Princess Ky Background - The cutest blog on the block

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Part 3: The Beginning of Dan and Amy

To begin at the beginning of the story click here....

Part 3:

After our first kiss (the one on the top of my head), we both kind of knew we had advanced into a new place in our relationship.  Our letters took a more serious tone as we both contemplated the idea of nurturing a long-distance relationship.  Neither of us were really excited about that idea, as it is never fun to be apart, but we definitely were having feelings for each other. 

Little by little, those thoughts and feeling made their way into our letters and I would find myself eager to get to the mailbox each day.  I also remember the intense disappointment when there would be nothing there.  It wasn't long before I started to receive packages and gifts in the mail along with the many letters that Dan would pen to me throughout his training.  I'd receive letters on all kinds of writing material (paper, notebooks, whatever Dan had available in the field).  Sometimes, the letters would be covered in dirt and I thought it incredibly sweet that during his work day, he had been thinking about me enough to pen a few words during his lunch break or while waiting for orders.

It was really hard to be apart, but in the long run, it was really good for us.  It was good that we got to know each other from the inside out.  At the time, we had no idea that for the next 14 years, it would be just the two of us and by establishing such good communication techniques in our dating life, it made it really easy to communicate once we were married and even more so as we encountered the different hurdles in life.

Finally, Dan got a few more weekends off and was able to come visit me again.  We had a ton of fun just visiting, eating meals, going to church together and being able to talk face to face. It was amazing how easy it was to maintain this relationship.  (I guess that is how it is when it is the "right" relationship). 

Dan was every bit the gentleman.  He understood how important manners and etiquette were to me.  He even purchased a book about etiquette (I still grin picturing this army guy walking into a book store and buying an Amy Vanderbilt book of Etiquette) - wow he had it bad for me!  ha! ha!

One of my elective classes was "Home Entertaining".  My classmates and I were divided in groups and each group had to throw some kind of party.  We had to decorate, plan food,  and plan entertainment based on the things we had learned in the class.  My group had chosen the theme of a child's birthday party.  Each of us was required to bring a guest with us.  I asked my roommate (who was also Dan's friend), Sarah, if she would be my guest and she was happy to do me this small favor. 

Wouldn't you know it?  The weekend that Dan came to visit, was also the weekend of my Home Entertaining Dinner Party!  The success or fail of this party would be a HUGE chunk of my grade.  Once Dan learned of the party, he teased me incessantly about crashing my party. 

I had learned by this time that Dan was quite the jokester.  It was one of the things I loved about him- he could make me laugh.  However, I let him know in no uncertain terms that he was not to come anywhere NEAR the building where my party was being held.  However, even with all my threats, he kept teasing me about all the ways he could show up and embarrass Sarah and me....I was not amused and threatened him until I was blue in the face.

Later that evening, we went our separate ways and Sarah and I prepared for the party. 

My group had done a really good job of planning and our party went off without a hitch.  The food was great, the conversation was flowing and everyone was having a good time.  About halfway through the party, I was busy chatting with a girl on my left and I felt a nudge on my right shoulder.  Sarah was trying to get my attention.  I turned to acknowledge her and she directed my attention to the door of the room.  

My face must have drained of all color and turned a deep shade of sick greenish gray as there in the doorway stood none other than..... (drum roll please)....Yes, you guessed it.... DAN!! 

Dan was standing at the door and he was asking for me.  Everyone looked at me and I (wanting to die) excused myself.  In the 15 steps it took me to get to the door, I had a million (evil) thoughts fly through my head... one thousand of those million were of how I could make this guy die a very slow and painful death!!  I could not BELIEVE he had actually shown up at the party!  I had stressed and stressed to him over and over how important this was to my grade and had made him VOW he would not show up and embarrass me.  I mean, I knew he had teased me about it all day, but I didn't think he would actually do it!!

When I got to the door, Dan asked if he could talk to me in private.  Not only had he shown up, but he was asking me to leave the party that I was supposed to be hosting - FOR-MY-GRADE!!!!! 

