Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Archive for November, 2013

Happy Black Friday’s Eve

Happy Black Friday's Eve.

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Happy Black Friday’s Eve

You know that’s where we’re headed with all this, don’t you? It such a special time of year. A time for us all to take some quiet moments to remember when Black Friday and all his friends sat down with the Native Americans and shared all their coupons, discounts and loyalty points. Shoot. Now I’m getting choked up. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that!

We just have to get through this silly little Thanksgiving thing. What a nuisance. I’ll try to pass the time by telling you 10 things I’m grateful for today. This will read like poetry. It’s pretty deep:

Flats. My boss is like a glamorous rock star. Bling every darn day, and 3 inch high heels. I adore her. I used to try to be like her. Then I decided wearing high heels felt like attaching pinching crabs to my big, fat feet for 10 hours straight. Have you ever attached pinching crabs to your feet? Trust me, they hurt. They try to distract you from your work. I love you “Aerosoles”!

Aerosoles

Cafe Americano with heavy cream. Speaking of my adorable boss. She tried my Americano and almost spit it out on me. Well…isn’t she fancy? It isn’t sweet. It’s just creamy and delicious. So, she likes flashy, sweet things. I like comfortable, bitter things. I get it. I’m a regular ball of laughs.

cafe americano

Traveling. Money well spent. I like new scenery. I want to understand how other people live and appreciate that I inhabit just a blip of time on a tiny spec of the map.

My library card. As long as I have this little yellow card, I will never be bored. The most efficient and inexpensive way for me to travel. You see that mine has been put to good use.

library card

Walking my dog early in the morning. Every day. Without fail. In all weather. Folks blessed with a touch of ADD like me should be prescribed a daily morning walk with their dog. It’s both adventurous and calming.

Reggie poo

Color coordinated closet. Back to this ADD thing. I didn’t know when I was young that routine and organization are the antidote for ADD. My husband and daughter taught me this trick and it made my life better.

Female friendships. No offense guys (this is gonna hurt the feelings of the thousands possibly millions of men who read my blog. I apologize.) But, laughing/commiserating/spending time with women energizes me. I’m just not interested in telling a man that I don’t think my deodorant is working. No matter how much he wants to hear it.

friends

Writing. Do most people have something that interests them so much that when they do it, time passes unnoticed? If not, they should keep looking.

My family. Oh, hi you guys. You are cute, aren’t you? These crazy kids love the same things I do. They love a funny story and are always up for a game of basketball in the driveway. Won’t they be so excited when Scott and and I volunteer to be their college roommates? Partay!!! Fresh juices all night long BOIZZZ!!!

silly family

Faith(C’mon, you knew I was gonna say that.) I just like everything Jesus has to say about humility, materialism, suffering, work ethic and relationships. It transcends cultural constraints and the passage of time. It’s rock solid. Meaningful lives are built on that stuff.

And that’s my list. Now I want to hear yours, but I’ll let you have some turkey first.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Holiday Dread…I Mean, Cheer. Holiday Cheer.

Today I am holding the “World’s Worst Commercial Contest”. And the winner is…this one:

It was not nice of me to make you sit through that. I’m sorry. I saw this commercial the other day and it bad things to my brain.

I guess Walmart is okay. My mom and my daughter love going there. I’m not trying to be mean. But, I do admit to taking a preemptive ibuprofen any time I am forced to pull in to their parking lot. It is never a good experience for me.

Walmart in general is not my problem. Their marketing is my problem. I have been thinking about Christmas and wondering how I could pull it off again this year. I’m the guy in this commercial. We just want to drink some cider and listen to Christmas music. We just want a few days to hang out with family rather than work from before sun up until we drop in to bed at night. That’s all we want.

Then, you have that lady walk through the door with her awful bags. She’s there to remind us of all the extra things we have to put on our already unmanageable to-do list. She probably wants us to make homemade candy for our neighbors, send out 300 Christmas cards, set up a ceramic Christmas village inside and a nativity scene in our front yard. Then, just to make completely sure we are not just half-way annoyed, but all-the-way annoyed, she barks an order at her husband, “Go unload the car!”

Here is an aside. You should know that I’m totally pro-woman. I guess I’m just pro-people, actually. I’m no wilting violet. Strong women are my role models. But, am I the only one who has noticed that it is in vogue right now to portray women as bullies and men as their underlings in the media? “Hello, pendulum? You’ve swung too far!” It does not help our cause, is all I’m saying. But, now I’m totally in a place I did not mean to go.

