How I Knew He Was The One

When I was in college, I lived alone. At least for a while. While I lived alone, I got a cat. Because I wanted a companion and also because I was an English major and also because, hey, I was alone. And sort of in a quagmire of aloneness where it seemed appropriate to have a cat.

His name was Cooper. He was kind of an asshole.

227760_545860828410_4521_n

This is Cooper at around…8 months old? 10 months old? I don’t know. Under a year and way less fluffy and fat than he eventually got around to being.

So I was alone and also lonely. Then I got a new roommate. Then one night my roommate and I went out and we met Dan. And the story of that night is maybe the first story I should be telling, but I’m not telling it right now because it’s late and I’m tired.

But I met Dan and he and I started dating and Cooper kept being an asshole.

He peed in places he shouldn’t be peeing. Like the bed. Or folded towels. Or dirty laundry in the basket. (And also not in the basket. My bad.)

Dan was not Cooper’s biggest fan. Cooper was not Dan’s biggest fan. They both mostly liked me though so we sort of made it work, the three of us.

Cooper used to do this ridiculous thing where he’d get all high on his own energy and start running laps around my living room. One day he made the loop. The loop that went something like fly across the carpet, jump onto the couch, run as fast as you can across the couch, leap across the coffee table and onto the arm chair before cat-apaulting yourself into the floor and then do it all over again.

If you’ve spent any time with cats you know what I’m talking about here.

So Cooper was running the Kitty 500 in the living room one Friday night and then he broke his leg.

Yes. A cat. Who should always–supposedly–land on his feet. With a broken leg. Except I didn’t know it was broken. I thought he’d just landed funny.

The next morning I went to work at the bank and Dan volunteered to take the cat to the vet for me where they sedated and X-rayed the feline and probably did all sorts of undignified things.

Cats are nothing if not proud of themselves and their dignity.

I got a phone call at work “Hey, so Cooper’s leg is broken. They think a splint will do it. It’s going to be about $350.”

I nearly fainted. $350. On the cat’s leg. That was, well, that was A LOT of noodle-and-sauce-only spaghetti.

“So, I know you’re kind of tight with money, so I’m going to go ahead and take care of this for you.”

Dan paid the bill. Even though he hated the cat. (The hating the cat thing is kind of important.)

I cried. My Cooper! Broken leg! $350! Dan paid it! He’s the BEST! And then I went on back to work in the drive-thru.

And then I got another phone call. I could hear Cooper in the background meowing and quite obviously unhappy. He hadn’t even made that much noise the night before when he’d fallen off the chair and broken his leg in the first place.

Dan was frantic. Panicky.

“So, something, uh, happened…when I tried to get Cooper out of the crate and I don’t know what to do and he’s really in a lot of pain and he’s hurt and I don’t know what to do” and he choked up a little bit. And I cried again.

He hated the cat and he was near tears because the poor thing was hurting. I raced home and my mind flew between “THIS GUY IS A KEEPER!” to “MY POOR KITTY CAT!!” to “OMG! AN EMERGENCY VET VIST!” and “THIS GUY IS A KEEPER!”

We took Cooper to the emergency vet who put an actual cast on his leg–purple, which looked lovely against his orange fur. And then we went home to snuggle the poor, broken-legged kitty. Together.

I knew he was the one because of the way he treated a hurt animal. With compassion and concern.

(I later found out that I was allergic to the asshole who continued to pee everywhere, including the carpet and a couch, which is part of the reason he no longer resides here–the allergy part, not the peeing everywhere part–and went to live with an aunt who wasn’t allergic and also had no kids. Cooper was an asshole who hated kids. And I am allergic to cats.)

A Fun Date With Food Trucks

You’ve heard of food trucks, yes? A slew of them have rolled into Atlanta in the past year or two. As their popularity has increased, so has Dan’s interest in their offerings.

Knowing about his interest in the food trucks and his love for trying new things, and because we don’t get out without the kids nearly enough, I scheduled the sitter for Saturday afternoon and carted him off to the Atlanta Food Truck Park for a date.

