an even gentler reminder to RSVP….

7. Catering shmatering.

One of the BIGGEST costs for a wedding is the FOOD. Can I suggest a potluck? Once you have your easily-accessible guest list on Facebook, NOW you can message them about what they can bring to the table! (Once they’ve finally made up their mind and RSVP’d, of course.) If anyone in the wedding party has an deathly allergy *coughcoughMyGroomcoughcough*, make this specifically known so that it won’t get tossed into the food by accident. Or, your guests can make that dish and put a VERY CLEAR sign next to it that details any potential allergens.

Having a potluck was so fun for us! Friends got so creative with all different kinds of appies and main dishes, with some different ethnic tastes thrown in!

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Turns out that my super-skilled-seamstress friend Jeannette is also a super-skilled-wedding-cake-maker. She threw this in as a GIFT.

On that note…

8. Know the Power of the Nifty-Gifty.

Delegating and gifting is a magical combination. If you ask someone to provide a service for you, ie: that gorgeous wedding cake, tell them that this can be their gift to you and they don’t need to bring anything else. (It really only works if a FRIEND is providing the service, haha.) Because of our adopted family and actual family’s generosity, we didn’t have to pay for the majority of renting the hall, the cake, the wine, the table centrepieces (double duty of our main photographer…man, do I know some talented people or what?) or the food. You don’t want your day to be remembered by how expensive it looked, but by how much love was poured into it. And man, we had buckets.

9. Take the Plunge…and Hire a Decorator.

Doing this made us a little nervous financially, but in the end, it was SO worth it. I can’t stress this enough. For $725, we received a GORGEOUS hall for the night AND we didn’t have to clean any of it up afterwards. Between the decorator, a few volunteers from our guests and a small donation to a 4-H club, the Round Lake Hall was returned to its normal state, and we didn’t have to worry about a thing. After all the fun we had, we were exhausted, and cleaning was the last thing we wanted to do. It’ll be the last thing you want to do too.

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Image10. Take another, littler plunge and hire a professional make-up/hair artist as well.

I didn’t really feel that this could actually be important but when I got to the end of my Big Day and I realized that my hair was still in place and my make-up was still on, I knew I’d made the right decision.
Mine and the girls’ make-up was done by my former youth pastor’s wife Kim. She’s gone to Hollywood and given make-overs to celebrities, yet she chooses to grace Smithers with her beautiful presence. She’s kind of a big deal.
And then Allison, another church friend, made a house-call with a baby to do our hair. We didn’t really know what we wanted, but we tried to describe it verbally, and she took it and ran with it like a champ.

**Believe it or not, your wedding day is kind of like being in a play or a movie. Not in the sense that you’re performing for everyone there, but there is a definite element of “costume”, “design,” “lighting,” “photography” and “make-up.” Having artists there who do this sort of thing for a living are invaluable. Your wedding photos will have a huge difference too. Hence, why I also decided to get the false eyelashes for myself and the girls. Now you can actually see our eyes, hurray! (And by purchasing the make-overs/hair-do’s for them, my wedding gift to them was also done, double hurray!)

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Michelle has make-up, I do not. Helloooo, lighting difference!

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And helloooo Bride!      ImageImage

(Money Tally: $435 + $200 flowers + $735 decorator + $400 make-up/hair= $1,770)

11. Have a few photographers, who are just starting out.

You’ll get different points of view of your Big Day from each one, and if you’ve seen their pictures already and you like them, who cares if they’re “new”? It’ll cut your costs way down from choosing someone who has been established for a long time, with a company name. We had 3 photographers, all friends, 2 who made their photos a “gifty”, one who was 8 months pregnant and also made our centrepieces as a “gifty.” We got her a hefty Starbucks card. (Now, 16 months later, she’s one of the most requested photographers in Smithers – and we were her first wedding! I hope she’s charging a lot more now; she deserves it.)

