Monday, August 26, 2013

The rebel and the good girl

Why does the good girl marry the rebel?

Growing up I was definitely a goody two shoes.  I am a quintessential oldest child.  I followed all the rules and never deviated or questioned the path I was on. I wasn't a rule follower because I thought I had to be or was afraid to disobey or disappoint.  I truly never secretly wanted to rebel.  I really was just a "good" kid.  I am one of those kids that meets Jesus at a young age and never looks back.  Really.  My faith has directed my actions since I was 4 years old.

So obviously being such a good girl I would desire to meet and marry the good boy.  You know the one.  The boy who also makes the right choices, follows the right path, met Jesus at a young age and never felt compelled to rebel.  Starts bible studies at school, leader in the youth group at church, prays with you on a date.  Only one problem, those boys bored me.

Recently I had lunch with a new friend who gave me the words I never had before.  She talked about being the good girl in the dating world.  Like me she was also the first born, rule following, good girl growing up. She even ended up in seminary she was such a good Christian girl.

What she described of her dating experience was exactly what I could have never expressed before about why I chose to date and marry the rebel.  She said when she would date the good boys they always seemed to be playing a part, doing what was expected, what they thought a seminary student would want them to do and be on a date.  It never felt genuine.

Looking back that is exactly what attracted me to John.  He was so real.  He never tried to be something he wasn't.  And that meant I too got to express myself with more freedom than I ever had with anyone else.  While I was the good girl I didn't want the pressure of  keeping up with that title, I wanted to make mistakes, try new things, express doubts without fear of judgement.

Over the years I have come to realize that while I didn't want to rebel in big ways, I don't always like to follow the rules.  John gave me permission to consider the idea that I didn't have to just accept everything but could ask questions and find answers.  I have become a version of myself that I love, a person I never would have had the courage to become without John.  I needed someone willing to push boundaries but who was content to let me stay safely on the "right" side of all the lines.

Be careful if you are a good girl looking for a rebel.  My rebel was really a good guy that thought outside the box.  He was willing to let me ask questions or express doubts but he never led me astray, never led me to make choices outside of God's will, never asked me to question my faith in totality but simply to understand it more.  He knew the Lord and together we have been on a journey of following Christ.

This past weekend we celebrated 23 years of marriage. Even after all these years, when I wonder what it would have been like if I had married the "good" boy, I get bored.  Our life might be a bit untraditional but it has never been dull.  I have loved every minute of it and wouldn't change it for the world.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Hardacker's Big Move

A few weeks ago the drama here intensifying, I was feeling a little battled scared and bruised but all hope was not lost!  Stay tuned to see if the Hardacker's sell their house, get moved into the parents, stablize their schedule and are able to buy a new house!

Well you have stayed tuned long enough so I thought I would write up the latest chapter in this continuing saga.

Since our last installment we have indeed successfully closed on the sale of our house.  We are officially homeless.  It was sad but we still feel confident it was exactly what we were supposed to do.

My car which was last seen at the repair shop, was returned to the shop the following weekend and is now running wonderfully, new brakes, fresh oil (and all other fluids, apparently every fluid level was low), tightened coolant lines and a new thermostat.  Almost immediately upon getting my car back from the shop John's truck started leaking coolant.  One new water pump later and his truck is also good as new.  No more coolant leaking on the driveway.  And with that this story line fades into the background.

After 3 weeks of avoiding the realtor and ignoring her calls and emails, the people in charge of selling the house we had an offer on finally answered the phone and agreed to look at them and pick one.  Unfortunately they did not pick ours.  While we were sad, because of the amount of work the house needed and school starting in a couple weeks it was probably for the best.  In the mean time we find ourselves wondering where we should look and where we will end up.  Stay tuned for more on that continuing drama.

John attended transfer student orientation and is officially registered for classes at the University of MN.  After mapping out a couple options with the counselor, he now has a plan to get a BS in psychology in 2 years.  It was the only option he had that would be done in 2 years.  Despite telling all the students that they would be separating from their parent/guest after the opening session because they wanted the students to start developing a relationship with their counselors I still got up and followed John right out the door.  I am not his overbearing mother!  I am his overbearing wife!  The counselor took one look at the 40 something student and his wife, reached over and gave him the form to fill out giving me permission to all his records and got right down the business.  We fully embrace our non traditional status and don't play by the rules.  After the meeting we sat at a computer to do the actual registering.  A student helper was there to assist people in understanding how the system works and find the classes.  We laughed at ourselves through the registration process and as we left I told the poor kid working there, "this is what it would be like if your parents were here.  We have a son your age."  He managed to give us the exact same, "why are you talking to me, I do not care" look that our son would have given us.  A good day. We realized the U was designed for younger people when we couldn't read a single word on the map they printed on the orientation book because it was so small. I believe a pair of cheaters will be on John's school supply list this fall.  This story is still being written and there will be many more chapters before it is over.