(Actually, I made him drive.)

For the most part we split everything and ordered appetizers to keep down costs (and calories) and just made our way through some of the trucks there that day.

Atlanta Food Truck Park

We started with a truck called Grilldabeast and tried their panko-fried avocado and smoke-fried wings in sweet chile sauce. A nice way to start, for sure.

Then we moved on to WOW! Food Truck for their arepas. Dan ordered one with smoked pork and one with beef. That beef arepa was my favorite thing all day. The tender brisket. The cheese. The Kicky sauce. Mmmm.

Next came meatball sliders from Mighty Meatballs. I saw the Bahn Mi meatball and knew that Dan would like it. It was his favorite of the day even though he said it’s not what he would’ve chosen for himself. (Wife win!) The chicken meatball slider was good but the sauce needed a little more flavor.

Our final selections came from the Taco Buggy. The Mexi-Can’t beef taco was fantastic but I’m a sucker for salsa verde and the Dirty Sanchez was definitely tasty.

And then there were the dessert trucks.

Atlanta Food Truck Park

Because it was technically Dan’s day, I got the Penelope cupcake from YumYum Cupcake. A chocolate cupcake with peanut butter buttercream icing.

And then we visited King of Pops. This was our third time being able to visit a King of Pops cart and I have yet to order anything I didn’t like. While the Caramel Sea Salt popsicle is still my favorite, the Raspberry-Lime was tasty. The Watermelon-Orange was also a good choice.

By the time we finished our popsicles, we were full. And our sitter time was almost up.

What makes this a really cool date is that there are different trucks at the park every day, so we could go back and do this again and experience totally different food. There’s a huge greenspace available for kids to run around, plenty of picnic tables, and live entertainment, so we could take the kids if we wanted to.

(Except then we’d have to share everything with Emma and the only thing Joshua would eat is the popsicle. So, kid-free afternoon it is!)

We get kind of caught up in being parents and in our work, that it was really great to get away for just a couple of hours and enjoy some food and conversation with Dan. His willingness to experience new things is one of the things I love about him because it forces me to try new things, too.

I’m glad I have him.

date

Lucky Number Seven

It’s been seven years since I stepped into the sunlight on an unusually blistering afternoon in May wearing a white dress that weighed what felt like 20 pounds.

Seven years since we said “I Do” in front of friends and family and then ate cake and drank punch and drove off toward our shared future.

I spent the weekend writing this post in my head. Turning over the words I would say to explain what it means to have spent seven years together.

I wanted to sit down yesterday, our actual anniversary, and write down all the thoughts I have about this life we’ve built. But because our life has grown more full and busy–and because I’m a master procrastinator and also chronically in search of a nap–here this is. A day late.

(Truth be told, getting last year’s post together was just as difficult. That’s our life now.)

Some people talk about seven years as being a proving ground for relationships. They talk about the “seven year itch” as being the time when couples decide they’re not in it for the long haul anymore and so one of them leaves or they part ways.

We’re not that couple.

We’ve survived a lot in seven years. A kitchen remodel and two bathroom renovations. New jobs.

We’ve vacationed and we’ve staycationed.

We’ve weathered storms of both the Mother Nature and marital varieties.

We’ve given life to two beautiful children who are the sum total of all the good parts of both of us. And some of the bad parts of us, too. (I’m looking at you, bossy and stubborn traits.) Without a doubt, Joshua and Emma are the best things to come out of this partnership of ours.

In seven years we’ve had our share of arguments. But then we’ve gotten over them. Usually because Dan does something that makes me laugh and I have trouble staying mad when I’m laughing.

But even when that hasn’t worked, when we’ve needed time, we’ve still moved forward. Because we’re in this together.

Life is better with you by my side.

Happy 7 years, babe. Here’s to 70 more.

seven years

The boys

“Daddy…”

“Hey, Daddy…”

“Daddy will be home soon. Then we can play racing!”

“Daddy, pick me up.”

“Hey, Daddy, let’s play monster trucks.”

