Year 10

Year 10

A decade.

WOW.

As I look back on this year and the years before, it seems like we have been together a lifetime. A decade can really feel that way.

This year alone has felt like a lifetime for sure. As with many years, we experienced every part of our wedding vows: for better or worse, in sickness and in health…

George finished kindergarten and started sports, Daphne has really blossomed in gymnastics, and Walter is well figuring out how to be. Our family feels complete with these three, and it has been a joy to watch them together this year. Walter being born is definitely on the highlight reel!

Tom finally found a police department that fits him and his career goals. It was a long road here, and looking back to this time last summer we weren’t sure if he would ever get there. But he is happy to be in a place that is community action based and respects the work that each other do. It doesn’t hurt that he works where we live either!

My job has been a whirlwind of transitions over the last year. The pandemic in higher ed was interesting to say the least. I not only learned how to teach a class remotely, I also found this extra flexibility with working from home while pregnant and then post-partum. I had to navigate managing an office and learning a new team of my peers as there was constant leadership changes around us. Through all of it, I really feel like I am coming into my own as a leader on campus, and I am excited with what my team is doing, but also the college as well.

It still seems like a fresh wound, but losing Grace and Crosby is notably one of the worst experiences we have had as a couple. We both are still trying to muddy through the feelings we have as we settle into a no-dog household. There are so many things that were just natural around our house that now seems odd that they are gone. Walking this together though has made it a little less crippling.

As I reflect though on the last ten years, I would say that this is the most settled we have ever felt. Over our time together, there seemed to be always these things that we were waiting or hoping for. We have always been trying to direct our lives in a certain way, and this is what they call the good ol’ days I would imagine. We have everything that we hoped for, maybe not exactly how we planned out, but we are finally in a rhythm that makes sense and fits us.

So Tom and I thought we would think back on our marriage and share some thoughts on making it to this milestone.

Biggest surprise since we’ve been married:

Hands down, finding out we were pregnant with George was the biggest surprise of our marriage, and our lives honestly. To go from having conversations about infertility and trying for a while to grow our family, to all of a sudden see a baby on ultrasound monitor was wild. If you haven’t heard this story, I promise it is worth the read!

Hardest lesson learned:

There is a lot to unpack here from the last ten years.

The life that we thought were the right things just weren’t, and some were actually pretty devastating for us. Both of us had severe disappointments with our career paths, and at those low moments we thought we would never be happy in a work place setting. We also had talked a long time about only having two kids and that was our vision at the beginning of our marriage, but here we are loving on Walter. God is in control, and we have had to pray on believing this many times over.

We have also had to learn a lot about figuring out what we need to worry about and figuring out what it means to create our own family unit. Combining two different people to create this new thing came with it’s own struggles. We had to learn a lot about when to prioritize our own needs and then our family needs and how that all can be a mess to mix together.

With that, what has been difficult as you become these life partners is not only dealing with your own life grief and disappointment, but then having to manage this other person, and then our kids emotions as well. Both of us had a pretty rocky moment in our jobs that really shook us to our core, and to have to watch that unfold while being helpless to fix it is really gut-wrenching. We had to learn a lot about just being there for each other. But our individual problems do become each others problems, and there is extreme weight in that because you aren’t just managing your own feelings anymore. It is hard lesson to learn when it is ok to be selfish but when do you have to not be. There is some beauty in this for sure, which is why marriage is great, but it is shocking at times how your feelings unfold together.

Favorite thing to do together:

We love to just jump in the car and go to random places to “window” shop. Personally, I love when plant shopping is involved. It’s nice for us to just get away from the house and talk and move through stores leisurely.

We also love binge-watching shows. Becoming one with the couch while playing rummy and eating snacks while watching the Office is one of the most stress-relieving things.

Obviously, we really live on the edge…

What is something we haven’t figure out yet:

While we have been married for 10 years, and together for 14, we still haven’t completely figured out our communication styles. Both of us are stubborn and like to be on the “right” side, so we can fight pretty hard. Tom also said that he doesn’t always know what he wants so how am I supposed to figure that out, but then the expectation is there to hear each other out. I also have a really hard time apologizing to him, which is not helpful ever. We have also grown and changed over our time together, so sometimes we think we have each other figured out but something is different that we have to make new adjustments to. But on the plus side, our arguments are usually pretty quick and move it out of our systems, so I guess we are a work in progress!

Favorite thing about the other person:

Tom said that I am patient and very forgiving, and that he is still 100% twitterpated. I love Tom’s commitment to things. When he goes in on something, he goes in 1000%. And his level of loyalty is unmatched.

Advice for other couples:

I don’t think that any relationship is the same, nor would I ever say that we have it all figured out. Like I said we still struggle with communication a lot of the times, but we try every day to do better. We do have a couple nuggets of advice though.

