July 31, 2011

July 28, 2011

The Phone Call we all dread

     Wednesday night 9:45 my phone rings with my crying daughter on the other end they’ve just been in a car accident. 
     Rushing to the scene felt like the longest 2 miles I have ever had to drive.  Unfortunately I have been in 3 car accidents, however pulling over and seeing three of your children (though 2 are only biologically the third is a dear friend who is my blonde daughter)  standing next to a crashed car truly takes your breath away.  Though the two cars are in pretty bad shape all involved survived.  No one was at fault as the car the teenagers were in hydroplaned on a blind corner.  The girls were pretty much a wreck and my son held it all together making the necessary calls.  I don’t think I have ever felt so helpless.  The police and workers didn’t want Mom answering questions they wanted the 3 kids, two are 19 one 17, to explain.  Hearing another person point at your kids accusingly and without any charity wanted me to behave like the native New Yorker I am, though in fairness she was just involved in an accident.
   One hour later we had my son who was sat where the impact occurred at the Emergency Room.  He had pretty much taken control of the situation and the girls until I arrived.  Within minutes the reality of it all hit him and we went into shock.  Deciding to err on the side of caution we wanted him checked out as he was unresponsive for a bit.  He was given a clean bill of health and advised to take it easy for a few days.
     Today was rough on all, I’m pretty confident no one slept well last night. The girls just wanted to spend time together so we went to see Winnie the Pooh was a great distraction and a chance for us all to laugh.  My son slept most of the day away.
     No matter what we do, and all the safety precautions we take things are going to happen to our children that we have no control over.  We all know that no matter how much we want to encase our children in bubble wrap they’re going to get hurt.  From their first real boo-boo to their broken hearts we want to heal every pain that enters our children’s lives.  We can’t they grow through these experiences.....being an observer simply sucks.
    

July 26, 2011

One giant step forward, how many steps back?

I need to keep checking, this is America.  We are living in the year 2011. We proudly have a Black president.  Women have broken through most of the glass ceilings.
     Can anyone explain what happened in Arkansas? This past spring when the schools determined their students' final GPA's and announced their Valedictorian who would imagine that race would come into play?  A young woman earned the highest honor in her school yet because she was black had to share the honor with a white student! I had always thought Arkansas was one of the southern states that had come the farthest in terms of racial equality.  I just keep imagining the Clintons shaking their heads.
     How does this thing happen today?  How do we encourage our children regardless of sex, race or religion to strive for their best when there's a possibility that someone can change the rules at the last minute?  Isn't academics supposed to be the one area that is a level playing field?  While researching this further most of the articles were simply reposts of the original report yet a few mentioned that the student gave birth during her junior year.
    Excuse me!!! Are you telling me that while dealing with hormones, swelling feet, back pains and every other joy of pregnancy this girl continued to pull straight A's while in honors and AP classes?? I'm sorry Valedictorian doesn't even come close to what she has earned. 
     Kymberly Wimberly has sued the McGeeHee School District.  She seeks punitive damages for violation of equal protection rights secured by the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution. My response: You Go Girl!!

July 24, 2011

Serenity Sunday

I hope your day is full of peaceful thoughts
We need time to dream, time to remember and time to reach the infinite.
Time to be.
~Gladys Taber


.

