Tim and I celebrated our tenth anniversary on Friday. In many ways our wedding day feels like only yesterday, but when I really think about everything we’ve done in the past decade — bought two houses (and sold one), figured out our career paths (which included grad school and a Master’s degree for Tim), had two children, explored a lot of great new places — then, yeah, ten years seems about right.

Before we got married, the priest who married us had us meet with him for a few sessions of pre-marital counseling. As part of the first session, he put us in separate rooms and had us take a compatibility-type test. It covered a wide range of topics, ranging from whether we’d discussed how many kids we wanted and parenting strategies, to how we handled arguments and apologies, to what we might do if we discovered our spouse had a drug problem. The questions were structured to gauge how much we’d discussed these issues, not to see if we could get the “right” answer. It was designed, I think, to see whether we were on the same page about things that would ultimately be important factors in our relationship.

When we were finished and back together in one room, the priest came in with our scores. He asked us, with only the smallest hint of suspicion, “Did you guys compare answers while you were taking this?” Now, remember, this was 10 years ago, before smart phones and texting were commonplace; if we’d wanted to cheat off each other’s tests while we were in separate rooms, it would have involved some covert T-9 texting that would have been a major pain in the ass. We assured him we had done no such thing. “It’s just that I’ve never seen a couple get such a high percentage of the same answers before,” the priest explained. My inner competitor did a big fist-bump of victory: we’d aced the test!

In all seriousness, all it meant was that we’d already discussed the Big Issues before coming to counseling. The test just helped confirm for the priest what Tim and I already knew: we were ready to take on the commitment of marriage.

We completed the rest of our counseling sessions and continued to have valuable discussions. By the end of it, the idea that we’d cheated on the test had become a shared joke, and all three of us–Tim, me, and the priest–were confident that this would be a strong marriage. At our wedding, the priest’s wife signed our guest book, “Congratulations to the Most Compatible Couple!”

Ten years later, as we sat on our deck enjoying a glass of wine, the cool summer evening air, and the simple joy of a conversation uninterrupted by kiddos who had since gone to bed, Tim asked me how I feel I’m different now than I was ten years ago. A few answers came to mind. I’m more laid back now than I used to be. Tim’s calm attitude has rubbed off on me, which has been helpful in navigating the world of parenting in which very little remains within my control. He and I both agreed that today, compared to ten years ago, we feel a lot more settled. We’re not biding our time in a just-for-now house, but instead own the home we plan to stay in until our kids force us into a nursing home; we’re not waiting to have kids, or more kids, but rather feel that our family is complete; and we’re happy, oh, so happy.

At our wedding, Tim’s best man said in his toast that he hoped our wedding day was not the happiest day of our lives, but rather that our years together would be filled with happier and happier days to come. And that’s exactly what’s happened. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life–at the time. As happy as I was that day, I’m even happier now, ten years later.

That compatibility test was right: Tim and I are a great team. We’ve come a long way together in the last decade, and we’ve come out even better than we started. I look forward to finding even more happiness together in the coming decades.

Emily’s First Year

Emily is officially a one-year-old! (Plus a couple weeks…I’m a little late with this post.)


She’s the cutest one-year-old girl I’ve ever encountered, that’s for sure.


One-year-old Emily loves playing at the park. The swings are always a hit, but once she discovered the slide, it quickly moved into first place on her list of favorites. She can’t get enough.

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One-year-old Emily loves hugging her stuffed animals…and then immediately shoving them to the floor, lest too much positive attention go to their heads.


One-year-old Emily loves holding on to Mommy’s hair whenever possible. She doesn’t pull, just holds on to it like a security blanket whenever I’m holding her. She gets mad when I have my hair in a pony tail and it’s harder for her to grab a handful.


One-year-old Emily has a fancy new carseat, which she seems to like much better than the infant bucket seat. She still doesn’t really love riding in the car, but she fusses less in the new seat than she did in the old one.


One-year-old Emily is growing up fast, but she’s not quite ready to sit in the driver’s seat without a healthy dose of skepticism. We’ll try again in about 15 years.


