“R” is for Ruby Wedding-ABC Celebrations

Forty years we have been married!  I was just 17 when we met, he was 21.  In a nutshell, we spent every minute together of that first three weeks after meeting.  It was an intensive, accelerated summer romance. Then he proposed.

We knew we would be separated by distance.  He had a year long contract in the Middle East to fulfill.  I was about to start University.

Before he asked the question, I remember walking on the beach one night, holding hands.  I had a strong vision of an old married couple doing the same thing.  Somehow I knew it was us.  I had found my best friend that summer. Somehow I knew to trust myself and hang on.

We would spend the first year of our engagement in different countries,  We were about as far apart physically as we would ever be.

This was a time long before cell phone and facebook had made it possible to communicate.  At $8 per minute, even phone calls were a luxury, so we wrote.  Every day, we would talk about our lives, although looking back at it, it is really funny to see more “I Love You’s” scrawled across the pages than any substance to what was happening in our days.

This is what young love is, pure passion.  Yet there has always been something deeper with Alan and I.  Even in those early moments, if one of us had a headache, the other was experiencing the same.  Our roots have always intertwined until we could no longer tell where one of us starts and the other ends.  We are symbiotic.

We were married just 18 months after meeting for the first time.  Since then there have been 3 children, all boys.  We have had 3 cats and 2 dogs, numerous fish and a couple of lizards.  We have been self employed for most of these years.

So now it is forty years later and we are indeed that old couple walking hand in hand on the beach.

What would my letter look like to him today?  What do you say to someone who is your entire world?  To that person who knows you almost as well as you know yourself? What do you say to a man who has held steadfastly to love and upheld ever vow he made?

If I would write a letter today, I would still probably fill it with “I love you’s” but there would be so much more depth to the words as we both reflect what they really mean.

I often ponder what wisdom I can offer young couples.  I think the most profound thought is that the words “I do” are very simple, but you can never really understand what it is to be a committed partner.

I do means you will still cherish the person, even on the days you don’t like them.

I do means you will stand by through the most difficult of challenges…babies, teenagers, menopause/manopause, job loss, career changes, financial challenges, body changes, illness…

I do means a respect an honor of the relationship.

I do means you will endure and endear through it all.

So today, as we celebrate our Ruby Anniversary, I am told that Rubies are as precious as diamonds.  I believe this.  We are so lucky to be here.  We have been gifted 40 wonderful years together.

We skipped out of the church on our wedding day, we have overcome many of life’s challenges and somehow we came through it all.

The rest of the journey seems easy now.

Today we celebrated under the Marquee…him saying he wanted me to “see my name in lights”.  I am incredibly blessed by this man.  After 40 years, he is still my best friend. What an amazing adventure we have had together.



“G” is For Getaway-ABC Relationships

It’s snowing in our part of the world.  Winter is my least favorite time of year.  This sounds like the perfect time for us to “get away”.

  • Where should we go?  Somewhere warm.
  • What do we want to see?  Something exotic and culturally different.

These were the criteria we used for planning our next adventure.

The ability to get away and travel has been hard for the past couple of years.  With the shutdowns caused by a Pandemic, the regulations around Covid and the subsequent supply chain and employee shortages, it has seemed easier to just stay home.

We love to travel.  Even during our early marriage, when we had no money, we  prioritized getting away.  For nearly each of the 40 years we have been married, we have traveled “somewhere”.

It has always been Alan’s desire to visit New Zealand and Australia.  It was suppose to be his retirement gift, but that was two years ago, before the world shut down.

Now that things are opening up again, I have begun to dream.

When I found a super deal on a Pacific Island Cruise, I knew immediately that we would be booking it. At 29 days, this would be our longest cruise to date. We added on an extra couple of weeks of land exploration and suddenly realized we would be going on a two month journey.  This was the longest we have ever been away from home and our family.

There were times that we questioned our own sanity about getting on a cruise ship (these saw some of the greatest challenges during the outbreak) but as the snow began to pile up, we grew more and more excited to travel to somewhere warm and exotic.  Part of the travel experience is taking risks and overcoming challenges.

Vacations are a way to reset.  Did you know there is actually a National “Plan For Vacation Day?”  It is January 28th.  It is humorous to me to realize that vacations are so important that there has been a full day set aside, to do nothing but plan for them!  This trip has taken me six months to prepare for!

Vacations are so important that Alan and I prioritize them as part of our life.  This is a big reason we became ABC Explorers.

