Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Weekend

This past weekend was a photo adventure for the Petersons. We went to Eureka Springs, where we'd been earlier this year scouting for wedding venues. While we didn't find anything that would accommodate our 100+ guest list, we did really enjoy strolling up and down the streets, wandering in shops and talking to all the tourists and shop owners. We especially enjoyed the view...

So this weekend we went back (but John didn't know...it was all a surprise!). Our first stop was Pivot Rock, which is on the "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" index of super-cool places. It's a little unusual though...apparently an older couple owns the land, so you have to go in through their "store" and pay $4.50 a person to walk the trail down to the rock. It's a short walk, though, and it's quite pretty.

John found Pivot Rock.

After a very delightful night's rest at The Lookout Lodge, we awoke bright and early for our next adventure:

Horseback riding!!!

John. On a horse.

Unbeknownst to John, I had reserved the "Cowboy Breakfast Ride" at the Dinner Bell Ranch and Resort right outside of Eureka Springs. We arrived at 8:20 and, with another set of riders from Kansas City, we rode up into the mountains and ate a cowboy breakfast: a Dutch oven layering of eggs, potatoes, cheese, and sausage with homemade biscuits and watermelon! It was my very first horseback riding experience. Ever. (well, that I can remember. Supposedly I my cousin's family had two horses...He-Man and She-Ra...that I got a chance to ride when I was little.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Photography Weekend Extravaganza

John and I have decided we are photographers "in the making." This stems from two facts:
  1. John and I both have an innate interest in photography.
  2. The iPhone 4's camera takes insanely clear pictures.
Here are some of the shots we took this weekend with the iPhone 4's camera. The first set of images are at
the Fayettevillle Farmers' Market on Saturday, around 10am. That event is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I bought Japanese eggplant, fresh cuttings of basil, cherry tomatoes, and a rosemary plant I'm delighted to have sitting in my living room window.

Second Set - the Starbucks on the corner of Joyce and College. We went on Saturday afternoon and stayed for over an hour drinking frappuccinos, reading, and people watching.

Finally, Sunday morning we saw an incredible juxtaposition on the way to church at Reunion. Two blue Volkswagen beetles were sitting alone in the same parking lot. One was a current model, the other was a retro 1970s version.

That's all for now. More to come soon.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Case Against Marriage

Once upon a time, marriage made sense. It was how women ensured their financial security, got the fathers of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights. But 40 years after the feminist movement established our rights in the workplace, a generation after the divorce rate peaked, and a decade after Sex and the City made singledom chic, marriage is—from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway—no longer necessary.

So state Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison in the June 11th Newsweek article, "I Don't: The Case Against Marriage." They go on to state, quite eloquently, that today's woman is no longer bound my the identity-shifting bonds of marriage. A woman can be completely satisfied with pouring herself into her career, her friendships (most likely with other single women), and her casual relationships. She doesn't need a man to make her complete.

Of course, the statistics are on their side. Americans have the highest divorce rate of any Western country (I looked up the highest rates in the world - Belarus is slightly higher, and Maldives doubles the US rate). On top of that, and perhaps as a precursor to this statistic, over half of all spouses will cheat on their significant others during the course of their marriage. Over half.

With that in mind, and – according to Bennett and Ellison – with the stigma of premarital sex disappearing as quickly as corsets and debutante balls, there is no real reason to marry. Women can have children, careers, and friendships without a husband. In fact, they can continue to engage in meaningful, albeit temporary, relationships with men without feeling the ramifications of marital life: increased health insurance rates, increased taxes, decreased government childcare benefits, etc.

The article continues with evidence from noted feminist Gloria Steinem, studies from marriage counselors, and demographical data pulled from both the 1950s and today. All of this carefully pulls together the idea that marriage, for women at least, is not advantageous. But here's the thing: life is not about what's advantageous. Life is about making others feel loved. In the book Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney, the author outlines the importance of leading a selfless life that ultimately fills us with a contentment and joy that is utterly immeasurable. She doesn't deny, or even minimize the frustrations and heartaches that come with marrying an imperfect man (since they, just like us, are imperfect), but she does gently remind us that life is about more than constant contentment. She asks us to “consider the loveliness of a woman who passionately adores her husband, who tenderly cherishes her children, who creates a warm and peaceful home, who exemplifies purity, self-control, and kindness in her character...”

I admit, these are not the qualities that most women desire – they feel jaded and subordinated by the standards of traditional marriage roles. And unless one is focused on the connection between service and spiritual growth, such qualities can appear demeaning. (I mean, who would see folding a husband's laundry day after day after day as fulfilling? Who would prefer cleaning up after someone else to taking a nice hot bath?) But with the appropriate focus, I believe marriage can be one of the most fulfilling experiences imaginable. In fact, marriage teaches us more about who we really are than any job, friendship, or casual relationship ever could. It shows us that, if we continually focus on how to make our spouse's life better, our own life is enhanced as well. Why? Because, as a Christian, I do these things as a sign of my love for Christ and, as an extension of that, my love for my husband (he is pretty awesome...).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Married Life

I have been married for 16 days. 

I have realized that I have so much to learn about marriage. I read books, magazine articles, blogs, and took advice from friends, relatives, acquaintances, and absolute strangers. And while all of it most of it was helpful to some extent, I am quickly realizing that marriage is something that must be consistently (and conscientiously) worked on every day. Here are some things I've noted:

1. The distinction between things I want to do and things I need to do has become so much clearer. I want to set up a scrapbooking area in the guest bedroom, but I need to do laundry so we both have clean towels tomorrow. Argh.

2. Cooking for one is an art; cooking for two is a challenge. I know exactly what I like and when I'm hungry, but because I'm not psychic, this doesn't work on my husband. I have to guess, which means I'm going to get it wrong more often than not. And I have to be willing to be wrong.

3. Budgets are intimidating and overwhelming, but they must be tackled with the concerted effort of both parties. If I want to take a vacation in the next year, or if my husband wants to consider another vehicle, we have to know where that money will come from.

4. Wedding gifts are amazing. We can probably live off of gift card purchases for the next three months, and I now get to try out a rice cooker, Belgian waffle maker, melon baller, and George Foreman grill....though hopefully not for the same meal.

5. Unconditional love is one of the most powerful incentives on earth. It can make even the hardest of challenges seem possible, and the worst of times seem surmountable.