One-year-old Emily can stand up on her own, but only if she doesn’t realize she’s doing it. As soon as she notices she’s standing unsupported, she quickly sits down.


One-year-old Emily loved celebrating her birthday, both the small party we had with family…

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…and the celebration we had, just the four of us, on her actual birthday.


One-year-old Emily really loves cheesecake.


One-year-old Emily has brought us so much laughter and joy. I can’t believe we got so lucky not just once, but twice. We have the very best children. The very best.

I thought it might be bittersweet to reach this milestone since we don’t plan to have more children, but it turns out it’s far more sweet than bitter. There’s a small part of me that will always be nostalgic for those tiny baby snuggles, but more than anything, I feel relieved to have the baby days behind us. Now we get to watch our babies grow into kids, and every day we get more glimpses of the people they’re going to grow up to be. It’s so much fun. I love it, and I’m so excited for the next part of this crazy parenthood journey.

Plus, nobody can look a picture like this and argue that Emily’s not still my baby. I mean, look:


Emily’s Eleventh Month

Emily is 11 months old!


These days, Emily…


…eats everything in sight. She went from refusing to let anything other than pureed food anywhere near her mouth to putting everything in her mouth practically overnight. Now she’s constantly stealing bites of whatever we’re eating, feeding herself small things like Cheerios, and has even figured out how to drink through a straw.


Chewing is still a tough concept for her, so we have to break all her food into tiny pieces, but it’s nice not to be spoon-feeding her 5+ tubs of purees every day. This girl has an appetite, and she’s in that early-eater stage where she’s not picky and is happy to try everything. It’s really great.


…sleeps through the night! She’s actually been doing this since about 9.5 months, I just forgot to mention it before now. It’s really nice not to be waking up at 3am every night, let me tell you. About a month ago, when Alexander was having nightmares pretty frequently, I told Tim that since Emily was finally sleeping, I could start helping out with Alexander’s wake-ups again. And do you know what Tim told me? Tim, who I sometimes think values his sleep over almost everything else in life? He told me, “Don’t worry about it; you deserve a break.” You guys. Tim is the very best.


…cruises, crawls, and gets into everything. We’ve reached the fun stage where she is constantly opening drawers and pulling everything out. Let me tell you how much I love it. (Not a lot.) And she’s obsessed with the dishwasher. Whenever she hears Tim start to do the dishes, she makes a bee-line across the house to climb in the dishwasher and help. Let me tell you how much Tim loves it. (Not a lot.)


…wears hairclips for up to 5 minutes at a time before yanking them out. Good thing she’s ridiculously cute even when her bangs are in her eyes.


…enjoys playing in the snow…


…dancing to the music her jumperoo plays…


…and, of course, spending as much time with her brother as possible.


She’s going to be a whole year old soon, which doesn’t seem even remotely possible. But then I look back at pictures from when she was born, and I can’t believe she was ever such a tiny little thing. She’s grown up so much in the past 11 months!

Emily’s Tenth Month

It’s been a big month for Emily!


She got to play in the snow!


And go sledding for the first time, which she totally loved.


And then later in the month, she got to play in the sun at the park, because winter in Colorado is nothing if not inconsistent.


This girl is pretty fearless, and continues to have zero sense of self-preservation. She climbs everything in sight and wants to be in the center of the action at all times.


Wherever Brother is, that’s where she wants to be. Luckily, Alexander tends to be very good at accommodating her desire to be near him most of the time.


These kids love each other so much.


Emily also grew a tooth! And then another one! Despite the above photo evidence to the contrary, 95% of the time she still steadfastly refuses to put anything in her mouth that’s not (a) her hand, (b) milk, or (c) a puree. We’ve still go a ways to go before she’s feeding herself finger foods.


But perhaps the most exciting thing that happened this month (most exciting for me, anyway) was that we accidentally gave Emily some pudding. With milk in it. And…she didn’t react. Not even a hint of a rash.


