I Can’t Believe I Actually Did It, and I Think You Should Too!


There are things in your life that are within your comfort zone and then there are all the other things. You could almost imagine this as a box within a box, within a box, etc. There are the mundane everyday life things that would be in the most inner box and then everything else radiates out from there. Maybe in my second layer box I would have public speaking, but public speaking for you would be 7 box layers out.  Every time you go outside of your inner box, you grow a little. It is important to understand that not everything in life is comfortable or easy but when you go ahead with it and give it your all, you will definitely grow from the experience. In these last few years I have experienced so many life changes including, “Empty Nest,” syndrome and the inevitable marriage difficulties that come with it. I decided that it was important for me to grow as an individual in order to be successful in other areas of my life as well. This is why I will always without fail, say, “Change, no matter what, is always good.” Change causes growth because it is forcing you outside of that inner box.

I enjoy taking classes on anything new. I truly do love to learn. I am not very concentrated in my educational efforts and take on way too many new projects, but I still love the whole process. I have taken photography, oil painting, pottery, glass blowing, a mixed media art class, and am getting ready to start my archery class soon. These are all within the last year. Yes I have ADHD and can’t stick with one thing to save my life. But, I love it!

I have been really striving to try different, new things for the last few years. I went on a trip by myself all through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Well I didn’t go exactly alone. I had my 6 pound dog, Brutus with me. We took off without a particular destination in mind and had an incredible adventure. It still surprises me that I did it but, I had a blast and want to do another one this summer.


I also went with a girlfriend and climbed a 14,000 foot mountain in Yosemite National Park. I love adventure!

DSC03300 DSC03345

This all brings me to my latest, outside of my comfort zone, growing, activity…I decided to do a Boudoir Photo Session. I know the majority of women at my age (49), or any age for that matter, are sadly, not all that comfortable with their bodies. This includes me. I was a nervous wreck! I did some research, looked at photo samples, and checked out all of the area photographers. There was not one major defining reason for my choice. It just felt right. We have some amazing photographers in the area so the choices were endless. I went with Jennifer Mott Photography. I was drawn to her tasteful, classy style and I’m not going to lie, the fact that she is a woman.  www.jennifermott.com

For anyone who doesn’t know, a Boudoir Photo is a picture that is taken in a bedroom setting, and has a romantic, sexy feel to it. My kids all just died if they are reading this… It can be as innocent as a picture in your long sleeve, floor length nightgown or as racy as… well you can imagine. In my mind, it’s more suggestive than explicit. For my purposes, I revealed nothing more than I would feel comfortable revealing on a public beach or waterpark. Anyone who knows me, knows that I wear pretty conservative swim wear.

I honestly didn’t even know if I would ever show anyone. I really did this for me. I know my plan at the beginning was that it would be a Valentine’s Day gift for my husband but, to be perfectly honest, I had no idea if I would even order a single print.

My little adventure began with scheduling the session. I then started trolling the internet for my Boudoir session apparel. I found a website, with extremely reasonable pricing, incredible quality, and fast delivery. I ordered a few evening wear items, shoes that I cannot stand up in, and some very interesting nylons.  www.lovelywholesale.com  The time came for my session. The plan was to have some liquid courage before I went, but I had to drive there straight from work so that was not an option. I showed up frazzled, rambling, and nervous. Her studio is actually a historic home in Downtown Perrysburg. Each room is set up with a different type of session in mind. She does every genre of photography from babies to weddings to…Boudoir. She took me upstairs to one of the studio bedrooms and we discussed our game plan. She left the room so that I could change into my first of many outfits. We started with conservative and moved through to not so conservative. I drove the pace and the mood. I was never asked to do anything that made me uncomfortable and she was purely magical with putting me at ease. You get swept up in the moment and I actually had so much fun! It was liberating and is a great self-esteem booster. One thing you have to understand, photographers are masterful at having you stand, sit, or lay in a position that optimizes every one of your finer qualities, while disguising some of your lesser.

I did forget to mention one little hiccup. Remember the shoes that I mentioned earlier? Well, picture this: Me walking (please picture me skinny) across the bedroom in my very seductive costume, wearing 24 inch heels (approximately). OK, first of all, the term walking is over exaggerating. I was grasping at furniture while my ankles were wobbling to and fro. I hobbled across the room for a costume change while Jennifer waited in the hallway. Well of course my ankles buckled and I’m shocked I didn’t fracture something but, I did barely miss piercing my thigh with one of the 24 inch heels. I can’t imagine the horror of riding in an ambulance with the heel of my shoe impaled into the back of my thigh, while dressed in questionable attire. Needless to say, I crawled across the room to the chair and didn’t attempt walking again.

Now, all that I had to do was wait for the final product. She sent me the proofs online and I chose the shots that I wanted to have placed into a photo book. There were many options available for printing but somehow a life-size portrait of me scantily attired above the mantel just didn’t seem to be a good idea. When I first looked at the proofs I went through a series of reactions. First off, in my head during the session I looked like a supermodel because that’s how she made me feel. So my first hurdle was to face reality. I was a little freaked out. I’m not going to lie. But, you have to understand, I avoid full length mirrors unless I am fully dressed. I closed the site down and felt a little disappointed. I opened it up the next day and thought, “Wow! I can see a tiny glimpse of a supermodel in there somewhere.” I actually grew to feel comfortable with them and I’m not ashamed to admit, I believe that I look pretty good in them.  I did end up showing them to my husband and I think he is still trying to process what I actually did. This is very far outside of my inner box. This could possibly have been box layer 15. The two photos that I included are definitely not a complete product. I honestly have no problem showing the pictures to anyone who would ask because they truly are so tastefully done, but I didn’t want my children to have to suffer any more damage than they already have. These are not professionally cropped either. I just cropped them down for a quick sample.



Beczynski-14-web_edited-1 Beczynski-48-web_edited-1

To put your minds at ease, I did a quick interview with Jennifer to ask the most pressing questions that I had prior to my experience.

ROAG (Ramblings of a Grandma): What do you do to put a nervous woman at ease?
JM: (Jennifer Mott): Every woman is different, but most of the time just talking helps!

ROAG: Do you have any interesting or amusing stories that you would feel
comfortable sharing?

JM: I’ve had some really interesting inquiries since I started offering
boudoir sessions, including an escort who wanted pictures for her
agency’s website and a college student who needed full frontal (male)
pictures to submit to Playgirl.

ROAG: Have you ever or would you consider doing a couple’s boudoir shoot?
JM: I’ve seen these kind of images done beautifully, but I haven’t done a
couple’s session yet. I turned down a few requests just based on
instinct from the questions that were asked…I think I would be most
comfortable with a couple I already know, maybe a past wedding couple
because these images are so intimate.

ROAG: How do you determine the pace or the limits for each individual situation?
JM: Most sessions last about an hour or an hour and a half and result in a
good variety of images to choose from. The number of outfits or ideas
that the girls want to fit in gives me an idea of how much time I
should spend before we change things up.