What I wanted to say was that Christmas is out of hand. You know it is. I used to look forward to it so much when I was young. After Thanksgiving to Dec 24th took for-ev-er!!! Now, it feels like a trip to the bathroom would take longer than the time I have to prepare for the Holiday.

I told my kids the other day that I felt overwhelmed by Christmas. Eddie quickly responded, “Just don’t buy presents.” Do you realize how easy life would be if Eddie ran the world? We could all wear sweat pants to work, eat a sausage over the sink for dinner, drink out of the faucet, and then lay down on the kitchen floor and go to bed. Wake up, and repeat.

Well, Eddie does not run the world, Pinterest does. I like all the pretty lights, tasty treats and special traditions that are Christmas. I just don’t know how I’m going to make them happen.

This week I finally cleaned the entire jar of maple syrup that spilled and was super glued to the bottom of the fridge. That mess taunted me for a weeks before I could find time for it. When I did clean it, I was still in my work clothes, making supper, monitoring piano practice and signing a permission slip at the same time. I know my mom friends feel me on this. I’m not special. But, could someone please tell me where we are finding the hours for all of these grand Holiday preparations? You know, that whole blood from a turnip thing comes to mind.

Just because I don’t have time for all the fun stuff that is Christmas, doesn’t mean I don’t like it, I do. And, I feel like it’s my responsibility to create soft, cuddly Christmas memories for my family too.

Scott’s mom excelled with the Christmas memories. Tradition is her specialty. Her kids could take comfort in knowing they would enjoy the same special sights, sounds and tastes every year. They’re adults now, and she still finds a way to make their Christmas dreams come true. Last year she brought all their childhood Pro-wrestling figures to Christmas. She had been holding on to to them, waiting for just the right moment. This was the moment. She happily announced that they could take turns choosing the wrestlers so that they would be split fairly between all the children. It was a good thing she made them take turns too. Tantrums can really ruin the Holiday spirit. It was an early inheritance:

pro wrestling dolls

My mom made Christmas special too. She spread a little bit of money a long way and some how produced beautiful backdrops for our holiday fun. We didn’t have as many traditions as my husband’s family, but we had some. Like this elf:

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Did you think that was just an ordinary elf? Oh no, my friend. You were wrong. To my sisters and me, that guy is the symbol of Christmas fun. We entertained ourselves for hours by holding the tip of his cap and moving him up and down so that he looked like he was running. (Wait a minute. Exactly how poor were we?)

I know these Christmas memories are important. I want to make them for my family. I do. I really do. But, then I see little pine cone people with hand knitted Christmas hats that some mom made with her children, and I know I just can’t produce and direct that kind of Christmas. Actually, first I think to myself that people who find themselves knitting or shopping for pine cone clothes may need to check into finding some volunteer work or something. But, after that mean thought I go back to thinking that this holiday thing has me beat.

christmad decor

My family knows me pretty well by now. They know my limitations. They know that even on my very best, most creative and nurturing day I won’t be stringing popcorn or making ornaments out of peanut shells and paper clips. What I will commit to is a celebration of some sort. I know, I’m setting the bar really high.

I’ll buy a few (very few) gifts on line. We will spend some time with our church family retelling the story of the birth of the God we believe is our Savior. Then, we’ll go home and light a fire, play some ping pong and Trivial Pursuit, and eat some treats that Chef Costco prepared. We will laugh and enjoy being together and enjoy being outside of our normal, grinding routine. We’ll sit by our one small tree and we’ll open a present or two. That’s it. THAT, my friends, is the Christmas extravaganza that I can pull off this year. That is also a Christmas I will happen to enjoy. I hope my kids do too. I just don’t want them to look back and feel ripped off by the missing homemade pine cone village.

How to Make Zekaroni

On the way home from church this week our middle son, Zeke, said, “I’m never gonna be in Mom’s blog. I’m too boring.” He was being funny. We laughed.

It is true. Zeke is boring. Zeke is boring in a way that brings tears of joy and deep floods of gratitude to the deepest part of a parent’s heart and soul. We all know that life can feel random. Sometimes life will deliver to you a nice, swift karate chop to the neck. Other times, you give birth to a kid like Zeke. I could write a three page essay on what I love about Zeke, but that may be an annoying read to anyone he doesn’t call Grandma or Grandpa. And, I’m positive Zeke would never forgive me. He is a real pill when it comes to limelight. He doesn’t like it. I guess it’s just one more thing he inherited from a mother who blogs about her life every week. Chip off the ol’ block, that kid is.

