Tuesday, March 26, 2019

T Plus 30 and Counting

Photo Credit: Marisabel Caballero de Ramirez 

Once upon a time, a young man walked into a political campaign office to inquire about a yard sign. Upon entering the office, he noticed a young woman working there.

"Wow! She's pretty!" the young man thought to himself.

In order to spend more time with the young woman, the young man signed up to volunteer
Wouldn't you know? The only person working in the office the day he came to help was the
same young woman he had seen the first time.

The young man sat beside the young woman at a table full of envelopes and print-outs. After
she had explained what they were working on, the young man began to make smalltalk. He will
never forget the next words the young woman spoke to him, "You're a real smartass, aren't you?"

The rest, as they say, is history.

That really is how my husband and I met in the fall of 1988. We knew each other a full five months
before getting married. That isn’t very long, but so far, it’s worked out for us. This week we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  

We often get the question, “What’s your secret?” I will honestly tell you there is no “secret.” For us,
there have been a lot of arguments, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings between two hard-headed
people. We were young when we got married and we spent a lot of time growing up and maturing
together. We made mistakes and sometimes we made very selfish decisions which hurt the other.
But we stuck it out. We persevered. And, sometimes, perseverance is all we had going for us. Our
individual hard-headedness may have been all that kept us together at times.

Staying married isn’t easy. It is a choice each of us has had to make over and over again. We each
had to choose to work out our problems and not run away from them. Now, while it still isn’t always
easy, it is easier. We have learned to communicate with each other. We can talk to each other without
our defenses going up (usually). However, one piece of advise that has made the biggest difference
in our relationship came from our friend, Kevin Thompson. He once said that he and his wife agreed
years ago to always speak honestly with each other and to accept the other at his/her word. For
example, if Kevin asks his wife if she minds if he plays golf on their anniversary and she says she
does not mind, he takes her at her word. They don’t second-guess each other. Once my husband and
I implemented this philosophy, everything changed for the better.

I did not realize how much we second-guessed each other until we decided to stop doing it. It is
liberating to not have to wonder if he/she really meant it when they said they were okay with . . .
whatever. If my husband asks me if I’m okay with X and I tell him I am, but find myself getting
upset about it, I have only myself to blame. He is not a mind reader and it’s wrong of me to expect
him to be. And vice versa.

My husband is my best friend. We have grown up together. We enjoy spending time together and
planning faraway trips together. I miss him when he has to be gone for days at a time. And I’m thankful
his job is not one that puts him in harms way or takes him away from home for months at a time.
When he has been gone, I look forward to him being back home.

I am excited about what the next 30 years hold for us. We are going to have a lot of fun and I’m sure
we are still going to have our share of misunderstandings. And that’s okay. We are so much stronger
because of them.

How long have you been married and what is your "secret"? Are you about to get married and have
questions? Please share them in the comments!

Monday, March 18, 2019

32 Hours in Chicago

                                                                                    Photo credit: Teresa Eccles

This year my husband and I asked our three children which they would rather have for Christmas: stuff or memories. Without hesitation each of them responded that they would rather have memories, so we scheduled a very quick trip to Chicago for the whole family. Since the trip was planned within a month of Christmas we had to work within the constraints of everyone's job schedules. Both girls had to be back to work on the 26th and one of them had to work all day on the 23rd, leaving us a very short window.

Working within these boundaries, we took the red-eye to Chicago on the 23rd of December, spent the day of the 24th, then flew back home Christmas morning, for a fun-filled 32 hours in Chicago. What's the point of flying all the way to Chicago if you're not even spending two full days? I'm glad you asked.

For the past few years, my husband and I have tried to implement the philosophy of memories over stuff. For birthdays we have taken our children to plays, NBA games, concerts, and more. We want them to be able to look back over their lives and remember the fun and sometimes crazy times we have had. After all, who of us remembers what was in the packages we opened for our 15th birthday (or 12th or 20th?) However, our children will always have the story of "remember that time we flew to Chicago for Christmas and were there for like 30 hours?" 

What can a family do in 32 hours in Chicago - on Christmas Eve, no less, when everything closes early? Here are some of the things we did:
1) We ate chicken sandwiches on donuts at Do-Rite Donuts. We also bought a dozen to-go so we could have breakfast before flying out on Christmas morning.
2) We walked to, and then around, Navy Pier. After exploring outside, we went inside where they were having the Winter Wonderfest and the kids rode rides and took pictures by some of the beautifully decorated Christmas trees.
3) We walked to the Magnificent Mile and let the kids do some shopping for themselves.
4) After taking a break in the room, we Ubered to this incredible little Italian restaurant my husband and I discovered while in town last spring, Franco's Ristorante. Imagine our pleasure when the manager, Frankie, came out to greet the family and remembered my husband and me from months before!
5) Since we did a lot of walking, we were all tuckered out and went to bed fairly early. The next morning (Christmas morning) I woke up before everyone else and carried the stockings down to the front desk of the hotel we were staying in, The Aloft. The front-desk clerk was very accommodating in playing Santa's helper and delivering the filled stockings to our table after we had eaten our donuts.
6) On our way to the airport we had our Uber drivers pull over at Millennium Park so we could grab some family pictures by the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as The Bean.

So, did we do everything we wanted to do during our whirlwind stay? Not even close, but we did have a lot of fun and we made a lot of great memories.

When you get the chance to go, go. Always go. Make the memories that will last a lifetime.

Do you have a favorite childhood memory? Please share, as I would love to hear about it!