Marriage Advice Better Than “Don’t Go To Bed Mad”

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My husband and I celebrate 15 years of marriage today, and while that makes me feel giddy and proud, there is also something about the fact we have been marriage for that long, that is making me feel really…old. Like, really? Has it really be 15 years? Wow.

We have been through a lot in those 15 years.

The first 14 pretty much fell in the “for better” category.  When life is sailing along crisis-free, it’s easy to take life for granted. This year, with the tragic loss of my mom, we have been undoubtedly been through “for worse”. Yet, he has stood by my side every step. God bless him.

For all the awful things I am going through grieving the loss of my mom, I think how awful it must be for him, to always being the strong one while watching your wife grieve. But we made it through, and we are still making it through. Witnessing his commitment to us has strengthened us. It might be one of the silver linings, we are stronger as a result of this “for worse” year. Nothing tests a relationship like crisis.

Marriage Advice

Photo cred: Melissa Wilson


My mom and I had the time of our life planning our wedding back in 2001. We were two peas-in-a-pod with our love for parties, celebrations and “cute details”.  The wedding was the party to end all parties for both of us and we had SO much fun together.

After the wedding, she gave me as a gift, a secret journal she kept starting with the day we got engaged. In it, she documented all the details of the engagement, planning and wedding and all the things we did together.

At the end of the journal, my parents both shared their tips and advice on marriage. My parents were married 46 years and were one of those couples that had something special. They were genuinely, truly happy together.

Here they are on August 16th, 1969…

parents collage

I pulled out the Journal today to read her words again.

Here are some my mom said…

“The promise and commitment of marriage is the most incredible gift.”

Treat your husband as your best friend every day of your life.”

“There will be ups & downs, highs & lows, but always be there for each other.”

Listen to each other and compromise if needed.”

“….and kiss him every night when you or he walks in!”

“Always” and “nevers” advice from my dad…

“Always listen to your partner twice as much as you talk. After all, God gave us two ears and one mouth.”

Never use sarcasm with each other, it’s often times an insult in disguise.”

“Always remember what is easy or difficult for you might not be easy or difficult for your partner. Embrace your differences, for they are what makes your marriage unique.”

“Always make your partner look good in front of others.

Never keep secrets from one another. Share feelings and try not to keep things inside and you’ll both grow.”

Never make major decisions when you are acutely emotional. Wait a day, take 100 deep breaths.  Most of the stupid decisions I have made in my life have been during times of high emotion.”

“Always treat your partner even better than you would your best friend.

“Never set your partner up to fail, rather set your partner up to succeed.

And then my moms ends with…

“And now you can even better understand why I love your father so much! He is an incredible person, I am so lucky to have him as my partner in life!”

Someone hand me the tissues.

This past weekend we celebrated our anniversary in Laguna Beach and had dinner at The Deck, which used to be a wedding venue called Pacific Edge, where we got married.

When we walked in I felt immediately nostalgic, thinking of that day, my mom and how special that place was to her as well. At that exact moment,  a guy walks right towards me with this amazing monarch butterfly on his finger and I tell him I believe it is for me. He hands it to me. I just know it was a sign from her, letting me know she is still right here with us.  Hug your loved ones today friends. Give your husband or wife an extra kiss. Appreciate each other.  Life is fleeting.


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10 Easy Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them

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Happy Valentine’s Day Mamas!  I hope you have  LOVE-ly day celebrating with those you love.  I loved this guest blog by Linda Hunter, Chief Education and Operations Officer of Pretend City Children’s Museum, on little easy things you can do to show your children you love them. Such great reminders! 

And in honor of Valentine’s Day, Pretend City is giving one FREE admission today to anyone with the purchase of a child’s ticket from 10am – 5pm! Print the Pretend City Coupon at the end of this post and take someone you love today!


“Sometimes we all need a little reminder to take a break from the daily chaos of life and let our children know just how special and loved they really are.

In February we’re celebrating the day of love all month long, but here are some small ways to inject a little love into every day of the year!  Of course the ways you show love to your children change with each new stage of development, but these ideas bridge all ages!

Here are my top 10 favorite ways to take a moment to show your love:

1. This one works like magic – look your child in the eye when he/she speaks to you.  Keep eye contact until they are done speaking.  I guarantee that they will feel your love and validation.  P.S. It works with adults too!  It’s the simplest form of engagement between two people.

2. Put your cell phone, iPad and electronic games away and focus on your child when you are doing something with him/her. This goes for simple things like riding in the car together, taking a walk, playing or reading.

3. Trust your child to lead YOU sometimes.  Let them take the lead when walking, playing or conversing.  You will learn a great deal about how your child thinks and what they know.