12. Make a photo-guestbook!

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$30, Shoppers Drug Mart, boom you’re done. Now you have a photo album with everyone’s lovely comments and it’ll last forever.

(Money Tally: $1,250.)

13. Be KIND to yourself.

It’s a Big Day. Even if it’s the funnest thing to ever happen to you (which for me, it was), there’s going to be adrenaline and rush and hugging/talking/shaking hands with everyone who came to see you.

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EAT SOMETHING. THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

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TAKE THESE DAMN THINGS OFF.

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AND PUT THESE DAMN THINGS ON.

Drink water frequently, take deep breaths, don’t be hungover. It’s that simple.

14. Get married and make merry!

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15. Realize that you are just getting started.

Sure, we only paid roughly $2,000. Sure, we had a lot of things handed to us and got our socks blessed off. That doesn’t mean that every day since then has been easy or inexpensive. Sometimes I look at these pictures and don’t recognize myself in them anymore. But I always go back to this day when I forget who I am or why I’m here. Love, and the Journey; that’s it. “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”  A Wedding Day is important, but a Marriage is even more important. You might have been King and Queen for the day, but if you don’t have real love in your hearts and lives, it means nothing.

So prepare for your day, save your money, call your friends. Or forget everything I just listed and elope. I don’t care. Just make sure that when you say “I do,” you say “I do” to all of it. Cause there’s gonna be a lot of it. And this glorious day…

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…will turn into this quiet moment.

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And all of it…the highs and lows, shocking twists and throat-gulping turns, the turbulent sea at rest after a storm…all of it will be good, good, good. Just let your heart keep beating Love…the Journey…Love…the Journey…Love…the Journey.

xo Carly

** MAJORLY NECESSARY UPDATE**

I cannot believe I forgot about this.

16. “Do you have the wing?”

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The way our wedding rings came to be is one of my favourite parts of this story.

As I have mentioned before, Steve was once-upon-a-time engaged to someone that we tenderly call Voldemort.

After she left him 6 weeks before their wedding for his groomsman, AND after a 4 month spiel that resembled a train wreck, Steve found himself with a pair of her rings that he just didn’t want to deal with quite yet. He packed them up in their little boxes, intending to pawn them eventually.

A year and a half later, he showed them to me. They were beautiful, thought up from his brain with the help of Spence Diamonds. In other words, they had not been cheap.

Looking at them, I felt sad for him, but hopeful for us. If we pawned them, perhaps they would bring in enough money for us to purchase our own. We both agreed that it was time for this chapter to be closed, to start a new one.

And then, believe it or not, my mom came up with this brilliant idea: we knew a really cool jeweler in Smithers who was gaining experience and reputation by the day. What if he could melt them down and make brand new rings out of them?

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HAAAAH-LAY-LU-YAHHHH!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a few email exchanges, one in-person computer design sesh, and one weekend, Gaelen Van Gorkom gave us these:

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And that was just his first time melting down an already existing ring and making a new one. Now, he does it regularly, and he’s pretty spectacular. (Also, his original designs are out of the world amazing.) And because we already had the materials, he only charged us for the labour, even going so far as to throw an extra diamond in my ring for free when the design called for an extra.

Steve and I love our rings. We feel naked without them, actually. I think we would love them on a normal basis, but knowing their Phoenix-Rising-From-The-Ashes origin story makes them even more treasured.

Thank you, Handmade Engagement Rings – thank you, Gaelen. And hey, THANK YOU, VOLDEMORT. Without you and your hurty ways, we would not be lovin’ this journey we’re on today.

when life isn’t good enough

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway

Thanks, Ernest. I needed that little push.

