We had a great weekend presenting on the Engaged Encounter retreat. We not only had a good retreat but we managed to survive our first overnight (two of them, actually!) separation from both boys. My parents reported that the boys were very good at their place. They took on the Martin boy mania with a specific tactic: “Divide and Conquer.” Matthew went to the beach with Grandma while Zach napped. Chris brought Zach to ride the tricycle downstairs so Matthew could play John Deeres/have quiet time. Matthew “helped” my dad move some rocks in their garden (I’m sure the job would’ve been nearly impossible without his assistance). And Zach had an outing to the park with D-Dad. As far as we can tell, after a weekend watching both of our children, my parents’ condo building is still standing and they’re still speaking to us.
Not that we had much to say to them. After a weekend of non-stop speaking (giving presentations to the 34 engaged couples) and schmoozing and visiting at meals, we (yes, even me!!!) were ready for a break from chit-chat. Getting to hear the different couples’ stories is one of my favorite things about doing EE. First of all, there are always the few that I really want to conquer. They come into the retreat with all this attitude, like “we already know everything there is to no about each other, we couldn’t possibly benefit from this crazy, touchy-feely-overly-Churchy [which it’s not, by the way] retreat. We’d be so much better off staying home.” If that’s you’re attitude…well, good luck with that. If you think you already know everything there is to no about your fiancé, then you better just quit now; your marriage and life will be SO boring! You’re donating an entire half-year to a year to plan your wedding and you can’t be bothered to set aside one weekend to spend focusing on your PSU (Potential Spousal Unit), your relationship and your upcoming marriage?! The motto of Engaged Encounter is “The wedding is a day, the marriage is a lifetime.” We definitely have a story to share since our wedding day wasn’t the most ideal. Anyway, after being forced to come on the weekend and listening to the talks, writing and dialoguing we rarely get a negative evaluation at the end. Even the bad attitude couples usually write something like, “Yeah, I really didn’t want to come this weekend, but I’m so glad that I did. I learned new things about my fiancé,” etc.
So, there are always a few couples that, for various reasons, stand out to me on the weekends. There were two on this particular weekend. I don’t actually have all that much to say about the first couple, just merely the fact that she was 16 and he was 18!!!!! They aren’t getting married until she graduates next year, but still. Holy Moly! And some people thought that we were too young to be getting married at 21!
The most intriguing couple to me this weekend were Suzy and Bo (not their real names, by the by). Bo first dated Suzy’s sister. Yeah, that’s pretty crazy in itself. Then after a bit Bo and Suzy’s sis broke up, shortly thereafter Suzy’s sis realized that Suzy and Bo were meant for each other, so she made the suggestion that Suzy and Bo date. Things went well and went quickly. Suzy (who is 21) lives at home with her parents, shares a room with her sister, and works on her parents’ dairy farm (located an hour north of Seattle). Bo and Suzy’s dates usually consist of chatting while milking 150 cows, sharing dinner with her family or “visiting in the parlor.” After they are married they will live in a trailer in the front yard of her family’s home. Both Suzy and her sister were home-schooled. Their parents just had a baby three years ago (so Suzy is 18 years older than her sibling). Suzy and Bo hope to have between 4-6 children who they will home-school and raise along with Suzy’s youngest sister. Suzy wore a gingham, plaid dress and cardigan sweater today and Bo wore a plaid shirt, jeans with large belt buckle and iron-toe work boots. Suzy gets up at 5 every morning and milks cows for 2 ½ hours. She then does other chores around the farm (such as mending fences, baling hay, etc.). From 5:30-7:30 every evening she milks the cows again. She’s even churned butter (but only once “because we realized that it was way too much work”).
Look, I realize that I’m a complete and total City Girl and completely clueless about the farming/country life. But isn’t that crazy and so cool?! I know that they were pretty amused – and hopefully not offended – by my inquiries about life on a farm. I like to think that my evident ignorance actually comes off as childlike wonder and fascination. I asked if they drink their own cows’ milk. Suzy replied in the affirmative. I then said, “That must be I really fresh milk. Is it nonfat? 1%? 2% Oh, wait, it’s Whole Milk, huh?” Suzy answered, “Yes, it’s definitely more whole than anything they sell in the store.” The other couple at the table was kind enough not to laugh at me too much, and Mike gave me a supportive and “oh, you’re so pathetic and yet so cute in your ignorance” kind of pat on the back. But man! Once I learned that Suzy has churned butter, I couldn’t help myself. I exclaimed, “Wow! You’re practically living in the Little House on the Prairie.” I am proud of myself that I refrained from adding “or in this case Little Trailer in Your Parents’ Front Yard.”
I told Mike that someday I’d love to spend a week…well maybe a couple of days, on a farm really experiencing rural life. He thinks I’m nuts, and that I’d never make it. I wonder if that’s due to the fact that as soon as we venture out past city limits (still in the suburbs though), the first question I always ask people is “How long does it take you to get to the grocery store? And more importantly, Starbucks?” Yeah, baling hay, milking cows and churning butter…how would I get my latte drunk while it’s still warm while doing all that?!