He asked if I would step into the room next door.  As soon as I got to that room, my brain settled down as I could tell that something terrible was wrong.  The room was dark, but I could tell by the reflection of the light shining in the hall that he had something important to tell me.  He began by telling me how sorry he was to have interrupted the party, then he went on to tell me that he had -again- been called out and had to leave NOW. 

I'll admit it... I was in complete shock! This guy was going to be the death of me.  First, I was all happy and excited that Dan was here for the weekend, that my party was going well and my grade was going to be a good one.  Then, I was horrified to see him at the door (thinking he was making good on his threat to embarrass me).  Now, to learn that he is being called out again and has to leave right away and doesn't know when he will be able to come back.   It was like one of those movies where the girl stands in the middle of the room and everything goes blurry and starts to spin and all she hears are echoes of voices all around her.  She is there, but not quite "present".

The next thing I knew, Dan was kissing me (yes, full on the lips), he then hugged me really tight and took off running out the door.

I found myself standing in a dark classroom, blinking my eyes, and trying to replay/analyze the events that had just happened .... It was all horrible and wonderful -all at the same time.

The worst part was that I had to go back into that party, having just been kissed for the first time (for real) (well, at least by Dan) and losing my guy all in the span of 30 seconds.  I wanted to squeal with delight and cry all at the same time.  I was going to have to explain what in the world was going on -to my guests- in a way that would be "appropriate" and "by the book" so I had some hope of rescuing my grade. 

I took a deep breath and went back into the room. 

As I stepped into the room, you would have thought my skirt was caught in the waistband of my pantyhose.  ALL eyes were on me and though none of them said anything, they were all wondering what had happened.  I took my seat and explained that Dan, my visitor for the weekend, was in the army and had been "called out".  Of course none of them knew what that meant so I had to launch into an explanation of the military, his background and how it all functioned.

It actually worked out well, as it created a topic of really interesting conversation.  Little did they know all that was swirling in my mind as I very much tried to keep my composure, appear calm and perform my shared duties as one of the party hostesses. 

Believe me, after everything that happened, I deserved a "hostess of the year award"  (and - good news- even with the interruption, our team received an "A" for our party).

At the close of the party, Sarah and I made our way back to our dorm room.  I collapsed on my bed incredibly bummed that my weekend had taken such an awful turn.  I was back to wondering what was going to happen, where was Dan headed? When would I hear from him? Was he in danger? How long would it be before I saw him again? - a million questions were circling in my head. 

Not to mention my thoughts about being kissed... I was frustrated that I had so much going on at the time that I wasn't able to really capture the moment and enjoy it!  All I had now was the memory of what our first kiss was like.  I was so bummed that our weekend was destroyed and that I wouldn't get those much coveted and treasured moments with Dan.  We had been apart soooo much already!!

I took out paper and pen and began to write to Dan.  I told him how much I missed not being able to see his car outside my window and how I couldn't wait to be able to see him again!  I continued to write for the next hour or so just pouring my heart onto paper.

A while later, our dorm room phone rang and to my delight it was Dan.  However, once I heard his voice, I knew something was horribly wrong.  He had made it to North Carolina safely, but he had really bad news.  He had been late in reporting for the call out and as a result, was going to be disciplined by the Army....

Stay tuned for Part 4 of our story!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Part 2 - Our first Valentine's Day/The beginning of Dan and Amy

To read Part One of our story, click here...

After Dan left from spending Valentines Day weekend with me, I had a lot to think about.  Something was happening, but I wasn't sure what.  We had become friends that weekend so I no longer wrote to him because I felt sorry for him, but because I really did want to learn more about him.

On the other hand, I wasn't in a really good place where the male population is concerned.  I had just emerged from a long term relationship that, in the end, had me in tears almost every day.  My sister would say to me... "Why don't you just dump him?"  She couldn't understand why I would stay with someone who constantly made me cry.  However, to me, I had invested almost 4 years in that relationship and, frankly, when I told someone I loved them, I meant it.  If I really meant it, then I would be there through the good, the bad and the ugly. 