Let’s focus on something practical instead. Zeke is learning to cook. This is what happens to a boy who is forced to offer almonds and hard boiled eggs to all his friends when they visit.

Zeke was born a picky eater. Over the years we have transitioned to eating only real food in our house. Zeke’s sacrifice has probably been the greatest. As a little guy, he was really passionate about his hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. We used to give him Pop Tarts for Christmas (really). Another of his favorites was Macaroni and Cheese on Sundays after church. Oh, does he mourn the loss of Mac and Cheese.

Too bad for Zeke, he is really logical. More than any one in our family, he wanted to know the science behind WHY we were making so many changes to our diet. He did a research paper on the subject for school. He is one of those people who is not good at trying to unknow something once he knows it. So, I guess he’s stuck.

As Zeke has foraged through cans of coconut milk, almond butter and unsweetened applesauce in our pantry, he keeps hoping to find something different. Something that actually tastes good, and is easy. Well, he’s given up on the easy part; he’s decided he’d better learn to cook. He recently recreated something that he says is ALMOST as good as Macaroni and Cheese. It’s gluten free Alfredo. We’re gonna call it “Zekaroni”.

If you’re still under the impression that a fat free diet will help you not be fat, then you won’t want to try this. It’s more for folks who are looking for something that tastes really good, but won’t be overly irritating to the gut. You would not want to eat this every day, but it sure makes a nice Sunday treat. The dish will always be different, depending on what you decide to throw in at the end.

The Alfredo sauce is based on a recipe my sister’s Mother-in-law, Judy Rahn, gave me many years ago. I just hollered my instructions to Zeke while I was in the other room, and he did the rest.

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Zekaroni

1 Box of Thai Rice Noodles (cook according to directions on package)
1 Stick of Organic Butter
1.5 cups of Organic Chicken Broth
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Basil
2 Tbs Tapioca Flour
1/2 Cup Organic Half and Half
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

*Whatever meat and vegetables you choose.

Directions

Put a large skillet on medium heat. Melt the butter. Add the chicken broth. Use a whisk to stir. Slowly sprinkle the Tapioca into the mixture. Stir constantly. Turn the heat up to medium-high and keep stirring until it boils.

When the liquid thickens, turn the heat down to low. Add salt and basil. Then, add Half and Half and Parmesan Cheese. Dump the cooked noodles in along with whatever else you’d like. Continue to heat and stir occasionally until everything is warm. Zeke added chopped turkey breast, organic mixed veggies, and some awesome chopped up, organic sausages we had from Costco. Nice touch, Zeke.

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10 Ways to Manage Stress

Have you noticed some people are comfortable with unsolved problems? They may be embroiled in a conflict or a preventable issue, and their solution is within arms reach, but they just won’t grab it. You know, solutions like, just say you’re sorry. Or, just stop driving so fast, and you won’t get any more speeding tickets. I know, I know, life isn’t always that simple. But, sometimes it is, we just decide to make it more complicated.

I don’t rest easy with unsolved problems. I have to at least TRY to find a solution. I’ve told you before, I’m not always that good at it, but the effort is definitely there. Lately, one of my biggest problems is stress. Do you know that caregivers are more likely to get diseases, and more likely to become depressed? The other day someone told me about a husband who’s wife was dying of cancer. The husband was stealing his wife’s prescription pain relievers for himself. I know, that is unbearably cruel and absurd. Who would do something like that?

That husband may have been a life long addict and a total jerk from the start. I don’t know. But, I couldn’t help wondering if his habit started with a need to escape the stress of worry and caring for someone who needed more than he felt capable of giving. That poor guy is a terrible problem solver, worse than me for sure.

So, back to the problem of stress. It’s real. I am totally convinced that people should NOT ignore their bodies’ response to unusually high amounts of stress for an extended period of time. If they do, that stress will manifest itself in physical illness, depression, or what appears to be a chronically bad personality. This stuff can’t be ignored.

This week I was in the middle of my work day, and I felt some sort of pressure building. I didn’t know what the exact problem was. I thought I may need a good cry, but I was exhausted too. Maybe I just needed a nap. At any rate, I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep working, and I contemplated taking the afternoon off as a sick day. I have not taken very many sick days in my working life, and the thought of doing so stressed me out even more.

