Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Happy Marriage

"Do you have a happy marriage?"  A divorcing client recently asked me this question.  It's not the first time a client in that situation has asked me if my marriage is a good one and, if so, how do I do it.  I answer with a "Yes" and usually follow it up with "It takes work to make a happy marriage - work from both spouses."

The answer I would like to give is more involved...

A good marriage takes work.  That work begins before a couple marries.  I've seen people who dated six weeks before exchanging vows have a marriage that lasts decades.  I've seen people who date for ten years before their wedding yet divorce within the first year after their nuptials.  While being with someone a set amount of time before getting married may have some influence on the length of a marriage, I completely believe that the expectations the couple has for their marriage has more of an impact. 

Before my husband and I married, we were required to attend Pre-Cana - a marriage course/counseling a couple is required to attend before getting married in a Catholic Church.  What a wonderful experience that was!  While Pre-Cana may mean several sessions privately with a priest or deacon or a weekend retreat led by clergy with other couples planning to get married, our Pre-Cana was a series of weekly sessions led by a couple in our church who had been married for some 20 years.  Our priest would talk with us on occasion about our progress through the Pre-Cana course.  I recall meeting with our mentor couple - discussing our plans for a family, parenting styles, finances, future employment, our expectations from one another.  It was a slow, time-consuming process [that is said with fondness, not complaint] that forced us to contemplate things that would happen in our marriage - and prepare us for the way we would handle the unexpected.  While Pre-Cana cannot coach a couple into knowing every pitfall that might creep up during a lifelong marriage, it does give a couple the knowledge that there will be good times and bad times, and you've got to work through it all...together.

Another thing Pre-Cana taught us is that our marriage is a marriage of three - me, my husband, and God.  Personally, I think it's hard to expect a marriage to work if God is not part of "the deal."  I have been to country club weddings, hotel ballroom weddings, waterfall weddings - and I always have a bit of an empty feeling.  Sometimes there is an invocation and God is mentioned, but there is a lack of the holy, sacramental nature of the ceremony without the church setting.  Without the presence of God, even from the outset, I think the parties to the marriage are going to have to work even harder still than those with a marriage where God is part of that marriage of three.

So, while I know not every couple getting married has the benefit of Pre-Cana, I do believe every couple should take advantage of religious pre-marital counseling. 

It's unfortunate that women (and sometimes even the men) get caught up in the wedding ceremony.  This is NOT the premarriage work I discussed above.  Couples (and/or their parents) spend thousands, if not multiples of thousands, of dollars for one day.  Let me say that again.  ONE.  DAY.  Many of those same couples do not take the time to look beyond that day - or to look beyond that day together.  Months spent buying flowers, trying on dresses, picking colors, registering for gifts, interviewing photographers, and tasting cakes; however, planning for their futures - the highs and lows, the stops and starts - never enters into their minds.  News flash:  The size of the wedding and the money spent do not relate to the length of the marriage!

I have many more opinions on the matter, but time and my unwillingness to sit at my computer any longer today, are drawing this little diatribe of mine to a close.  So, I'll end with this...

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  -Matthew 19:6

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weekly Report: September 15-19, 2011 (Week 7)

We had a family outing on Saturday afternoon. We decided to go on a hike, so we drove to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. We arrived just as the US Forest personnel were leaving for the day. On top of the mountain, the shop was closing and the flag was coming down. My children asked why the flag had to be taken down, so I gave them a mini-lesson on American flag etiquette. A few things popped to mind: don't fly flag during rainstorms, don't fly flag at night unless lit by spotlights, don't let flag touch the ground, fold the flag a certain way, etc. The Forestry workers asked the kids if they wanted to help, so they gladly, proudly joined in the flag folding.

Casey, as part of First Language Lessons Level 4, memorized Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Will, as part of FLL Level 2, memorized The Goops. I'm glad they are back to memorizing poetry and Bible verses - it's been a while.

Our nanny picked up my camera one day this past week and took this picture of Chaucer's hands. It's just so sweet, I had to post it!

I decided to throw in a picture of Casey at karate. I had my camera in the car when I took the kids to karate on Tuesday, so I brought it in. I got some great shots, but this was my favorite.

Not a complete recap, but just enough...

Monday, September 19, 2011

On (My) Writing

Nothing warms my heart more than seeing a look of understanding flash across my children's faces when they truly get something. I can almost see the cartoon lightbulb clicking on over their little heads.

Recently, I had my own "a-ha!" moment. I have finally begun to truly define my strengths and weaknesses. I read blogs where women describe their home schools, their days, their lives with beautiful, flowing prose and possessing a command of descriptive language I wish I could master. My discovery about myself is that I write in more concrete, black and white terms. My forte is legalese. On a daily basis - well, on a workday daily basis, I bandy about such phraseology as, "The parties having come on for hearing and the Plaintiff having been represented by counsel and the Defendant having acted pro se, and the Court having heard and considered the evidence presented thereto, finds and concludes as follows," or, "Please see a copy of Exhibit A which is attached hereto and incorporated as if fully set forth herein". You know, lofty language drilled into me by three years of law school, three years of writing for judges, and six years of private practice. And, no, I didn't copy that stuff out of a book; it oozes from my fingertips at least three days a week.

So, as much as I wish I could flourish adjectives about as if they were rose petals donning my nook on the internet (hey, that wasn't too bad for a Black's Law Dictionary junkie), I will settle for my lackluster but (hopefully) grammatically correct entries.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Weekly Report: September 8-11, 2011 (Week 6)

Busy week, both academically and socially... We're making progress through our subjects, albeit, not quite on the schedule I created last spring. Life takes over and we have to stray from the plan. However, the reason I make the plan is to guide me and help gauge just how far off course I'm getting. So far, I'm only a few days off the mark. (That's why I've built in a lot of slow weeks to use as catch up days or to give us a break if we're on track - usually more of the former than the latter.)