4. Dance and sing with your child.  No matter what age and no matter how badly you sing, mutually engaging with music is energizing and puts parent and child on an even playing field.  This allows each to truly get to know the other in a new way.

5. Set reasonable limits for your child and consistently keep them.  Although they won’t like it, it is essential in building a child’s sense of security in the world.  And somewhere down the line they will realize that the limits are a message of love from you. But you have to be VERY patient!

6. Invite your child to teach you something.  Curb any instinct to correct or teach them and you will discover many new and important things about your child that you never knew.   And most importantly your child will feel loved, trusted and empowered.

7. Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong.

8. Take time out to do simple things together like:

* Play in the rain and splash in the puddles
* Give each other foot massages
* Read to and with each other
* Let your child brush and style your hair
* Build with blocks
* Ride bicycles
* Color on a huge piece of paper laid out on the floor
* Paint one another’s nails
* Make up silly songs
* Tell jokes

9. Establish and keep family traditions, no matter how big or small.  Once you do, you’ll see how much love the traditions hold the first time you forget to keep one!

10. Take lots of photos and/or video and look through these together often, sharing funny stories about the best times! Children especially like the story of when they were born, or when you brought them home for the first time.”

Thank you so much Linda, I think these are great reminders of how even little things can go a long way!

[Disclosure: Pretend City is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor. And on a personal note, one of my FAVORITE children’s places in all of Orange County!] 

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So my hubby and I turn 10 years old today.

I actually had to scan this photo because when we got married digital photography wasn’t really the mainstream yet. Doesn’t that seem weird?

In a way that day feels like yesterday and it a way it feels like a lifetime ago. But, one thing I know for sure – that is the last time we walked hand in hand on the beach in formal wear like that and the last time I donned a tiara!

Reflecting on these past ten years and what I have learned about marriage, I truly believe the person you chose to marry is probably the most important decision you make in your lifetime.


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Happy Birthday Sweet

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Oh, just posting that picture right now is making me tear up.  Where oh where has the time gone?

My baby turns two tomorrow.  It’s funny because in our house we still call her “the baby” even though she is really not a baby anymore!

Emma nicknamed Morgan “Sweet” when she was around 7 months old.  One day she just looked at her and said, “Mommy, I am going to call her ‘Sweet‘ because she is just so SWEET!”

From that day on she became “Sweet.”  The whole family now collectively calls her “Sweet” and sometimes I have to catch myself when talking to other people because I will call her “Sweet” before Morgan! And people might look at me like, did you really name your child, “Sweet?!”

My gosh, what a year it has been!  Two words sum up the one to two year for me:  physical and intense!

I remember feeling completely exhausted with Emma. All the time. I didn’t know when it would start to get easier.  Or even if it ever got easier.  The endless chasing around, diverting disasters, intercepting potential hazards, saying “no” more than you want to, trying to appease when “no” is said, distracting, the stumbles, the tumbles, the intense curiosity. Bottom line, living with a one-year-old is NON-STOP!

When I was reflecting on this post, I realized how much this baby has taught me and how our lives have all been so touched by her presence.  Last year I wrote about “Lessons in Surviving the 1st Year” on her 1st birthday.  The first one was rough, not gonna lie.  This year could have been called “Lessons She Taught Me on Enjoying the 2nd.”

By far the greatest gift she gave me this year was the gift of appreciation.  And that is simply because I have been through it before and I know it does get easier.  My five-year-old is a living example.

So this year I have really taken the time to appreciate her. I treasure the bear hugs, love when she says, “Mommy, hold you!” to pick her up, crack up at her facial expressions and funny sayings, delight in the way she interacts with her sister or says, “Kiss Sissy” before she goes to bed because the last thing she wants to do before she goes to sleep is kiss her sister.  And my heart bursts every time.

I love sitting and holding her on my lap to rock her before bed. I just sit there and snuggle her and smell her head.  Why do baby and toddler heads smell SO good?  I want to bottle that smell.

I love how she gets so excited when she sees the neighbor’s cat run through our backyard. With her wide eyes she will yell “A CAT! A CAT!” it could honestly be Elmo out there given the level of excitement.

I love that she gets so excited whenever I walk in a room that she greets me like a rock star.  It’s nice to be a rock star in someone’s eyes.  I know it won’t always be like this, so I am appreciating my rock star status and want to hold on to it as long as I can.

I love that her favorite thing to do is go to the park.  Nothing makes her happier. There are no play dates to arrange and coordinate, no activities or carpools to juggle.  It’s a simple life.  And I love that.

I love when Sweet started exhibiting typical “not so sweet” two-year-old behaviors like hoarding toys and yelling “MINE!!” that I can laugh about it this time around.