We believe that you should be such an advocate for your marriage. There should be no question that this is your priority. It requires both of us to be all in and be the ones rooting for each other. We have to be pursing each other every day.

In order to do that though, we know that we have to take the time to be right with ourselves. Both of us have gone to counseling so we can be the best version of ourselves for each other and our family. This may take a lot of work but as the saying goes you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. With this takes recognition and support from your partner to do this work and find ways to support this individual growth. We have taken a lot of pride in making space for our self care and finding the right careers so we can be happy in all spaces.

Finally, and certainly not least, sleep in the same bed but have separate comforters. Sleep is so important, but we have different needs when it comes to our comfort and one of us is a burrito roller in blankets (me), so we learned early on that separate blankets made everything more enjoyable. Hands down, relationship saving advice.

It’s hard to believe at times that we met as 22 year olds at an amusement park. It feels like we have had so many lives together: grad school, living in Iowa, deployment and Fort Campbell, moving to our home state, and welcoming three babies into the world…

Here we are 10 years into marriage with this most amazing life. So here’s to many more decades together!

Year 8

Today Tom and I are celebrating EIGHT years of marriage.Holy Wow!

This is one of our first photos together twelve years ago, and we had no idea what was ahead.

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Eight years later we have experienced the marriage bliss, but things haven’t been all rainbows this year.

This has been a year of transitions.

We have been watching our kids transition.

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George started gymnastics and soccer. This forced transition on all of us. I had to let go of him more, and he had to learn structure with the new found freedom. This was a whole new adventure for us as parents. We also embarked on getting him enrolled in pre-school which is huge for him. I struggled more than I could have imagined with my little man growing up and out, and Tom as usual was a good balance to my anxiety.

Daphne transitioned from a baby to a toddler. We were concerned about her speech this past spring because she just wasn’t talking and only communicated in grunts and minimal sign language. However since birth, Daphie has operated on her own timeline and we are just all along for the ride. We got her assessed by a speech therapist a few months ago, and there were many emotions that went along with that testing. She did not qualify, which now isn’t even a concern because girl can say the whole alphabet (and identify the letters), all her colors, and has started counting, amongst all the other day to day words she now says.

And a man who indulges me in my need to have themes for our kids’ Halloween costumes is a keeper. We are on 4 years strong of famous Georges and 2 years of influential women.

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We watched two of our best friends transition into marriage. We could not have been more blessed to stand beside them on their days. It was also special for us since it was our first alone trips away from both kids.

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We transitioned into the time of our lives (finally) where we start making more permanent holiday traditions. We hosted our first 4th of July shin dig which is something we have been dreaming of since we first got together.

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We are slowly transitioning our house into a homestead. We now have chickens and a garden full of produce. These have made us stronger despite the fact that the garden sometimes makes us angry with each other. Tom keeps trying to make us farmers, and I keep reminding him that we are in fact not farmers. We do have 4 chickens, an orchard with 12 trees and 3 blackberry bushes, a corn “field,” a pumpkin patch, and 6 different vegetable beds. So there’s that…

Last summer, Tom switched jobs. While he is still in law enforcement, his job looks much different than he ever expected. While he lost some of the adrenaline rush and community influence he loved about being a street cop, he gained back his health and valuable time with his family. There is also something to be said about removing yourself from a toxic environment, which was where he was previously. We gained a static routine and he gained bedtimes with the kids. We have officially had more lunches together this year than we have in our entire marriage. It has been hard for Tom to leave the road and the shift work, but he started putting our family first. But even with the added time back with our family, things haven’t been easy for him, and there are many late night talks about where he wants to be and the choices to make. It’s been a hard path to the right end. It might not feel like we are in the right place all the time, but he knows he is right where he needs to be.

With this transition though, it has allowed us more freedom. We have been trying to find our place as a family within our community whether that is with friends or with our church. We aren’t having to add this whole other element of what the shift work did to our family.

Our marriage has transitioned into a comfortable relationship in all the best ways. We have had to put in the work to get here though. I heard this phrase sometime this year, “Marriage is a practice, not an institution. Love has to be renewed every day.” This has rang true this year. You hear a lot that a marriage is a 50/50 partnership, but I would say that we both have to be giving 100%. If one of us loses we both lose. So we each have to be giving our all to this marriage. While we are partners in this life, we both have to go all in and show our whole selves otherwise this won’t work. There may be times that one of us is struggling, however even in the struggle we need to be giving our whole self to be transparent about our feelings and needs even in those down times. There is no way for us to fully support each other without that openness and willingness to let each other see all of us. The good and the sad. So it is not an institution where we just show up when we want to and claim it as it is. It is something we have to get in to every single day and commit to constantly. There are ebbs and flows as with most things, but we commit 100% each day. Because of this comfortable relationship, we have been able to be there for each other because we feel the safety from each other and know that we can fall into each other despite our flaws.

