Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Tomorrow, Jeremy and I will have been married nine years. Nine years. In some ways, it feels like it’s been no time at all. And sometimes I wonder “Oh my god, how can nine years seem so impossibly long??” It’s about a third of my lifetime. I realized yesterday that the times I’ve written on our anniversaries have been in threes: our 3 year, our 6 year, and so now it seems that I must write on our 9 year, although I’m rather stumped as to what to add to my previous writings. Those kind of said it all. So, here are some little quirks about our not so average relationship:

Jeremy and I bicker. A lot. He gets under my skin like no one else on earth could, and more efficiently, too. All it takes is one word, a look, a flick of his wrist, and I’m set off. He knows this. He likes to tease me, and I hate to be teased. He knows that too. But in a perverse way, it makes me love him more (I’ll regret saying that whenever he reads this). He’s brave enough to not be worried about pissing me off. We never walk on eggshells around each other. He makes me braver, too. I”m not scared to speak my mind to him, in all of its ugliness or insanity.

He has a sixth sense about where I am. Whenever I’m out and about for a few hours, it never fails- and I really mean NEVER. It’s scary- that he calls me when I’m about 2 blocks from our house, asking when I’ll be home. I’ve gotten to where I tell him if he has the urge to call and ask me, he should probably assume that I’m 30 seconds away.

When he’s out late, I spend the last hour of expecting him home listening for the screen door to creak. It’s the most welcome sound I hear all night. Then, even though he has a key to get in, he’ll drum on the door with his fingertips, peering through the glass at the top with wide open eyes, sometimes making faces, until I get up and let him in. I tell him, “It’d be faster for you to just unlock the door.” He’ll respond with, “But you were already halfway off the couch. I didn’t want you to get up for nothing.”

When we sleep, I have to be touching him. We’re not cuddlers. He outweighs me by about 100 pounds, so if he even tosses his arm over me in his sleep, I can’t breathe. But all I have to do is lay my leg against his, touch my hand to his back, and I’m fine. He doesn’t necessarily like the leg touching thing, because my feet are generally about 15 degrees colder than the rest of my body, but he’s learned to cope with that, as well as my relentless restless leg syndrome.

He gets irrationally irritated by me leaving stuff out on the kitchen counters. Well, I say irrationally, he would probably say reasonably. I can hear him grumbling in the kitchen, twisting the ties back onto the bread, screwing the cap back on the peanut butter: "It's the Rothwell curse. Such a Rothwell." I'll always holler back, "I was going to-", and he interrupts in a high, squeaky voice (which sounds NOTHING like me. I hope) with, "Going to put it all back, I just wasn't sure if I was finished with it yet!"

He spends almost as much time on his hair as I spend on mine. I can't fault him. The man has a gorgeous head of hair. But still. We wriggle around each other in the bathroom, elbowing, inching toward the middle of the mirror, trying to regain some ground. One of these days someone is going to wind up with a hair dryer head injury, but it hasn't happened yet.

Our song is the Muppet Show Theme song. When we were first married, we would lie in bed at night and tap rhythms out on each other’s arms while the other one had to guess which song it was. For whatever reason, over time The Muppet Show song became the only one we ever tapped. Even now, we’ll sit next to each other on the couch, and almost subconsciously, one of us will start tapping- “It’s time to put on make up...” Whenever I hear his ringtone on my phone, I smile.

He’s learned to always let me proofread any document, text, Facebook status update, etc., before he sends it out. And I’ve learned to wait for him to ask me to do it before I jump in with the corrections.

We almost never call each other by our first names. It’s always “Babe”. In text messages, in phone conversations. Even in the middle of a fight, it’s “BABE! You have got to be kidding me!” “BABE!!! I swear if you don’t drop this right now...” I don’t know when it started, or which one of us started it. But it’s stuck.

