Tag Archives: wedding

Set This Circus Down


It’s hard to know where to start when trying to sum up 10 years of marriage, not to mention the six years of togetherness prior to marriage. Husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage a week and a half ago, and our wedding day seems like yesterday.

May 16, 2003. Bliss.

May 16, 2003. Bliss.

Until I actually flipped through all of our photo albums since we were married … and then it seemed like a lifetime ago.

Ten years. Our wedding day, up to that point, was the happiest day of our lives.

Everyone who came talked about what a fun party it was, and at the gift opening the next day, Husband and I promised that we would renew our vows and have a big anniversary party for our 10th anniversary.

And then our reality happened.

So much for a special "family" celebration on our 10-year anniversary - crabby, hungry kids and screaming baby.

So much for a special “family” celebration on our 10-year anniversary – crabby, hungry kids and screaming baby.

So I guess our vow renewal and super awesome anniversary party will have to wait a few more years.

For our one-year anniversary, the traditional gift is paper, and I had the brilliant idea that Husband and I should forego an actual gift in favor of each writing down our memories of our wedding day (on paper — get it?). So naturally, I wrote down TWENTY-FIVE PAGES of memories — bulleted, single-spaced, 12-point font. And I wrote down my memories not just from the wedding day, but the five days before it and one day after it. Husband wrote down 11 pages worth of memories, double-spaced, 18-point font. I’d say that’s quite an achievement for a guy who doesn’t like to write!

Jen and Eric First Anniversary-3

Reading memories of our wedding day on our first anniversary.

Jen and Eric First Anniversary-1

Going back to the church we were married at on our first anniversary.

First anniversary dinner.

First anniversary dinner. We look like little kids!

A couple of highlights:

  • When I woke up in the morning I said to my cousin (who’s like my sister), “I don’t want the day to start because I know it’s going to be over before I know it.”
  • Making the very short drive to church from my parents’ house felt like forever. There was such anticipation. When we were driving up the big hill into the parking lot and I saw all the cars, I got nervous for the first time and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! People actually came!” I don’t know why, but I genuinely was surprised that there were people there. It finally started to feel real, and not just like a dress-up game.
  • My mom saying, “Well, Jen, I have to tell you — I take back that you’re going to be late for your own wedding, because you’re early!”
  • When we said our vows. We both had memorized them and we were both so confident. I thought I would cry, but I was just so happy.
  • The same cousin (whom I dubbed the “Cousin of Honor” for the wedding) was dying of starvation by the time we made it to dinner. During the entire meal she made food noises, and said things like “Oh, this is so good. Oh yum. Yum, yum, yum. This is sooooo good.” (this still cracks me up)
  • All day long I said to my BRAND NEW HUSBAND, “We have so much to look forward to.” And I wasn’t just excited about continuing our wedding experience by going on a fabulous honeymoon/vacation. I was talking about all the years we would spend together, having kids, watching them grow up, going on adventures, living our lives together forever.
  • My BFF and maid of honor ended her speech by saying, “May your dreams of today be your realities of tomorrow.” This has always stuck with me (and as far as google can tell me, she made that up all on her own).
My grandma made this cake with her own two hands. It's so lovely. I still love this cake.

My grandma made this cake with her own two hands. It’s so lovely. I still love this cake.

What we felt that day is almost indescribable. We felt SO INCREDIBLY LOVED. It was like nothing we had ever experienced before. Every single person who was there, was there for us. We both felt completely honored that people would come and be there just for us.

We had people warn us about how expensive weddings are and how afterward we would wish that we hadn’t “wasted” all that money on a wedding, and instead used it for a down payment on a house. They told us that we would wish we had eloped.

For us at least? Never, ever, ever, ever in a million billion years. We wouldn’t have given up that wedding day or how we felt on that day, for anything in the world. It was exactly what we wanted, and the feeling was more than we could have imagined.


Husband and I got engaged in August 2001, and a few months before that, Tim McGraw released his album, “Set This Circus Down.”

Tim and his wife Faith Hill (I like to think we’re personal friends) have always been two of our favorite artists. For our wedding slideshow, I chose Faith’s song “She’s a Wild One” (one of my faves) to go along with the photos of me, and Husband chose “Indian Outlaw” for the photos of him. For the photos of us together, we chose “Set This Circus Down.”