On Friday, we went to the park and met up with our homeschool group. It was pleasant to spend a couple of hours talking to the other moms while
our kids played, screamed, and ate watermelon. Chaucer ate A LOT of watermelon!

On Saturday morning, Richard took the kids to L0we's to build a police car. We discovered the Bui1d & Grow activities last spring. My children have made more wooden contraptions than we have room for, but they enjoy building something they can play with - and I like i
t because it's FREE! I didn't go on this excursion because the homeschool group was hosting an introduction to homeschool "how to" seminar for the community. I was on hand to help explain the law, but it was thoroughly covered by a couple of moms who have been homeschooling for many years. Four moms were there wanting to learn about homeschooling. Exciting! Sunday, we opened our digital microscope. I snagged this from Amaz0n a few weeks ago for $15 (including Prime shipping)! We looked at everything from a dead spider to money to Chaucer's belly button.

Speaking of Chaucer, he started sleeping in his own (well, shared with his broth
er) bedroom this week! My little boy is sleeping in his bottom bunk bed - and is staying ALL NIGHT!!! (Even though I cosleep with my babies from the time they are born, they have all been out of my bedroom well before they turn 2!)

On Monday, I didn't go to work (I have a seminar in Atlanta this weekend). I wanted to make it a special day. After starting school early and working through breakfast, I surprised the kids by loading them up and taking them to the park. The kids did their various Languag
e Arts subjects for well over an hour, we had a snack, then played for an hour. It was so much fun - and we were the ONLY ONES there!!! The weather was perfect for homeschooling in the park - I'm surprised there weren't other mommies there, especially ones with babies and toddlers!

Our week concluded with Casey, Will, and Tricky's performance at a county fair. They sang "So Long, Farewell" from "The Sound of Music." The hours of singing in the car and rehearsing in the kitchen and living room showed!

Monday, September 12, 2011


My four year old, Tricky, asked a question this evening: Who do you like better, Guy Fawkes or Justin Bieber?


Monday, September 5, 2011

Weekly Report: September 1 - 4, 2011 (Week 5)

For Labor Day weekend, we decided to be "one with nature" and go camping! We drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mt. Pisgah, North Carolina, on Friday.

Upon our arrival, there were only few tent sites available - and those, only for one night. There were several RV sites available for 3 nights, but we would have to put our tent on the pavement (ouch!). We drove around, searching out the tent sites. We came upon the first couple we knew were available, but weren't impressed with what those sites had to offer, so we kept driving. As we rounded corner after corner, the sites the Ranger marked as open had just been taken. By the time we revisited those first two tent sites, they had been snagged, too! So, we opted for an RV site - yes, we'd have to pop the tent on pavement, but at least we wouldn't have to move after the first night.

You know, having the tent on the pavement wasn't too bad... At least Richard and I had an air mattress! (No, our children weren't deprived... they had plenty of padding beneath their sleeping bags - and Casey even CHOSE to sleep without the padding!

Our first night there, Richard made a dinner that was nothing short of amazing! Using sausage, carrots, potatoes, onion, broth, and seasoning, he created a heavenly meal for us. Everyone LOVED it! (I even ate my carrots and potatoes... I usually loathe and despise vegetables, but these were great!)

On Saturday morning, hiked up Frying Pan Trail with a group led by a Ranger. The children were very inquisitive and chatty and, between the Ranger's discussion and my children's questions, we learned a lot about the various flowering plants and trees on the trail.

Saturday evening, after having hot dogs, baked beans, and Richard's cast-iron-dutch-oven cornbread (FABULOUS!), we (unfortunately) attended a Campfire Conversation headed by possibly the most incompetent Ranger I've ever encountered. Not only could she not get her campfire started (despite having dry wood, dry leaves, newspaper, several kitchen lighters, a box of matches, and an audience member's lighter), but she was positively the worst ghost story teller I've ever heard. We can't even get qualified storytellers out of our government! Because Chaucer started shining flashlights in people's faces and due to his being an especially unruly toddler when forced to sit still and listen to bad storytelling, the children and I left. (Richard left out of disgust, I believe, after the Ranger couldn't start her fire.) Despite their cries of the unfairness and injustice wrought upon them by their parents, the kids enjoyed the replacement entertainment: s'mores by our own ROARING campfire.

Sunday, we traveled up the Parkway to Mount Mitchell. Stopping at several sites along the way - including a few overlooks and the Folk Arts Center - our stay at Mitchell was brief. We had planned to have a picnic lunch, but it started raining as we pulled into the parking lot. We ran up to the top, snapped a few photos, then walked briskly down to our car where we ate our lunch in the cramped confines of our Highlander. On the way back to Pisgah, we stopped at Craggy Gardens so I could stamp my Park Passbook in the visitor's center. Guess who I should see as I'm walking in? None other than my "favorite" Ranger who can't start a fire!

Raining the entire trip back to Pisgah, Richard and I decided that we shouldn't stay another night. We had a few educational moments during that drive back - explaining to the children how flash floods work [despite a very impassioned argument by Will who said that God sent the rainbow promising not to flood the earth again - and my explanation that the rainbow doesn't mean God can't flood a mountain].

After making another wonderfully filling dinner, this time of chicken breast cooked in sweet tea and a mixture of tomato sauce and spices, we packed up our things and headed home.

Our weekend was full of camping, the outdoors, games, nature studies, and various interludes of my reading about spies of the Civil War and Isaac Newton. I love homeschooling!