5 Years!

It’s unbelievable – and at the same time totally believable – to me that we’ve been married 5 years today. It’s funny because while the last five years have flown by, it’s hard to even imagine a life before this was our family.

Baird and Em Wedding

Mr. B, you’re as much my best friend today as you were the day we got married. It’s cliche but so true that I fall deeper in love with you everyday – as I watch you so gracefully balance work and school and home life and philanthropy. When our children light up when you walk through the door at night. When we have a few minutes to ourselves in a day and are capable of talking about things other than our children. I got lucky finding you, Mr. B.

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I often think back to my choice to join a sorority – I was such a good girl in high school. I didn’t party. I was busy with sports and school and my idea of a good time was watching Trading Spaces with my mom and the Emilys on a Saturday night. I was so far from the kind of girl who would ever consider rushing at a party school like CU. But somehow, I found myself in a rush group. Joining one of the bigger party houses on campus. Making new friends, learning that watching decorating shows isn’t the only fun way to spend a Saturday night, and being true to who I was while learning that there are other ways to do things. And then, one year later, moving into the sorority house with all my girlfriends, I can guarantee the idea that I would marry one of the crazy Lambda Chi boys next door was not even on the radar. And yet, here we are. Divine intervention – it’s the only explanation.

Baby Mr. B and Emily – 2005

Baird and Em 2012

Parents of 2 Mr. B and Emily 2012

Mr. B, life with you is always an adventure. We’re so alike in ways that matter so much. Financially, we’re on the same page. Family values? Check. Making choices that allow work/life balance over bigger paychecks? Absolutely. And we’re so different in ways that matter so much, too – encouraging each other to try new things and see problems and the world differently. I always joke that Mr. B is the level headed one – the story of my labor and delivery with Thomas is pretty much the perfect summary of that aspect of our relationship – me being set in my ways about the way things SHOULD be and Mr. B gently guiding me to understanding that I don’t get to call all the shots in life and some things are out of my control, while still championing me and advocating for me as much as is reasonable. That whole reasonable thing, Mr. B gets it. But the truth is that we balance each other out. I get riled up more easily than he does, but when he really gets upset about something, I’m usually able to step back and be the calming influence. My English and Communication degrees pair nicely with his Engineering and Business degrees – we balance each other out, stretch each other to learn new ways of doing things, and compensate for the others weaknesses. We’re an excellent team.

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We’ve done a lot in five years – traveled all over the country, to Jamaica and to Italy, weathered a bad economy with job losses and changes, learned to live frugally and well within our means to provide for our family and future goals, had two children (plus our pre-marriage baby, Casco), cheered each other on in career milestones, and most recently moved. I’m pretty sure neither one of us thought we’d be a family of four at our 5 year anniversary mark. But I wouldn’t change our family’s timeline for the world. It’s been a wild ride at times, one that shows us over and over again that God has a plan for our family. I’m so thankful that Mr. B is the person I get to buckle up and ride the roller coaster with. And I’m so thankful that Mr. B is the man that Thomas will learn to be a husband and a father from. That Mr. B’s kindness, love and generosity – not to mention intelligence, street smarts and business savvy – are qualities that Nell will look for in a future husband. That our children have the privilege of growing up in a loving home, with two parents who would do anything in the world for them and for each other.  It’s been the best 5 years of my life, Mr. B. Thanks for holding my hand through thick and thin. Can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the next 5.

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Wife of the Year

We’re still in technology limbo, but have made forward progress and as soon as we get up and running, posting will be a bit more regular.  In the meantime, here’s this little insight into my life.

While making cookies and packing them into bags for Mr. B to take to work last night:

Me: Don’t forget to take these for your lunches.
B: I won’t.  Thanks for the cookies.
Me: You’re welcome.  Do you want me to start packing lunches for you?
B: No, you’d have to wake up too early.
Me: Remember when you first started working there and I’d wake up and make you lunches?
B: Yes I do, it was great.
Me: That lasted like two days.
B: Minus one.

Maybe I should work on that statistic during my last month as a stay-at-home-wife.  5 am is early though – especially when I’ve been up a few times throughout the night.  But he’s worth it.