Isabelle spent 4 days/3 nights at Trout Lake camp.  John had gone to Trout every year of his childhood, Jake attended from 1-5th grade and I grew up spending summers at a cabin across the lake. Even Isabelle's birthparents attended this camp. It is a great camp that we love.  She had a wonderful time, became best friends with all the girls in her cabin, and can't wait to go for a whole week next year.

The following week Isabelle and I went to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  We had gotten a free ticket because she attended camp at the theater earlier in the summer.  This show has a unique feature in that they choose 2 kids from the audience at every performance to be part of the show.  The whole thing.  Isabelle desperately wanted to be chosen.  Honestly, I think a big part of why she even wanted to go to the show was for the chance to be on stage.  I was worried what would happen if she didn't get chosen.  I worried unnecessarily because she was chosen!  I sat alone in the audience as she carried props, wore costumes, and tried to follow along as the other actors danced and sang.  It was an awesome opportunity.  They even had 2 built in photo ops in the show and sent me the photos.  A star is born.

Overall the transition out of our house and to my parents has gone quite well.  I am finding ways to organize ourselves, enjoying getting my whole "house" cleaned in 20 minutes, have found a lovely trail to run in the mornings and enjoyed a couple afternoons at the pool.  Plus my parents have been helpful and gracious hosts.  As comfortable as it is and as easy as it would be to stay, we are quite a ways outside our usual sphere and while the area is lovely, we are finding ourselves doing a lot of driving.  With Isabelle starting school soon I am preparing to drive 20+ minutes back to our old neighborhood each morning to drop her off each day.  And John is an hour or more away from the U.  Not an ideal commute.

So Stay Tuned!  Don't touch that dial!  Another exciting episode of the Hardacker's big move is coming soon.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What do you talk about on date night?

John and I have had a regular date night for many years.  It started as a little accident.  We had signed up for a class at our church on Thursday nights.  After the class we wanted to discuss what we had learned but realized we wouldn't have time to sit down together again until the next class.  So we decided to get a snack before going home.  Once the class was over we just couldn't give it up.  Here we are about 7 years later still loving date night.

The first few months we had plenty to discuss with our class.  We had taken Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and had to decide how to work his ideas into our life.  After the class we still talked budget and other family issues during our date night.  Often other topics would come up but we broke the dating rules by talking about kids and finances quite often.  Yes, there have been fights on date night. You get through.

We also talk about work.  For a while every date night seemed to end with a conversation about the crazy guy John was working for, then I started working and it became the crazy lady at my office, then back to John again.  There are no shortage of crazy people in our lives to contribute to date night conversations.

Since John is a talk radio fan and I get all my news from facebook, John often ends up filling me in on the details of whatever hot topic I only vaguely caught in a friend's post.

Once John started school we had a whole shift in date night conversations.  Suddenly we went from talking about our children, our jobs, our lives, to more intellectual topics.  He was taking a history class and so there we are discussing the finer points of war and social structures in the first few centuries.  Then there was psychology discussions about human behavior.  Plus conversations about books and articles he was writing papers on and the scientific understandings of chemistry, biology and the human body.

It is fun to sit and talk about our life, check our budget, dream dreams, make plans, and get frustrations about the people we work with off our chest on date night.  I love those nights.  But, I must admit that adding conversations about history, science and current events has actually deepened our relationship and made our date night conversations even more productive.  We have gotten to know and understand each other on another level and solidified the path we are walking on together.

This summer we have been busy with the events of our life. When we have managed to get away for a few hours we have been all business.  Where will we live, what do we need to do, will any money be coming in soon, what is happening with our children?  Last week with Isabelle at camp and Jake working we got away for dinner alone.  That day I had read an article which led to an entire evening conversation on the topic of late 20-something culture.  It was refreshing to get off the topic of our life and engage each other in a fun social topic instead.  I had forgotten how important it is to occasionally not talk about your own life.

I have read dozens of date night articles which suggest you should not talk about kids, work, schedules, etc while on a date night.  And I often think, well then what do we talk about?  And if not then, when do I get to talk about those things?  Frankly that was the whole reason I wanted a date night!  There is no other time to cover it.  So I say, go out to dinner and discuss your life, you need it.  But then linger over a cup of coffee and share something you have learned or read or heard recently.

I have come to realize that as we work to improve ourselves, read books, take classes, even reading blogs, we enrich our relationships with others as well.  I can't just go about my day to day life reacting and surviving and think my marriage will take care of itself.  As John and I continue to learn about ourselves and share our interests we are able to grow and strengthen our relationship during this very busy and rarely together school/career/family stage of our life.

Some day instead of getting just a few minutes together between jobs and a couple hours a week on a date night, we will spend our days sitting in the sun room reading our ipads while worship music plays in the background (this is just a for instance, it isn't like this is what my retired parents spent the day doing.)  Until then I am cherishing the short spurts of time we have together and all the things there is to talk about.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What is our normal?

