Living Happily Ever After


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“I married the first man I ever kissed.  When I tell this to my children they just about throw up.” (Barbara Bush)

I didn’t quite do what Barbara Bush did, but that doesn’t mean my kids aren’t feeling like hers did! Yes, with a newlywed mother, I’ve seen for myself how lovesick teenagers can be—make that how disgusted by aspects of love teens are bound to feel. And they don’t hold it in. They share it with me occasionally, even during this month of love (also the month of my first wedding anniversary.)

Case in point: The other day I was telling my son a story in an attempt to entertain him. Part of the story involved my imitation of some noises, unattractive sounds meant to make him laugh. I went out on a limb for the sake of entertainment and offered my finest attempt at said noises and was crushed when he failed to respond. As he was sitting in another room and I couldn’t see him, I called out, “Hey! Didn’t you hear that? You didn’t even react!”

“Oh, I heard you,” he replied. “I just thought you were kissing Mike again.”

Another child chimed in, “Watch out! Romance in the kitchen!”

My daughter just rolled her eyes and coincidentally, got up and left the room.

It was at that moment that I came to this realization: My poor children! If they haven’t been scarred by the trauma they endured when their dad confessed to running a Ponzi scheme and went to prison, I guess the behavior of their newlywed mother may be their undoing.

I’ll have to hope they learn this lesson: ”I found I could be happy and throw up at the same time.” (Pamela Anderson)


One Unexpected Adventure…Revealed

“When I was a child I had a crush on Abraham Lincoln. Why I would choose to reveal this, I know not.” (Julia Roberts)

Revelation time.

I’ve had a few crushes in my day.

Not only that, I have something in common with Janet Jackson who revealed, “My first crush was Barry Manilow. He performed on TV and I taped it. When no one was around I’d kiss the screen.” Let me clarify: I have the crush part, NOT the kissing the screen part, in common with Janet.

When I was a child I also had a crushes on Mike Smith (a little boy in 1st grade–but the crush soured, sadly, when Mike gave me a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day that was too big to fit in my desk and my classmates teased me about it!); Tim Horn (a boy in my 2nd grade class); The Lettermen; Shaun Cassidy; Kurt Russell; the buck-toothed boy from Disney’s original “Escape To Witch Mountain;” Stewart Peterson; and Donny Osmond.

I remember several nights as a child, arguing with my cousin, Athena, about our Donny Osmond crushes and who “got him.” Athena never failed to insist, “I get Donny because I’m older than you and closer to his age, you can have Jimmy—because you’re younger.” But I didn’t want Jimmy Osmond, I had a crush on Donny!

I even watched “The Donny & Marie Show” each week and I knew every song on their “Deep Purple” album by heart! And then Donny filmed “Goin’ Coconuts,” he married, and I grew up—and experienced many other crushes, but those are another blog post. (It did strike me as ironic, and funny, however, that as I drove off “just married” in 1989—my first marriage—Donny Osmond’s “Soldier of Love” was playing on the radio! A fitting conclusion to my childhood.)

I was married for 20 years, and happily so. I was a mother of four children, absolutely fulfilled in devoting my life and my efforts to my husband, children, home and church and community service. And then, in one moment, on one day, it all ended. Oh, the bleak and black absolute despair I felt! Indescribable. Within a few months I found myself divorced, single, working full-time and living in Utah attempting to create a new life for myself and my children as I raised my four kids alone. I carried on, but a big part of my shattered heart was sure I’d had my turn. That every good thing that was ever going to come to me was in the past.

And then, unexpectedly, I fell in love and got married again. Now I have a crush on my husband.

Even more unexpected: the day I found myself driving through the roads of Utah County in my trusty Subaru Outback station wagon to have lunch with…Donny Osmond!

All I can say is that if anyone had told me when my life fell apart in 2009 that lunch with Donny Osmond was in my future as part of my unexpected life, I’d NEVER have believed it! But it’s true.

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” (Orson Welles)

#26: The Learning Curve Extends

“Well, I screwed it up real good, didn’t I?” (Richard M. Nixon)

Statistics don’t favor second marriages. I never understood that–until I entered into one myself.  I learned a lot about what I assume must be the basis for such statistical pessimism.