I know God was protecting me by the way it ended.  I know I never would have ended it, so He worked it out so I didn't have to.  I learned that my long term relationship was over just a couple of weeks before I left home for my freshman year of college. 

As you can imagine, I had pretty much sworn off dating and I felt nothing good for the male population.  I knew two things: 1.) It would take an incredible guy to change my opinion of the male population and 2.) If I did find such a guy, he would have to understand that I had cared about someone else before him and not be threatened if I mentioned the previous relationship or brought it up.  They had to understand that those 4 years of my life were a defining time for me and that I learned a lot by experiencing such a hurtful ending.

I started my college experience in a very vulnerable and emotionally shaky place.  I had not been "on my own" socially in almost 4 years, so, to "start all over again" was terrifying.

Valentine's weekend of my sophomore year of college, had been an emotional roller coaster for me.  At first, I thought Dan was just another jerk of a guy (I had met very few guys who were stand-out/change my perspective of men- type of guys) but then, by his behavior (coming back, humbling himself, setting things right, apologizing and etc) I learned rather quickly that Dan was not just some "ordinary" guy.

I wanted to learn more about THAT guy...

We both consider it a blessing now (19 years later) that 95% of our dating was done via letters (and snail mail at that) as we didn't experience the distraction of "activities" or "physical presence".  We were able to take our time, think between correspondence and really evaluate things.   As a result, we grew very close very quickly.

Dan visited a couple of times after Valentine's Day weekend.  We played games, visited with mutual friends and would spend hours talking together or reading aloud (something that we still enjoy 19 years later). 

On one particular weekend visit, we had spent Friday evening together and then made plans to meet for lunch on Saturday.  I was waiting for him to arrive, when all of a sudden, he raced into the dining hall, handed me a present (which was a surprise) and said that he had been "called out", his friend would explain and he ran out.

I had no idea what to think.  Was I supposed to wait? I was literally dazed and confused.  So, I walked back to my dorm and tried to call the guy he had been staying with in one of the other dorms.

 I soon learned that Dan, as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, would most likely be one of the first soldiers called to active duty if our country ever went to war or helped in a disturbance anywhere around the world.  To ensure that all soldiers were ready at all times, Ft Bragg would have "recalls".  Dan would wear a pager and if it went off, he was required to call in and they would tell him how long he had to report to the base.  It could be anywhere from 2 hours to 72 hours. 

This is what had happened on Saturday.  Dan's pager had gone off and he had flew out of the dining hall and to a phone.  He expected to have to leave right away and didn't really have time to say goodbye!   So, this was the second time that I was being "stood up" on a date!  (but, of course, I understood this time)

Once I found out what had happened, It made me do some real soul searching... He had just returned from Desert Storm/Desert Shield, What if he was being deployed again? I would have no idea where he was.  Would I be able to contact him? Would he be in harms way? How did I feel about all of those things?

It didn't take but a few minutes for me to realize that I had very serious feelings of "something" for him and that there was definitely more to this relationship than I wanted to admit.  I had such a feeling of helplessness as there was no one around to talk to and I couldn't talk to Dan... I remember just praying about the whole thing: his safety, my emotional roller coaster,etc.

Then, I got out paper and pen and started to write (something that has always helped me to sort out the things I feel).  The phone on my dorm room wall rang and it was our mutual guy friend telling me to go back to the dining hall.  He wouldn't say why, but told me to "just go".

When I arrived at the dining hall, I had no idea what I was to look for.  I was, once again, very confused about what was going on.  However, when I stepped inside, Dan was there waiting for me.  Turns out the recall was a test drill and he didn't have to leave at all. 

Good grief!  A girl can't take all this drama!! What had I gotten myself into??

Dan asked if I wanted to have lunch.  I told him I couldn't possibly eat with my stomach all in knots (of course, he had no idea what had been going on in my head and in my heart during all of this drama).  So, we decided to go play boardgames or just talk.

