Last night I heard Fox moaning and whimpering over the baby monitor. Usually we let him whine a little at night when we know he’s just woken up and is trying to get himself back to sleep. But lately he’s been teething those two top teeth and has been pretty miserable. Swollen gums makes for an unhappy babe.

So I sneaked quietly into his room, picked him up, did a quick diaper change and turned on his favorite little rock lamp that emits the coolest warm glow. Usually he’s not content to be rocked back to sleep. He’ll want to nurse. Then sit up and stare at the lamp. Then he’ll want to nurse more. And then he’s trying to talk to the lamp. This goes on a for awhile until I finally decide that he’s not really all that interested in nursing, but it’s a little late to be holding midnight meetings with the lamp. Sorry bud.

Last night was different though. He was tired and not feeling well. I sat down in the little rocking chair with him and he put his head on my shoulder.

Let me preface this by saying that Fox is not a cuddler. He’s too interested in all the fun stuff happening around him to relax. But last night was different.

For awhile he kept picking up his head to make sure the rock lamp was still there (just checking!) and then finally he settled. For a long while we sat rocking, his face turned towards mine and his head falling back enough that he could stare at my face. He curled his little feet in like a frog and had his hand on my chest.

His eyes got heavy but I could see him fighting the urge to sleep. Every once in awhile I’d see the Nuk go up and down.

I have known Fox for 8 months. Sounds funny to say that, but it’s true. I’ve been on this earth for 30 years and have known this little man for 8 months of those. And yet, out of all my accomplishments, triumphs and successes, he is by far my greatest pride.

On a typical Friday night, not too long ago, an evening would consist of getting gussied up and heading out to the bars. Now a regular night consists of celebrating when Fox hits a new milestone. I used to belt out Ludacris songs when they’d come on the jukebox and now I’m at home singing the ABC’s on repeat.

I have found my happy place. And I truly mean that.

I stared at Fox for a long while after he finally lost the battle to sleep. My arm was cramping and I was in an awkward angle, but I didn’t want to move. I looked at his little face and tried to imagine what he’d be when he “grew up.” Just like how I’d sit in that same chair while pregnant trying to envision the baby I’d be holding on the outside so soon.

I thought a lot about the overwhelming feeling of love I felt and how millions of parents of teenagers right now, who struggle to connect with their kid, remember back to nights like these when they quietly vowed to never let their child know how cruel life can be sometimes.

This parenting thing really is something, isn’t it?

It puts a lot of things into perspective. The meaningless stuff just seems so…meaningless. Family takes on a new definition. Saturday errands become an adventure. Life, as hard as it can sometimes be, seems to have a rosier tint.

I finally put him down in his crib and he curled up into the bumper pad. I stood over him for awhile smiling and thinking about how he finally mastered getting into a sitting position from his belly that very night.

And I whispered a thousand and one “thank you’s” into the silence because I couldn’t feel more blessed than I do now.

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One year ago today was the first snow of the season.  And before you’re impressed by my mad skills at remembering useless weather conditions on specific dates in history, there’s a reason I remember this first snow.  Because one year ago today was also the day Tony and I got married.

When people tell you how fast a year goes when it comes to marriage or children, I used to smile politely.  But now I see how people make it to 10, 25, 50 years in a blink of an eye.  Because that’s how I feel like this year went.  I blinked and all of a sudden a year is behind us.

It’s been a great 12 months looking back and I’m excited to see what the next 12 months have in store for us.

Happy anniversary, Tony.  And as I vowed, I’m still reminding myself how lucky I am.  Every. Single. Day.

Want to see our wedding vows?  Click here.

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  Our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, but definitely not our first rodeo when it comes to the holiday.  (11 years now, c’mon.)

In previous years we had a long-standing joke that he would always get me kitchen items.  And before you raise your pitchforks in a fury of feminist revolt, let me tell you that I actually asked for the kitchen items.  Because at some point I hadn’t already given into my natural instincts to stay far away from the kitchen.  It was during my rebellious period or something like that.

So I have a slow cooker, a mandoline and an avocado slicer sitting on some random shelf, taking up space and collecting dust.  I was into the quick fixes apparently.  Definitely not like my personality or anything.  Don’t eye roll me.

But because of our awesome wedding registry and our awesome guests who bought from said registry, we have kitchens gadgets and gizmos galore this year!   So poor Tony was left fending for himself in that harsh world of Valentine’s Day shopping.  So I took pity on him and spelled out what I wanted.  Fudge.  Chocolate fudge.  And maybe Season’s 5 of Grey’s Anatomy.

Well, the man doesn’t disappoint.  I’ve finished off the fudge and I’m already to the part where Dr. Torres and Dr. Hahn start their torrid love affair.  It’s a good man who gets his lady exactly what her little heart desires.  And he knows not to come between my heart and McDreamy.

So what did I get him?  Let me preface my gift by letting you in on a secret.  I’m the world’s best gift giver.

I know, I know, that’s not a very modest thing to say, but there’s no room for humility here.  I seriously AM the best gift giver.  Just ask him about his video game rocker chair I got him for Christmas.  He might be too busy still drooling over it to answer, though.

Back to V-Day.  Here’s the story behind the gift.  We didn’t get any cake at our wedding.  Which was the biggest bummer of the night.  If you remember from a previous post, we were both insanely excited about our cake because the cake tasting was fantastic.  After the wedding, the caterer sent us home with the top of the cake, which was chocolate.  Tony missed out on his layer of raspberry and yellow cake.  For 2 weeks straight, no lie, I endured his constant moaning over that raspberry yellow layer.  You would have thought someone stole his puppy, it was that pathetic.

So I went back to the bakery and had them re-make the middle layer.  With the raspberry cream.  They even remembered the white chocolate shavings we had on the outside of the cake.  He was thrilled, to say the least.