I had never stopped to think about the fact that in remarriage, not only are you dealing with every usual marriage adjustment and challenge (like blending two lives, personalities, hobbies, interests, cultures, goals, expectations, finances, careers, challenges and everything else that goes along with marriage), but you are also dealing with two different previous families and their histories and experiences, two very different family cultures, all of the children of those families PLUS… former spouses.


Hard to comprehend what all of that means until it’s yours; until it happens to you. Lets just say that despite the marital bliss of your remarriage, it is a lot to deal with and occasionally can seem like more than you ever bargained for!

So what do you do?

Well, like every other aspect of the unexpected life, you deal with it. Laugh about some of it, work toward a happy ending, never give up, and of course, look on the bright side at every opportunity.

My husband is great at that. I remember the night we were discussing (and trying to laugh about) some things and he pointed out an unexpected bright spot: “Actually, we’re pretty lucky compared to other couples. We only have to deal with one former spouse. Can you imagine if we had to deal with two, and at the same time, in addition to everything else?” (I confess I never saw that one coming! While I am grateful prisons protect us from people who have chosen to break the laws of society, in 2009, I never imagined ANY “bright spot” to incarceration. But apparently, there is one! LOL.)

Second marriage moment #26. (I had to shake my head and laugh at that one.)

“Being here feels like I’m out of prison. This is the right place, the right time, the right team.” (Shaquille O’Neal)

Happily Ever After, Every Now And Then

“I just want to live happily ever after, every now and then.” (Jimmy Buffet)

The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I’m reminded with every conversation that life is full of challenges. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that every life has big hurdles, whether they are visible from the outside looking in or not. In fact, there are so many unexpected lives taking place in the world sometimes I’m almost overwhelmed by the experiences and stories of the people I meet, things they’ve been burdened with and the challenges they face in seeking to survive, emotionally or physically or financially, in life.

But they inspire me.

I admire the many, many people who carry on, deal with their challenges the best they can, attempt to rise above them and choose TO LIVE and to BE HAPPY despite them. I’m inspired by everyone attempting to create and choosing to live a version of “happily ever after.” Because, “I’ve always thought anyone can make money. Making a life worth living, that’s the real test.” (Robert Fulghum)

And if you do that, if you can make a life worth living and choose to be happy despite the setbacks and everything else that happens to you, I believe THAT is a happily ever after.



Despite it all and regardless of what happens.

Embrace your unexpected life.


“And, while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.” (“Ever After,” the movie)

The point is…to live.

A News Story

It’s official.

Another opportunity for me and my children to share some of what we have experienced and learned in our unexpected life.

Jennifer Stagg, a news personality on NBC affiliate Channel 5, in Salt Lake City, Utah, did a story on our family which aired last week.

Here is the link to see the news story, if you’re interested:

What I noticed most about this opportunity was the continued healing that has taken place in myself and my children, especially my middle son. He was just 9 years old when his world shattered; too young to understand a lot of what was taking place and to understand why it was happening. However, last week’s interview reminded me that a lot of growing up takes place from 9 years old to 11 years old!

Although this particular child didn’t want to participate in the interview, he agreed to stay in the yard and play while it was taking place. And then, unexpectedly, before the filming wrapped, he came in the house and hung around the film crew. I asked, “Is there something you want to say?”  He replied, “Yes.”

So Jennifer sat down and asked him some questions, including things about his old life, things about his new life, what he had learned and how he felt about it all.

As for what he missed about his old life? The fields behind our Colorado home that he played and rode his dirt bike in–and his friends. “If you have friends and family, that’s all you really need to be happy though,” he explained. “And I’m happy in my new life. My new life is just as good.”

“Really? What do you like about your new life?” asked Jenn.

“That I have a stepdad who is really nice, nice to me, who really likes me and who I really like.” (Too bad #5 was out of town on a business trip and didn’t get to hear that, huh? I shared it with him when he got home!)

He concluded by offering his wisdom: hard things happen, you just have to carry on.

Count his emotional well-being and healthy outlook and happiness in life as yet another miracle we’ve been blessed with, thanks to the triumph of living…the unexpected life.

“We are all broken and wounded in this world. Some choose to grow strong at the broken places.” (Harold J. Duarte-Bernhardt)

He sure has.

