Living with the In-Laws; Week One

We’ve been living at my husband’s parents’ acreage for one week now, and so far so good! It’s been a very atypical week for our family, so we haven’t settled into any sort of normal routine.

A lot has happened this week! I had my birthday; it didn’t really feel like a birthday so much this year, but that’s life. My brother-in-law also got married, and my in-laws hosted both the rehearsal dinner and the gift opening dinner, with over 100 guests total. My husband was a groomsman, and we worked on his speech; we sang during the signing and practiced our song lots. I even helped my in-laws with some suggestions for their speech! We chose a date to move, booked our flights, applied for our Australian visitor and New Zealand working holiday visas, and were quickly approved for both. We announced our moving date and destination to our friends and family, and have had lots of conversations about the move. We saw most of our extended family due to the wedding festivities, and there were lots of guns, tannerite, quads and blowing up things, which are frequent family activities. So as I say, this was quite the week!

We moved in on my 31st birthday, so my husband and I had a nice wine and my birthday cheesecake in his brother’s childhood bedroom, across the hall from his parents. It was different than our living room, of course, but still comfortable.

I spent the weekdays doing what I usually do, minus tv, because they only have one channel. Instead of the usual morning show while I eat breakfast, I visited with my mother-in-law most mornings. This, in my opinion, was a better use of time than watching tv would have been anyways.

Something that stood out to me this week was how hard working my mother-in-law is. I got to witness her in action all week as she prepared food for both of the huge meals they were hosting. By the time I showed my face in the kitchen on Monday morning, she had already completed several batches of home made buns, and perhaps a few pies. When I got home later that evening, she was still in the kitchen, and had accomplished more pies and several lasagnas. Tuesday looked much the same, as did Wednesday afternoon once she returned from volunteering at a Mom’s group at our church.

She thinks she isn’t good at organizing and planing ahead, but she had pages and pages of lists of all her meal plans for each meal, and was working well ahead to get everything prepped in time. There were so many pies and cakes, salads, buns, meats, lasagnas and sides! She had even arranged for some friends to come and help serve during the rehearsal dinner so she could socialize with her guests.

As I write this, those two meals are done, but Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and the in-laws are hosting our family for that as well! The turkey literally had to come out of the freezer on the morning of the wedding! They amazed me this week with all of the money, effort and love that went into both of the wedding meals, and Thanksgiving. In the midst of all of this, she apologized to me for not putting on a birthday dinner to celebrate me. Let’s just say she’s completely excused!

As my in-laws kept showing up from each trip into town with more and more groceries, I’d ask what the new stuff was all for. “This is for Thursday, and this is for Saturday… no that’s for Thanksgiving.”

Oh and did I mention that they don’t have a dishwasher??? Yes. Everything gets washed and dried by hand here.

We’ve been busy with so many of our own things this week, but we’ve been able to step in and help a bit with prep and clean up, and hopefully we’ve made a bit of a difference for them.

Thankfully they also let us change the doorknob to our room with one that locks. We’ve had so many people in the house this week, that it’s nice to know I have one room, at the least, that’s my private space. I learned more than ever last summer when we lived in our camper out here, that I am a really private person. I value my privacy much more than I ever realized. In being a private person, I find sharing space is hard for me; I’m trying to be as respectful of their routines as possible, and they have been really good at giving us our space and alone time as well. I’m very aware that we are guests in their space, and I’m reminding myself to be grateful that we were welcomed in, to spend this last month at home with family.

A few of the guys ended up getting ready for the wedding in our room, so our teddy bears and string of Christmas lights will forever be in their photos!

I’m hoping for a quieter week ahead, and more relaxation time for all of us! This first week has sure been a whirlwind of activity, but we have seen a lot of our family. We won’t see them for a long time once we leave, and I’m already missing some of them. I have a lot to be thankful and grateful for.

Thanks for reading, blog family, and Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

How My Laundry Room Became a Brewery, and My Backyard a Tire Storage Facility

I remember the night I picked a fight with my husband about the laundry room.  I distinctly remember saying something like, “it’s our laundry room, NOT your brewery!”  I look back on that now, and laugh at myself.  I’m thankful he was so patient with me at the time.  There are things that are worth fighting over, and there are things that just aren’t.  I realize now, that the ratio of washer/dryer square footage to brewing equipment in the laundry room is something that just isn’t worth it.  I learned an important lesson after pondering what happened within me that night to cause my anger.  I seemed to think that I had more rights to our laundry room than he did, but that’s just it – it is our laundry room, not mine.