The song has such a literal and figurative meaning for us:

Sometimes this road it just keeps winding, round and round and back again
But you’ve always kept me smiling
Over every hill round every bend

Baby you’re the one smilin’ with me
When the sun comes up
I got the wheel,
You got the map and that’s enough

And we go rollin’ down this highway
Chasin’ all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

Sometimes I lie awake just thinking
Of all the horizons we have seen
And as another day is sinking
I thank God you’re here with me

‘Cause baby you’re the one laughing with me
When the sun goes down
Livin’ on faith and holding on tight
To the love we’ve found

And we go rollin’ down this highway
Chasin’ all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

And set this circus down
Baby, one of these days
Gonna set this circus down
Set this circus down
Baby, one of these days

Two days after we got engaged, Husband and I embarked on this crazy adventure where he literally had the wheel and I had the map. We packed up a tiny U-Haul truck with all our crap and moved to North Carolina for me. He left a secure job, a home and all of his family and friends, for me and my dream.

EXHAUSTED after driving across the country for about 16 hours straight.

EXHAUSTED after driving across the country for about 16 hours straight.

Looking back, I’m not surprised he did it. But I am surprised at how easily he made that decision. It really wasn’t a decision — we were young, we were in love, the world was our oyster and we had no real responsibilities at that time that were holding us to Wisconsin. He came with me and chased my crazy dream, and we always knew that we would come back home eventually to be with our family and friends.

When “eventually” turned out to be six months later, because we (mostly me) was so homesick and my dream job was not all that it was cracked up to be, we packed up and came home — despite the fact that he had just gotten a new job in North Carolina.

On our wedding day, when I kept telling him over and over again, “We have so much to look forward to,” I didn’t really have any specific ideas of what that would look like — what our home would look like, what our kids would look like, or how many of them we would have. I don’t know that I could have imagined anything anyway.

Marriage has been both infinitely better than I thought it would be, and also infinitely harder than I ever imagined. Before you get married you think you know that you’ll have your ups and downs; that you’ll have battles; that you might go through a rough patch or have a crisis or two. But here’s the thing — you don’t really know. You’ve heard all those cliché pieces of marriage advice like compromising and fighting fair and trying not to go to bed angry and yada, yada yada. You don’t really know. You think you know what it means to make a lifelong commitment to someone in good times and in bad. But you just don’t really know until you’re in the trenches, making that decision to be in it, in good times and in bad, every day.

But, like I said, marriage also has been infinitely better than what I imagined, because we have built a life together. I have a partner — in life and in everything — and he is a kind, warm, generous, strong, gentle, funny and selfless man. And despite how very hard it is on some days, we have love, respect, faith, laughter, and this:

What 10 years will bring you. This is our circus.

What 10 years will bring you. This is our circus.

We set our circus down, literally in a sleepy little town just liked I’d always hoped, and my dreams of yesterday have most definitely surpassed my realities of today. I couldn’t have dreamt this. I feel so lucky and so blessed. And while I can’t even fully dream tomorrow, I feel certain that my reality will surpass my dreams.

Husband, like I’ve told you countless times before, as we travel this crazy journey, there’s no one I’d rather be traveling with than you. Thank you for our circus, and thank you for being my partner. I thank God you’re here with me.

10 years later, at the church where we got married.

10 years later, at the church where we got married.


10-year anniversary dinner.

10-year anniversary dinner.




We survived the drive to and from Michigan! Although, if you recall, we were planning to leave around 3 a.m. to reduce the amount of “awake” driving time. Er, except it didn’t work out that way. At all. They didn’t sleep. Nope. Just Chatty Cathy back there and her Alert Sister. We hadn’t even considered the possibility that they wouldn’t fall back to sleep. It hadn’t even entered our minds. My chief concern was how late they would sleep given that the sun rises at 6 a.m., not that they wouldn’t sleep at all. Bean fell asleep for exactly 50 minutes, after 6.5 hours of driving, and Monkey fell asleep for 40 minutes, after driving for 7.5 hours. Oh, and P.S. They didn’t really sleep on the way home either (see below).



The wedding itself was lovely. Monkey was a fabuloso flower girl. She didn’t get scared or freaked out at all. I’m so glad that she got to have that experience and I hope she remembers it even when she’s older. I have to admit though, it was difficult trying to juggle the two of them between nail and hair appointments (me), golf (Eric), the ceremony (with all of us standing up except Bean who clawed her way out of my mom’s arms and made a beeline for Husband), and the dinner. By the time we got to dinner Bean was D-O-N-E and her non-stop shrieking, screaming and crying during the best man and maid of honor toasts made that abundantly clear to the entire room.



