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In Favour of Marrying Young

To Brady on his wedding day~

There's something very special about witnessing the kids you watched grow up, marry.

Today, our very dear friends, are celebrating the first wedding of their three boys.  Their middle son, Braden, will marry his long time girlfriend, Hannah.  And they couldn't be more excited.  

They're darling.  Exactly what you hope a young couple will be.  Starry eyed, innocent, optimistic.  They both live at home with their parents, and after today, will move into their first place together.  They will, as the saying goes, "Begin a life together."

And this is what has become so rare, and in my opinion, is still so special.  To begin together.  

We did it, our parents did it, and our own girls did it.  We began life the day we married.  None of us owned homes, or even condos.  We didn't have our careers all settled; Braden is still a student, Hannah a dental hygienist.  Our furniture was bought, during our engagement, during weekly, very exciting trips to Ikea, because that was what we could afford.  And any pieces that hadn't originated in Sweden were hand-me-downs from our parents.  Every stitch of cook wear, every dish, cookie sheet, knives, forks, everything - had been given to us at bridal showers along the way.  And the day we arrived home from our honeymoon, we went straight to my parents' house to open our wedding gifts so we would have sheets to sleep on that night, hoping someone had filled that registry request.

I often talk to 23 years olds, who are madly in love, who tell me that they're waiting to, "get things settled" before they marry.  I'm here to tell you, and trust me on this one - life is NEVER settled!  I've been married 27 years, and life still isn't settled.  Materially, financially - you will always need or lack something!  Situations change; homes get bigger, babies arrive, yards need mowers, kids need hockey gear - you will NEVER get to the point where you can say, "Great!  Got everything we need, let's sit back and just be in love for the next 50 years."

If you're in love, don't wait until it's stale.  Don't take the magic out of it, waiting years and year to finally settle down.  Here are the things to worry over, to get settled before you say I do: 

Do you have a shared, common belief system - are you from the same faith back ground?  This is a big one!  This can cause a lot of problems down the line.  Not only between the two of you, but between your families and how future children are raised.  How will this look in your everyday life?  Will you attend church, temple, mosque together?  Will you take your children?  Talk about this now.  Seriously, I know you're madly in love and it will just "work out," but it won't.  You need to articulate your expectations around this topic.  In my opinion, this is a deal breaker.

Do your families and closest friends, approve of him/her.  If you're parents don't like your beloved, there's probably a good reason for that.  Actually listen and consider what they have to say. 

Have you discussed what you want your future to look like?  Do you want children?  When?  Will you work after they're born?  If no, are you willing to make financial sacrifices to make that happen?  Will you stay in the town you're living in now?  Move?  Talk about this stuff, don't assume you're on the same page.  Just because that's how your parents did it, that doesn't mean that's how everyone expects things to go.

How do you expect to spend your leisure time?  Do you spend your down time together now?  Or do you head out with the girls and he meets up with the boys?  Once you have kids, whose going to be the one staying home Saturday afternoon, while the other heads out to "relax"?  

This is just my opinion, and the opposite might work just fine for you, but I find couples are happiest when they enjoy spending their leisure time together.  I've known lots of women who become very resentful of husbands who are taking off to "spend time with the boys," every chance they get.  Golfing, playing in ball leagues, having a beer with the boys, while she's the one left running kids to lessons and games, alone.  

Do you have common activities you do together that you can continue to do once you're a family?  One night a close friend of ours nailed the key to my husband's and my relationship on the head, so incredibly accurately, that I was shocked.  My husband is an introvert, I'm an extrovert, so we've always thought of ourselves as the proverbial "opposites attract".  That was until our friend said, "Ya, you're opposites with common interests.  You both love spending time with your family, you both love to watch movies in bed, and you both love to get dressed up and go for dinner."  Boom!  That was it!  Those three simple things completely summed up how we'd been spending our leisure time for the past 30 years!  And it works.  Introvert or extrovert, it doesn't matter, these are the things we love to do, and we've always done them together 

Be sure you enjoy doing things together, before you commit to being together for the rest of your life.  If you don't you'll end up feeling like you're both just separately contributing to the business of a family.

And finally, do you know how to resolve conflict with each other?  Do you know how to work through a disagreement in a healthy, respectful way?  This one is tricky.  With us being opposites, we come at disagreements completely differently.  We've had to learn over the years to simply give the other time to cool off, and then in plain, simple language, with dredging up past history, explain why we were upset.  Sometimes owning that it was just because of a bad day or hormones.  Not every disagreement is a commentary on the state of your marital relationship, sometimes there's just too much traffic on the way home, and it's fine to just leave it at that.

