Emilie’s impending nuptials to a wonderful guy, has spurred a lot of conversation around here lately about the entire process of “mate selection.” After 30 years of field research, I fancy myself an expert on the topic, and spend a lot of time advising my younger kids, (ages 14-25) about the qualities they should seek in the person they plan to spend the rest of their lives with. This past weekend has prompted me to amend and simplify the list of requirements; I’ve condensed the entire task down to just one imperative:


When I looked outside on Friday and saw the snow falling in earnest, I suspected we might be in for a long weekend.

I immediately implemented The Blanchards’ 4-Step Emergency Survival Plan:

Step 1- Get pizzas at Little Caesers
Step 2- Get ice cream and milk at Braums
Step 3- Get movies at Red Box
Step 4- Stop by the liquor store

*If I had a prescription for Valium, I would’ve swung by Walgreens, but I don’t, so I didn’t.

The first thing you have to acknowledge if you’re going to be on lock-down with your mate is the old adage that “opposites attract.” Remind yourself repeatedly that most days, you are happy that you married a real “Go-Getter!” A fidgety, anal-retentive, high energy mate that runs full speed ahead on the Hamster-Wheel-of-Life, benefits you about 361 days a year. But, when they are bored and restless you’ll need to muster up some self-restraint not to wind up on a special episode of “Dateline -Spouseacide.”

(Day 1)
Friday evening went by without a hitch. We were excited at the prospect of undiluted togetherness. Except for the fact that Tommy invited 9 14-year-old boys to spend the night, the evening was downright peaceful.

(Day 2)
Saturday morning dawned with several more inches of snow and the cancellation of all previously planned activities. We were hunkering down!

Fortunately, I had an excellent book downloaded on my iPad and was content to sit in front of the fire, snacking and reading my way through the day. Not so, my spouse. After a mere 16 hours with nothing to do, he was antsy and definitely “at loose ends.” This could’ve been a marriage-stressor, were it not for the fact that I had a plan in place…

…I set him to work at being a Stay-at-Home Dad! Tommy needed to make a diorama for his book report. This required a shoebox, some paint, Legos, and a lot of time. I’ve assisted in 162 of these projects over the past 28 years, so I felt minimal guilt at having Jimmy head this one up. (Well, maybe a tiny bit, when they had to negotiate the roads to Walmart for supplies, but it dissipated quickly, offset by the notion of 4-wheel drive and an hour alone.)

The two of them worked for most of the day on the diorama, interspersed with sporadic breaks to watch movies and annoy me…

"Do or Diorama"

“Do or Diorama”

(Day 3)
On Sunday, Jimmy asked me to sit with him and watch an episode of “House Hunters,” where a middle-aged couple shops for and purchases a home in Belize. I complied. The show featured beautiful scenery of this Central American paradise, along with information about the ease with which Ex-Pats gain citizenship in foreign countries, the leniency of this country’s tax code and the remarkable value of US currency in this part of the world. Jimmy became convinced that it was fate (as opposed to utter boredom) that prompted us to watch this show and we needed to start looking at property in Belize, post haste. He tried in vain to minimize the 9 hour, $1500 flight and seemed to forget that we are inextricably linked to a few lives here in the United States. He hasn’t mentioned Belize in 24 hours, so I’m guessing I may have effectively quashed and quelled that dream.

A few hours later, I rested my iPad on my lap and shut my eyes for a brief nap. Jimmy immediately recognized this as the perfect opportunity to plop down beside me and start drumming out a beat on our couch cushions like he was Ricky Ricardo on the bongos. I attempted my best to ignore him, thinking he might give up this transparent plea for attention and lose interest. This worked years ago on my toddlers, but apparently 51 year old men can stay focused longer. Eventually, I surrendered and glared at him crossly…

“What?” he asked innocently.

(Day 4)
We made it to Monday!

I woke up this morning with renewed strength, purpose and resolve. I lovingly insisted that everyone that could possibly make it down our driveway, was leaving for the entire day.
What would Jimmy Buffet say? “And Darlin’ I love you so, that’s the reason I just let you go…”