Dumb things couples fight about OR How Skype can harm your relationship

Last night my husband was upset with me during our Skype session because he “didn’t like my expression”.

The first annoying expression that set him off was the impatient looking upward attached to a sigh. My husband is a the kind of guy who likes to take 3 minutes to tell you something that normally would take 30 seconds.  On a simple phone call I can multi-task with the occasional “uh-huh” or “yep” inserted every 20 seconds or so.  He gets to share his story; I get two things done at once.  It’s a win-win.  On Skype, you just have to sit and watch and there’s nowhere to go and nothing to multitask with.  Sometimes I just can’t control myself and the dreaded “Cut to the chase!” slips from my lips.  That, with upward glance with sigh attached does not go over well.

My second annoying expression occurred when said husband started lecturing me about the finer points of luggage. A little background:  I’m perfectly capable of using a scale.  I also work for an airline and am very aware of oversized bag fees.  It’s a daily topic of conversation at work.  I didn’t feel that the lecture from him was warranted.  So when I mentioned to him that “this is not my first rodeo”, one of HIS favorite phrases, he proceeded to double down even more about what not to do when packing my bags for my trip to Abu Dhabi.  At this point, I’m really biting my tongue and wanting to tell him to bugger off, but I control myself and instead hang my head in semi-frustration.  Bad move.  This really set him off.  Now if this had just been a phone call instead of a Skype call, I could have said “yes, dear” several times, and then when I got off the phone gone and done whatever the heck I wanted to do in the first place and hanging head and eye rolls would have gone unseen – no harm, no foul.

In an effort to keep peace in my marriage I am not going to click on the little video camera anymore, only the little telephone. I am not very good at being expression-less, and Skype is not doing me any favors right now.

In the meantime, I will work harder on my inoffensive adoring wife expressions.

adoring wife

adoring wife 2

adoring wife 3

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How To Survive Being An Expat

Wise words for coping with our move – saving to re-read later.

Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.


1. Appreciate Your Life

Be thankful that you wake up alive each morning. Don’t take your situation for granted, most people never get the chance to live abroad and experience what you’re experiencing. Don’t sweat the small stuff like the fact that in Italy people have no concept of sidewalk space and they would rather throw you in front of a bus instead of stepping aside. So what! You stepped in dog shit and getting your residency is difficult, at least you’re not dying from terminal cancer.

2. Make Friends (It’s way better than sitting in front of FB all day crying)

Having good friends can make or break any experience. What do you love to do? Find a group of people who like the same thing and get to know them. Join a writer’s group, a painters group, a knitting circle. Friends will not come to your door magically…

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I can do hard things.

Last week was the hardest work week I’ve ever had in my life – I am so glad that it is behind me.

I came into this position in April knowing that the annual leadership conference was going to be on my plate – I merely assisted last year.  This year I got to run the show.  I registered about 250 people for it, coordinated their travel, conferred with the hotel/casino almost daily, ordered awards, ordered swag, pestered management often and tried to get them all in meetings together, was often frustrated by other departments/speakers that wouldn’t get their information to me on time, and then thunderstruck at the multiple changes I had to make for the 2 weeks prior to the event… people asking if they could still come when the deadline was JULY FIRST to register, and my boss saying OK… after I’d sent final numbers to the hotel for lodging and food… Ai yi yi.  I don’t know if I’m cut out for event planning.  I think I am too easily annoyed.

To say I enjoyed doing this would be a stretch.  However, now that it is behind me, I think I did a pretty good job.  I managed to think on my feet and catch the curveballs that were thrown my way.  Panic wasn’t an option, all though I came very close to succumbing a few times.  I got a lot of compliments on how well it was organized this year and people seemed to enjoy themselves.  And I got a dozen roses and some sweet gift cards as a thank you from our management team.  That was pretty nice.

What 5 minutes after being on my feet for 13 hours looks like.

The next big project on the horizon – is giving my month’s notice next week at work.  I’m a little apprehensive about it, but it has to be done if I want to live with my husband again!  If things go as planned, I’ll be finishing up late October, and then days later I’ll fly for a week’s visit to see Siggy in Abu Dhabi.  I’m excited about that – he is moving into his apartment next week after several weeks in the hotel.  I’ll only have a week in Abu Dhabi, so I hope I can hit the ground running when I get there and we can score some furniture deals on Dubizzle or at least have a plan of what we need to look for.

When I get back from that trip, I’ve got 2 months to downsize, sell off, give away, and prioritize what we can live without and what we can’t.  Siggy and I decided if we can replace it, we’ll get rid of it and hang on to irreplaceable items.  2 months seems like plenty of time to sort it all out, but I will really have to push it to get out of here.  But I can do hard things.  The last week has taught me that.

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…and he’s off!

This is real now.  While I knew he was leaving yesterday, it never occurred to me that he’d be flying over Syrian and Iraqi airspace… I guess I’m glad it didn’t occur to me until I woke up and looked at FlightAware this morning.  He’s set to arrive at 8:25 am my time… 7:25 pm his time, so only about 2-1/2 hours to go.  I just said a prayer, not that I’m super worried, I know that Heavenly Father is watching over him and the other passengers and crew; but I can’t help but think about MH 17 being shot out the sky.  I don’t want to think about it but it crosses my mind.