This is where pre-martial counselling with a pastor, priest or counsellor can be so helpful.  They can equip you with tools you'll need in the future.  Teach you non explosive, non exacerbatory language for arguing.  "When you do that, it makes me feel…"  "I felt angry when you…"  "I was hurt when you didn't…"  Not - "You always…"  "You never…"  "You think…"  They can also teach you not to bottle things up.  To learn how to communicate, and that it's okay to express anger or disappointment.  We've found one of the most important parts of avoiding conflict is simply letting the other person know our expectations, to avoid, "But I thought were going to…"  "But you never said that!"  "Isn't it obvious?!  We always…"

Learning how to argue fairly, and also learning when to simply leave the other person alone, is a big part of a harmonious marriage.  This comes about over time, as you learn each other, but starting out well equipped is always a good idea.  If this is not part of your pre-marital counselling, ask that it be added, you'll be glad you did.


That's it!  Well, it's not, there are thousands of little things, but these are some of the big ones, the things you need to settle before you say I do.  Not two cars, a starter home not more than 30 minutes from the core and two weeks in Hawaii every Spring.  Building a life together might be an old fashion notion, but I can tell you from experience it's lovely.  A LOT of hard work!!!  Don't get me wrong!  But the year we went on our first fly-away vacation, (5 years after we got married), bought our second car, (when I was expecting our second child), and bought our first, incredibly crappy, run down, out in the boonies, but oh so exciting first house, (the Summer after our second daughter was born), were some of the most exciting times in our marriage.  And those financially poor, early years, were some of our sweetest.  Yes, there were tears, but they were over a young couple learning what the other needed and how to give that to each other, and what the other wasn't capable of giving, the things that friends and family were better at providing.  These were the biggest challenges we faced, and they wouldn't have been any different inside a beautiful, mortgage free home with two Audi's in the garage

If you're in love, make sure you're ready, ask for your parents' blessing and advice, and then jump in!  Financially things will come together over time, that's honestly the least of your concerns.  Marry well, marry seriously and soberly, marry with the intension of marrying for life, and you'll be just fine.









The 10 Minute Trick That Will Keep Your Closet Organized FOREVER!!!

Okay, prepare yourself, I'm about to blow your mind.

I learned this trick 3 years ago, and it's changed my life.  Well my clothing life, which admittedly is a big part of my life.

In my ideal world, I would clean my closet out at the end of Spring/Summer - when I bring out my Fall/Winter clothes, and then again, at the end of Fall/Winter when I switch them back.  But it's a HUGE job!  So I tend to avoid it, and just throw the Summer stuff in with the Winter stuff, and just resign myself to a crammed closet, knowing the things I love are in there somewhere - if I could only find them!

Then came "The Tip."  The tip of all tips!  Wait for it!

At the beginning of a new season, flip all your hangers around.

That's it!  Seriously!  That is the whole tip!  You will NEVER have to clean out your closet again!  I'M NOT KIDDING!!!  Trust me!  I've been doing this for 3 years, I've consigned or given away about 50% of my clothes, I don't miss a thing and now I love everything in my closet.  I just flipped all my hangers last week, when I declared it "Fall" in my world! So most of mine are still reversed.

I'm pretty sure I'm wearing the same number of items I did before, they're just not drowning in the over growth of stuff I never wore, which makes the things I do have feel more special.  In fact, my closet sort of feels "boutiquey" now.  Fewer, more beautiful things, nicely hanging - as opposed to squished like they were before.  (I was so excited about this I bought matching store-ish hangers!)

So here's the formula that has changed my life, and the lives of several girlfriends who have also tried this.

Right now, go into your closet and spin every single hanger so that the hook faces the wrong way.  See pic.  

Wear your clothes normally.  But when you put them away, hang them back on the rack, normally.  With the arch of the hanger facing you.

Of course things that come out of the wash, get placed on hangers that hang normally, because you've obviously worn them.

Then at the beginning of Spring (because we're currently in Fall/Winter), look at any items whose hangers are still reversed, and ask yourself why.  Too small, too big, don't like it, needs alteration?  Need something to wear with it?  It's more of a keepsake than a day to day item?  And decide if you still want to keep it.  There's no pressure to get rid of it, if you have an extra closet where you store heavy Winter things during the warmer months, simply put it away with the hanger reversed so you'll remember next Fall to put it into your closet in the reverse position.  If it's still like that after a couple seasons, I'm guessing you won't have much trouble parting with it.

(If you don't have an extra closet available, just switch the hangers around twice a year anyway.  The systems still works, you'll just have to allow for things that haven't been worn because they were out of season, not because you didn't feel like wearing them.)

The other thing I like about this system is I find I try to choose things from reversed hangers, I often find that I really love certain things, I've just gotten out of the habit of wearing them. 

In the past 3 years that I've done this, I now spend about 10 minutes switching out my seasonal stuff.  I don't even really look at the things on the hangers facing forward - I know I like them.  I just go through the things still reversed and decide if they're worth storing until next Fall, or if I should put them into my consignment bins.