Sometimes, being a self-proclaimed writer is a hard thing. I find that I have a zillion +1 thoughts every day about every little thing, and I’m constantly wanting to tell a story about all of it. It is almost a discipline to keep myself to writing a blog every once in awhile rather than every day. Same goes for Facebook or Instagram or any of the technological fancies we have at our fingertips for communicating. Without any arrogance, I can say that I know I am a deep well of thoughts and feelings and emotions – some real and some not. So what I have to ask myself, every time I prepare to SAY SOMETHING, is “Will they care? Is it real? Is what I want to say worth reading, worth writing?” Sometimes it is, but most of the time, no.

I’m hoping that what I say today IS worth it. Because it’s going to be hard to write.

For me, the past 3 years have kinda sucked. And I’m tired of sucking it up.

Yes, I DO know that in the past 3 years I have gained true friends and lost icky ones, gained my freedom of Canadian immigration status, gone to Europe, fallen in love, gotten married and have been living in wedded bliss for the past almost-9-months. I’m not a bitch. I’m so grateful for all of these things. But in the classic words of Coldplay, “Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard.” And for the first time in my life, I’m willing to ditch the positivity for a minute and be honest about how the past 3 years have made me feel.

Allow me to make a timeline.

April 2010 – “met” my dad for the first time + started relationship with him + everything was wonderful.

June 2010 – learned it was all a lie + fallout with both dad AND mom + “i’m not good enough” + made myself believe I’d fallen in love with a boy but really it was just an escape.

August 2010 – moved away from home because I’m a grown-up now with a REAL boyfriend ran away to PG + kept leading boy on because I’m a jerk + learned about the real world ie: “what? rent is something i have to pay every month even if i’m poor? what?”

November 2010 – could not keep up lying to boy + break-up + finally got work permit + first job ever, hooray!

lalalalala get permanent residence and all legaled up April 2011 life is good lalalalalala

August 2011 – get fired from first-ever job over a technicality i wasn’t aware of + first stab of self-doubt + second stab of “I’m not good enough.”

April 2012 – second-ever job disintegrates as the company goes out of business + screwed over by boss who does not give Record of Employment or T4 tax forms upon request, even to this day.

July 2012 – move away again + not running away, just running towards fiance + WTF this is a big city.

August 2012 – third-ever job is sketchy and weird + desperate + getting to know new family + new church + no connections.

lalalalala get married make a little home life is good lalalalalalala

September 2012 – day after wedding (some people might call it a honeymoon) + my new husband + food poisoning + camping + 2 days of violent sickness + freaking out cause i’m brand new at this shit + poor husband

October 2012 – day after my 25th birthday + not feeling too good + go to ER + kidney infection + brand new at this shit too

November & December 2012 – rain rain rain rain rain + quit third-ever job for being too sketchy and unfair and awful + more rain rain rain rain until

April 2012 – gained 20 pounds + whoops + how did that happen + depression + multiple interviews and job applications + no work + husband works all the time to support us + no connections or close friends + no Record of Employment to get Employment Insurance + no tax check returns because of no work + “still not good enough”

May 2012 – the story I haven’t told.

I was driving home from a desperately-needed babysitting job on 200 St. at 4:30 in the afternoon. My first two mistakes. Anyone who has been in Langley longer than I have KNOWS that 200 St. is the busiest street on the planet and that 4:30pm is the WORST time possible to be driving it.

So there we were, Lola (my car) and I minding our own business, when suddenly, unexpectedly, a green light changed to a red light. Without a thought, I pushed the clutch in and tried to brake without stalling. CRUNCH.

Actually, CRUNCH is an overstatement. More of a TAP, really. I debated whether the SUV in front of me even noticed my contact with her.

She stops everything, gets out of her car on the busiest street ever that now has a green light to get my information and now there are cars zooming by everywhere, honking and swearing at us for not going anywhere and can we pull off somewhere? no because this is the busiest effing street ever and we’re stuck.

I started shaking. I had never hit anyone before in my life and now I might have damaged someone else’s car or worse, hurt someone else.

But thankfully, no one was hurt. She took my information, and I was too rattled to even think about getting out and looking at the vehicles and asking for her info in return. She said that if she needed to file a damage claim, she would call me and let me know.

