Since Him

As of October 30, my husband and I have been married for 13 years. We were together for more than a handful of years before that. There was life before him, and life since him. I still think of life before him as this very long, adventure-filled journey in which I grew up, learned everything I know, and became the person he first met and who I am today. I also keep thinking that it was much, much longer than my life since him. Post-him life has sped by. There is no way, in my mind until I count it out, that we have been together that long.

This anniversary, doing the math, I realized that while pre-him life remains slightly longer, it’s not by much. And I also realized that I have grown up, learned a lot, gone on quite a few adventures, and keep becoming who I am today with him in the years since him.

We have lived together in four cities, built lives there and moved on. We have hiked the Grand Canyon and the trails of Crested Butte. We have skied more mountains than I ever imagined getting down and surviving. We have explored Napa Valley and the streets of New Orleans. We have compared pizza in New York and Chicago. We have debated politics in many restaurants over many bottles of wine – some good and some bad. We have danced badly and sung Sweet Caroline together many times. We have fought while trying to read a map and drive at the same time. We have been to the horse races and nearly ten major league baseball parks. We have watched hundreds of Cape Cod sunsets together, though my first was when I was eight. We have gone to two weddings in Ireland and walked the West Highland Way of Scotland. We have laughed at ourselves and each other a lot. We have had three children, one of whom is already ten. We have changed diapers, cleaned up their puke, watched them walk, learn to talk, survive a broken an arm, learn to read, ride a bike, make a basket, try for a touchdown in the street. We have taken them to Niagara Falls, the Air and Space Museum, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and Bahamas.

I remember being ten like it was yesterday. Like it was during the since him era.

But when I think of all the things we have done together, I realize how long ago since him began. And how much fun we’ve had since then.

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The Texts my Husband in Atlanta Got from the Storm in Colorado

Context: First, I typically do not text my husband multiple times in one evening. Second, it is a well-known fact that every time my husband leaves town, Denver gets hit with a blizzard or other near-natural disaster. And I am left to dig us out alone.

Saturday

4:28pm: Well, just found all our gutter troublespots. Massive storm. Collected an entire large cooler full of rain, one and a half of that plastic container I was going to use in the laundry room full of water, and several large bowls. I survived the lightning by pure luck, only have a tiny bit of water in the guestroom window, and broke one more coffee cup. You would have been proud! A hot shower calls!

4:45pm: Still water coming in window, but able to soak it up as it seeps in. I hear the rain starting again. Need to check my coolers, tubs and bowls. No hot shower yet for me!

6:24pm: All quiet on the western front.

8:04pm: Round Two goes to the girl in the red sweatshirt. Another cooler full and multiple bowls. Two rounds of towels washed and dried and ready at their stations in case there is a Round Three in the middle of the night. All water collection traps are empty. But not sure how long we can hold the line!

8:20pm: I swear you and Mother Nature are having an affair!

Sunday

7:21am: I am a warrior!

Forbidden Fruit…..a.k.a. Oreos.

“Do you need anything at the grocery store?’ I asked my four year old this morning.

“Yes. Those cookies that have brown on the outside and white on the inside. Do you know what I’m talking about?”

Do I know?!

But in our house, Oreos must be hidden from Dad. They are so tempting that he just throws them out.

Shhhh, don’t tell……. we’re being bad!

Entrepreneur 101: More than Your Mama’s Mood Ring

A very wise man always tells me that if you think of ways to solve the simple problems you face every day, you can strike it rich. Think Velcro on shoes.

I thought of something today.

The Spouse Mood Texter. Modeled after the 70s mood ring, it would alert a man or woman of his or her spouse’s mood via text throughout the day. The perfect gift for any bride or groom.

Give your spouse the updated mood ring, and the temperature of his or her skin will set off a signal that will then be texted to you. Heading home in the evening, you could check your phone to assess how best to enter the house and approach the coming evening.