July 21, 2011

Trying to Regain some Skills

     So  prior to the great event (aka my stroke) this February I loved cooking.  Truly it didn't bother me when someone asked what was for dinner as I usually woke up thinking what can I make tonight.  OK not every day but most days.  For some reason I don't understand I just can't get back into the swing of it.  Cooking is close to a chore and well my family is paying the price.
     You see I was spoiled.  When I first came home, and during my incarceration ~ yes that is what I consider living at Rehab, check this blog out if you don't believe me, our church family was providing meals 4 times a week. Many of those meals were large enough to have again as left overs or at least be a part of my regular "Cleaning out the Fridge/Freezer It's Buffet for Dinner Tonight".  Then another friend made 10 frozen meals that continued the blessing.  So somewhere around the end of May dinner was back on me full time.  Much to my dismay they've pretty much been boring and served no purpose other than fulfilling the state requirement of feeding my kids.  I then lucked out for 2 weeks in a row of not feeding the crew.  WHY?  Because they were gone on Mission Trips, Camp and Church Dinners for VBS. 
   This past week the younger 2 are at camp so its just DH and Em.  So I have decided to try and get my groove back.  Yeah that doesn't sound right.  How about "I'm trying to get into the Apron"? Who cares you know what I mean.  So my approach is no longer cook the tried and true but to reach out and explore where my kitchen hasn't gone before. (OK enough with the puns, maybe)  With that in mind I am going to once a week feature a new recipe and let you know how we fared.  And in keeping with my Lady Bren theme the posts shall be titled  Cue Royal Fanfare Please

 From the Royal Table......come on you know you love it!!


Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp With Ginger Rice
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups chicken or shrimp stock
  • 1" piece of garlic
  • 2 Pounds Broccoli or 1 pound Broccoli Florette's
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and cleaned Shrimp
  • 2 tsp cumin (divided 1 +1)
  • 2 tsp coriander (divided 1 +1)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (divided 1/2 +1/2)
  • 3 T canola oil (divide 1 1/2 + 1 1/2)
  • S/P how you like
  • 1 large lemon (zest too)
The entire meal should take you 25 minutes! Serves 4
Preheat oven to 425 have top rack on second highest level
Line Cookie Sheet with Foil

Place rice, stock, ginger and salt in pot.  Bring to boil, stir.  Cover and reduce heat to low and leave alone until ready to serve. Remove and discard Ginger
Divide Broccoli Florets into small pieces.  If you like peel the Broccoli stem and slice into thin coins.  In large bowl combine 1/2 of the spices and canola oil.  Mix well, add S/P to preference.  If you like very spicy food you may want to increase the chili.  Add the Broccoli and toss to coat using the best tool in the kitchen.. your hands.
Place the Broccoli on a cookie sheet and spread it out. Cook 10 minutes.
While the Broccoli is cooking have slaves  family members peel and clean shrimp,  Save the shells and you can make stock for next time ~ Recipe below.   Using same bowl from Broccoli once again combine oil and the remaining spices and the lemon zest.  Toss shrimp to coat.
Remove Broccoli from oven and add Shrimp.  Continue to cook both for another 10 minutes.

By now your house should smell wonderful!!
Serve over Ginger Rice with Lemon wedges

Enjoy!!

We loved this.... Easy clean-up and healthy to boot!!
I cannot take complete credit for this recipe I tweaked (not much, mostly the rice) it from The Wednesday Chef who got it from Melissa Clark.  (think I've mentioned everyone)


Shrimp Stock

It is pretty much up to you if you want to make this basic or with veggies.  I prefer to make my stocks as simple as possible so I am in complete control of the flavors when using in a recipe.
I simply place all the shells in a pot and add 2 qt water and cover.  As I like a really concentrated stock I let it boil away til I have 1 qt.  While cooking be sure to skim the top of the foam.
I use shrimp stock in rice ~~YUMMY
Also in seafood recipes that call for chicken stock. 
My favorite way to freeze stock is in the soup containers from take out Chinese

July 18, 2011

How Cheap Can You Be?