Suddenly, I had the idea that I may need a massage. I have had about 10 massages in my lifetime. I like them a lot, but they are certainly not accounted for in the family budget; neither are long stays at mental institutions, so I thought I could splurge.

Problem. Solved. WOW!!!! I told the masseuse that I was under a lot of stress. Sick kid, blah, blah, blah. She said she knew how to help, and she did. She spent some time shaking my joints. I thought I might tell her that seemed a little weird, but when I went into a relaxed coma I thought I could just tell her later. Was she trying to improve circulation? I know that when you are in an extended crisis your body starts to feel locked up. So, I guess this joint shaking thing makes sense to me.

You and I both know that I really didn’t care what she was doing. She could have been throwing fairy dust in the air, waving the feather of a Dodo Bird over me and hopping around the table like a bunny as far as I’m concerned. I just care that it worked. When that massage was over, I felt renewed. I followed the massage up with drinking some peppermint tea and I felt like I could live to fight another day. I quickly made an appointment for Scott.

So, the massage makes it on to my list of ways to treat stress, but I need more. I need ideas that won’t take money or time that we do not have. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

1. Cut the caffeine. (I am only considering this nonsense because I’m in a crisis.) Stress = Adrenaline. Adrenaline = Being Alert. Being Alert = Not Sleeping. Not Sleeping = More Stress.

2. Talk. (or blog) I know some really tough folks. They don’t complain, and they’d rather die than cry. There’s a slim chance I may have even married someone like that. Life can be especially tough on these guys. They’re not always in touch with their emotions, so they might assume they don’t have them. They have them. And, for good mental health we all have to identify how we’re feeling and find a way to sort it out. If we don’t, there’s a decent chance our emotions will implode in a way that won’t be good for us, or the people we love. No one said we had to carry on and be all dramatic about it, you know.

3. Laugh. I have a friend who I adore who keeps sending me funny stuff on Facebook. Did God tell her to do that? That really helps. I do NOT have a sophisticated sense of humor, either. My humor is right on par with a 13 – 16 year old boy. Just ask my 13 and 16 year-old-sons. We typically laugh at the same things. Scott shakes his head sometimes and wonders what he got himself into with me. Here’s something very profound that will change your life. It’s 6 seconds. I’ve watched it no less than 80 times:

You get it? You thought it was going to be a sappy poem or something, and then it just turned into something absurd? Because the girl at the end is hideous…society is hideous, not you, she was laughing…just forget it.

4. Gratitude Prayers I like to pray when I walk in the morning. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I am asking God for something for the 8 bazillionth (real number) time, it stirs up more anxiety. Lately I have been spending my entire prayer just thanking God for every random thing that comes through my mind. I’m thanking him for legs that work, the sound of leaves crunching under my feet, my dogs soft fur, the cold air giving me energy. This gratitude prayer is a powerful tool. I’d put it right up there with massage and recommend to everyone.

5. Break a sweat (in theory). My family will bust me on this one. They’ve watched me go from training for half marathons to being a serious, dialed-in dog walker. I’ve gotten plenty of grief over this from the fitness crazed fiends who live with me. They say my leisurely strolls are not likely to get my heart rate cranking high enough. Could someone please tell them that my odds of winning a wrestling state title are pretty slim, so I don’t need to act like I’m training for one? Lately I have added some sprints in here and there, just to sweat a little. It does have a calming affect, and keeps the yahoos off my back.

6. Eat Real Food. You do NOT want me to start blathering on about this. I have bored my family and extended family to tears on this subject. But, the truth is that some where, some how, we have tricked ourselves into believing that it is okay to eat stuff that is not food. Do you know that we put chemicals in our food that are banned in other countries? I would not jam bananas in my gas tank and expect my car to operate. Why do I think I can fuel my body with things that were not made for it? Following Laws of nature = optimal living. Fake food stresses my body out. Right now I can only permit things in my life that increase my ability to endure successfully. So, fake food, you are out.

