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 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.
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…
…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:
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.
Emily is seven months old!
She started sleeping in her crib this month, and, overall, she and I are both sleeping much better with her across the hall instead of right next to me. She still sometimes wakes up at 2am, but…well, look. I’m not going to talk about it for fear of jinxing it. Suffice to say that most nights she doesn’t wake up at 2 am. It’s really nice.
Emily is completely in awe of her brother. The other night he was dancing around the living room, and she laughed and laughed the whole time. And just look at this picture. The way she’s reaching out to take his hand and looking up at him with such admiration. Have you ever seen anything sweeter? No. No you have not.
She crawls! Not fully on her hands and knees yet; it’s more of a belly drag, but she gets around. She’s using her new-found mobility to help herself to whatever toys she wants to get her hands on, which usually happen to be the toys she sees Alexander playing with. Alexander’s not a huge fan of this development. We’re talking a lot about sharing these days.
She’s also using her mobility to be extra dramatic (and, okay, also a little hilarious) (but still heartbreaking) in the evenings when absolutely nothing is okay unless Mommy’s holding her. As soon as I try to cook dinner, here comes Emily, dragging herself across the floor to me, wailing pitifully the whole time. She’d make an excellent extra in a zombie movie.
In less dramatic news, check out this picture from Alexander’s birthday party. While all the other cousins were running around like crazy, my 6-year-old niece, Audrey, sat down to read books to Emily. It was such a sweet moment, and you could tell Emily totally loved it. One of many reasons I’m so happy our kids get to grow up around a bunch of their cousins.
I don’t really have a paragraph to introduce this next photo. But look at my sweet girl! She’s so pretty! And her post-bath curls are the very best!
The day she turned seven months old also happened to be…wait for it…
You know we couldn’t let a baby’s first Halloween go by without putting the baby in a pumpkin, right?
We even let Alexander join in the pumpkin-sitting fun.
Both kids were quite a bit happier on the outside of the pumpkins.
Is that not the most adorable kids-with-pumpkins photo you’ve ever seen? Can you even believe how lucky I am to have these kids?
I don’t have height and weight stats because this was the first month of her life Emily didn’t have to go to the doctor. On months when she didn’t have well checks, we had to take her in for her eczema, but not this month! It turns out Dairy-Free is the way to be. Since I’ve gone off dairy, her eczema has improved drastically. I still miss cheese a lot, but since adjusting my diet is so obviously helping her, I only spend about 70% of my waking hours counting down the months until I can eat cheese again (rather then the 95% I spent previously).
Look at this kid. She’s the best little girl. The very best.
Emily had a busy month! Let’s get right to the photo highlights, shall we?
She had her first 4th of July. She spent the morning lounging poolside, waiting for someone to bring her an umbrella drink.
She found her feet! She likes playing with lots of different toys, but her feet are a big favorite since they’re always nearby.
She got baptized! We had her baptism on July 20th so that my best friend, Amy, who Emily’s godmother, could be here for the ceremony. It was a nice ceremony, and it was wonderful getting to spend the morning with Amy and her family.
Amy’s kids are very close in age to Alexander and Emily — her daughter is 5 days older than Alexander, and her son is 7 weeks younger than Emily. They live in Boston, so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, but it’s always a great time when we do get together.
Emily and Walker holding hands — already best buddies!
She rolled over! She’d been rolling back-to-front for a few weeks, but then she’d get mad because she was stuck on her belly. Then one day she finally figured out how to roll front-to-back, and everything was great again. She’s rolling a full month earlier than Alexander did, and she couldn’t be more pleased with herself. I expect her to be crawling any week now. (I’m only half joking about that.)
Alexander’s the sweetest big brother in the world. He takes such good care of Emily, and always makes sure she has a toy to play with, whether she wants it or not. He loves to smother her in hugs and kisses, and he still likes to hold her and exclaim, “I think she likes me!” just like he’s been doing since the day we brought her home from the hospital. She’s incredibly lucky to have him for a big brother.
Here’s an 8-second video of Emily and her signature full-body smile. That’s her default smile; it’s like she gets so overcome with joy that she can’t help but react with her whole body. And it happens almost every time she smiles. She’s basically the world’s happiest baby.
At the end of this month, Tim went back to work, so Emily started going to daycare full time. It’s going very well, as expected. Linda, our daycare provider, loves Emily to pieces (who wouldn’t?), and Alexander really likes having Emily at daycare with him.
Speaking of daycare/working parents, I’ve been at my new job for two months now, and it’s going really well. I love the work, I have a great group of coworkers, and, most of all, I love coming home and being greeted by two kids with ear-to-ear grins. I’m also relived that pumping at work is going much better for me this time than it did the last time around. With Alexander, I could never pump enough to keep up with his appetite, and I just really hated the whole experience. With Emily, for a number of reasons, everything is 100 times better. I’m keeping up with her appetite just fine, and I really don’t mind pumping at work. I look forward to my short breaks throughout the day to unwind for a few minutes, catch up with Twitter and Facebook, and give my brain a break from all things work-related. My initial goal was to make it to 6 months nursing and pumping; that was my goal with Alexander, and I did it, but it was a struggle. Everything’s going so much better this time, though, that I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Of course, things change, and I know there’s no guarantees that I’ll be able to keep up with it. But for now, I plan to keep nursing/pumping for as long as I can. I’d love to make it a full year, but who knows if it’ll work out that way. Regardless, I feel happy with my success thus far, and I count every day that it keeps going well as a win.
At her 4-month checkup, Emily weighed in at 13.5 pounds and 24.5 inches long. She’s growing like a champ!