Choose Your Twenty Wisely…

Choose Your Twenty Wisely…

Went to the beach with this crew.

Four women at the beach for a long weekend with no kids – yeah, you know we talked a lot. The topic of marriage came up. One bit of marriage advice that several of us said we heard and followed went something like this:

If you can enjoy each other eighty percent of the time and ignore the twenty percent of the time you’re not pleased with each other you’re doing fine. 

And, for the most part, I think that is very true – with a disclaimer. A buyer beware if you will – a caveat emptor as Mrs Dunar, my high school Latin teacher, used to say. I would add that you need to choose VERY CAREFULLY which twenty percent you’re going to ignore.

I say all that because I could have saved both me and Billy a lot of grief had I had a bit more of a backbone when we first got married. I’m not sure it’s even that I lacked a backbone. It’s more like I thought I was being helpful by ignoring every single thing he did – even the things that he could have changed without too much trouble that would have been very beneficial to the marriage. Issues we could have conquered had I just spoken up.

So with the thought of ‘choose which twenty percent you’ll ignore carefully’ here is an example from my journal in 2005. We’d been married for five years and James, our oldest, was two at the time. As you’ll, see we hadn’t quite gotten the whole communication thing down yet.

In case the picture doesn’t show up here is what my journal entry says:

May 8, 2005

Today was Mother’s Day – whatever that means. As usual, no card no gift and no dinner out. Just like Valentine’s. This Christmas he bought my one and only one gift at four pm on Christmas Eve. For my birthday he bought it on my birthday. I told him it bother’s me but he doesn’t change. He doesn’t see what’s wrong with it. It’s stupid to be upset. We’ve got people starving to death and I’m upset about not getting enough recognition.


Okay, yes, it’s true. Billy used to have really questionable gift giving skills. It wasn’t his strong suit early on in the marriage.

The first time that happened, the first time he missed a holiday, it was on him. The second time, well that was on him too. But y’all, by that third holiday, the person to blame was ME. We had been married FIVE years at that point. Why in the world didn’t I just say ‘Billy, it’s Mother’s Day! I want a card and dinner out.’ He isn’t a mind reader. And let me tell you I bet you anything I was martyring the heck out of all that. ‘Oh well, Valentine’s Day came and went and he didn’t get me anything. Poor me. I guess that’s okay…’  There was probably a lot of ‘what’s wrong?‘ from him and a lot of ‘oh nothing‘ from me.

When what I should have said was ‘hey, it really bothers me when you don’t spend time on my gift. It makes me think you don’t think enough about me to get me something.‘ Instead I just stuffed those feelings down and refused to confront him.

Martyrdom does not make for a great marriage.

And yes, I did say in the journal entry that I had talked to him about it but I hadn’t really. What I had done was tell him it bothered me that he didn’t wrap my presents. That ain’t the same thing.


Pictured: two people that were not masters of communication early in their marriage.

The thing is I really did think ‘well, it’s not a big deal so just ignore it‘ but the fact is marriage – my marriage – is kind of one of the very biggest deals in my whole life. It’s a HUGE deal. So, do anything but just ignore stuff that bothers you terribly.

He chews funny? Ignore it. He makes a weird noise when he swallows? Ignore it. He brushes his teeth for too long. Ignore it. These are, by the way, all things I really did complain about it my journals when I first got married. I was SO mature.

Bottom line: learning to be good at marriage takes two people willing to change, willing to do the work, and willing to check your spouses Pinterest boards for gift ideas. One of those things may not be as important as the other. Or maybe it is!

Learn from my mistakes and choose your twenty very carefully.


Books I Didn’t Read…

Books I Didn’t Read…

Oh look, it’s a stack of books I probably won’t get around to reading on our vacation.

We’ve been gone for a over a week now – we spent the first week with my family in a villa in St Martin celebrating my parents fiftieth anniversary.

Ask me how many of those books I’ve finished. Go on, ask me…


Zero. Yep, that’s a big fat zero. None. How is it even possible to spend a week in the Caribbean and not finish one single book? I keep looking at the list and going over it again and again making sure I haven’t finished anything and, nope, not a thing. I didn’t even finish the magazine! Oh well, there is always this week while we’re at family camp.

We drove to Atlanta last Saturday since we had to fly out of there on Sunday morning at zero dark thirty. Billy is a big fan of zero dark thirty flights. If there is any way he can make us all get up ridiculously early he is going to do it.


Making you get up early is all part of my evil plan.”