One Ambition

“Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.” (Bob Marley)

We survived the engagement portion of our relationship and married. But before I move on, I have to compliment #5 and his heroic attempts to keep us (and everything else) together during that time. Because at least for me, for us, being engaged in our 40s was very different than the last time. We came to the relationship with families, children, jobs, homes, church assignments, interests, hobbies and were both living very full lives before we even met, fell in love, and decided to be married. Our engagement wasn’t like the last time where we could drop just about everything to be with our intended. We had commitments and obligations; time with each other was limited.

Sometimes the only time each day we saw each other was 5 minutes in the workday morning, when #5 went out of his way to stop by my house on his way to work and before I left for mine, to say hello to me and to see the children before they left for school; or late at night, when #5 went out of his way to stop by for a few minutes after a show he was performing in, to say hello before he went home. Not a lot of time together. It was common for other couples marrying that I knew, as well. They both had homes, lives, and sometimes they even lived in separate cities–and continued to–even after they were married.

When we married, it came together so fast I didn’t think beyond the wedding day, honeymoon, the welfare of my children while I was out of town and my return to work afterward. So driving home from the honeymoon, as we entered Utah county, I realized real life was about to set in and I was struck with a thought I’d never had before: what is the plan? As in, where was #5 planning to live (and sleep) now that we were married? I knew it was the evening, we had to work the next day, and #5 didn’t have any personal belongings at my house. I suddenly realized I didn’t know what to expect!

I asked, “Where are you staying tonight?”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized my idiocy and saw the answer in his eyes. He looked at me like I was clueless (which I am and demonstrate on far too many occasions, exemplified, for example, by the events of 2009), shook his head like I was crazy (no comment!) and replied, “Of course your house–OUR house–we’re married!”

I said, “We both have homes, you don’t have anything at mine, we have to go to work tomorrow and I’d never thought that far ahead, so I wasn’t sure.”

He laughed and said, “Yes, it’s going to be a busy night. We’ll stop and see the kids and then we’ve got to run to my house and get some of my stuff and move it to the house so I can go to work tomorrow!”And that’s exactly what we did, although #5 was very patient to basically live out of a suitcase the first week or two of our marriage as he transitioned from living in his house, to mine.

That was the first “second marriage moment” for me. Only in a second marriage would you even wonder where your husband will live–your house, or his!

“What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Marital Advice

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” (Winston Churchill) 

The official honeymoon, the part where we went away just the two of us, came to an end just four days later. It was time to get back to our children, our jobs and our new life. I confess, I’ve never been one to leave my children, but strangely, this time as much as I missed them, I could have stayed a few more days with #5:)

We drove back to Utah, enjoying every moment of the drive and the last few minutes of one-on-one time together.



And desirous to remain so. I found a fun suggestion: “Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.”

Not bad advice, huh?

Anyone else have any marital advice for the newlyweds? We’re open to any and all suggestions…

“Over the next four years, I will continue to listen to different views and accept different suggestions.” (Chen Shui-bian)

The Morning After

“You will never have buyer’s remorse with wood. You can change your furniture, window covering or color scheme, but the wood will always be there and most important, be appropriate. Look at Monticello–the original wood floors there are still magnificent.” (Ellen Paris)

The last hurdle to clear, the last bit of lunacy to confront following my remarriage, was the “morning after.” The very tiny part of me that feared I’d wake up, married to #5, and be seized by thoughts of, “Uh-oh. WHAT have I done?”

I never shared that with #5 though. I thought I was the only one with anything to fear upon awakening. However that night, our wedding night, before we fell asleep #5 looked over at me and expressed a fear of his own: “I have to warn you, with my hair this long, it’s not going to be pretty in the morning. I can’t guarantee what you’re going to see, crazy things happen to it while I sleep, brace yourself.”

Sometimes men and women are from different planets! There I was worrying about the possibility of major “morning after” regret–and #5 was warning me about his morning hair.

The next morning, I woke up. I hesitated for just a moment, a part of me was afraid to lift my eyes from the pillow and face my fear. But then I felt #5′s hand on my arm. I looked over at him. He was smiling, and he got right to the heart of the matter as he asked, ”Well? What do you think? How do you feel? Are you still happy?”

I’d never verbalized my fear, but he always seems to know what I’m worrying about anyway. And in that instant, a wave of peace and calm and happiness with #5 and my choice and the events of the day before washed over me. I detected absolutely NO REGRET. I replied, “I’m happy! And even happier that I have NO buyer’s remorse whatsoever!”

