To this day, I am still in awe. In awe of where I am today. In awe of how ridiculously blessed I am. And in awe that I still get to wake up every single day next to my best friend. I mean seriously, LOOK AT HER! How in the world did a schlub like me end up with this beautiful woman?? And how in the world has she convinced herself to stay married to me for the past 5 amazing years?! It is one of the mysteries of the world that I don’t know if I will ever fully comprehend.
And to think that I get to enjoy getting to know her for the next 50 years, makes life all the more fun! Today marks 5 years from the day we invited a bunch of people together for a celebration of us smashing our two lives into one. So I wanted to recap how we got here. It’s been a crazy fun ride!
August 2nd, 2008
I was pretty excited for my wedding. Not only did we get to party it up with 200 of our family and closest friends, but we also go to bind our lives together forever! WICKED AWESOME! The bummer was that I came down with the ABSOLUTE WORST stomach bug I had EVER had in my life the night before. I was up until 5:30am throwing up and worse, and got about 25 minutes of sleep. I didn’t feel much better the next day, but had to get ready and go through the motions to get married to Michelle. And you bet I did it!
The whole day was kind of a blur, but luckily the only image that stuck in my head was this big, beautiful smile as I watched my soon-to-be wife walk down the aisle.
Sure, I also was thinking about how I didn’t want to blow chunks all over her white dress, but mostly, I was just in a surreal moment, knowing that we’d be joined forever in a few minutes. We said stuff, exchanged rings, and finally kissed (I didn’t throw up!), and emerged as “The (last name redacted)’s”. We hopped on our buggy and away we went (don’t worry, we came back).
We were young and broke, which is the coolest thing to be when you first get married! We got a cool little apartment in Newberg, OR, and Michelle was finishing out her last year of college. We were going to wait until she graduated to get married, but after 3 years of long distance dating, SCREW THAT! It wasn’t even that weird living with each other, we just clicked. AND I DIDN’T EVEN LEAVE THE TOILET SEAT UP! Which is what I attribute our strong marital foundation to.
We lived on just $14 an hour, exercised our frugal muscles, and drank the Dave Ramsey kool-aid. Some of my best memories were just hanging out with Michelle on late nights while she finished her school work and I played Mario 64 on our 20″ CRT TV that was gifted from her mom. It was an amazing year fill of learning, laughing and just figuring out life together. We definitely still get nostalgic looking through old photos and thinking about “back in the day”. The small town, fall leaves, crazy neighbors, late nights, good food and good friends are all missed, but are captured in our memories forever.
Toward the end of year one, Michelle finally graduated. We packed up our junk and moved, saying goodbye to the small town feel and plugging back in to the place we call “home”. We got an apartment near my work, but holy junk, WA is cray-cray expensive compared to Oregon! Our rent was $850 compared to the $580 in OR, plus we had like 200 less sq. ft. But I got my old job back making a little more money, so it all worked out.
We were pretty much pros at this marriage thing, so we decided to up the ante and get a puppy. Well…..Michelle BEGGED me for a puppy, and I reluctantly agreed to go look. We found a rescue and went to meet her and her sister puppy. We were kind of set on the black puppy, but she ignored us, and the brown pup walked up to us and was SUPER friendly, so we decided to go with her. We paid the cash and brought her home that day! We named her Maeberry on the way home.
Luckily Michelle was home for that month while looking for a job, so she was able to crate train the pup and get her used to apartment living. Michelle finally got a job, and within a few weeks got an even better job as a retail manager in a high-end department store! BECAUSE SHE ROCKS! We celebrated DINK-hood by hitting up a fancy restaurant in the fancy-pants city that Michelle worked in. This became a regular habit, because WHY NOT?! In reality, we were saving a TON and knocking out her student loan debt with the quickness. I even created a “debt thermometer” on our pantry door to track our student loan payoff! GEEKS!
But then we started seeing how low real estate prices and rates were dropping. We decided to put our debt payoff on hold and saving for a house. This began our phase of “On Redfin.com 24/7″. Though we really enjoyed living together no matter where it was, we got pretty excited dreaming about the possibilities of owning our own home. We also began dreaming about not hearing our neighbors every night and getting away from the creepy truck with the extremely inappropriate painting of a little kid and half naked lady. ~shivers~.
As we were still researching getting a house, I started thinking a few years down the road. My salary wouldn’t be able to cover us while owning a house, so I decided to get a second job to help supplement our income and save up for the day we finally decided to have kids. We both decided that Michelle would be at home with our little ones no matter what, so I wanted to get ahead of the game and pursue extra income to make that a possibility.
Our nights consisted of overly-buttered air-popped popcorn and redfin.com. We also enjoyed our date nights out, and weekends at the puppy park with Maeberry. We had a great church family, good jobs, and were just enjoying life together. Now, I know marriage is supposed to be a dread, and boring and all, but I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be than in the arms of the woman I love, on our ugly denim couch looking at terrible 1960′s ramblers online. Bliss!
