Grit Blogs > Transitional Traditions

Three Strikes and We're Not Out, But on a Personal Note...

To bring you up to speed a little:

When last we talked, I had learned of my second place status with Brownboots Interactive. Andy had interviewed with the Wisconsin Food Hub Co-op (WFHC) and we were waiting to hear if he landed the job.

As he expected, while he seriously impressed the board of directors, he was not asked to take the sales manager position. This was ok as ultimately, we want to see the Hub succeed. However, after he learned this, we were asked to present a proposal to take on the marketing and design aspect of the WFHC.

Let me explain. A month or so back, Andy had been at a trade show on behalf of the brand new WFHC. In order to make an impression on potential buyers and institutions, they needed some corporate ID and they needed it in about 36 hours.

Since the Wisconsin Farmer's Union is a large backer of the WFHC, and they knew of my graphic design experience, I was asked to come up with a logo, a flyer, a banner, a poster and a simple website for the Food Hub. We were able to deliver in time and the feed back on the logo, flyer, etc was really receptive at the restaurant trade show. Andy helped make a lot of connections with his ability to speak to people's needs and that is where he was first asked to apply for the sales position.

Ok, fast forward two weekends later: knowing how well we delivered a nearly complete corporate identity, the board asked us to answer their call for a bid to take on the Food Hub's marketing and design needs for the forseeable future. This would be answered by four other established marketing firms and while we don't have that sort of clout, Andy and I fully believe we are capable of selling regional food. It is after all, Andy's passion and I have been working with farming design for nearly six years.

We went south of Madison with a four page answer to their bid, within budget and with examples of our previous work. As well, we had Finn, who was a model baby during the whole interview! Has anyone out there taken a baby to an interview before? Probably not, but we were comfortable enough with our experience and knowledge to be totally real with these people. Ironically, all but one individual had been at Andy's sales interview just one week prior.

We did well. We did really well. Again, in the top two of the candidates they considered. Again, not the candidate they ultimately went with.

ONLY because they collectively decided they needed some strategic planning and another firm was able to help them with that. We agree that this is a good idea for everyone as no one wants a client who doesn't quite know what they need, nor a client want to waste money on ideas that aren't what they need.

So that was two weeks ago. Since then, there hasn't been much to talk about insofar as events around our house. We are still waiting to hear about our potential involvement with the Food Hub and the home buying is inching along with delays left and right. In the meantime, Andy has rekindled my interest in sewing.

Well, it's not like it actually left. My interest that is. It's just that a baby was born and heaven knows that come 7pm I am about creatively tapped. (hence the lack of writing here as well). However, we just moved Liam to his very own toddler bed and moved Fat Baby (Finn) to the crib. So far, it has served all four of our children very well! But as I was attempting to make up the bed for Liam, I realized that somewhere between Ethan and Liam, we lost our toddler bed sheets. I went online to look for prices and Andy said, "Why don't you just sew them yourself?"

"Right," I said. "Like when?"

"I'm just saying, if you wanted to sew them, you can. I'd support your efforts." 

After stewing to myself for awhile, I looked online for some free patterns from the myriad sewist bloggers out there and found a few that all said about the same thing. Simple to do, simple to buy for. Save about half the money. Ok. So I did it.

ToddlerBedSheet1 

Two sewing sessions later, one of which I was fully accessible to all the kids (something I didn't think was possible with all the needles and scissors and such) and there was a nice flannel sheet for Liam to sleep on. Even matched his random pillow case we got from his cousin Maddie at Christmas!

 ToddlerBedSheet2 

Speaking of Christmas, I mentioned a jacket I sewed for Elly for Christmas. I finally took photos of the derned thing! This was about $40 in materials and roughly 24 hours of work. Really puts into perspective the amount of labor we get for virtually free when we buy clothes made in third world countries...

EllyJacket1 

 EllyJacket2 

I couldn't have done it without my mom's guidance and a little tag team sewing here and there!

So now, I am back on the sewing train. Next project? A messenger bag for Andy to take with him on business meetings. We picked out the fabric and accessories this morning at the new JoAnn Fabrics here in Oshkosh. I might be doing that tonight if energy permits. Otherwise, there is the weekend! I found a great pattern here: OCD: Obsessive Crafting Disorder.