I tell people all the time that Jeremy is a better person than I am. I wish it was just me playing the good wife and building my husband up, but unfortunately, it’s the complete truth. Jeremy is kind and forgiving where I am not. He’s humble and teachable. He’s not quick to take offense. People are drawn to him in ways I could only dream of. The truth is, he’s everything I’m not. I’d like to think I balance him out, too, but so far, the proofreading is probably the only thing I bring balance to.

There are more things I could say. But I can’t lay bare all our secrets. Maybe in another three years.

Until then, happy anniversary, Babe. Even though I’m sure all we’ll do tomorrow is sleep way too late, haggle about where we’re going to go, what we’re going to do, what we’ll eat for dinner, how much money we should or shouldn’t spend, and end up driving in silence while we glower over the radio station, I’ll still be happy it's you.


(Below are my blogs from our 3 and 6 year anniversaries. To read about our adventures from last year’s anniversary, click here, here, and here. And as usual, to see my life -the good, bad, and the ugly- in pictures, you can follow me on Instragram: @mbsmoot)


3 years,

a watch in the night,

a breath,

a blink,

a lifetime;

3 years,

and 60 more to go;

3 years,

of learning who i am

and who you are

and who we make together;

3 years,

of learning which buttons to push

and when not to push them;

3 years,

of feeling your heartbeat beneath my ear,

you hair beneath my fingertips

your lips on mine;

3 years,

of learning how to say "i love you"

without words,

of learning to say "i love you",

whether you feel like it or not;

3 years,

of knowing that you choose me,

and i choose you,

for better, and always getting better,

not for worse;

3 years,

of starting over everyday,

saying goodnight,

good morning,

good riddance,

and i forgive you;

3 years,

of knowing that we have a lifetime,

of wrinkles and rocking chairs,

and grandchildren;

3 years,

a drop in the bucket,

a grain of sand,

a moment in eternity;

3 years,

and we've made it this far...

i love you.


Today is my sixth anniversary. In lieu of the traditional gift of a wooden writing desk, I have opted to write Jeremy a Facebook note. He doesn't like to write anyway, so a writing desk would be of no use to him.

I've known Jeremy for ten years, and have gone from outright annoyance at his presence to... well, sometimes his presence still annoys me, actually.

There are many things I don't like about Jeremy, some things I hate, but all of those are outweighed by the things I love about him. You can't live with a person for six years and not discover things about them that they try to hide from others, whether they be good things or bad.

I have seen him heartbroken, and I have seen him headstrong. I've held him when he cried, and rubbed his back when he threw up. I've tickled him and punched him and pushed him away. I've laughed at his jokes when they're funny and rolled my eyes when they're not. I've been proud of him when no one else would, and I've loved him when he didn't always deserve it.
I've made my biggest mistakes with him, but also my biggest triumphs.
I've said hateful things I shouldn't have, and haven't said I love you when I needed to.
I've broken the cardinal rule of marriage by going to bed angry, and yet miraculously he is still there when I wake up in the middle of the night to say I'm sorry. There have been times when the chasm between us has felt miles wide, only to find out that although it may be wide, it is always shallow, and one only need suffer the humiliation of getting their feet wet when crossing it.

In the past I've told friends that at first glance, Jeremy may seem immature. His sense of humor is certainly grade school, centering mostly around bodily functions... but although his personality may seem immature, his character is not. He has one of the strongest, most beautiful characters I've ever come in contact with. He is humble. He is teachable. He is passionate. He always apologizes to me first, even when I've been the one in the wrong; even when I tell him point blank that I won't forgive him because I want to stay mad. He always gives me a second chance. Or a third, or a fourth. He has a sense of purpose that I can't begin to fathom, a strength in the face of adversity, and a willingness to forgive and forget that I admit I don't possess, and if I were totally honest, have no desire to possess.
He's fought for me, and sometimes refused to fight for himself. He's always honest with me. He gets up every morning and goes to an unfulfilling job that he hates, and rarely complains. He hungers after God, seeks Him, most importantly, listens to Him. He admits when he's missed it and tries again.