         Now I will openly admit to not being the most frugal person on the earth.  At the same time I can be pretty tight with my money.  However there are times when no matter how cheap I may be, even I would break down and pay for a babysitter.  So can someone please tell me when the tides turned and it became acceptable to bring babies to the movies????
          Once again I have sat in a major block buster movie and have had to endure the cries of a baby.  Now if I was watching the latest Disney or DreamWorks hit (and we all know I do go to them) not only do I expect to hear noisy kids I feel cheated if I don’t hear them laughing and reacting throughout the movie.  In fact one of my favorite movie experiences was during Disney’s  Brother Bear; having seen the commercial a million times all the kids in the audience chimed in when the bear said his name (this is the scene in different languages LOL)
     So today we went to see Harry Potter.  This is a two and a half hour movie and is rated pg-13.  At our theatre you can see any movie Mon – Thurs before 6 pm for $5.oo ~what a bargain!.  The movie was getting ready to start, all the previews are done and in walks a couple carrying an infant.  No stroller no car seat just them and their baby. I don’t care how well you plan nap time, we all know that baby is going to wake up during the movie and make his presence known.  And of course it will be during a subdued emotional moment.  Well our baby today did this not one but three times.  So in the safety of darkness, and really tall stadium seating, I called out~~ Get a babysitter!! What!?! I’m never going to see these people again, and they don’t know who said it.
     But come on, think about it.  You’d need a babysitter for what 3 maybe 3.5 hours.  Most teens would be happy with $20- $25 for that.  If you give up the movie popcorn and drink combo and that’s almost their entire fee right there. You only paid $10 for the movies.  Can't afford a babysitter? Then take turns and go with friends...... see simple solutions.
    I just don’t understand the whole thought process.  Yes it’s Harry Potter.  Sure you want to see it the first week.  But why do you feel that somehow your personal needs  wants are so important that who cares if your child ruins the movie for others.  UGGHH
      We were in Orlando when Avatar came out and the kids had to see it in 3D.  I think Michael almost died when we shelled out $75 for our 5 tickets.  Well just before the movie starts in walks a man with 2 children and a third in a stroller.  That’s right a stroller.  Now I’ll give him credit he sat down “out of the way” but REALLY??  Avatar, a three hour movie, a PG-13 close to R rated movie, is not the place for little kids. While he did his best to soothe them, walking a stroller back and forth during a movie….not cool. I did complain to the management and we were issued free passes for another movie; which made Michael happy as he felt that he had paid $75 for 2 movies.
     And while I'm on the subject if the movie is rated pg-13 or R why do you even have young elementary aged kids in there???  It blows my mind that parents then get upset that their precious kiddies just heard a few F bombs or saw nudity.  You may have grown up watching Land of the Lost but I’m guessing the movie version really isn’t what you remembered from Saturday mornings~ Nor is it something your 8 year old needs to see.  People do your homework and find out why a movie has a PG-13 rating!
          So here’s my royal world view on movies…..
IF you can’t afford a babysitter and the movie isn’t rated G…..STAY HOME with your baby!!!!!  We’ve all been there.  Sacrifices are simply part of parenting.  Let’s be honest, it isn’t rainbows and unicorns all the time. Just be thankful most movies come out on DVD a few months after they’ve hit the theatres so you won’t have to wait long. Plus microwave popcorn is sooo much better.