I love that this boy loves his daddy, and I love that his daddy loves him.

Under the Sea: The Georgia Aquarium

Dan was out of town for three days this week on business, Emma had a couple of bad nights, and Joshua’s still refusing to nap. Basically, I want to be Rip Van Winkle and sleep for 100 years. Even after two relatively decent nights of sleep and an excellent nap yesterday. I’ll sleep when my kids are in college, right? Right.

But while Dan was out of town, one of the guys he was on business with (who is not from here) mentioned the Georgia Aquarium and said “I hear that place is really great!” Dan was all “Uh, well, we’ve never been.” We’re kind of lame like that. Atlanta has so much to offer and we almost never take advantage of that fact. I think both of us going to New York in the same week but not at the same time has been a kick in the pants to explore a bit more. So last night Dan bought tickets to the aquarium and today we got up when the kids did and embarked on a little adventure.

I could narrate our entire Under the Sea adventure for you, but it’s way more cool to narrate and show you pictures, so here goes.

As you walk into the aquarium, there are funny fake tiles as if the dolphins have left their tailfin imprints. I got a kick out of them even if no one else did. And that’s part of the Atlanta skyline overlooking the World of Coke. We had to stop so Dan could take Joshua to potty and I was bored. Thus, skyline pictures.

Georgia Aquarium

Several of the exhibits have these glass observation domes. Joshua kept calling them “bubbles.” You can climb into them and you get an almost sort of 360 degree view of that part of the water. He kept asking to find the bubbles. He also wanted to keep petting the star fish. Emma chilled and then fell asleep. (Good girl, Emma. Good girl.) In that tiny picture in the middle of the bottom row, Joshua’s across the glass from an African penguin. I wish we’d started at that exhibit instead of saving it until last.

Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium’s big attraction, or one of the big attractions, is its Beluga whales. They were beautiful. I could’ve stood there staring at them for hours. None of my pictures of the whale sharks turned out well, but those were cool, too. And that tank was enormous. The whale sharks are currently 22 to 25 feet long and will get up to around 35 feet long.

Georgia Aquarium

We also saw the Dolphin Tales show. We didn’t know it was a musical with a storyline and thought it was just dolphins doing cool tricks. So it was a little cheesy but a lot of fun. Emma nursed through the whole thing and Joshua was entranced by the water jets and flashing lights. And the dolphins, too, of course.

All I could think of when I was watching the show was how badly I wanted to be swimming with those dolphins. I suddenly wanted to go back in time and become a marine biologist/dolphin trainer/person who swims with FREAKING DOLPHINS. Because seriously. That was awesome.

The Georgia Aquarium was really cool and I’m glad we finally went. Part of me wishes I’d gone before having kids so that I could really see everything, but part of me is glad that my first experience with the aquarium was through Joshua’s eyes. He was so excited. Until he wasn’t excited anymore. There were a couple of meltdowns as he started to get tired and we managed them and called it a day without seeing everything. So that just means we have to go back at some point to see the rest of the exhibits.

Here are a few more pictures that I loved.

Georgia Aquarium

Breathtaking, right?

Georgia Aquarium

Emma. Just chillin'.

Georgia Aquarium

Eating fish at the aquarium.

Georgia Aquarium

So close, yet so far away.

Georgia Aquarium

My heart right here, y'all.

From the vault: A letter

Just in case you don’t know already, because you live under a rock or your Internet died or something, I’m in NEW YORK CITY. With a baby. But y’all, NEW YORK CITY!

Despite the fact that BlogHer is a blogging conference, blogging while here is challenging because this conference is go-go-go. Right now I’m writing this post courtesy of a nursing Emma who keeps me from doing productive things like showering.

So while I’m here, in an effort to save time and have something for new people to read, I’m sharing a few posts from the NSJM Vault. These are posts that are Google’s favorites, your favorites, and my favorites

Today we’re starting with the most searched-for topic that brings people to NSJM. It’s not even a post about motherhood. It is, however, proof thy I love Dan a whole lot.

Enjoy!

