Monday, February 11, 2013

Report on our Orange County Couples Mini-Retreat

On Friday night, Eric and I had the privilege of attending and facilitating the very first Orange County Couples Mini-Retreat for The Power of Families.

It was a beautiful evening with a great group of parents.

After a full day of rain, we were a little worried that everyone was going to show up soaking wet, but the skies cleared up nicely, and we arrived a bit early--to find that Melanie (our wonderful friend who arranged for us to use her clubhouse) had already gotten the chairs set up.

Loved this room.  It was perfect.

Since Eric and I were busy keeping the evening running, our 10-year-old daughter Grace was kind enough to snap a few photos (this was from the beginning of the night, when we talked about creating strong parenting partnerships): 

I've gotten used to sitting in rooms full of moms, so it was neat to see such an active group of dads participating in the group discussions.

Eric and I walked around from group to group--listening in and gleaning bits of wisdom from each of the discussions.

During this first break-out, everyone was sharing their best advice for creating strong partnerships.  We talked about having a weekly planning session where we can get on the same page, making date night a priority, setting realistic expectations, and learning how to really check in with one another to make sure our spouses are doing okay.

We all want to have fantastic marriages, but with the heavy demands of work and family responsibilities, it requires effort.  By putting a few good habits and routines in place and making marriage-strengthening a conscious effort, our goals become so much more achievable.

After we finished the Parenting Partnerships segment, we moved on to Family Systems and discussed building a strong family culture, establishing a family legal system, and creating a family economy.

For each session, we had a few minutes of presentation, a small-group discussion, and some reflective writing time.

Below, I've included a variety of photos from the rest of the night:

Laurie (our Power of Moms board member over PR) and her husband John are pictured below, bottom left:

I wish I had a better photo of Nora and Ricardo (bottom right).  A couple of weeks ago, Ricardo googled "Mini Retreat Marriage Southern California," and he found US.  (I don't know if there could have been a more perfect string of words to lead them to our Retreat page, but I'm SO glad they made it.)  They really contributed to all the conversations, and it was great to see a couple so united in strengthening their family.

Honestly, each person who attended was such a delight to meet.

Melanie and Marinda (the two moms in the center of the photo, below) helped with all the logistics of the night.  Thanks for making this happen, ladies!

And my sister Laura and brother-in-law Jim are below on the left (thanks for coming!):

This photo is blurry, but this is Emily (our board member who runs our Twitter feed) and her husband Eric (center):

And I like this picture.  Eric is standing at the left, presenting some ideas to the group, and Grace is holding the cute baby who attended that night.  (Can you tell Grace is in heaven?)

I could go on and on, but basically, I want to thank everyone who joined us, and for those of you who have the chance to attend a Retreat in the future, I hope you'll do so. There's something about meeting together in person that simply can't be replicated online.

As I was looking through these photos and some videos of the event, my five-year-old son, Spencer, was eating a bowl of mint-n-chip ice cream at the counter behind me.

"Mom?" he said, "Am I going to go to a retreat when I'm a dad?"

"Yep," I responded.

"Yay." he said.

(Loved that.)

So for the future Mrs. Spencer Perry, I've got him all conditioned for you. . . .

Okay, and now there's one more thing I need to say about these Retreats. 

I don't know if people know this about me, but attending and presenting at Retreats scares me to death.

I love the Retreats, and I'm planning to do many more in the future, but my stomach hurts for days before, and I can never really sleep the night before--or after.

It is a thousand times easier for me to sit behind a computer screen than to get out in front of people, but there's this quote my brother-in-law shared with me that I think of often:

There's no growth in the comfort zone--and no comfort in the growth zone.

At some point, I'm hopeful that these Retreats will be natural and easy for me, but for the time being, I have to plan a few days of down time at the end of each event so I can get over all my anxiety.

(Hope you don't mind my honesty.)

All right, I'm closing up now.  We're introducing our kids to the Star Wars movies this week, and it's time to watch Empire Strikes Back.

Hope to see you at our next Retreat!

Much love,


  1. Oh April! I love you! I loved at the end your honesty and share similar anxieties. Perhaps I will get a piece of paper out and put the comfort quote on my bathroom mirror to help me in the coming weeks as I finalize my presentation I have been asked to give for our stake RS conference. Thank you for being you and sharing your gifts and talents in the right way!

  2. I've always felt you were a saint for giving so much time and effort to these retreats. Now that I know it scares you to death I appreciate it even more. (And I never would have known you were nervous because you are such a delight to listen to and watch when you present). Thanks again a million times over.


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