Maybe your vacation will be to stay close to home, or perhaps you will visit someplace far away.  Maybe you will camp, or travel by train.   One thing is for sure, travel will have an impact on you.  Here are a few things we have found to be true through our experiences:

  1. Getting away breaks up the monotony of our days.  Routine can lead to predictable (and boring) results and relationships.  “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (the same is true for Jill).
  2. Travel gives us something to dream about, to aspire to save for.  It gives purpose to earning money.
  3. Travel creates stories.
  4. Travel helps us to bond with family and form lasting memories.  When days are busy with school activities, work responsibilities and day to day chores, there is little time to really “see” each other or to spend quality time together.
  5. Traveling is a great way to make new friends.  Travelers often have a lot in common.  The bonus is you then have an excuse for visiting new people and places.
  6. Travel gives you photos. Photos capture a tiny bit of life.  They allow you to revisit your memories over and over.  Remember, without a photo, it never happened!
  7. Travel allows us to be creative in “how” we experience the world…we can sail, fly, or ride a train.  You can go by tuk tuk or ride an elephant.  You could choose to visit art galleries or hike a mountain.  Our journey is really only limited by our imaginations.
  8. Travel allows us broad introspection as we experience different cultures and traditions. We are more open to the differences in people as we understand the world which they live in.
  9. Many parts of the world are impoverished, yet I have often found the people to be extremely welcoming and happy. We can return from a vacation with a great appreciation for what we have.
  10. History, geography and anthropology come to life as one travels.
  11. Travel allows the mind, body and soul to rest.  Working can be very stressful.  Sometimes we don’t even realize how much pressure we are under.  Stress leads to illness.  Sometimes you just need a moment to let some steam off.
  12. Travel can allow you experiences you could never get at home.  I do not live by oceans.  I do not have penguins or elephants nearby.  I do not have mountains to ski or climb.  The USA is a young country, there are few monuments or buildings which date back to the period of the Roman’s or earlier.
  13. Travel allows us to learn new languages. Communication is universal, language is our only barrier.  There may be great humor and humbling moments in learning to ask where a bathroom is.
  14. You don’t have to go far to “get away”.  In fact there is always plenty to do, see and discover, even in your own back yard.  Much of the time, this is an unexplored place.
  15. Life is short.  We have known so many elderly people who wish they had seen and experienced more.  They waited too long until they “had time”, then found they were unable to travel due to illness (or the loss of a partner).  There are only two things guaranteed in this life…taxes and death.  Travel while you can.

So what is stopping you from designing your next adventure?  Isn’t time to “Get Away”?

Continue checking back often as we get ready to set sail on our Pacific Island Adventure!



Day 18-Pick a Word



Do you ever look at your partner and see your entire future?  Our first ABC adventure, was on the Agawa Train Tour, you can read about it here.  I remember looking at my husband and thinking about all the ways I adore him. Adoration is defined by Webster’s dictionary, as deep love.  I love this mans quirks, the challenge he presents me and his strengths.  I want this time together, this time which is just for us.  I want him to know that in this moment, he is my priority.  I want to offer him my undivided attention, so he knows that I hear him.  I want to wake each morning and make him feel like the most important person in the world. I want to retire each night, satisfied that we have given our best, to the betterment of our marriage.  I want him to know that he is utterly and completely adored because this is exactly the way he makes me feel when we focus on our relationship.  This marriage, this friendship, this love, is the future I saw for us, the very first time we held hands.  It is the same one I still see every time I hold him.  Celebrating our adoration for each other, was the best place to begin our ABC adventures.

Document the Journey



Play the word game!  Mix up your journaling by focusing the content around a single word.

“A” is for “Anniversary at Aonach Mor”!-Harbor Springs, Michigan


Thirty years is a long time to be married.  We wanted to do something different for this special anniversary.  Since our wedding date falls on January 8th, we are often at a loss for how to celebrate during the peak of Michigan’s winter weather.  We had booked a beautiful room in Harbor Springs, Michigan for the weekend.  As part of our Anniversary package, we were given $150 resort credit, to be used at any of the nearby Boyne Resorts.  I scanned the opportunities.  There was skiing, tubing, dog sled pulls, horse drawn sleigh rides and something called the Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner.  Since we were on an “A” themed adventure, this caught my eye.

Continue reading

A List of ABC Date Ideas

Do you ever tire of the same old dinner and a movie date?  Sometimes you have to put a little adventure into your relationship.

We started using the alphabet to set the theme for our dates.  We are dedicating this month to sharing the various  dates we have created.

We are always building ABC lists so check back often.