ROAG: What would you do to put a woman at ease who is not completely
comfortable with her body?
JM: I’ve learned almost every woman has some areas of their body they
aren’t comfortable with. It usually comes up as we talk and I try to
make sure they know they look beautiful. Posing and posture makes a
huge difference! I love these sessions because they show women how
gorgeous they are!

ROAG: Anything else you would like to share in regards to a woman trying to
decide whether this is right for her?
JM: It’s fun, will boost your confidence, and your partner will love it!


I believe that this is something that every woman should experience. If you’re like me, the last pictures that were taken solely of you, were your senior pictures in high school. Of course we have the family portraits and wedding pictures and all of that but, this is a photography session that is just focused solely on making you look amazing. We all need to feel like a supermodel sometimes. Every woman needs to experience how empowering it is to embrace your feminine, sexy side. Now just imagine the looks on my great grandchildren’s faces when they stumble across this book!

Check Jennifer out and let her know Ramblings of a Grandma sent you!

A Man’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Valentine’s Day


Love is in the air! Can you smell it? Wait a minute. Is that  the smell of unrealistic expectations. Valentine’s Day can be amazing or nothing more than a Hallmark holiday that is stressful and makes most people look like unromantic jerks. But, it doesn’t matter.  It exists, therefore we must pay tribute. There are such high expectations and no real guideline of how to meet them. What does one buy for Valentine’s Day? It’s not a holiday like Christmas where you can buy clothes, electronics, or some type of physical gift. I personally feel that this should be a holiday where the gift is not purchased but created. I’m not talking about a set of pot holders you make on a loom. It is a time for thoughtful preparation and consideration. This is the time where you need to pull out every creative ounce of energy from your body and put together the most ridiculously amazing, Earth shattering, selfless romantic gesture to truly capture the essence of St. Valentine. How many people usually hit the mark on this? Frighteningly few! Not everyone has that creative gene and honestly for the most part it is the women with high expectations. Let’s face it, we make it very difficult for men to figure out that one perfect act of Valentine love. We are relatively simple to please. Men just need to figure out the Code.  The truth is, men and women both have the same code but it just varies in degrees. Here are a few basic rules to follow that will set you on the path to unscrambling the code.

Rule #1 Flowers are amazing, but only when they are unexpected.  This shows us that you were thinking about us at a time when you didn’t have to. So I say “No,” on Valentine’s Day.

Rule #2 Going out for dinner is a wonderful idea, when there are no televisions in the vicinity, and when it is an experience, not just a means to fill your stomach. Go to a fondue restaurant, or make a game of the evening by letting the roll of the dice or a draw of a card choose the path of your evening.


Rule #3 Turn your phone off and say, “I want to enjoy every minute of our evening and I don’t want anything to interrupt our time together,” is pretty much the most romantic, sexy thing you can say.

Rule #4 Staying home for dinner is wonderful if there are no little ones around and if you place a chair at the counter where we can watch, “You,” cook while you make sure our wine glass is full and you ask us, and listen, to questions like; Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What things do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime, or this year.  Nothing sexier than a man in the kitchen. Especially one who really is interested in what we have to say.

Rule #5 Prepare an evening laden with ambiance and thoughtful preparation. The pictures below are from a Date Night entitled, An Evening In Paradise that I did a month ago. You can get the gist.

DSC00201 DSC00199 DSC00168

Rule #6 The time and thought you put into a gift, or evening, means more than the gift itself. (See Rule #5)

Rule #7 Do not ask us what we would like to do or where we would like to go. To me that is the same as you saying, “Hey, I haven’t thought once about you in the last couple of weeks, so I don’t have anything planned. You pick so I don’t have to think about you right now either. (See Rule #6.) You could give us options. That shows us that you still thought about us but wanted to get our feedback. Here is a picture of a Create Your Own Date Night sheet that I came up with for my most recent Date Night.  I created it, and printed it out. My husband circled all of his options.

Create Your Own Date NightDSC00077 DSC00087_edited-1 DSC00051 DSC00055 DSC00047 DSC00058 DSC00064DSC00086 DSC00084DSC00113 DSC00116DSC00148DSC00150DSC00139DSC00129DSC00126   DSC00167


He chose an all day Date that included: Photography, Videography, Relaxation, Alcohol, Food, Drinking Games, No phones for three hours, Just us, Sporting attire, remaining indoors, Out on the town, and the theme he chose was, “Sports, Sports, and More Sports.” I had to work each of these items into the day while incorporating the overlying theme. He also had a write in option where we had to compliment each other every 15 minutes. We covered every one of them except we weren’t great at the complimenting thing, but every 15 minutes? We were very creative with our compliments though:-) We started the day at a place in West Bloomfield Township, MI called Play Golf 365, a year round virtual golfing facility that you can choose whatever course in the world you want to play on. You actually swing your clubs and hit the screen and it records everything. Then we went hunting, virtually of course at the same place. We had our own private room with a waitress who would come at the flip of a switch. Awesome! Next we headed to the Palace in Auburn Hills for a Detroit Pistons game and dinner. We came home and played beer/wine cooler pong to cover our drinking game portion. It was actually a fun challenge to fit everything in to the night. We have both decided that we want to do this again. Here is the link to the page that I created. Create Your Own Date Night

I have included a link to a new Create Your Own Valentine’s Date Night.   Create Your Own Valentine’s Date Night   Just click and it will take you to the Valentine’s Date Night. Feel free to print it out and your Valentine’s Day is taken care of for you. You just have to give the paper to your significant other a week before Valentine’s Day to make their choices. Then you have one week to put all of the pieces together and make it happen. This will work for a woman or a man.


So what is the code?  Time, thought, and interest. You put those ingredients into any gift or Date Night and you will always end up creating a wonderful night of memories. Love each other and make your loved one feel as if they are the most important thing in the world to you!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!


Christmas… Nailed it… Sort of

DSC00299 DSC00300 DSC00301 DSC00023 DSC00021 DSC00030 DSC00305 DSC00307

Well it’s official. I made myself absolutely insane for Christmas. What started out as a beautifully well planned, organized (in my head) holiday, became absolute chaos and mayhem. I am pretty proud of my different ideas for gifts, but I have to keep my mental health in mind next year. It wouldn’t be bad if I just had one crazy idea, but I had to throw several huge projects that made my life nuts!
It started with my husband and I choosing a family and creating our own rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas. We left presents on their porch that corresponded with the 12 Days and rang their doorbell/banged on their door and ran like crazy. This may or may not have resulted in me face planting in a snow drift… Running in the snow is a little more difficult than I remember. I also discovered that my husband did not have a normal childhood. He acted as if we were breaking and entering, and were in danger of being arrested each time we did this. I lived for ding-dong-ditching and toilet papering growing up. Maybe I’m the strange one… No it has to be him. Anyways, each night we left a poem that went along with that particular day of Christmas and a gift that correlated with it. The first day included a mild threat regarding their cooperation in not trying to catch us. We can’t run fast we discovered and needed time to run away, get in our car, start it and drive away. Only once did one of the kids actually see me, but I found out later the description was sketchy.:-) We revealed our names at the end but asked them not to rat us out so we could do this again next year for another family. Before anyone gets on their high horse, I know that the 12 Days actually begin on Christmas Day but for the sake of the kids, we thought ending it on Christmas Eve was a great way to lead up to the big day. Some of the poems were long so I will only include the first one, but if you would like to read them all, I will post them soon. I am including the gifts that we left also. Some of the gifts may not make sense without the poems but believe me they are all tied in.

