Thursday, January 31, 2013

Newborn Perfection.

So the last couple of weeks of my posts I wrote in advance and scheduled.  The current me hasn't posted for a few weeks.  I've been busy with my perfect new little baby boy :)

One of my lovely friends Alana Aston is a fabulous photographer (literally one of the best around, if not the best), and she took some beautiful newborn photos of our baby boy.  We haven't got them all yet, but she put a few sneak peeks on Facebook for us:

Just look at all that perfection!  

Newborns bring the most perfect little spirit of love into your home!  And it just grows the more you get to know them as you care for them and they grow and grow and grow!! 

Perfection :)

And he has 3 mothers - lucky boy ;)

We are loving being a new little family of 5 - it's been a lot of fun :)

Next week I'll be back - in fact, I've had a hilariously disastrous week that I can share with you - after all, if I don't write it down somewhere I'm bound to forget it, and what's the point of going through all that grief if I can't share it?!  ;) 


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Above the Clouds

I've been filming in Sydney a little bit of the last 2 weeks, and so have had the opportunity to take a couple of plane rides.  I enjoy flying. I've done a fair bit of it in my lifetime, but it never gets too old. I always (always) check-in online so I can get a window seat. I always open my eyes for the takeoff so I can look out the said window (this is of particular note when you've gotten up at 3am to make it onto the 5am flight). I always watch during the landing as well. But most of all, I love just how beautiful the world is up above the clouds. Sometimes I wish I could just float up there for a few minutes, just to feel the quiet that I sense exists when there are no airplanes around.

As anyone local (or anyone not so local who has a bunch of East Coast Australians in their Facebook feed) will know, we've been going through the batterings of ex-cyclone Oswald over here - and it's been a little crazy.  On Sunday afternoon, it was one of the biggest weather battles I've ever had to make it the 20 metres to my car in the car park after church.  The WIND and the pouring rain was inTENSE. I was doing battle with my umbrella and a box of Seminary supplies and my handbag and scriptures and car keys, and that WIND.  All in my high heels because my flats were too wet to wear from the storm battles of the day before!  And Monday morning when I was driving to work at 6am, I noticed only a couple of people out on the streets, and every single one of them had a poncho that was being so whipped by the wind and rain that it was practically a useless pile of plastic around their necks, and each of them were struggling to hold onto an umbrella that had blown backwards, Mary Poppins style.  Yes, every one of them had a blown out umbrella!

Anyway, on Tuesday morning, as I was driving to the airport at 4am, I noticed that I could see the stars and see the moon.  There were no clouds at all in the early morning sky; the storm was finally over.   And after a solid week of rain, it was kind of nice to be flying through the sunrise, up high above the clouds. The sunshine was just glorious, and as the flight went on, down below for as far as the eye could see, there were the most magnificent, fluffy, white blankets and fabulous clouds. The looked so strong and gentle and beautiful all at the same time and I just wanted to get out and walk up and down them and enjoy all of that peace. It was so evident that the hand of the divine was in that sight.

After an hour or so, the pilot announced that we would be landing shortly, and we started our descent. I always enjoy going through the cloud layer. It's just a tiny bit thrilling and scary since you can't see anything, and I find myself having a lot of faith in the instruments up in the cockpit and straining to see the image of the ground below as it emerges through the bottom of the cloud layer. It seemed to take longer than normal to get through the clouds though - the layers were really thick. And when we finally burst out through the bottom of them, I did a bit of a double take. It was so gloomy and rainy and windy and dark and cold! I had, of course, followed Oswald to Sydney.

It was probably just because I was tired and not thinking that clearly so early in the morning, but I was a little shocked!  And it reminded me of another time, a few years ago, when I had the similar experience of breaking from sunshine into unexpected doom and gloom as we came in to land on another flight. At the time, it got me thinking: I wonder how often I look up and see gloomy clouds, and rain and darkness, and I wonder how often I get to thinking that that's all there is? And I thought about how often the sun is streaming down gloriously, just on the other side of the clouds. I think sometimes clouds gather because of a difficult test or trial, and those storms are real and valid, and require a lot of faith and effort on our part. And there's not much we can do about them. I think sometimes I put the clouds there because of a bad attitude, or sin, or a general inclination to refuse to have hope.  And then of course I think there are the times that the cyclones of life just blow on in without giving us much choice in the matter.