July 14, 2011

Well Thank you Duchess Catherine :0(

    It’s all over the news!  Duchess Catherine single handedly has sent women back into bondage.   Okay maybe its not completely  her fault due to the media reporting on every little movement and fashion decision she makes.  However due to her current fashion choice women everywhere are going to retreat back to the days of nylon bondage.  How could she do this to us??
   Duchess Catherine wears……. PANTYHOSE!!  STOCKINGS!!!   Of course hers doesn’t come out of a plastic egg (if you don’t know what that means then you can’t complain).  The pantyhose she’s wearing has been described as looking like it was made with fairy dust due to its shimmer.
   Fairy Dust?? It is going to take a lot more than fairy dust to convince me that women actually want to return to nylon bondage.  Come on you know it is true.  Tell me you know someone who sincerely misses wearing pantyhose?  Someone who misses the way you pray your nails won’t snag them as you put them on? Someone who loved doing the pantyhose shimmy pulling them on?  How many of us didn’t keep an extra pair in our office in case the ones we were wearing ripped.  I believe one of Newton’s laws states:  The more expensive pantyhose are the easier they rip.
     I remember learning that during the war having a pair of stockings was considered lavish.  The stockings used to have seams up the back, so women without would actually draw lines on the back of their legs to make it look like they were wearing stockings.  I can assure you that even if I did have a pair of stockings my lines would never have stayed straight without the help of glue!!  Never mind the girdle with the snaps…so not happening.  Guess I would have been a bad girl by fashion standards.. big surprise.
    Washable… sure they are.  Even when you properly hand washed your stockings they never really held their shape for long.  They come out of their egg all pretty and looking like legs that Barbie would die for.  After being worn and washed a few times they started looking like something Sasquatch would wear.
    Now the one teeny tiny little concession I will give Kate is that she is teeny tiny.  Unlike the majority of the rest of us, I’m confident her inner thighs have never met.  Walk around on a humid day wearing a pair of stockings and tell me your thighs weren’t willing to share state secrets.  I remember when I started wearing split slips with stockings my thighs sent me thank you notes. 
    The only people I imagine jumping for joy over Kate’s fashion decision is the stocking industry(that’s right I’m calling her Kate, no true royalty would inflect such harm to us).  They know that we’re all going to want to have shimmery legs like Kate.  They also know that not only are their products disposable but once we start buying them we’re going to buy them in multiple colors and varying styles.  Ka-Ching!!
     I can’t believe I am saying this but I think the only way we are going to win this battle we’ve been dragged into is our current obsession with flip-flops and sandals.  You try wearing stockings and get your toes into a flip flop!   And even with the styles that have seamless toes stockings and sandals rarely look good.
     Maybe, just maybe, Kate is doing this to suck up to HRH Grandma-ma.  If you are invited to dine with the Queen stockings are required of the women.  I’ll admit that if I, Lady Bren, were ever granted a royal dinner invitation I would enslave my legs into stockings though I wonder do they make them with pull-up handles  as I’m not sure I can do the stocking shimmy anymore.

July 11, 2011

The Letter

     Today's world is so digital.  We email everything from Birthday cards to Birth announcements.  Many people now even choose to send their Christmas cards digitally.  Being a fairly green family I get it I do.  However tending to be an old fashioned person I truly miss the days of receiving written notes in the mail.    
     Listening to the radio last week I came in on the end of a segment about American recipes.  It really wasn't holding my attention until they had a caller tell this story:
 For generations his family had a secret Egg Nog recipe. When you were deemed old enough Grandpa would swear you to secrecy and then share the recipe.  Then last year Grandpa passed away.  While organizing his papers one of the sons found the Egg Nog recipe written down by Grandpa.  That Christmas everyone received a copy of the hand written recipe.  I almost cried when I heard that it touched me so.  Yes I used to cry at Hallmark commercials too.
  You see there's something about seeing someone else's handwriting.  Knowing that they took the time to think of you.  Holding something that they were holding while thinking of you.  And not just in a fleeting moment but taking out the time to let you know you were in their thoughts.  During my stroke recovery I received a number of cards and kept them displayed around my room while at the hospital.  When I finally got home there were days when I could barely make it across the street to the mailbox. Finding a hand addressed envelope made the effort all the more worthwhile.
    While I was at school I kept asking my Dad to send me a letter.  He kept telling me that just wasn't his thing.  Finally one day it happened.  There is my mailbox was a letter from my dad. I still have that letter today.  I take it out every now and then.  The fold marks are starting fade the writing but that doesn't matter. I lost my Dad 9 years ago and that letter is the only thing I have in his handwriting that's more than a signature at the bottom of a card.
     Maybe this is why I am such a Christmas Card snob.  I start shopping for Christmas cards as soon as they hit the shelves looking for just the right one.  Inside I acknowledge each family members by name.  In addition to a quick note I also sign each of my family members' names not Lady Bren and family.  I love receiving Christmas pictures and newsletters from friends and family.  BUT it drives me nuts when everything is computerized.  It almost makes the whole thing feel very sterile.  I'm all for computer addressing the envelopes....heaven bless those postal workers and some of the handwriting they have to deal with.  I just want to know that you sent our family a card because you were really thinking of us and we're not simply a label Microsoft Works created.