But she never did. I figured we were in the clear. Crisis averted.

Two weeks later, I got an ICBC file claim in the mail. I phoned in and made my own report, but they still needed to see my car. By now, we were mystified because there wasn’t a scratch on it – not even the plastic casing around my license plate holder was cracked. And the car I hit was substantially larger than mine, so what was the problem?

The problem was *ahem* 2 miniscule little paint chips on the back bumper from the screws in my license plate holder. That was it. The cost to get it repaired? Between $700-$1200, to be owed by yours truly. Or I can choose to have my insurance go up an extra $1700 a year for the next 4 years, and that price will get doubled if something like this happens again. All because I only have my N. I’ve known how to drive since I was 11 years old, but 2 paint chips and a not-quite-graduated driver’s license have flushed me down the toilet.

As soon as we left the ICBC building, my last brick of self-esteem that was holding me together crumbled. I cried and cried and cried. I can’t hold a good job, I can’t find a job, I can’t make friends, I can’t figure out where I am in this city and now I’m definitely not qualified to drive it. Not good enough not good enough not good enough. Stunted. Sick. Failure. Loser. Trapped. Incapable. Unqualified. A burden to everyone. Gotta keep trying but might as well not.

Of course I haven’t forgotten that now I’m trained to be a doula and I have my first client at the end of the summer. I’m so thankful to my friends who helped me pursue this dream. This is a good thing, and I’m happy about it. But now I’m also terrified. I’m going to be working with real people, with real babies, with real life. They’ll have their trust in my hands. Am I capable? Am I worthy? Am I good enough to do this? Because right now it feels like working, driving and making true connections with people are insurmountable feats – these things that have always come easily to me, that I thought would always come easily.

I don’t write for pity or help or comments about how this is not really a hardship compared to what some other people have to go through. I know all of that and it doesn’t make these things hurt any less. I write because I needed to. At the heart of this, I am just a broken kid who was raised to never owe anyone anything, to never be any kind of imposition at all – trying to figure out where I belong and what I’m meant to do. I always knew that the first year of marriage would be an adjustment and a struggle at times. But I forgot that Life doesn’t look at you and say, “Aww, these kids just got hitched. Let’s give them a little break so that they can get used to that first.”

I am learning this + learning that it’s okay to acknowledge the bad things sometimes. So don’t worry that I’ve suddenly turned into a Dark Mexican. When you block out the pain, you block out the joy equally. Maybe you have learned that as well, or you’re just about to. Maybe I can be the one to give you a heads-up, or maybe you can be the one to reassure me that this isn’t the end of the world. Deep down, I know that. I know that I’m going to be okay, that we’re going to be okay. I’m not there yet, but I will be.

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In the meantime, Grumpy Cat will be my spirit animal and sustain me with laughter.

Stayin’ alive,

C. xo

Now it’s time for your Weekend(s) Update! with…

….NOT Seth Myers! Soh-ry.

I may not have a Drunk Uncle or a Stefano waiting in the wings to keep the laughs going, but I do have some pretty awesome stories to share with ya’ll.

We at the Button residence have had not one, not two, but THREE epic weekends in a row. And it’s not over yet. But that’s another story.

May 11/Mother’s Day – Weekend #1

Did you know that sometimes I get overly ambitious with a single idea in my head, that I MUST see it through until something dies or explodes? It all started with an innocent little grocery shopping trip to Wal-Mart – sometimes, that’s all it takes.
I had managed to go through the whole store without wanting or buying anything for myself, but when we got to the check-out line, I found it waiting for me. A Wal-Mart Special Cupcake Recipe Magazine, for $6.00. Six bucks! For such crisp pages and pictures of Strawberry Blossom Cupcakes I coud practically taste! In that moment, I decided that I was going to become a cupcake-maker extraordinaire TODAY. Because fast approaching was my friend M’s birthday party in Vancouver AND my first Mother’s Day with a mother-in-law who deserves treats! Time was of the essence!
Except for a few key elements: my dear M not only likes to live a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle by choice, but she needs gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free food by necessity. After some communications with her fiancee about possible baking replacements, I was more determined than ever to make sure that she got at least ONE real cupcake on her birthday.