So, after consulting with her pediatrician, we started experimenting with more dairy products, first with her eating them, then moving on to me eating a little bit of dairy when she still didn’t react. Long story short, I’m eating pizza right this very minute. Cheesy, delicious pizza! I can hear a chorus of angels singing with every bite.


She also does the adorable baby booty dance when she hears music, which is one of the best milestones in all of babyhood, in my humble opinion.


Emily Judith, a.k.a Ems, a.k.a StinkerDoodle: Ten months old, full of mischief, and absolutely the best little girl ever.

Christmas with a Three-Year-Old

I’ve always loved Christmas, but it just gets more and more fun when you add kids into the mix, doesn’t it? Emily is obviously pretty clueless about the whole thing, but Alexander spent the entire month of December buzzing with excitement about all things Christmas.


He loved decorating the tree, and spent many evenings draping his ever-present pile of blankets from his bed over various parts of the house, declaring “I’m decorating for Christmas!” He’s also very insistent that all Christmas trees must have stars on top. Whenever we see a tree with an angel on top, or even a pine tree outside with only lights, he’ll note, “Oh, I guess they forgot to put a star on top of that Christmas tree.”

He watched a ton of Christmas shows and learned (well, mostly learned) a bunch of Christmas songs this year. His version of “Jingle Bells” is delightful (Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all da way! Ash-ee-urr dinnda oneeeuuuopen sleigh, hey! ), but his abridged rendition of “Frosty” is my favorite:

He wasn’t timid at all about meeting Santa this year. Our neighborhood hosted a Story Time with Santa event where Santa came into a room full of kids right at the end of a reading of Frosty the Snowman. All the kids noticed Santa around the same time, but no one was too sure what to do. Alexander, no longer our shy little guy, took the lead by marching right up to Santa and giving him a great big hug. Once A. broke the ice, the other kids were quick to follow suit. It was adorable.

He was excited about getting presents from Santa, of course, but he surprised me with how excited he was about giving presents to other people. We got Emily a book from us/Santa, and that was it since she’s a baby and doesn’t really need anything. But then a week before Christmas, Alexander asked me out of the blue, “Mommy, can I give Emily a present for Christmas?” I’d already finished shopping and didn’t want to go back out to the stores, but I wasn’t about to discourage Alexander’s spirit of giving. So I suggested we go down to the basement and pick out one of his old toys from when he was a baby that he could give to her. “Oh, yes!” he exclaimed. “Can we do that right now?!” I need to remember on future gift-giving occasions that he’s old enough now to understand and have an opinion about what gifts he gives to people.

Alexander couldn’t get enough of helping me wrap presents. He helped me with almost everything I wrapped, and wanted so badly to wrap more when we were visiting my parents the weekend before Christmas that my mom picked a decorative box that’s been on her end table for a few years and let him wrap it up for my dad. And there have been several nights, even now that Christmas is over, when I’ve gone upstairs well after his bedtime to find him sitting up in bed, wrapping his stuffed animals up in blankets. “I’m wrapping presents for my children. I’m playing Santa!” he explains.

After Alexander expressed a desire to ask Santa for “All the toys!” we spent a lot of time discussing the fact that Santa would probably only bring him one or two presents. He could not believe his luck on Christmas morning, then, when in addition to the one present plus stocking stuffers from Santa, he had more presents from Mommy and Daddy and Grandmas and Grandpas and cousins. “I get another present?!” he exclaimed over and over again. And, with the exception of some fun dump truck socks that Santa really thought he would like but were met with mildly disappointed confusion, every single present he opened was followed immediately with a delighted cry of “Whoa! It’s just what I wanted!” (He’s since come around to the dump truck socks and asks to wear them every day. I guess they just weren’t as exciting a present to open up as all the other goodies.)

We spent Christmas morning at our house, just the four of us, for the first time this year, and it was so much fun. I’m loving figuring out our own family traditions, not to mention seeing all the joy and magic through Alexander’s eyes. It’s only going to get more fun from here as Emily grows up and starts figuring it all out, too. I can’t wait.

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