Nine.

I started dating Kyle nine years ago today. I was 17 years old and a totally different person than I am at 26. I was smaller (sigh, haha) and less stable and more dramatic and less sure of myself. I look at 17-year-olds now and think, ‘You’re such a little baby.’

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If it doesn’t come across clearly in other posts, let it be known that I absolutely love my husband. I love him more now that I did nine years ago. And this post might come off as bragging, but I don’t know how to express my pride for him any other way. (And I think it’s really important to be proud of your significant other.)

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Kyle is the kind of guy that would rather spend four years building a business than buy a lottery ticket and make a million that way. (Of course, we’d absolutely take a winning lottery ticket if you’ve got one…) He’s the kind of man that doesn’t shy away from crying babies. He’s the type that doesn’t stand for abuse- whether it’s a human or an animal. He hangs out with my grandpa and takes the time to go to breakfast with the men in his family. He prides himself on a perfectly grilled steak and wants to share his excess with those who really need it. He knows that sometimes I just need quiet time to get lost in a book, but he still badgers me to come and watch TV with him because he likes being in the same room as me.

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He’s clever and kind, witty and hilarious, observant and thoughtful. He is my favorite human on the planet and I feel so lucky that I get to do life with him. We’re both stubborn and arrogant- we argue and get annoyed. He still hasn’t figure out the mystery of the clothing hamper or how to clean up his facial hair from the sink (and he gets annoyed that I bite my nails and leave my keys in the unlocked car), but I will have those fights over and over again, forever and ever- so long as they’re with him.

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We’ve done a lot, but I know we’ve got so much more to do and see and experience. I’m so happy to co-pilot this life with Kyle. And if you’re looking to do life with another human I hope you find someone that compliments you as well as my husband does me. It makes life so sweet and full and fun ❤︎

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Freddie Gets Married

I never talked much about my baby brother’s wedding so I figured I’d share a little bit today. Mostly it’s a photo dump with all untagged photos taken by Kylie Noelle Photography.

Fred & Christina got married on Saturday, July 23rd in Columbus, Ohio. They had a pretty large wedding party (8 and 8) but that made the set up and tear down a little easier. I’m sure it was different for other people, but I knew most of the groomsmen through Fred and I’d met all the bridesmaids during a shower or shopping trip, so the whole weekend was awesome. It’s way more enjoyable when you know the wedding group you’re a part of!

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*First Look* Christina’s girls included her two cousins, her sister, four of her closest friends, and me
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My handsome brother in the middle with the bow tie & my smokin’ hot husband to the left of him.

On Friday night all but one bridesmaid stayed at the hotel with Christina while the men crashed at Fred’s apartment. Our morning was laid back and included breakfast and primping. The music at the church didn’t start until 4:15pm so we had plenty of time to get (more) beautiful and excited!

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Christina is a fashion guru & she didn’t miss a single detail. We all picked out our own dresses and shoes but it came together perfectly under her direction & guidance. As avid F. Scott Fitzgerald fans and lovers of the Art Deco movement, Fred and Christina steered the style in a direction Daisy Buchanan herself would envy.

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The ceremony was spiritual and personal- a perfect balance that mirrors my brother & his wife’s relationship with one another and God. Apparently my family took bets as to if when I’d pass out in my heels. I’m happy to report I made it through the ceremony & out to the receiving line before I had to peel my shoes off. K was a sweaty mess in his heavy, burgundy tux… but damn he looked good 😉

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As much as I love a good wedding ceremony, I’m alllll about that party reception! A few weeks before the wedding Fred asked if I’d give a toast. I don’t shy away from public speaking and I am so proud of my little brother so I accepted and spent days perfecting and practicing.

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My favorite picture from the whole day!

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The reception was at a theatre/ballroom, originally built in 1896. (The Columbus Athenaeum.) It was pretty awesome. The head table was on the stage and then was taken down to allow for a large dance floor. Since my best friend lives in Columbus I told her to pull on a dress and crash the wedding. There are no pictures, but she showed up after the meal and danced all night with me, then came out with us!

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Not so flattering for me, but I love that this pic has my four cousins in it.

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The party ended for most of the guests after the gorgeous sparkler exit… except my crazy parents and their friends and my in-laws; they took the party back to their hotel bar lobby with R. Kelly. And since we can’t turn down an invite from my dad we ended up at the hotel bar and then a late night taco restaurant. We finally hit the sack at 3:30am. (And then I drove Fred & Christina to the airport at 6am. WOOF.)

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So there’s the recap of our crazy, fun, tiring, sleepless weekend at my brother & sister (in-law)’s wedding. Of course there are millions of little stories and funny moments from the day, but it’d take months to blog all that. Suffice it to say, if Fred & Christina’s wedding is any indication of their marriage it’s going to be long, fun, full of love, and total unpredictable. But only the best things are 🙂

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*Like I said, kudos to Kylie Noelle and her gorgeous photography skills!!