I noticed that while we played games, he began to watch me differently.  I felt like he knew what had happened during those dramatic minutes we were apart, but he didn't really say anything.  He just said that he was so glad that he didn't have to really leave.

Later that afternoon, I took him to meet my Pastor who was visiting the college.  (this is the same pastor who later ended up marrying us).

By Sunday afternoon, when Dan was getting ready to head back to base, I was pretty much emotionally drained.  So much was going on in my heart and I had no idea how he was feeling - except that I sensed something was different in how he looked at me and in how he was more gentlemanly and protective of me.  It was like we were a couple, when we weren't. 

As we said goodbye, he hugged me.... and then he kissed me.... right on the.... of my head. 

(sorry to disappoint you - ha! ha!)

However, while that may be disappointing to my readers, it was the very demonstration that sealed the deal with my heart.  It was the first moment that defined him as being different from other guys.

He made me feel safe and so comforted. It wasn't about what he could "get" out of the physical contact.  It was really nice and beautiful ... the kind of thing "that guy" (the guy I didn't think possibly existed) would have done.

Little did I know what I was going to experience in the weeks that followed!  The story was only beginning to unfold...

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our story.... Click HERE to read Part 3

Friday, February 11, 2011

Our First Valentine's Day

I thought I would share with you the story of my first Valentine's Day with Dan.  It certainly was memorable.

My college roommate, Sarah, was from Knoxville, Iowa, and, while at home for Christmas break in 1991, had visited with long time family friends.  Sarah learned that their middle son, Dan, was stationed 4 hours away from her college.  As it wasn't that far away, she invited him to come visit for a weekend. 

  Dan, made arrangements to visit her.  He arrived in January of 1992.

My other roommate, Lisa, and I were horrible to Sarah.  Once we learned a guy was coming to visit her, we teased her relentlessly!  We even followed the two of them to breakfast and sat a few tables away where we were facing Sarah (Dan's back was to us) and we made faces at her the entire meal.  We were terrible! (but it was really fun)

My initial impressions of Dan were that he was very weird (he was wearing his hair in a reverse mohawk - the front was combed straight down and the sides were standing at attention - so dorky- I am sure he would love a chance to defend his choice, and let me assure you that he does have a defense, but it is MY blog =0) ha! ha!

I also thought he was very self centered and cocky because all he could do was talk about himself.  He never asked questions of anyone else or engaged others in give-and-take conversation unless the conversation was about him.  (His explanation for this was that he was young, and "bullet proof" because he had just returned from serving in Dessert Shield and Dessert Storm and had so much to tell/share)

I had zero positive feelings for him and the furthest thing from my mind was dating him.  This was NOT a story of love at first sight.

However... one of the things I remembered of his visit that weekend was that he talked about how lonely it was during his military training.  They would spend weeks at a time sleeping in the woods and it was really hard being so far away from family and friends.

When he left that weekend, he had given us his address.  As much as I disregarded him, God gave me a soft spot for him.  I felt sorry for him and so decided to write to him.  There was still NO thought of romance or even affection at this point.  I enjoyed writing letters (I had numerous pen pals through the years) and receiving mail so I wrote.

I didn't tell anyone what I was doing as, frankly, it wasn't a big deal to me.  I began by telling him about myself and asking questions about him.  I had no idea if he would respond, but I wouldn't be happy with myself if I knew that someone out there was lonely and It was within my power to help and I did nothing.

It didn't take long for the mail to start filling my mailbox at college.  (email and cell phones didn't exist then)

A few weeks later, a very dear friend and former teacher of mine passed away and several of my friends and I drove home to Pennsylvania to attend her funeral.

When I arrived back at campus, my roommates told me that Dan had called while I was gone, but was going to call again (and they were rather giddy - like they knew something I didn't know.)

