Week 1: My perspective

Guys, I realize how incredibly rare this time is. And I’d really like to tell you that we’re killin’ it over here, Brady Bunch picturesque. That’s just not the case. Ryan and I, though working from home, have put in more hours this first week than we have in awhile! It’s been a LOT! And let me say, I am THANKFUL for a job that I love, and even more thankful I get to work alongside Ryan, but…it’s a lot!

The kids, as much as they’ve hated being quarantined, have REALLY been awesome! They have stayed on top of their eLearning, have kept their rooms and bathrooms clean, and have managed their moods as best as can be expected. They’re at an age where they can control their own time-management. I set expectations on “school days”, but they’ve really handled their work within those parameters on their own, smoothly.

Though the weekends don’t feel much different than weekdays, it is nice to unplug and just relax together. Between the four of us, we’ve watched enough Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu to keep all streaming companies alive and running! We’ve ventured out only a few times for wine groceries! Church has gone solely online, and it’s become one of my favorite things about being stuck at home- there’s just something about the whole family sitting around in jammies, drinking coffee and hot chocolate, listening to worship music, and reading and learning God’s Word.

Here’s to another few weeks together….

Week 1: Ryan’s Perspective

Ryan: Gretchen and I started off the month of March with a weeklong water & vegetable only fast; it was an opportunity for a physical cleanse along with a mental and spiritual refresh.  After a week of less than 500 calories a day, we ended the week with a nice steak dinner together… it was outstanding! After going a week without some of my favorite things; a hot cup of black coffee, a cold beer, a great steak… they were great when reintroduced, the “color” in them came back to life.  The week allowed me to focus on my relationship with God and my wife, and I had one very specific ah-ah, which I’ll touch on shortly…

A few weeks later, and COVID-19 has forced many to shelter-in place… our first week was a little rough, as I had already forgotten what I learned during the week of the fast.  I had life on cruise control of sorts – a good routine in place, and I thought Quality Time together with family was just being together.  I’m obviously late to the game here in understanding this, but it is so much more than that.  I love love spending time with my wife, love Anderson’s punny jokes, and Lilly’s cute silliness… and I so appreciate the “color” we bring to each other’s lives.  However, in many ways, I was present without participating.  I took for granted things my wife does, or didn’t notice when kids were about to tell a  great story.  My ah-ha from our week long fast and now from week 1 of COVID-19, is that relationship is more than just being there… it’s a connection.  A connection takes time, effort, and intentionality…with God, my wife, and the kids.   It takes me putting the phone down, shutting off the computer, and making time for those that it matters if you spend time with them!

I am so thankful for the “color” in our lives… and I pray I don’t miss the opportunity to use the time together, during the COVID-19 lockdown, to strengthen our relationships together!   I’m definitely not nailing it over here, just ask em! Just so so thankful, and forward looking forward to the next….. 6 weeks together??!?! 

Week 1: Lilly’s Perspective

Lilly: When I first found out that they canceled school I had mixed emotions. I was excited to stay home (at first) but I was super sad that I wouldn’t be able to see my friends (which is the only reason I like school lol). On the first day of quarantine, I was all good until I was done with eLearning (funny, right?) because Mom told us the we couldn’t go to our friends house and hang out (“chill with our homies” in Anderson’s words). Anderson and I both were very disappointed and angry. Being on quarantine is the worst thing ever! It’s only the first week and I went CRAZY!!! (But not as much as Mom!)

We are off school until May 1st but I think that they will change it so that we are not going back to school. Luckily, my cool mom is letting me have a few friends over for a mini graduation so that we can all wear our last day of school outfits and hang out. But for now, Mom won’t let us hang out with anyone so it gets so very boring. Also, everyone gets very crazy and annoyed so boy is that fun!! So, basically quarantine is terrible, boring, crazy, stressful, and oh so hard!

But just because everything about it is horrible, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it seriously. So, SIX FEET AWAY AT ALL TIMES, KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!

Week 1: Anderson’s Perspective

COVID-19 has impacted everyone. From school kids, to parents, to pets who want us out of the house, we are all directly hit from the effects of the Coronavirus and self-quarantining. What “fun” would a national emergency be if we didn’t document the whole thing. Enjoy the next few days of Quarantine 2020 with the Middleton-Hahn’s!

Anderson:

Our last day that we were actually at school was Thursday 3/12. That day I had to go home early because I sprained my ankle in PE, which is my second period, so I was hardly at school that day. On the following day (Friday the 13th) was what is called a flex day, which is a specific day of the quarter where we have a scheduled eLearning day and we basically do our work at home online. That very Friday was the day where we found out that we would have to stay home for 2 weeks, but technically 3 weeks, because spring break started when the quarantine ended.

