Thank you to my loving husband who baked me a cake today, took us out for lunch and bought me too many thoughtful gifts, as usual. :) Notice Evie's businesslike attitude in this video: "Yeah, yeah, it's Mommy's birthday. Whatever." Right before this was recorded she was singing "Happy Birthday to me!" with much more enthusiasm!
I heard about this promotion from a few of the other blogs I read, and I'm happy to pass it along because it is a product I love! Shutterfly is offering 50 free Holiday photo cards to bloggers: sign up here.
If you have never designed a photo greeting card before, you are in for a treat! There are over 800 different designs to choose from, and browsing through the options is almost as fun as receiving your cards in the mail and getting to see them in print for the first time. I love being able to use more than one photo from the past year, like this style, and also that there are beautiful religious-themed option like this one with its subtle Christian imagery. Last year, we chose a card that featured the word "Joy" like this one, because it perfectly fits the experience of sharing Christmas with a toddler!
The variety on Shutterfly's site extends beyond the colors, layout and wording. You can also choose from different sizes and types of paper. There are 4x8 designs so that you can easily slip your family Christmas letter inside the envelope, flat stationary cards so that you can have a photo on one side and write a personal message on the back, or 5x7 folding cards that look like traditional Christmas cards and will stand up on Grandma's mantel.
I've also spent some time recently designing calendars to give as Christmas gifts. We create one version with just pictures of Evie to give J's side of the family and I collaborate with my sister-in-law each year to create a calendar with pictures of Evie and my nephew(s). Recently my grandmother said to my mom "it's sad to get to the end of my calendar; I love seeing my great-grandkids each month" and my mom had to chuckle "ummm...you know you'll get a new one at Christmas, right?" I love that we can include custom dates like birthdays and anniversaries, so that nobody's special day is accidentally forgotten.
Thank you to Shutterfly for such a generous gift to bloggers!
*singing the call-outs to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with me
*choosing a tutu and cowboy boots for our morning at Bible study
*waking up in a good mood in the morning
*less separation anxiety when I drop her off at the church nursery and PDO (parent's day out)
*easily distracted from meltdowns
*loves to learn new things
*happiness is as simple as going outside and wearing sunglasses
*post-Halloween fixation on the glories of CANDY
*will only eat healthy foods now if she's promised CANDY afterward (sigh, I brought this on myself)
*has started hitting us, herself and objects when she's frustrated or angry (we're working on labeling her emotion for her and talking about alternate ways to vent)
*resists sleep by singing to herself (this would be fine in theory except that singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "The Wheels on the Bus" etc. for over an hour cuts into her total sleep time and leaves her chronically tired.)
*Is in the testing limits phase, which is normal, healthy, expected, and exhausting
"I'm a baby." No, Evie, you're not a baby. Do you know what you are? "I'm a toddle. I'm a women."
"I have a idea! I wanna ride a elephant."
"Mommy, Daddy, Evie. We a family."
What would you like for breakfast this morning? "How 'bout candy?"
"I only have one shoe! That's silly."
"Mommy, you wanna come in the other room an play with me?"
Evie had two costumes this year, patched together from thrift shop finds and things we already had around the house (and her birthday party hat). She won a prize for "cutest costume" at our church Halloween party this evening for her pirate girl costume:
And on Friday she was a fairy for our playgroup Halloween party. When I secured the tiara on her head in front of the mirror, she said "I pretty!" So I guess the pretty princess phase has officially started and I have only myself to blame for encouraging her by buying the tiara in the first place!
After our church party this evening we trick-or-treated up and down our street from about 6:45 to 7:15 or so, and Evie did a great job saying "trick or treat" and "thank you!" She had a tootsie pop and some gummy candy before bed but she was so worn out that it didn't keep her awake for a second. When I asked her before bath time whether she liked Halloween she replied "one more time?" So, yes. Happy Halloween everyone!
I actually have a lot to say, but no time and energy to say it right now! Here are a few pictures from the last month.
At the pumpkin patch:
My little fishy with her Nana: Releasing butterflies at a butterfly exhibit: The worst service ever at O*ld C*hicago Restaurant, but the chocolate chip cookies were yummy: Evie's new favorite toy, her very own "little umbella" which is just as much fun in dry weather as in wet:
Richele posted a comment on Evie's 22 month post asking about our schedule and my methods for teaching Evie, so this post is in response! Thanks, Richele, for the suggestion because I enjoyed writing this.