Dan did call again and told me he was coming to visit the campus again.  He said he would be there over Valentine's weekend and wondered if I would attend the college's Valentine Banquet with him.  I was incredibly nervous as this was the last thing I had expected.  I really felt "on the spot" and I have a horrible time saying "no" on the phone, so my automatic answer was "sure".

I explained to him that I wouldn't get to spend much time with him at the dinner as 2 of my girlfriends and I would be singing/performing "Somewhere" (from West Side Story) as part of the entertainment for the banquet.  As my roommates would be sitting with us, he said that was fine he would just visit with them until I could join him.

As the weekend approached, I learned of a play that was scheduled to start after the dinner but had heard rumors that the tickets were all gone.  I went to a lot of trouble and found a friend who had reserved tickets but who also would not be able to use them.  She graciously gave me her tickets.  So, we now had plans for after dinner.

When Dan arrived, I shared with him the information about the tickets and he seemed excited to go to the play.  After he hung up the phone with me, he learned of a few other events going on that evening...(more to come about that..)

As the time approached for the dinner, I got increasingly nervous.  I had only ever seen this guy in casual clothes or his military clothes.  How would he dress?  And... he had done that weird reverse mohawk thing with his hair in the past... I really, really, didn't want to be embarrassed to be seen with a guy I hardly knew.

When I arrived at our meeting place, I have to admit, I was very pleasantly surprised.  He had on a very nice, stylish, trendy suit, nice shoes and his hair was normal.  (big sigh of relief).  The evening was going to be ok after all.

I greeted him and then had to leave to go prepare to sing for the crowd.

After we finished singing, I joined Dan at our table and we had a lot of fun visiting with my roommates.  As we left the dinner, Dan walked me back to my dorm and asked me to wait while he got something out of his car

(a little side note... Dan drove a very nice sporty car... bright metallic blue Geo Storm- which he always parked outside of our dorm room window - this will be significant to our story later...)

I waited for Dan by his car and when he returned, he handed me a white Teddy Bear and a card.  He then looked at me and asked if it would be ok for him to miss the play.  Oh  yes he did!!!

I have to admit that when he said that, I entered into some kind of shock.  Although, I didn't have romantic feelings for him at this point, I couldn't believe a guy could be so rude as to cancel plans on Valentine's Day - especially plans that I had gone to GREAT effort to secure.

He was really starting to slip back into the very first impression I had of him... NOT GOOD!

He explained that one of his favorite music artists was in town and he had never seen him perform.  Several of the guys from the dorms were going to go and he really wanted to go see this artist... again, I felt "on the spot" and said "fine - go" (all these years later, Dan finally knows what "fine - go" REALLY means!  ha! ha!)

So, we part ways... Dan trots off to his concert (there truly was a little hop/skip in his step) and I numbly and in shock walked to my dorm room.  I just couldn't believe I had just had that encounter - what a JERK!!

I ask my roommate, Lisa, if she wants to go to the play with me and she says "yes".  So we went to the play.

While I was in the play, Dan was at his concert...and God begins to convict him... The artist says "How many of you guys brought your valentines tonight?" - the crowd cheers wildly and in Dan's head he hears "How many of you guys left your date back on campus at the dorm"... The artist then announces that the first couple to come on stage wins new T-shirts (and Dan thinks... "I could have been a couple tonight, but I left my date behind").... As the concert begins, Dan feels more rotten and more rotten and even more rotten.  He feels so rotten that he decides to leave the concert and come find the date he abandoned - ME.

He knows that I am at the play so he goes to the auditorium and waits by the main doors thinking he can find me as I leave the play.  After the play, my roommate and I decide to avoid the sea of couples and so we exit by the back door. 

Once Dan realizes that he has completely missed me, he goes to my dorm, sends a note to my room and asks if we can talk.  I was halfway into my pajamas by this time and really didn't want to make the effort to talk with someone who could be so, so - well, not the kind of guy I was interested in...

However, the girls who saw the note, convinced me to go hear him out.  I pulled on some decent clothes and met him in the lobby.  He looked really nervous- he really knew he had screwed up.  We went somewhere quiet and he proceeded to apologize and tell me about his night and how miserable he was and how he just "had" to come back.

