How To Stay Married

Tips for a happy marriage

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I have been very happily married to my husband for thirty-five years.  What makes a great marriage?  People ask that question all the time.  There is a simple answer.  Compromise.

The top ten ways to have a happy marriage

1.  Recognize that your partner’s happiness needs to be what makes you happy too.

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2.  Take an interest in what they care about.  I don’t love watching golf, but I have learned to aske questions about the game and have a greater understanding of golf.  He encourages my writing and helps edits my blogs.

3.  Spend time together, doing something you both enjoy.  When we first had children we tried to have a weekly date.  I used to tell him, “i don’t care if we just go out for a baloney sandwich, I just want time as a couple.”  Now that our children are adults, we love spending time traveling together.  Make it an adventure.

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4.  Divide household chores, but be willing to mix them up. My husband started cooking when he retired, and I started doing some gardening.  He still is better handling the bills, and I do a better job  cleaning than he does.

5.  Spend time apart.  I’m not suggesting you move out of your home but have interest outside of your home that doesn’t involve your partner.

6.  Agree to agree when it comes to discipline.  Presenting a united front is always the best approach when parenting children.  Kids like structure and rules, they can smell weakness.  When your children are young be a parent, not their friend.  If you do a good enough job Actually parenting when they are young, they will want to be your friend when they are adults.

7.  Make time for your love life.  I read somewhere once that greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.  Set an example of love and respect.

8.  Laugh together, at each other and with each other.  We’re not afraid to make fun of one another.  I know my bad driving is the likely cause of road rage in the state of Arizona and he knows that he doesn’t really need three navigation systems to get us somewhere.

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9.  Forgive one another, don’t hold onto grudges.  Sometime you have to agree to disagree, then drop the subject.

10.  Go though tough times.  LIfe usually makes this happen for all of us anyway, but it does strengthen your love. We have been at one another’s side for so many difficult times.  We have held each other up through sickness, stress and the death of our parents.  We have cried in each other’s arms and we both have always known that the love we have for each other carries us on.

I Am My Husband’s Apprentice

Why building a wall together will help you appreciate your differences.

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I am married to an engineer.  He fits the stereotype of an engineer.  The spreadsheets, the planning, the precise measurements, typical analytical mind, that’s him.  I on the other hand rely on instinct rather than logic or knowledge.  Being impulsive and flexible was an asset when teaching preschoolers.

Recently we decided (after much persuading by me) to put up a reclaimed barnwood wall.  I’ve seen them everywhere on television and in decorating magazines and thought it would look perfect in my dining room.  Greg, my husband needed to be convinced, but eventually I wore him down with the promise that I would help him with the entire job.  How hard could it be?  It’s just some rustic wood nailed up on the wall, right? Not exactly. This is where that engineer brain conflicted with my spontaneous style.

First stop was to pick up the barnwood.  We ended up picking boards from two different locations to get the colors and textures I wanted.  These were pretty rough boards, uneven, bowed, and various lengths and thickness.  Next, we visited Home Depot for goggles, ear protection,  liquid nails, nails for the nail gun and gloves.

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Driving hom with the barnwood, he looks happy now
With the supplies in hand we were ready to begin the project I thought.  Not exactly.  After watching a couple of YouTube videos we determined that we should paint the wall black before hanging the wood.  Back to Home Depot for more paint and then we begin.

Greg wanted to make sure every board had a smooth edge, so we ran them through the the joiner, a machine that takes small around of wood off of the outer edge of a board.  I wanted the design to look a certain way, so we laid all of the wood out on the garage floor in the pattern that looked best to me.  Greg would have been content with all gray wood, but I was not going for that.

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Beginning to lay our the pattern for the wood wall
While Greg was using the joiner I began painting the wall black.  Since nobody will see it my paint job was less than perfect, but served its purpose.  Basically, it hides the knots and holes in the wood from peaking through.  Once he was finished with the joining, I thought we would start slapping up the boards.  No such luck.  Greg meticulously measured and cut the boards for the bottom row.  He wanted to have three board, two board row combination but I convinced him that random lengths looks better.

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The wall is starting to come together
He was not happy that some of the boards were thicker than others, or that some were warped, very splintery or just plain ugly.  He originally wanted to run all of the boards through his planer so they would have a uniform thickness.  I helped pull a few boards through the planer, mumbling under my breath the entire time “how the hell is this rustic?” Eventually we came to a meeting of the minds and did it my way AND his way.  I was fine with him joining the edges of the boards, because that made him happy.  But I eventually put my foot down and said I like the imperfections with the various thickness of the boards.  He relented.  Together we cut boards to size.  I handed him the nail gun and any other requested tool.

For every row he used liquid nails, the nail gun and the level.  And chalk.  Why chalk you ask?  We needed chalk to mark the studs.  Greg has a stud finder but since he didn’t trust it completely, he had to nail into each presumed stud to ensure the stud finder was correct.

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Near the top of the arch we discovered the builder’s insert was not square, oh no!
I thought this job would take two days max.  It was closer to a week to completion.  I love how talented my husband is with his woodworking projects.  I am happy to give him my creative suggestions. But he can have the garage with the loud tools, splinters and sawdust everywhere.  I’m happy with my painting and giving him project design suggestions.

