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10th Anniversary

10th Anniversary

We’ve been thinking about our 10th anniversary since our 9th. We wanted to do something big and had narrowed it down to either a trip to Costa Rica or river guide school. When Glenna got diagnosed and came to live with us, planning became infinitely more difficult. (Maybe we should have known Costa Rica was bad luck, that was also the plan for our 5th anniversary and that didn’t turn out either.) Even if we’d logistically worked something out with family so we could go somewhere, there was always the fear that we’d be out of contact partying it up while she was dying. We decided it was probably best that we not make any big travel plans. We kind of moped around about it though. You know, Poor us, our life is so hard and our anniversary is going to be the worst ever. Boo, hoo, hoo. Super mature. At some point in January, I got a burst of optimism in the midst of the general malaise I was feeling and decided that we weren’t just going to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, we were going to do something for our anniversary and it was going to be fun. I looked at all the local events that would be happening on our anniversary and bought tickets to the play An American in Paris. I bought Noel a new suit and me a new dress (all amazing clearance finds of course). We would at least getaway for a few hours in style.

I’m glad I made those plans months ago, because by the time our anniversary rolled around, we were too spent to make any plans. To put it in context, here was the calendar surrounding our anniversary:

  • Saturday, February 25th – Glenna passed
  • Thursday, March 2nd – We began traveling for the funeral
  • Saturday, March 4th – Glenna’s funeral
  • Tuesday, March 7th – Ellen’s birthday/traveling back from the funeral
  • Friday, March 10th – Our anniversary
  • Saturday, March 11th – Ellen’s birthday party with friends

And those were just the big things. Not included: planning the funeral, kids swim lessons, grieving, and typical life maintenance functions. Like I said, I’m glad we already had plans because otherwise we probably would have just gotten takeout and watched Netflix in our pjs. Instead, we had a pretty good day.

Subversive runners

Both of the kids are in school at the same time for three hours, four days a week. Sometimes Noel and I take advantage of this and workout together. Running has been one of the things we’ve enjoyed doing together from the very beginning, so we decided we needed to go on a run. There had been a fire the day before on the nearby mesa, a place where we frequently run. We headed out to run there, not thinking anything about it because we’d heard the fire was out, but hadn’t realized a second fire had started. When we got to the trailhead we were met by Park and Rec officials putting up signs that the mesa was closed. We could see people on the mesa though (there are multiple trails that go up the mesa, we were just at the main one), and in an act of subversion left the main trailhead and made our way to the top via another route. (I’d like it noted that the mesa is big and the fire was on the side farthest from where we were so technically we weren’t actually in any real danger . . . )

Out on the town.

That night we dressed up for our second, and much fancier date. We picked up our babysitter and hit the town.

Parisi's

While the kids ate mac n’ cheese, we ate dinner at Parisi’s, one of our favorite restaurants for special occasions. (We’d looked at going somewhere super fancy, but neither of us could get over the sticker shock and Parisi’s always delivers.) In case the pictures don’t speak for themselves, dinner was amazing.

Bathroom Selfie
A full length look at the dress.

After dinner, we headed downtown to the Denver Center for Performing Arts.  The play was a lot of fun – lots of ballet and singing –  and Noel even got into it after he overcame his acrophobia. (We had seats on the front row of the balcony and it was freaking him out a little. ♥) We headed back home and after taking the babysitter to hers, pulled some salted caramel cheesecake out of the freezer. (I seriously need to share the recipe on the food blog so you too can have this magic in your life.) We stayed up till midnight, which if you know me is late, and I didn’t even complain! It was a different kind of celebration than we’d thought we would have for our 10th anniversary, but it was still a blast. We’re planning on having many more anniversaries anyway so we have time for those other crazy adventures.

10 years

10 years

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
– Mignon McLaughlin

10 Years ago
10 Years ago

“There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage.”
– Martin Luther

Today
Today

The good, the bad, and the bleh – it’s been 10 years full of adventures. I’m glad we’ve had each other through it all. There’s something about a decade that feels solid, which is exactly what our marriage is.