However, I am also hesitant. I'm a first-time mom to a toddler and my teaching background is with teenagers, so I am far from an expert. But I always enjoy reading about what other moms do with their kids, and often get ideas from them, so I'm happy to share my thoughts in that spirit and not as an authority on the subject. Please read my tone here as conversational, not as preachy. I am under no illusions that Evie is "gifted," especially since I tell her many times a day to take the (pencil, toy, rock, etc.) out of her mouth and remind her that we eat food and play with toys, not the other way around. If she were gifted, wouldn't she have figured that out by now? Anyhow.
First, our schedule. There's really nothing special about our routine, compared to the average SAHM (stay at home mom), except that not every SAHM gets out of the house with her kid(s) as much as I do. We go somewhere (playdate, park, swimming, shopping, etc.) almost every day, usually in the morning.
It's as much for Evie's stimulation and socialization as it is for my sanity. Since she was an infant, she's been a social butterfly and tends to get cranky when we stay home all day. My mom says I was the same way and would cry as she carried me back over the threshold back into our house, while Evie tends to whine in the car when we make the turn into our neighborhood and she realizes we're headed home (of course this is usually headed home for lunch and nap, so she might just be starting her nap protest).
As we eat breakfast each morning, Evie inevitably asks me "go bye bye?" and I tell her where we are going that day. Sometimes I tell her our schedule the night before, and then she'll prompt me at breakfast "go park?" or "go simmin? (swimming)." We rarely go anywhere further than 20 minutes away, so her time in the car isn't too bad.
Anyhow, I don't have a specifically scheduled time during the day to sit down and teach Evie anything. Instead, I try to use teachable moments throughout the day. Catching a teachable moment is like catching quiet alert time with a newborn. I think toddlers learn best when they are alert, but not hyper, and calm, but not tired. For Evie, these moments happen when she is focused on something, like having a conversation with me, playing with a specific toy or reading a book. Sometimes I'm too busy or distracted to notice her mood, but often enough I do take advantage of those moments to teach a new word, demonstrate a fine motor skill or reinforce something else that she's learning.
As far as teaching goes, it's challenging for me to write down a set of things I do because most of it is automatic/intuitive. My mother is an early childhood educator and did many of these techniques with me when I was a pre-schooler. Although I don't remember much of my early childhood, I think that I must have unconsciously learned from her? Anyhow, after thinking about this a lot I think there are 4 general principles that I follow as a "baby teacher."
1. Follow the child's natural interest; everything is easier to learn when you're interested in it, no matter what age you are.
Example: A couple of months ago, Evie's favorite books were Angelina Ballerina's Shapesand Todd Parr's The Silly Book of Shapes. She also loved to play with her shape sorter. So I started pointing out shapes to her in the world while we were out and about, and identifying the shapes of other things she played with. I didn't push the issue, just followed her interest and supplied the words she needed. Now she can identify and name all of the basics (circle, square, triangle, heart, star) and also some harder ones (oval, rectangle, diamond).
2. Learning is fun and fun is learning; for toddlers, play is their job, it's the primary way they learn anything.
Example: When we are at the park playing, I have the opportunity to teach Evie about:
looking right and left when we cross the street
grass is soft and cement is hard
you're swinging up and down
going up 1 2 3 4 5 steps
let's go down the red slide and then the blue slide
be careful because that baby is littler than you
that boy can swing on the monkey bars because he's bigger than you
keep your hat on to protect your eyes from Mr. Sun
it's hotter in the sun and cooler in the shade
if you put your feet down you'll go slower on the slide and if you pick them up you'll go faster
the sign says n-o-s-m-o-k-i-n-g "No Smoking"
3. General principle: Books. Lots and lots of books.
Example: We've been reading Goodnight Moon to Evie every night since she was 6 months old or so, and she's gone through many phases with it. At first she was unimpressed, then went through a phase where it was the only book she'd sit still for. Then she was bored with it, and then figured out the game of finding the mouse and was fascinated once more. After another phase of tolerating it, now she has developed an interest in the text and will point to the words and say "A B E C L M P X Y" or something to that effect. One night last month she pointed to the words on one page and correctly said "Goodnight stars." Of course she can't read, but she has memorized the words to this book from constant repetition and has now linked the picture, text and phonics together, which is a step toward learning to read some day. Most recently, she likes to hear us read the book to her while she nuzzles in our necks with her blankie. It's so familiar that she doesn't care about the pictures any more. But when we are drawing pictures with crayons she asks us to draw her a pink moon, and then she says "goodnight pink moon." She has many books in her library, but her intimate relationship with this one book has given her the opportunity to relate to it in many different ways.