That weekend my sister went out to an ice cream store called Zestos, with her friend Erin. Erin’s little brother Jackson is one of my friends, so the following day both my sister and I went over to their house. We were there for about an hour, and it was a blast! This turned out to be a pretty consistent pastime. The next day we went to their house, we went to Zestos, and did it again the following day. Jackson wore a banana costume to Zesto’s… (he didn’t get a banana split if that’s what you are thinking!)! Why did he wear a banana costume? To be completely honest I’m not sure. Anyway, lets get back to the story. We loved going over there, especially me, because everywhere we have lived, my sister has always had a friend in the neighborhood, and I never did. So this was exciting and wonderful! The following day, we were going to go over there, and just chill or whatever. But my mom decided “They might have the Corona Virus” and “Social distancing is very important at these times.” We were seriously disappointed, especially me, because like I said, I’ve never really had friends that lived close.

Anyway, to make a long-story-short, one day this week my mom decided that we could go over there for an hour or so!! We thought that there was a catch, but apparently there wasn’t except… it started RAINING. We were so annoyed and frustrated.

It is currently the following Saturday night, at 9:30 and I haven’t seen them since. I also left out that we discovered that the quarantine is extended till May 1 ‘___’ so how’s your  quarantine going?! LOL!

 

 

“Torono”

We knew we wanted to do a quick getaway this month since the kids will be in MN for spring break, and summer break is already looking incredibly full. A couple weeks ago the kids had a Friday and Monday off school, so we saw it as the perfect time to sneak away and explore a new city together.  When Ryan suggested Toronto, I thought he was insane, but of course he assured me it would be fun! Anywhere we could go within driving distance was going to be cold (hello, FEBRUARY!), so why not Canada?

The kids had a church event Friday night that lasted into the early morning Saturday, so we couldn’t get started on our adventure until after that (and a few hours of sleep, of course!). We made our way across Ambassador Bridge, and made the final trek to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls just as the kids were falling asleep again! Luckily, the vastness of the Falls were enough to snap the kids back into action as we walked the sidewalks to see the incredible views. What an awesome place to visit!

the fam at the falls

From there, we made our way into downtown.Toronto.on.a.Saturday.night. Holy moly! Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America, and we felt it that night! After a long day of driving, navigating a super busy downtown in the dark was not our idea of fun! BUT, we made it to our downtown condo, right across from the Scotiabank Arena (where the NBA team, the Toronto Raptors play)! Our little travel guide had found the perfect Airbnb for our visit!

Neither of us had visited Toronto before, so we were really exploring it blindly! We headed out the next day to the Harbourfront which, not so shockingly, happened to be Ryan’s favorite spot of our trip! It was a gorgeous morning, the sun was out, and the kids were in (mostly) good moods! That in of itself is a success in my book! RM and LJ Lilly picked out a cute spot for brunch, then onto the CN Tower we went.

We learned that Tim Horton’s (though we have them in Fort Wayne now!) is referred to as Timmy’s by the locals, and that pronouncing the second ‘T’ in Toronto just screams tourist!

We surprised Anderson awhile later with a quick walk to Graffiti Alley. The kid was hooked! We’ve never seen him SO excited about anything! He loved the different art, the creativity and the colors!

anderson toronto

We spent the entire day just exploring this new-to-us city! We had an awesome dinner downtown before turning in for the night! It was really cool to spend the time away, just the four of us, with no specific destinations, no timelines, and zero prearranged plans. I am so incredibly thankful for a husband who will step outside of the box, plan a trip that will include something for us all, and just take the “risk” of something new.

The Selflessness That Is PARENTING

I am aware that what I’m about to admit is going to make me look like a giant jerk ball. I’m also confident that I’m not the only single-to-now-married mom who feels this way, or has felt this way at some point. But really, even if I am, that’s okay too.

I was a single parent for more than ten years. During that time, I played mom, dad, doctor, nurse, teacher, coach, etc. It’s the job description that’s required of all moms, sometimes even more so of single moms (or dads). It’s just what you do to keep.swimming.

When I met Ryan, my biggest hope and prayer was that the kids would like him and that he would like them. Of course, being that they’re an extension of me, I knew he’d love them. It was a prerequisite! But, my kids were elbow deep into the tween years, and getting them to like new people can be tough! (No idea where they get that.) Clearly, things went well and…here we are!