We’ve been living in a buttercream-induced catatonic sugar state all weekend, but…totally worth it.

P.S. – AWESOME gift giver.  Just had to throw it in one more time for emphasis.  And for modesty.

White Shaved Chocolate Wedding Cake

Our wedding cake. Props go to Front Room Photography for the photo and Delicately Delicious of Cedarburg for the cake.

In my extended family, we have a lot of characters.  Comedians.  Dirty Joke Tellers.  Awesome Movie Quoters.  We’re a lot of fun, pretty much (and you might think so, too, if not easily offended). 

It’s hard to marry into our family and get a lot of spotlight time unless you can roll with the punches.  And so far family members have brought in some damn hilarious inlaws.  Just adding to the fun.  So because we’re one big mess of attention-seeking little hams, it’s sometimes painfully obvious to me how much Tony sticks out when the whole group is together.

It’s nothing the group does, of course.  Everyone has always welcomed Tony with open arms.  Trust me – if you want non-judgmental, you got it with this fam.  But Tony just sticks out a little because, well…he’s Tony.  He’s quiet.  He’s shy around people he doesn’t know well.  He hates when the attention is on him (just mentioning our wedding ceremony gives him wee heart palpitations).  He doesn’t need to fill the silence with words…(why are you all looking at me?).

Anyhow, because many of you see only this limited side of Tony, I want to do him some justice and reveal the man I know and love.  So here goes.

He’s wickedly funny.  It’s more subtle, but if he’s comfortable enough around you, he’ll rattle off something pretty unexpected.

He’s also extremely tender.  And if he knew I was using  his name and the word “tender” in the same sentence, he’d be horribly embarrassed.  (Sometimes I feel like he’s my teenager and I’m his painfully uncool mother.)  I’m digressing, as I tend to, but simply put, he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.  Literally. 

LITERALLY. 

I could say some horrible things to him, throw some low punches, and he’ll still fight fair and listen to my screaming banchee tirade.  And then he’ll reassure me that “no, you’re not a bitch” when I realize what a bitch I’m being and start crying.

We’re very different.  My emotional personality is the wild child of all personalities.  I feel deeply, get my feelings hurt constantly, will throw a sarcastic remark out on the table and then be put off if I get one back.  I’ll be mad at you one minute, but if you apologize, I’ll be eager to put everything behind us.  Pretty much, I’m not cut out for jury duty.

He’s much more even-keel.  His emotions are steady, he’s usually in a good mood and he’s almost loyal to a fault.  He has a thousand and one close friends and would probably post your bail money if you asked him nicely enough.

Sometimes it’s frustrating to me that he’s more laid-back than I am.  “The dishes will get done, who needs plans, let’s just go to the movies”…pretty much sums up his thought process.  I need things done right away.  If I decide on something, it must be done.  No matter if it’s 2 in the morning.  And I’ve been known to have some pretty crafty ideas at 2 in the morning.

We bicker sometimes because I get frustrated that he doesn’t always fit into the mold I wish he would.  He’s not a Prince Charming.  He’ll never be the man who remembers to open the car door for me.  Or pull out my chair.  Or buy me flowers.  I probably should have guessed this when I fell for this bandana’ed little bad boy so long ago. 

But.

He knows when I’m anxious and knows when I’m being irrational about getting what I want.  And sometimes I think we work because while I care about the stupidest things, like which side of the bed I sleep on and how I like the refridgerator arranged (OCD, anyone?), he just…doesn’t.  He lets me do my thing and is happy to just go with it.  Is it bad that he’s starting to sound like a trusted pet?

He’s the man who will always keep me balanced, reminding me that things are never as bad as they seem, lending an ear when I need it the most, and always encouraging me to go after what I deserve. 

He’s that kind of man, and I’ll take that over flowers any day (although, if he wants to send me flowers…)

Here’s looking at you, kid.

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Tony and I have been together almost 11 years.  Over the course of those years our love has weathered its share of rough patches, but has also witnessed some really amazing moments.  The one thing that has remained constant though, over a decade of time, has been the solid foundation of friendship that all this other craziness rests upon.  I turn to him when I’m at my most vulnerable because he’s a great sounding board and can always help me see the rational in what I always make out to be the irrational.  And I turn to him when I’m so full of happiness that I’m about to burst.  Because he’s the first person I want to share that with as well. 

In sum, at the end of the day, he’s still the one who brings a special recipe of joy to my life.  So in honor, I thought I’d share with you what “Katie and Tony Love” is.

  • It’s him referring to your eyes as “Peepers” or your head as a “Noodle” just because he knows it makes you laugh.
  • It’s if you were to ask him to take off his shoes, you’d already know his socks won’t match.
  • It’s him letting you use his sleeve when you have a runny nose.
  • Knowing exactly what you were wearing when he first asked you out, what trees you’ve made out against, and what bridge holds your carved names.
  • It’s your own original spin on pinky swear promises.
  • It’s experimenting with countless ways to turn a bedsheet into a Halloween costume.  Every single Halloween.
  • How everytime he’s driving far you make him promise to wear his seatbelt.
  • It’s when he tells you how sexy you look in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store while you’re picking out the right jar of spaghetti sauce.
  • It’s him making up different lyrics to every song on the radio.
  • It’s seeing different colored bandanas mixed in with your laundry.
  • It’s arguing over the correct pronunciation of the words “milk” and “oppussum.”

There are so many, many more, but when it all comes down to it — it’s all the laughing we do together.  All the silliness and goofy shenanigans we pull at the end of a long day.  It’s transitioning from kids into adults together.  It’s a partner.  A friend.  A person who I’m excited to spend the rest of my life with.