New Year, New Journey

Bucket list trip to Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

We are getting ready to take a trip that will cross off a couple of items on my bucket list.  Every since I was a young kid I have wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  I saw pictures in National Geographic magazine and knew that it was a place I had to visit.  When we started planning our latest journey we wanted to visit as many places on that side of the world as possible.  We will be visiting Singapore, several cities in Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand.We start our trip in an airplane, of course for twenty three and a half hours!  Assuming we survive that little jaunt, we spend the next five days exploring Singapore.  We then board the Azamara Journey  for an eighteen day cruise from Singapore to Sydney Australia with stops in Bali, Komodo Indonesia and six cities in Australia including the Great Barrier Reef.

For this trip we’re going on a new cruise line, Azamara  on a smaller ship of 650 passengers that is a destination driven cruise line.

In our marriage my husband, Greg is the planner. He’s the guy with the spread sheets, the budget guy, the analytical, logical one.  I’m the dreamer.  I am the flexible, creative, sensory seeking, impulsive one.  I guess that makes us a good combination.  We both love to travel and are eager to explore new places.

For this trip we will fly to Los Angeles today and get on Qatar  Airline for a sixteen and a half hours to Doha, Qatar and after a two hour layover we will get back on a plane taking us to Singapore.

Greg researched the price comparisons, the airline tickets and the cruises.  I looked for excursions that would provided us with a local perspective, unique experiences and maybe the opportunity to ride an elephant or hold a koala.

Jumping Into The Deep End

What do I do with the rest of my life? Figuring out how to do this next phase of my life.

We recently went to the Grand Canyon.  Its only a few hours from my home in Arizona but as often happens, you sometimes forget to explore what is in your own back yard.  When you consider that the Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world, it seems a shame that we haven’t been there in over a dozen years. On our way to the Grand Canyon we spent some time shopping and hiking in Sedona.  Sedona is a beautiful, magical place with soaring red rocks that’s only about ninety minutes from our house.  We had breakfast, hiked and took in the spectacular views.  Obviously we need to come hike here more often.

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Sedona’s Fay canyon

Seeing the Grand Canyon again makes you realize how insiginificant you are.  It also made me think about my life and what I want to leave when I am gone.  When I decided to retire one of the things that kept me from fully accepting the idea of retirement was acknowledge that I’m getting older.  I really do not accept my age.  Maybe that is the key to aging slower.  But the idea of being able to set my own schedule each day and make those days count is something that is weighing very heavily on me.

My husband has been retired for over eighteen months and he has figured out how to carve out his day to his satisfaction.  I am still a work in progress.   He is a woodworker who has rekindled his passion and found his inner creativity.  At the end of a week or so he has something tangible and beautiful to show for his work.

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My husband’s project

 

There are some terrific things about retirement.  Travel and time are the two most important ones to me. Time is both my friend and enemy.  Every day I consider a gift, but a gift that has an expectation that i will not waste it.  I have arrived at a time in my life where my value is still uncertain.  When I taught every day, I realized what value and difference I made in my own little corner of the world.  I would get hugs at the end of the day and I knew that I accomplished something important.

I need to look at retirement as a process, and not a destination.  I’m on this train and each desitination I stop at is up to me.  Not since I graduated college have I had so many opportunities open to me, but in reality I need to decide what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.  I’m grateful for the opportunity once again, but I don’t want to squander it.

I enjoy doing crafts, writing and photography but I’m not the artsy fartsy type.  I would much rather buy stuff at a craft fair than make a bunch of it.  I took a cookie decorating class with a friend and after three hours I had a dozen cookies.  It was enjoyable but if I had to make these for a living I would end up charging ten bucks a cookie and gain a hundred pounds. Next,  I thought I might take my dog to hospitals as a therapy dog, but he’s not that well behaved and pees when he’s stressed out, so I think that’s out. I don’t mind subbing in classrooms, but at the end of the day its only temporary.  I love spending time with children, and helping parents advocate for their children’s rights.  I think this is something that I can help others with but I haven’t figured out all of the details.  I love writing, and in some ways writing my blog is my voice, an outlet to the greater world.

Tick Tock the Traveling Clock Continues

The road trip continues to the final destination of the grandfather clock.

The first few days of our road trip to pick up a grandfather clock was filled with the sights and sounds of airboats, the cast of Disney world and the waves hitting the beaches in Florida.

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Now we need to get moving so we can get the clock home.  We traveled from Pensacola  beach, a beautiful beach that we couldn’t swin in due to the rip tides .  We traveled from Pensacola to New Orleans, Lousianna.  The trip took only about four hours.  We were very happy with the two bedroom craftsman Airbnb that we booked in the Garden District with friends.  New Orleans lives up to its big reputation as a party destination, complete with generous drinks and delicious local delicacies.  The Po’boys we devoured were from a local dive bar in the Irish Channel district called Parasols.  The dive bar had all the necessary ingredients, local clientele, no frills atmosphere and  delicious roast beef Poboys served since the 1950’s.  When we walked in and saw all of the regulars lined up at the bar we all knew we were at the right place.