Regardless, I continue to find it comforting to realize that no matter how dark the clouds might seem, the sun is still shining beautifully just above them. Ultimately, they'll dissipate - clouds always do - and the constant and brilliant sun will be visible again.

xo Tammy

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Motivation - Living Up To Your Potential

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke recently about regrets and identified these three common life regrets:

I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love

I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential   

I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier                                                                  

I agree with the quote from Mark Twain above, to some extent.  I can already see that it I will be disappointed at the end of my life if I refuse to accept the challenges to grow that I am offered along the way.  I need to say 'yes!' to life wherever I can and should.    

I also know that it can lead to a lot of heartache and regret if you 'throw off the bowlines' to sail away from what are actually the best parts of your life.  My father sailed away from his family to follow sirens that I think brought no lasting peace to him at the end.  He perhaps carried all three of these regrets.  

The truth is that exploring and discovering our best potential might usually and best occur in the quiet places of our homes, or in the unlit corners of the world, rather than on the high seas, where the forward movement of the ship may disguise our own standing still.  That's a decision we each have to make.

The best guideline I can think of as to how I should make my choices is to make them unselfishly.  I cannot imagine Mother Theresa or Spencer W. Kimball, or our Saviour having much to regret at their time of death.  I believe that realizing our true potential is more about helping others than anything else.  And I think that is the way to be truly happy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Love Australia!

Australia Day, the 26th January, commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788.  The second fleet followed in 1790, and the third in 1791.  Those first years were very hard and the colony very nearly failed. Australia back then was not for sissies.

I am very proud to be an Aussie :)

I even had an ancestor who came out on that First Fleet.  His name was Francis Garland.  He was one of a group of six men who committed highway robbery, stealing twelve yards of muslin and other goods valued at five pounds, for which crime he was sentenced to death in 1783.  This was reprieved to seven years transportation.  Francis was first sent to one of the infamous Thames hulks, then to a transport from which he soon escaped after a mutiny on board. Recaptured, he was again sentenced to death and again later reprieved, then sent to another hulk.  He was aged 23 at that time (and clearly having quite a bad year!).  His behaviour was 'troublesome at times' until he embarked on the Charlotte, on 11 March 1787, bound for the life of a convict in Australia.

The Charlotte was one of 11 ships in that first group sent out from England to populate the new colony.  Francis was one of 69 men and 20 women convicts on-board the Charlotte and was one of altogether just over 1,000 people (estimates vary from 1,010-1,400) on the combined ships of the First Fleet. That's really quite a distinction, isn't it? 

'SHIPS OF THE FIRST FLEET' - The Charlotte  by Eric McGraffin

I get a lump in my throat when I read 'My Country' by Dorothea Mackellar.  My heart brightens always at the sound of a kookaburra and the music of a didgeridoo reaches something deep inside me.   I love Vegemite.  I ride in the front seat of a taxi.  I grew up sunburnt and barefoot.  I love the beach and the coast, but it's the bush and the outback that call me home.

I was born in the South Australian desert, in a town called Woomera.   'My people' have been cocky's on the land, gold-diggers, sheep-shearers, pearl-divers, stood for Parliament, and fought in every war from the Boer War through both world wars, and in the war in Vietnam.  

One of my ancestors, Frederick Bedwell, escorted Napolean to St. Helena island, set fire to the American White House in the War of 1812, and served as First Mate to Philip Parker King on the Mermaid from 1818 - 1822, during King's surveys and navigation of Australia.  He also named Whitehaven Beach and many other landmarks around Australia, and has many named after him.

Lieutenant Commander Frederick Bedwell

Occasionally I will hear someone comment disparagingly about Australia or Australians in general, which always irks a bit. I can't speak for everyone in Australia, obviously.  But the Australians as I understand them have a persona that I enjoy so much: resilient, spunky, brave, generous, resourceful, honest, adventurous, cheeky, knowing, hospitable and humorous.  I love Australians!  I love Australia :)

I'm proud and very happy to be an Aussie.

