Category Archives: marriage

Islamorada, the trip of a Lifetime

For most of our married life, Hubs and I aspired to take a dream vacation to a tropical locale. I think the seed was planted in our romantic brains when we were newlyweds and adopted the Beach Boys song “Kokomo” as our anthem.

 

When times got tough like when our two spawn were expressing their teenage angst by slamming bedroom doors or reminding us how many days till they turned 18 when they could fly out of our godforsaken coop,  or when the demands of work and keeping our home functioning in good order amped up our stress levels, we would often partake of sharing our daydreams of the perfect beachy vacation for two.

Funnily enough, and despite the lyrics of this song clearly commanding us to visit the Florida Keys, this was not actually our first choice. We first considered a trip to Hawaii (still very much on my travel bucket list). That was determined a “no go” once we saw how long the flight would be and how freaking expensive it would also be. I mean, we had surely saved up ample money over the years for this vacay, but we were most certainly not willing to spend the bulk of it on a flight to get to and fro.

That’s when we did a little search on the Internet and found Islamorada. We booked 4 nights at Ocean House, a small but beautiful resort with great amenities, the best of which was the close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico.

Their couldn’t have been a better location for us to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. For reals. 

This vacation was beyond wonderful. The staff greeted us upon our arrival with a cold adult beverage and chatted with us about where we were from and what types of experiences we wished to have while in Islamorada. The cabin we stayed in was spic and span and featured a sliding glass door that led to a covered patio, complete with two oversized lounging chairs overlooking the property and the Gulf just beyond it. We seriously enjoyed our personally delivered breakfasts of fresh fruit cups, freshly made  pastries, and hot coffee each morning while lounging in these chairs, pondering that day’s itinerary.

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Looking at the Gulf on Ocean House property

During the day, we spent time lollygagging on the beach at the Ocean House and swimming in their spacious pool. At night we would sit around the fire pit on the property and chat with other couples vacationing there from places like New York state and the U.K. Or we’d take a soak in the hot tub, which was next to that beautiful pool.

When we were feeling more adventurous, we went out exploring the Keys, like the day we swam with the dolphins or the day we visited Key West and got our picture taken next to the southern most point in America. Or the day we went on a charter boat for some deep sea fishing.

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Hubs looking fine with his dimples and new hat while deep sea fishing
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So glad we got this pic. God only knows why I felt the need to carry such a big purse.

Since this vacation, Hubs and I have often talked about going back there someday. We aren’t necessarily the type of people who vacation at the same places we’ve been to before. Because we like exploring places that are brand new to us, together. We think it makes life much more interesting. However, Islamorada is one of two places (the other being Washington D.C. but it almost doesn’t count because Hubs has to go there twice a year for work and I’m a really good “tagalonger”) we both would happily visit again.

Except it wouldn’t be as magical or special as it was the first time. It just wouldn’t. Especially now. 

Present Day Islamorada

Hurricanes suck. Climate change sucks. My heart goes out to all of the people living there now. I am eternally grateful that Hubs and I got to experience it when we did.

I am equally grateful that despite the horrific damage Irma left in it’s wake, the dolphins seemed to have come out unscathed.

Theater of the Sea animals safe

 

 

 

Song Stories

I love how certain songs evoke specific memories, don’t you? Like you turn on the radio and a song comes on that just pulls you in. For me, sometimes I don’t even understand what the connection is that allows a particular song to invade my brain and heart with long forgotten memories. Like the song “Dance With Me” by Orleans, which came out in 1970 something when I was probably 6 years old. When I hear this song, I instantly recall my mom’s friend Bev. She loved me and I loved her. She had two daughters of her own, who were much older than me, in high school actually. My mom has told me that when I was little, I was actually the only baby amongst her group of friends, many of whom had children older than me. So I got a lot of attention back then. Especially from Bev. I remember spending afternoons at her house, just me and her, making craft projects using juicy fruit wrappers. Bev died of cancer when I was about 9. I knew she was sick for a while, and it made me so sad. I remember being in the hallway of the hospital, waiting for my parents and being angry at them because they wouldn’t let me see Bev. Of course, they were trying to protect me from emotional pain. I so wanted to see her again but never got the chance. My best guess is that “Dance with Me” must have been playing on the radio at some point on the way to Bev’s, on the way home, or when I was hanging out with this lovely woman making weird crafts.
Dance with me

And then there’s the song Sister Christian by Night Ranger.
Sister Christian
This one evokes memories of being a newly licensed driver at 16. I relished the independence of driving all by myself in my dad’s dark brown Ford Thunderbird through our small town in Minnesota. This song would come on which would prompt me to crank it up and sing along at the top of my lungs. If it was still on when I got to wherever it was I was headed, I parked and kept the car running so that I could listen/sing until the very end. This activity made me feel cooler than cool (though admittedly, I was by all accounts the opposite of cool at that point in my life).

