Friday, April 29, 2016

PHOTOS: The Pink Elephant Antique Mall

On a road trip a few weeks ago, we stopped at The Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston, Ill. to take some photos and explore.

The antique mall is a unique place with three levels of rooms packed wall-to-wall with antiques, oddities and other goodies. Located adjacent to the antique mall is a Christmas store (all Christmas everything!) and a '50s themed diner. 

Oh, and there's a lot of really cool, random things sitting around outside. Like a pink elephant, obviously.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

On Six Months of Marriage -- And The People Who Don't "Get It"

Photo of our wedding day by Lena Lee Photography
My husband Chris and I got married six months ago today.

We honestly love being married. We like that we've really become a team, and our love is stronger than ever.

There's some obvious perks too: Older people seem to take us more seriously. People are asking us about our goals for the first time in a long time. There was a noticeable difference at tax time. I think we were able to get our car loan because of our marital status.

And as nice as these perks are, I wish there was one thing I could change: the stigma that we were too young to get married.

We got married at 24 years old, which is light-years after when our older family members tied the knot. And yet, it's way too early for our generation? When did that change?

I get that people are delaying marriage for particular reasons, like education. We did that. But that doesn't mean that any other way is "wrong," and I'm tired of people being judged for dating a variety of people, being on Tinder, committing or not committing to a relationship. Everyone wants different things, and not everyone is at the same "stage" in their lives. Let people live!

An employee at the car dealership last week remarked that he was surprised to learn that Chris and I were married. He said something along the lines of (in a skeptical tone) "Wow, you guys are really young. I mean, everyone your age is waiting until, like, 30." 

Is that a fact? A good chunk of my peers are engaged or married, including some of my closest friends. Maybe I ran with a certain "type" growing up, people who were mature for their age, people who grew up surrounded by great examples of commitment. Maybe that's what makes us "different."

But I don't think that means anything after 25 is too old. I think the time is right when the time is right, no matter when that comes. I just think people like Chris and I find comfort in a committed relationship. That's not the lifestyle for everyone, but some people scoff at it, some are wary of it, some try to tear others down for it.

Take an old "friend" of ours, for instance. Shortly after our engagement, the friend tried to rationalize my engagement for me. (I didn't ask him to.) 

He said things like "Are you sure this is what you want to do? I just don't think it's a good idea. I mean, why would you want to be tied down to one person for the rest of your life? You can do that much later."

Why can't we all respect each other's decisions? I respect his right to an opinion, but not his choice to try to tell me I was wrong.

The age at which someone decides to "commit" shouldn't matter to anyone but the person who is making that choice. You don't know everyone's situation. You don't know what makes that person tick. You don't know what stage of life they're in at that moment. And believe it or not, most people do it all "out of order," these days.

And that's OK.

What really matters is being 100 percent secure in your decision, whatever that decision may be. If you know this is the person you want to marry, marry them! If it seems like no one's good enough for you, maybe that's true. Maybe there's something better up ahead. But never, ever judge someone for the path their life is taking. Instead, be there to support and uplift them, or you should expect to be kicked to the curb.

Getting married at 24 years old was the right decision for us, and I couldn't have asked for a better six months. As I'm typing this, he's being the "Kenny to my Dolly" as we sing and hum along to "Islands in the Stream." 

It's a simple life, but it's our life, and that's for no one else to judge.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Remembering Prince

Music icon Prince died today. He was only 57 years old.

I don't want to believe it. Prince was such a LEGEND.
My favorite memories of his music were years ago when I worked at the local movie theater. I'd get off work at 3 a.m. and I'd usually be wired and nowhere near ready to sleep, so I'd drive around town singing along to songs like "Purple Rain" and "Little Red Corvette," just to name a couple of songs. With no one else in the car, I'd sing loudly and proudly, even though I can't really sing.

I've always felt like I identified with "Raspberry Beret," in a way. I feel so exhilarated by the time one of his albums ends.

His music transcended genres, and he reached people of every race, religion and background. Since I've started writing this, my middle-aged neighbor has started playing "When Doves Cry" loud enough for the whole town to hear. It made me realize how powerful music can be. It was moving.
Making my hubby watch this with me this weekend.
Prince will be missed. His music was so fun, uplifting and profound. I can't thank him enough for the moving lyrics, fun beats and out-of-this-world personality he had. He was unique and he left an impact on me.
I grew up on classic rock, classic country and 80s music. I've always identified with music from other generations. But as time goes on, I guess that means we must learn to accept that we are getting to that time when all our legends and favorites are getting older. I just don't want to accept that fact.

And just like that, my neighbor hits "replay" on "When Doves Cry"... one more time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Photos: Signs of Spring Part Two

My family and I recently traveled to Missouri/Arkansas to visit my great grandfather. Signs of spring were everywhere, so I took the opportunity to get some photos. (Click photos to enlarge.)
And if you're in a springtime mood, check out my springy playlist here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Photos: Signs of Spring Part One

My family and I recently traveled to southern Missouri to visit my great grandfather. Signs of spring were everywhere, so I took the opportunity to get some photos. (Click photos to enlarge.)
Look for part two of this photo series on Wednesday.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mr. and Mrs. buy a car

Photo by Kelly Bauer
This week, my husband Chris and I bought a car together for the first time. From the beginning of the process, we learned a lot about ourselves, especially "ourselves" as a team.

When my 15-year-old car needed costly repairs, we had to figure out the best choice. Do we put the money into a car which already had a salvage title, or do we bite the bullet and put the money down on a "new to us" car and pick up a car payment, something I've never had to deal with? It made sense to put the money into something more reliable that would last for a long time, but it was a daunting decision. I couldn't even remember how to begin the car buying process. 

After talking it out (and asking family for a little advice,) we decided to take the plunge on something new. 

From there we started researching cars (with suggestions from family members) and tried to figure out what we could afford. When we narrowed it down, the reality (and nerves) of the situation set in.

Driving to the dealership, I started to worry. How do we act? Should we play good cop, bad cop? What if we totally get gypped? Would I even know if I was being gypped? 

No matter what happened, we agreed to agree on everything. Essentially, if one person felt nervous or a little unsure about the cars, the wheeling or the dealing, we'd talk it out before taking a step further. To some that may seem a little too cautious, but it meant I felt comfortable to ask the "dumb" questions and get absolutely everything answered. It also meant we were on the same page, which we both believe is incredibly important in our marriage. I mean, we were kissing away some of our wedding money, and that kind of stung.

In the end, we wound up with a decent deal on a car that we think will last us many years to come. Although I'm the primary driver of the car, we still call it "our" car and we take pride in the fact that we researched, bargained and paid for it ourselves. Sure, the fact that we acquired a car payment stings a little, but we're content with the lessons we've learned, and honestly, we love our car. If we had to do it again, I'd honestly probably do the same thing and still buy this exact car.

When I started this blog, I thought marriage would change me quite a bit on my journey to Becoming Mrs. LaRue. But honestly, my husband and I are learning so much about ourselves, and I think through the trials and tests, we are picking up so many valuable lessons.

Purchasing a car was a super intimidating process, but I'm glad I was able to have my best friend by my side. It's super cheesy, but we really do make a good team. There's no one else I'd rather be learning these life lessons with (while still taking the occasional piece of advice from my parents. After all, they've learned the lessons too -- it's good to learn from their experiences!)

Friday, April 01, 2016

Through the Lens of a Crazy Cat Lady

My cats, Twitch and Trixie, have been super patient while I learn to use a camera. Sometimes, they'll even pose! These are the latest photos from my "cat momma" life.
Check out more photos from this series here!