love is effortful

IMG_1480“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”  JK Rowling

I don’t mean to brag or anything but we had a great weekend and it was all because of me.  I am the personality type that has to have family gatherings, has to keep in touch, has to have contact, has to visit and see faces, and my husband focuses on work and weekends at home, his schedule is constant and his weekends are the time to slow down a little and enjoy the fruits of his labor.  He would rather not take a weekend and spend most of the time….in the car, traveling yet again.  I am not better than he is, he is not better than me, every person in this grand ol’ world is different and we need each other.  He needs me to balance him out and I need him to balance me out!  He needs me to get his butt back home to see our family!!

He and I both came from the same hometown and in our young married life moved here to our home in CT (about 12 years ago).

To go back home is about a 3 hour drive, not bad at all, but somehow months and months and maybe even a year will go by before the two of us together get around to visiting again.

I positively ache if I go too long without a visit, as a result, many times I go home by myself or with just a couple of children.  Rich would either be gone that week (at camp with the older kids) or home with the children that didn’t go with me that time.

But this past weekend I put my foot down.  I was going to be stubborn.  I wanted to go to NY to visit family and I wanted to see my entire family, too, RICH’S FAMILY, and by golly he was going to go with me!  He was away last week on a business trip so all the arrangements were made between the two of us by texting.  It took a few days but he finally came around with an “if it means so much to you than yes, I will go”.  I dabbed in the empty house with the phone in my hands.  He made hotel arrangements.

I was adamant about this weekend because the kids had no football games, as it was a bye week.  And, it providentially turned out that Jacob also had a bye week at college so he and Ethan came, too.  And since our hotel was just an hour from Grace and Brittnee (Jacob’s girlfriend), Jacob and Ethan drove there first (getting in an accident on the way) on Friday night and brought the girls back with them to the hotel, on Saturday.

The NUMBER ONE reason to visit was to see our new baby niece.

Then, to watch our nephew play football and to see Uncle Brian, who is sick.

And, lastly, to visit all of Rich’s family (it had been way too long) and my family, too.

Thus, after everything came together, we were all set for a whirlwind weekend.

It’s work to get the clothes and car packed and ready, something always goes wrong, (this time it was Seth taking his oldest pair of junk sneakers with the sole that flapped as he walked), Rich and I are always a little tired from lack of sleep and our lifestyle in general as busy parents, but it’s worth it.  We have found that we can do a lot and still be happy and make memories even when tired.

It’s important to make the effort to see your family.  It’s invaluable to give children the opportunity and gift to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Life can change in the blink of an eye.  We need to seize the day!  It’s so worth it.  Parents should visit their children and children should visit their parents.  Yes, it will be loud and sometimes annoying but that’s normal and understandable when you get a house full of youngsters. They are simply too excited to slow down and need to feel the attention and love of their grown-ups.  The music will be loud……. but all the more opportunity to dance.


Friday, Rich finally made it home from his 3 state business trip including a terribly postponed flight, we took David to get his passport, J and E got into an accident and Rich fathered them through that over the phone, we went to pick up Rich’s new glasses from the mall, and the kids had practice after school, all the day before our trip.

Saturday morning we left.   We always stop at Starbucks along the way.  I’ve been getting their matcha green tea latte lately and they are SO GOOD.  Seth ordered, then Sarah, Dave, Caleb, myself, and Rich.  Then, we waited for our orders and Seth’s sandwich never came so I wondered if he even ordered it loudly enough and asked Rich for the receipt, which he didn’t have.  But the barista said, “Oh, it’s okay, I’ll just make it for him, no problem”, so kindly.  She asked what we were doing for the weekend since it was only 7:30 and there we were in Starbucks, all six of us.  She was sweet and pleasant and we were soon on our way, feeling happy because of their good service.

The children had things to do in the car.  Sarah read books, Seth and Caleb had kindles.  I let David use my phone.  Rich and I used his phone with a pair of ear buds, one for his right ear and one for my left.  We listened to Dr. Death, the podcast, and it was horrifying and riveting because the surgeries “Dr. Death” killed or maimed people with was the same type of surgery Rich just had this summer.

Every time Rich turned his head to check his side mirror my ear bud fell out.

We stopped in Albany on the way to our hotel and went to Barnes and Noble.  In fact, I was able to go twice this weekend, to 2 different ones, and I bought four more books for our family Newbery collection (they are getting harder to find and I order most of them from the internet now).  I also finished reading one titled The Thief.  I read several chapters out loud in the car to Rich.  He liked it, too.  It was a great story, creative and adventurous, set in Greece.

We ate lunch at the Spiedie and Rib pit in Vestal, one of our favorite hometown food places.  The spiedies are amazing.  And  then we went to our hotel, where, oh joy,  Jacob, Ethan, Grace, and Brittnee were waiting for us with a box of Krispie Kreme donuts.  THANK YOU ETHAN!


Jacob and Brittnee went to the bookstore with me and Jacob bought a book titled Le Morte D’Arthur, written in the 1400’s.  He is currently very interested in Arthurian literature, which I think is so neat.  I hope to read his book eventually.


After a couple of hours at the pool and relaxing, and our trip to the bookstore, we headed to Dad and Leslie’s house.  His three brothers and their families came, too, and our whole big family had a pizza dinner and lots of fun talking and visiting while the cousins ran in and out of the house to run around or visit the pigs in the barn.

priceless photos


Seth, Grandpa, and my sister-in-law Elisabeth all sat on the couch to visit.


This beautiful family dog is always so good with the kids.


When she saw the sky, Elisabeth came in the house to find me.  “Shanda, you have to see the sunset!”


Back inside, more visiting, and family everywhere.  Rich was smiling.


Our little nephew, brother Jason’s youngest son.  He played with trains so nicely and we loved watching him.


David and Ethan got silly.


Words of life, on Leslie’s kitchen windowsill.


ALL OF US!!!!!!  Thank you to the picture-taker, dear Brittnee!


That night when we were in bed going to sleep, I listened to Rich tell me how much the evening meant to him.


“When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourself) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.”  M. Scott Peck



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