    I recently started collecting together the recipes I use for our holiday dinners.  I thought I would make a book for each of my three kids. (Of course now there's kits at Sam's to help you create a family recipe book)  Unfortunately I don't have any family recipes never mind hand written ones to pass along.  Shat I am going to do is include a hand written copy of their favorite recipes.  If I start now while they're teenagers it should be pretty full by the time they all get married.

 

July 7, 2011

Responsible Parent or Busybody

    I have three very different kids.   They approach so many things in life differently that sometimes it amazes me.  Em follows rules and doesn't understand why others don't.  Patrick is looking for every loop hole.  To be honest the jury is still out on Meg but who knows.  Though a friend has suggested we start a bail found for her now, it's always the quiet ones she says.
     With that being said it wasn't surprising that Em was very upset about what she found posted on a friend's facebook page.  She brought it to me for advice. As with most things there are different approaches to handling problems.  Here's the dilemma.  She's concerned about this girl as a friend and from a Christian stand point (Em is a youth leader at our church).  I am looking at it from both a parent perspective as well as legal....
    Her friend is turning 19, from here on out we will call her Carol.  Carol and her best friend have sent out invitations to her b'day party.  This party, whose location is a secret, will include beer pong, shots and a ring of fire. FYI: Ring of Fire is a drinking game played with a deck of cards.  Carol's two older sisters are on her FB often so I can't imagine them not being aware of this.  Add to the fact there are a number of pictures of Carol with bottles of beer and such on her FB page as well.
     I understand everyone has different policies about alcohol in their home.  Some people allow their kids to drink in their house once they turn 18.  Others allow a glass of wine on special occasions and holidays.  While some people do not want their kids drinking at all until they are 21.  The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 made it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or publicly possessing alcohol.  The law did not make it illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol. There are states that did extend the law to include private consumption as well.  Some states have specified under what conditions underage consumption is to be allowed.  Florida does not allow anyone under the age of 21 to drink, purchase or even possess alcohol. 

     I know Carol's parents just in the sense that I know who they are.  We've carpooled the girls a number of times but have never socially interacted.  I don't believe I've ever had a conversation with either Mom or Dad when it wasn't about a shared event.  So this is not a close friend we're discussing.

     Is it my responsibility to talk to the parents?  For all I know they're OK with what's going on, or possibly have a "kids will be kids" approach to parenting .  There are so many ramifications to this entire situation.  If I don't call them and something horrible happens could I ever forgive myself~doubtful.  What if I do call them and simply get the phone version of a smile and nod; I'd still be worried and even wonder if they would tell the girls to move the party.  Deep inside part of me feels the only truly responsible thing to do is find out the location and notify the police.  Do I also want to turn my daughter into a spy to get the complete information?

     I know I am lucky.  Many kids may see an invite like that laugh to themselves and move on.  I love, no rejoice that Em feels close enough to share her concerns with me.  I also know that I can't right now guarantee that my other two will behave in the same way when approached with something like this, I'd like to believe they will but there's not guarantees in parenting.
    Parenting is such an evolving event.  We have to know how to constantly morph to each child's needs and personality while still maintaining our standards.  I believe that every time we respond to a situation not only are we learning more about ourselves but our children are watching and taking notes for when it is their turn to be the parent.

     What would you do?

