HOW WE MET
We met on Craigslist. Yeah you know, the Women Seeking Women section? Many people are shocked when we mention that. The craziest part is that since finding each other on CL, we have come to find many other life changing things. Like the home we are in now and our adorable miniature dachshund, Prince.
There is no doubt in our minds, we were meant to share a life together. We fell so hard and fast for each other it was surreal. Though, like most couples, we have our differences. Early on these differences led to arguments and misunderstanding. Some of which were so bad that it seemed like our relationship might not make it.
After eleven months of dating we went and saw a marriage counselor. Nope, we were not yet married, but we knew that if we couldn't figure out how to communicate and understand our differences our relationship would not last. And neither of us wanted to give up.
What did we learn? Much of our differences were because of the way we were raised. How our parents interacted and how we saw relationships were very contrasting. We expected different things from one another and we didn't know how to communicate that. Have you heard of "The Five Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman? If not, go out and get the book. It very much could save your relationship - it did for ours. (There is also a quiz online to help learn about your love language.)
Eventually we were able to embrace and appreciate one another's differences. We even got matching tattoos because these differences mean so much to us.
Here's the story: Kasey had her tonsils taken out and Molly was over taking care of her. Getting your tonsils out as an adult sucks - big time. Molly had kindly brought Kasey over a bowl of ice cream and naturally grabbed a spoon for her to eat it with. To Molly's surprise, Kasey asked for a fork - she just really prefers using forks. In the end it all works out, because Molly actually prefers spoons. Just like us, the spoon and fork are two different utensils, but yet they compliment one another. And so, Molly has a tattoo of a fork and Kasey has a tattoo of a spoon.
THE PROPOSAL & THE WOODS
Fast-forward about six months after the marriage counseling. Kasey proposed to Molly (Check out the proposal video here. Molly said yes. Yay!
Just a few weeks before the proposal, Kasey had quit her well-paying job with the hope of finding some happiness that was missing in her life. She had Molly, but something else seemed to be missing. At this point, we both were self-employed, scraping by job to job. Then one night Kasey had a dream. She woke up and told Molly about this vision she had of them living off the land in a remote area - just the two of them. Immediately, Molly said, "Lets do it."
So we did. We moved out of the duplex we rented in south Minneapolis and moved into a one room hunting shack in Moose Lake, Minnesota. It was located on 120 acres; had no electricity, and no running water. It was our paradise. Our time there was so simple. We lived with very little, but felt absolutely complete. We weren't living to EARN a living, but living to LIVE. We learned that happiness is not the things you have, but whom you have, and the experiences you make. (Warm whiskey drinking about every afternoon was a plus too!)
BUYING THE BUSINESS
After a few months in the woods, an opportunity to buy a business was presented to us. It would require us to leave the woods and head west to the small town of Aitkin. Knowing that we weren't prepared to spend a winter in the shack and that we eventually would have to "go back to work," we decided to buy the business and the building it's located in.
A LOT of "adulting" happened in the year after we bought the business. In addition to that huge purchase, we bought a new vehicle, bought a house, found our second dog, Prince, and of course we got married!
From the get go, we both had similar visions when it came
to our wedding. We wanted to have it outside, make it as inexpensive as possible, and for it to be about us. So many weddings we had been to were all so similar. We wanted ours to be 100 percent, organically, US. Which meant breaking or adjusting some of those traditions you'd expect to see at a wedding.
For example, you know the unity ceremonies where couples light a candle or pour sand in a vase together? Well we took a unity shot together. We didn't have a wedding party, but our two best friends carried shot glasses and a bottle of Jameson down the aisle for us. We each poured a shot for the other and toasted to our future together.
Our vows and the entire flow of the ceremony was all planed by us. It was short and sweet and from the heart. Including one of our favorite parts, the ring exchange, which went like this:
I take you Molly/Kasey
To be my wife, my partner in life.
I promise to love you wildly, authentically, and selflessly.
I will laugh with you and cry with you.
I will love you faithfully, through the best and the worst.
Whatever may come, I will always be there.
As I've given you my hand to hold, so I give you my life to keep.
The wedding was held in the backyard, over looking a lake at Kasey's parents house. We literally didn't hire a single vendor. Molly's parents bought the booze for the open bar. Kasey's parents bought and made all of the food. Our friends made us a ton of delicious cupcakes. The flowers were arranged and provided by a family member as a wedding gift. The music -that was a compiled iTunes list! The only thing we ended up renting were the tables, chairs, and a sound system from our local rental shop in Aitkin.