This is when I learned that Langley grocery shops are really dumb.

After hunting all day for the elusive egg replacer (no, Safeway, NOT egg substitute, which still features egg white as a main ingredient!), I finally decided to just use almond milk and suffer the humiliation of really flat cupcakes.

Oh, did I forget to mention that M really, really REALLY loves Hello Kitty? And did I also forget to mention that I decided to take 12 cupcakes and make them into a Hello Kitty face?
So with a help of a Betty Crocker gluten-free vanilla cupcake mix, almond milk, a little food colouring, some ziploc bags and my indomitable sister-in-law, this is what M got:

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Yeah. Saw it so clearly in my head and yet the execution is not stellar. Good word, execution.

But because M is adorable and lovely and sees a treasure in just about anything, she chose to not be frightened by this display of Kitty-ness, instead celebrating that she briefly had another member in her Hello Kitty figure collection before nomming them all up.

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And the attempt at making the Strawberry Blossoms for Mum mostly rested on my sister, so they were lovely and fine. They too were all nommed up while we sat on the couch, feeling like we should be sobbing into our napkins watching Safe Haven but weren’t.

May 17-20th, Road Trip + Wedding + Exhaustion All Around, Weekend #2

Actually, let me back up. This epic weekend began on a Thursday, with a trip to the Yoo-Ess-of-Aye! Let me back up even further.

Two of my dear friends are getting married in Smithers at the end of June. The bride’s family (and one of my dear adopted families) is originally from the States as I am.
As we all know, Canada is the best. But when it comes to food options and financial availability, I have to say the US wins. So when the Bride’s mother asked us to go on a Special Mission to locate and secure 2 cases of Gardetto’s (a very tasty mix of chips and pretzels) that can only be acquired over the border, we suited up and said, “Yes, ma’am!” Since we were getting ready to go to another wedding in Prince George on the 18th, and since the Gardetto-needing Bride and her Mother were going to be in PG on the same weekend, we decided that the only day we could complete this mission was Thursday, in order to make the drop. (Yes, we take our self-appointed name of Agent Button very seriously around here.)

In four hours, we were in and out. It’s a good thing; if we had stayed any longer, I probably would have tried to make a Super Swamp Water Drink with the touch-screen display pop dispenser and let myself eat more than just a sample of that heaven-on-earth known as Cinnabon. Almighty Land of Everything that is Cheap and Ultimately Not Good for You, I wish I could quit you.

Fast-forward: the road trip itself was pretty normal; we were accompanied by our pretty cool friend Eric, who actually kind of forced me to play Zelda: The Ocarina of Time on the DS for the first time. Ever. As in, I had no idea what I was doing, and those skeletons that tried to rape me multiple times in the family tomb will scar me until the day I die.

Honestly, this weekend was such a blur. A great, big, wonderful blur. We saw two awesome friends commit to one another for life…visited like 30 friends we hadn’t seen in 8 months…ate and drank non-stop as a result…caught the new Star Trek (MOAR BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH AND ZACHARY QUINTO PLS)…and just generally became zombies by the time we had to drive back on Monday. It was awesome. Thanks for still being home, PG. ❤

May 25th, Where I Was the Only Girl at a Bachelor Party, Weekend #3

You know, when I started this blog like an hour ago, this is the weekend I wanted to talk about because it JUST happened. Everything else kind of evolved from that. If you’re still with me, thanks for staying. It’s almost over, and the most epic is yet to come. (Let the length of this blog remind me that I need to write more frequently!)

Okay. So. Where do I begin?

