Happy Anniversary

Today my husband and I celebrate 29 years of marriage.

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WOW!

Where did the time go? We blended two families together-6 kids! We are now 11 grandchildren, 3 great-grand children, and a significant number of significant others (all whom I am  glad to say we love dearly).  It was a great deal of hard work and sacrifices along the way…

but let me go back 29 years…

After dating for almost 2 years, we decided to plan a vacation with the kids. After much research we chose a houseboat on Lake Mead in Nevada. It sounded like a great idea! By this time we knew we were going to get married and in fact had matching wedding bands made. It had come down to settling on the specifics of a wedding. Lake Mead, if you don’t know, it  just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada-and as you probably do know is a hot spot for weddings. It wasn’t much of a leap at this point to decide to elope and allow the houseboat, with all of the kids to be our honeymoon.

Without saying a word to anyone, we made a plan. We didn’t even tell the kids until we were enroute for fear they would not be able to keep such a big secret.  At the time we worked in real estate so the only person who knew was the printer who in advance of the wedding printed up my new business cards. It was how we would spread the word to our co-workers. We told the kids to be sure to pack one nice outfit but due to the rush of last minute preparations I did not follow up on their chosen wardrobe. As a result, we were a bit of a rag-tag looking group for the wedding which did not matter in the slightest.  I grabbed the newest dress I had which my sister had given me for my birthday the month before.

Needless to say, most of preparations for this trip were focused on the things we would need for 7 days on the houseboat. We purchased 56-6 packs of soda (okay, a bit of overkill and math isn’t my best subject anyway),  blow up tubing and toys for the lake, sunscreen, food, games, and all of the expected things one might need in the middle of a lake in the brutal desert in mid August.

As we made our way on the just under 4 hour drive to Las Vegas we announced to the kids of our pending nuptials.  At this early stage in our relationship we were in no way the idea of a blended family but they took the news rather well we thought.  Perhaps they were just anxious to get to the vacation on the lake.  Who knows. There were no cell phones in those days so no worry of them tipping anyone off.  We would make the appropriate calls to family after the ceremony.

When we arrived in Las Vegas,  I settled the kids into our two hotel rooms at the Landmark Hotel (we almost cried years later when this hotel was imploded). Thommmee made arrangements including a limo to pick us up and take us to a cute wedding chapel-the limo ride a real treat for the kids!  Our group somehow managed to pull ourselves together and before we knew it we were standing before a minister reciting our wedding vows . There was no Elvis look-a-like or any other corny theme (well, just my cheesy fake flower bouquet).

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It was just simply a beautiful moment.

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  We were soon off then to a buffet dinner in a hotel I cannot even remember.

With a whirl of activity and before we knew it, we were honeymooning on a lake in confined quarters with a group of kids. I couldn’t have asked for more perfect honeymoon!  The kids still talk about what a great trip it was.

29 years ago already and it has been a beautiful journey. Of course that is not to say it was always easy or even fun, but it was our journey . When people see us with our family now there is not usually a mention of a blended family. We don’t consider them your kids or my kids but our kids-our family.  We believe that God has blessed us and brought us to where we are today. We are grateful, we are thankful.

At 25 years we renewed our marriage vows.

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It only gets better!

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Happy Anniversary to the most amazing husband-my husband-my Thommmee. Here is to the next 29 years!

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The Great Date Adventure

You have heard young women say, “don’t hate me because I am beautiful?” Perhaps it is said tongue in cheek or as a joke or maybe because they really believe it-or maybe they are!  I have no idea. No, I am not beautiful. Today, I am asking you not to hate me because I have the most marvelous husband ever! People often ask me how I got so lucky to get ‘one of those’ or does he have a brother? Yes, he has four brothers, all taken. Yes, I am lucky. My theory is that after spending sixteen years married to the wrong man, God decided to bless me with the right one. All I can say is after twenty-seven years-he has only improved with time.  Please don’t hate me.

Marriage, like most relationships, takes work. We don’t take our good marriage for granted-we invest time and energy into it!  Not only do we find common interests, we have friends and outside  interests also. This helps keep us fresh and interesting (we hope) so, when our church offered a couples event, we decided to take part in-

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The event was arranged by Building Bridges, a local Christian Counseling Center.  Selecting a date in the city, desert, mountains, or beach, you were given an envelope with your location which included restaurants, sights, museums, parks, maps, and ideas in which you could work with. The packet  also had questions to be used throughout the day in order to connect and open conversation. Now I know many men might go running at the thought of having to open up and talk but it was actually fun-I promise!

We picked up our packet the night before and found a destination very familiar to us

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Huntington Beach, California

Although I was a bit disappointed at the particular beach that was selected (since our kids live in the area), we decided to just go with it and see what happened.  Bright and early that morning we set off on the familiar 45 minute drive. It  was a perfect morning and our first surprise of the day was this marvelous sunrise.

