Archive | brian

In which we are living in a renovation zone

Hardware stores on a Saturday. Bless it.

Hardware stores on a Saturday. Bless it.

We are always living in the midst of a renovation project of some sort over here. It’s funny that I never talk about it online because it’s a rather big part of our life so I thought I’d write a bit about what we’re doing.

We bought our semi-attached home four years ago a bit below market value because it needed some serious work – for instance, there was a home salon in the basement so the plumbing and drywall had to be reworked. (And we had A LOT of other people’s hair clippings in the carpets to deal with. *shudder*)  Plus, there were – yes, we counted – 37 different colours on the walls including a glossy black wall in the main living room, damaged floors, stained carpets, that sort of thing. There were a lot of basic restoration and repairs that had to be done here. Now we’re at last turning to the other projects.

A few months ago, we relocated and redesigned the downstairs washroom with the idea of creating a master suite. It’s nearly finished, hallelujah. Then we’ll paint and finish Joseph’s room, then move Evelynn downstairs to her own room near us because she is an early riser, and then the upstairs bathroom will get done because the shower isn’t working, and then our Very Pink 90s Kitchen is coming up … and so on. Brian has projects planned out until the fall of 2019 apparently, may God have mercy on our souls and my sanity.

There is not a weekend of our lives when we are not at the Home Depot or Rona or Canadian Tire. The proud tradition of dragging one’s children to hardware stores on Saturdays is alive and well at the Bessey home.

We are devoted enthusiasts of HGTV (the tinies and I all think Brian should compete for Canada’s Next Great Handyman competition but he’s unimpressed.) We like to watch DIY shows because the real estate ones tend to drive us a bit crazy. I don’t know if there is anyway to be on House Hunters without sounding spoiled and entitled.

“I don’t know about this perfect little bungalow, I really really really need stainless steel appliances….”

Sure you do, honey, sure you do.

Joe in particular has become Brian’s “helper” for almost all projects. Check out this short little video of him “teaching” us how to fill screw holes with dry wall mud.

“Voilá! No screw!”

He’s only five! He’s a genius! He’s wearing a Calgary Flames green hardhat left over from the 2003 Stanley Cup run!

We don’t have a huge budget or a tight timeline, we get industry discounts because this is Brian’s line of work (or cast-offs from my parents as they do their own renovations – I’m not above taking their old light fixtures and putting them into my bathrooms), Brian does all the labour himself from finish carpentry to electrical and plumbing. He’s a big believer in knowing how to do things for your own self and then teaching those skills to the tinies. (I prefer to pay professionals.)

I say “we” in all the above paragraphs, but I had absolutely nothing to do with these renovations beyond nodding my head in agreement to whatever Brian dreamed up and then saying “it’s lovely, darling!” when he’s finished.

Many, many years ago, I was banned from helping with home projects because, while he is a Perfectionist, I am a ‘Good-Enough-ist’ and those two temperaments should NOT attempt home renovation projects together.

I drive him crazy because I tend to do things quickly and sloppily and then say “ah, good enough” before cleaning the paint brushes inadequately. Then he has a vein pop out on his forehead: “this is NOT HOW YOU CLEAN BRUSHES, WOMAN.” Also, he’s a professional, and apparently professionals prefer to just do their job in peace while listening to old U2 albums for the thousandth time.

So I go back to pinning ideas for him on Pinterest and stay out of the way.  My hobbies are of the more sedentary pursuits: reading, writing, knitting, Doctor Who….

And every once in a while, I do things like paint things on our stairs for fun.

Some people like to play video games or listen to music or watch television or run marathons.

Brian likes to tear out ceilings, rewire basements, and renovate bathrooms for funsies.


Are you the DIY-er in the house? Or is it your significant other? Do you like to watch HGTV? Any reno projects or veterans here? 

Continue Reading · brian, home · 18

In which romance shows up in the interruptions

I think that someday, when I am old, I will be glad that I wrote this down. (These are the days we will have to remember someday.) Isn’t that the way it is with these moments? The small moments, the small decisions, make up a life worth remembering and I want to make more room in my life (and so my writing) to remember them. Even if it’s just for me. Simple stories still matter to me.