Flash forward to this week. While helping Anderson with some homework and cleaning out his Trapper Keeper (hehe!), I found a note he wrote to Ryan, thanking him for always being there for him and Lilly, along with other things! Of course it’s a super sweet note and I would NE-VER be upset that he wrote it, but…it pissed me off!

Ryanandkids

Because, let me tell you about one of the writings that my daughter wrote about me.

Last summer at church camp, Lilly wrote in her journal that she was praying for me because I’m always mad and tired. She wrote that I always seem upset and overwhelmed. O. U. C. H.

She isn’t wrong.

There’s just a heavy responsibility of being the sole disciplinarian. Of course, it’s not Ryan’s place to discipline them. And their dad lives so far away that I wouldn’t expect his input or help either. So that leaves me. Always the “bad guy” and always the “mean” one. It’s just what it is. But sometimes it really really really stinks and sometimes it really really hurts.

Being a mom is the most selfless job there is. It’s not about me at all. It’s about keeping them safe. Keeping them on task. Holding them responsible, and creating accountability. It’s about making sure homework is turned in, laundry is done, beds are made. It’s about creating tiny humans who will turn into productive teens and young adults. It’s about teaching them that they have ownership over their actions, their body, their words. Everything I do is to ensure they are learning and growing as kids so they can be self-sufficient adults. That is my job. And for now, it comes with zero reward!

I know that with time, my 38 year old daughter will spend a Monday morning crying on her bathroom floor texting me, telling me how thankful she is for me, and apologizing for all the times in her life she took me for granted (sorry mom!). I know that at some point, my son will be there for me, the way that I am always there for him. I know that the rules and restrictions I’m putting on them now (on my own) will benefit them in middle school and high school and cut down on the drama that they just aren’t equipped to navigate. I am confident in my parenting, even though it oftentimes goes unnoticed.

Here’s to all the single moms, working moms, and everything in between…I SEE YOU. I see the effort, the tears, the stress, the heartache, the celebrations. I see all of it. You are doing all the right things. You are doing it all for them. THEY don’t know it, but I DO. KEEP SWIMING. You’ve got this! Do not give up because those kids are sooo incredibly worth it. They’ll come around. They’ll grow up and they’ll realize YOU are the one who kept them on track- even with your constant nagging and occasional yelling. YOU DID IT FOR THEM! I SEE YOU!

 

You Should Tell Them…

I’ve received two texts in the past few weeks from my sweetest younger SIL, Gwen. The texts were totally random- one about a dream she had that I was in, and another one just letting me know that she was thinking about me. The thing is, the fact Gwen texted me is not super unusual, I mean, we talk for sure! But the thought behind each text was so sweet that it really had a direct impact on both of the days I got those messages! (Thank you, sweet Gwen!)

Ask my husband, I’m a Words of Affirmation girl, through and through (though I don’t hate the random occasional gift, amIright?!). There is nothing in my world better than waking up to a post-it note on my bathroom mirror from Ryan. Just the thought of him taking time to write, in his cute messy handwriting, a sweet-nothing to me, just makes my heart race! (Gaw, I love him!) I guess the same is true when I get a random text from my SIL or a friend. It just really means something to me!

I drive three or four hours a day for work (yes, you read that correctly), and I get a lot of windshield time. A lot of time to think and reflect and think and analyze and think and pray and think and worry and…you get the point. But often, I think about other people- just wondering how they are, wondering how their kiddos are, wondering how the interview went or the meeting went or even that morning’s workout went. This week I thought about how awesome it would be to let those people know when I was thinking about them.

I get it- not everyone is a words of affirmation person, like myself. I’m married to one of them! I can text Ryan the sweetest, kindest, most intentional heartfelt message, and it would be nothing for him to respond “that’s sweet” (you laugh, but he does it, often!) He’s just not the same as me! And that’s okay! But no one, I mean that, no one is ever going to be mad that you’re telling them you’re thinking about them.

So next time you’re thinking of someone- you should tell them! You have no idea how their morning went or their workday was. The message from you may be the one thing that brightens their chaotic day! So SEND the message. MAKE the call. ANSWER the call. Shoot an email. Just LET them know! It’s important!

 

Growing Together

You may remember that Ryan and I were doing “double church” for almost a year. The kids and I had been attending our regular church for more than 10 years, and it was home to us. We saw a lot of changes throughout that time, namely the passing of the founding pastor. This church helped start my faith walk as an adult, and guided me into the basics of my understanding of my faith and desires of my heart. It was the place my kids felt comfortable- where they met new friends, spent weeks at camp, and really began their understanding of faith in connection with how we lived at home. When I met Ryan, he was also rooted in a church. Though he lacked the social fellowship that we had at our church, he was learning and growing in his faith, and wanted to share the experience with me. So, we did 9:30 church at my church, and 11am church at his church. It was an eventful year!