My Country - by Dorothea Mackellar

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold -
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand -
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Cute Factor

James thinks I 'go easy' on the girls sometimes because I get 'smooed' (James' very own made up describing word for getting all gooey over their cuteness) by them.  

I stodgily protest this assessment, but I have to say, sometimes it's hard to overlook how perfect and gorgeous little children are, even when they're doing something awful or making a huge mess they know better than to make.  Sometimes I walk in and am very ready to bust out my very stern Mum persona, only to have them turn around and flash me the kind of smile that makes me stumble again over the fact that they are mine, and realise once more how incredibly blessed I am to have these two perfect, bright little lights in my life!!  (At this point I still bust out 'stern Mum' - she's just maybe slightly less stern... and quickly melts into 'cuddles Mum').

I believe the cute factor is a worldwide phenomenon, something that gets tots from all backgrounds, out of of trouble and into our arms in record timing.  And I think the more you know a little one, the better you love them, and we all know our children so well, through and through, that we understand each expression and movement and smile, which just makes us melt even more when their smile says, 'I love you!'.

The cuteness factor also makes faults completely invisible to people like Aunts and Grandparents.  For example, my niece Jacey is the walking definition of 'sweet', and I'm pretty sure the cuteness factor doesn't even need to apply to her, because she wouldn't be capable of doing anything mischievousness.   On the flip side, I have a hard time convincing my sisters or Mum that I've had a bad day, EVER, because they don't think my girls are capable of anything of the sort either!

Most of all, I think the cuteness factor has been working overtime on James for the past few years, and as much as he stodgily assures me their sweetness hasn't the slightest effect on him, the more he comes home from shopping trips toting pink ballerina dolls and hair accessories, the less I believe him.

Look at my poor Dad - 7 children and 7 grandchildren later, and we've got him 'wrapped' ;)

I think it makes the world a better place :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nine things a mother needs to share with her son.

I came across this article on LinkedIn a few days ago, and thought I'd save it for sharing today.  It was written by Naomi Simpson, and has been getting quite the response from people saying "my mother told me the same thing" and "I wish my mother had told me this"....
My teenage son is at home for the Australian summer holidays – and he is fast becoming a man. As I look at him I wonder what the world will be like for him as he chooses his life journey and his life’s work.
My job is almost finished, but it would be remiss of me if I did not share with him the important role he plays as a young man, in contributing to the world around him. How he conducts himself will determine his own happiness. 
His future is his... and it is for him to discover his purpose, his contribution and his path. Here are a few helpful hints I shared with my son to give him the best opportunity to live a fulfilled and happy life.
I share with you this letter to my son.
  1. To be ‘loving’ is to be ‘loveable’ – it is possible to be both strong and tender at the same time.
  2. Your masculine energy has been given to you to protect others and support them – don’t ever be a bully, but do defend yourself.
  3. Play sport, be fit, eat well and live a wholesome life – you don’t yet know but you have only been given ‘one’ body – don’t abuse it, you don’t get to trade it in when you wear it out.
  4. You set the tone in intimate relationships. Support and nurture the feminine energy around you. Like Yin and Yang, relationships need the strength of the masculine and the softness of the feminine.
  5. Allow yourself to trust in all relationships – don’t fear being hurt or hold yourself back because of this fear. Fully express yourself; be the man you know yourself to be, and if it does not work out it's okay.... it is better to be yourself and be loved for that, than hide in a relationship and ignore your true self.
  6. Don’t fear being alone. 'Like' yourself, know in your heart you are a good man – people are attracted to those who have self-belief.
  7. See the light side of everything – don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is a long, hard road if you are not having fun along the way. Set goals and celebrate your successes.
  8. Find what you have been put on the planet to do, how you can make a difference to others – Ask your self daily "how will I leave the planet a better place than when I arrived?"
  9. Treat every woman kindly – and treat her equally. Women can do everything you can do – they just might do it differently.
So... what do you think? Anything you think should be added?
xo Tammy

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday - The Monument


The Monument

Before He sent His children to earth
Gave each of them
A very carefully selected package
Of problems.
He promised, smiling,
Are yours alone. No one
Else may have the blessings
These problems will bring you.
And only you
Have the special talents and abilities
That will be needed
To make these problems
Your servants.
Now go down to your birth
And to your forgetfulness. Know that
I love you beyond measure.
These problems that I give you
Are a symbol of that love.
The monument you make of your life
With the help of your problems
Will be a symbol of your
Love for me,
Your Father.