The girls were playing dress-up while Joe was downstairs playing Legos after supper. I left Brian to the dishes to pretty up their hair and apply my bright lipstick to their small mouths as a special treat. We sprayed perfume into the air and moved through the mist. They paraded up and down the house, grandly greeting each other turn after turn: “Why hello, Miss Evelynn, pleasure to see you.” They decided to have a ball and so I opened iTunes on the computer. The laptop keys are sticky and there are smears on the screen: family computer, it seems.

Brian and I switched spots and he scooped them up in his arms, a dish towel flung over his shoulder. The girls danced with their dad, and I cleaned the kitchen, humming along, watching them all. The girls drifted off to another game and we settled back to our work, we always do. There’s a lot to do: a lot of work, a lot of bills, a lot of commitments, go go go.

On these nights, romance smells like butter and garlic, dish soap and clean skin. On a whim, I turned on Andrew Peterson’s song “Dancing in the Minefields” and, without words, we turned to each other, held on and danced. Romance shows up in the interruptions.

Even when we are tired or we aren’t speaking the same language or we are out of step, we still know enough to turn towards each other when the music starts.

Evelynn came barrelling in to the room (she barrels into every room) and charged at us: me too! me too! me too! We picked her up and we danced, and Anne wormed her way in, then Joe wandered upstairs and we were dancing like a messy rugby scrum, shuffling and swaying and out of step, five people crammed into one embrace.

I laid my head on his chest like I haven’t done in a while, he kissed my hair, I knew he was smiling, and Evelynn laid her face right next to mine, nose to nose. Anne was hanging on to me at the south, Joe to the north.

I make a lot of mistakes in this marriage, I’m sure he’d say the same, but we always find our way back to this. I found myself singing along: at the end of all my fear, to the end of all my days, when I forget my name, remind me. 

Continue Reading · brian, family, love, love looks like, marriage · 28

In which my husband and I made a deal – our “You Need To Read This!” Challenge

On New Year’s Eve, we found ourselves sitting in our living room, talking over our goals for 2014. And, of course this happened:

Brian: Let’s see…what else do I want to do this year… I think I need to read more.

Me: You do. You definitely need to read more.

Brian: Okay there, pseudo-hermit bookworm, calm down. Maybe I’ll set a goal like…. I could read one book a month. That’s do-able, right?

Me: Totally! You should TOTALLY do that.  (writes it down) Only….

Brian: What?

Me: I wish I could pick the books!

Brian: (laughing) Okay, right, Styles.

Me: I still can’t believe you managed to graduate high school in the United States without ever reading To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s just so wrong. You really need to read it.

Brian: I’ll only let you pick my books if you let me pick the books YOU have to read every month!

Me:….wait a minute….that’s a BRILLIANT IDEA. Let’s do it! I get to pick a book a month that you read and you do the same thing for me! We can even blog about it! Together!

Brian: I’m game. Okay….first thing you’ll need is this handy-dandy Pocket Guide to Theological Terms….



So here we are, starting off 2014 with our ”You Need To Read This” Challenge. We have each carefully selected a stack of 12 books that we think the other one needs to read. Usually when we finish a book we love, we say “You need to read this!” and of course, we never read each other’s books.

My husband and I have pretty different taste when it comes to reading. I adore spiritual memoirs, fiction and literature, poetry, and narrative theology with a bit of old-fashioned fun reading like Harry Pottery or dystopian fantasty or British chick lit novels and my comfort reading of the L.M. Montgomery. Brian doesn’t read for fun (that’s what football is for, apparently) and so his reading tends towards leadership-based non-fiction or theology. In short, we never read or like the same books. Like, ever.

Every month, we’ll read a book from each other’s pre-selected stack and then blog our opposite responses together here about it. Once a month, when we post about a book, we’ll share why we picked it for each other and then what we think about it.

the besseys reading challenge

The books I picked for him to read are:

The books he picked for me to read are:

It’s clear to me that my husband has set me up to fail. I look at his list for me and, with a few exceptions, SNORE. WHERE ARE THE STORIES I NEED STORIES.

Let the game begin…

(I’m doomed.)

If you want to participate in your own, go for it. Just find a friend who has different reading tastes than you and swap a list.

If you could make everyone read just one book (other than the Bible), which one would you choose?