Which brings me to my one last suggestion - since I've started doing this, I've bought myself two additional laundry hampers that I keep in the closet under our stairs.  One is labelled "Summer" the other "Winter".  As soon as I decide I don't want to keep something it goes into that hamper, then I cart the whole thing off to the consignment store at the beginning of that season.  I keep all this money hidden away to buy - more clothes of course!!!

Since I've been doing this, I find I shop differently.  I buy fewer, better things that I get more pleasure out of wearing.  I don't feel guilty when I buy something, because I know I need it/will wear it, I also find I enjoy my clothes more because they're under control, I know what I have, and I like every single thing in my closet.

This is definitely worth a try!!  :) 



How To Get Your Husband To Whisper Sweet Nothings

Every girl wants her man to whisper sweet nothings.  To say those things we all love hearing.  The things he used to say spontaneously - way back when.

I've been married 27 years and over that time, I've figured out how to get my husband to tell me exactly what I want to hear.  And here it is…

I ask him!!!!

Yup, that's right!  I straight out ask him to say what I want to hear.  Never mind ask him!  Half the time I simply tell him!


"Who's your favourite girl?"

-Shonna Peeler!  (He always uses my maiden name on this one).


"Tell me how much you love me."

-Ummmmm….  347

"Wow!  It's really high today!"

-Oh ya!

"What's that out of?"



"Tell me nice things."

-What kind of nice things?

"Tell me you love me."

-I love you…

"I love you too.  More nice things."

-You're beautiful...

-You're a good Mom...

-Candles.  (He threw that one in one mid-Winter day, when I had about 15 candles burning all around the house.  Candles are definitely "nice things!")

Call me crazy, but when I tell him what to tell me, it doesn't feel any less sincere than if he had said the same things spontaneously, unbidden.  He smirks, eyes twinkling as he comes up with the number for how much he loves me that day.  Because the thing is, I know he loves me, thinks I'm pretty, that I'm his favourite girl, it's just not in men's natures (at least not in my man's), to wax poetic at the end of a long work day, or in the midst of Saturday chores, and frankly I don't want to wait for the occasional romantic dinner or luxurious vacation to hear it!  So I just ask!

These are flirtatious interactions, that invite intimacy into an everyday moment.  They remind him, he's my boyfriend and I'm his lover, and we don't have to be in bed or Bermuda to enjoy that knowledge.  They're a verbal smack on the back side, or peck on the cheek.  They're playful, the little things, we women so often accuse men of forgetting.  And that's exactly the point!  They do forget!  I realized this several years back, when I told him, I didn't feel he was being affectionate enough with me.  His response was, "You know I think the world of you, and that I find you very attractive."  Me, "Ya, I know.  And you act like it, I'm not complaining about that, but I want to hear it."  Him, "Ya, I know, I'm bad about saying it." 

And there it was, of course I knew he loved me, desired me, treasured me, but I wanted to hear it.  And he was more than willing to tell me, it just simply didn't come to his mind to tell me, as often as I needed to hear it.  So that's when I just started asking!!

"So….  How do you feel about me today???"

-I love you!

"How much?"


"Do you think I look pretty?"

-I think you look gorgeous!


That's it.  Done.  No pouting that he hasn't noticed me in a while.  I ask, he answers, we kiss, the end.


**If you have a cute image that would be great for this post, please feel free to send it to me through the "contact" button!  I'm picturally challenged, but love having nice images on my posts!  (Non-copy writed images only please).



What I Know Of Grief

What I know of grief.  

This is not the extent of what I know.  There are others.  A tiny one - that I still can't write about.  An older one, who was my True North.  And one whose guidance and counsel I still miss.  Unfortunately grief is not unfamiliar to me, or to my house.  But today, on the second anniversary of her death, I remember my mother.  Noreen Madge Peeler.  Who loved me.

I woke up this morning in the exact same spot I was two years ago.  In Scottsdale, Arizona, in our bed, in our vacation home.  And just like that morning.  I was alone.  

Normally when I wake up my husband is still in bed, but that day, he'd gone out for a sunny, early morning walk.  It was Easter weekend, and we had flown down with our family for a vacation, booked months earlier, before we knew…  Our eldest daughter, Megan, had come and crawled in bed with me.  Which is a rare treat for the mother of married daughters.  Her own little one and her husband were both still sleeping, so when she heard her Dad leave for his walk, she snuck out of the guest room to came into mine, to snuggle.

I knew when we left on that trip that there was a chance my mother might not be there when I got back.  That she might die while I was away.  She had ovarian cancer.  A relentless, insidious disease, that creeps in and takes hold before anyone knows it's there.  She had been ill with it four times in three years, or three times in four years.  It feels like a blur now.  She deteriorated and rallied so many times, it is hard to remember.  It was hard to know, as we left home for our flight, if this was it, or just another valley she would rise from.  And it was the babies' first Easter…  And the flights were booked…  And it was only one week, surely she'd hang on.