Author:   Blaine M. Yorgason

Friday, January 18, 2013

I'm Feeling Blue... and Loving It!

We are building a new house.  This year.  If I ever get around to designing it!  Hopefully you'll hear more about that in the future when, .. I actually get something going.  If you don't hear, it might perhaps be tactful not to mention it...

Meanwhile, I enjoy collecting house/interesting photos to be inspired by.  This collection of photos is somewhat blue.

I really like the freshness of blue and white china - often called Delftware.  I also like these white painted window frames and white wall paneling.  The wooden shelf grounds it all beautifully and matches in nicely with the cane baskets.

The House That A-M Built

(I started collecting these pictures before I realised I should be keeping all the links I'm sorry.  Oops!)

French doors are one of my 'top of my wish list' items :)  (The house above in is Brisbane.)

I like this cobalt blue.  And hydrangeas, always.  And I like deep baseboards and the white dado and paneling.   (Don't love the coral, the patterned chair, or the basket cushion.)

This soft blue is pretty too..

Whoever said 'blue and green should never be seen'?  Did they never look outside?

Don't you love this apartment in Paris?  It seems so restful and elegant, with its light-coloured walls, extravagant paneling and high ceiling, and its crisp blue and white colour scheme with touches of pink and green.  I love the rounded shapes of the French provincial furniture - and again, I think the wooden floor and furniture ground all those light colours beautifully. Don't love that little coffee table perhaps. 

Blue and green look so fresh together!

This is one of my favourite-ever house photos.  I love the stonework, the white slip-covers, the black sea chest that grounds all the light colours.  These really beautiful blues - and the 'Something's Gotta Give' striped floor rug.  Of course I realise that there is hardly a house anywhere that does not look its best with the sea in the background - and I think that is probably why I love this room so much.  I wish I could ask our neighbour to paint their white roof blue, since we overlook it  ..  Probably not..  

Spode Fabric      
Spode has such beautiful blues.  I don't think you can get this fabric anymore.  I'd love some of it for cushion and chair covers.                                                                                                                                                                                                         


It seems that Delft-inspired creations are ubiquitous in 2013 .. 

29. carolina herrera bedroom patricia herrera jonathan becker

Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 8.28.21 PM

Sweet dress, but did you notice the hair?  I kind of love it!


Late Christmas present anyone?  I'm not sure about those tyres though..


Or these?  I like these.  Possibly I just love anything in cobalt-blue and white.


This wall-paper fooled me.  I think I could live with this in small doses..


These boots are kind of fabulous..


Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 8.21.09 PM


And back to the house, because we're never going to move in if I don't focus!

.. and loving it!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Spray Tan

As I have grown bigger and bigger this time pregnant, and the heat has kicked in, I wanted to buy some maternity togs so I felt comfortable swimming.  After checking out lots and lots, and 'eek'-ing over prices, I finally purchased a pair on my birthday :)  I was thrilled when they arrived in the post, but when I put them on, I surprisingly did NOT look as fabulous as the beautiful pregnant model who'd been wearing them on the internet!!  I sighed, put them away, and said to poor James that I just looked like a giant, white whale, absolutely ridiculous, and I never wanted to be seen in them.  The ever-helpful James, who would really appreciate some family beach time this Summer, promptly did some research, and paid for me to get a spray tan done!!

When James revealed the exciting gift to me, I was less than impressed!!  Firstly, I've only known a couple of people to get spray tans who actually liked the result (I distinctly remember a favourite Aunty on Facebook complaining that she looked like an 'Oompa Loompa' after getting hers done! - and hasn't EVERYBODY seen that episode of 'Friends' where Ross gets a spray tan and ends up back half white and front half orange?!), and secondly, I immediately became over-the-top pregnant+insecure about him 'needing' me to be tanned!!  James helplessly threw out a couple of 'No! - It's not for me! - You didn't want to wear your togs cause you said you were white!' and 'You don't have to get it done if you're not comfortable with it!' and a 'all the reviews of this tan said it was really natural and you won't go orange!', and backed right off.