Let’s back up a bit.  I’ll fill you in on my husband’s hobbies.  He’s had a lot of them throughout the length of our marriage, and most haven’t stuck for more than a few years.  It’d be fair to say we regret spending money on some of them now, but he was learning and exploring, and they were important to him at the time.  (I’ve regretted purchases too.) So when he was gifted some beer making supplies and decided he’d take it up, I assumed it would be one of those hobbies that he’d do once or twice, and then let fall along the wayside.

I was wrong.  He is passionate about brewing.

Years, and dozens of home-brewed IPA’s, honey-browns, and English bitters later, he’s got a sizeable brewery in our home, and is constantly stunning tasters of his beer with how great they are.  His friends are benefiting from his generosity and love of sharing his craft with anyone who appreciates it.

He used to take over our kitchen for a day to complete the brewing process, and leave our entire house smelling like sweet malt.  People would ask me, “don’t you hate that he makes your whole house smell like a brewery?”  I didn’t actually.  Or they’d ask, “how come you let your husband take over your whole kitchen for that?”

Although some hobbies were costly, he made money with others – his “side-hustles” as he likes to call them.  He’s very gifted and can fix almost anything.  He’s also patient in dealing with online shoppers from our local used items listing website; he has a small hobby of taking old, broken things, fixing them up, and selling them at low prices for quick turn-over.

At one point, a few years ago, we had close to 50 used tires in our backyard.  I mean, they were everywhere! I borrowed a bunch to take to school for an obstacle course for the kids once; we even threw a Cross-fit themed birthday party for a friend and used them for challenges and a winner’s podium!  Again with the comments, and from the guys too! “My wife would never let me keep junk like that in our backyard.”  “How do you get her to let you fill your backyard with all those tires?” That’s sad to me, that my guy friends felt that way about their wives.

In his brewing craft, he started where most probably do, with beer kits.  Then, he transitioned to doing a few more steps on his own, and after his beer club informed him that if he’s using any part of a kit, he can’t really call it home-brew, he went 100% from the grain.  He literally buys a big bag of malted barley, grinds it himself, and does it completely from scratch.  The kitchen was no longer sufficient.  As he just happens to also be a custom welder, he spent the next year building a huge custom brewery in our basement laundry room.  He’s got 3 massive tanks that he welded, a custom counter and sink, heating systems, an electrical panel to run all of this, piping that hooks up to our laundry venting to the outside to eliminate the steam, numerous other equipment, and hundreds of bottles.

Needless to say, the laundry room is no longer a laundry room; we have a brewery with a washer and dryer in it.

We have a clean and empty backyard now that he’s out of the “tire side hustle,” but there were years when we barely had a backyard; we had a used tire storage facility behind the house.

Fast forward to the laundry room argument… pointless.  It’s not my laundry room, it’s our laundry room.  Can I wash clothes in there?  Maybe not while he’s brewing, but that’s where communication comes in.  It’s not my backyard, it’s our backyard.  Could I have hosted a beautiful garden party with all those tires out there?  Maybe not, but I hosted a pretty sweet birthday party and made the best of it.

So many women carry this idea that the house is their domain; at the very least, the kitchen, laundry room, and back garden are theirs.  The guys can have the garage, or the shed, or maybe some back room in the basement, where guests can’t see when they come over.  I don’t know why we think this, or why this idea is passed on to us by other women.  I don’t know why I just fell into that belief too, without even paying attention to it or questioning it.  I’ve realized over the years, that thinking this house is mine, because I’m the wife, isn’t very selfless or loving.  He doesn’t tell me I can’t park in the garage because he works in there; it’s our garage.  He doesn’t complain about the living room clock that’s a bright red high heel (it’s not tacky at all people, it’s a designer marble clock we picked up in Venice); in fact, he suggested we hang it there so I can see it every day.  We’ve also hung his motorcycle calendars in the kitchen.

It’s not my house, it’s our house.  And in this house, it’s about sharing, and compromising, and making this home a place that we both can put our stamp on, and that we both feel at home in.

I don’t know what this guy of mine is going to get into next.  I expect he’ll keep up the brewing, because he’s great at it, and he loves it.  I hope he finds more money-making hobbies, cause what’s not to love there?  Either way, he’ll be welcome to use our home, for what he needs it for, with no trouble from me; in return, I know I’ll be extended the same courtesy.

Why Can’t He Have a Beard?  It’s Not Your Face.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a wife or girlfriend say, “I won’t let my husband have a beard.”

The comment is usually followed by some explanation of why their statement is valid, but the usual reasoning can typically fall into two categories.  They either don’t like how it looks, or they don’t like how it feels.  I guess that’s one category.  The guy can’t have a beard because his wife doesn’t like it.  I’ve not yet heard a woman give a selfless reason such as, “he’s succumbed to the peer pressure of the trend, but actually hates it, and I’m his scapegoat,” or “the doctor said he’ll die if he doesn’t shave it off; I’m saving his life.”