—————————
A Letter to my Husband on His Birthday

Dear Dan,

Happy birthday!

I love you. More than you will probably ever know.

You are my best friend. My confidante. My rock. You have carried this family through so many tough moments over the past two years and if I live to be 100, I could never begin to repay you for that.

You make me laugh when I don’t feel like laughing. Which makes me smile. Which lightens my heart in a way I didn’t think possible in that moment. I’m so thankful for that quality in you.

Watching you play with our son assures me that I married well. Not for money, but for love. And there is so much love in your heart.

You are kind and generous. And I don’t give you enough credit for that sometimes. Or ever.

I don’t give you enough credit for how great you are to me. To us. For us.

And you are great. Greater than you think you are. Greater than you know you can be.

I love you for that. For your greatness and your modesty.

I cherish the thought that I will spend the rest of my life with you.

Always.

Love,

Me

Proof that I shouldn’t grill things

I shouldn’t grill things. Probably ever. I mean, we’re pretty gender-advanced in this house most of the time. Dan does dishes and can make a mean chicken parmesan. I install light fixtures and am a master of (almost) all things fried. Neither of us is good at keeping up with laundry or dusting.

But there are just a few things around here where we just shouldn’t try to break out of our roles because if we do, someone’s getting hurt.

Sunday, after a trip through the Starbucks drive-thru to ungrumpify me, we ran some errands. In the pouring rain. By the time we finally got back home, both kids were about two shades shy of pumpkin and everyone in this family was done and Dan and I were starving.

But crying children trump screaming stomachs so into the bath with Emma. Then it was  Joshua’s turn while I nursed her to sleep. I joined Joshua and Dan for a chapter from Peter Pan and then told Dan I’d light the grill so he could throw on the steaks when he was done putting Joshua to bed.

As I walked out the door, he said “You know we use the…”

“Yep.”

“And you know you have to…”

“Turn on the propane. Yep. Got it.”

And I skipped on out the door stopping to make sure Emma had stayed asleep.

(Now that I type that out, that was actually a smooth bed time. Unless my brain is doing that self-preservation thing and blocking The Awful from my long-term memory.)

We use a clicker lighter to light the grill instead of the little igniter button. I’m not sure why, but I know enough to know we do. So I found it and out to the patio I went.

I opened the propane.

I turned on the burners.

I stuck the lighter into the little hole in the front of the grill.

And then the lighter didn’t light because my hands were wet and I couldn’t get a grip on it. So I pulled the lighter out of the hole and dried my hand off as best I could and looked at the lighter a time or two and then put it back in the hole and checked to see if it was in the right place.

And the lighter still didn’t light.

So I dried my hand off again. And I peered into the grill to make sure the lighter was in the right place.

And then I got the lighter to light.

But do you know what had been on the whole time?

The propane.

So when that lighter finally lit that grill, a giant mushroom cloud of propane-fueled fire nearly burnt my face hairs off.

I jumped back and grabbed at my necklace, which I was sure had burnt a hole clean through to my ribcage. And then I smelled the god-awful smell of burnt hair and ran inside the house to make sure I still had eyebrows.

I did. Thank the baby Jesus. Because without eyebrows I’d look as awkward and deranged as bald Britney.

After my hands stopped shaking, I poured myself a big glass of Pinot Grigio and vowed to leave all future grilling duties to Dan.

I know my place, y’all. And it’s not by the grill.

From now on my place is behind the wine glass.

Date night: Just do it.

First of all, I had this typed out earlier today and the internet took a dump and WordPress flushed my post. So suck eggs, AT&T. Second, Dan and I went on a date last night and I felt like I should come here and tell y’all about it because that’s what good bloggers do, right?

Right.

When I was naive and pregnant with Joshua, one of the pieces of advice I received on the regular was “don’t forget to date Dan!” And I was all, “That is AMAZING advice! Yes! Yes I will do that!”

And then postpartum anxiety grabbed me in a choke hold and made me such a control freak I would only leave him with family for the first three years of his life. The one time I did leave him with someone other than family, I had visions of him screaming the whole time and feeling abandoned and hating me. He slept the whole time I was gone and was obviously no worse for the experience.