Looking For Hope

When I was in college I took a few religion courses from a professor that challenged and changed many of my opinions and ideals. She once told us a story about a conversation she’d had with some friends concerning children. Her friends mentioned that they’d like to have kids soon and she asked them why. They rattled off answers like, “I want to be a mom/dad” and “It seems like the next logical step”, but she kept pushing them. Why do you want children? What makes you want to bring kids into this world?

She told us that she believes the correct answer is “hope.” You want to bring children into this screwy society because you have hope for the future.

If I’m being 100% honest I’m not feeling very hopeful right now, but rather discouraged. I’m discouraged that we have a maniac running for the presidency. I’m discouraged that a night of dancing and fun can lead to mass murder and heartbreak. I’m discouraged that my sex is seen as lesser in the eyes of many (including the law sometimes). I find it very, very hard to see past these things. I half wonder if God would like to flood the Earth again.

I have a very bleak outlook this week.

That said, I know that there’s hope out there. It’s standing in line at the blood banks, offering up a vein for those who need the extra sustenance. It’s sitting in the pews, praying for families and victims. It’s marching down the street, holding hands and waving flags and chanting together- without fear or shame. It’s in the extra text messages and phone calls being made this week to loved ones or friends that haven’t been spoken to in weeks. I know that it’s there. I know it.

“You don’t get to choose whether or not terrible things happen to good people in this world, but you do get to choose who you hold at night, so hold them tight.” -Aubrey Johansen

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” -Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

audielou.com_signatureNo comments today. Go spread some hope & love to some other folks. Emily shares similar thoughts.

Trying to Be Nice

Let’s get real today. There are women in this world who we’d all “love to hate.” Of course, in all actuality, we have no reason to dislike these women- they’re kind, beautiful, honest, friendly, and- in some cases- God-loving. On top of that they’re usually ridiculously creative and they always have the perfect messy bun. Their coffee is always warm and abundant and in a cute little mug that reads, “Stressed, Blessed, and Coffee Obsessed.” Their children are adorable and polite. Their rescue dogs are the perfect blend of Australian shepherd and husky, and their husbands bring them gorgeous white flowers on a random Tuesday to display on their Pottery Barn desk.

You have someone in mind right now, don’t you… Maybe it’s Joanna Gaines. Maybe it’s another blogger. Maybe it’s someone you know in real life. Regardless, it’s a woman who always seems to have it totally put together. And even when she doesn’t, there’s a beautiful smile on her face and she’s asking you what’s going on in your life and how can she help.

So often I wish I was that woman. I wish that I could look at my mantel and just know that a copper bucket with an old wooden spoon and two small succulents would fit perfectly. I wish that I could apply my make-up at 5am and still look like a put-together adult by 3pm. I wish that I was quick to offer grace and mercy to others, instead of the sarcasm and judgement that tend to fly from my lips.

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I’m not trying to get down on myself today… I have quite a few qualities that I’m proud of. They could all use some perfecting, but I like to think that goes for everyone. It just seems like these “perfect” women never slip.

I know that’s not true, but when they do slip they don’t bring anyone down with them. They’re not vengeful. They’re not nasty. They’re not hurtful. Those are three things that I know I can be and have been in the past. Those are the traits I’d like to weed out. As of late, I’m consciously trying to delete the words “jealous” and “hate” from my vocabulary. Do I wish I was participating in the trip/experience/etc. that you are? Yes. But more than that I am genuinely happy that you are getting to have that vacation. Instead of saying, “I’m so jealous of you” I’m trying to say, “I’m so happy for you!” And I’m really meaning it.

Personally, my faith plays a role in this change, too. In the past I’ve never uttered or typed the words, “I’ll pray for you.” But I’ve said it a lot lately- and then I really have prayed for those people. I told K a few weeks ago that I often pray for him. You don’t have to be religious to be nice; it just tends to go hand-in-hand for me.

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I don’t believe that I will ever master effortless beach waves. My dogs are a weird mix of under-bite boxer and scrawny whippet. (Which I wouldn’t change for the world.) I hope that my future kids will be polite, but I don’t think they’ll ever sport a top knot or keep a cardigan on for more than a minute. (It’s too hard to climb trees in a sweater.) I’ve been drinking coffee for +3 years and I still can’t figure out how to keep it warm.

But that’s ok. These things don’t bother me; I don’t feel a need to change them.

I’d like to be nicer, though. I’d like to extend understanding and grace to those who deserve it- and more importantly, those I would have formerly felt don’t deserve it. People won’t stop being rude and nasty, but I can change my reaction. I can stop that cycle of anger and judgement. I can say “thank you” to the waitress who made us wait 20 minutes to order our drinks. I can smile politely at the scowling woman in Wal-Mart who’s shooting daggers from her eyes at me for no reason. I can refrain from gossip. I bet Joanna Gaines doesn’t gossip.

