five years of bliss, bumps and blessings

Five years ago today, pretty much right at this minute, I was walking down the aisle on the arm of a very handsome tuxedoed man. First as Johanna Henderson on the arm of my dad, then back down as the new Mrs. Johanna Puelston with Kyle. It was a beautiful fall day, much like this one. The colors in the trees were as bright as the smile on my face that wouldn’t quit. I was HAPPY. I mean, CRAZY HAPPY. I was marrying the love of my life! And we were going to be together forever.

Today I am still so very happy. The past five years have honestly been wedded bliss. Not without bumps along this beautiful road called Life Together, but so chock full of blessing that I cannot for one minute dwell on the brief moments that have been hard or painful. In fact, those moments have shaped and helped us in ways that the super great days can’t hold a candle to.

The first three to six months of marriage were the bumpiest. We had to learn and study each other as we lived life side-by-side after a long-distance courtship. God worked mightily in both our hearts to teach us to extend His bountiful grace to one another, to love even when it was hard and to let the little things slide. The bumps smoothed out and with great support, wisdom from those around us and lots of praying for each other, marriage just got better and better.

I was thinking today that this is probably the life I pictured four years ago when we celebrated our first anniversary in beautiful California. A house, a couple of kids (one that has yet to appear to the outside world!), a continuation of Kyle’s funky, but lovable work schedule. But its SO much better than I could have imagined. And we’re better off in so many ways than on the blissful day our marriage began. God’s grace has been working in small and huge ways to bring us to a place of deepness and maturity in lots of areas of life.

So basically – I’m blessed beyond anything I could have pictured on the day I thought was the happiest day of my life. πŸ™‚ It’s a joy to share life with my best friend and lover. I’d do it all over again in two seconds, Kyle!

these are the best days

the past two days I’ve been, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “omnivorously attentive” to the fact that my time with Jackson as my only child is fleeting quickly. I’m not all worried about not having enough love in my heart for more than one child or anything like that, but I’ve just enjoyed soaking up these last days of him being my firstborn/only kid.

Kyle spent most of Thursday, all of Friday and Saturday at the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, so it was truly just me and Jack. Friday was kind of rough – well, the morning anyhow. Jack’s answer to pretty much every command, question or suggestion was “No.” He konked his noggin on the stair landing plate in the midst of a disobedient moment and I was sure the spot between his eyes was going to split right open. Thank the Lord it didn’t. I wasn’t relishing the thought of a trip to Urgent Care for stitches. That evening (after a lovely massage and little break from the boy) we went “topping” (shopping) at Trader Joe’s and Costco together and shared a piece of pizza and a fruit smoothie in the Costco food court for our dinner. Then a stop at Lowe’s where he was enraptured to ride in the “tar tart” (car cart) which he talked about the whole ride home, when he wasn’t engrossed in his Richard Scarry book.

When we got home, the dog was in need of some exercise and both Nikon and Jack played with their respective balls. In the midst of me tossing Nikon his, His Royal Stupidness ran full-tilt right into Jack, knocking him to the concrete in a most dramatic fashion. His poor head may have even bounced, I’m not sure, but at any rate – he was screaming and I wanted to kill the dog for injuring my boy, however innocently! I held him, as well as I can with my enormous belly out in front taking up any and all lap space, and consoled his bruised self with a popsicle.

Yesterday we had quite the little adventure out and about in our little town. It was our annual town “Fall Harvest Festival”, with a craft and vendor fair in tiny Central Park and a 5K to raise money for the fire department on the running trail just two blocks from our home. I was on assignment with the newspaper, so into the stroller went Jack, my camera, etc. Stupidly, I let the dog come along, instantly making my morning a whole lot more complicated.

First stop, Central Park. Perused the booths, paid the Boy Scouts 50 cents to let Jack jump in the bouncy house for 5 minutes (whee!), fought to keep the dog from sniffing everything in the world and on his leash without him pulling me. The vendors and crafters were still putting up their wares, so we planned to come back. Jack got a helium balloon from the insurance salesman, which I tied to his belt loop.

Next up, the start of the 5K. I tied Nikon up so I would have free hands to take pictures. The dumb dog barked and howled – WHAT IN THE WORLD? He’s never done that before. πŸ˜› Most annoyed, I brought him closer to us and ignored him. There was also a little family fun run of 1/2 a mile or something, and when Jack saw the little kids crossing the finish line he asked if “My do it, mama?” So I let him run down the trail a little bit and then told him to run back across the finish line. He LOVED it. I foresee many a mile run and 5K in our family’s future. He runs his little legs off when he wants to! I want to forever remember his little two year old legs running pell mell across that silly finish line. πŸ™‚