A couple of weeks ago, some guys from our church asked Steve if he would be willing to join their cover band as part of a surprise bachelor party. As I’ve written here before, Steve is quite the guitarist and people are starting to figure it out. Thank you, people.

Anyways, Steve said yes, and he started learning at least 10 songs by Weezer. Now, I know of Weezer, have maybe listened to two of his songs on the radio – but now I know more about him than I ever have in my entire life. He’s not half bad!

As time passed, I learned more of what this cover band entailed: these guys wanted to learn the songs in secret, have the groom show up on his bachelor party day to do a “Weezer Jam”, have a great time, send him on his way – and then the REAL surprise was that they booked a gig spot at the Richmond Night Market at 10:30pm, to do an hour-set of Weezer covers featuring the groom as the lead guitarist and vocalist. (Apparently Weezer has two guitarists, hence why they needed Steve to help.) The groom would learn of “his concert” maybe 10 minutes before he was supposed to go on. How awesome and freaky is that?!

Saturday arrived. Steve and I borrowed the work van from Dad to load up all the instruments for the rehearsal in the afternoon, plus taking it out to the Night Market later that evening.

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Roadies have a very intense job. New appreciation for respect and roadies, here.

Rehearsal time! After I helped set up, I ducked out to sit in the van until it was over. I was tired and figured I would hear all the good stuff later.
Half an hour went by, and Steve found me. “You should come back and listen, we’re going through it again!”

So there I was, rocking out and enjoying the fact that, soon, my ears would no longer be able to hear anything else ever again. However, things quickly got…interesting.

I was there, they were playing Weezer, everyone was wearing clothing.

I went to the bathroom.

I came back, they were playing a rock version of “Bootylicious” by Beyonce, the bass player was shirtless, and he was definitely giving Queen B a run for her money in the dance moves department.

At this point, I realized: I am only the girl at a bachelor party, and it’s only 5 in the afternoon. What else am I in for?

I was not even a little bit prepared.

To be continued….

Bringing Sexy Back…?

Unless you are blind, you are probably aware that sex is everywhere. And just when you thought you were safe, it’s on your TV trying to sell you a glass of milk.

Now don’t read this wrong, but why it shouldn’t it be everywhere? It is such an onion, this “sex” – the word alone has multiple meanings to different people, and the very act itself has layers upon layers of who/what/when/where/how/why. It has the potential to please you and destroy you. The power to control you and give you freedom. Shame and intimacy.
Guilt and joy and pain and love.
Sex is not only physical, it is emotional, spiritual and psychological.

This one thing has the world obsessed because either everyone is trying to figure it out, or they have done that already and they are enjoying the heck out of it.

Yet, despite all of this, I find that almost no one in my circles wants to talk about it. By “my circles”, I mean the church that follows Jesus. Sex and talking about it is awkward, dirty and the earner of many raised eyebrows and deer-in-the-headlights looks.

Why?  Is it because that’s what the world is talking about, and we can’t possibly talk about sex if we’re going to be different from the world?

Have we forgotten that the God we follow is also the same one who created sex and sexuality to begin with? That an entire book of his Word is devoted to this intimacy and is considered one of the most erotic forms of literature ever written? Sex is a thing and God is talking about it!

Hi, I’m a Christian, and I want to talk about sex. And not just in the “save it for marriage, and God will make it wonderful” way. Boom.

** Please keep in mind that I myself have only been sexually active for roughly 2 months now, and I don’t know much. This list is what I’m glad I was told before I got married, or what I WISH I had been told, OR tips that we successfully learned on our own and I’m hoping it will help someone else. These are merely my experiences, my lessons learned so far. I have the feeling that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. You may not agree with me. It may not be the exact same for you. And that’s okay. 🙂 **
**ALSO. I realize that not everyone happening to read this will be a Christian or a virgin or of a specific orientation. I don’t care. Sex should be talked about on some level with people of all experiences and histories.**

If you’re not ready for this, don’t continue reading. It’s not going to be super graphic, but I thought I’d give a fair warning!