After mulling it over for a couple of weeks I finally relented.  After all, this place specialised in tans, and James had already called the place and discussed the fact that I just wanted to not have white legs - but still look normal, and they had assured him that it would work fine.  Apparently also, you can scrub them off if you look awful (and look red and raw instead...).  This was also a great cheap deal (as far as spray tans go...).  I decided to get the tan on a weekend when I had absolutely nothing on, so if it all went wrong, I could sit my little Oompa Loompa self at home until I was nice and white again.

After James had booked me in, the first time I almost reneged was when I found out that spray tans barely last a week!!  All that money for less than a week?!  What?!!  But James (without pressure) reassured me that he was happy for me to get it done - his gift, great price, etc., and how long had I expected it to last anyway? (Um, like, forever!)

The second time I almost reneged, was when I found out that a person sprays the tan on you! - Not a machine!!!  What on earth was I supposed to wear?!  I was gigantic!! I didn't want some girl gawking at my giant belly making internal resolutions never to have babies while she sprayed 'tan' all over me!!   And what do you talk about?!  How incredibly awkward!!!  Their website assured me I could wear whatever I wanted to get the tan, and they even had 'disposable g-strings' and shower caps available...!!!!!!  Finally I went and got a new pair of big, black, boyleg knickers (does this 'tan' stuff stain?!!), and decided to wear the 1 strapless bra I had - from my year 12 formal.  Have you ever tried to wear a bra you wore back in high school, 10 years later, when you're almost 8 months pregnant?!  I was extremely impressed that I managed to get it done up!! - but let's be honest, it's not a great idea..!

On the way to the spray tan place (I made James drive me), I actually had a sick feeling in my stomach.  Obviously, I've not done the 'beauty' thing a whole lot.  My gorgeous friend Lizzie took me for my first pedicure about 5 years ago, and I nearly died, when the lady started 'filing my feet' - I collapsed into hopeless giggles for the rest of the 'ordeal', and couldn't wait to get another!! :)  I love pedicures.  I don't really 'do' hairdressers - been about 5 times in my life, and all but 1 of those ended in complete disaster.  Thank goodness James and I discovered the great DIY hair-cutting technique so I never have to go again!  But a spray tan was just totally out of my comfort zone, I felt like I was heading to some horrible ordeal!!

When we finally found the place, James dropped me off out front and went to park.  He and the girls would go for a walk until I called and said it was over.  I opened the door, into the tiniest beauty place, ever.  It was sooooo small!  A lady doing hair extensions on a girl had to move all her stuff and squeeze to the side so I could get past (I'm not in a 'small' way after all), and I practically bumped up against the tiny little desk-with-register-on-it as the girl manage to smile and keep a straight face as she asked "It's James, is it?" - bahahaha!!! - he'd also given them his birth date, but put a note on the order that it was actually for his wife :)  This calmed me down a little..  The girl showed me (after a 1 step walk) into the (little) tanning booth.  She hospitably showed me the disposable g-strings (just a big box of tiny looking little black parcels - is it one size fits all?!!!  Eek!), offered moisturiser for my hands, feet, knees and elbows (to help the tan 'stick'), and told me to get ready and give her a yell when I was ready.

I ignored the disposable goods, shakily got 'ready', and called 'yell'!  To the girl.  She came in, put some little spray thing that looked like what you use to spray and kill weeds in the garden together, and told me to stand in different positions while she sprayed me.  I apologised for my small bra, and she assured me that it was overly 'modest' - 'Most girls don't wear anything at all on top!'.. Oh.. no worries.  I decided not to discuss my lack of clothing/extreme modesty again.  She started asking about the baby and kept asking me to stand in all different funny ways, while she sprayed me, back and front.  After a few minutes she fiddled with and changed the little machine a little, then kept going.  After another couple of minutes, she asked 'Do you feel dry now?  Or do I need to blow dry a bit more?' OH - hadn't realised the last half she'd been blow drying me - was too nervous to notice we'd gone from spraying liquid on me to blowing wind at me.  I thought I was fine.  She told me to get dressed carefully, and she'd meet me 'out front'.  I tentatively got dressed, and ran (the 1 step) back to the front desk - stoked at how quickly I was getting out of there!  When I 'arrived', she asked me if I'd liked it!  Oh - hadn't actually looked in the mirror... she looked at me as if I were strange (I'm sure I was), gave me a 'how to care for your tan' card and I left.  James had just found a carpark and gotten out with the girls.  I gratefully went home.