7. Detox

I know all sorts of things now that I didn’t used know. I know these things because I have experienced them. One thing I know is that detoxification is a real thing. And, it helps. I would like to take a moment now to explain what toxins are and the process by which they are detoxified throughout the homosapien form that is the molecular structure of the atom by which your cells produce. Okay. I made that up. I’m losing interest in my own blog post, and when I lose interest I get silly. When I get silly I start jackin’ around. Sorry. Here are two things I am using to help me relax, detox tea and detox baths:

detox bath

detox tea

8. Faith – Feeling like things happen for a reason is an important part of my stress management program.

9. Friends – The good kind. The kind that bail you out of jail and take care of your family when you’ve gone on another week long bender. The kind that support you and tell you that getting a tattoo of your puppy on your arm IS a great idea, and not to listen to anyone who would tell you otherwise. See? Bored. I’m jackin’ around again. Let’s get this list over with already.

What I mean is that good friends are an important part of reducing stress. Good friends are the ones who don’t keep track of who called last. It is relaxing to be in the presence of good friends. It should feel like no effort at all. I think I am blessed to only have good friends. I for sure have more than I deserve.

10. Music

I know I have friends with a wide variety of belief systems. I respect all my friends and their beliefs. Do you want to know the truth? I have no interest in trying to convince anyone of anything. That sounds stressful. Remember, I’m trying to stay away from stress? I really just want to tell an honest story. I have no power to do more than that. I’m sorry if I come off preachy sometimes. Thanks for sticking with me in spite of it.

Here is the preachy part. Did you know that God told us that we are designed for worship? Music is a form of worship. I don’t know how Scientists explain the hair standing up on the back of my neck when I hear certain music, or the peace that settles into my heart. Those are real things that happen to me. Certain music makes me feel close to God, and a lot of us need to feel close to God when we’re trying to navigate troubled waters. When this song comes on the radio, I have to close my eyes and worship. Unless I’m driving; that would be one way to LITERALLY put myself in God’s presence. When this song is over I have experienced a little renewal.

You’re a gem for making it through all that. These are my current strategies for keeping upright while carrying a load that feels too heavy. I would be very interested to hear about yours.

Body Image

Who here feels like they have arrived? Who feels like their body is in the best shape it’s ever been in, and that they would not change anything to it, even at no cost and with no effort? If that’s you, then I’m gonna have to be honest with you and let you know we can’t be friends anymore. No, not really. That’s not the way my mom taught me. We can be friends, but could you do me a big favor and just keep all that to yourself? Misery loves company, you know.

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image lately. I’ve been thinking that for a smart girl like me, I’ve been awfully dumb my whole life. I cannot remember a time in my life that I have thought that the body God gave me was adequate. I remember as a little girl, sitting between some petite friends in gym class. I looked down at all of our legs, and I didn’t like what I saw. My legs were bigger, and I thought they looked bad.

This is curious to me, because I don’t know where these thoughts came from. I lived in a house full of girls, but I don’t remember having conversations about people’s bodies. Unless it was like, “Is your body clean? Or, can you please get that body outside to rake leaves? Or, time to make your body go to bed. So, where does a little girl get the idea to assign adjectives to anatomy? I mean, I really thought my kidneys and my liver looked better than most people’s, but my arms, legs and stomach…I was sure those could all be better.

body image 003

My legs worked great. I killed at the standing broad jump, and those little guys took me wherever I wanted to go. Not a thing wrong with them. So why did I used to stand in front of the mirror and hate what I saw? I thought that my legs should definitely be smaller. And while we’re at it, why did I have to have arms shaped like lamb chops?

Well, I’m older now. I survived all that childhood angst. Now I know better. Or, at least I should. If we’ve been friends since I was 15, then you may know that I’m probably never gonna really surprise you in the body department. My shape and form have stayed relatively the same. Sure, I have all the weathering and battle scars of having babies and getting older, but those things will never see the light of day. Otherwise, I basically have what I started with as a teenager. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve been planning on losing 10 or 15 pounds. I have always thought that there would be some day soon that I would reveal that fitness model physique that is my “real” body. The body I have now is just temporary.

I’m 41 years old, and don’t you think I should know better? I was thinking that if I could harness all the mental energy I’ve wasted over the years on this illusion and dissatisfaction, I possibly could have cured cancer by now. I don’t think it’s just me either.

The other day I had a close friend tell another friend and me that she is much bigger than her sister, maybe 20 pounds. Soon after that conversation we saw our friend’s sister. Later, we both told our friend, “You do know that you and your sister are the same size, right? Like, exactly the same size. Tiny.” My friend was truly surprised to hear this. She said she always thought of herself as bigger than her sister. She admitted that she doesn’t think she’s ever had an accurate picture of herself in her own mind. When she said that, I wondered how many women actually do?