Nowadays, when I happen to hear Little River Band’s Reminiscing, I feel a sense of light and playfulness. It vividly brings back scenes from a summer when I was probably 10 or 11, and my parents and I went tubing on the Apple River. We were part of a caravan of my parent’s friends, cousins, and their kids, who were mostly older than me. The sun was shining, the water was crisp and cold, and the beer was flowing for the adults as was the pop (Orange Crush and Dad’s Root Beer come to mind) for those of us under the legal drinking age. What a sweet childhood memory!

When Hubs and I got hitched back in 1990, I was adamant that the song “Evergreen”, originally performed by Barbra Streisand, be sung at our wedding. It is a dramatically beautiful and romantic song and I felt it captured the love I felt for my soon to be husband. I remember I had to actually put up a bit of a fight to get the minister’s approval for my cousin’s wife to sing this song. The line “you and I will make each night a first” for some reason apparently offended his Lutheran sensibilities. But in the end the song was sung. And it made me bawl like a baby during the ceremony. I was overcome with emotion and could hardly choke out the words “I do”, largely because of the sheer beauty and lyrics of this song.
Evergreen

Back around the time Hubs and I were engaged, I declared that “Kokomo” was “our song”. Kokomo
It is a sweetly romantic song that created in me a strong desire to whisk ourselves away to a tropical island where we could lay on the beach sipping fruity cocktails all day long. Just Hubs and I. No one else, no distractions. Just me and him and peace and quiet. We had to work hard for many years, but thankfully were able to take a splendid vacation by ourselves to Islamorada in the Florida Keys to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Kokomo was the theme song of course.

What’s your soundtrack, fellow music lovers?

On Marriage

On May 26 of this year, Hubs and I will have been married for 27 years. I think the wisdom we have gained in all that time has resulted in our marriage being stronger now than it ever was. It also doesn’t hurt that we are empty nesters living in Colorado. We have had our ups and downs, as all married couples do. Times when I was so furious with him that I found myself calling him not so nice names and he slammed cupboard doors. Times when disagreements about our kids got very overheated. Times when one of us got a raise or bonus at work, and we went out for dinner and drinks to commemorate the moment. Times when we got out into our boat on the Mississippi River and silently marveled at its beauty together. Times when we were so poor that we couldn’t scrape enough coins from under the tattered couch cushions to afford to rent a movie at the local convenience store for $1.99.

We have essentially grown up together. We have been together for longer than we haven’t. It’s really quite mind blowing when I think of it that way.

The most valuable piece of marital advice we received was given to us by a nurse in the hospital the day after giving birth to our first born, back in 1992. She implored us to keep our marriage the #1 priority. She explained that while we were now a family of 3, we needed to maintain focus on our marriage so that we could become a strong parental unit and set a good example for our kids. This advice stuck with us. We hired babysitters or took the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house as often as we possibly could.

I think most of the tricks on how to be successful at this marriage thing came gradually, through trial and error over all these years. I’ll share the ones I feel are most important.

Give each other a break when you can. Practice kindness on a daily basis.

Participate in activities the two of you equally enjoy as often as you can. We especially enjoy the quieter moments, like going out fishing or for a hike. Or to a cool, casual place for dinner or a cocktail.

Communicate often and as clearly as possible. Listen with an open heart. Know when to shut up and just let your partner vent.

Give your spouse lots of hugs.

Don’t let yourself go to bed angry at your spouse. You will not sleep well, if at all. And whatever you were angry about is still going to be there in the morning. Just hash things out as best you can.

Give each other space sometimes. No one is truly going to be happy feeling like their spouse is attached to them at the hip. We all need our alone time.

Acknowledge when your spouse has done something well. Thank them often. Everyone needs to feel appreciated. It’s human nature.

Be a considerate roommate. Don’t leave your dirty dishes or underwear lying around. Offer to do the dishes if your spouse has done the cooking.

Always remember you are a team. Imagine if your life together was a business. Love, mutual respect, and friendship are the foundation. Both partners have a stake in this business and work with each other, day in and day out, in order to achieve mutually desired success. One partner may have skills that you simply don’t possess. Likewise, you may have skills your partner doesn’t. Once you have a good handle on what those skills are, you and your spouse are equipped with the wisdom to successfully solve problems as a unit. This comes in especially handy when parenting your spawn.

Strive to keep things interesting! Go on spontaneous adventures together. Jump in the car in the morning and head out to parts unknown, even if just for the day. Hubs and I have so many great memories of days when our only goals were to see and/or do something new to both of us and to have as much fun as possible.

With a little luck, Hubs and I will be married for another 27 years. There will be more ups and downs, ones that will be expected as part of life and ones that will completely throw us for a loop. That is life. You take the good with the bad. I take much comfort in knowing that I have my best friend, the one who loves and accepts all sides of me, the one who makes me laugh the hardest, who makes me think the deepest, and the one I trust more than anyone in the world, with me through it all.