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Once arriving, breakfast was our first mission (especially since we were caffeine deprived). We immediately headed to the pier and on to a cute diner located at the end.

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It was early so we only passed a few fisherman and walkers.

The suffers were already out

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and it was a glorious morning on the water.

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We stopped to appreciate the early morning quiet and then…

Breakfast!

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It was so early we had the place to ourselves…

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…and picked a window seat to enjoy the unobstructed ocean view.

After breakfast we walked the shops and main street. Still early, most of the shops were closed.

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 We decided to sit in the sand for awhile and soak up the sun…

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…while we opened our packet of questions.

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The questions were non threatening like,  “What is the best piece of advice you have ever received” and ‘When did you realize you had fallen in love with me?” Fun but not deep enough to make a husband go running for the hills (or throw himself into the ocean)!!

Soon enough the stores opened so off we went. Since it was a date, Thommmee humored me while I tried on shoes at the Croc  shop.

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If you have never been in one of their stores or know much about Crocs, they offer so much more than  their signature clog. The shoes are so comfy and I needed a new pair of flip-flops anyway. I don’t know how it is in most places but in Southern California you can wear flip-flops most of the year! Oops…I  got so excited about the shoes, I digressed. Back to the date!

The Surf Museum was not open until noon but we did venture into a quaint little antique shop.

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A street faire and farmers market was setting up and we spent some time touring the vendors.

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Although the sun was out it was a bit chilly near the water.  We decided to drive  to Bolsa Chica Beach which is about 5 miles north of Huntington Beach. I had packed a light lunch. After a short (and chilly) lunch on the beach, we changed gears and drove up the coast to Long Beach. Parking at the marina (and staying in the car this time)

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we pulled out the lunch questions.

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The lunch questions were a bit different but still designed to spark conversation. We felt  questions like, ” If you didn’t have to work how would you spend your time?’ were directed at younger couples but we did our best to go along. By then we were ready to head home knowing that if we waited much longer the traffic would be horrible.  After we got home we kicked back for awhile then resumed our date with-you guessed it-a game of Scrabble on the patio while barbecuing ribs for dinner…

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 …and dinner questions.

The day ended with two tired but happy people.

On Sunday, there was a luncheon for the dating adventurers.  As I looked around the room at the other couples, I realized we were the oldest couple there. Instead of making me feel bad, I felt good that our marriage was important enough for us to continue to keep it alive and growing. The therapist who organized the dates was there. He talked about marriage and the commitment it takes from  both. After chatting with each other and listening to his encouragements and thoughts, he passed out (what he called) ‘A recreational enjoyment inventory’ to encourage couples to find interests that they might share together. It was quite an extensive list with things like canoeing, archery, watching sports events,  hiking, cards, coin collecting, and things I never would have thought of!

Even if you don’t have an opportunity for an organized adventure or even if you aren’t married-what I took away from this is that all relationships need a commitment. Friends will not remain friends for long if the relationship is one sided. Friendship takes time to cultivate and maintain. Parents and children need to keep their relationships growing as that child matures. Couples of all kinds need to put effort and commitment into their relationships. Finding new interests  can help create new relationships as well as strengthen old ones. I guess that can be said for blogging as well. We need to be interested in others if we want to support a growing and caring blogging community.

At the end of the day it could be said that

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We only get one chance at this!!!

Unsolicated Advice

I received a call from my daughter today. Actually we speak regularly so there was nothing special about the call. After some time, however, she was asking me about parenting, relationships, and growing wiser with age. As I offered some opinions and thoughts she asked me why didn’t I blog about these things instead of ‘oatmeal pancakes’ (my most recent post).

I explained to her that generally speaking, most people really aren’t interested in my opinions. There are many self-help books out there, mass media psychologists,  and that many people already have their minds made up anyway.  She disagreed with some of my reasoning. Well, yeah, sometimes my kids listen to me-in fact more since they have grown older! Perhaps that is one of the things I have become wiser about as I have aged-minding my own business!!

Mind Your Own Business!

Mind Your Own Business!

However, I thought about what she said and decided to throw some ‘free advice’ out there. These are the ideals I try to live by. I am, however, a work in progress (still after all of these years) so I am not saying I am always successful.

Thoughts on  parenting:

1. Love your children.

2. Spend time with your children.

3. Respect your children.

4. Listen to your children.

5. Don’t be afraid to discipline your children. They have friends-be a parent.

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Thoughts on relationships:

1. Love (or like as appropriate) the people you care about.

2. Cultivate and appreciate your relationships.

3. Respect the people in your life.

4. Respect yourself -you will have more to offer that way.

Respect

Life:

1. Care about people.

2. Be honest and have integrity.

3. Respect others-them, their property, their thoughts.

3. Love God.

4. Care about the world around us.

That’s it!

Oh…and it’s ok if you don’t want my advice.

I am going back to minding my own business now!