***I should clarify.  Mr. B does not expect or ask for me to pack his lunch, and when we’re both heading out the door for 8 1/2 hour a day jobs making his lunch rarely crosses my mind.  But when I’m home during the day and he’s out working and going to school to provide for the family, I feel like I should at least try to alleviate some of his tasks.

Two Years In…

We’ve been married for two years today.  What a beautiful, wonderful and truly eye-opening two years it has been.  We’ve been through a lot together since we said “I Do”, we’ve seen each other at our best and at our worst.  We’ve cheered each other on through tough times, celebrated plenty of victories, and stood by each other unwaveringly.  So in my two years of infinite wisdom, here’s what I’ve learned:

This was the milestone in our marriage when we had planned to start discussing expanding the clan.  Funny how life just kind of does its own thing, isn’t it?  If we’ve learned anything in two years, it’s that we’re not really in charge of the master plan.  And we are lucky to have – and need to continue to nurture – a relationship strong enough to bend with the wind, accept changes to the game plan and love the outcomes with all of our hearts.

We’ve learned to take stands when necessary – we made the decision to spend our lives together, to love each other through good and bad and above all else – and together we present a united front that we are a team, and that we work together and for each other first and foremost.

I’ve learned to recognize his sacrifices.  Sometimes you’re calling the shots and throwing the passes, sometimes you’re catching them.  It is so easy to get caught up in keeping score, but we all have our strengths and we all have periods of time that are better than others.  Working as a team, we pull each other through those tougher times, we prop the other up when they need it, we go above and beyond the normal breakdown of duties to make sure that things run smoothly and everyone feels loved when the other can’t do it all.  And we recognize and accept that the division of labor will never be perfectly and evenly divided but that in the end we both will have gone above and beyond to make things work.

I’ve learned to laugh with him.  I’ve learned to breathe deeply.  I’ve learned to savor 15 minute walks around the neighborhood hand in hand.  I’ve learned that you can’t say “I love you” too much.  I’ve learned that the silent treatment doesn’t accomplish anything.  I’ve learned that sometimes the best gift you can give a man are the words “Thank you for everything you do” or “I’m so proud to be your wife”.  I’ve learned that it truly is possible to love someone more and more everyday.  I’ve learned that in order to grow together, you have to accept change.  I’ve learned that by making him and our marriage my priority, everything else will fall into place.  I’ve learned that in order to thrive together, we will sometimes have to compromise on matters of preference but should never ask each other to compromise on matters of principle.  I’ve learned that there’s no other person in this world I want on my team – no one else who could so seamlessly be both my Quarterback and my Wide Receiver.

I love you, Mr. B.  I can’t wait to see what year three has in store for us.

Our Valentine’s Day History: Part 3

You know when you’re really excited to see a movie or something and you hype it up so much in your mind that the movie can only be a let-down?  I’m afraid, my friends, that I overhyped our Valentine’s Day History.  Because really, we only had two bad ones.  So with the let down acknowledged, let’s wrap this up, shall we?  I’ll try to find embarrassing and completely unrelated pictures of the two of us just to keep you entertained.

The first two Valentine’s days were a bust – and that was with us trying to keep them low-key.  On our third Valentine’s day, I had to work, so B cooked a late dinner at his apartment and we watched a movie when I got off work.  And do you know what? It was perfect.  No muss, no fuss, no waiting in lines and dealing with pre-fixed menus.  I hate fixed menus.

Unbelievably, actually a picture of us on a Valentine’s day…maybe 2 or 3 years ago?

And since then? I’ve honestly lost track, which must mean they were uneventful and fine.  So we decided the future wouldn’t have expectations – outside of spending the day together.  Somewhere along the way, Chinese food became a part of the tradition.  One of us is usually under the weather (seems to be our gig in February), and there have been years when B’s birthday has caused the next day to be a little tedious for his impatient wife.

And those memorable Valentine’s Days make the less memorable ones so sweet.  So this year, I’m looking forward to Chinese food take-out and a movie with my husband – who dressed up or dressed down is my perfect match.

Our Valentine’s Day History: Part 2

I didn’t give B mono. He’d already contracted it earlier that year during his “break from partying“, so really the question is did he give it to me? But, since I was definitely not on a break from partying, we’ll never know…

So a year rolled around between our first Valentine’s day together (apart), and we were staring at the possibilities of our second Valentine’s day.