Here is a list of the words we have used to generate our ideas for a super date night:

A-al fresco, art, ATV, Axe Throwing

B-, biking, bowling


DDollar Store, Drive In, Dine, Darts, dessert

E-Escape Room

F-Fall Color Tour



I-ice cream



L-lake, Lavender Farm






R-rent a car, river, raft

S-sledding, skiing, snowboarding

T-tea tasting, train, tubing

U-U Pick

V-vineyard, volunteer

W-wine tasting, work out




ABC Dating-10 Reasons to Plan an ABC Date With Your Partner



“Us” after 35 years of marriage!

I remember skipping down the road, holding my husband’s hand.  As we were crossing the street, a woman  was coming toward us.  Obviously scorned by love she said,  “you won’t be doing that in a few years”.  I stopped and asked her how long she thought we had been married.  “You must be newlyweds”, she replied.  In fact, we had already been married for 12 years!  After 35+ years of marriage, we still skip and act silly.  This man is still my best friend.

Dating is what has kept our marriage fresh.  Here are a few benefits to “dating” your partner.

  1. Dating prioritizes your partner.  Even if you only spend an hour a week “together”, this tells your partner that they are cherished and worthy of your time.
  2. Dating is attractive.  As we look at and listen to our partner, it gives us the opportunity to admire the physical and mental attributes which draw us to them.
  3. Dating is intentional.  It says to your partner that they matter enough to you, to create special moments.  It shows that you are continuing to invest in your relationship.
  4. Dating around a theme is unique. By thoughtfully designing a date, you will soon find yourselves sharing experiences unlike anyone else.   The memories you create together become stories to be revisited as you age.
  5. Dating around a theme can be revealing.   It may bring out a playful, creative and/or funny side. It may show you what makes their eyes sparkle, or what gives them passion and purpose in life.  This may allow you a window into your partners personality.  It may allow you to admire them all over again.  It may remind you why you fell in love with them to begin with.
  6. Dating allows us to be role models.  Our children will develop a framework of standards for their own marriages.  People who see us having fun, may aspire to create the same with their partner.
  7. Dating encourages teamwork.  When you date with purpose, you are trying to accomplish something specific together.   This partnership mentality transfers to all aspects of your life.
  8.  Dating gives us a sense of security.   The more loved and nurtured we feel, the more trust we place in each other, the more trust, the more secure we become.
  9. Dating gives us time. It is easy to put a relationship on the back burner. Responsibilities can quickly get the better of most of us.  Without attention, passion dies.  There is an old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”.  To which I would respond, “then water your side”.
  10. Dating creates a lasting bond.  Kids grow up and leave home.  Eventually you may retire.  As life moves through its stages, your partner is the only thing which remains constant.  Nurturing your relationship allows a bond, meant to withstand all stages of  life.

Document the Journey



Bored of writing the same way?   Try a list of 10.



ABC Celebrations-A is for “Anniversary With Cash Only”

We woke on the morning of our 35th anniversary with no plans for the day.   As our family began to wish us well, we were chastised for not putting in more effort into the celebration.

I knew we had to come up with an idea, so I quickly challenged Alan to create one of our special dates.  We knew we would find a way to work in an ABC adventure.  This would become our “Anniversary by Cash” date!

As with all great anniversary celebrations, there was the checklist of goals to fulfill:

A-The day needed to fill our appetites by including dinner and chocolate.  Since this was a special celebration, we would toast it with alcohol.  We agreed there needed to be ambience, complete with music, flowers, candlelight and romance.

B-We really wanted to challenge our creativity, so there was a strict budget of $35, one dollar for each year we had been married.

C-Finally, we needed to demonstrate how much we cherished each other.  This needed to be in writing, but could not be in a card.  Everything needed to be paid for in cash.


The budget and goals for our anniversary.


Alan worked for a bit in the morning, returning home around 2 to pick me up.  I told him to dress warm, we were going to be outside. I was deliberately vague with our destination, figuring we would see where the day took us. The sun was shining and the temperature was a balmy 28 degrees!  After the stagnant winter we had been experiencing, we needed some fresh air.  We left home bundled against the elements and ready to explore.

We headed toward one of our favorite little towns called Empire.  I wanted to get the chocolate part of the date out of the way while we still had money.  (Not really, I just wanted chocolate!)




Our chocolate goal!

Our chocolate goal!



Just outside of Empire, a bright green building shines like a beacon against the snowy backdrop.  Who would ever expect to find a chocolatier in this part of the world?  Grocer’s Daughter imports their chocolate from Equador and ships their handmade confections around across the country.






Handmade chocolates and fresh hot chocolate.

Handmade chocolates and fresh hot chocolate.


I momentarily considered using the free sample, to fulfill our chocolate goal, but decided that would just be cheap.  Instead I purchased a sweet little bumble bee (my namesake), to share with Alan.  Our budget was now down a dollar.