I guess the only real driving hiccup we had was when we were only 25 minutes from home. Bean had fallen asleep after we left Green Bay where we stopped for dinner, but then she woke up when we had to make a pit stop in Oshkosh for Monkey to pee. Bean wasn’t happy about waking up, and continued to be unhappy and inconsolable. You could say that she was MORE THAN BEYOND D-O-N-E and we had to stop in Fond du Lac and take her out of the car because she was crying so hard that she made herself throw up. When we pulled into the gas station in Fond du Lac we happened to park next to a mom nursing her baby in the backseat of her car. You could say that she was empathizing with us as Husband started ripping things out of the back of the van so that he could put one of the seats up and entertain Bean for the remainder of the drive.



When we returned from our trip to Michigan the roof hadn’t been touched since we left and the concrete patio also was not completed. Too-hot weather while we were gone meant that the concrete would set up too fast, and then rain interfered the following week and the pour had to be postponed. Other work obligations prevented our professional roofer from doing anything with our roof while we were gone, and after we got back. It took another whole week and a lot of tense moments before the projects were completed. Finally, three weeks after we started, everything was done.



So, if you recall, I said that Bean being in her Terrible Twos wasn’t that bad because I had experienced it before. Pfffffffffft. I was either on a trip-packing high, or just plain high. On a good day I say she’s “independent,” “determined,” “focused.” On a bad day I say she’s a PITA who’s stubborn, won’t listen, and throws a kicking, screaming fit when I try to help her with things. She would rather throw herself in a corner and refuse to look at me than let me help her with that disaster-waiting-to-happen Gogurt. Baaaah.

Honestly, I thought Monkey was going to be my difficult child, because she exhibits/exhibited all the same traits, but Bean takes it to the next level. She kicks, throws her arms, throws herself down, hides her face, and flat-out ignores us. Her favorite game is when we say “STOP” and she just laughs and runs faster — around the house, into the road, and circling parked cars at the State Fair parking lot.

Her favorite word is “MINE” which she shouts while standing in the middle of the room clutching something that no one else is even trying to get. Which leads to her volume. Good God, is she loud. I think she is quite literally THE LOUDEST child I’ve ever encountered. She’s loud even in situations where it’s not warranted — like, when we’re sitting right next to her and totally paying attention to her. And she cannot be persuaded to be quieter. In fact, I think asking her to be quiet only invigorates her loudness.

Oh, and I can’t forget the throwing. When she’s mad? She throws stuff. Or knocks it over. Or both.

The cherry on top? She’s a hitter. We have no idea where she gets this from because we don’t hit and Monkey never hit.

Bean, this is Mr. Timeout. Mr. Timeout, meet Bean.

When describing this egregious behavior to the girls’ beloved pediatrician, she gave me a little wink and said “It’s good that you’re going through this so the next time you see a child hitting you don’t smugly think, ‘Look at those terrible parents.’”

And that is exactly what I’d like to say to the friends we ran into at the ball park after Bean very purposefully poured her open cup of water down my chest and then proceeded to hit me. DON’T JUDGE ME.



Oh, and the pediatrician said that we can expect biting next.



So one of Monkey’s latest things is to tell poop jokes. Basically the “joke” is a bunch of nonsensical words all jumbled together along with the word “poop,” followed by her laughing hysterically at herself. I don’t really know where she gets this from (although she has been spending a lot of time with her older cousins lately). Then today she wanted me to sing a silly song using the words “private area.” I’m sure this is going to go over GREAT when she starts pre-school in three weeks.


We Should TOTALLY Clean out the Basement Too!


There has been no quiet space in my brain lately. No calm that has allowed me to form coherent thoughts that translate into written words. And while I know that my two blog readers find it unacceptable that I haven’t posted in FIVE WEEKS, the fact that “blog” has been written on my To Do list for five weeks is more bothersome to me.

I hate leaving things left undone. Yuck.

So let’s recap, shall we?


We have been doing a lot of it. There has been:

  • LOTS of SWIMMING (Yay! My favorite)
  • LOTS of ICE CREAM (Wait, this is really my favorite)
  • Trips to the campground (FOR SWIMMING! AND ICE CREAM!!)
  • Playgrounds
  • Picnics
  • Bonfires
  • The Fourth of July holiday (which included all of the above, PLUS fireworks AND a parade!)
  • Zoo trips
  • Cars 2
  • Visits with family members who live out of town
  • Town picnics (and MORE parade!)
  • Weddings
  • OMG

Sprinkler! Next best thing to swimming!

Frog catching while swimming!

Feeding goats at the zoo!



S'mores! (and a little sibling annoyance)

Then add Bean at 17 months in her full glory of Terrible Two-ness (it started around the same time with Monkey; honestly it’s not as bad this time around because I’ve experienced it before, but it still snuck up on me), and we’re getting Monkey ready for preschool in ONE WEEK AND ONE MONTH. More on these milestones to come later.