That conversation is just one of the reasons I’ve been thinking about this subject lately. The other reason is that I am watching my parents’ bodies succumb to age and frailty. My sisters and I have had a joke that my mom possesses magical powers. She could turn a piece of tin foil into a Halloween costume, a can of beans into a nice dinner for company and bed sheet into a prom dress. As an adult, when mom walked through your front door your vacation could officially begin. She would use her magical powers and your kids would be cared for and your house would be clean. She also possessed the magic powers to make me super lazy.

body image 002

I have a memory bank full of images that involve mom working, using her hands to serve others. Well, now my mom’s hands are swollen and stiff. They’re starting to curl a bit from arthritis, and sometimes they just won’t work for her at all.

And then you have Papa Bear, sharp and so much fun. Dad was always good at seeing and understanding what was happening. He would help you solve your problems, and he also was a fun maker. He had great ideas on where we should go and what would be fun to see. Well, he doesn’t see much any more. He lost his sight in one eye 15 years ago. Now the other eye is failing him too.

body image 001

I was out walking the other morning. It was cold and I was enjoying the quiet. I was thinking about my mom and dad. I was wondering what it would be like to live a life of gratitude. What if we could be consciously aware each minute of the day of each and every one of our blessings at all times? Like what if at this very moment I could think, thank you that my fingers work, so that I can type. Thank you for the education that I received that taught me to read and write what I’m typing. Thank you for an income that allows me to buy this cream I look forward to tasting in my coffee every morning. Thank you that my throat works, so that I can swallow this cream in my coffee. Hmmm…I don’t think our human nature makes this type of consciousness possible. Our nature tends to allow us only to be truly grateful for and appreciate our blessings when they are gone.

That doesn’t mean I can’t try. When you’ve been talking and praying to God for a long time, it gets easier to know when He’s trying to tell you something. I think He’s trying to tell me something through my parents. I think I’m supposed see mom’s precious hands that have worn themselves out caring for me all these years, and Dad’s beloved eyes that have watched over me and seen only the good in me, and I’m supposed to try to live a new kind of life of gratitude. I’m supposed to think of my parents’ body parts that have served them and me so well over the years, and be grateful in a new way for all my own working body parts.

If I were to lose the use of my legs today, I wonder if I would say, “Well, they were a lot bigger than I wanted them to be anyway.” Nope. I have a new mantra now. I love this body God gave me. It is exactly right.

Marriage

Do you think I give my husband a hard time? I was thinking that if you read my blog or Facebook posts you might be thinking I pick on him a little. Like, when I said he and Eddie were the world’s worst trick-or-treaters. (They are. I just can’t cover for them on that one any more.)

trick or treat

Or, the time I said Scott confessed he wasn’t handy. Or, when I said we’ve lived in our small town for 10 years and he still doesn’t know the name of the grocery store. Or, when I said the only thing he’s worse at than trick-or-treating, is being a nursemaid to me when I’m ill. Or, when I shared how he tried talking my daughter into using an old DVD case as a lunch box to save a few bucks. Or, how about when I told you he has been holding on to the clothes he wore in high school? He fully expected to get more use out of them when his kids were old enough to wear them. Turns out he was actually right about that one, all except for the “Guess” stone washed jeans. Maybe the grand kids will come through for him.

The truth is, I’m my husband’s number one fan. He actually has a lot of fans, because the deal with him is that if you know him, you like him. He is kind-hearted. He loves kids (all ages). He plays like a kid. He will always tell you the truth. He is quick to listen to your opinion, slow to share is own. He doesn’t cheat. He will admit when he’s wrong. If you ask him for help, he will give it to you. If you tell him a secret, he will keep it. If you walk out of a room, he won’t talk about you. If he told you he would do something and he did not do it, you need to know he’s dead. He will say things that make you laugh, but never in a loud attention-getting way. He will have one 20 dollar bill in his wallet for a month and not spend it, but if you need it, he will give it to you. He will never try to one-up you, and he won’t tell you any boring stories about what he or his children have accomplished. He will give you the benefit-of-doubt, and he will give you a second chance, more if you need them. He will be interested in and listen quietly to what you are telling him. He is bilingual and knows a lot about a lot. He tries to be better today than he was yesterday. He picks up litter in public places. He’s tough as nails, and he prays. Yeah, if those kind of guys seem a little sketchy to you, then I guess you wouldn’t like Scott.