After the first 5K finisher crossed, we went back to get the dog and Jack’s balloon slipped off his belt loop and into the wild blue yonder. I assured him, as he was contemplating crying over this tragic occurrence, that we would get him another one back in the park, along with some mini donuts. That seemed okay with him, so we traipsed back a block to acquire such things. As we walked back, the stupid, stupid dog (Nikon has this spatial awareness handicap that is absolutely maddening) walked in front of Jack in the stroller and knocked him out of it, causing Jack to flop into the crosswalk and hit his face on the curb! ARGH. Now I’m SO mad at the dog, Jack is startled and crying, we’re holding up traffic because this was just a crosswalk and I’m sure it was quite a sight. Some nice man grabbed the dog’s leash (which at this point was starting to chafe my hand due to him being so busy/pulling) while I scooped Jack up and dragged the stroller to the sidewalk.

I dusted everyone off, had stern words with the dog and we finally secured some mini donuts and another balloon, then marched directly to the chiropractor to get my poor boy (and myself!) adjusted after his Triple Crown of crown smackage. πŸ˜› Shew!

Now that you’ve read more detail about two hours of my life than you ever needed to read, I will finish off this post more succinctly. πŸ™‚

After delicious and much needed naps for both of us, or should I say all of us since the baby was definitely part of the reason I needed one, Jack and I made cookies together in the afternoon. I want to remember his chubby hands trying to manage the cookie scoop and the sly smile on his face as he reaches for one more bite of cookie dough. He “washed” the dishes while I worked on some project at the table and then we sat side by side on the same kitchen chair and ate our fresh-from-the-oven gingersnaps, sharing a glass of fresh milk.

Later that night I delighted in his delight at a new-t0-him pair of footie fleece pajamas printed with race cars. We read the same two books I’d read to him the past two nights and laid in bed and sang “Iddy Pider” and “BIG” and “Ma-yee”. (Itsy Bitsy Spider, My God is So Big and a song where I insert the names of all his family members, Molly being his favorite.) He asked if I’d rock him, totally stalling for time, but I didn’t turn him down because I know the day will come soon when he doesn’t want or need my lap or cuddles with me anymore.

This post is more for me than anyone else reading. I just want to remember these days. These tiny slivers of time that pass like a blur. I want to slow down and remember the way he looked when he ran toward me down the path, and how his sugar covered hands with their still present knuckle dimples charm my heart. I want to recall how it feels to have his hand in mine and the sweet ways he talks and the words he mispronounces with a tiny person lisp that is so freakin’ endearing I don’t want it to improve into real, unfettered English. πŸ™‚ These are the best days. I want to remember them.

hurry up and wait

out my back window, the neighbor’s maple tree is turning from green to crimson. It’s always the earliest tree to shed its summer cloak for the bright hues of autumn and I love it. The air has been crisp and cool for about a week now – fall is definitely in the air, though the calendar may disagree until Friday. This is my favorite season to live in our beautiful state. Fall, then spring, then summer and winter. If winter would drop off the list completely, I wouldn’t mind one iota. I mean, some snow is nice, but the cold and the necessity for almost total hibernation gets to me on about the fourth day of January. Once Christmas and the first snowfall have been enjoyed, winter is all down hill from there.

I’m in the twilight of this pregnancy – gosh, that’s kind of overly poetic. Just two weeks stand between being pregnant and holding a newborn. Hallelujah! I’m so very ready to be on to the next stage and snuggle my baby girl, figure out her feeding and sleeping needs, be starving and able to eat whatever without heartburn because I’m nursing and not pregnant anymore…at this point, any change from the current “normal” of being a lumbering pregnant lady will be super. πŸ™‚

Last week marked the last “big event” before our little lady makes her debut. We enjoyed the fun and busyness that was Kyle’s sister Sarah’s wedding and marriage to Ryan. The ceremony was positively lovely and the decor stunning and the celebrating delightful. Our whole family was a part of the wedding party – Jack the adorable ring bearer in his little tuxedo, Kyle a groomsman and I a bridesmaid. Jack did indeed make it down the aisle without incident. I can’t say the same for when it was time to go sit with his grandparents instead of staying with his mother. ahem. Yes, that will be Jack screaming over the pastor’s prayer just before the message. πŸ˜› Oh well.