I had started to see a different side of Dan through his letters and had begun to think my first impression of him was all wrong - but then he pulled that stunt on Valentine's Day and made me second guess myself again.

 HOWEVER... what made me give him another chance, was that 1.) He came back, 2.) He sought me out 3.)He admitted he had been wrong and 4.) He felt horrible about it and was honestly humble and repentent.

That was a Friday night.  On Saturday, we met again and played boardgames and talked more.  On Sunday, we went to church together and had lunch together. 

When Dan left after that weekend, I honestly felt sad to see him go... A friendship was starting to develop...

Stay tuned for even more of our story...  Click HERE to read Part 2 of the story

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Building the Best Nest

I have been married to my Prince Charming for 18 years!  (Our very first date was Valentine's Day 1992)

While I wish I could say that every minute of my marriage has been pure bliss, that would be a terrible lie.  While we are extremely happy, the truth is that we have had some really difficult times and have been through some really hard things.  However, we have weathered those storms beautifully (though a little messy at times) and learned some powerful lessons along the way.  I thought I would share a few of our stories and see if any of these resonate with any of you!

Important Lessons from Dan and Amy:
  • Do not headbutt your new wife in your honeymoon bed
    • (To set the scene of this story.... )Dan and I lived in Spring Lake, North Carolina and Dan was in the Army at Ft Bragg.  He was a Paratrooper and received combat, weapons, and airborne training (among other training).  He was up most mornings at 4am to drive to the Army base ...
    • At night, after an exhausting day of physical training, Dan and I would spoon when we slept. 
    •  One night, when we were first married, I was sound asleep and cozy with Dan's arm under my neck.  The next thing I knew, I felt his arm tighten around my throat and then he did the unthinkable~ he head butted me!!  
    • Turns out, he was dreaming that he was being attacked and he was fighting back (using me as the dummy!!!)  I was almost afraid to go back to sleep for fear he would snap my neck or something... I shouted.. "What are you doing??" He roused from his dream and sheepishly explained and apologized.... (yeah - save it for my funeral!!  =0)  (Casualty of War)  ha!

  • Admit that the BLUE M&M tastes far superior than any other color.
    • This has been a debate in our home for quite some time and I still cannot get Dan to admit that  Blue is the better M&M.  Dan's nickname is "Mernie" and mine is "Mia" so we are partial to the significance of the M&M logo.  For the sake of marital unity and harmony, he just needs to give in!

  • Do not provoke your wife by conversing with her when she is talking in her sleep and has no idea what she is saying...
    • A few months after that first sleep incident, I had taken a job at a local day care center where Satan himself must have sent his children.  These children were the youngins' of the military base and in most cases both of their parents were away for various trainings or deployments.  These kids were starved for parental love and care and acted out to receive any kind of attention.  In many cases these children were violent in their behavior. 
    • I  had one child throw a very heavy wooden chair at my legs and when it made contact with my shins it dropped me to the floor.  He was kicked out of preschool the next day. 
    • So, as you can tell, I was under a good bit of job stress and I was constantly thinking of ways to reign these little ones in so I had a chance at loving on them and, hopefully, making a difference in their lives.
    •   One night, I was dreaming - as usual, of my job at the daycare and I sat up, pointed my finger toward the end of the bed and in a very firm voice said "You need to sit down RIGHT NOW"... my husband observed this and thought he would have some fun with me and responded "No!"  --  I guess we repeated this a few times before I woke up to the sound of his hysterical laughter...  (ok, so maybe it was a little funny)
    • It is a wonder that we don't have separate bedrooms.

  • Do not tickle your spouse when you are not ticklish.
    • I am extremely ticklish and Dan is not... no further explanation needed here... Rules of engagement just simply say you cannot torture tickle!!