Eight Years Ago

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago, all I wanted for Christmas was an engagement ring. And I didn’t care if it came out of a gum ball machine, I just wanted the question behind it to be asked. Noel and I had known each other for close to a year and I was anxious, impatient really. Marriage was something we had discussed, but Noel gallantly wanted to tie up a few financial loose ends before we made anything official. Several couples we knew had met and married during the period of our courtship (we did live in Utah after all) and the jealousy was poisoning me. I tried my best to be supportive as Noel paid down his debt (an amount that seems almost laughable now), but I knew that even after it was gone it would take a good long while before he had enough money to buy a ring. I told him it didn’t have to be anything fancy, even just a twist tie around my finger would do the job, but he insisted he wanted to “do things right.” As Christmas neared, I was irritable since I knew I wasn’t going to get the gift I really wanted. As we shopped for gifts for family and made plans for our Christmas break I was unhelpful and snappy. Noel’s patience was admirable. It was a miracle we didn’t break up.

After finals were over, we loaded our stuff in Noel’s car and headed to Southern Utah where his parents currently resided. Noel really wanted to stop and go on a hike in Canyonlands National Park.  We’re pretty outdoorsy, so this wasn’t unusual, even for December. I had resolved, once again, to have a better attitude and not ruin Christmas, so I humored him. We headed out on the Grand View Point trailhead laughing and talking. When we got to the overlook, Noel bent down to tie his shoe and started rummaging in his pockets. I was about to ask him what he was doing when he pulled out a box and said, “Well, while I’m down here, about your Christmas present . . .  I was wondering if you would like it now; will you marry me?” I ecstatically said “yes” and got swept up in the joy of the moment and the sparkle of the diamond ring for several minutes. After my brain stopped swimming I turned to him and demanded to know where the ring came from. He told me about how his grandma, whom I had not yet met, but Noel described as having the personality of 60 grit sandpaper and a heart of gold, had heard through the family grapevine that we were considering marriage. Completely unaware of the financial obstacle standing in our way and not even knowing if she would like me, she sent Noel her wedding ring saying she would like him to have it so he could give it to me. Noel had it in his possession for three weeks as he dealt with my moodiness, studied for finals, and plotted how to get my parent’s blessing before he proposed. The night before our trip to Southern Utah, he told me he and his roommate were going to install a roof rack he’d recently bought off a friend, but instead travelled to my parents’ house in a bundle of nerves to ask for my hand. Afterward, he and his roommate stayed up past midnight installing the roof rack with fingers frozen beyond feeling so I wouldn’t be suspicious.

I have a lot of fond memories of Christmas, but I will always remember the love fueled miracles that happened that year to make it possible for me to answer the most important question I’ve ever been asked.

Being us, we don't have any pictures of the actual engagement, but this photo was taken a few days later and pretty much sums up my glee.
Being us, we don’t have any pictures of the actual engagement, but this photo was taken a few days later and pretty much sums up my glee.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Part Two

Be Careful What You Wish For: Part Two

There may have been a time or two when I’d complained about how I don’t really get sick days in my line of work. Generally, when an illness sweeps through the family I still have to at least perform basic work duties because if I don’t, people die. Well, complaining about that was such a bad idea. Right on the heels of my last karma slap, I became terribly ill. The fun kicked off with vomiting and was followed by fever, aches, and a roller coaster ride through all the symptoms treatable by Pepto Bismol. It’s a tad melodramatic, but at one point I was lying on my bathroom floor (the cool tile felt surprisingly nice on my feverish body) and I actually thought “I think I might be dying. Is this how my children are going to remember me?” Noel sweetly took two days off work to shuttle the kids around, take his mom to the airport, and rub my back while I focused all my energy on the exhausting trip from bed to bathroom to bed. Long story short, I survived and will not be wishing for any more sick days, perhaps ever again.

One thing I will say about getting sick is that everything seems so amazing when you’re better. “Wow, isn’t it amazing that I woke up this morning and didn’t feel like I had a Wookiee trapped inside my stomach?!?” “And isn’t it great that I feel good enough to do laundry!?!” Maybe if I filled my days with that  much exuberance and gratitude on a daily basis I could avoid these little life lessons.

Noel put up the baby gate to quarantine me from the kids. When I was feeling better they both were in dire need of mom hugs.

PS Fortunately, I seem to be the only one affected, knock on wood. Perhaps food poisoning or a strain of rotavirus that Noel’s already had and the kids are vaccinated against? Let’s hope that’s the case.