4. Sing. Songs use rhyme, rhythm and the vocal instrument to exaggerate and emphasize phonics, grammar and storytelling. Thus, they lay the groundwork for future reading skills. They also get a child's attention, so they are a great distraction from misbehavior.
Example: Awhile back we were reading books at bedtime and telling Evie that her Nana and Papa would arrive for a visit the next day, which ended in J and I singing a duet of "Tomorrow" from Annie. Evie did not criticize our pitch. Anyhow, now anytime I tell her something will happen "tomorrow" she starts singing "Tu-marra, tu-marra, I lub ya, tu-marra!" in jubilant tones. It's cute and silly, but it is helping her learn the concept of future time, and delayed gratification.
In the comments, I'd love to hear from everyone else about their techniques for teaching little ones.
We spent 2 weeks in Mississippi visiting my brother and sister-in-law while she is on bed rest with twin boys, dilated to 3cm. Praise God, the babies are staying put a little longer and hopefully will be born around 35 weeks, healthy and strong. As I said before, Evie and I will probably visit them again once the babies arrive, to help out in our limited, crazy, mommy and toddler manner. Evie had a great time with her 3-year-old cousin, but the chaos she added to house pretty evenly balanced out the help I was able to offer with laundry, shopping, food prep and playing with my nephew.
Now that we are home again, Evie is going to start a parent's day out (PDO) program on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I'm going to start a bible study on Wednesday mornings, we'll attend toddler story time at the library on Monday mornings and Evie has started gymnastics class on Tuesday evenings. I'm excited to start our little routine and get done some things around the house that desperately need my attention. For example, I haven't washed windows in a full year, and haven't dusted the blinds properly in months. I've always been an efficient housekeeper, but now that I'm a full-time mom I'm a veritable whirlwind of cleaning energy when I have time in the house to myself. Watch out house, I'll be home Tuesday morning at 9:30 and I'm breaking out the microfiber cloths and having my way with you. On Thursday, I might just pull out the orange oil and polish furniture! On top of everything, I'm tackling a big project at church of re-organizing all of the cabinets in the classrooms and kitchens and the pantry, cleaning the shelves and lining them all with contact paper. This kind of thing is right up my alley as a Type A neatnik.
Anyhow, until I get through this period of busyness, which I think we all experience in the fall, I'm going to be taking a blog break. I'll post for Evie's birthday in a couple of weeks, and I'll post if we hear anything about the second adoption, but other than that I'll probably be silent. We'll see. Here is a fun picture of Evie from our trip to Mississippi: and a short video of her jumping off the diving board at the pool there (in Mississippi):
I can't recommend this product highly enough. IT ROCKS. It gives Evie total confidence in the water and almost complete independence. Using it, she's learned to kick her legs and propel herself through the water, spin in circles and jump into water by herself. I'm not receiving any kind of incentive to promote the puddle jumper, I just think it's awesome. In my opinion, every kid 30-50 pounds who can't swim yet will love it.
We are in Mississippi, visiting my brother, sister-in-law (on strict bedrest with 31 week twins and pre-term labor) and nephew. My mom is also here helping out. Things have been...eventful. Here are a few highlights.
Evie and her cousin gamboling like puppies on the golf course near the house here:
She won't be two until next month, but somehow she already looks it in this picture, doesn't she?
Evie is learning a lot from her cousin, like baseball, bowling and football. He's allowed to tackle her, gently, on the grass:
In my last post I referenced putting something in the back yard for Evie to hang on, so that she could have a positive outlet for hanging energy (as opposed to hanging on the edge of the kitchen table). We did install the hanging gizmo (like a trapeze on one rope) last Saturday, and in only 9 days Evie is already begging for "hang time" and doing this:
Evie is 22 months old and we are officially waiting to adopt again! I dropped our new profile books at the social worker's office yesterday, and she activated our file. We'll be up on her website in a couple of weeks. We are excited, but also apprehensive about jumping back in the pool of waiting families right now, while Evie is in a clingy phase and my sister-in-law, A, is expecting twins in a few weeks (they are due in October but almost certainly coming sooner since she's already on bed rest for pre-term contractions at 28 weeks).