Knowing this store had likely not had much business on this cold winter day, I wasn’t going to be THAT cheap, so I also purchased hot chocolate mix.  I did not count this in my budget because it would be consumed on a different day.




Yes, it really was that cold!

Yes, it really was that cold!


After our chocolate, we headed towards Empire beach.  In the summer, we often frequent this location to watch couples get married, or just observe a sunset.  The scenery looks far different in the winter.  The frozen landscape was equally as beautiful.  The beach was full of ice balls.  These are a phenomenon which occur mostly in Lake Michigan.  They develop when chunks of ice break off from larger sheets of ice.  As the smaller pieces tumble in the waves, they mix with slush.  The rhythmic action of the waves, rolls them into perfect balls, eventually throwing them onto the shore.   They made walking along the beach a little difficult, but determined, we persisted.




Frozen landscape!

Frozen landscape!



We are fortunate to live in a place with such stunning scenery. It had been weeks since we had, had a clear day. The day was particularly bright, as if the sun had come out just for us.   We had brought along our snowshoes, which we hoped to try for the first time.  I don’t know what we were thinking, but we definitely would not be snow shoeing today.





Our love grows daily.

Our love grows daily.


It was very windy on the beach, so after our walk, we posed long enough for a kiss and then we moved on.








We were enjoying our winter date so much, that we wanted to continue driving around the Sleeping Bear area.  Soon we found ourselves in Glen Haven.   There is a secluded beach near the Day Canning Company, a historic building which is part of the fabric of this community.

Much less wind in Glen Haven.

Much less wind in Glen Haven.

With all of our walking, we were now ready to enjoy a little break.  The blue blanket was spread upon the windswept snow for the mini picnic which I had packed. Alan had been creative too.  He had brought along his new bluetooth speaker, which I had given him for Christmas.  He hooked it up to his phone to play a recorded version of “our” song, “For Your Eyes Only”.  This was from a James Bond movie by the same name, which was also the first date that we had gone on.  The music seemed in stark contrast to the frozen seclusion we were enjoying.  As we slow danced in the frigid air, anyone observing us, might have thought we were crazy.



A winter picnic!

A winter picnic!

Reflecting on our many years of memories Alan enjoyed a cup of hot tea, while I drank my hot chocolate, which was from a packet of Nestle instant, not the lovely chocolate which I had purchased from Grocer’s Daughter. The icy air soon cooled our drinks off, so we downed them quickly.



I think the cold was affecting us.  We grew silly and made snow angels and wrote notes to each other in the snow.


All around us seemed to be glowing with a golden light, it seemed perfect to reflect the celebration of our love.    We had now completed three goals…to express our love in writing, to have a date with music and to eat chocolate.

Alan bought me roses!

Alan bought me roses!

With thirty four dollars remaining, we headed to Traverse City to complete our date.  Looking for wine, we stopped at a local grocery store, where we found a single serving of boxed vino, on sale, for just under three dollars.  Since we don’t really drink alcohol, we decided this would be plenty.   As we were leaving the store, a gumball machine, containing tattoos, caught my eye.  Here were my flowers!  It took 2 attempts to get a flower, but a rose was delivered on the second insertion of 50 cents.  We were down to thirty dollars.  Two more missions were now complete.  We then decided to head to the dollar store, where we found some wine glasses which seemed appropriate for the day.  We debated losing two dollars from our budget, but decided they were too cute not to purchase.  We also picked up a candle to add a little ambience to our dinner.  With a few more items off of our list, we had twenty seven dollars remaining.  We still needed to feed ourselves.

Wine, cheaper than therapy!

Wine, cheaper than therapy!







All that remained on our checklist was dinner.  Alan decided it was time to get Lucky(s).  Get your mind out of the gutter!  It’s a local fresh food market which has an amazing food bar.  We chose  homemade tomato and fennel soup, with fresh sandwiches and apple turnovers.   We now had all our food and drinks.  We had even come in with 53 cents left in our budget!  Finally we could head home with our goodies. 

It was time to get Lucky(s)

It was time to get Lucky(s)

On budget!

On budget, with 53 cents to spare!







Our abode is our favorite place to be.  As we evaluated how our Anniversary had been, we marveled at our adventure.  Reflecting on our day, we realized what an amazing anniversary we indeed enjoyed.  Every goal had been met.  With one exception, it had been the perfect celebration.   We would highly encourage you not to purchase cheap wine in a box, no matter how much you want to fulfill a goal! Happy 35th Anniversary to “Us”.  I wonder what we will do to top it next year.

Celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary with dinner, flowers, candlelight and wine.