We finally pulled the trigge, buying a home we saw on the first day out shopping. Quick plug: We used a Dave Ramsey ELP (endorsed local provider) for our real estate agent, and he FREAKING ROCKED! We are still friends with him to this day, and if you need an agent in Western Washington, you can find his info HERE. We spent the first night in our new, empty home on the floor with an expensive (to us) bottle of wine and our dreams. We moved in a few days later, and setup our new life planted near our family in the town Michelle grew up in. And a few months later I started this blog, which has been an adventure in itself.
We had just closed out the first summer in our new home, and were really enjoying owning a place of our own. Heck, the first thing we did was jumped up and down on the floor after 10pm because we could (yes, we are mature. Take notes). We then started talking about what it would be like to have a little one running around the backyard, playing in the grass and drooling on stuff. Yes, we were getting baby fever.
We had always planned on trying to have kids after we had been married for at least as long as we dated (3.5 years). We also wanted to have a house to plant roots and raise a family in. Having checked both of those boxes, we checked the third box right before leaving for our after-tax-season trip to Hawaii. Like, found out the night before. So we went on our first babymoon to Hawaii for a week! W00t! We had a blast, ordered virgin drinks, and enjoyed the beach and sunshine for a week. We even wrote the Hawaiian word for baby (Keiki) in the sand and took picture as our baby announcement for the family. I will not post that picture here as a courtesy to my wife, who has asked I don’t post pics of her in a bathing suit on my blog. Well, she hasn’t asked, but I know what the answer would be.
We were pretty darn excited to say the least, and Michelle started nesting right away. We started work on the nursery once we found we were having a boy, transforming the room into a Pinterest picture (ish).
Michelle became more beautiful and our child grew, and had that “glow”. I, in the meantime, started to get nervous about our finances, but my nerves were calmed knowing God was taking care of us. I started looking for promotions at work, and even started looking for online avenues of income, including this blog.
Though there was a lot of uncertainty, one thing was certain, no matter where we ended up, I would still be married to the most wonderful wife in the world, and we were having a baby boy!
This year started off with Michelle super preggy, and us getting everything wrapped up to bring a baby boy into our world. We set a date for Michelle to retire forever, and at that same time I was offered a promotion that brought in just enough money to get by with my extra jobs. I knew God had it all planned out! As the due date approached, things slowed down and bit, and we just enjoyed our last month with just the two of us. It will never be that way again from a LONG time.
Nolan came into the world, and pretty much took over! I mean, with a chunky kid that cute, it totally makes sense that our entire world shifted to focusing on this baby boy. Long nights, short tempers and craziness ensued, only acting as a catalyst to in strengthening our partnership and bringing us together in our new journey as first time parents.
And I’ll be honest, the rest of that year was a blur of parenting adventures and lack of sleep, but I wouldn’t replace it for the world!
This past year has been the most fun I’ve ever had! Kicking it with my little man, watching my wife be an amazing mother, and learning more and more about her as time flies by, I can really step back and see that I have more than I could ever ask for. The old adage of “money doesn’t buy happiness” really became tangible to me as I watch my little boy play in the backyard with his mother, or when I see Michelle calming him after a wicked awesome fall, or when I wake up early in the morning and see him snuggled up next to his mama, comfortable next to the one who loves him, sustains him, teaches him and shows him the world each day.
I frequently take pictures of them sleeping when I wake up, viewing them throughout the day to remind me why I work 3 jobs. I need no more motivation than to look at the beautiful faces and know that they are counting on daddy to provide. I get the most joy coming home from a rough day at work to their smiling faces in the front window, with Nolan yelling “Dada!” as I walk through the front door. I get to wrestle with my boy, kiss my wife, and know that money is only a tool, but can NEVER COME CLOSE to bringing me any sort of joy that counts in this life.
Year Six And Beyond
And that brings us to today. We have lived so much life together, I honestly don’t even remember what life was like without Michelle here. And honestly, I don’t even care to think about it too much. I was a lost kid, broken and wandering until I met her. As cliché as it sounds, she really did turn my life around, and I thank God for her every day. Truly.
All I see is adventure ahead of us. We announced earlier this year that we’re expecting another little one to come along, and possibly share Nolan’s birthday (which is Dada’s birthday as well). Today, we’re finding out the gender, and are going to celebrate with close family and friends. This weekend, we’ll be heading out to the city for a weekend away, to enjoy some good food, great company, and to talk about what the future has in store for our lives.
All I can say is this: Michelle is amazing. Amazing wife. Amazing mother. And amazing woman of God with a huge heart! I am blessed that she still thinks the world of me (I don’t even know why), and that we are still in this adventure together, no matter what. We’ve got a good 50 years ahead of us, and I’m excited to spend them discovering the treasure that is my wife.
So, happy anniversary hunny. I love you more than you know, and I hope to show you for decades to come!
p.s. She has no idea I was writing this, so you are all probably reading this even before she does. Hahaha!