We visited Burbon Street and enjoyed the rowdy atmosphere and activities but by our second day we wanted to enjoy some beignets and listen to some great music further down the French Quarter.  I loved all of the colorful houses and each Uber trip I felt compelled  to name the color of each gingerbread house we passed. “Look, periwinkle, sage, salmon, yellow!”  Once a preschool teacher, always a preschool teacher.

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A “celery” and White House

My friend and I were looking to have Tarot cards read for us, but we kept looking for a really “good one” and unfortunately we were never satisfied.  Not really sure what a “good” tarot card reader is but we both knew it should not involve an iPhone.

I can not say enough about the phenomenal music we were lucky enough to hear all along the French Quarter.  We were in NOLA for Southern Decadence, a gay pride event with music, parades, dancing and more.  Apparently New Orleans hosts hundreds of festivals celebrating the unique food, music and people that make it so fabulous.  We will definitely return to NOLA to spend some more time discovering the treasures of this wonderful city.

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Entertainment everywhere with lots of jazz
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Great times in NOLA with friends

We woke up early the next day to get a head start on the road to San Antonio. This was a  LONG leg of our journey.  Over 600 miles.  We had cappucino at a corner coffee shop and did not stop except for gas and bathroom breaks for the next nine hours.  We happily jumped out of the van, changed and went on to enjoy the River Walk in San Antonio.

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River Walk San Antonio

We were both getting tired of hotel rooms and maybe each other too, but the end was in sight.  The next morning we loaded the car once again and made our last push for home over 590 miles to Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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I may not have done any driving but I’m a pretty good navigator

Greg drove for over 2,800 miles with 48 hours behind the wheel.  Was it worth it?  Hell yeah.  We have this beautiful clock and the memories that travel imprints on you.

The clock is now safely home in our bedroom and it looks beautiful but I would be happy to not have any long road trips for a while.  And I didn’t do any of the driving.

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Greg’s grandfather clock in it’s new home

The Power of a Positive Perspective

How a positive perspective can change everything.

I have always looked at the world with rose-colored glasses. I can’t help but see the bright side of everything. I believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and in the future. I know in my heart tomorrow, it will be better. When I hear bad news I try to reframe it in my mind to better news.   Rain today means the lovely smell of creosote bushes and flowers tomorrow. I consider myself lucky, I have won numerous raffles, and even online contests. The reason I win is because I always buy the ticket! As Steve Forbert said, “You can not win if you do not play.”

When my youngest child was in the hospital, scheduled for open heart surgery I was sure that he was going to be alright. Thirty minutes before the surgery they discovered that he did not have the heart abnormality they had originally diagnosed, he went home that day.  I am grateful. I know I live a wonderful life with a man I love and three healthy, happy adult children. I think a positive outlook  can can alleviate so many worries. The glass is always half full to me.image

In contrast, my parents were children of The Great Depression. They both grew up without their mothers. My dad was definitely a glass half empty kind of guy. He not only believed that the glass was half empty, it was also teetering on the edge of the table ready to shatter in a million pieces and slice open a vein.  My mom had a rosier view of the world.  They loved traveling however, after a couple of plane crashes a friend asked my mom if she was afraid. “Why would I be afraid? If the plane crashed we would both die together, doing something we love.”  When she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the tears and there were lots of tears she said, “Well, you have to die of something.”

Today the State Department announced an advisory on travel to Europe due to concern  about terrorism.  I am not worried. I will not think twice about our two month long trip to Europe.  This is our dream trip. I look forward to the sights, the people, the food and the adventures we will have. I will not be dissuaded by warnings and fear. We intend to immerse ourselves in the cultures, to learn about our fellow human beings and to make some new friends.

We leave in four days. My thoughts are not of dying, they are of plane connections, new sights, shopping and the anticipation of something new.  Right now all I’m thinking about is comfortable shoes and how many things I can fit into a plastic bag for my allowed liquids. It is amazing the number of things you need to include: toothpaste, sunscreen, moisturizer, eye drops, hair products etc. I really don’t think it will all fit.

Greg has the travel spreadsheet which includes all the necessary information for the accommodations, passports, flights, tours and EVERYTHING we might need for the trip. I no longer need to worry about tickets or anything related to the “travel documents.” That is because about fifteen years ago when we were driving to LA for a  family cruise, I picked up a large manilla envelope labeled “TRAVEL DOCUMENTS” and threw it in the garage. My only thought was that it was on my seat and in the way. Four hours after we left the house Greg asked for the envelope.  I told him I didn’t think it was important so I left it in the garage. At that point, I was pretty sure Greg considered leaving me at the border of Arizona and California. Yes there was screaming. But the point of the story is, it has become a favorite family anecdote and we made the cruise. I do not dwell on the fact that he drove an extra eight hours, because I no longer have the burden of travel documents. My only concerns are about connecting to WIFI , snagging a blanket on the plane and keeping up with the Line Leader.

My biggest worry is whether or not my headphones will keep out the noise of the adorable crying baby that will likely be sitting next to me.