I’ve asked myself how the young and goofy girl I once was, was smart enough to grab on to a guy like him. Maybe it was because he used to look like this:

marriage 011

You gotta admit, that guy right there looks like a bit of a gamble. Yes, my conservative parents may have had some reservations at first, based on his appearance alone.

Do you remember that movie, “Meet The Fockers”? One of my sisters called me on the way home from the theater after she watched that movie. She said, “Go to the theater right now. They just made a movie about Scott!”

It was not long though before my parents understood that their daughter had found one of the highest quality human beings a person could know. That’s when they told me, “Close the deal now, before he learns more about you.”

Have you heard some people say that the new theory is that humans weren’t meant to be monogamous? They say humans are part of the animal kingdom, and it is not realistic to expect animals to stay with the same mate for their whole lives. Why do they say that?

I know some marriages just end up painful and ridiculous. We’ve all been in or been touched by relationships like this. People die in car accidents too. It doesn’t mean I’m going to tell my kids when they get their license that they’re for sure going to die. How depressing, anyway. Maybe we should start having the clergy add this new theory to wedding vows: “Do you promise to love, honor and cherish, ’til death do you part?” Then, the Clergy person will look at everyone in attendance and say, “Like THAT’s going to happen!”

The only thing any of us can do is speak from our own experience. And I’m saying that from my experience I’m going to tell my kids that new theory is a pile of poo poo. Instead, I’ll give them a list of things I’ve learned that help make a long, happy marriage. This would be the list I’d give them today:

1. Choose the right person. If you don’t get this one right, all the points below are going to be a LOT harder. There’s a chance they may not even work.
2. For the love of Pete, do NOT lose your sense of humor. If you’re not laughing every day, then you’re taking yourself and life too seriously.
3. Skip the drama. Speak plainly and kindly when something is bothering you. Don’t be defensive when your spouse does the same. Don’t be bothered so easily. Forgive quickly. Skip the silent treatment. It’s manipulative.
4. You know how when you were dating and you wanted to look your best? Keep doing that.
5. Make friends and spend time with older couples good at marriage; friends who would like to see your marriage succeed too.
6. Respect each other. Respect yourself.
7. Develop common interests. Develop your own interests.
8. Listen to and be impressed with each other. Don’t interrupt.
9. Don’t yell. Don’t lecture. Discuss.
10. Everything in moderation. If you eat too much, drink too much, shop too much, play bejeweled too much, sleep too much, work too much, hunt too much, even hang out at church too much, or do anything else much more than you should, you’re going to fight about it. It may even end your marriage, which will at least free you up to marry whatever it is you love doing so much.
11. Develop your own spiritual lives. Selfishness and pride will be at the root of most of your fights. You were born with these traits. You need divine intervention to tame those beasts.
12.Pray for each other.

I look at pictures of Scott and me when we were married. Sure, we look like we are fresh out of Kindergarten; that does not change the fact that whatever love-struck spell we were put under was pretty fierce, and it was permanent. We have our share of ugly moments like everybody else, but it doesn’t take long before we forget why we were mad and become the President of each other’s fan club again.

marriage 008

This summer we finally made a little office for Scott at the back of our house. It’s a place for him to grade his papers and listen to all those people he likes to listen to blathering on endlessly about sports. This weekend I saw a big plaque on the kitchen counter. It was an award Scott was given at a conference he just attended. I had the great idea that we could pull all his other awards out and put them up in his new office.

When I mentioned this idea to Scott, he didn’t even let me finish my sentence. He said, “No.” He was very calm and nice. But, he said “No” in a way that you just knew this conversation was never going to happen again. What I knew he was really saying was, “Right now, or at no point in the future, will I EVER be okay with putting my awards on the wall. I don’t want to see them, and I definitely don’t want other people to see them.”

I for sure wouldn’t even tell you what those awards are; because even though Scott’s totally okay with me making jokes at his expense, he would consider that kind of bragging a betrayal. And this is just ONE of the reasons I think he is SO cool!

So, I’m sorry I made you sit through this gush fest, and I sure appreciate the fact that you’re still here. But, I felt the need to set the record straight. Because, there is very little chance that I’m going to be able to stop finding my husband humorous. And, it’s quite likely that I will continue to have a lot of fun at his expense. He just gives me too much material to ignore.

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