Life, marriage

Love is… Peeling Tomatoes

Marriage is hard, ya’ll. I’m only two years in and it’s been pretty amazing, but not without its fair share of challenges.

My husband and I had a whirlwind romance. From talking to dating to engaged to married within 6 months. It was one of those things that just worked; there was no agonizing back and forth or anxiety over whether I was doing the right thing. I was – and still am! – completely at ease and comfortable with the decision I made. I’m from California, he’s from Lebanon, and neither of us had ever visited each other’s home countries before meeting. Yet, somehow the fundamentals of our thinking mesh. Most of the time. There are plenty of disagreements and misunderstandings and times when I feel like we’re speaking different languages (and times when we are…). Add a kid into that, and there are times when we might as well be from different planets. Like, when I first realized that he wanted me to peel the tomatoes every time I made a salad, I couldn’t help but calculate the minutes I would spend in the next 50 years, hunched over the kitchen sink skinning tomatoes. I mean, some nights I want to forego the salad all together. But I (usually) don’t.20160219_142347.jpg

A very wise woman who I had the pleasure of knowing since I was 6 years old always told me that marriage isn’t about love and passion. Those things are great to have, but the cornerstone of any solid marriage is respect. Without that, you’ve got nothin’. There are many things that go into making a marriage – or any relationship – work, but if you don’t have respect for the other person, then you’re not going to get anything positive out of it. Along with respect, I would say, comes gratitude.

Look, I get that when you’ve had a sick, fussy baby attached to your leg/boob/hip all day and your husband walks through the door, the first thing you want to do – feel entitled to do – is to throw baby and lock yourself in the bathroom for an hour. (That’s not just me, right?) But to respect your spouse and the hellish day they’ve also had means that you sit and suffer through the next two hours until bedtime together, then lock yourself in the bathroom. (Kidding. Kind of.)

I often see posts about women not needing to thank their husbands for watching their own children and taking offense to calling it babysitting when it’s their own flesh and blood. Girl, I feel you, I do. And, without getting into the semantics, let me just say that if your husband thinks that he’s doing you a favor or putting himself out in any way by watching his own children every once in a while, then you’ve got a bigger problem than I can tackle in this blog post.

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BUT. I do believe in saying thank you. Not because it’s a grand gesture or a huge favor, but because gratitude is important in a relationship, even if it’s for the things that should come naturally. Everyone loves to feel appreciated. Everyone needs to feel valued. I’m grateful for my husband as a partner. I’m grateful for the support, encouragement, cups of coffee, and affection he gives me, even when I smell like spoiled milk and haven’t washed my hair in days. I’m grateful for the little things he does for me, and the huge things he provides for our family. I know the pressure on men doesn’t always seem equal to that of a woman, but it still exists, and we’ve got to be aware and proactive in making our partners feel understood.

We chose our partners at one time, and all things considered, we’ve got to make the effort to continue choosing them every day. So, say thank you more often, even if you feel like it’s a silly thing to appreciate. You may even be shocked to see that gratitude brings out an even softer, more generous side of your partner.

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Life

Hospital beds and laban – and a charcoal face mask

So here’s a funny story to kick your week off: my husband and I weren’t at our own wedding.

Now, if you know anything about Arab culture, it’s that they know how to get down when it comes to weddings. And the entire family/neighborhood/sometimes district comes to eat cake, dance a little, and, obviously wish the bride and groom well. But hubby and I? Ya, we couldn’t make it that day.

Rewind to a month before the wedding – we didn’t even want to have one. We were torn because while most of his family is a quick two hour flight away in Lebanon, mine is all in the US, meaning that at most only a few of my people would be able to attend our big fat Lebnani wedding. So we decided to nix the whole thing and just host small, intimate dinners for each of our families when we saw them.

But, once we arrived in Lebanon it was clear that EVERYONE was expecting a wedding, and we did not want to be the ones to let them down. We had a week, which, with everyone offering to help, didn’t seem like such a challenge. And then I got food poisoning. Now, this wasn’t an isolated event. The sickest I had ever been in my life was the first time I visited Lebanon, after my then-fiance had already left, which meant his parents were tasked with nursing me back to health. It was awful. I thought I would die. They kept feeding me laban (sour yogurt) with raw garlic and I wanted to scream, but it did the trick.

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You would never guess that I was throwing up between takes

So, 3 days before the big event, I came down with another case of food poisoning that was quickly taking over as the sickest I’d ever been, and it sucked. Aside from the whole experience of wedding planning being something so different than what I’d imagined – which was simply because I was from California and not in California, so it was just a whole other ballgame – I just didn’t have the energy to really get into it. By the time the wedding rolled around, I barely had the strength to walk, let alone smile, dance, and interact with people.

Now let me just say, even though the fact that the bride and groom were stuck in a room inside the venue didn’t stop anyone from partying, everyone was so understanding and really sympathetic. There was some speculation that it was one of the cousin’s who had bought the raw meat the day before the wedding for this Lebanese specialty – it wasn’t! I was sick a few days before that – so he felt horrible and kept apologizing. There was a sea of faces in and out of the room wanting pictures and to give us their well-wishes, family doctors bringing syringes full of different cocktails to stick me with to help stop the vomiting, and a whiff here and there of the delicious food being served. Then the time came to cut the cake and I used every ounce of strength I could muster to walk out in my 5 inch heels and wield the traditional sword to cut a slice of cake (that I couldn’t even eat, btw). To my credit, I lasted about 7 minutes before throwing up in front of everyone and making the final call that we needed to go to the hospital ASAP.

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The night ended with hubby and I both hooked up to IVs (he was sick too!) in separate beds at his parent’s house, laughing about how ridiculous the whole thing had been.

 

From that moment on, I decided to be proactive when I visited Lebanon and ordered an arsenal of supplements that would toughen up and flush out my stomach, should the need arise. One of those things was activated charcoal. Since I was pregnant the next time we went to Lebanon and couldn’t use it, I had a whole bottle just sitting around, and decided to see what other uses I could find for it. Which leads me to today’s DIY: charcoal face mask!

This mask is one of my favorites and it’s so easy to make. I open a few capsules of the charcoal tabs, mix it with a drop or two of essential oil – lavender or tea tree, depending on how my skin is feeling that day – and a tiny bit of aloe vera gel, paint it onto my face, wait about 10 minutes, then rinse it off after exfoliating with my clarisonic and a drop of sweet almond oil. You can also add some rose water if you have it laying around.

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My trusted and beloved Clarisonic, Now Foods Sweet Almond Oil, Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal, Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel, and Woolzies Essential Oils

The ingredients in this mask are really great for acne-prone skin, if you have blackheads, or if you just want to get rid of the gunk that builds up over time. I would caution you to test it out on a small patch of skin first, especially if you’ve never used tea tree oil before.

Head over to my instagram @mama.fil for more pics of the products I used and to let me know how it worked out for you.

Enjoy!