1. Don’t have sex on your wedding night. (For both genders.)

Yes, you read correctly. If you are someone who has saved your virginity for marriage, I applaud you. It’s really hard to do, and you are most likely looking forward to your wedding night as THE NIGHT EVERYTHING CHANGES.

Can I recommend sleeping instead?

No matter how awesomely fun your wedding day is (which mine was to the 9’s), you are going to be exhausted by the time you actually make it to your honeymoon suite. And even if you DO get a sudden burst of hormonal energy, it’ll probably be gone by the time one or both of you complete the arduous task of undoing your contraption of a wedding dress. (Lace-up, you are so beautifully evil.)

This will be you, guaranteed.

I tried so hard to give Steve the night he deserved, and it only ended in pain and panic and tears.
Luckily, he was a patient guy. “I’ve been waiting 33 years for this time with you, I think I can wait another day.”

Sleep. Curled right into the arms of your beloved spouse. No pressure, just re-energizing. Think of losing your virginity like the Big Game or the Big Exam – if you don’t prepare and eat well and sleep well beforehand, performance is going to be affected. 😉

2. It will hurt. (For female.)

Unless you were born with an abnormally large V-hole, having sex for the first time is most likely going to be a little bit painful. I spent most of my teenaged years in extreme fear because I couldn’t even use a tampon or have a doctor do a physical exam on me without wanting to Hulk out and punch a girl-sized hole into the wall.

I can recommend a few sure-fire ways to make this experience a little less uncomfortable.

** Girls, you may need to pack a pad or two with you, and don’t wear white pants the day after! 🙂 **

3. Let her call the shots. (For both genders. But mostly male.)

Men, be gentle. Now is not the time for showing her that you’re strong enough to push her up against the wall.
Now is the time to take a warm shower with her, so that all her muscles relax. (Ladies, I don’t know about you, but hot water is SUCH a turn-on for me! However, sex IN the actual shower is difficult unless you’re wearing an oxygen tank. Perhaps avoid.) Giving a massage is also lovely. And finally, don’t try any crazy positions right away. She may want  you to talk it through with her, and it’s a good idea to let her decide just what goes where and when. It’s not a matter of her controlling you, but you respecting her. It’s fairly easy for you boys to be the  electrical plug; it’s another thing entirely to be the wall outlet.


No. This is not good times. Respect the wall!

3. DON’T DO IT DURING YOUR PERIOD. (For female, obvie.)

This should be self-explanatory!

Even if you think it’s done, wait an extra day.

I learned this the hard way and it is TOO SOON to talk about it, so just leave it at that!

WAAAAAAAAIIIITTTT.

4.  It’s never like the movies. (For both genders.)

It’s just not. Those actors  have had their every move choreographed for them, and with a little help from the soundtrack, they create the perfect encounter that’s actually a fantasy. Oh, and you’re never going to look as good as they do, before or after. Sorry. Real sex is messy, unscripted, and – while you may choose specific background music to play – by the time everything is said and done, you’re going to need a shower. Straight up.
So toss out those expectations and just be you. If you really love each other (which I highly recommend), you won’t care that he’s slightly sweaty and he won’t care that your hair looks like something you don’t want to find in your attic.

“Please, no! I am unworthy of your sweet gaze!”

4.  Memories can suck. (For both genders.)

Now I come to something more serious. It is a very obvious fact that sex has been misused and abused the world over. Pornography, child pornography, rape, harassment, molestation, slavery, and prostitution are words that I hate to acknowledge but they exist and to leave them out would be ignorant and wrong. If you’ve been a victim of any one of these horrible sex acts, I am truly sorry and I pray you find healing.