And work has been VERY busy (yay!)”

Oh, and we can’t forget that we’re reroofing our house and installing a new concrete patio. In 95-degree-heat-with-100%-humidity weather. We sure can pick ‘em, can’t we?

And duh, we’re planning and packing for our trip to Michigan for my brother’s wedding and we leave TOMORROW. Well, tomorrow at 3 a.m., so it’s really like tonight. I say “tonight,” but my husband gets all technical and says that since it’s after midnight it’s “tomorrow,” but whatever, when it’s still dark out I say “tonight.” Got it?

We should totally clean out the basement while we’re at it!!

We hired a professional roofer to do our roof as a side job on weeknights and weekends. Husband has been helping out to try to speed things along. They started last week with Husband coming home after working 12-hour days to rip shingles off the roof. The first day I saw them do this I thought it didn’t look so hard. Now I understand why my dad said in no uncertain terms, “PAY THEM WHATEVER THEY WANT TO RIP OFF.” He really said that. In all caps. But, we wanted to save money. A lot of money. Because guess what the hardest part of roofing is? RIPPING OFF. After a couple of nights and five hours on Saturday, they had the back half of the roof done.

This week, with Husband having off of work for our trip to Michigan, we had the brilliant idea of ALSO starting our new patio project. Because it’s husband’s birthday next week and we always have a big birthday bonfire, and Husband said, “We’re not having the bonfire until the patio is done.” And since I’m never one to spit in the eye of motivation, I said, “Git-R-Done.”

So naturally, we started this week. In 95-degree-heat-with-100%-humidity weather.

We’ve hired someone to do the patio as well. And this should require far less work on behalf of my husband — except, he’s had to do a fair amount of prep work, including ripping out our existing, rotting wooden deck (two days, one electric screw driver, one chainsaw and three reciprocating saws later), and getting his dad’s skid loader to our house to break up and remove the existing concrete pad that bookends an expanse of weeds (This used to be a lovely flower garden when we moved in four years ago. But four years, two kids, and the fact that there are 95 flower gardens in our yard means I don’t have time for that $hit).

Can you believe this $hit? This used to be a garden.

Rip off more shingles!

Don’t forget to change the oil in the van for our drive to Michigan!

And get a haircut!

What day is it?


Things we currently have in our yard:

  • One giant green dumpster
  • Two expansive piles of broken concrete
  • One trailer (to “catch” the shingles)
  • One skid loader

Since we’re the first house in the subdivision, the neighbors are driving by verrrry slowly.

We are hoping to come home on Sunday night to a completed roof and patio. Cross your fingers.

Bring on the weed killer. This "garden" is in between a wooden deck and old concrete patio. We're going to put in a new concrete patio that runs the entire length of the old deck, "garden" and old concrete pad.

The old wooden deck.

After much aggravation, no more wood.

Part one of two concrete piles.

One half of the old concrete pad removed.

Oh yeah, we're roofing too.

Husband's makeshift slide so the old shingles land in the trailer and not the flower bed.

About that trip.

The last time we took a family vacation it involved a two-year-old Monkey, a four-month-old Bean, a 3.5-hour drive to Door County and Mirena-induced rage. Let’s just say it didn’t work out so well. The trip or Mirena.

I’m not really sure what to expect this time. The drive is 8 hours, without stops. We wanted to limit the amount of awake time in the car (the kids, not ours), while also avoiding Upper Michigan at night since Husband says there are too many deer; hence the 3 a.m. leave time.

Obviously, I’m not really expecting a fun drive. Normally we don’t let the kids watch much TV, but for the sake of saving our sanity, we’re borrowing a dual screen portable DVD player and we packed about 8 DVDS. I know I’m gonna fall in love with this thing and never want to part with it.

In addition to 16 hours of movies, we’ve also armed ourselves with:

  • 6 audiobooks
  • Notebooks, coloring books and crayons
  • 25 books
  • A Mobigo handheld game device (I can’t believe I’m letting Monkey have this either — HELLO screen time. But really, the whole handheld game thing is inevitable)
  • Baby dolls and other toys

OMG. I just realized that I need to add ear plugs to my packing list. I can’t believe I almost forgot that.

I’ve been trying to find some fun things that we can do along the way on Thursday during the day (we can’t check in until 6 p.m.), but I’m not having much luck. The recommendations other people have given me unfortunately are very far off our route. So as of right now, leaving in 23 hours, we’ll be doing what I don’t customarily do — winging it. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for state and national parks with beaches. We’ll see how that goes.