We had a great time in Las Vegas; we had a fabulous honeymoon; and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. That “morning after” was the last little issue to resolve.

I’ve come to realize that, for me, anyway, ”The things which we fear the most in life have already happened to us.” (Robin Williams, One Hour Photo)

Another beauty of the unexpected life.

Our Plan

“By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” (Socrates)

Lets hope the engagement and marriage don’t turn #5 into a philosopher, huh? THAT would be unexpected!

When #5 and I got engaged, we never imagined we’d be engaged over 9 months. At about month 8, we came to a decision. We were discussing getting married when we received our authorization and I asked, “So when we get our papers, will we then wait another 2-3 months while we find a date that works for everyone–all of your relatives, mine, our friends and everyone else–and then plan a wedding?”

He replied, “NO. When we get our papers back, we’ll get married in days.”


“What if our papers come back on a Tuesday?” I asked.

“We’ll get married that Saturday,” he answered.

“What if our papers come back on a Wednesday?” I asked.

“We’ll get married that Saturday,” he answered.

“What about Thursday? What if our papers come back on a Thursday?” I asked.

“Hmm…Thursday…we could try for Saturday, but we may have to wait until Monday or Tuesday,” he said.

We didn’t have a wedding date. We didn’t know when it would be. And the above was the extent of our plan. But at least, after 8 months, we had a plan!

“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” (Dennis Wholey)


A Table, A Chair, A Bowl of Fruit and a Violin

“The woman gets the ring–unless it’s an heirloom.” (Vanessa Lloyd Platt)

Or in my case, in the aftermath of a Ponzi scheme. You don’t get to keep your wedding ring if it’s an upgrade–and paid for with tainted (ie. stolen) money. Oh well. I only wished I could have had it to sell for cash to provide for my children anyway. But like I said, I did get to keep my violin.

Paid for in 1982 by Dr. Andrew H. and Sandra Christensen, a Colorado orthodontist and his wife, my parents, with money legally acquired straightening crooked teeth and turning them into beautiful smiles. They purchased my violin from a very well-known master violin maker named Peter Paul Prier, originally from Germany but living and operating a store and violin making school in Utah.

I had begun taking piano lessons when I was 7 years old and in 6th grade, at 11 years old, I began playing the violin. I tried it because all of the neighbor girls older than me were in orchestra and it seemed to be the thing to do, at a certain age, in Grand Jct., CO. Plus, it didn’t look that hard. I took to the violin pretty well. In my last year of junior high, I was asked to walk to the high school from my school and participate in their orchestra class and play with them. By high school, when every serious violinist seemed to be upgrading their violin for a better one, that seemed like the thing for me to do too. I mentioned it to my parents. And true to form, just like everything else in my life, they came through for me.

They checked around, learned Peter Paul Prier was THE place to get the best violins, and without telling me flew to Utah, made a purchase, returned home one evening and surprised me with my new violin! They told me it was a very good violin, that I needed to take care of it–and that if for some reason I ever needed to sell it someday I should return to Peter Paul Prier and sell it back to him. That’s what Mr. Prier had told them.

What my parents didn’t tell me, was that they’d paid $2000 for my violin.

I enjoyed playing my new violin. Things went without a hitch until the weekend the band room at my high school caught fire or was robbed (I can’t remember which) and I happened to admit, “Oh no! My violin was in there!” My parents almost had a heart attack. I got a lecture about taking care of valuable things, which I completely deserved, and I was on pins and needles all weekend and into Monday morning until I could get in to the school and discover that my violin was ok.

I grew up, went to college, got married, had children and eventually played my violin only on very rare occasions. But I held onto it for sentimental reasons and in case any of my children chose to develop that talent. And when my former husband’s Ponzi scheme was revealed, my violin was one of a few “valuable” items I was allowed to walk away with–thanks to my generous parents and their support of the development of my talents.

“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?” (Albert Einstein)

After entering my unexpected life, my mom’s words from 1982 haunted me: “Mr. Prier told me to tell you that someday, if you ever need to sell your violin, take it back to him and he’ll buy it from you. It’s a good violin.”

I just NEVER imagined a day like that would come.