I myself was molested multiple times between the ages of 8 and 12. I still remember faces, rooms, smells, feelings. I’ve had counseling and heart-to-heart chats and prayers said over my heart. For awhile, I thought I was over it. And then I started dating Steven.

He was the first person I could say I was genuinely attracted to – not threatened by him nor did he lack any masculine qualities. He was truly a man and I truly wanted him.
A month into our relationship, I told him about my past and later that  same night, he told me he was falling in love with me.
I still get a pit in my stomach when I think about what I did next, but it’s an important part of the journey.

Less than two months after we got together, I knew I had completely fallen for him and there was no going back.
This terrified me. What if he wanted to marry me someday, and I disappointed him with my previously touched body and wounded heart? What if he felt trapped for the rest of his life to a girl who wasn’t sure if she could be totally intimate in the way he wanted? What if he left me?
Better that he discovered his disappointment now rather than later, I told myself. Then he can leave before it’s too late and I still have a fighting chance of getting over him.

So one night, leaving nothing to his imagination with my clothing choices, I offered myself to him. It wasn’t smart or holy or even loving – I just wanted him to have his way with me, realize he could do better and then be on his way.

What happened instead totally surprised me and still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

He said, “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, and I can’t wait to make you my wife one day. I love you so much.”
Then he took a blanket, covered my nakedness, wrapped me in his arms and began praying for me. Thanking God for bringing this vulnerable, stunning and amazing woman into his life who he didn’t deserve.

If there were ever a moment that I have experienced Jesus’  love in a tangible way, that was it. Have you ever encountered such love? When its healing power is directed unbearably at you, despite everything awful you have done, there’s no way you’re gonna keep yourself together. In a puddle of tears, I told him why I’d done this to him.

Somehow, it only made him love me more. I still don’t understand it. (Oh, and the waiting that we did? Totally worth it. Yikes, I love my husband.)

To be honest, I hated telling that story. I don’t like it that the (most likely) pure image you had of me is now shattered.
But that’s the point. I’m not perfect and you should know that. I’ve been abused and made poor decisions as a result of it, and you deserve to know the truth.

But I’m also a testament to the fact that even if you come from a background of sexual abuse (or multiple sex partners in the heartbreaking search for love), that doesn’t have to be the end for you. You are not damaged goods and you ARE worthy of being loved. You are seen and you can be healed just like I was.
Let me clarify that it most likely won’t come from a person because they’re just as imperfect as you are. But every once in awhile, the beacon of  hope and love and forgiveness that God intended us to be makes a shining appearance and miracles happen. Don’t give up. He is the source of all those things and He is everything you need.

5. It’s not the Be-all, End-all. (For both genders.)

I can’t count how many romantic comedies I have watched that contain the line, “We’ll just have to base it on the sex.”

Ugh! Are you serious? World, are you telling me that a relationship might be great BUT if the two of you don’t have headboard-breaking sex every single time, then you should think twice? That’s the story you’re going with? You sadden me.

Don’t fall for this. Sex is a wonderful God-given tool to create intimacy and love, but it should not be the make-or-break of your relationship. Passion and sexiness and ability/energy of body will fade over time – what happens then?

YOU CHOOSE YOUR BEST FRIEND. THAT’S WHAT.

Whether you want a formal wedding ceremony or not, I’m pretty sure none of you wants to die alone, or not alone but miserable.

Who you choose as a life partner is the one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make – I recommend someone who’s willing to feed and clothe you when you’re too feeble to move anymore…someone who will hold your hand even when they’re angry with you…someone who will help you recall all of the memories that are slowly dying in your mind…someone who will steer with you through all of the storms and love your babies…rather than someone who gave you the best time ever in the sack.

Am I wrong?

6. Take a deep breathe and realize… (FOR BOTH GENDERS!!!!!)

…that is probably going to happen to you. More than once.

You laugh now, but later…you’ll see this picture again and know it’s so true.

I hope that you are able to love and be loved in return today.

Thanks for reading. =)