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The days aren’t always easy, but it’s easy committing to you every day.

I love you more than yesterday and thank you for this life we have.

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Year 6

Today marks SIX years married for Tom and I, and about this time 10 years ago we went on our first date.

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10 years ago, a summer romance turned into a lifetime for us.

I really don’t even know where to begin writing this post on our 6th year of marriage. It seems like last summer was a lifetime ago, and so much has happened since our last anniversary.

Towards the end of the summer, we were able to pay off all our remaining debt and our finances really stabilized because of the incoming cash flow.

We started talking about the next steps for our family. We knew we wanted to have another child, and now it seemed like a good time to start. We felt ready financially, and we also felt like George was at a good age where we could manage two.

However first, we wanted to look at our living situation. We had some serious conversations on what we wanted out of a house. We really loved our property, but knew in the long run we would outgrow it. We decided to just go for it and add on to the house before we had another kid. Unbeknownst to us, we were already cooking baby 2 when we started drawing up the plans with our contractor.

In August, we celebrated George’s 2nd birthday. I loved how all of this came together to honor the little man. A week later, we gave him his first big boy haircut and lost those curls.

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We started another school year, which had me teaching in a classroom again. It was definitely the type of teaching that I enjoy, and I am so grateful to have that experience with the freshmen class.

George saw a train in real life for the first time, and we experienced Silver Dollar City a couple times that fall.

We traveled to Iowa a couple times to see old students and friends tie the knot.

We had a great fall season with many things happening:

  • George was George Brett for Halloween and went trick or treating for real.
  • I went to my Alma mater for Homecoming for the first time in a long time and marched on the field with George. #bandgeekforlife
  • I  ran a 10k with my sister-in-law.
  • We went to pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and did all the fally things.
  • George also got to experience his first Chiefs game.

But all of this pales in comparison to the news that we were expecting baby 2.

The year became about preparing everything for her arrival:  our hearts and minds, our house, our finances, and George. We needed to prepare for the ultimate expansion of our family.

Thanks be to God, I received a promotion not long after the news of the baby. If anything, this year really solidified that God blessed me with the most amazing work life. I love the job that I get to do, and the people I get to work with.

In January, we found out that we were having a girl. I realized I never shared the video of how we told Tom’s family we were expecting a little lady.

We also started potty training George in January. I am so happy this went over well, but it was a trying time in our house that first month. If Tom and I can overcome potty training, I feel like we can overcome a lot more!

In February, I went to my first work conference since having George. It was the first time I was away from him for more than 24 hours in his entire life. These are the moments that make me grateful to have a partner like Tom. He took off that entire week to be with George and made it a special bonding time for the two of them. He made it so I could go focus on my professional self more, which is something I have not done in years.

This spring I also went on a ladies only trip with my favorite women. Again another time that Tom knew I needed to foster my relationships outside of our marriage.

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April brought us our baby shower, and then we settled in for the last few weeks of enjoying time as a family of three.

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May was a big month for us. Our house was getting near the end of the renovation. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia again and trying to get everything settled at work for my leave.

Then on May 18th, Daphne Christine made her way into the world swiftly.

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I had a traumatic experience the day she was born. I thank God every day that I look into my family’s faces that I came through that fully back to normal. By His grace alone was that possible.

Daphne has been with us for a month now, and we are adjusting to life as a family of four quite nicely I believe.

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This year has been so full of changes, but also was an opportunity for us to be still. Tom and I have had to have hard discussions about our future whether that be our investments or how we decide to parent. (Parenting a toddler brings out the best and worst in people.)

This year we really tried to make sure that each other’s needs were being met so we could be the best for each other and our children. It is still a work in progress some days, but marriage will always ebb and flow.

We have really come into our own as a couple this year. Our jobs are good; our family is good; and we love our newish house.

I was talking with a friend recently about how it seems like this is the time that we are no longer working towards something. We aren’t in school; we aren’t waiting for something to end like the Army; and we have the family and jobs we hoped and prayed for. We have everything we ever wanted and dreamed of right now. This is the time that we are supposed to just enjoy the fruits of our labor and to be normal and settled.

I can’t wait to see what this next year brings.

Especially with these two leading the way.

I am so thankful for the years we have had together. While every day is not a piece of cake, I am glad that I am in the search of that cake with you.

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I love you more than yesterday. Let’s settle in to enjoy year seven.

If you want to read more about the past 10 years for Tom and I, you can go here to see several posts about our relationship.

Year 5

Five years.

So much happens in that amount of time. When I look back on our marriage we have lived a life in just these short five years.

But five years also seems like a huge milestone to come to.

After a pretty rocky year four, Tom and I were ready to settle into this year and enjoy being married again.