What’s worse, is I have heard comments about how a wife will allow the beard to disrupt their sex-life.  “He knows that if he doesn’t shave, he’s not getting any.”  I’m serious.  That’s been said, in so many words, more than once to me.

Here’s my problem with these types of statements.  Is a marriage type relationship ever going to be at its healthiest when one person exercises control over the other?  When one attempts to manipulate the other?  I’ll be the first to admit that I love to have control in my life; I’m one of those Type A, super organized planners that loves being in control.  I’ve been on a journey of learning that I can’t control my life, no matter how much I try, and that I can’t control my husband.  It’s not beneficial for me, him, or our marriage when I try and control him.

Woah, Chelsea, you started talking about beards and now you’re onto control and manipulation in a marriage?  That’s not what I was expecting when I clicked on this article.  It’s just a beard!

Hear me out.  In my marriage, I often try and think about each situation we disagree on as if I were in his shoes.  He will do this for me too, which is important in a partnership.  Just humour me on these next few examples.

How well received would it be if today’s men were out there saying things like, “I would never let my wife get highlights.  Gross.” “She thinks she’s going to sleep with me with those shorter layers brushing against my face?  Forget it.”  “I’d never let my wife wear make-up.  I don’t like how it looks.”  Um… excuse me?  It’s not the 1900’s anymore.  This would not fly with us. So why do we think we should tell our men what they can do with their faces?

My husband’s face is not my face.

Yes, I have to look at it a lot more than he does, but he has to own it, be it, live it.  Can I make suggestions to him as to what my preferences are?  Absolutely.  “Honey, I really like it when you keep your beard trimmed and well maintained.”  Can I purchase him a gift card for a barber shop if I think it’s looking a little ragged?  Yeah, I can.  He might take my suggestions, or he might not. If you have a husband like mine, he would.  He would shave or cut his hair and beard into anything I asked him to, if it were important enough to me.  He also knows that I would do the same for him, if it were important enough to him.  He supports me in my style choices.  Whether he prefers them all or not is a different story.  So why shouldn’t I support him in what makes him comfortable and confident in his appearance?

Okay, let’s be honest ladies.  Some beards are legitimately so ugly.  They are.  I’ve seen wretchedly awful beards on guys (or maybe they just seemed wretchedly awful to me).  I’ve seen food stuck in there (snacks for later?), I’ve seen longer beards than I can get my hair to grow (jealous), and I’ve seen all kinds of patchiness (my husband would attribute that to character, and encourage those guys to keep going with it).  Maybe they just don’t realize their beards could look better, and a simple suggestion or tip on beard care could be all they need.  Maybe they’re loving it that way and rocking it.  In that case, I’d say, “you do you!”

Can we admit that some beards look great?  Some men can really pull them off, especially if they’re taking care of them.  The beard trend became a thing sometime in the last few years, and a lot more guys are sporting them.  There seem to be an infinite number of new styles for beards.  There have been many new barber shops springing up to help men trim their beards into fashionable, well maintained, clean looking designs.  Men with beards have the option to choose a haircut and beard combo that can make them look their best.  Basically, guys with beards get to have TWO haircut styles going on at the same time.  Now that’s impressive.

Barber shops are also there to set beard enthusiasts up with the right products for daily care.  These products help keep beard hair looking shiny and healthy, and feeling soft, and I’ll tell you – lots of them smell great.  We all love a hair-spray that smells great, so we can understand that this is important.

I’ve got a family and friend group full of beards! My three brothers-in-law and my Dad and father-in-law all experiment with their facial hair. Apparently I cried in horror as a child the first time I saw my Dad shave his moustache off! Facial hair can really change a man’s look.

My husband’s facial hair has changed a lot through the years I’ve been with him. Sometimes it has looked great, and sometimes, it really hasn’t. At all. I’ve included a variety of photos in this article to give you an idea. What hasn’t changed through the years is how much I love him, regardless of his facial hair choices. Did I give him a hard time for some of these? You’d better believe it! He took it in stride and appreciated the joke.

If you’re one of those women who hates beards (or other facial hair for that matter), I challenge you to really think about why you hate them.  Getting to the bottom of why I feel a certain way about anything, big or small, always helps me to learn more about myself.  Do you hate beards on all men, or just your man?  Could you try having a conversation with him about it to hear his side?  Could you be flexible on his beard, if it meant your guy would be happy and secure in the way he looks?  Even if this article hasn’t given you an appreciation for beards, I hope it’s given you something to think about the next time you see one.