Day 1 Poem
‘Twas the first day of Christmas and all through your house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
But, your front porch is quite the opposite,
Your sneaky friends have paid you a visit.

Tonight’s the first night of 12 and with each a gift given,
One ring of your doorbell, from friends with night vision,
From every night hence you will hear the bell ring
To signal the arrival of awesome Christmas bling.

The first night of Christmas calls for a partridge in a pear tree,
But partridges are tough to catch, you see.
So, how ‘ bout some yummy pears, instead of the bird.
They are going to be amazing, or so we have heard.

Now don’t be alarmed for truly good friends are these,
They have included some facts to put your mind at ease.
(I included several personal pieces of information in poetry form here so they would know it truly was someone they could trust)

Now beware of this warning – your friends will be here,
But you better not look, or they’ll disappear,
And then all your gifts that were carefully planned
On some other front porch will surprisingly land.

The list of gifts:
The 1st Day of Christmas
Partridge in a Pear Tree
We left a basket of pears

The 2nd Day of Christmas
Two Turtle Doves
A box of Dove chocolates and chocolate turtles

The 3rd Day of Christmas
Three French Hens
3 stuffed toy chicks wearing berets and holding French flags

The 4th Day of Christmas
Four Calling Birds
4 Frosted sugar cookies with birds talking on cell phones on top

The 5th Day of Christmas
Five Golden Rings
5 Ring Pops

The 6th Day of Christmas
Six Geese a Laying
6 Silly Putty eggs for the kids and 6 Geese a Laying Ale for the parents

The 7th Day of Christmas
Seven Swans A-swimming
7 Beanie Baby swans

The 8th Day of Christmas
Eight Maids A-milking
A gallon jug of ice cream

The 9th Day of Christmas
Nine Ladies Dancing
9 Pairs of socks

The 10th Day of Christmas
Ten Lords A-leaping
10 Toy parachute jumpers and 10 toy leaping frogs

The 11th Day of Christmas
Eleven Pipers Piping
11 Toy slide whistles

The 12th Day of Christmas
Twelve Drummers Drumming
A box of 12 Drumstick ice cream cones

This brings me to my next bright idea…In my head it was a great idea, and where everything took a very stressful turn.:-( I decided that one of the major gifts for each of my children (who are all grown and out on their own) and my parents would be the gift of food. I came up with a menu of 20 meals. I dragged my sister into this crazy scheme, so add in her children and now we are talking about 22 people that we were creating 20 meals for. No big deal. I set aside the Friday evening and the Saturday before Christmas to whip up these meals. Fortunately we own a restaurant that is only open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays so we were able to go there to prepare the meals. Five days later and cooking until 2:00am on 4 of them, I was close to a breakdown. I had a million things I needed to do but was completely tied to the restaurant. At some point we realized that we were preparing 440 meals. What the heck is wrong with me? There were a few moments that my sister and I were close to killing each other. We called each other some pretty creative names those late nights. I actually called her on Christmas to tell her that I didn’t hate her as much and she told me that she didn’t hate me as much either. On Christmas Eve our manager and our baker took pity on us and jumped in and helped until we got everything done. We finished at around 3:00 in the afternoon. Oh good, that gave me time to do some shopping because I hadn’t set foot in a store up to that point!!! The major presents were done. I just needed some fill in items.

My next crazy idea was to make some memories for my 89 year old mother. She doesn’t need any knick-knacks or clothes. The only thing that gives her joy in this world is the opportunity to spend time with family. So, I asked my children and my sisters’ children to come up with a Date Night for their grandmother. Each of them were more than happy to do this and were very creative in their choices. My sister and I filled in the rest. I spread them out over the next 6 months so she will have 2 Date Nights each month with a different grandchild, my sister, or myself. She has 12 envelopes and she gets to open 2 a month to find out her Dates. She was ecstatic. Her first Date Night was, Movie Marathon. We saw 3  movies and had dinner. She also received the meals that we had prepared.

My last idea was to give each of my children, and their significant others, a short, surprisingly inexpensive train or airplane trip to either Chicago or New York, depending on their tastes. I reserved hotel rooms as well for them. This was their favorite gift I believe.:-)

The changes this year meant only a few presents to open. This was a huge adjustment for me. I felt bad each Christmas if I didn’t have a mountain of presents for each child.  I am trying to make it so every gift is meaningful, creates memories or is a service gift from me. I wasn’t sure how they were going to be received but, I truly felt that each of the recipients was extremely happy with their gifts this year. I really feel that I was successful with my goal of having a (semi) non-materialistic Christmas. I just need to figure out how to do it without sending myself to the hospital. And I still need to take it down a few notches to go 100% non-materialistic. I’m still a work in progress.

New Year’s Resolution: Work on time management and self-control!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Follow me on my Facebook page

Here are a couple of sites where I found some of the ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas;  The 12 Days of Christmas, a Ring and Run,  My Favorite Christmas Tradition, and  The Dating Divas 12 Days of Christmas for Printables.


Giving the Gift of Memories

After spending an entire lifetime of stressful Christmas’ and struggling to make sure I found the perfect gifts for all of the people on my list, I finally have given up. But, in a good way.  My children are all adults.  They are for the most part done with college and settled into their own respective careers. Do they really need socks, shirts, gift cards or electronics from me? No. If they need something they buy it or I do on one of many shopping trips throughout the year when I see that perfect something. I can’t hold off until Christmas. If they need it, or can use it, they get it right away. I’m not the most patient person. This new Christmas attitude started with my mother several years ago. My mom is 89 years old. There is very little that she needs other than day to day items and the company of her family. We started taking her places, usually a casino for an overnight stay and dinner. She just wants our time and we just want to build memories that we can hold on to forever.

This whole concept has eventually transferred itself onto my children and my husband. Through the Date Nights I have done with my husband over the last year and a half, I have come to the realization that doing a service for someone or making memories with someone is so much bigger and lasts so much longer than any sweater ever will. We made the switch with our kids last year. I bought plane tickets, theater tickets, and hotel rooms. Everyone was sent on a trip. I sent my husband with my youngest son to see their favorite 2 basketball teams play each other in Florida. I went with my daughter and oldest son to New York for a Broadway play and shopping. Yes, of course I made sure I got to be a part of it.  Now for all of you who are thinking that these are extravagant gifts that would be difficult for a family to afford. I am really good at watching and waiting for airline ticket sales and the same with hotels (www.spirit.com, www.travelocity.com, www.groupon.com are just a few of many great websites.) You just have to be vigilant at checking prices and your email every day. The tickets for the events are a little more difficult to come by cheaply. But, I still spent the same altogether that I would have on an average Christmas. Now this still may be too extravagant. These things can be done on a much smaller scale as well. It’s all a matter of giving memories instead of presents.