He DID charm the world on the dance floor – oh my gosh. And was pretty much the last one standing as they shut down the party late that night. He eventually gave up the ghost and sat with his hands folded and his beloved pacifier in his piehole at about 10:30pm. I’ll admit that I didn’t cry when the bride walked down the aisle, but had to work hard to keep back the happy/proud mama tears as my own little boy did! lol.Β And I admit I felt pretty good for being nearly 38 weeks huge – my friends Rosanna and Brittni made a wicked awesome beautifying team. My hairs and face and the dress all worked together to work some magic, I think. Here we all are in our wedding finery:


My bag is packed for the hospital. The necessary post-partum supplies are stocked. (Raise your hand if you know what I mean. :-P) Snacks to sustain my husband while he supports me are waiting in the pantry. The girl child (who still is possibly Taylor or possibly Nora/Norah) has clothing. The boy child’s fall/winter wardrobe is being added to this week. The kid’s room awaits a few more touches of decor that I hope to finish this week. The freezer boasts about 12-15 meals or parts of meals for the weeks following her arrival since I plan to do little more than sit on the couch in a reclined position and make trips to the bathroom and shower for the first month after her sweet arrival.

so I hurry up and wait! and thank God for every minute I’ve already had with this person inside of me as I long for the days of having her in our everyday lives outside. πŸ™‚

a September morning

If you were to stop by my house this morning, I would pour you a cup of english toffee Kona coffee with your choice of cream and sugar, along with a fresh from the oven oatmeal date muffin. It’s a cool, crisp morning – but the sun is working it’s magic on the world to warm it up. I love these days between summer and fall. They aren’t so hot, but they aren’t so cold. You might need a sweater or hoodie in the morning, but by noon or earlier, you throw it aside to let the sun soak into your skin.

Yesterday marked four weeks to my “due date”. I try not to think of it as a mark to reach, and even though I would love to meet our Taylor or Norah girl sooner rather than later, I also want her lungs to be properly developed and for her to be done cooking. I know God’s timing will be perfect, as it was for Jackson’s arrival. And in the meantime, I’m trying to prepare like crazy…cleaning and making freezer meals and finishing up projects and maybe making some decorations for the kid’s room.

I look at the calendar and the days that will slip by quicker than I care to see them go and wonder which day will be her birthday. I also keep thinking, “I’ve got to do _____ (basically everything) before she comes, since life is about to get oh so much more complicated!” I laugh at myself – remembering how easy life was before ANY kids and how I now think that life with one is so simple compared to life with two. πŸ™‚ I’m slightly afraid I’ll become a hermit this fall/winter because taking them both out will be such an adventure, but my sanguine/relational personality will probably take over like an override switch and I’ll end up hauling them to friend’s houses and their grandparent’s and we’ll all survive once we find our groove.

I find myself in a sweet state of grace with a peaceful heart, which I know is a gift from the Lord as I face the uncertainty of our “new normal” and the difficulty of impending labor. This feeling is one I felt just before Jackson joined us too – a settled calm, even in the midst of preparation and change. I think I better pack my hospital bag. πŸ™‚

33 years…

Today my mom and dad celebrate 33 years of marriage. In honor of such a momentous occasion, they are giving each other Lasik surgery. πŸ™‚ I mean – they are GETTING Lasik surgery from an expert doctor and its their gift to each other. No glasses. I guess if the commemorative gift was “glass” for this year, they are doing the opposite. πŸ˜‰ Either that or are changing it to “better vision”.

In their marriage I’ve seen much love, compromise, fun and adventure lived out. Of course they’ve had their moments of trial and I remember one particularly challenging time when I wondered if they would make it through, but God has been faithful to see them through those moments or days or years and they have given each other grace and the promise to never leave. When a lot of my friends in elementary and jr. high school had parents that were divorcing, Mom and Dad reassured me more than once that they would never, ever do that. And I didn’t have any reason to question them.

Though their address has changed many times through the years, their love for each other and their companionship has remained steady. When my dad gets a wild new idea, Mom doesn’t shoot him down. When Mom wants Dad to try a new diet or exercise regimen, Dad always gives it a little try. πŸ™‚ They bike together, grow plants and veggies and strawberries together, travel together and encourage their kids (that’s me!) to always follow hard after God, no matter how far from home that might take us. Or them.

Dad always comes up with something clever and sweet to celebrate the love they share on their anniversary. Some years its been a banner staked in the ground at Lake Harriet that told the world “Hip hip hooray! 10 Years today!” while we ate chinese takeout and then an anniversary cake appeared from the car trunk to share with friends that suddenly appeared. πŸ™‚ One year he had hats made that said “HIS” and “HERS” and the date they were married. Dad wore the one that said “HERS” and Mom the one that said “HIS” and walked around the MN State Fair (which always falls over their anniversary) to the booths of each radio station we frequently listened to in an attempt to get on the air on their special day. Most recently, the Better Together t-shirts – pretty genius. I can’t remember if it was a banner or a t-shirt that said, “She was the best then and better now”, and the banner from last year that repeated the joy of their 10th anniversary, with 22 years more of history tacked on.

I’m very grateful for every year of love and life that God has given my parents. I’m grateful for their example and encouragement to press on, follow God and love each other. They match and complement each other in the best ways. Life IS better when you’re together. I love you, Mom and Dad. Happy Anniversary! (and I hope your fried eyeballs can see clearly now!)