I was meant to sleep in the tan, and wash it off in the morning.  When I woke up the next day, James rolled over, looked at me with considerable alarm, and said "I think you should get in the shower, right now".  Oh dear!  I was REALLY dark!!!!  I jumped in the shower and brown stuff poured off me!!  How dark was I going to be?!  But when I got out I was relieved to find I looked pretty normal, just with a nice 'glow', and I was even!!! :)  I was stoked and delighted!!  I kind of totally loved it!! :)  Over the next couple of days, I enjoyed my fabulous tan even more!  What a shame I had nowhere awesome to go!! :)  Mum and Dad dropped over on Sunday afternoon, and Mum kept saying that I looked great, and was 'glowing'.  I smiled and serenely thanked her - I hadn't mentioned the tan yet - she was my big test, and it passed! :)

About 5 days later I started to look diseased.  I was kind of peeling in places, and it was gross.  I got a flannel, and scrubbed the rest of it off.  What a shame they don't last for too long!!

Spray tan:  Possibly traumatic, but about 4 days of nice, subtle 'glow' before diseased look and necessary scrubbing :)  Disposable g-strings available.  Haha.  Would I do it again?  Not often, but definitely yes, for a special occasion!!  I'm totally broadening my horizons here - maybe I should get a facial sometime!!!

... who am I kidding?  Not on your life!  :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quietly Extraordinary

As anyone who follows this blog will know, Abby has been very pregnant for quite some time and last night - the baby boy arrived!  I won't give you any specifics (I'll leave it to Abby to fill you in), but with the birth on the horizon I've been thinking a little, recently, about childbirth and the incredible mothers in my life who have brought children into the world.

I have four sisters, a mother and many friends who've been down or are going doing this road (I have not, yet!), and I don't think I've really thought too much about the whole childbirth thing before - I mean, I've heard about the births in great detail, and been vitally interested and invested etc, but I don't think I've really stopped to think about just how huge a thing it is.  It's huge to me, that these remarkable women knowingly put themselves through such a physically and mentally traumatic experience with such determination.  Most of them are somewhere on the scale between nervous and terrified, but it's rarely acknowledged and there's no question in their minds that this is what they're willing to do in order to bring these beautiful babies into the world.

And that's huge, to me. It's a sacrifice that's often taken for granted because it's so common.  But it's no less extraordinary.  What an example of selfless love and service. 

So this is my ode to mothers everyone - You guys amaze me, and I think you're absolutely, fantastically, wonderful.

xo Tammy

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

10 Tips for a Happy Marriage

Marisa Tomei Bette Midler and Billy Crystal in Parental Guidance

(Excerpt from 'Parental Guidance' movie trailer:)

Marisa Tomei's character, speaking about her father (Billy Crystal), to her mother (Bette Midler):
"You always take his side!"

Bette Middler's character, in response:
" And for good reason.  Because after your kids grow up, your husband is the one who stays!" 

That cracked me up!  Because it is SO TRUE!

Thirty years on, our children have grown up and left.  My husband stayed. I am so glad!

(And yes, I know you can read that two ways.  I meant it the second way :)  These are some of my best tips for making it happen:

1.    Have a date night once a week.  Because even though babysitting can be a headache/difficult/expensive - there is a completely different feel between having the children with you, (even if they are all asleep!) and having it be just the two of you, on your own.  The way it was when you started.  The way it will be at the finish.  Think of it as practice for your ever after :)

2.    Touch base several times a day, every day, if at all possible.  My husband used to leave for work at about 6.30am, then call me at home every day at about 9am, after the school run, just to see how my morning had gone.  He would call again at lunchtime, then always again before he left to come home, to tell me he was on his way and to ask if I needed him to pick up anything on the way.  That was at least 3 phone calls every day, and often several more.  (Me: "I need you to talk me out of killing your children".  Him: "Oh-K...  What's happening? .. ")  I added up the cost of those calls once, and wondered if our tight budget at the time could afford the dollars we spent each year.  Fortunately, my husband was wiser than me and told me not to penny-pinch on this.  He was right.  Mostly it was me talking, but he got to share a bit of his day with me too.  I like to know that he lived through a lot of it all right there with me, and me with him :)  We still talk on the phone at least 3 times a day while he is at work.  (Ok, he is in his own business, which makes this easier.  But even when he was an employee, he checked with his boss to ask if it was ok for him to call  me during his breaks and they never minded.)