The good news is we got into town in time to go to Ikea. Here is my experience with Ikea every time I go: for the first twenty minutes I walk around in a blissful state – imagining my house all full of hygge lighting and happiness. Something happens at minute twenty one though that turns me slightly insane. All of the sudden I don’t want to be in the store one second longer. I spend the next nine minutes practically running down the aisles trying to get out. Billy is the same way.

We headed to Cabbagetown and the Beltline after Ikea to eat. I just finished Brett Trapp’s Blue Babies Pink  podcast so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We had pizza at Arrozza – y’all, they put edible glitter ON the kid’s pizza. Super cool.  Then we went to Krog Street Market and had ice cream.


Atlanta is too cool of a city for me. I need a city that is okay with my yoga pants. My yoga pants that, of course, I never do yoga in. Atlanta is just way too fancy pants.

The flight from Atlanta to St Martin was four hours long so you can imagine why I thought I would have all this supplemental reading time. Alas, there were TV’s in the seat so inflight entertainment won out.

At the end of our flight was Maho Beach, turquoise waters, and rum punch.


The runway is so short (kinda like my attention span) that you can feel the planes poof of exhaust as it takes off when you stand on Maho Beach. To me the danger sign looks like a dude is being shot out of the back of the plane. There were tons of people that lined up before every take off to feel the wind.

IMG_0020These guys included.

My nephew Tucker and I looked climbed around the tidal pools at the beach. There were thousands of tiny sea urchins in the water.

They probably wouldn’t feel so tiny if you stepped on them, though! Tucker climbed out precariously further on the rocks to get a good picture. We admitted that we were dangerously close to being people that get talked about on social media. ‘American tourists were admitted to the hospital when they climbed too far out on some rocks and were attacked by vicious sea urchins.’



At the villa – probably looking for sea urchins.

Actually, it was kind of my nephews and nieces fault that I didn’t read any books. It was just so nice to be able to see everyone and talk and not feel rushed to say all the things that need to be said – that’s how it is at Christmas. Why would I read when I could be chatting it up!

IMG_0041 IMG_0040

Look, all these people were thrilled to be able to chat with me all week. THRILLED, I tell you!


“Mom, no one was thr…”

Shut it kid. I’m on vacation. I don’t need any of your nonsense. Now pass me one of those books!




Getting home from Orlando after Spring Break turned out to be a pretty long drawn out affair. We took the Magical Express – which lets just admit, is WAY less ‘magical’ when you’re on your way home. Our flight was delayed until, oh forever, and it took a bajillion years to actually make it back to Huntsville. Don’t you just love it when people complain about their vacations? Yeah. me neither. Flight delays are no bueno when you have five kids and a grumpy spouse – I’ll let you decide whether it was me or Billy that was grumpy. P.S. Y’all don’t tell anyone but it was totally Billy.

Another fun and exciting thing that happened on the way home involved the actual aircraft in flight. When it was past time to land I realized we weren’t landing but were circling the airport. Now I’ve been flying forever so I’m no stranger to the ‘circling round ye olde airport’ rodeo. After about what felt like the fifteenth circle the pilot came on and said ‘well folks, I’m sure you’ve noticed we’ve been circling – just working out an issue we are having with a flap before we can land.‘ Cue the nervous laughter and looks. Uh, a problem with the flap? You mean the thing that keeps us in the air? The thing that lets us land without crashing?

The boys all had headphones in and were completely oblivious to any trouble on the plane. Once the flap issue got worked out and we finally landed the ENTIRE PLANE burst into applause. The boys began asking ‘why are people clapping?‘ Cue the ‘Sheesh Mom, why didn’t you tell us’ comments and the excessive Southwest jokes by the boys for the next few days.

Egads, what a blast we had in Disney World. Mainly because we brought sitters along. It was so so SO nice to be able to send Gracie home in the late afternoon and spend the rest of the evening without her. 


Our sitters. No, you can’t have their numbers. They’re mine I tell you – mine, mine, mine!

For real though, Gracie is way more trouble than this picture lets on.


One night we sent both Gracie AND Stella home and set the boys loose so we could have date night. We ate at Le Cellier which was just as amazing as everyone says it is and walked around Epcot. See all these empty seats? We watched the America movie at the very last showing.


Along with one other person we were the ONLY people in that gigantic theatre. It was even more fun that way. I LOVE date night in Disney World. We love the kids but man is it nice to be alone for a few hours.

Oh look, it’s those kids…


This is on Tom Sawyer Island. Yet another place Gracie wasn’t invited to. Oh don’t feel sorry for her. Look at that grin – she knows you are over there feeling sorry for her.


Welp, the good news is no one died on that plane with it’s flap issues.