We've spent the past six years forging a network of memories, of inside jokes and laughter, of deep pain and tears, of love and hatred and all the emotions in between. We've written songs and taken pictures, punched holes in walls and patched up hurts caused by harsh words. I've watched him morph from a boy searching for his calling, for someone to be proud of him, to a man sure of his passion and his gift, changing the lives of those around him. I've seen him persevere even though he feels futile, a mouse on a wheel.

I say all this so that you can see some of the facets or our relationship. We started out friends, and stayed friends. We skipped the infatuated, head over heels phase, and are stronger for it: there is no blindness in our relationship. We love because we choose to, not because we always feel like it. We love in spite of the extra 20 pounds, in spite of toe nails that grow too long (always his, not mine), in spite of morning breath.

Because of all that, I can say with all honesty: Happy anniversary, jerk. Thanks for leaving me alone all weekend with all three kids so you could go have the time of your life in Nashville with your band buddies. I love you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Princess Misadventures

Chloe had a friend stay over last night- her first “sleepover party”, as she called it. I didn’t bother to tell her the correct terminology is “slumber party”.  Anyone who knows me knows I’ll use any excuse I can to dress my kids up and take pictures of them. Ashton is more resistant in later years, but don’t worry- I’ll catch him. I sense I pirate themed shoot incoming. The girls are more than willing participants to my madness. Whenever they have friends over, my first words are “Let’s have a photo shoot!” Today, I dressed Chloe, Leah, and Atleigh in Disney Princess dresses, did their hair and makeup, trying to imitate Chloe’s famous day at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I fell somewhat short, not having Disney’s limitless supplies or their super glue hair gel, but they didn’t seem to mind.

My plan was less than brilliant. I thought, “I’ll just head down the block with some chairs, set them up in the field, and shoot away!” Right. Well. I didn’t take into account that I didn’t have the car today, so I would have to walk. No problem. Kids can carry stuff, right? Wrong. Kids can NOT carry stuff. We made it to the next door neighbor’s house before the complaints started. “I’m hot! I can’t carry this chair! My arms feel like they’re about to BREAK OFF!” (Those were the kids complaining, by the way, not me) I carried two chairs plus my camera bag. Ashton carried the third chair while Chloe and Leah pushed along Ashton’s scooter between the two of them (less than ideal). On passing the neighbor’s house, I looked to my left and saw a sweet little clearing between his trees, with matted leaves and flower petals for the floor, vines and old rope hanging from the limbs of the trees- perfect! “Let’s just start here,” I said, dropping my chairs onto the grass. I set them up, and hustled the girls to sit on them while I checked my camera settings. Ashton scooted back and forth on the sidewalk on his Razor, bemoaning his boredom and the fact that he was being forced to take even the smallest part in a Princess activity. I started snapping away, until I began to hear quiet shrieks and slapping noises. Turns out, the sweet little grove I had chosen was mosquito hell. I looked down and saw about 15 mosquitos on my legs. The poor girls tried to smile through it all, but their grins came out more like grimaces. Being the coldhearted photographer I am, I kept saying “We’re already here! Just a few more! They’ll look so good!” I finally gave up when both Chloe and Leah wound up with bites on their faces.

But we weren’t done yet. Oh no. I definitely marched them all down the block, carrying my two chairs while Ashton carried one. Atleigh marched ahead with her usual purposeful stride, not being encumbered with props. Poor Leah stopped every few steps to scratch her mosquito bites, and Chloe lagged behind, half pushing, half pulling that stupid scooter. By the time we got to the field (which under normal circumstances is less than a minute’s walk) everyone was done- including me. I had the girls stand in the field and try to show some attitude, but it was hot. And bright. And itchy. And whiny and achy and thirsty. I knew we’d never make it back down the block to my house the way we’d made it there. I figured I would just have to walk the kids back to the Box, and return for the chairs. I was hesitant to leave my props, especially when I saw the lone teenager in his marshmallow vest (Yes. A puffy vest. In July. Obviously untrustworthy.) wending his way down the street in our direction. Not that I thought he’d have much use for a toddler’s sized white rocking chair, but you never know with these hooligans. I turned out to be grossly mistaken and chastised in my judgement, as he saw me struggling with four kids, camera bag, and three chairs, and turned around to come and ask me if I needed help. What a sweetheart! Kids these days are so wonderful! He probably wore the vest to keep his heart so warm. I thanked him again and again, handed him a chair, and proceeded down the street with him trailing behind me and the kids straggling in front. The puffy vested teenager neither stole my chair, nor hit me on the back of the head with it during the whole walk home. He calmly set it in my yard, said goodbye, and walked back the way we had come.