Now, we were still in college, so we’d made a huge deal out of our dating anniversary a week before. Extravagant dinner, extravagant gifts – it was all very college. So we decided then and there that Valentine’s would just be dinner – maybe a little trinket, but that we’d just make sure we spent the evening together. You don’t go out to dinner just the two of you when you’re dating someone’s entire Fraternity or Sorority, which B and I essentially were doing. If we had a date, it was an opportunity to introduce someone to someone.

As Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons at a Fraternity Party circa our 2nd Valentine’s Day


So we made plans to go to dinner in Denver. But before Valentine’s day, we had to confront B’s 21st Birthday (February 13th). The plan was to go out to a nice dinner at a fancy new restaurant in Boulder and then meet his fraternity at the bars for a few legal beers – I had a midterm the next day, and the next day was Valentine’s day, afterall. B swore to me that he had no desire to live the college culture 21st birthday of 21 drinks, and I was good with that.

College Antics


But, the best laid plans… Apparently B and the Fraternity weren’t on the same page, and a few drinks in, B had changed his tune. Long story short, I spent that night sitting on the floor of B’s room with my hand on his chest checking his breathing and waking him every 10 minutes until 7am while cramming for my 8am midterm.


He did pull it together enough to meet me at my car to head to dinner, but we needed to swing by his parents’ house quickly to pick something up. So I detoured to the other side of Boulder, and as I parked, B got out of my car, went downstairs to his parents’ family room and passed out on their couch. For. Five. Hours.

In hindsight, I should have left him there. But I kept thinking he’d rally. B’s parents eventually persuaded me to eat with them, and I watched TV with his mom and put on a happy face and pretended like I was fine when I was livid and a few seconds from tears – because you can’t let your boyfriend’s parents see that you’re mad at their son over terrible choices he made on his 21st birthday. And when I finally decided to leave, B wanted to come with me. I silently dropped him off at his fraternity house and went home to eat ice cream with my roommate. And that is the story of our second Valentine’s day together (apart), or, as I refer to it, my first Valentine’s day with B’s mom.

Our Valentine’s Day History: Part 1

Let me start this out by saying that I believe in Valentine’s Day, commercialism and all. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing someone on one particular day of the year, as long as you remember to do it the rest of the year, as well. I don’t expect grand gestures on the day, but we acknowledge it and celebrate it. Or we try to, but Mr. B and I have had a history of Valentine’s day failures, beginning with:

Mr. B and I officially started dating in early February. You can read the three part saga of the relationship that almost wasn’t here here and here. But with ten days between our official dating anniversary and Valentine’s day (let alone that boy’s birthday), I wasn’t sure what to do. And I was fretting, because I wasn’t 100% sure yet that I was ready to be in a relationship on Facebook but was enjoying how things were going and didn’t want to do nothing.

I called my older brother on February 10th.
Me: “Paul, pretend for a minute that you had just started dating someone, and your birthday AND Valentine’s day were ten days later. What would you expect from this girl?”
Paul: “Who the hell are you dating and why haven’t I met him?”
Me: “It’s really not a big deal, it’s just this guy named B____ and he lives next door to me, but back to the problem at hand.”
Paul: “B____? No, Emily, you’re not allowed to date him. Run, do not walk, to the nearest exit.”
Me: “Haha, funny.”
Paul: “No seriously, he went to my high school, my little sister is not allowed to date him”.
My advice wielding older brother in his popped collar stage of life.
Anyway, after clarifying that there were two B____s, a year apart, both from Boulder but who went to separate high schools, and that I was dating the one my brother did not know, he suggested, “I don’t know Em, just get him some candy and a Best Buy gift card or something. And I still need to meet him.”
So the week went by and I was feeling sick. Downright awful, as a matter of fact. On the Friday before his birthday and Valentine’s day, I stayed in. The next morning, I got up to go to the bathroom at about 7am and fainted in the hall of my sorority. And sorority girls aren’t up at 7am unless they’re still up, and then you don’t want them helping you anyway.
So, I regained consciousness, crawled back to my room and called my roommate to come home and take care of me. She called my mom, and my mom and dad drove up to Boulder to bring home their fainting daughter. I remember sending B a text message along the lines of “I’m still sick and just fainted, my parents are here to take me to Denver. I know it’s your birthday tomorrow, I’ll try to be back”. I felt like such a drama queen.
I laid on my mom and dad’s couch all weekend, missing B’s birthday celebration in Boulder. At about 8pm on Valentine’s day, my mom stopped telling me to “Buck up”, looked in my throat to see why I was being such a whiner, and took me to the Emergency Room. Good old mono.
Not Valentine’s or Mono related…but a picture from our early days because pictureless posts are boring.
So when I finally got back to Boulder, I stopped on my way to pick up some candy and a Best Buy gift card. Lamest gift ever, it turns out. And that was our first Valentine’s day together – apart.