Now, I know that many of you have smaller children. And, I’m sure the idea of them racing out on Christmas morning to find one small box with a piece of paper explaining that they are going on a trip in 2 months will not go over well. But, remember that the Christmas excitement will wear off after the first 20 presents are opened and they will be lost in the blur of plastic, color, and sound. And you haven’t even gone to Grandma’s yet!! That’s where the whole giving memories idea comes in. Tell your child they may ask for 3 or 4 gifts each year from Santa or you, depending on how things work in your household. Then tell them that you will be creating memories and that will be your gift. Then after they think you’re totally crazy, tell them that they will understand on Christmas morning.  I guarantee you they will eventually begin to highly anticipate your gift over the “toys,” that they will open. Toys, clothes, and all other material things become less exciting after they are received. It’s all about the anticipation. The toys will be forgotten but planning for that fun weekend a little later down the road will be something they have to dream about for days to come. I recently read an amazing article written by Christella Morris, a fellow blogger. Her article was featured in the Huffington post. She actually asked all of her extended family members to stop buying gifts for her children because they already have everything they need. She asked them to instead make memories with her children. Take them to a movie. Spend a few hours at the Park. Arrange a “Date,” where they would sit and play games with them. She pointed out that so many times our children lose touch of our extended family and what better way to make, keep, and build those connections.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christella-morris/the-gift-of-not-giving-a-thing_b_4236040.html

It doesn’t have to be a trip. It can be Family Date Nights that are planned ahead of time and sealed in envelopes to be opened at the beginning of each month for a year. That’s something for them to look forward to the entire year. These can be as expensive or inexpensive as you like.  If you look back through the Date Nights that I have posted in the past, you will find that most of them can be altered into a family night; Slumber Party, Progressive Dinner, Drive In Theater, Backyard Camp Out, Photo Scavenger Hunt, etc. All of these can be found in my blog history. You can also Google, Family Date Nights and a ton of ideas come up. (www.thedatingdivas.com is a great site for regular, or family Date Nights.)

Another idea is to have your family start a new tradition. Teach them about the importance of giving, and do a service project. Adopt a family for Christmas. Work in a soup kitchen on Christmas Eve. Tell them that they may ask for 4 things for Christmas. 3 things for themselves and one for a child in need. On December 14, 1982 an article entitled “My Most Moving Holiday Tradition,” won first place out of thousands of entries in Woman’s Day magazine.  The woman in this entry talked about her husband who really disliked the commercialism of Christmas. She came up with an inspirational plan that became her gift to him for that Christmas and every one after. It’s a beautiful, moving story that I don’t want to spoil so click on the link to find out what happens… after you finish reading my post of course!

Now for your spouse you can make things a little more interesting. Hand your significant other a small plastic container with 18 small folded up pieces of paper in it. Then hand them another container with 18 more pieces of paper in it and tell them that the first container holds 18 fantasies that you have written down on those little pieces of paper. Now explain that you need him or her to write down 18 of his or her fantasies and fold them and put them in their container. After they are done, reach in without peeking and pull out one of their fantasies. Tell him or her that you have 2 weeks to make it happen. When you have completed your task, they will get to take a fantasy from your container. They will then also have 2 weeks to complete it.  This will go on and should last the whole year. However you carry them out will be up to you but, it would be best to set some ground rules first. Nothing could ruin this faster than somebody being a little too freaky with their fantasies. Make them fun and spicy but keep in mind each other’s’ limitations and reservations. This is supposed to be fun, not terrifying. Unless you’re into that kind of thing, then have at it!

You could also create fantasy nights for your spouse by making non-traditional coupons that you will have to follow through on. These should be scheduled immediately so they actually feel as if they are a gift. When you are gifting this to your spouse give them a coupon that promises to go and do that thing that you hate doing but they would love to have you do: A baseball game, bar hopping, a play, a movie, a night of being a “HAPPY,” designated driver, etc. You could also give one that lets them invite all of their friends over for a football game, poker night, Bunco, game night, etc., and you will “HAPPILY,” act as waitress/waiter for the event. It’s all about sacrificing and doing something that you know would mean the world to them that you normally would NEVER do, and did I mention happily?? It’s one night. You will survive it, I promise! Suck it up!

In the end, memories are all you really have. You won’t remember that sweater, video game, pair of socks, etc. You will remember that great night, or weekend, or week with your loved ones. Go out and make some memories!!!

The Gift of Dating


I know I have talked quite a bit about the Date Nights that I have created, but sometimes I know I make them ridiculously difficult and time consuming. I want to help you put together a Date Night Package to give as a Christmas gift to your significant other or to a newly married couple without a great deal of effort or expense. This works great as a wedding gift as well. I have included the plans to create 12 wonderful Date Nights (1 for each month). I will explain the packaging at the end but will start with the actual Dates themselves.

1. Progressive Dinner – Purchase a block, dice, or cube from a craft store that has nothing on it. Write 6 different restaurants in close proximity on the sides of the cube. Roll the dice to determine where you go for drinks, appetizers, entrée, and dessert. Make sure to put something like McDonalds in there to make it interesting. The expense depends on the choices you write down. You could also limit this to 3 choices. If this were a gift to another couple, I would include the dice and a wipe off marker so this can be done again and again. You could also include some gift cards to different area restaurants. Once again the cost is determined by you.

2. Dinner in a Surprise Location – Choose someplace that you would enjoy, or someplace that is just very unusual. I did this on the rooftop of a building. You could choose; a park, your backyard, your front yard, by a beautiful lake, at sunset on the top of a hill, on your own rooftop…etc. It’s all about what you put into the presentation. Make sure you have a table cloth, candles, music, dinnerware, lights, the food itself and/or drinks. Make a wonderful dinner or order carry out and just present it on China or your best tableware. If this is a gift, include a gift card or a promise that you will make the meal or even set it up.

3. Re-enact your first Date – Do exactly the same things and go the same places that you did on your first date. If possible, try to replicate your clothing. Discuss that first date and what your first thoughts/impressions were. If this is a gift, you could ask the couple where their first date was and get a gift card and/or make up an itinerary on a card for them to follow matching the events of their first date.

4. Slumber Party – Rent some movies, grab some snacks, pull out those old board games, put down a bunch of pillows and/or sleeping bags in your living room and have a good old fashioned slumber party. Don’t forget the pizza. Try to stay up all night…or don’t, which sounds a whole lot better. But that’s me. If this is a gift, you could put some DVD’s or gift cards to a video store, playing cards and snacks in a popcorn tub.

5. Photo Scavenger Hunt – Come up with 20 fun photo captions, such as; that’s going to hurt, you really are getting way too old for that, my new best friend, etc. Spend the evening going all over town taking pictures to match the captions. Print them out and make an album or put them on Facebook or Instagram. For a gift, you could just supply the captions.