Thus, I learned a few lessons today:

Don’t plan photo shoots with chairs and kids when you don’t have a car to haul them any distance.

Don’t go into nice, cool, mysterious groves without bug spray.

And never, ever, judge a kid by his vest.


(All in all, I’d say the photos turned out okay, wouldn’t you?)




Hot and tired and itchy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Taking Back The Beach

For the first time in 10 years, I have a tan. Now, some people- my pigment challenged friends in particular- might argue that I’m always tan. My complexion is naturally olive, but without the sun I end up looking green. I’ve been green ever since I got pregnant with Ashton. With pregnancy after pregnancy, baby after baby, the beach and the pool have been far out of my reach. I can’t ever seem to connive going without the kids, and I was too scared to take them when they were little. Last week, I bit the bullet and took all three kids to the beach, all by myself. By myself!

For Atleigh, especially, this was a big step. She’s only been to the beach once or twice, even though we live less than 3 miles from Buckroe, a little inlet of the Chesapeake Bay. It was just so much hassle... the towels and the sunblock and the sand. So much sand. There’s just so much sand at the beach. In the past few days, I’ve learned that the sand is a small price to pay for the sunshine, the water, the energy they burn up running back and forth, the friends they make for the day. It’s so worth it.

This is probably a small thing. It IS a small thing. But for me, it’s a huge accomplishment. I can’t say how huge. I’m not an adventurous mom. I never have been. We don’t do play groups. We don’t do field trips or museum days. I don’t really do “fun”. But I can do relaxed. I can for sure do that. And the fact that I managed, after 8 long years, to get to the beach- the beach that is in walking distance from my house (but seriously. Don’t walk. It’s not safe)- with all three of my kids, was like taking back a little piece of the Promised Land. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so hard. I can do this.” I took back a little piece of the freedom I gave up when I stepped onto that hot sand, toting a chair, an umbrella, a bag full of sunblock and Capri Suns, 5 towels, a bucket of toys, and three kids in tow. I did it. My life is not so confined, after all. My horizons are now stretched across the Atlantic. Because I finally took back the beach.

I hope, if you have some part of yourself that you've lost, no matter how insignificant, that you get a chance to reclaim it this summer. Take a step, even if it's laden with baggage like mine was. You can do it. Take it back.

- M

"Bubba said there was a jellyfish behind me!"

My heart.

Yes, I did the unthinkable, and brought my camera into the water. Just this once!

I told him to smile. He shot me instead.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Growing Pains

I'm lying in my bed, alternately staring at my phone screen and my black ceiling. Everyone is asleep, and finally, I can be okay.

I turned 29 years old today. I guess technically (if you want to be technical), you could say I turned 29 at around 6pm. I had thought about posting pictures of me from various birthdays through the years, but besides my hospital photo, in which I have a pretty sick rooster (what we now call a "faux hawk") all I could find was a picture from my 15th birthday, when I was wearing some hideous purple and green flannel man pants paired with a Veggie Tales t-shirt. Not really feeling like posting that on the world wide web.

Yesterday morning I woke up crying. I cried ceaselessly on the way to work. I cried intermittently while cleaning someone else's toilet. I straight up ugly cried to James Taylor's You've Got A Friend.