1st Anniversary

We had a fun anniversary weekend – complete with food from our favorite Chinese restaurant, a movie, a trip to the mountains to hike to Hanging Lake, a delicious dinner out, and defrosted wedding cake.

Hope you all had a great weekend, too!

Our Wedding: The Reception

We looked at a couple of reception venues, but pretty much knew we’d have our wedding reception at the Country Club not far from my parents’ house. A family friend’s daughter had her wedding reception there a few years earlier and it was perfect – beautiful views, a good space layout, and not far from the church. It just worked.


Here was the only hiccup – the Country Club was under construction and scheduled for reopening on July 17, 2008. You know, 2 days before the wedding. This caused my mom many sleepless nights, but I for some reason was not the least bit worried. I knew it would all work out – whether it was tented on the golf course (with lots of air conditioners brought in) or in the space we had reserved. The construction finished ahead of schedule (how often does that happen?!), and we were the first wedding in the beautifully renovated space. Not too shabby.


The club handled everything – dinner (I’m told everything was delicious – I have no recollection), setup, breakdown, bar tending… The catering coordinator did a fabulous job and between her and a family friend who was helping with the day-of wedding planning, everything went smoothly.

My sister telling our 200 closest friends that I wanted 6 kids with fabulously Irish names when I was a kid. That number briefly hit 7 my Freshman year of college when I was dating a cowboy boot wearing, black pickup truck driving, country music loving Texan and has since bottomed out at 5. Which means I should probably get over my fear of slouchy panted skateboarding punks and get started.

B’s dad giving an hysterical toast

The only bite of cake we ate all night. Can’t wait to defrost that top layer and find out what it tastes like.


We danced our first dance (the Foxtrot – and we had so much fun taking dance lessons together) to “our song” – Tim McGraw’s “My Best Friend”.

Then Daddy and I brought on the waterworks to Heartland’s “I Loved Her First”. We did our best to stick to non-country after that, but we still got a few line dances in for these Colorado kids:

And a Lambda Chi shout out in Kenny Chesney’s “Keg in the Closet” for the Lamp Chops (and future Chop?) at the reception.

Our friend Sarah caught the bouquet – she was engaged within a month and married six months later.

And then there was a whole lotta fun.


Get excited, friends. You survived 4 days of Wedding Photos.

(All photos taken by Dave and Lynn Townsend of David Lynn Photography.)

Our Wedding: The Ceremony

We knew from the start that we’d have a Catholic wedding – we just weren’t sure at which church. I found a church while at school in Boulder that I always thought I’d be married at, and called them first – I hadn’t attended my family church in years at this point except on holidays. Because it’s beautiful – which so few modern Catholic churches are – they were booked solid and had strict rules. As a super conservative Catholic church – Natural Family Planning how to have a baby ASAP classes, uncomfortable commentary during masses about social-political issues, etc – I was a little worried it would be a little much for Mr. B.

The pretty church that wasn’t meant to be.

So, with my College Church not happening, we turned to my Parents’ parish in Denver – where I went to school spent 10 years of my life in the Principal’s office – that is far from beautiful, but also has a wonderful (and far from strict traditional) Priest. Mr. B was not raised Catholic and our fabulous Priest welcomed him with open arms, joked with us, and stressed that he was just glad we’d chosen to be married in the Church. Our marriage prep classes were fantastic – no rhythm method here. We talked about finances, communication, the struggle of combining families, and how to keep faith (and magic) in your marriage.