PPS The ankle is better and almost all the bruising is gone. I think being stuck in bed so many days really helped it 😉

First Kiss

First Kiss

The chill air had given us an excuse to cozy up next to each other on our late evening star gazing excursion. Both conversation and laughter flowed easily and we strolled slowly back to my apartment. It was like a scene from the movies were everything is perfectly scripted and the audience waits in anticipation for the swell of the music. We paused on my steps to say goodnight and he leaned in for that magical moment and I, 100% oblivious, turned my head and wrapped my arms around him in a tender embrace. Undeterred, he took a step back and said, “Let’s try that again” and I, realizing that my well cultivated kiss-dodge-maneuver had unintentionally kicked in, panicked. The moment was lost and our profuse apologies hung in the air like a storm cloud as we retreated to our separate apartments. He to stew on one side of the wall and me to cry regretfully to my roommates on the other. He called the next day to apologize, the first guy to ever do so after I’d deflected a kiss, and the layers of protective cynicism I’d painstakingly built began to crumble.

Us when we started dating in the spring of 2006.

When his sister found out that neither of us had ever kissed anyone she said, “Well how will either of you know what to do!?!” and he, in practical Noel fashion, simply said, “We’ll figure it out.” It took over a week for him to work up the courage to try and kiss me again and the setting wasn’t particularly cinematic. I was shivering in a too thin jacket, an overgrown pine tree obscured our view of the valley, and there was a couple arguing within earshot. I don’t even know if anyone else would technically consider it a kiss since our lips barely even brushed, but for me it was magical nonetheless.

In seven years of marriage we’ve tackled a lot of firsts. Our approach is often less than glamorous, but we’re figuring things out together. Big things like parenting and little things like how to patch a hole in the wall. Before we got married I giddily thought everything would be romantic, even mundane household chores like folding laundry. Sometimes I think about that and laugh when I’m staring down the mountain of clean clothes on our bed. Still, there’s no one I’d rather have a heart to heart with while matching socks. Our life is often ordinary, but it’s ours and that’s my favorite part about it.

2007 - When it all began.
2007 – When it all began.
2008 - Halfway through the Top of Utah Marathon
2008 – Halfway through the Top of Utah Marathon

2010 - Noel's Graduation and Cooper's Debut
2010 – Noel’s Graduation and Cooper’s Debut
2011 - During our month long stint in DC.
2011 – During our month long stint in DC.
2012 - After Ellen's blessing.
2012 – After Ellen’s blessing.
2013 - Checking out natural hot springs on our trip to Monterey, CA.
2013 – Checking out a natural hot spring on our trip to Monterey, CA.
2014 - In our backyard (well, technically this was late 2013, but it's my favorite most recent photo of the two of us.)
2014 – In our backyard (Technically this was late 2013, but it’s my favorite recent photo of the two of us.)

 

 

 

 

In sickness and in health

In sickness and in health

Just days after buying our new car, we got to take it on an unplanned road trip back to the heartland (aka Utah). My sister Vanessa’s husband, Chris, came down with a terrible bout of the flu that has been going around. Normally that would be a good reason not to go visit, but this was different. When I say the flu, I don’t mean he ran a fever, had a cough and a sniffly nose, and felt crummy for a week or even two. I mean he nearly died. By the time we arrived he had been in the ICU for just over a week unconscious and on life support.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that if you haven’t gotten your flu shot this year, stop reading this right now, get in the car and go take care of that immediately. I’ll wait for you.

No, seriously, do it now. Don’t put your family through the hell that my sister has had to endure for the past several weeks.

Okay, now that you’ve taken care of that. There was a silver lining in that we got to be there for my cousin’s wedding as well. That was great fun. We’re so happy for them. It was an interesting juxtaposition being reminded of the eternal nature of marriage and how life together is this rich mixture of exquisitely happy and excruciatingly painful moments.

It was great to see family that we rarely get to see all at the same time and place. Audrey’s parents and family were so kind too in helping with the kids. As of this writing, Chris is on the long road to recovery. He’s made great progress, and we are all hopeful he’ll graduate from the ICU soon.

Here are some pictures of our trip (not the ICU).

 

In Five Years

In Five Years

Five years ago

You know the classic question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Well, I seriously doubt that five years ago I would have said, “I’ll probably spend my fifth wedding anniversary breastfeeding my newborn and telling my toddler ‘no’ again as he pulls all the wipes out of the container.” At the same time, newlywed me wouldn’t have known how much I would change over the course of five years. She wouldn’t know how deeply I would love my kids or how touched I would be that my tired husband worked like crazy to simultaneously make me breakfast in bed and keep our busy little boy from waking me up early. So even though eating take-out from a great Italian restaurant isn’t quite the same as an exotic vacation, today I’ll be content to snuggle my three favorite people. Besides, Costa Rica will still be there next year.