  • Accept that a "shopping list" is not a strict "list" but that it is a "mere guideline".
    • This was another newlywed thing that we had to compromise on.  Dan's idea of a grocery list is that if an item is not on the list, we don't get it.  My idea of a grocery list is that it is a "mere guideline".  That gives me the direction of where my shopping needs to go, but I might see things in the store that I forgot to write down and they too will be added to the shopping cart. 
    • Dan sums it up like this... "The items on the list are the MINIMUM number of items that we will be coming home with from the store"
    • We changed the name from "grocery list" to "mere guideline" (these little details make him a happy man) =0)

  • Learn to accept your spouse's quirks
    • I cannot stand the sound of someone rifling around in a chip bag.  If you want to eat chips, you must put them in a bowl. (husband included)
    • For Dan, this would be me praying fervently as we approached the fast food drive-in window that the hamburger patty is ON the bun (not beside it, sticking to the paper, or slightly touching it) or I will have to hear about the incompetence of the burger assembler for the rest of the day (maybe two). This is a real life issue for my husband. =0)

  • Make Memories/Share Experiences: Here are some that we enjoy.
    • Have the navigator in your car read aloud while you drive.  We have read some really good books this way (we even read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books).  Now we have a Kindle and it is even easier!
    • Plan cheap dates! One of our favorites is "The Drive In" - We rent a $1 Redbox or Blockbuster movie, and sit in the driveway in our car and watch it on our daughter's portable DVD player, while eating takeout from somewhere (usually Chinese). 
    • Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!  - Dan and I have both surprised each other in many forms, but the best one by far was what I did for his birthday one year.  I sent letters to over 100 celebrities, sports stars, radio stations, tv shows local personalities and political figures (even the President).  I asked them to help me celebrate my hubby's birthday by sending autographed pics, birthday cards or whatever they chose.  (I did this several months in advance to give them all time to respond).  I then told my hubby he couldn't check the mail.  (He thought I was in a dishtowel club or something!  ha!).  We received tons of Tshirts, mousepads, autographed pics, posters, keychains, magnets, stuffed dolls, all from celebrities with personal birthday wishes.  We even got a call from the White House.  I saved all of it and gave it to Dan in a big gift bag for him to open on his birthday.  He LOVED it!!  Afterwards I scrapbooked everything that could be scrapbooked.  It was GREAT and we have a wonderful momento!

  • Serve/Volunteer Together
    • This is an area of real bonding... Setting your own needs and time aside to serve others in your community.  Dan and I love International Students so for the past 8 years we have hosted a Drake International Student (and sometimes several).  They don't live with us, but we are their friends and get together often to play games, eat, watch movies, go on outings and learn about each other's culture.  We are also available to them if they need advice, are ill or feel homesick.  We become a real family to our students and love serving together in this way.
    • Go to church/Practice your faith together.  Take an hour or two each week to relax and let someone else do the talking and you just soak it all in and learn how to be a better individual/spouse and contribute both in your home and in your circle of influence.

  • Communicate Openly and Honestly
    • This is an area that I truly appreciate about my husband.  I can say anything to him and he is a safe place.  When I say anything, I mean it... sometimes I even say "I really don't like you right now" - other times, I will say "Can I tell you something that you might not want to hear?".  There are even times when we agree to not communicate for a time - that is really being honest (Saying "I can't handle this right now, can we talk about it tomorrow (when I am rested and in a better mind set").  This is productive communication.
    • Be sure to balance your communication.  Do not always be communicating in a negative way.  Negativity has a place but be sure to balance it with positive feedback, appreciation, thanks and examples of how your spouse has met your needs or traits that you appreciate in them.
A few of these things have been funny and some have been quite serious but all are a small part of what make Dan and I work as a couple!  Having a successful relationship isn't about reading minds or spending a lot of money to have expensive dates, it is about getting past all of the "surface" distractions and truly appreciating each other for the unique human beings we are.  THAT is true connection and lasting intimacy!

I love this excerpt from a poem by William Wadsworth Longfellow...

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

"For you have given me my heart's desire;
you have held back nothing that I've requested." 
Psalm 21:2 (personalized)