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So, about the title of this post: last weekend Andy and I got a rare night out with NO kids (not even Fat Baby) thanks to my parents babysitting. It was supposed to be a short night out at Mahoney's in Oshkosh for a drink and a dessert to alleviate some tension between us that had been building up lately. What came of it was a great, though sober talk about where we are at in our relationship. In about two weeks we will be celebrating our seventh year married and January 2013 marked ten years since we began dating. It's a long time to be close to someone day in and day out, through thick and thin and kids and moving and jobs and losing jobs and losing loved ones and celebrating successes and becoming deeper human beings.

We are not the same two people that began dating over a table of sushi back in college.

Friday night we sat in silence for a long time. For me, I knew something was really weighing heavily on Andy. For Andy, he wasn't sure what it was but the uncomfortable presence was soon revealed.

For a long time, my unhappiness in my life has been growing. Very incrementally, but definitely growing. I get overwhelmed easily. I feel like I'm failing most days at this thing called motherhood, let alone wifeliness. I realize a lot of this has to do with poor quality sleep and a new baby taking center stage, but this is a problem I've had for some time. I can't really pinpoint when I first thought to myself that I was unhappy with my life, but I know it was over two years ago...all the way back to St. Brigid's Meadows era.

If it seems as though this might be a major thing to overlook in a blog about one's life, rest assured; I really didn't know it was overtaking my view on life until maybe the last six months or so. I never mentioned it to you because for a long time, I just thought that I hadn't found my niche and this was the root of my restlessness.

I knew from day to day that I was not being the mother I wanted to be. I snapped at the kids too much, my patience seemed to be waning and again, that feeling of being overwhelmed by [first world] problems. Additionally, Andy was feeling like he had to take more and more off my plate to make me happy. This is what I knew.

What I didn't know is that my attitude was totally dragging down the whole family. Andy suggested (nay, assigned to me) reading a book called "Happiness is a Serious Problem," by Dennis Prager. It's a book we've had for years and neither of us have read it. Being given an assignment by my husband is something I relish. I am goal oriented and this business of being down all the time had me exasperated. How do I solve it? I need steps, goals to reach towards and "just getting better" doesn't cut it for my personality. Finally, a first step. Reading this book.

Back at the restaurant, I made small talk but finally we began to zero in on the root of the problem. Andy was exhausted and becoming apathetic to a lot of things, but he confessed it was mostly to me and my feelings. As hard as it was to hear, I was hungry for the truth and welcomed his feedback. He discussed how he thinks about me and what I need 24 hours a day, and how nothing he does helps me feel better. After months of basically walking on egg shells so as not to tip my mood, he said he is just ready to give up. For my part it was the first time I was able to see outside my own sphere of pain and frustration to witness just how my attitude was hurting the people I loved. 

That fell harder than Andy saying he was tired of it all. I couldn't bear the fact that me being down in the dumps was making everyone else end up feeling...well...down in the dumps! 

Behind us in a nearby booth, a man and woman were out celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. We paused our conversation as the server congratulated them and the man stated that it hadn't been easy but each day was a blessing to be with his wife. Andy looked squarely at me and said, "Don't worry. That will be us someday. We'll get through this."

With that sort of reassurance and a new mission ahead of me, I left Mahoney's refreshed and ready to become the woman I was meant to be.

And since then, life has been so much more bearable and joyful. That book is amazing in pinpointing everything that Americans find to destroy happiness. I must recommend it to anyone. Everyone. It squarely placed the responsibility on me and for the first time in my life, I feel in control of the circumstances that normally cause me to get flustered and down. It's liberating! And I can only go up from here.

I can also say that Andy's overall demeanor has relaxed and become more fun-loving than he's been in ages. I asked him if it was because I was taking responsibility for my feelings and actions and he paused. Then he said that yes, he didn't even realize what a pressure was taken off his shoulders when I decided to adjust my attitude.

Now, I'm not saying I'm completely well. Take this blog for example; it's taken me three days of popping in and out just to complete it and that sort of thing drives me insane! Or today; Andy is busy preparing for a very important expo he is co-coordinating this weekend and I have a load of design things due this same week for Gourmet Grassfed. I had a few "not-my-best-moments" today already.

But overall, we're getting there. I have to run right now, but I'll post again soon. Lots going on here!


Rebekah Sell lives on a small plot of land with her husband, Andy, on which they are hoping to build a sustainable homestead. With a small business and four kids, life is always interesting as Becky and Andy live fully the idea that the journey is the reward. Find her on .