And then there’s the whole matter of the actual wedding festivities and juggling the kids between spa services, golfing, hair appointments, late dinners, etc. Husband, Monkey and I are all standing up and I am REALLY hoping that Monkey pulls off her flower girl duties flawlessly. We have been practicing at home so as to avoid the infamous flower girl freeze. I think we’ll have a pretty good read for how she’ll do at the rehearsal. Managing her expectations is very important (I don’t know where she gets that from).

If I learned anything from our experience last year, it’s that putting over-tired, over-stimulated kids out of their routine in an unfamiliar environment can turn them into demons.

I am planning to bribe them with food whenever possible.

We are packing:

  • Teddy Grahams (first-time purchase)
  • Carousel Cookies (first-time purchase)
  • Cheetos
  • Chex Mix
  • M&Ms
  • Pretzels

If I could pack ice cream and a pony, I would.

So. I think that about sums it up.

Good thing it’s 4 a.m. I am SO gonna be ready to go to bed at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow. Er, today. Whatever. (I have been getting entirely too much sleep lately anyway. It’s high time we change that.)

Feel free to throw me any suggestions you have for long, happy car rides, charming wedding behavior, or preventing meltdowns due to lack of sleep and unfamiliar surroundings! Bribe suggestions welcome! (They won’t honestly believe me when I promise a puppy, right?)

Comfortable Love


One day when Husband and I were in Punta Cana on our vacation, we happened upon a wedding on the resort.

I love weddings. I’m usually a hot mess of tears from the moment the bride walks down the aisle, even if it’s the second cousin of my husband’s boss’s friend, or a wedding on TV, or the wedding of two complete strangers that I just happened to catch as I was walking by. (Basically I’m a hot mess of tears anytime anything remotely emotional comes on TV, yes even commercials, which is why I don’t allow myself to watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition.)

I love how being at a wedding makes you nostalgic for your own wedding day — makes you remember what it was like to be that blushing bride gazing into the face of your nervous groom, with all of the newness, hope and anticipation laid out in front of you. For me, seeing those emotions on the faces of two other people is a reminder about why I got married in the first place.

I am especially eager to listen to the officiant’s message at a wedding. It’s always something about partnership and love, and usually I can find a piece of advice to apply to my own married life.

I think the officiant at the Punta Cana wedding said what I think is possibly the sagest advice I’ve ever heard regarding marriage.

He said getting married is like saying to the other person, “Thank you for sharing a life with me.”


Yes. That is exactly what it is.

Because marriage is not always fun, it’s not always never the overly romanticized thing we see on TV, and often, it’s really, really hard. But, it’s a choice that you and your spouse made to share a life with each other, and everything that life entails. Everything.

And that is simultaneously what’s also so wonderful about marriage.

In the brightest moments and the darkest hours, I can look to my husband and thank him for sharing this life with me. I can laugh with him, cry with him, lean on him for support, worry out loud, be totally neurotic, be absolutely silly and always be myself.

I don’t think anyone ever prepares you for how challenging marriage can be at times. I mean, people say it’s hard, but you don’t really get it. You don’t really understand until you’re arguing about who’s family’s house you’re going to for Christmas, or which one of you is going to get up with the screaming baby for the fifth time, or who has more responsibilities around the house and why. (It’s kind of like motherhood — people can tell you that you need to feed the baby every two hours, but until you’re actually doing it, it just doesn’t click.)

So yeah. Hard work.

But the best things in life aren’t free. And isn’t marriage one of best gifts you could ever receive? Someone picked you. And in addition to arguing over where you’re going to spend the holidays and who has to trim the bushes, you also have the privilege of building a home together, watching your daughters take their first steps, and sharing inside jokes.

Husband and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary a couple days ago, and it’s been almost 14 years that we’ve been together. We’ve basically become adults together. We’ve gone from courting each other, to puppy love, to newly-wedded bliss, to a comfortable sort of love that’s shown by saving the other person a piece of cake or not leaving the dish rag wadded up in a ball. I love how author and blogger Chandra Hoffman wrote about what love means in her marriage. She said:

“When he buys and carries five eighty pound bags of water-softener salt down to the basement every six weeks, that is love. Also, hand-weeding in between the pavers of our driveway. Turning my kitchen compost pile. Building a 60×8 foot trellis for the lima beans to climb.

That is all so, so true. It’s the gestures that aren’t necessarily big and grand, and the acceptance of each other as we are. That’s love in a marriage.

So, thank you Husband for sharing a life with me. You make me feel unconditionally loved, and there’s no one I’d rather be traveling with on this journey than you.

May 16, 2003