Twitter Facebook

Inspired by that kid in the red striped t-shirt.

Last night Mike helped me make one of my dreams come true.


Mike grew up in Michigan so he knows a thing or two about snow.

That’s right.  One of my dreams was to build a monster out of snow.  Call me crazy, I won’t deny it.  I grew up in California, the land of perpetual sunshine.  Before I moved to the City I could count the number of times I’d seen snow on one hand and still have fingers left over.  As a child I was a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes and I always believed that if I had been lucky enough to live in a place with snow, I’d be the kid building wild snow scenes in the yard every day after school.

Then we moved to the City and it was three years before we got enough snow, enough sticky snow, to build anything.  I started small and with the help of three little girls who’d never built a snowman before:


The abominable snow lump.

A few days later, Adam and I got a little more advanced.  But then, Adam has a lot of snowman-making experience:


Frosty the snowman and his trusty sidekick, Freezy the snowdog.

Last night I got home from work around five and dragged Michael from his warm nest in front of the computer to the park around the corner.  It was perfect snowman-making weather and I was determined to take advantage of it.


Snowzilla tramples everything in his wake!


Snowzilla has trampled a car and the people, mouths agape, run screaming. But ah ha! A tank is on it's way to shoot missiles at the monster!


Let your imagination run wild...

Warm, still, calm, quiet.  Just Mike and I, mittens full of snow, snow up to our knees, throwing ideas around like snowballs.  “How about a tank?”  “Ah! His tail looks great!  How’d you do that?”  “What if he’s tromping a car under his toes?”  “Here, try this for the arms.”  The sun went down and it started snowing again.  People walking by pointed and exclaimed, snapped photos.  It was a perfectly perfect evening.

Tips for Happy Couples, #2

Cultivate common interests After the passion settles down, it’s common to realize that you have few interests in common. But don’t minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. If common interests are not present, happy couples develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting to your mate and prevent you from appearing too dependent.

Mark Goulston, Ph.D.

Bury a cold nose in the crook of his shoulder

I am kind of a snob when it comes to my marriage, I just want to admit that right now. I am convinced that my marriage is the best marriage in the world. I’m pretty sure that the way I feel about my marriage is similar to the way I’ll one day feel about my children and the way I currently feel about my dogs. The only reason you don’t hate me is because no matter what I think, I know as well as you do that my marriage is not perfect. No one’s marriage is ever perfect.

Mike and I have worked really hard to be happy. We’ve spent four out of the six years we’ve been together in couples counseling. In college I made the mistake of dating someone I didn’t really like for an entire year because I thought that at some point I was going to have to grow up and pick someone to marry and it might as well be him. I misunderstood “working to keep a relationship happy” for “working to force two people who do not belong together to act like they’re happy”. I know better now. Mike and I went into couples counseling because we saw in each other people with similar values and similar goals; we had a lot in common and we were crazy about each other but we’d stopped communicating without fighting and we didn’t want to be that couple that fights all the time.

See how proud I am of my marriage? All of that up there? Those run-on sentences? That was bragging.

In the last four days I have worked forty hours. Mike, who is still looking for EMT work, has taken sole responsibility for the dogs, the cats, my meals, the laundry, the groceries and everything else it takes to run a household. When I leave for work in the morning my belly is full and there’s a packed lunch in my backpack. When I come home at night there’s hot tea and a bowlful of soup ready and waiting, all of the chores have been done and I am free to spend the rest of my evening doing whatever I want. I curl up with my tea and I write and I write and even though I worked for ten hours I can write for three or four more before collapsing in bed.

All week I have gushed and sighed and squeezed Mike’s hands and kissed his nose and thanked him for taking such magnificent care of me. But it wasn’t until right before dinner tonight, the fourth day of the week, the fourth day of Michael rubbing my feet and pouring more coffee and closing the window so I don’t catch a chill, when he suddenly stood up from painting and wrapped his arms around my waist, that I realized we hadn’t hugged all week. Not once.

See? Even we screw up. We work so hard all week to show each other we care; he cooks, I eat, he cleans, I compliment, but we don’t even hug until Thursday. And all that other stuff is incredible, I get that, I am not complaining, I am absolutely thrilled. But there’s something about a good bear hug, an everything is going to be wonderful hug, a you’re my best friend in the world hug, that just makes a girl feel heavenly.

Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work Our skin has a memory of “good touch” (loved), “bad touch” (abused) and “no touch” (neglected). Couples who say hello with a hug keep their skin bathed in the “good touch,” which can inoculate your spirit against anonymity in the world. –Mark Goulston, PhD How To Be A Happy Couple

We just made a pact to hug every day after work. I need the hugs and he deserves them.

We Deserve An Award

Today is the thirty-second day of my moon cycle. I am grumpy. I’m wearing an entire pants-size larger than I wear the rest of the month because my body is that bloated. I worked all day, the longest day I’ve worked in weeks, and when I came home the only thing I could focus on was a small wad of Valentine’s hair sitting on the floor next to the lumber pile. Now, neither of those things is unusual. Valentine sheds like a m*ther f*cker. I could probably make a million dollars selling Chihuahua-mutt pillows if I thought people would buy them, she sheds that much. And the lumber pile is a collection of wood that Mike’s salvaged from the street, which he keeps in a neat stack in a corner of our living room so that it’s easily accessible when he has time to build something. And let me tell you, some beautiful hand-crafted furniture has come from that lumber pile. However, it being the thirty-second day of my moon cycle, I didn’t care that the lumber pile was right where it belongs or that Valentine had simply shed her usual daily pound of fur. My eyes crossed and I began to froth at the mouth.

That’s when Michael walked into the room holding a mop and a broom. “I’ll do the floors if you’ll vacuum.”
“Dinner’s in the oven and I’ve all ready cleaned out the litter box.”
“And I just finished putting away all the laundry.”
“You did the laundry?”
“I would definitely marry you if we weren’t all ready married.”

My dear, sweet, wonderful husband has made great use of a little tool I call the Moon Cycle Chart, and he is a safer man for it. He knows exactly when to expect mood swings and cravings and crazy. He knows exactly what day the stack of mail on the coffee table is going to make me cry. I created the chart to help me figure out when my hormones do what, but Mike’s paid attention and learned how to help me circumvent the worst symptoms of my moon time.

Not too long ago, the lumber pile and the dog hair would have ruined our night. It wouldn’t have mattered that dinner was ready or that the laundry was done because I’d pour every ounce of my energy into what was wrong instead of seeing what was right. It’s easy to do when you’re all ready tired and grumpy. But Mike’s learned how to anticipate my hormones and I’ve learned how to redirect my focus and we’re much happier for it. Instead of spending the night in cold, angry silence, we enjoyed a wonderful meal and then curled up with an episode of Law & Order while we rubbed each other’s feet.

A few months ago my dad sent me a list of Ten Habits of Happy Couples. He found it on the blog Usable Insight, written by Mark Goulston, M.D. Dr. Goulston is a clinical psychiatrist who honed his communication skills while working as an FBI/police hostage negotiation trainer. Now he teaches people how to get through to each other. He even has a book out. This is number five on that list:

Focus on what your partner does right rather than on what he or she does wrong. If you look for things your partner does wrong, you can always find something. If you look for what he or she does right, you can always find something. It all depends on what you want to look for. Happy couples accentuate the positive.