6. Spa Night – Pull out all of those lotions and foot scrubs that you’ve gotten as gifts over the years and put them to good use. Take turns using the products on each other. Make sure to have some nuts, fruits, cheeses, chocolates and wine.  I would start by working the hair conditioner into each other’s hair and leave on for at least a half hour.  Apply the exfoliation scrub all over each other. Carefully jump in the shower and rinse off keeping in mind there is oil in the scrub so don’t actually jump. Do not rinse your hair yet. Dry off completely and paint each other with the mud. Leave on for about 10 minutes and then shower again, this time rinse your hair out. Dry off and use your scented oils or lotions to give each other massages. The rest of the evening is up to you. You will want to have:

*A painter’s drop cloth or a giant sheet of plastic

* Exfoliation scrub – (enough for 2) 2 cups of sugar, and enough olive oil to make a paste. You can also add a couple of drops of scented oil to this.

* Hair conditioner – (enough for 2) 1 cup of orange juice, a half cup of olive oil, and 4 whole eggs,

* Mud – (The spa kind, not the backyard kind) I have not been able so far to find an easy, inexpensive DIY recipe for this (Let me know if you know of one) so you can either purchase it or skip it, although it is an awful lot of fun to paint on one another.

* Scented Oils

* Candles

* Soft relaxing music.

* An uncluttered room close to the bathroom

As a gift you could type up the directions, include the homemade scrub and conditioner in mason jars, candles, scented oils and maybe a plastic drop cloth.

7. Drive in Movie Theater – In your backyard, set up comfy furniture, or put an inflatable mattress in the back of a pickup or a van, hook up a dvd player to a projector and hang a white sheet or project onto a white wall outside. Serve concession stand foods and snacks. Don’t forget the popcorn. If you don’t have a projector, the local rental centers usually have them and they are relatively inexpensive. Ask around, you would be surprised by how many people have them. As a gift, purchase a couple DVD’s, popcorn/snack basket, a rental center gift card, or the promise to set this up for them.

8. Wine Tasting Party – Invite a few other couples over and have them bring a bottle of their favorite wine and a snack to go with it. Have them cover their bottle so that the label cannot be seen. As people arrive place a number on each of the bottles. Give everyone a rating sheet and have them sample all of the bottles of wine and vote for their favorites but tell them they can’t vote on their own. Have a bottle of wine, wine glasses or wine charms for the winning couple. As a gift, purchase number stickers and paper bags for the wine bottles, and a bottle of wine for the winners.

9. A Night in Italy (France, Japan, etc.)  – Plan and prepare a meal all the way down to the dessert and drinks, based on the country that you have chosen. Try something you’ve never tried before. Create menus for the evening. Complete the dining area with culturally appropriate decorations. Play music from that country. You could also ask a friend to be your waiter/waitress and serve you and then quietly slip out the back. As a gift you could offer to be the server, choose the country/meal for them and include decorations, music, wine, etc.

10. Camp Out With or Without the Camping – Have your partner meet you out back where you have a nice little fire going. You could set up a tent or not. Have hot dogs, or pie irons and either make pizza pies or roast hot dogs over the fire for your dinner, along with other snacks that you’ve prepared ahead of time. Finish the meal off with gourmet S’mores- Use the typical graham crackers and marshmallow but add sliced fruits or different types of chocolate bars such as a peanut butter cup or chocolate with nuts or toffee.  Play some music and break out some wine. Sit around the fire and stare at the stars, or into each other’s eyes. For a gift, you could buy a pie iron and some marshmallow skewers along with directions for the evening.

11. Room Service and Champagne – Reserve a hotel room for a night. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Some of the nicest hotels have rooms at reasonable prices if you go to Hotels.com, Lastminutehotels.com, Groupon.com or any hotel booking site. Pack clothes and bathing suits for yourself and your significant other. Prepare a meal, or order one that you can pick up on your way. Send your significant other a message, or sneakily leave them a note on their car at work telling them a particular address or location to drive to (not the hotel address). Tell them to text/call you when they get there. Give them another 2 or 3 locations to drive to, all leading them to where you are. If you give them the exact address too quickly they may figure it out. Have the meal, candles, champagne and yourself waiting for his/her arrival. Eat, enjoy the hot tub or pool, watch a movie,… I guess I really don’t have to tell you what to do once you get there… J

12. TP Your Friends – Dress up in all black. Get some cheap toilet paper and go to a few different friends’ houses and TP them. Forking their yard is another fun, harmless prank. Basically it’s buying plastic forks and pushing them into the ground with the prongs up all over their yard. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s just a blast to be a kid again! For a gift, buy some toilet paper, or forks and black stocking caps or masks.

I hope some of these ideas would work for you. I have to really search quite a bit to find one that hits home for us so I can’t imagine that all of these would be perfect for everyone. Keep in mind these are suggestions. Replace some of them with something different or alter them to match your style. There are so many great websites out there with incredible ideas for Date Nights. (pinterest.com, thedatingdivas.com, etc.)

As far as the packaging of these Dates, I have tried 2 different routes so far. I have put all of the dates into envelopes and labeled them with the proper month (to meet the weather requirements) and had my husband open them on the first of every month. And most recently I have created scratch off tickets using tickets that I created on my computer. I used card stock paper. I typed in the Date Nights in a certain area on the cards, colored heavily over that area with white crayon and then painted over the top of that with a mixture of 2 parts dish soap and one part acrylic paint. It took a few coats to really cover nicely. My husband scratches off a card each month. I wrote the weather/time requirements on the front of each card so he chooses accordingly. If this was a gift for someone else and you needed to have all the material at one time to present, You could have several small boxes with scratch off tickets or envelopes attached to them that they would have to wait to open until the beginning of each new month.

If you end up using any or hopefully all of these Date Nights please send me pictures that I could post or even just a note letting me know how they worked out. If you alter them in any way that’s great information to share as well. I’m always excited to get new ideas. Thanks so much for reading and please make sure to continue dating your spouse! That doesn’t stop when you get married!









Fixing Yourself

To anyone who doesn’t know me, I have been married for 26 years. My husband and I have three children and one brand new granddaughter. (Ask me, I have pictures) My husband and I had a semi-unstable marriage but for the most part we made it work. When our children left home, I was left trying to figure out what my purpose in life was. My husband couldn’t fill in the gaps that my children had once encompassed and I was not dealing well with the “Empty Nest,” syndrome. My marriage was crashing and burning around me. I had never felt more alone in my entire life. I do have to say, this is not stated because I am trying to make my children or my husband feel guilty. I don’t know where the phrase came from but it’s one of my favorites. “Your job as a parent is to teach your children how to leave you.” You really need to understand and fully live that statement. Your children may grow up and move across town, the country, or God forbid, the world. But, when and if they do, it’s because you are an amazing parent who gave them the skills and security to not only survive, but to grow and make the world a better place. They have left you, because you did your job! Sorry to any parents out there with a 30 something child living in your basement… This is not to say it doesn’t hurt like hell because it does. It rips a part of you away and it is a very slow healing process. Now add on to this, a marriage with an ever widening gap.

I am now going to list the ways that I screwed up and got myself into this mess: Everyone had goals and ambitions in high school. Mine were to get married and have children. I lived and breathed for my children. I did not actively pursue and work for my marriage even though I loved my husband desperately. I withdrew from him and threw myself even more completely into the lives of my children. I did not communicate my needs in a clear or appropriate manner. I left almost all friends behind because they would take away from time with my family. I allowed myself to become unhappy. I lost my “Self.”