Dan and I would go on the occasional outing, usually during the day when we could take him to the daycare we were already paying for. (The other reason we didn’t go out is because babysitters are expensive!) But we’ve only been on a handful of dates since Joshua was born, and one of those was a wedding which we were in so I’m not even sure it counts.

Yes, it’s that bad.

So when Dan got tickets to the Braves game from work (with a sweet valet parking pass! WOO!), I knew we had to go. We had to. We love sporting events and we needed this time away. But when my mom couldn’t come and watch the kids, my anxiety started creeping in.

We could just get a sitter for Joshua and take Emma with us. She would be free. She would probably sleep the whole time. I only have a teeny, tiny emergency stash in the freezer. We cloth diaper and that will be a pain in the ass for a sitter. Bath and bedtime with both of them is a nightmare.

But y’all, it was 100 degrees here yesterday. There was no way I could take her. And it felt wrong to take her to her first baseball game before Joshua’s been to his and yes I realize that sounds looney tunes, but it seriously crossed my mind and was a legitimate reason against taking her in my mind.

So I called one of Joshua’s teachers and asked her to watch them and she enthusiastically agreed. (It pays to have a kid the teachers love, y’all.) And while I might have been on the verge of hyperventilating while I walked her through their evening routines, Dan and I made it to the game and then home again and everyone survived.

We even had fun.

dasani

Hydration is obvs important when it's 100+ degrees outside, y'all.

Turner Field Entrance

Go Braves!

amazing seats

Dude. Amazing seats. Thank you, company tickets!

peanuts and beer

Beer and peanuts. Yes please.

Atlanta weather

Hello, 93 degrees! You're so freezing. Let me get my parka.

Date night

We should do this more often. We so should.

The Braves lost, which is, like, our fourth time watching them lose in that stadium. And we had to leave at the middle of the 8th inning because the skinny bitches 23 year olds(!!!) sitting behind us spilled their beer down my back twice and talked about fat people and were generally just annoying which reminded me that I’m most definitely 30, no matter how hard it may be for me to wrap my head around that some days.

And it was 10:15, which is about 15 minutes past my bed time, which is further proof that I’m getting old.

And my boobs were about to explode. (Pumping in the car isn’t the sexiest way to end a date, just so you know.)

We got home and everything was quiet. My kids were good. Dan was good. I was good.

Everything was as it should be.

Date night, y’all. Just do it.

Things I’m Afraid To Tell You–I (can’t) do it myself

There are lots of things that I’m afraid of. Lately, it’s that I’m not stacking up as a mother to Joshua. Or that I’ll never fit into my regular clothes again, never mind anything smaller than that.

I’m also afraid of my feet hanging over the edge of the bed, getting poop on my hands (though vom–real vom, not spit up– doesn’t bother me), being buried alive, and running out of coffee (or wine).

But the thing that I’m afraid to say out loud, the thing that scares the shit out of me most, is that I cannot do it all myself. Sometimes I need help and I find it nearly impossible to ask for it when I need it.

I thought about this post for three days. What would I say? Would I be silly? Serious? Both?

I wanted to write that I’ve been afraid to say that I’m coping well emotionally and mentally with being a mom to two. Sure, there are moments when I want to run screaming for the nearest bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (or Tahiti. Whichever.) but that most of the time, things are good.

That I am good.

And then days like this one happen.

Joshua’s up early. Emma won’t be put down. She spits up all over everything, including her brother, prompting two clothing changes before my first cup of coffee. He’s whiny. She’s fussy. I’m starving and can’t eat breakfast because everything involving either of them requires both of hands.

She falls asleep just as he needs me to wipe his butt and putting her down to take care of him means she’s awake and I’m starting the process all over again.

And the giant lump of Overwhelmed climbs up into my throat and threatens tears.

Then the doctor’s office happened today, which isn’t a normal occurrence, thank God. Nurse Lemon-Face-Who-Maybe-Hates-Kids is bothered by Joshua’s curiosity and need for me. Which annoys me. But I’m not annoyed with her.