*affiliate links 



Continue Reading · book review, books, brian, You Need To Read This Challenge · 70

In which [love looks like] an empty parking lot

More than fourteen years ago, we went for a walk at midnight. We were on a college snowboarding trip and my husband never fails to remind me that I came to Silverthorne in one man’s car and went back to Tulsa in another man’s car – his old ’88 Monte Carlo. A week was all it took for me to fall head over heels in love with that tall boy from Nebraska. One night, after everyone went to bed, he asked me to walk with him in the midnight. We bundled up in our woolies, me with two long red braids hanging down underneath my wool toque, and we set out mittens in hand. We walked in the darkness and the stars above the trees, and then we stood in an empty cul-de-sac of a soon-coming neighbourhood. He laid me down on a snowbank and kissed me dizzy. After we came back to the rented condo filled with college students, frozen, we knew the night couldn’t end and so we drove to a Village Inn and leaned over a formica table and bitter coffee, talking until dawn. We drove back to the condo and slept for an hour before we woke up to another day of snowboarding on a budget with our friends, broken by our secret grins.

Fourteen years later, we were in a rented Jeep. His parents were looking after our three tinies on the family reunion holiday, and we are still holding hands on the gear shift. We found that ratty condo  after a while of driving – it was a different colour, there were a few more houses around, a lot of trees had been cut down. We stood in the parking lot of that condo complex and remembered when were thinner and younger. I said, “Can you believe it’s been nearly 15 years since I snapped that picture of you standing over that worn out Monte Carlo’s engine?” And he said, “We’re as close to being fifty now as we are right now to that day.” And then I nearly fell down dead because somehow we are still twenty years old and kissing in snowbanks at the same time that we’re thirty-four with three tinies and a mortgage, we both have grey hair and a lifetime now.

That cul-de-sac is filled with 15 year old homes, a few even for sale. They were out of our price range. Remember? Remember? Remember? we said as we marvelled. Remember how we were here in the snow just yesterday and now we are older in the rain, and we have all these years, all of the years we spent together. So well spent.


We found that old Village Inn. It was closed – empty and despondent, surrounded by chains and KEEP OUT signs. There were outlet shops everywhere and we felt sad. Everywhere starts to look the same after a while, it’s the rare place that holds its own place in the world. We hopped the chains and stood in the parking lot. The skies opened up and the grey rained down. We kissed on the front step of that old restaurant and then we peered through the opaque windows of time to our old selves.

Could we have imagined? Could we have imagined the life we now live and the choices we’ve made? Could we imagine the places we’ve gone and the tears we have wept together and the babies we’ve lost? Could we have imagined the way we smile at each other in such perfect knowing when our son – our son! – raptures over a plane ride? The way you make our daughters laugh until they shriek over tickles and the way we sleep altogether at night on our family holidays? Could we have imagined even something as simple as family holidays together with your parents and your sisters and their families? We could not. But here we are, nearly fifteen years later , kissing in an old abandoned breakfast restaurant parking lot while the rain falls and we remember?

We drove down a lake dam and stayed by the lake. Secrets are a beautiful part of a marriage. We went out for supper and talked over our life. It’s a funny thing to revisit the old haunts, to see yourselves fifteen years ago burning with passion and Somedays, when you are now older with babies and memories and stories, still somehow dreaming of Someday.

We’ve hit that point, the point when we remember each other back then, and we know now. We are familiar and yet still somehow, kissing in the empty parking lots surrounded by chain link fences and KEEP OUT signs.

He has lines at his eyes and grey at his temples, and I still see that 19 -year-old boy with a grin, coaxing me out for a walk in the midnight. And at the same time, I see our homes and our travels, our tears and our laughter, I see him standing in the room and weeping over tea-towels with never-babies inside, and I see us holding the now-growing-up babies as they learn to walk, and I see him looking at me across our old bed that he built with his own hands and I see us as kids and I see us as lovers and I see us as best friends, and I see us just last night as we staggered through a sleepless night with lanky kids who couldn’t sleep well and I think, God, we grew up together. We grew up and now we are grown up, and now  we are growing older. Those lanky kids look like us, both of us, at the same time.

We came back to another rented condo in the gathering of the light. I couldn’t have imagined all those years ago, at the Village Inn with a day-old bagel and terrible coffee at dawn, how he would have loved me so beautifully and fully, so crazily and completely, so ordinarily extraordinary. Look at us, living our lives together. Everything has changed, everything will continue to change, but we will still be here, in a car, kissing like teenagers over a lifetime of stories shared.

Look at us, in the middle of our marriage.

I write now and then about what love looks like for us. 



Continue Reading · brian, love, love looks like, marriage · 41