As more changes occurred at my church, and I felt myself actually learning and being challenged at his, I knew that the inevitability of choosing just one church was on the horizon. The kids begrudgingly made the switch to Ryan’s church, and now we’re rooted in one church, together!

Last fall, Ryan and I signed up for a GROW class together. It is an in-depth study of the Bible over a two year span. We started the class just weeks before we got married, and instantly I knew this would be a big challenge for me. The Old Testament is IN-TENSE ya’ll! As a Catholic-raised girl, I studied the Gospels, and didn’t even really do that very well!

This week we covered the book of Ecclesiastes. And when I first read it, I was like “whoa, that is so depressing!” I admit, I never finished the last two assigned chapters of the book (see also: the good part), and so I was left feeling very sluggish, and channeling my best Eeyore behaviors. Once our class discussion started and we unveiled the “good news” of the conclusion of the book, I realized….this is EXACTLY what Ryan and I were talking about the past week. Finding meaning in what we do. Finding the “it” in life. Feeling like we were doing “enough.”

It all comes down to doing life/work/parenting/leadership/marriage ALONGSIDE God! Because without that….we’re left feeling like it’s all meaningless. And really, isn’t it?

I am so thankful to be in a church that challenges me. I am so thankful that I am learning more this year than I’ve learned my whole life when it comes to the Bible and God’s Word. I am so so incredibly thankful to being doing all of this GROWING with Ryan!

We really never know…

Sunday’s news of Kobe Bryant’s passing really shook my household. Ryan and I were hanging out Sunday afternoon, watching a movie together, when I got the alert on my phone that the helicopter went down. From there, the news just spiraled and we became engrossed in the details, the outcome, etc. It was tragic, to say the least. I won’t pretend to be a giant Kobe fan or even Laker’s fan for that matter, because the truth is, I don’t follow the NBA, or its players, at all. But this story was much more than the story of the tragic death of a basketball player.

For us, this turned into the story that many others across the country related to. It became the story of a husband and father who lost his life unexpectedly, and too soon. It became the story of an unfinished life, a family who was broken, a family who would have to figure out ways to continue on without two of its members. The loss of Kobe and his daughter, along with the others on the helicopter that day, became a reminder that life is so incredibly short. And of course, we know that, right? But do we LIVE it?

Ryan and I decided to slip away after church for an adults-only lunch date. And at that lunch, Ryan looked across the table at me with tears welling up in his eyes and just said “I’m afraid I’m missing it.”  (Keep in mind, this was pre-Kobe news) His fear is that he’s not doing enough, he’s not doing it right, he’s missing the point….of parenting, loving, living, teaching, working, etc. And ladies hear me say this…find yourself a husband with a heart like this, because you’ll forever remember this exact moment when he is literally moved to tears because he wants to do “it” right. I tried to explain all the ways that he already was doing it right- the kids see him every single morning, reading devotionals, studying the Word. He shows up to every.single.thing. He is there. He cares. He loves. He strives to be all things.

Once the Kobe news hit, all of Ryan’s fears became mine too. We are here for such a short short time, and we just have to be sure that we’re actually making it count. We can plan, and pray, and hope, and wish, but at the end of the day….we really never know when it’ll all end.

 

I did it!

Last week I posted about setting goals for the year. I mentioned that physical goals were part of this, and so for January, I set a running goal. I’m NOT a runner. Like, not even kind of!

Over Christmas, my brother in law (shout out Sean!) said something that really stuck with me- he made the point that you don’t have to run a great distance every single run, but that for him, it was important to at least run a mile or two, often! This was actually great news to me, because I struggled at the thought of keeping up with my precious hubbs, who makes it look like a piece of cake running five miles before church each week in blistering cold temps! Pass.

My goal for the first month of this new decade was to run twenty miles. Yes, I’m aware some of you run that every weekend, or even those of you weirdos who do it in one single run, but for me, this was a big goal! Twenty-seven days into January, thirteen runs later, I finally ran my twenty miles! And ya’ll, it feels great!

I don’t keep up with goals, like ev-errrr. I especially don’t stick to exercise/running goals. So for me to hit this goal, and actually ENJOY it, is huge! I’m actually looking forward to setting a new goal for myself in February, and eventually enjoying some outside runs with Ryan in the spring (yes hunny, I said it!)!!!

running