I find that I’m annoyed with him because he needs so much of my attention. That he needs validation from me for the things he’s saying and doing. He doesn’t just need it. He demands it. And I’m downright irritated about it.

The nurse practitioner asks how I’m doing and I force out a clipped “I’m…managing” with a glance behind me at Joshua who is asking me another question and beside me to Emma who is screaming on the table.

And then another lump climbs up. This one is named Guilt, cousin to Self-Loathing who has also joined in the attempt to make me cry. I’m guilty because what kind of mother gets annoyed with her child for needing her attention? And then I hate myself a little bit for both feeling guilty and for being annoyed.

After doing my best to pay attention to her appointment and to his need for approval, I was spent. And when Emma got her shots and cried, I sobbed all over that exam table.

I sobbed and apologized. For her physical pain, for neglecting him, for hating myself.

Dan stopped in after lunch today and planned to go back to work for the afternoon. I’d gotten Emma to sleep in the Rock-n-Play. I’d put Joshua down for a nap without a fuss. My emotions were settling. And then the dog laid down on the leg of the Rock-n-Play and woke Emma up and I said words that would make my mama blush and then sobbed some more.

I sobbed that I wanted to be normal. I want to be able to handle days like today and shrug them off more easily than I do.

I want to remember to “Finish each day” like I tell so many other women to do.

I told Dan I needed him to stay home this afternoon and he did. That was huge for me, both the asking and the having him here. He took Emma for a drive and I got to lay down by myself for some rest. When they got back and I woke up, I felt better. A little more centered.

I need help y’all. I can’t do it all by myself. And that’s the thing I’m most afraid to tell anyone.

__________
A special thanks to Jess Constable and Ez of Creature Comforts for encouraging honest dialogue about the things, big and small, that we’re afraid to tell. And thanks to Robin for hosting the link-up. You can link up at Robin’s blog, Farewell Stranger, if you’ve got something to share.

Perfect for each other

Dan and me? We’re pretty perfect for each other. And never is that more apparent than in the every day.

When I’m too serious or overthinking things, he doesn’t and sort of brings me back to reality. I like to think I do the same thing for him. Though I usually do it with a healthy dose of maybe-angry sarcasm. (Sarcasm. It’s my love language.)

Here’s an example of how perfect we are together:

This morning, like 40 minutes ago, I was browsing Facebook and I came across an infographic about paid maternity leave throughout the world. This is a topic near and dear to my heart so I clicked it and looked and felt a little bit of The Angry welling up in me to see the big ZERO next to the U.S. Then I started reading the comments and saw people complaining and arguing that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the leaves of other people. Like, violently arguing their points. And their opinions are so radically different from what the site is trying to promote I can’t figure out how they got there in the first place.

(***sidenote: In the “Things I Will NEVER Understand” category: People who COMPLETELY disagree with a line of thinking but feel the need to seek out and comment on things they disagree with. Like, for instance, people who came to my American Idol posts just to leave a comment saying “AMERICAN IDOL SUXXXX!” Or something like that. Never understand it.)

Anyway, I’m reading their comments and my brain is spinning and I’m all “I HAVE SOLVED ALL THE PROBLEMS!”

So Dan is standing in the middle of the living room doinking around on his phone before leaving for work. And I’m all “Holy crap! I just solved the problem!” And he looks at me like this:

o_O

Because he is completely unaware that there is a problem. So I continue:

“I’ve been paying into Social Security since my first job at 16, right? So why can’t mothers dip into their Social Security to pay for maternity leave and then we’d have paid leaves like they do in other countries? That totally makes sense!”

Dan: o_O “I…uh…I don’t know babe…”

Me: “Oh…yeah…it’s maybe a little early for such a deep thought, right?”

Dan: “Yeah. I mean, I’m Googling stinky sneezes.”

And there you have it. I’m saving the world before my morning coffee. He’s way less ambitious before breakfast.

Perfect for each other.