Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting our smiles back

It's been a month since we received the crushing news about the death of Traci's husband.  One of our own has experienced the ultimate blow in an Army wife's life.  The month has gone by quickly for me and even Traci wonders where the time has gone.  The days have brought one event, ceremony and out of town visit after the other.  Since Friday's tree ceremony at Ft. Stewart, life has slowly begun to resemble the way we knew it to be.  We are getting together at fabulous restaurants that only Traci would know to recommend.

And most recently, we are gathered at a friend's home to drink wine, exchange wine glasses, share humorous tales of motherhood, speeding tickets and run-ins with famous people and just getting to know each other better.  This involves disclosing hidden tattoos, and confessing embarrassing truths from before we became the refined women we all know today. 

The pain is still there, just under the surface, but we are getting through this.  We are slowly getting our smiles back. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


Summer is here and we are in search of WATER!  Fortunately, we don't have to look too far where we currently live.  Sometimes we are in the beach-mood....

 other times, we are in a pool-mood.

 We are always in a lake-mood!  Bomb's away!
 This summer, Laken was a fish!  Marielle is still learning to trust.

 Happy one minute...
 not so much, the next.
 More sisterly-love
 1-2-3-JUMP!  You are so brave, Laken!  Love making memories with my family at our lakehouse. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shacking up

Ok, so totally being unoriginal witht his post, but you girls need to here this from the 'horses mouth'.  I've been an avid listener/reader of Dr. Laura's since about age 19.  I tend to agree with her every perspective on matters of the heart, human decency, manners and self-respect (if only I'd taken all her advice).  I like how she encourages people to be less 'touchy' (and by 'encourage', I mean 'demand'...she's really a 'no-excuses' kind of helper).  I am a sensitive-soul and I worry every day that you inherited that gene.  I saw it first in Laken around 8 months old.  I was telling Daddy what a 'nightmare' you'd been today and you immediately burst into tears in an apparent recognition of the horror I was making you out to be.  I was in utter shock at how soon both of you could understand before you could udder a word.  Marielle hangs her head in shame, it seems, when I give her a disapproving glare.  Oh, the tears you will shed for criticism of your cooking and bad haircuts if you did in fact inherent my super-sensitive nature.  Daddy takes things far less personally.  Maybe it's a man-thing, but I hope it rubs off on you girls.  Life is really too short.  I hope one day you read the books I have read by Dr. Laura.  She has helped me to see that the world does not revolve around me, that pity parties are lonely and annoying and that doing the right thing is always the best thing, favorable outcome or not.  I want to be a person of courage, character and conscience and I want the same for you.  So, one day, when you are considering moving in with that boy, please, please, please, heed these words by Dr. Laura:

"I can't believe The New York Times, with its hugely liberal perspective, actually published an article on the downside of shack-ups. I was stunned. The article, titled "The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage," gives some stats that are simply mind-boggling:
Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million. The majority of young adults in their 20s will live with a romantic partner at least once, and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation. This shift has been attributed to the sexual revolution and the availability of birth control, and in our current economy, sharing the bills makes cohabiting appealing. But when you talk to people in their 20s, you also hear about something else: cohabitation as prophylaxis.

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, "You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along." About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages - and more likely to divorce - than couples who do not.
The issue lies in the shack-up itself. When people decide to get engaged, there's a lot of thought involved. They realize, "Oh my gosh, I'm making a commitment." They talk about babies and families, and where they're going to live. None of that occurs when people shack up. There's no decision-making, only sliding. Shack-up couples slide from dating, to having sex, to sleeping over, to bringing their things over, to being there most of the time, to shacking up. There are no concrete decisions with rings and ceremonies and families involved. The two people have not and do not talk about what they want, need, and expect from each other.

The article also discusses how cohabitors often have different, unspoken - even unconscious - agendas:
Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse.
You can see right there that shack-ups are just convenient and comfortable. There is no desire for a connection on a deeper level. A lot of people think, "Well, living together reduces costs. It's easy, and there's no real risk. If it doesn't work, we'll just break up." EXCEPT, they've already bought furniture and pets together. A couple that thinks, "Maybe we will, maybe we won't," is not as dedicated as a one that says, "We do, we'll commit, we'll make it happen."

It's important to discuss everybody's motivation: "I'm shacking up with you because..." or "My expectation is..." As I've always told people on the show, you cannot have any expectations when you shack up. It's not a commitment. Either one of you can do whatever you want at any given time, so expectations of marital behavior are silly, foolish, and self-destructive. This is why there's more mental illness, violence, and breaking up when people shack up. Women especially start having more anxiety and depression. They also experience more battering because their partners take their frustration and annoyance out on them.

Shacking up is not an intentional step -- it's just convenient. There's absolutely nothing of depth that people can count on."

NOW, as Dr. Laura would say, GO DO THE RIGHT THING!  Love, Mommy