With Evie's adoption, we were only active for 10 days between Lucy's adoption disrupting and being matched with R & G, so technically the same thing could happen this time and we could be matched quickly. You just never know.
I hope we wait a few months at least, so that my mom can spend plenty of time helping with the twins without feeling torn and wanting to come visit our new baby as well, and so that I'll be able to travel to Mississippi (where my brother, D, is stationed with the Navy) and help them out as well. Right now the plan is for me to make 2 trips to MS...once to help out while A is on bed rest and again to help out when the twins arrive. Evie will come with me for both trips and have a chance to play with her 3-year-old boy cousin, C. She loves playing with older kids and learning new tricks from them, so I predict Evie will enjoy the trips and I'll be able to be a help to D & A.
Another project around here is to fully transition Evie from her crib to her toddler bed before we adopt baby #2. These days she tends to decide NOT to go to sleep, but instead to create piles of stuff. This particular pile is stuffed animals, books and a doll bathtub, which was her project in place of bedtime last night:
More photos from month 22...
She gets better at climbing each month as her legs get longer:
In a woven wrap (borrowed) at a babywearing get-together (she hates being worn and would much rather run around on her own feet, but I still use the Ergo quite a bit for errands): At Grandma and Grandpa's house in late June: Daddy's Girl: She LOVES to hang these days, and unfortunately tries to hang on furniture a lot. We are trying to break her of that habit, out of fear that she'll some day pull something heavy on top of herself, so we really need something like this in the back yard, since we don't have this in the back yard: Big girl swing: How do you go out to eat with a toddler? Stickers:
Evie learned about rolling down the sand hills from The Wiggles, so now she log rolls on any hill I'll let her. Here she is on The Lawn at U.Va. in early July:
Doing a dance near The Aviator: Argh, this would have been a perfect picture of her in front of the Rotunda except for that darn balloon she was obsessed with that day. She'll have this picture up on her dorm wall some day. :) Sporting Grandma's hat:
Playing drums with Daddy at church:Evie's ABC's (why did I decide to shoot these videos where I have no makeup and workout clothes on? I have no clue):
Evie has had a cute habit of saying "hopi" for "hold it" for months now, and my mom has repeatedly reminded me to get it on video before she grows out of it. She was right! In the process of shooting this video (in which I purposefully taunt her with an illicit colored pen to get the "hopi" out of her) she says "hold it" for the first time:
Finally, we've been watching Elmo ride his tricycle...
...and that has done the trick to get Evie started riding hers "just like Elmo." Now that she has the idea of pedaling we need to work on steering before we slap a helmet on her and let her loose in the park.
In conclusion, here are a couple of quotes I want to remember from this month:
Happy Anniversary to J and me! We have been married 12 years today (the silk and linen anniversary, apparently). Two years ago we were at the airport, about to board a plane headed for Mexico and our 10th anniversary vacation, and we got a call from our social worker about Evelyn Beatrix. I don't think any anniversary gift will ever top that.
I'm going to take this opportunity to write about something that I've been pondering for a few months, ever since J's grandfather passed away in March. The reverend who gave the eulogy (the same man who officiated at our wedding 12 years ago) asked for stories and thoughts from the family to include in his sermon at the funeral. I kept silent because J's grandparents had 5 children and many grandchildren and I didn't think my contribution was really necessary considering the many contributions from other family members. But the question got me thinking about J's grandfather's legacy and about Zeph, since at that time we had just recently learned that we wouldn't be able to adopt him.
I'm not sure I can express this as eloquently as I feel it, but my marriage to J is part of Grandpa's legacy. Grandpa D loved his kids and grandkids, but most of all he loved his wife, J's beloved Grandma, who passed away last September. He loved her in the way God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). And Ephesians 5:28: "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself."
I don't imagine that J's grandparents lives together were perfect and free from arguments and conflicts, but J's grandfather truly loved his wife in this biblical way and everyone who knew them saw the bonds of love that held them together as husband and wife for 63 years. That legacy of respect and devotion was passed down to the next generation, and I have witnessed the same relationship between J's parents. Ever since I've known them, I've admired the devotion, tenderness and respect that J's dad shows for his mom. I am immensely blessed to be the beneficiary of this legacy. J grew up with role models who showed him how a man ought to love his wife, and he has been a patient, faithful, forgiving, romantic, thoughtful, mature, compassionate and loving spouse to me for 12 years, through many different phases of life.