 Bette Midler in Parental Guidance Movie  Image #11

3.    Be polite.  It's such a simple thing:  Please...  Thank you...  Would you mind if..?  Would you prefer..?   After you..  I'm sorry..   Courtesy indicates consideration for one another.  It's a more pleasing, enjoyable way to live.  Thirty years together could seem a very long time without it!  This would include not shouting at one another.

4.    Be cheerful!  Smile :)  Make it a habit to be happy together.  Sometimes there will be reasons to be worried/sad/frustrated/unhappy - but save a smile for each other, even when you can't raise one for the rest of the world.

5.    Be affectionate.  Life gets busy.  But if you are in the same room together, or even passing each other, there will be opportunity and time for a light hand touch, a quick smile and wink, a bottom pat, touch on the face, or lean on his shoulder.   Feelings of love lead to affection, and it works back the other way too.  Flirt with each other a little.

6.    Forget the whole '50/50' deal, (ie  I'll speak nicely to you if you speak nicely to me, etc. ).  I don't think that works, and I think it's kind of an awful way to live: always bargaining and compromising. Better if both partners aim to give 100% all the time, no matter what the other person is managing.  Of course you'll have up and down times, but this way the bases are pretty well covered, even if only one or neither manages 100% on occasion.  I guess what I am really saying is: aim to be as completely unselfish as possible.

7.    'Never go to bed angry', is something we were advised before we got married.   And we never have.  But we have had some awfully, awfully late nights!  Still, I know that if I did go to bed angry I'd be the type to wake up even worse in the morning, having stewed in my own 'upset' juices all night.  A side benefit to making sure you sort things out before you go to bed, is that the later it gets and the more tired you become, the easier it is to say sorry and be forgiving, if only so you can go to sleep at last!  Good advice :)

8.    Sleep in the same bed.  We've had snoring issues, I've-got-the flu-and-you-might-catch-it issues, insomnia issues, etc., but we've always chosen to sleep in the same bed together.  I know that a lot of couples end up camping in a child's bedroom or on the lounge occasionally, but I'm glad that we never have.  For better or snoring/flu/insomnia: we are in this together!  (I know this isn't necessarily a huge deal, but I like the symbolism of it.)

9.    In our church we are taught to be wise with our money - but of course it's ultra-sensible advice for all couples.  We pay tithing; we are advised to avoid debt like the plague; (only borrowing money for a house, sometimes a car, and sometimes education); we're encouraged to devise a budget and stick to it; and learn to judge between wants and needs.  It's so true that if you spend $5 more than your income each week you will always be in trouble; if you spend $5 less than your income each week you will be ok - no matter what your income is, small or large.  Looking after your money wisely is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.  We've always done this.  Saves a LOT of worry and arguments.

10.    Liberally sprinkle your marriage all through with humour.  We argue sometimes - and sometimes it is even my fault. (Sorry, should have warned you to sit down for that one.)   But I usually get to the stage where I finally relent enough to tell him, (whether the argument is his fault or mine), that I am willing to accept his apology now.  He is nice enough to say that he is sorry then.  And I say sorry too.  And then we laugh at ourselves a bit.  Because we really are quite silly a lot of the time.  But we like it like that.  It keeps things fun.

Bette Milder and Billy Crystal

I asked my husband what tips he would give for a happy marriage.  He said, "I hate questions like that!"  I said, "I know, but what is your answer?"  "Play games, " he said.  "Games?  That's your tip for a happy marriage?"  "Yes.  Games are fun.  But it's better if we play something like Boggle or Yahtzee, because then you just always win, instead of when we play something like Monopoly, when you destroy me until I am ground into the dirt and have nothing left."    And that's how we roll :)

(You can see the whole movie trailer here.)