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Fighting Depression when Relocating

This has been an interesting topic to me – I have struggled with depression before and have found ways to manage it by monitoring my diet (cutting back on sugar!), getting enough rest and exercise and trying to nip it in the bud when I find myself sliding into it.  Big changes like moving overseas can trigger pretty severe depression.  I experienced this 22 years ago with 3 little children and a rough bout of morning sickness with my 4th pregnancy when I lived in Spain and England – no internet for me then, no real way to research expat life.  I felt very isolated and out of my element – I had a hard time assimilating because nothing seemed familiar.  I was tired, overwhelmed and not taking good care of my emotional health.

I’m a little older and wiser now, and I’m reading everything I can on how to get myself out of a funk when the going gets tough.  I found these simple tips on a blog by Victoria Craig from 2010, but they are still relevant today:


“Knowing how hard relocation depression can hit, here are some tips for anyone relocating who might eventually, or currently, find themselves in this position.

  • Know Yourself. Take a good look at your life before you move. How do you fill your days? What activities do you do? What keeps you busy? What things do you do so regularly and automatically that you take them for granted?
  • Make Goals. Even if they’re small, keep yourself inspired by striving to accomplish something, and rewarding yourself when you do.
  • Take Action. Make an effort to do at least one thing every day towards a greater purpose – whether that be finding work (trailing spouse), finding friends, or something else – one concrete action towards it each day will keep you going.
  • Create a Routine. When we have structure, we get used to a dependable schedule – something we do at the same time, on the same day, every week. Find a way to recreate this pattern with a reliable activity – either one you do every week (e.g. going to the gym), or one you find and pay for (e.g. a continuing education class).
  • Join the Community. Find a way to get involved in your local community – this will help you meet people, and also find companionship, and give you a sense of purpose.
  • Find a “Check-In Buddy”. Once or twice a week, talk to someone to check in on your emotions and activities. Make it someone you respect and agree to let them be honest with you and to tell you if they sense you’re depressed. Agree to try and follow their suggestions.
  • Take it easy. Sometimes, the best way to handle frustration and despair is to simply focus on something else – meditation, yoga, a walk in nature, etc. Shifting your energy can have profound impacts on your life.

Courtesy of Heather Markel, www.culturetransition.com

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19 days ’til he flies off to Abu Dhabi

The past month has flown by – I feel like I have little spare time right now. I have been busy with:

– Welcoming my youngest son home after a 2-year church mission to Mexico. It has been wonderful seeing how much he has grown and matured living outside of the country. He left as a wonderful but goofy teenager and came back as a thoughtful and generous man. vaquero mateo1

– Finishing up my semester of classes through BYU-Idaho. I’m happy to say I got A’s in English and my Religion class, whoop whoop! 6 weeks off from homework before we start again.

– Work is intense right now – I have a large event early in September with Station Managers from 100 different airports coming in and I am in charge of all the coordinating and planning for it… no rest for the weary until after that is over.

– Spent a long weekend in Minnesota and Wisconsin with my husband and two youngest sons. Son# 2 is interning in Communications at a large Scout camp in Wisconsin. Son# 3 hasn’t hung out with his brother in almost 4 years, due to their overlapping missions, so they were reunited and it was awesome to see them tease, poke, shove and wrestle each other again, just like the old days.

We are less than three weeks away from sending my hubby off to Abu Dhabi to start his new adventure. We are busy getting him ready with new suits, new luggage, and a new computer. And a crummy little track phone, as he generously gave up his Samsung Galaxy to Son# 3, since he’ll be getting a new phone in Abu Dhabi. Hubby is actively going through his boxes of “stuff” in the garage and purging so that I don’t have to make those decisions for him later on. I will be staying in the States until the first of 2015.

We are going to be separated for awhile, so we are making the most of the time we have left. This morning it was amazingly cool for August in Las Vegas… we are expecting monsoons tonight to last through tomorrow, so the sun was hidden in the clouds this morning. We went ATV’ing in Eldorado Canyon and it was awesome. We couldn’t have asked for better weather – what a blessing! This was on my bucket list to do, and last Mother’s Day, Hubby got us an ATV package – we finally used it today.

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Back to School

In my immediate family, I am the least educated of the bunch. My husband graduated from college in his 20s like a normal person. So did my daughter and my oldest son. My middle son is a junior in college. My youngest son will start his sophomore year in college in September. This mom is now an adult learner. I work full time and take a couple of classes a trimester through the Pathway program through BYU-Idaho. I meet once a week with my cohort in Northwest Las Vegas, with other “31 and over” aged students. I’m almost done with the second trimester, and have one more trimester to complete in December. After I complete that, I will be able to enroll as a matriculating student and take all of my courses online, and won’t be required to attend the weekly in-person class anymore.
grandma computer

The Pathway program is basically setting a student up for success in training us to use good study skills; know how to use resources like the library and tutoring center; and encourages us to learn through teaching. Each week we meet with our cohort, and class is student led. Pathway missionaries are on hand to support, encourage and facilitate, but for the most part we take turns delivering a prepared lesson (with different teaching options). We start each class with a hymn and a prayer, and finish each class with prayer. I can honestly say that praying for the spirit when I start my homework has made a huge difference in my ability to learn and retain knowledge that’s been necessary for me to be able to write papers and take tests and understand concepts that were previously uncharted territory for me. The brain of a 50-something is not as nimble as it was when I was younger. However maturity has its perks – no longer do I have to decide between an all-night party vs. studying for class like I did in the 80s… I’m a much more committed student now than I was then.

I’m hoping since this is all online, that when I get to Abu Dhabi I will have more free time to take more than 6 units at a time and get my Associates Degree within my first year of arriving there.

I want my little piece of paper to put in an Ikea frame and hang on the wall just like the rest of the family!

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