As you have probably noticed, I did not list anything that my husband did wrong. That is because, I am only in control of myself and my happiness. This is a blame-free zone. I want to focus for a moment on my last statement in my list. I had lost my “Self.” I had lost my identity and had become completely absorbed into my family. “I,” no longer existed. I had deferred to my children and husband for so long that I had no idea what I even liked or wanted anymore. Before I could work on my marriage I had to work on myself. I had to figure out who I was, and what I wanted out of the rest of my life now that all of my “lofty,” (heavy dose of sarcasm) goals were achieved… Now mind you, I have a Master’s degree so I didn’t sit around and completely dissolve into my family. But I felt as if I did. I was very lost and unsure of my next step. I needed to find out if I even liked the person that I had become. I decided to start out on a 6 day adventure on my own…including my trusty 6 pound side kick, Brutus, my dog. We travelled all over Michigan, including Mackinaw Island and the Upper Peninsula. We almost died a couple of times but that’s another story. The point is…I had a blast! I didn’t think this was possible. I did what I wanted, ate what and when I wanted, and slept when I wanted. It was amazing and life changing. There’s nothing like a little time alone for some serious soul searching. I have slowly begun to take more chances, try things I normally wouldn’t and to finally settle into some wonderful friendships. I am closer to my circle of friends than I ever have been.

As for my marriage, we began counseling and started to focus on healing and rediscovering one another. We also had to discover what we liked and what we wanted out of our relationship. So many people talk about how their spouse needs to change and what their spouses are doing wrong. I am not saying that they aren’t correct but, you can’t control their actions and behaviors. The only thing that you have control over is your own. This is not to say that you should take the blame for all of the problems in a relationship. I am saying that it is wasted effort and energy to worry about what someone else needs to do when you could use that energy to work on yourself and your own happiness. “You,” are the only thing that you have when it boils down to it and “you,” are the only variable in life that you have control over. I believe if you change yourself, the world will change around you. And if it doesn’t, it may be time to move on.

Challenge yourself to spend quality alone time! I’m not talking about hanging out at your house where you are tempted to clean, play games on the computer, etc. Get a hotel room for a night. Spend the day at the beach. Take a book and a bottle of wine.  It is honestly a very liberating experience. Take care of yourself first even if you have children, and or a spouse. So many women feel trapped in relationships because they don’t want to be alone. That is not a reason to stay. I felt the same way. One of the things I wanted to find out was, could I make it on my own? Could I enjoy life without someone beside me to share it with? The answer for me was yes I could, which freed me up from that weight and allowed me to see that I truly wanted to stay, I didn’t need to.

Is life perfect? Is there a fairy tale ending? Absolutely not! Marriage is still hard, dirty, sometimes unappreciated work. We still stink at communication and back slide way too often, but the point is, we are still constantly working on our marriage. Sometimes the only opportunity we get to see each other is if I schedule a Date Night or some other type of event. Date Night’s are a fantastic opportunity to show someone that you care enough about them to go that extra step. Since communication isn’t our strong suit, I use my Date Night’s to convey how important my husband is to me and how important our marriage is. And the best thing is, I have a blast doing them:-)

Our most recent Date Night was entitled, (yes they have titles:-)) Drive In Movie. I created a Drive In Theater in my backyard. I set up some comfy furniture with loads of pillows, a bed in the back of my van using an inflatable mattress, a projector, a big screen, tons of snacks, of course popcorn, several movie choices and a vast assortment of beverages. A perfect romantic night with my man!


20130930-170023.jpgDSC05980 DSC05987 DSC05985 DSC05984 DSC05982 DSC05981   DSC05986DSC05990DSC05988

Men…You’ve Got to Love Them Because It’s Illegal to Kill Them…And Unfortunately They Are Pretty Amazing to Have Around

There are many stereotypes regarding men and women. Men in general are thought of as oversexed, unemotional creatures by women. Women are thought of as emotional, unstable, and completely unreadable by men. In some respects there is a little bit of truth in both of these generalizations. Men think things through with logic and reasoning. Women generally are ruled by their hearts and first react with their emotions, then logic is added in. Men tend to see things in black and white. Women see situations in every shade of black, white and gray. This is not a judgment, it is a fact, with many differentiations among individuals, but you get the idea. Let’s face it we are wired differently.

Your feelings, attitudes, and beliefs are all a byproduct of your experiences, and genetic make up. You will truly never know what another person is feeling or how they are reacting to a situation without crawling inside their skin. There is no other human being on this planet that will hold the exact same view point that you will. We lose sight of this in relationships. All we do is make assumptions based on our own reactions to things and physical cues given by others. We are probably only on target about 75% of the time. We don’t go around verbalizing how we feel in each given situation and even if we do its more than likely only mistruths. Another difference between the sexes is that women for the most part tend to hold on to something when we are angry. Men on the other hand do not (generally). I will honestly hold onto something until I feel, in my mind, that it has been resolved. Do I do anything to resolve it? Of course not, I am waiting for him to remember what he has done and fix it!! Communication is definitely not our strong suit. I would sometimes have 6 months worth of itemized things that he had done stored up in my head. I would become more withdrawn and he would not want to be around me because of my angry, withdrawn attitude, which in turn would be added to my list. This became a horribly vicious cycle. From his perspective I was just angry all the time for no reason. From my perspective he knew all of the things that bothered me and didn’t care. I am working on my communication skills and he is working on being more open to communication. My husband and I come from different planets for the most part. At some point, the realization comes that we not only have differing perspectives among genders but as individuals as well. You never truly know a person well enough to predict exactly how they will perceive any given situation. This is why communication is key to all relationships.

I have worked very hard to get to a point where I am expressing my wants and needs. I have tried to put myself in his shoes more, and am dedicating myself to making our marriage happy. I am also making sure that he feels special and appreciated. I am still not where I need to be but I am trying. Part of the problem is the fact that we are polar opposites in most ways. We will never truly understand each other and we will never enjoy the same things in life in the same way. This is where compromise comes in. We needed to come up with something that helps us to meet at a neutral zone. My idea was to create Date Nights each month for a year. I try to make them something that we have never done before so that it is a new, shared experience.

Last August I painted a box silver for our Silver Anniversary and placed 12 envelopes inside with completely planned Date Nights for each month. All he discovered was the theme each month. He didn’t know the details until it was happening. I kept his interests in mind when planning each one but also made sure that I would enjoy them too. I started this on our 25th anniversary and just concluded the 12 months of dates this last month.

One of our favorite Date Nights of this last year was entitled, “Progressive Dinner in a Limo.” I had a large cube that had dry erase boards on each side. I wrote down 6 different restaurants on the sides of the cube, one of which was McDonalds. I hired a limo on a Monday evening, (very cost effective) and he rolled the cube to reveal where we were going for pre-dinner drinks. He continued to roll after each restaurant visit. There was a stop for an appetizer, an entrée, and dessert at the end. We visited 4 great restaurants in the area and had a blast. There was always the ever looming fear of McDonald’s turning up but it didn’t. I was slightly disappointed because that would have definitely been interesting showing up in a limo for dinner at McDonald’s but we had an incredible evening nonetheless.