I cried because I realized yesterday, with a horrible shock, that this is my last year in the 20s demographic. Which is a trifling thing. I know this. But I also realized that, looking back, my 20s were almost nothing. And everything. Nothing and everything, jumbled together in my memory. I made the most definitive decisions of my life in my 20s. I got married. I had kids one after the other, for 5 years. I changed diapers everyday from the ages of 20 to 28. I moved into a house that we all too swiftly outgrew. I got some tattoos. I got my nose pierced. I got my tubes tied (now THAT was a good decision). I worked 4 jobs somewhere between 20 and 29. I got burned a lot. Acquired quite a few scars.

But what did I DO? Not much. Not much to write about, lying here, on the first day of my last year in my 20s. I accomplished nothing great. I didn't "dent" the world with my existence. I did only that: existed. Scraped through, day after day, until I looked back and realized it had actually been years.

I'm aware I'm being melodramatic. I'm not old. I'm not at death's door. I'm not even at death's neighborhood. I'm just overwhelmed by all the seemingly pointless paving stones I've laid out around me, only to find out that I've been building in circles.

I suppose I could say my 20s have merely been the groundwork for the rest of my life. The choices I made, the new paths I forged, the bridges I burned, are the foundations that the rest of my life will be built on. I have a lot to build onto. A lot of roots to cultivate as I grow up and out. I have a lot of work before me. But I'd rather be pruned painfully than to be wild and weedy.

In one of the first blogs I wrote for What If I Said, I talked about when I felt like I was truly a grown up. I compared myself to Wendy from Peter Pan, saying how I hadn't wanted to grow up, and if I could have fled then, I would have. But Peter Pan's childishness has been romanticized. Most people don't know that Peter, in his perpetual childhood, forgot everyone he was close to. He forgot Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, Wendy herself. I never want to be so stuck on staying young that I forget- forget to grow. Forget to learn wisdom. Forget the people who have had a hand in making me who I am, for better or for worse.

So now, with only 45 minutes left in this birthday, and almost two solid days of crying, I can be objective. I can be positive. I can look at my groundwork that has felt so meaningless and see a pattern emerging, a blueprint for the next 10 years. I can see how far I've come, painful though it's been. I can see I've grown.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Playing Catch Up

Already I’m far behind on my resolution to post weekend updates. I’ll never understand how time gets away from me so quickly.

Here are a few pictures of my past few weeks:

With the heat indexes reaching up to 110 degrees around here lately, we’ve been more or less cooped up in the house for most of the day. But occasionally we put on our big kid underwear and brave the temperatures just to say we did and survived. A few weeks ago we went with some friends to the local town center and let the kids splash around in the fountains for a few hours. Fun AND free. These kids have grown up together, from their little itty bitty days. As they’ve gotten older, busier with school and things, summer has become their “quality time”. The day that school lets out they’re asking how soon they can get together. We were happy to oblige.


The two princesses.

Doing the moonwalk.

No, I did not bring swimsuits. No, I did not bring sunblock. But, I DID bring changes of clothes! 1 out of 3 isn’t so bad, right?

The weekend after that, we celebrated Jeremy’s grandmother’s 80th birthday with a luau. Mema is one of my favorite people in the world. Loves margaritas and antiques. Busts her husband’s chops all the time. She’s lived every single one of her 80 years to the fullest, and I pray she has many more.

I love Ashton's crazy little side kick when he throws. He'll be a pitcher yet.

Papa would never let Chloe eat alone.

I've noticed that even in this age group, the men and women separate.

Like third grade all over again.

I don't know how or when this kid got so good looking. Ok, well I know the how. Obviously he got it from his mama.

So far we haven't done anything exceptionally "special". Just little moments that, when added together, somehow create bigger memories. I want to capture it all. I want my kids to remember the little moments, and realize how lovely life can be, even in hot weather. Even in storms. Even on seemingly boring, do nothing days.

What has your summer looked like so far, friends?


To see more of my life in pictures, follow me on Instagram: @mbsmoot and @ms2photo