He loved me through my immature early 20's, the stress of beginning my teaching career, the agony of infertility, minor depression, a crisis of faith, the pain of our experience with Lucy and the sleep deprivation and decision-making of parenting Evie. Of course there were also high points during those times, but it is easy to love your spouse during the fun times, and J has always loved me through the rough times as well. I have no doubt that he will be loving me just as faithfully for the rest of our lives.
As a 20-year-old newlywed I didn't have enough life experience to appreciate how blessed I am to have married such a man, especially since I witnessed the same love and devotion in my own parent's and grandparent's marriages, so I thought it was a given. But now that I've had more life experiences and have seen other types of husbands, other types of marriages, I have become aware that J is truly a gift from God to me. I can't thank his father and grandfather enough for having helped make him the husband that he is.
As for Zeph, I truly hope that his childhood is happy and healthy and that he grows up with parents who adore him. But I am sad for him that he won't get to grow up with J as his dad and our fathers as his Grandpa and Papa. There are things that frighten me about the possibility of mothering a son some day (toy guns, plastic cockroaches, rubber vomit, puberty), but at the same time I am excited by the idea of having a hand in raising a baby into a man, a man who will be just like his dad and will some day pass on that legacy of love, tenderness and respect to his own son.
Deuteronomy 7:9: "[God] is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands."
Evie can count to ten! She's also learning her ABC's (more on that in another post) and learning to pedal a tricycle (ditto). The below video was supposed to show off her new skill but instead showcases what a ham she is. I recorded this via web cam and she could see herself the whole time, which was much more interesting than counting to ten.
This past week we traveled to Washington, D.C. because J had a conference for work. Evie and I tagged along with him to visit grandma, grandpa and friends in the area. This was Evie's fifth round-trip air experience since her birth. Each of these trips has taught me something.
At 6 months, Evie and I flew to the D.C. area to visit friends. This trip taught me survival skills. It involved a 3-leg flight, meaning 3 takeoffs and 3 landings (but we stayed on the same plane thank goodness). Six opportunities for Evie's ears to pop and for me to feed her a bottle to relieve the pressure. Six times in three hours. Please remember that Evie was a happy spitter. I brought ten bibs and six burp cloths on the plane with me and still ended up with spit up all over myself and Evie by the end. And we survived! After that trip I felt invincible as a mother (briefly). I also discovered that if your baby accidentally teethes on a plane seat belt, the world will not implode.
At 10 months, Evie and I flew to D.C. once again to visit friends and my grandmother in Virginia. This trip taught me the true value of camaraderie. My mother met up with us at our layover in the Detroit airport and flew 1/2 of the way with Evie and me. Her presence transformed the flight from a trial to a pleasure! Two adults are SO much better than one...especially when the other adult is Grandma. This trip also taught me that sometimes there is an excellent reason to let a baby crawl on the floor of an airport, and I shouldn't judge other moms who do the same, as long as they wash the baby's hands afterward. :)
At 15 months, we all flew to San Antonio for Christmas, and I learned that flying with toddlers is totally different from flying with babies. Toddlers can walk, and airplanes have floors. This is stressful for everyone. Also, toddlers aren't necessarily lulled to sleep by engine noise the way babies are. In fact, being confined in parental laps seems to have a stimulant effect. I also learned the value of memorizing your child's favorite songs and finger plays. Singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Shake Your Sillies Out" was much more effective than any other distraction on that trip, including books, Baby Einstein on the laptop and even snacks.
At 17 months, we all flew to Florida to see part of J's family. I learned that scheduling a flight for bedtime, thinking that the child will sleep through the entire thing, is an extremely misguided decision. It is a risky gamble, and when the cards don't fall your way, everyone on the plane suffers.