DSC09608 DSC09584DSC09577DSC09561DSC09581DSC09566 DSC09576 DSC09612 DSC09602 DSC09580 DSC09585 DSC09568DSC09614

We actually just had our finale Date Night of the year in August. The title for this Date Night was “Food, Beer and Wine From Around the World.” We ended up planning this together for the most part. We put together a Group Date Night where we invited 20 different couples over and asked each couple to choose a country. They were asked to conceal the identity of the country (Except to me) and they needed to provide a wine or a beer from that country along with a type of food that represented their region as well. Everyone was given a set of rules and a recording sheet. Their jobs were to go around and do blind taste tests of the food and drinks and determine what the country of origin was for each station. then they chose their favorite food, wine and beer. The prizes for the winners were Date Nights that I had put together for them.. We also had live entertainment. It was an amazing evening!

DSC04480 DSC04477 DSC04474DSC04475 DSC04483DSC04492

DSC04482 DSC04465DSC04472DSC04481


For our 26th anniversary, (This last August 14th) I actually created another 12 and made scratch off lottery tickets this time that reveal each month’s theme.The process was pretty simple in making the scratch off tickets. I designed and printed them out on card stock. I then took a white crayon and completely colored over the scratch off area. Next I took 2 parts silver craft paint and mixed it with 1 part dish soap. I then painted over the scratch off area (about 3 coats) and let it dry. I put the requirements for each date night on each card in the unpainted section, so he could choose one that works for him each month, (ie., temperature if its an outside activity, overnight, evening, weekend, etc.,) Our first new Date Night is scheduled in September and the title is “Drive-in Movie.” I can’t tell you more until its happened.:-)


I would love to challenge all of you, women or men to plan and carry out a Date Night. I have all of the Date Nights I have done so far on my blog www.ramblingsofagrandma.com but I have found a ton of ideas on www.thedatingdivas.com . It can be something small just do a mystery date that keeps them guessing. Make them feel special. I would love to hear from you on how your Date Night turns out. You can leave a comment on my blog www.ramblingsofagrandma.com or my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Ramblingsofagrandma?ref=hl I have to admit my husband was a little hesitant at the beginning but it got to the point that he was waiting up until midnight, the night before the first of the month to have an opportunity to open his envelope. He also has men calling him asking for advice on how to carry out the Date Nights:-/… He carefully explains exactly the steps to follow for each one…hmmmm not sure how that happened. But to be perfectly honest, it makes me extremely happy that he has gotten excited about them too. He has actually gone as far as planning 2 different Date Night’s of his own over the summer. One of my favorite rules that I live by is, change yourself and your attitude and the world will change around you! I am telling you that I am living proof that this is true!!! Good luck dating your spouses!

Dating Your Spouse

Dating Your Spouse
If you are not 100% committed to having an amazing marriage that will be fulfilling, healthy and happy don’t read this article. This will be hard and some times unappreciated work… In the beginning.

My marriage has truthfully been a struggle from day 1. There has never been anything easy about it and divorce has fluttered through my mind more often than I’d like to admit! Having said that, I love my husband more than anything. He is everything to me. I just would like to back my car over him…a few times. Everyone has their own personal struggles within a relationship. Its all about perspective. One thing first and foremost that we have to remember is that, chemically, physically, and emotionally women and men are worlds apart. The way we react to the same situation is different. Our needs are different. The way we approach life is different. The list goes on and on; parenting, finances, death, sex, romance, humor, socializing, etc. We will never see eye to eye on anything. What’s important is embracing that, taking yourself out of your own shoes and making an attempt to look through their eyes. It’s not an easy thing to do and almost impossible for some. The important thing to remember is that it is absolutely normal that you view the same situation from two totally different worlds.

The best way to approach your marriage is say to yourself, ” What would make me happy? What do I want out of this relationship? What would bring us closer?” You are the only piece in a relationship that you have control over. Now you could take this information to your spouse and say these are the things that would make us better. He/she may even agree. You may even make some great plans to change things. And then surprisingly, you are going to eventually end back where you started. They aren’t meeting you halfway, they aren’t as committed, the excuses go on. My theory is, pretend that you are on your own to completely fix this yourself and that your partner is completely incapable of any assistance whatsoever. Expect nothing and prepare to give 100%. Take that list you made and make them happen. All on your own. You need to be appreciated? Show your appreciation to him or her. You need more affection? Be more affectionate! You need quality time together? Make it happen! Eventually it will become a normal part of your marriage and will begin to mutually occur on its own…Eventually.

This is where the Date Night idea came in. When someone takes the time to plan something for someone and really put thought into it, the other person can’t help but feel appreciated and loved. Before we were married and still dating, we were always eager to do so much for one another because it was fun and exciting and we were wanting to really bait and hook that fish. Once the fish is securely on the line, the work is done. The mentality of “self,” takes over and it becomes “Why doesn’t “He,” do this,” or Why doesn’t “She,” do this.” Get out of that trap. In a marriage with “healthy,” individuals, if you put your spouse’s happiness before your own, you will be amazed at how quickly the happiness is returned ten fold to you. Too many times, we sit back and just get angry about all of the things he or she are not doing. Let that thought process go! It’s not getting you anywhere. You’re both going to get old and gray waiting for happiness or you will never continue on the path together. The thought process you need to adopt instead is “what can I do to make him or her happy?” or, “What could I do to make things better?” Lose your “self,” for a while. I guarantee, the happy “You,” will come back.

One of our major problems was “Time.” His time would be filled up quickly with work commitments, and friends. I looked at his calendar and saw how he had the majority of his “time,” set aside for work obligations and friends. I was very annoyed by this. After confronting him about it he just said, “People call and ask me for appointments or outings of one sort or another and I put them in my calendar and it fills up. I truly don’t plan any of these things I just get asked and put them on my calendar.” This got me to thinking. I am going to make sure I start actively pursuing and laying claim to my place on that calendar. This was right before our 25th anniversary. I completely planned out 12 creative, fun Date Nights and sealed them all individually in envelopes, and put them in a box. He gets to open one at the beginning of each month and must give me a date and time within 24 hours. I am on the calendar! Yes!

The point is planning activities that are geared towards the interests of your spouse/partner. This is something that you are doing for them to make them feel special and appreciated. The best part is you are in total control so you can still spice it up in such a way that you will enjoy it as well. For example: I love camping, my husband is not a fan and enjoys luxury and fancy hotels. So I created a date night of “Glamping.” This is short for glamorous camping. This could be the same if your interests are the opposite. If you look up Glamping you will find so many places it will shock you! The term Glamping refers to extreme luxury in an upscale camp-like setting. This usually includes some type of flooring, a large pre-set up “tent” with heat and/or air conditioning, your own private bathroom and shower and luxurious furnishings and decor. The one we stayed at for our last date night was a yurt. A yurt is a round canvas covered structure. We had a king sized bed, a deck with chairs, and all of the above. Absolutely beautiful.