I’m not in the business of comparing myself to others- really, I’m not. But when I see traits in other people that make them shine brighter (inside and out), I tend to gravitate toward that behavior or outlook or lifestyle. It’s my path to self-improvement.

Then again, if anyone has the secret to perfect hair and well-behaved dogs I’m open to that, too… Just saying.

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It’s the little things…

Valentine’s Day has come and gone…

K and I don’t make a big deal out of the holiday. I like getting a card with an “I love you” scrawled inside and he usually gets a pack of Twizzlers or a new coffee mug from me. (And then I steal the mug back…)

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I’m a huge advocate of celebrating special days, but I also take notice when my husband does things through the normal day or week for me.

  • Every morning before he leaves for work he always comes around to my side of the bed and wakes me up and makes me promise that I’m going to get up soon and get ready for work. I HATE waking up. I hit the snooze button 1,841 times in the morning. But every morning my husband wakes me up and reminds me to get moving ❤︎
  • He knows my go-to order at Taco Bell  ❤︎
  • Whenever we’re gifted Starbucks gift cards he lets me have them all for myself ❤︎
  • He won’t watch The West Wing or The Mindy Project without me ❤︎
  • He downloaded Snap Chat when he was in Texas last November, just so I could send him quick photo updates of my day (even though he’s totally against the app and doesn’t use it to talk to anyone else) ❤︎

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My Love Language is quality time, but “acts of service” is K’s first language. Keeping that in mind, when he does things for me, like waking me up every morning even though he hates doing it, I know he’s acting on his own love language to show me affection.

What are little things your significant other does for you that say, “I love you” without actually uttering those words? What actions in your daily routine let your s/o know that you care?

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A Little Christmas Grace

When K and I make plans for a big date night or vacation, or I’m planning a crazy party or preparing for the holidays, or when I just feel like I’m lagging behind as far as being a good wife/daughter/friend/dog parent goes, I put a massive amount of pressure on myself. It’s an ugly, unkind, nagging pressure.

And I’m only so big and strong, so sometimes that pressure leaks out and it morphs into a carping, badgering, stressful attitude. And I stain everyone and everything around me: the dogs, K, my family. And to add to this toxic pressure, I’m fully aware of the insanity and I bury myself in guilt for not controlling my thoughts and behaviors.

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I know it’s not just me. Last week Erin touched on this kind of pressure and it’s effects. It’s absolutely maddening and poisonous and draining… but when you’re a Type-A perfectionist (or even a Type-B perfectionist), it’s an annual monthly weekly pressure.

But that night, however long ago, buried in straw and blankets, a baby was born. And that baby wasn’t born so that our cutout cookies could rival Martha Stewart’s. He wasn’t born so that I could gift the perfect toaster oven to Aunt Beth. He wasn’t born so that I could scrutinize the placement of every single ornament. He was born for me and for you and for your neighbor and the guy at the gas station and the woman from the homeless shelter. If the tree slants and the presents look frumpy and the ham is over cooked it’s ok- because regardless, He was born.

Whatever your beliefs- whether they mirror mine or not- Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Cheers to you and yours. Enjoy the imperfect, crazy, messy moments this holiday. Dismiss the pressure and make room in your heart for joy.

Whether your holiday morning is spent around a tree with your significant other or around a table with your 35 family members, make it a good one. Try to replace the nagging with gratitude, the greed with selflessness, and the pressure with joy. We’re not perfect, but that baby is. And because He is, we don’t have to be.

Enjoy the holiday, friends. You are loved.

-Louise

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Thankful Fridays

Welcome to Friday, my friends! ❤️ This week I’ve been very intentional about celebrating every day, but I will admit I’m happy to see the weekend! Tonight I’m going to see Christmas trees at a local museum with my mom and tomorrow my best friend and I are attempting to hang Christmas lights on the house! (K is off the hook since business is booming due to his recent trip to Texas.)

Before I launch into this week’s thankful-topic, I wanted to share some of my favorite reads from this week!

  • I love Amber’s heart and blog, Mr. Thomas and Me, and I think the idea of being welcome (and welcoming others) is SO important- especially right now.
  • I JUST discovered Ashten’s blog, Just Go Left, and I LOVE her passion for cold noses and wagging tails!
  • Faith at Life with Mrs. G & the Artist is starting a new “After I Do” series! I’m so excited to read more from her (& her future guest bloggers)!

Alrighty, on to today’s main topic.

This week I am thankful for the family I gained when K and I tied the knot! My mother-in-law celebrated her birthday on Wednesday and I am so fortunate to have her in my life! K was raised by two wonderful people and we’re very lucky to live so close to them and have them so involved in our life. (K’s dad actually works with him at the business!)

I also gained a sister-in-law (and her family of five) and a brother-in-law (who just got married last month)! K also has a ton of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that have always treated me like family and it makes get-together all the better. Thanksgiving is always a crazy, busy, yummy holiday thanks to our family 🙂

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Tell me! What are you thankful for this week?

-Louise

Thankful Thursday on From Bisons to Buckeyes
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