Everything else was made by us! Lots of Pintrest-ing happened. Our favorite piece we made came from fallen trees we had logged while living in The Shack. It was a LONG process, but we stripped the bark (by hand) and constructed the trellis that we would be married under. It was beautiful. Another fun thing we made was the bar - which was constructed out of old pallets.
More than anything we wanted the day to be a celebration. It was a celebration of our union, and also a celebration of those people that attended who helped shape us to be the people we are today.
Some advice for those planning a wedding: No one will remember the little details. They won't remember what was on the tables, or the party favors, or the place card design, or any of those things. What they will remember is how they felt to see you standing up there beaming with love and the party you throw after you say 'I Do.' Don't sweat the small stuff.
SHARING OUR NAME
During our stay in the woods we talked about taking each other's last names. Neither of us really cared to take the others name, but we both wanted to share one. So we decided to create a new one. The idea for the last name James is in honor of Kasey's grandpa and... well, we were drinking a lot of Jameson at the time.
Sharing our name means so much to both of us. It's the start of our own family.
Remember, "there's nothing worth sharing like the LOVE that lets us share our name," -Brandi Carlile.
ADOPTION & GROWING OUR FAMILY
From the beginning, we both knew that we wanted to adopt. We just didn't realize how soon we would start the process. For the last year or so we have tried our own take on artificial insemination with a known donor - kinda like advanced turkey basting - with no luck. It's been difficult because there is a very small window to make this process happen and often schedules just don't align. The waiting and hoping has been hard and just makes that ache to start our own family grow even more.
So we decided to throw all our eggs in a basket. We've created a website and facebook page called 'The James Moms' to help tell our story (www.thejamesmoms.com). Many of our most beloved connections have come from some source of social media or online searches. We figured we would share our adoption journey online with the hope we might find a birthmother.
In addition to that, we are on the adoption waiting list through Lutheran Social Services, we have registered to be foster parents through Pinehaven Youth and Family Services, and have met with this awesome "Fancy Lady Doctor" Jani Jensen with Reproductive Medicine & Infertility Associates to help us with our IUI process.
Fingers crossed that one of these 'eggs' hatches!
Through all of our ups and downs one thing has remained true - we are better together.
There are times that we disagree, argue, or just have bad days. But that's what marriage is. Finding that person that you can't imagine life without.
Communication - sometimes it is SO HARD to talk about difficult things especially when you are feeling upset/unsupported/misunderstood/etc. But not talking about it is what causes relationships to fail. Letting issues fester and build up will only lead to bigger unrelated issues.
Share how you are feeling, share if you are upset, share if you feel unsupported, share if you feel your love languages aren't being met. Yes, we are women and usually good mind readers but we aren't that super human. The more you communicate with one another, especially when it is the hardest, the easier it gets. HONEST. Talk to each other.
We see in most relationships around us that the biggest issues stem from lack of communication. It is hard, no doubt, but in the end it is SO rewarding to be able to work through things together and feel like you are being heard.
Love + Coping Languages - this was another huge learning area for us and understanding one another's 'languages' was a game changer. We strongly encourage you to do the online quiz and read the book "The Five Love Languages" to learn how you and your partner want to be loved.
Until we really looked at how the other person wanted to be 'loved,' we often felt unfulfilled. We were showing one another love the way we wanted to be loved but in reality that wasn't the same language for each other.
This was the same for each other's coping mechanisms. We both needed a different kind of support when going through tough days or life changing events. Being able to provide what the other person needed instead of what WE needed was an immense turning point. Learn your partners way of coping and support them in the way THEY need to be supported and vice versa.
SHARE THE BIG PICTURE
It seems that a lot of couples tend to focus on the immediate of "checking of the boxes" when looking for a partner and some of the bigger picture idea and values don't get discussed until it's deep into the relationship. We knew right away that we shared a lot of the same values and therefore we knew all the little bumps and curveballs were passable - and opportunities to learn from - because the core of who we were and where we wanted to go and who we wanted to be had a strong foundation. Talk about passions, talk about the future, talk about the reasons you want to get up and take on the day and what motivates you.
If you want to have children, what are the things from your upbringing that are important to you to pass on to your kids? What do you value individually and as a couple? How can you support one another to live a fulfilling life that aligns with those values and fosters those passions? You are on this adventure together called LIFE. You don't know where it is going to take you but you can choose who to have alongside of you.
Photography: Breanne Kwatera of This Little Big Life