Time for a Check Up

I was at one of those trampoline jumping birthday party places with a friend recently.  While our kids played dodge ball and bounced out some extra summer energy, we had a nice talk.  She shared something with me and then added, “Oh, I hope that’s not TMI.”  I laughed and reminded her that she was talking to a giant over-sharer.  The conversation went on from there and my friend said something to me that others have also mentioned in the past, regarding the state of my marriage.

“I see you as such a strong couple, ” she said.  “You seem like very good communicators, and you make a good team.”

I thanked her, then reminded her of a very critical fact.  Yes, Sheepdog and I work very, very hard at our relationship, but it is far from perfect.  We fight, disagree, act selfishly or immaturely, and go to bed mad at one another just like everybody else.  We have different interests, hobbies, and schedules.  We have dealt with big and little struggles and we have been through counseling several times.  There was a time about nine or ten years into our marriage when we actually decided to get a divorce.  But then we let down our defenses and started enjoying each other and our family and decided that divorce was one of the dumbest ideas we had come up with in a really long time.

Even though we worked through that craziness, we occasionally get off track again we get to a point where we act more like porcupines than dolphins.

This is an excerpt from one of our recent conversations:

Sheepdog:  “What’s wrong?  Why are you so grouchy?”

Me:  “I’m due for my period on Saturday.”

Sheepdog: “You are either on your period, about to get your period, or just getting over having had your period.”

Me: (expertly executing the evil wife death stare)

Sheepdog: “What?”

Me: “I can’t hear you over the glorious sound in my head of me hitting you with a shovel.”

AmericanGothic

So close… if only it were a shovel and she got to hold it.

So, just like you would change the oil in your car every 6,000 miles, or you swap out the air filters in your HVAC system quarterly, or you check the batteries in your smoke alarms every six months, or buy new running shoes after 3 or 400 miles, Sheepdog and I felt like it was time for a marriage check up.  Yesterday we went back to counseling, and we will keep going back until we get things back on track.  And we are both very hopeful.

Today we celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary.  I say “celebrate” purposefully, even in the middle of a rough patch, because it is certainly something that we are very proud of.  It is hard to stay married to one person for a long time.  It is hard to stay friends with one person for a long time.  It takes a lot of energy.  People constantly change and evolve and life is hard and kids are demanding and work is stressful.  But Sheepdog and I are doing it, and we are committed to doing it for as long as we both shall live.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

Arrivederci, Italia and Goodbye, Royal Princess – (The Last) Day Twelve in Venice

Day eleven was our second At Sea day.  It was cooler along the Adriatic than I would have liked.  I wished to sit up on the Deck 16, sunning myself and reading a book, but the wind and clouds forced me to move on to Plan B.  So I worked out and then took a much-needed nap.

Day Eleven At Sea

Day Eleven At Sea

Our final stop on this cruise is Venice, Italy.  We started navigation down the lagoon around mid-morning, and we docked close to noon.  The views coming into Venice were absolutely spectacular, made even more amazing because we watched them from my great-aunt and uncle’s balcony on the bow of the Royal Princess as we celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary with champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

It was just the six of us touring Venice together on this final day (Mom, Dad, Sisters B and C, Kid A, and me).  The rest of our group went over on their own.  We took a short bus ride, followed by a water taxi to shore.  We wandered around the streets of Venice for quite some time.  We definitely got lost for a while, but apparently you are supposed to do that.  I liked Venice best when we were alone on the meandering, narrow streets, passing small cafes and shops and houses.  We even walked past an artist quietly painting inside his studio with the doors open so he could enjoy the beautiful day.

We loosely followed our map of the city and ended up getting gelato near a church (Fun Fact: there are more than 140 churches throughout Venice and the lagoon islands).  We also took a famed gondola ride.  By that time we had gotten lost in the crowds once again, especially when we reached the restaurants, shopping, and Piazza San Marco.

I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the city of Venice.  The architecture was spectacular.  The views were breathtaking.  I don’t know how else to say it except that Venice left me with a really good feeling inside.  Being surrounded by the water was peaceful and calming and romantic.  It made me want to come back to visit.  And it made me miss Sheepdog so very much.

And what perfect timing, because early tomorrow morning we disembark the Royal Princess for good and take a ten-hour flight back to Philadelphia International Airport.  Following a three-hour layover, we will fly to Atlanta, where Sheepdog will be waiting to pick us up.  We gain six hours traveling westward, which will make it a 30-hour day, but that means we get to go to bed at a reasonable hour once we’re back on Eastern Standard Time.

So, now it is time to say farewell to all of the incredible places we have visited over the past two weeks.  It has been an amazing trip, filled with memories and laughter, long lines and swollen ankles, and more than a few bottles of wine and vodka.  Most importantly, we got to experience it together as a family.  Well, minus the too-pregnant-to-travel Sister D.  The trip just wasn’t the same without her.

Now when do we start planning our 2014 African Safari?

Arrivederci, Italia and Goodbye, Royal Princess

Arrivederci, Italia and Goodbye, Royal Princess

Wish me luck for tomorrow…