We booked the Church first. We knew we wanted a July wedding, and I voted for the 4th or 5th. But Mr. B had other ideas. Something along the lines of, “Em, I want our Anniversary to be a special day to us, not to America.”

So we elected for the 19th, and got everything setup. In order to ensure we would receive our cool Catholic priest and not the dull Deacon, we opted for a full Mass – which garnered a few groans from friends and family expecting a long drawn out ordeal. My favorite part about wedding planning was all of the unsolicited opinions, did I mention that? Like, people you’ve never met before tell you what they think you should do. Not my thing.

My sweet grandparents being seated.

My Brother seating my mom

Mr. B seeing me.

Me seeing B.

“Watch your daddy walk his baby down the aisle.”

We asked B’s cute cousin Katie to do a reading…

as well as my Aunt and Godmother.

The presentation of Communion Gifts by the girls I babysat growing up.

Signing the Marriage License.

Officially Married!…and taking a moment to soak it up while Fr. Dolan gave the closing prayer.

See our Priest directing the final procession? He was a Broadway performer before joining the Priesthood, he’s all about the show. We love him – church is never dull.

All photos taken by Dave and Lynn Townsend of David Lynn Photography.

Our Wedding: The Details

I knew all along green would be the main color of the wedding – it’s both Mr. B and my favorite color, universally flattering, and works well with flowers. And to pop against the green, bright pink flowers. So green and pink – it had the potential to look like Lily Pulitzer threw up on our wedding, but I think the more subdued green helped us avoid that disaster.

Photography
I found our photographers when looking at the wedding photos of a friend who got married just days after B proposed. They were gorgeous photos, so we called up Dave and Lynn and met with them. They were a cute couple with fabulous energy, a great eye for photos and enthusiasm galore. They basically make the Denver Catholic wedding circuit, so we knew everyone in the photos they showed us – it was like homecoming week in Dave and Lynn’s living room. We said we would meet with three vendors for each need before making a decision, but we walked out of our meeting with them and said “They’re exactly what we want!”. Every picture in this series is by Dave and Lynn.

Cake

On a road trip to IKEA with my mom and aunt, I was flipping through a bridal magazine when I saw a green “pleated” cake. I loved it. I loved the simple lines, I loved that the details were so subtle, I loved everything about it and wanted THAT cake. I found the picture of the cake before I found my dress, and when I picked the dress I did, I knew the cake would work perfectly. So we called a local baker, she said she could recreate the cake in the picture without a problem – and in buttercream so people didn’t have to eat sticky, icky fondant – and she did.


We used the cake knife and cake server that B’s Grandparents used at their wedding. They were unable to travel for our wedding, and we thought this would be a fun way to have a piece of their history with us. This photo of the servers -reflecting the cake – is one of my favorite photos of the day for that reason.


Bouquets
Again, easy does it in the Emily and Caroline wedding planning saga. We went to a bridal show – I hated the bridal shows – but we were six months from the wedding and I’d put off flowers and the DJ, so we went to find those two things. We walked in and met Chris – he had the most beautiful bouquet on display, was a riot, and very opinionated about flowers, what makes a hideous bouquet, and the scale of bouquets to the girl that is carrying them. It was love at first snark. We met with him a few weeks later, he had great ideas for a “grandmother’s flower garden” theme for the bouquets, and we told him to go for it. He also had opinions about my hair (up), shoes (pointy and high), nail color (neutral pink), and the amount of alcohol needed for the open bar (“Both of you are Irish, you can’t have too much alcohol.”). LOVED him.


Each hand tied bouquet had the same flowers – I was adamant about not having a white bridal bouquet so I opted for a slightly larger version of the bridesmaids’ bouquets.

And we did Pommander balls for the little girls. They were a hit with the three-year-old.

Place Cards


We decided we’d use color to distinguish between the meal choices – so everyone got their own place card. In keeping with the pleated theme, we layered three rectangles to make the cards. My mom, sister and I cut hundreds of ivory rectangles and hundreds of rectangles in green, pink and brown. Green was for beef, pink was for chicken, and brown was for fish.

Flip Flops

We had a galvanized bucket of Old Navy flip flops – in Pink, Green and White – sitting in front of the DJ. It was a hit – no one likes dancing in wedding shoes.

All photos taken by Dave and Lynn Townsend of David Lynn Photography.