July 5, 2011

She Came Home Without One

     Our children grow up with our likes and dislikes.  They learn to embrace what we do and often fear what we fear.  But what if your fear is based on a personal experience and unfortunately effects thier lives?
     I grew up on Long Island.  The neighborhood had maybe 20 houses and no other streets feeding it.  Brook wasn't a tight community but everyone knew each other and this is where your main group of friends came from.  There actually weren't a lot of girls on my block so I did a lot of babysitting. 
     As with most neighborhoods there was that one Mom that stood out as the coolest.  Ours was Mrs. Clark.  She was the mom of three boys and I alwasy thought how sad it was she didn't have a girl because she was so crafty and just sweet.  It wasn't uncommon for the Clarks to take a group of the neighborhood boys with them wherever they went.  Their house, cars and hearts were always open.
     Then it happened.  In the summer before my senior year tragedy hit our small neighborhood.  Mrs. Clark took a bunch of boys to the beach.  A storm came out of no where.  Despite lifeguards and the boys being strong swimmers Mrs. Clark came home one boy short.  His body was never found.  I will never forget watching Mr and Mrs. Clark walk home after talking to the boy's parents.  I had never seen devastation on someone's face before.
     Being the family's babysitter I pretty much lived there for a while.  The parents and most of the neighborhood spent days at the beach searching for thier son.  I stayed behind to help with their younger two children and to update family members as they called. The Catholic Church has a special mass for children and I hope no parent ever has to have it said. 
     As you can imagine this tragedy had quite an effect on our small community.  It was years before Mrs. Clark was herself again.  I was surprised to learn while in college that the family had another child and named him for their lost son.  They never moved away.
    
      Fast forward some 20 years.  We live in Florida about 30 minutes from the beach. My kids know the rule.  They're not happy about it but they know it just the same.  They may not go to the beach unless I am with them.  Is this irrational?  Of course I don't think so.  While my kids know the story of why I have this rule being typical teenagers they believe they are indestructible and that could never happen to them. When the youth group at church goes to the beach I go along, they always need drivers anyway.
     This really wasn't so much of a problem when they were younger.  Most families I know usually don't take a group of kids in addition to their own to the beach.  But now their friends are driving and they want to go to the beach for the day.  Em's in college how can I really tell her not to go to the beach with her friends!
      We went to lunch Friday to celebrate Sail Academy Graduation and one of the moms asked if I spent the week worrying about Patrick and the water.  Surprisingly I didn't.  In fact it didn't even occur to me to be worried as they were on the River not in the ocean. 

     So I have this fear based on an intense experience~ when do I just let go?
    
    
  

July 4, 2011

Is this what they meant?

     Fourth of July.  Fireworks, Apple Pie, Baseball these are the typical things that come to mind.  And of course remembering the incredible battle our nation forged some 230 years ago.  If you have not seen the John Adams documentary that HBO put out I strongly recommend it.  What was endured in those times so that you and I can sit in our lawn chairs and celebrate our nations birthday is almost unfathomable.
     We as Americans hold tightly and proudly our Constitution and all the rights that it grants us.  Freedom of Speech and Religion are the first guarantees in our Bill of Rights.  What is so often looked aside is that there are no limits on what speech and religion are protected.  We used to see a car around the neighborhood that had a couple of Wiccan bumper stickers.  As much as I don't believe in Wiccan I believe in their right to choose that as their faith and to proudly announce it to the world.  If I want to have a Christian Fish on my mini-van then I can't be upset if someone else has a Darwin Fish eating a Christian Fish on their suburban.
   I was involved in a glorious discussion earlier today on FB.  A friend posted a picture of a newly elected Member of Parliament in Australia.  For his swearing in ceremony instead of the Bible he used the Qur'an.  She posted this question: If he was sworn in to Australian Government, with hand on the Qur'an, does that make him sworn into Australian Parliament and held to Australian laws & regulations, or is he held to Muslim law?  This then led to discussion of Sharia Law and it's impact.  An argument was made that most of the laws we have today are based on Judeo-Christian teachings, with that being true why shouldn't they take in consideration other religions that are now a part of the population.  Well you know me I had to go off and research what both sides of the story beyond my personal perceptions.
     The ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) is currently proposing just that.  They are currently preparing to launch a National Sharia Campaign whose purpose is to confront the growing Islamaphobe in our country as well as to educate people of influence from top government leaders to high school teachers what Sharia is all about.  Texas and Minnesota both already have Sharia Courts in place.  The debate over how Sharia Law is to be included in court rooms is a hot election topic.  This past November Oklahoma residents overwhelmingly passed an amendment to their constitution that bars  judges from considering Islamic or any other international law in Oklahoma state courts. A federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect while she determines whether it violates the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits establishment of a state religion in response to a suit being filed by Muneer Awad,a muslim..  Awad says the Oklahoma law would prohibit a judge from probating his will, written in compliance with Islamic principles, or adjudicating other domestic matters such as divorces and custody disputes involving Muslims.  Oklahoma is not alone in this turmoil.  Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah all have proposed similar laws. 
     So here's the thought for the day.... Is this what freedom of religion and speech are all about?  If I want the right to be Anglican and shout it from the roof tops I believe my Muslim neighbor be able to do the same.  If we are to respect all religions where does that respect stop? However just as I don't want to have the French Constitution being used as a basis for any legal decision I surely don't want any other religious document being used either. 
     One last input.  While we were in London last year I read in the local papers where communities were having problems with Sharia Law being used for criminal cases as well as family.  A Bishop in the UK just last month launched a Bill to tackle the foot hold Sharia Courts have in that country.