Mom was diagnosed the Fall Megan got engaged.  It took months.  One test, nothing.  Three weeks later another.  Nothing.  Three weeks later another test.  There are currently no early detection tests for Ovarian Cancer.  It is incredibly hard to diagnose.   So while the doctors searched, my mother writhed and withered.  She dropped 50 pounds in 3 months.  In too much pain to eat.  My father would call me, daily, frantic for help, frantic for relief, a reason, a diagnosis.  He was looking for somewhere to cling, someone to carry his burden.  And I was the nearest, and easiest vessel.  

That first Christmas, when she was finally diagnosed, but too weak and despondent from pain, she now refused to eat.  She could barely drink.  And so, with her vital organs threatening to shut down, she was hospitalized.  For weeks.  We thought she might come home on Christmas day, but no.  It was the first Christmas my parents hadn't woken up together in 51 years.   We went to the hospital, we opened gifts beside her bed.  She tried to feign interest and gratitude.  I couldn't hug her because I had a cold, so I sat far away from her, in a chair on the other side of the room, cheerfully oohing and ahhing over each of her gifts as she opened them.  Ever my mother's daughter, feigning interest and excitement.

To say this robbed me of my joy in the planning and celebrating of our daughter's wedding would be inaccurate.  It was joyful, and bittersweet, as it always is when a child marries out of her parent's home.  There were lots of cuddles, late night chats that we knew were soon coming to an end.  There were tense conversations and frustrations with each other over the thousand details that make up the big wedding of a young bride.  And there was cancer.  At every bridal shower, at every dress fitting, on her big day, cancer came too.  It escorted my mother in her wig and her dress, proudly announced to be three sizes smaller than she used to wear.  

Mom "fought" her cancer from the Fall of 2009 until April 19th, 2014.  But we all knew from the beginning it was a pointless fight.  One we had watched my aunt loose some years before.  In that time, during those four years, Mom had countless doses of chemo, lost her hair twice, vomited until her teeth were spoiled, lost control of her bowels, always warning us not to use her toilet as both her vomit and stool were toxic from her treatments.  She agreed to let the healthcare nurse bathe her when my Dad finally admitted it was too much for him, both physically and emotionally.  During that time too, she watched both her grand daughters, dressed in white, on the arm of their father, walk down the aisle, to teary eyed young men, delighted and anxious the claim them as their own.  And in time, was thrilled as each of those brides presented her with her first and second great grand children, both girls.  Making her, Nana-The-Great.  Her last coherent conversation was one cooing to one of those baby girls, while she held her in her hospital bed.  She adored those little girls. 

And so tonight, when I strangely find myself, alone, in the same bed I first mourned her passing, ironically watching Claire Underwood go through the same thing.  I'm sentimental.  Many friends messaged me today with notes of love and sympathy in response to the picture I posted of Mom and I.  But until tonight, watching Claire loose her own mother, I had forgotten the tremendous weight of the anxiety and conflicting emotions of that time, so much joy in watching our girls celebrate their weddings and the births of their first little ones.  So much sorrow watching Mom deteriorate and my Dad fail to cope well, finding reasons to stay away for hours, leaving her alone, when she shouldn't have been.  Unable to face it.  Unable to fathom his pending loss. 

Death is a gift some times.  My Mom's was.  She was done.  She was ready.  It was remarkable, watching her.  She was just waiting, calmly, for relief.  For transformation from this world to the next.  This broken body to a perfected one.  We always think we'll fear death.  When we're young and healthy and it's just an abstract thought.  But that day, April 19, 2014, death was a blessing.  For both Mom and for our family.  And so when the call came from Dad, back home, alone, as Megan and I cuddled, in a bed, in the desert, we knew.  It was time.  She had suffered enough.  It was time for relief.  It was time for Mom to go home.








Link: We Lost A Child And Gained Something Greater

Normally, when I'm moved by blog posts, or find them helpful, I post a link to them to our Apron Strings Facebook page.  I normally only post original essays I write myself here on the blog.  But this one is special, it's for a lady who contacted me in a private message through the Your Apron Strings "contact" button.  She told me she was expected her second child.  She told me that she had delivered a still born little girl last year.  I told her we'd lost a grand daughter last Summer, and that I would be praying for her.  Which I have been.  For joy in place of fear, for a healthy baby to take home and to hold.  Praying in a way I couldn't have before last Summer.  She comes to my mind often.  So when I read this article, I found randomly on Facebook, and sobbed my way through the whole thing, I knew I had to post it on the blog itself, to be sure she sees it.  

I'm praying for you C.  And for your little babe on the way.  xoxo Shonna

"We Lost A Child And Gained Something Greater" by Kyle Porter