We did a lot of adulting this year.

  • We bought a house.
  • We hosted two holidays (Christmas and Easter) for the first time.
  • Tom started the process for VA disability benefits. We are almost a year out from when we started it, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to when they will be rating him. There are lots of doctors’ visits involved and dealing with the VA beaucracy. Another post for another day maybe.
  • We started our long list of home improvements.

We are loving our home. While we are still learning the quirks of the house and making plans to update certain things to our liking, we are still so happy with our choice to have our family here. The dogs love it, and George is going to have so many memories here.

George had a huge year as well. He went from our little baby to a very mobile and spirited toddler.

  • He started walking.
  • He turned one, and we celebrated with a huge party and lots of cake.

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  • He was Curious George for Halloween.

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  • He has had all kinds of sickness this year:  several ear infections, several trips to Urgent Care and one week long stay in the PICU, and most recently had the worst case of Hand Foot and Mouth. Needless to say we are ready for a month without him coming down with something.

 We have been able to spend a great amount time with family.

  • We visited my parents at their lake house, and we gave George his first boat experience. It was also nice to get up on skis again.
  • We took our first road trip with Tom’s family, where George charmed us all with his dancing skills at a wedding.
  • We actually were able to start enjoying our town and have gone to several festivals and explored a many of trails.

This was our year to be fans. I had so much fun watching my teams play and be on highlight reels. Very exciting times. It also made me glad that we own a home because there was a lot of screaming.

  • Our Royals went back to the World Series and won it this time! Still gives me goosies.
  • The Chiefs made it to the playoffs, which they have not done for a really long time.
  • Clemson made it to the National Championship game.

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Maybe this next year will be the year for spirit chants for Gman.

Our careers really picked up for both of us. It’s like we are living different lives finally being in jobs that fulfill us professionally. Tom was finally on the road solo, and he is sweeping the crime away from this city. We also experienced the first scare of a work injury. We also have figured out how to work within the constraints of his shifts. My job is amazing. I feel challenged regularly (in a good way), and the office I work with is really a dream team. Very rarely is there a day that I don’t enjoy being at work, and I am proud of the things we are accomplishing there.

I feel like this year I really took back my fitness for me and started doing things that felt good but kept me active. I also PR’ed on a 10K.

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This year we noticed that when we could have that focus on who we are as individuals and feel valued for our efforts, it really made a giant difference in who we were as a married couple. I think it is so important for couple to realize that you have to do work to be an individual separately from your couple identity. This is really the first year that one of us hasn’t felt a huge struggle in our career, and I think that had a direct impact as this was one of our best years married. This may not be true for others, but for us we needed to develop ourselves before we could be good for each other. It was the first year that I think we felt like we could breathe.

And in those breathes we were able to have a great year.

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Full of memories and moving forward.

But also we were able to stand still and enjoy a lot more.

Life is truly beautiful, and so is our marriage.

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If you want to read more about our love story, there are links documenting each step here.

 

What We Love About Each Other

Yesterday we talked about those little quirks that irk us about each other. Today we will flip the tables and talk about some of the things we love about each other.

We’ll try not to get too ooey-gooey.

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What I love about Tom…

  1. His woodworking skills. I love that he can make anything, and I do mean anything. His imagination and ingenuity is bar-none. It is coming in real handy with our house, and watching him and George bond over it is becoming one of my favorite things to witness. (Just wait until you see all the mini tools George has…post coming soon.)
  2. His humor is one that will make milk shoot out of noses. I often am left in the wake of his wit. I just can’t keep up with the daily talks with Tom, but they often lift my spirits and can make any serious moment not seem so serious. Sometimes the humor is crude, but I think it is always in an effort to bring some fun to the table and help people (like myself) not to be hoity-toity all the time. I appreciate his ability to make me smile every time I need it.
  3. His loyalty is pretty hardcore. I am always impressed with his willingness to go all in for a cause. His dedication to his city, his country, and his family is rare. He has no hesitation going to bat for the things that he holds dear. I don’t know if there are a lot of people out there that are willing to sacrifice what he will in order to protect those that he loves. He has stuck by me in some pretty rotten times, and for that I owe him all the love in the world.

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What Tom loves about me…

  1. She is an awesome wife and mom. I don’t think I could put into words at how great she is. She is so legit. (Too legit to quit.)
  2. At the very least, she seems to appear to reserve judgements about some of my opinions about politics and humanity in general that are often shocking to say the least. I appreciate that personal leeway.
  3. The level of trust that we have. I don’t feel the need to go through emails or phone and we have joint accounts. I know everything is the way that it is supposed to be.

Tom also went on to say that he could go on and on but it would also be hard to wrap it up in words what I mean to him. And the collective awww..

What are things that you love about your partner?