At a recent park visit she yelled “MINE!” and gave the stink eye to any kid that came remotely near “her stuff” which included the universal park play equipment and a bag of cherry tomatoes (as if the kids were all pining over those tomatoes!)

With my first, with incidents like this at the park, I would get so flustered and embarrassed.  I didn’t want other moms to think I was a terrible mother and was scared I was raising an ill-behaved anti-social child.  Now I love that I can embrace the fact that she is two, continue to teach her about “sharing” {of which a two-year-old really could care less} but at the end of the day, I know this TOO will pass!

I love that now I can laugh at the park and say to the other moms, “that’s two for you!”

I love that she has taught me by virtue of these things, that I have to ease up my expectations on my firstborn. Because with kids, what I have learned is that all things truly are just stages (we hope!)

She has taught me how every child is so deliriously and beautifully unique.  I sort of thought I knew what to expect with my second girl. After all, I already had one, but I love that she came into this world completely her own person.  That has blown me away.

Most of all, I love what she she taught me about love.

Before I gave birth to her I worried I wouldn’t feel the same depth of love that I did for Emma. I didn’t know how it would be possible.  Then I held  her for the first time, and at first glance, in that moment above, the feelings were exactly the same. It happened in one instant, and will be with me for this lifetime and beyond. Just like with Emma, our souls were connected.  And always will be.

Happy 2nd birthday Sweet!

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My Current Mommy Struggle

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That’s a loaded title, huh?  I mean, I have so many “mommy struggles” some days I almost don’t even know where to begin!  But I will start with my current one.

So I signed my 4 year old up for a little 6 week summer school program for a few hours 3 mornings a week to keep her entertained & allow me some time to work.   We originally signed up with a little boy she has known since birth so she would have a friend to go with.  Unfortunately 2 weeks into the program they decided to stop going due to unforeseen circumstances and subsequently my dear daughter has been miserable this week not wanting to go to this new school without a friend.

A little background on her personality.  At home she is rambunctious, extroverted, spirited, and never stops talking. But at preschool school, she is more quiet, shy and much more introverted.  Which is so weird to me!  It is almost like she is a different kid sometimes.

Last year at our first parent conference in the fall when my daughter’s preschool teacher described her as “quiet”  I almost had to laugh out loud as that would have been the last word to describe her. Luckily she made some best little friends from almost the beginning, which made her love preschool because she loved her friends so much. All good things.

Fast forward to her first experience at a new “school” this summer.  Monday getting her there was OK, but afterwards she said she never wanted to go back because she missed her friend, and yesterday there was so much drama in the morning about not wanting to go, it was almost unbearable.

I went on Monday morning and asked the teachers to help facilitate her playing with some of the other girls and tried to introduce her to some of the other kids.   I named one in particular, and said… how about you try playing with {I will call her Abby to protect the innocent} Abby today? After school on Monday I asked her who she played with and she said “no one.”  She told me Abby didn’t want to play with her.

Oh my God moms.   My heart just BROKE.

So I told my husband, in a total emotional “Mommy Bear” state, if she doesn’t like it after this week I am not going to send her!!!

My hubby and I agree on most everything philosophy-wise in parenting, but this has been one time we are not seeing eye-to-eye.  And it is frustrating the heck out of me – mostly because I can also see his points as well.

His point is we are NOT sending her to a torturous place.  It is a cute program with art, puppets, water play, etc.

He thinks if we say “OK, if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to” and pull her out of the program it will send a bad message that anytime there is a tough situation in life or when she doesn’t want to do something or when she is out of her comfort zone, there is an escape.  She’s a creature of habit and routine (definitely her Father’s daughter!) so it’s new and she doesn’t like change, but we have to give her a chance to get used to it.

Interestingly enough, he was the shy kid in school too, so he thinks it is good for her to be in a situation that facilitates her making new friends.  His point is that she made friends in her preschool last year, and she will make them at this program. The problem is that hasn’t happened yet.  Albeit it’s only been 2 days since she she has been there alone.

What I am also struggling with is the fact that this is only going to be the beginning.  My gut instinct is to want to protect her.  To keep her from anyone or any situation that is at all unpleasant or short of SO MUCH FUN.  But I realize I am not going to be able to protect her from everything in life. That’s just life! Mean girls included. Oh God, don’t even get me started on that one.

As a mom (but also the little girl in me) wants to scream YOU NEVER HAVE TO GO BACK!   But I do think it is unfair to not at least give her the chance to make a friend on her own.

So, I will send her tomorrow, it’s water day, and hope that she can bond with someone (God PLEASE!) over the sprinkler. And if not, well, we will just have to cross that bridge next week…

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