Now.

 

 

 

Filling the Canteen

Filling the Canteen

The summer in between high school and college I dated more than any other summer of my life. I commented to a friend how I thought it was funny that all these guys who had never taken much interest in me suddenly wanted to go out all the time, especially when the relationships couldn’t go anywhere since they were all leaving soon to serve two year missions for our church. My friend looked at me like I was stupid and said, “You know they’re just ‘filling the canteen’ don’t you? You know like when you travel across the desert and you won’t have any water so you fill your canteen as full as you can so you can survive the trip? It’s kind of like that only they’re filling up on girls.” Oh. Suddenly my lively dating life didn’t seem quite as glamorous.

Sadly, my approach to having another baby is somewhat similar in nature. I feel driven to hoard food and stock my freezer with already prepared meals as if I may never see another grocery store or have the ability to cook ever again. This tendency extends to stocking up on baby clothes and supplies which Noel patiently endures until my madness forces him to ask, “You know you don’t have to have a stockpile of clothes that will last her until she’s five, right?” Call it nesting if you like, but it somehow feels a bit . . . apocalyptic when I step back and analyze my behaviors. By far, I would say the healthiest “canteen filling” measure I’ve taken up is spending time alone with Noel. The past couple of months we’ve had a lot of family visit which has given us the perfect opportunity to get out of the house without the boy. Are you ready to hear all the romantic things we did?

  • Spent a night in Vail and went outlet shopping
  • Went on a double date to Cafe Rio and saw The Muppets with Hope and Joe 
  • Bought a kitchen island at Ikea and ate yummy burgers at Five Guys.
  • Went to the grocery store (twice)
  • Mall Date (We just roamed and talked then ate Panda Express at the food court)
  • Went to the temple and swung by Krispy Kreme on the way home
  • Toured the hospital and pre-registered (Yikes are we really getting that close?)

So maybe we aren’t the most romantic people, but it really is wonderful to go to normal places and not be constantly chasing around a toddler. A big thanks to our parents (and a few friends) who have made it possible for us to stock up on alone time before Ellen steals the show for awhile.

The Elderly Couple Across the Street

The Elderly Couple Across the Street

I like to watch the old couple across the street and imagine what life will be like for Noel and I 50 years down the road. Even though he has Alzheimers, they still seem happy and in love. She laughs about how he sometimes wears her clothes on accident and only a tinge of sadness peeks through her vibrant optimism when she says she sometimes worries about him trying to cross the street on his own. He used to work for the Bureau of Reclamation and after he retired he cared for the grounds at their Baptist church. Apparently the gardens he once tended are one of the few places he can still remember and navigate. I can tell they’ve both had a lot of good memories at their church and I can’t help but ponder on the possibility that he still remembers because those type of memories are stored in his heart, not his mind. On hot days, she parks their car under a tree across the street during the heat of the afternoon because he doesn’t like hot cars and he still takes the garbage out and helps her with the yard. She chuckles and and tells me they should probably be in a home, but as far as I can tell they seem to be managing alright for the time being.

Sometimes the thought of growing old scares me, but then I see couples like this and I think, “Maybe it won’t be that bad.” I suppose that as long as I have love and faith there’s not much that can get me down. “Come what may, and love it” (Joseph B. Wirthlin).

4 Years

4 Years

Picture courtesy of my mom

About a week ago I helped put together a church activity for girls age 12-18. We had all of the leaders bring in wedding photos to put on display.  The girls giggled at the album where all the edges were blurred to create a dreamy effect and tried to guess which leader’s husband used to be skinny. The girls’ parents were always very complimentary, telling each leader, no matter the lapse of time, that she “hadn’t changed at all.” They’d always add a disclaimer with me though: “I mean, you just got married so of course you’re the same.”

Picture courtesy of someone in Noel's family

Yesterday was our four year anniversary. Though four is only a fraction of ten or fifteen or even thirty, I’m pretty sure that our lives haven’t been stagnant. Three degrees, one baby,  a big move to another state, and two real jobs later –  here we are. Seems like a fair amount of life lived. And we’re ready for a whole lot more.

Picture courtesy of our camera's timer