So my parents are taking us in for a month.  In my mind we are a normal, dull family.  We are so dull and normal they will barely notice we are here.  They will start to wish we would come upstairs and interact with them rather than wishing we would go downstairs and leave them alone.  But, in the 3 days we have lived here we have had one crazy thing after another happen and I am starting to think maybe crazy adventure is actually our normal.

Day 1:  Our house does not close and it looks like our entire sale is going to be canceled.  We enter the house feeling despondent and unsure what our future holds.  We do not unpack any boxes but do make a big mess.  We drink.  I still go out with neighbors.  I get home late.  We go to bed.

End of day 1

Day 2:  We still have to work.  John and I leave in the morning and Grandma and Isabelle spend the day together.  I have a full, busy work day.  I do find out our buyer was approved for a loan to buy our house without selling her house and we will now close in 2 weeks.  Hurray!  I end up working until after 8pm.  I send a quick message to my mom around 5:30 during a brief lull in my meeting saying I will be late but I assume John will be home any moment.  As I start heading home I call John to discover that he too is just heading home.  He arrives a few minutes before me.  I walk in the door to parents who are still in a good mood but wondering what they just got themselves into.  My sister laughs and says, "suckers!" when she hears we have left Isabelle with them so late and they have no idea where we are.  After a quick dinner I use what little energy I still have to hop on my mom's bike for quick ride with Isabelle as I had promised in the morning.  About a mile into our ride through a nature path I am totally unfamiliar with the tire goes flat.  Not just flat but off the rim flat.  AND the brake locks up. (I swear I am not making this up) I send Isabelle back to try to get help. In the mean time I drag the bike forward.  Unfortunately Isabelle was the one telling me where to go.  Now alone I take a wrong turn and end up in a totally different neighborhood and realize have no idea where I am or how to get back. How will anyone find me?  I see a nice woman bringing her trash to the curb and do the only thing I can do, I ask if I can use her phone to call for help.  She is really nice, welcomes me to Chanhassen, her husband brings me a bottle of water and ultimately she ends up offering to just put my bike in the back of the car and drive me home.  I arrive home and everyone is sitting watching TV as if my crisis were of no concern to them.  They barely look up when I walk in the door.  I don't think Isabelle properly conveyed the situation.

End of day 2

Day 3:  Despite getting home after 8pm I somehow have the nerve to tell my parents I need to be at work by 8:30 the next morning but will be home after lunch.  I promise pedicures for the girls in celebration of the fact that we are back on track to sell the house and do not need to move back in and find a new buyer.  I have a good day at work, a good lunch meeting about women's ministry at church (they want me to chair women's ministry and I really want to!  But I resist.  Sort of...)  I return from the meeting, sit at the pool with mom while Isabelle swims and then we go get our pedicures.  Life is starting to seem normal.  We get back to the house and I start unpacking and getting organized while my mom makes dinner.  After dinner I had scheduled a 7pm showing of a possible house and think we could hit Target for a couple things while we are out.  We decide to take Isabelle with and head out.  The house is lovely and definitely something worth considering although we don't love it as much as the house we put an offer on earlier this week.  We are about 2 blocks from the showing when suddenly John realizes our cars temperature is in the red.  We are overheating!  He pulls over so quick you would think it was about to  blow up! Maybe it was.  Good thing John was driving, I would have driven until it did!  Tomorrow I have an appointment to get the car fixed.  It is leaking something quite significantly, I was thinking coolant but had no sense of what that meant.  A few things that have been happening lately are starting to make sense.  Prior to moving in my parents have commented on the spots on their driveway when I would visit so I thought I would get it fixed if we are going to live here.  One less thing to worry about.  Since making the appointment 3 days earlier I have also started to realize the brakes are going bad.  Anyway, we have friends who live a block away and so we drive there and John hoses the engine down enough to get us to a nearby car shop where we buy some coolant and we hang out at the neighboring Goodwill for about half hour while waiting for the engine to cool down a bit.  It turns out when you are homeless you truly don't need anything no matter how cheap it is. Back in the car we start heading home but the needle is getting precariously close to the red zone.  Since my mechanics shop is closer than my parents we decide to drop the car off tonight night instead of in the morning.  I call Jake to come rescue the 3 of us from the side of the road. Although one might think we deferred maintenance too far we decided we timed it perfectly.  Brought it the night before it would have blown up. Nailed it! Finally we arrive home at 9pm.

End of day 3

So, here is the thing.  As we were arriving home from yet another day of crazy I realized something.  It didn't feel crazy to me.  It felt normal.  Sitting on a curb in the middle of an industrial park watching Isabelle play hopscotch on a board John drew with a white rock he found was a totally normal, natural way for us to spend an evening.  Walking in the door it felt like just a typical Thursday at the Hardacker house.

Its not that we don't spend our fair share of evenings sitting in front of the TV and/or computer just hanging out doing nothing productive, we do, I promise, but somehow when we do get up from the couch, something exciting always happens.

Perfectly normal.