     Was this something our forefathers fought for?

July 1, 2011

Forget the Toothpaste Cap.... Let's talk Paint

    In 1989 we were married at St Patrick's Catholic Church in NY.  We had to attend to Pre Cana which is the Catholic premarital class.  For four weekends we and about 10 other couples listened to varying priests talk about communication, commitment to the church and sex.  Our class usually headed to the local bar afterwards LOL.  During their chats on communication they discussed how little things could turn into big disagreements.  Do you squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom or the middle, do you load the toilet paper over or under!!
    When couples are filing for divorce I guarantee no one stated missing toothpaste caps as the center of their irreconcilable differences. Talking with friends of mine after money and family some of the worst arguments they have had has been over Laundry.  I'm not talking about what kind of fabric softener is being purchased I'm talking about the actual chore of washing clothes.
     Tell a newly engaged couple that they will actually yell at each other over how the laundry was done and they'll give you "that'll never be us" smile.  Little do they know what lies around the bend.  I can't tell you the amount of times Michael and I have gone more than a few rounds over the Laundry. "What do you mean you put in a couple of towels?" "You should be happy I did the wash"  Oh it goes round and round and round.
~~I know some of you are giggling to yourself in agreement

    Here in my glorious world I believe I have discovered the greatest way to determine if a couple really can/should get married.  Decorate a room.  I'm not talking about moving around furniture. I mean they need to start from scratch.  After they've spent countless hours pouring over paint samples and deciding should they buy a matched set or pieces of furniture sit back and watch the fun.  Sure the first hour or so it is fun but then oh then the reality of it all sets in.  Taping the edges or not? Do you roll in a W or just up and down?  Once they're done with that it is onto furniture.  Being newlyweds money will be tight. Where can you get the most for your money.... IKEA.  Four hours later after trying to follow "simple" instructions and searching for missing screws if they are still making lovey dovey eyes at each other and you've ruled out the use of opiates you can pretty much plan on attending their silver anniversary party.  If they scream and yell at each other, you might want to walk away as we all know how heated up fighting can quickly turn into heated passion.  However if nothing gets finished and they leave in separate cars cancel the babysitter there won't be a wedding.

    22 years, 2 houses, tens of gallons of paint later we're still here.  I paint in a W with thick coats of paint and Michael goes up and down spreading it out as much as possible.  We've learned we each approach jobs differently.  It's part of the process.  I like to read instructions, as a male Michael finds it insulting.  I've learned to load the toilet paper over, he's learned to squeeze from the bottom.  So I think the Catholic Church is missing out on a real opportunity here.  Don't give engaged couples a workbook and send them to a nice retreat instead lock them in the gym and put them to work redecorating the Sunday School Classes.  Not only will the church be able to counsel these couples on communication skills  but they'll always have updated classrooms in the process.
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