I try to do something we’ve never done before so that its new and exciting for both of us. I love doing research and believe it or not, you would be amazed at how many “Date Night,” sites there are. They go from super simple and economical to extremely extravagant and expensive. I mixed it up a little bit but for the most part there was just a lot of work not expense. One of the best resources that I have found is www.thedatingdivas.com. They have some amazing ideas. I have also found quite a bit on Pinterest. I have taken some of their ideas verbatim and I have used some as a springboard into something unique and all my own.

Probably one of my favorite Date Nights was the very first one. This probably had to do with his reaction. I think he really thought it was going to fall flat, but he was definitely surprised! On our anniversary he opened the card marked August and in it he found a card that just said “Dinner in a Surprise Location.” He totally underestimated me. We happen to be fortunate enough to own a small warehouse in Downtown Toledo. There is a terrifying ladder that takes you to a tiny cubby hole with a lid on it in the ceiling of the top floor. This leads to the roof. Up to this point I had refused to go up there because of my fear of heights. This was my surprise location! I managed (with help on the big items) to drag tables, chairs, chafing dishes, a beautifully prepared dinner, wine, flowers, music, linens, china, candles and silverware up this terrifying ladder and on to the roof. He was at work waiting for my call to tell him where to join me. He just happens to work downstairs from where I was at. All I told him was come upstairs. It took him a few minutes to find me but when he did, he was beyond overwhelmed. We talked, drank wine, danced, lit and released Chinese lanterns, but most of all enjoyed each other in our own little private corner of the world.

Is Your Marriage Happy? What Are You Waiting For? Make It Happy!

After 25 years of marriage, I thought we had pretty much weathered everything life had to throw at us. We had been a relatively-semi-for-the-most-part-happy family. We are extremely involved in our 3 children’s lives and both of us are very career oriented. My husband with owning and running our 4 restaurants and myself as a teacher. We are both intelligent and for the most part insightful.
Things were running as smooth as bubble wrap when, the disaster happened!! Our children all grew up and moved out. I dont think we had any idea that the children were the glue that held our family together. They were the centers of our universe and our common ground. We had no one that needed our daily guidance, discipline and support. What the hell do we do now? Who was this stranger in my house and bed?
No matter how perfect you think your marriage is, I am here to tell you, this will take major adjustment. This coming from someone’s whose marriage was no where near perfect, but this will rock anyone’s world.
My husband and I started off on a bad path by getting married because “we had to.” or at least that was what was expected back then. Especially for a good Catholic boy such as my husband. The first year was a little rocky but then we settled in for the long haul of complacent mediocrity. Neither my husband nor I took our vows lightly. It was not the ideal marriage but we somehow seemed to make it work. We both have a love for travel and that seemed to carry us along. We had children who were very involved in music and sports that required our mutual presence on a continuous basis. So, we settled into a routine of comfort with occasional ups and downs, not unlike many other marriages. We basically learned to love and tolerate each other but Im not sure that we ever learned to truly like each other. We had complete polar opposite interests except for travel and our children. Our children were a daily activity but travel was only when we could afford and set aside time for it. Still we pressed on.
The trouble began when our children slowly started to go off to college. I had major issues with this because these children had always been the center of my world! I had always felt that being a mother was the most important role I would ever have on this earth and I took this very seriously. This was my first mistake. I had always claimed that my marriage came first. I truly feel that it did, but somehow the children would sneak in and steal that title away. As my children slowly started to move away, little pieces of me were torn off and packed in their boxes. I lived for their visits and slowly withdrew even farther away into myself. My expectations for my husband moving into their place didn’t quite work the way I had anticipated. Our differences became more and more apparent and began to drive a wedge between us.  We were complete strangers sharing a home.
I withdrew into myself and he turned to his friends. He felt isolated and so did I. I have issues with confrontation and therefore took the passive/aggressive approach with a heavy emphasis on the passive. I assumed he knew when and why I was upset and that he didn’t love me enough to change all of the things he was doing wrong. He assumed I was a cold hearted bitch who was in a perpetually sour/ uncommunicative mood and therefore avoided our home at all cost. When it became apparent that we were heading towards cataclysmic disaster, we turned to a counselor.
This is an experience that takes me far out of my comfort zone. I feel/felt shaky and nauseous before every appointment. I DO NOT LIKE TO CONFRONT ANYONE OR ANYTHING!!! And our deviously sadistic counselor, takes pleasure in putting me in the spotlight on every visit. So apparently communication is important..who knew? So slowly in each session she attempts to draw out of me, 25 years worth of un-phrased anger, disappointment and hurt.
I went through many stages of feelings about our counselor. My expectations of how she should run the meetings apparently weren’t in her “psychology” books! We were there because my husband has been screwing up for years and I needed her to let him know, make him stop, and then fix him. Makes sense to me….. But she has this bizarre way of twisting and turning everything around so I can’t even tell who is winning.  She obviously has no idea what she’s doing. He’s clearly wrong and she wants to know what “I,” could have done to change things in the times where “He,” does something wrong….REALLY??!!
Then I start to think….wait a minute….maybe she is playing a role, therefore disguising her quiet brilliance.  By always turning everything around, she fools him into believing he’s not the bad guy, thus keeping him coming to the meetings and slowly using her ninja ways to fix him!
Then finally reality sets in and I realize that she has actually been using her ninja moves on me. No matter what the circumstances, it’s always up to each individual to decide how to react in any given situation. If you are in a bad relationship, either do something to change it’s direction or get out. If you choose to stay, its not the other person at fault, because you have chosen to allow yourself to be treated in an intolerable manner. You will be treated the way you allow yourself to be treated. We each make our own destiny. The only aspect in a relationship that you have control over is yourself! We can choose to quietly stew about something and telepathically convey our message to the offender (my personal method of choice) or we can confront the situation head on and stop a pebble from becoming Mount Everest over time. (This comes from personal experience. I have a mountain range that would make the Rocky’s weep with envy.)
Well done ninja warrior, well done.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking all the blame. I have major issues but, we both pretty much stink at this marriage thing all by ourselves. He has major issues too…I just can’t list them because he may read this. I am just trying to figure out how to get our counselor to move in to our house with us. With her guidance we actually have “meaningful conversations”.  We only have them at her office every other week with her prodding and poking, but I have hope and faith that one day we will be able to actually have a full blown uncomfortable discussion all by ourselves. The thing that helps and is key, is the fact that we are both fully dedicated to making this work. After all was said and done, we realized that we really have grown to love and care for each other. But most importantly, we really like each other too… for the most part, most of the time.
We are now currently learning how to administer CPR to our marriage. This has not been a fast road to recovery either. We have had some major code blue moments. We have really had to work hard to find common interests. We discovered that when both of us are taken out of our comfort zone in a situation we lean heavily upon one another. This has forced us to become extremely creative and try things we never imagined.
I can’t honestly say for certain what the road ahead may look like. But I do know one thing for certain, we will walk down that path hand in hand pushing, shoving, tripping, laughing, and crying but we will still be holding on when we reach the end.