Finally, at 21 months, we flew to Washington D.C. for a third time this past week. Thankfully, Daddy flew with us this time. And we were better educated about our options. We brought along a car seat for Evie to the gate and inquired about any available empty seats on the flight. I recently learned that most airlines will accommodate a baby or toddler this way. Even if you haven't paid for a ticket for a child under age 2, you might be able to install his/her car seat in an empty seat for free. All you need to do is bring the car seat to the gate and ask, nicely. If there aren't any open seats, the gate agents will check the car seat for free. We bought a Cosco Scenera (currently on clearance at Target for only about $35!) just for this purpose, since Evie's Recaro Como is too bulky to cart around the airport and haul on board.
I had heard, and fervently hoped, that buckling Evie into her car seat on the plane would pacify her wanderlust, since she is used to being confine in the harness in the car, and would enable her to sleep on the plane as she can in the car. After some drama over whether or not there were any open seats on our flight, we were finally able to install Evie's seat on our flight to D.C. At first, everything went smoothly. Evie seemed comfortable and content. I read to her and gave her snacks, and we talked about the airplane and the takeoff. We had been reading Airport almost every day for the week before the flight, and Evie seemed delighted by the reality of flying in the airplane. However. Just because it was nap time and Evie was in a car seat (granted, not her cushy regular one) didn't mean she would succumb to the white noise of the engines and drift off to sleep. She didn't sleep a wink. Instead, she decided to seize control of her situation (being strapped in and unable to fiddle with the window, tray table, fan, light and magazines) by kicking the back of the seat in front of her. This was a full flight, and there was a very nice woman reading a book in the seat in front of Evie.
Whoever you are, lady, I am SO SORRY.
I spent the last 3/4 of the flight...a full 1.5 hours in the air...trying to cajole, convince, threaten, bribe, plead and explain to Evie to NOT kick the seat in front of her. At times I would resort to holding her feet still, but then I would foolishly decide to model napping. I would close my eyes and encourage Evie to close hers as well. Instead, she would seize the chance to kick the seat while Mommy's eyes were closed. (Later, my friend Jen said I should have asked the woman in front to turn around and fuss at Evie; that might have actually worked.)
Almost as soon as we began our descent, I realized my mistake. I was attached to the idea of Evie napping on the plane and refused to accept the reality that she wasn't going to sleep. If I had only released control of the situation and stopped trying to get her to sleep, I could have pulled out her books and stickers and played The Wiggles on J's laptop and distracted her from kicking the seat. All that flight needed was a little zen on Mama's part. Sigh.
I redeemed myself on the flight home. We flew in the morning, but Evie was visibly tired from a late bedtime and early reveille that morning. But I did not succumb to the allure of a plane nap, oh no! I cheerfully pulled out the books and snacks and movies and we had a great flight. It also helped that the plane was almost empty, and there wasn't anyone seated in front of Evie this time. When I first plopped Evie into her car seat and began buckling her harness, she gave a hard kick to the seat in front of her and shot me a meaningful look: "See, Mama, I remember last week. What are you going to do about it?" Kick away, child, kick away. Mama learned her lesson.
Happy Father's Day to J, the love of my life and a fabulous daddy to Evie Bea. Just in time for Father's Day, Daddy is all the rage at our house and Evie has started trying to play him (the fun guy) against me (the disciplinarian). Thus begins the era of Daddy's Girl and she will run to him first for a cuddle if she hurts herself. I am sad to see Mama Mania end, but the Daddy Delight couldn't happen to a better guy. J has been a super involved dad from the start and has been pouring love and attention into Evie nonstop for almost 2 years. It's about time she realized he's a super hero!
Here are just a few of the reasons J is my hero:
*he lets me sleep in when he can
*he cooks almost all of our dinners and many breakfasts and lunches when he's home
*he helps out around the house, mows the lawn and pays the bills
*he takes Evie out on errands and adventures on weekends so that I can get things done around the house without a toddler "helper"
*he is a playful and yet tender father to our baby girl
*he loves me more than I deserve
*he forgives my blunders and tolerates my idiosyncrasies
*he makes beer and wine (yum!)
*he single-handedly provides for our financial needs without complaint
December, 2003--stopped taking BCPs (birth control pills)
July 18, 1998--Wedding in Albert Lea, Minnesota
September 5, 1996--First date in Charlottesville, Virginia
August 26, 1995--We met at an Alpha Epsilon Pi frat party on the grounds of the University of Virginia. I was a 17-year-old first year student in the College of Arts and Sciences (double major in English and Psychology) and J was a 22-year-old in his first year of graduate school (Engineering, Materials Science)