If you get a text from the Spouse Mood Texter that reads RED HOT, you know that your spouse’s temperature is elevated. He or she is in a bad mood. Stress level is high. Pick up flowers or a bottle of wine. Now you know not to mention to-do lists or finances. A RED HOT signals that a good compliment is critical to your evening, creating an opportunity to use your spouse’s higher temperature to your advantage.

If you get a GO GREEN text, that means your spouse is probably in a chatty, happy mood. Talk politics, religion, to-do list, anything. You know before you even arrive home that your evening should go smoothly. So if you’ve had a tough day, know your spouse will remind you why you are married. Peace. Love. And all that.

If, however, you receive the CODE BLUE text, that means your spouse is calm and quiet. A CODE BLUE means that you want to assess before proceeding through the entryway. Maybe a call on your way home might suffice to ascertain the mood at home. Calm and quiet could signal a great day, and your spouse is relaxing on the couch with a good book. It could also mean pure exhaustion. Your spouse’s temperature is low because he or she has not moved in hours.

With this knowledge, we would not stumble unknowingly into snakepits of bad humor inspired by money stress, bad bosses, bad hair, poor reviews, bad digestion, whining children, and more.

Imagine life with the Spouse Mood Texter! So much more than your Mama’s mood ring!

Not The Bottom Third

I am currently reading a parenting book called The Blessings of a B-, so it seems timely that an adult I know recently received a comment from a professor that praised his output and the quality of his class participation, but put him in “the bottom third” regarding quantity of participation.

“The bottom third? I am not in the bottom third of anything!”

It’s a great name for a bar or a band. It will make a great t-shirt when I get it made for all our friends. Not the Bottom Third.

The funny thing is…it’s true. And if there’s even a chance that he’s falling below the top third, this guy will work harder than anyone to make sure it never happens.

Now, I know that this disgruntled student immediately set up a meeting with the professor, because he is that kind of guy. I also know that the meeting did nothing for him, because such meetings never do. The “bottom third” comment is already out there. Professors don’t really “take it back”.

I pity the professor and others in the class, because my guess is… they are about to get a lot of participation!

So, in an attempt to get this student to move on, save his professor and classmates, and only sort of rub it in, I thought I’d make a list of the things in which he is, in fact, in the bottom third.

• Ankle circumference
• Hours of sleep in 2011
• Number of cuss words spoken out loud in 2011 (despite small ankles and little sleep)
• Rounds of golf played (compared to the average physician and his former fraternity brothers)
• Percent chance that he is going to get a sports car in 2012
• Musical talent (unless passion equals talent)
• Drafting fantasy football teams
• Time spent shoveling snow (for a guy living in Colorado)
• Times he’s been in the bottom third

Okay, done. That’s it. I spent the last few days trying to think of things, and this is it.
Let this professor be “that guy” that came up with something, whether true or not. Move on. We will all love you for laughing off this one “bottom third” statement and think of you always as a top third kind of guy.

And then we can open a bar and wear our cool t-shirts.

The Marriage Contract

How bad is it if you re-neg on your marriage contract? Is it okay if it’s not in writing? What about if all you agreed to was to “love to ski” despite the ridiculous odds?

When I said “yes”, I couldn’t fathom that I would ever “love to ski.” I could see eventually getting down a blue without throwing a temper tantrum, but love doing it? No way.

His part of the deal was that I got to choose where our future kids went to school. More important. More practical. Much more expensive. But also more likely to be achieved.

Then we moved to Colorado.

I can now make it down most blues without cussing out my husband. I finally got ski pants that look okay, and I even wear a helmet. I discovered hand warmers.

I love the scenery. I love spending the day outside. I adore hanging out with my husband, and the fact that he always skis with me even though I slow him down. I like how rosy the kids’ cheeks get after time on the slopes. I love an après-ski Bud Light on a sunny afternoon, and the feeling that I survived the day. It amazes me that an entire day can go by, and not a thought enters my head expect getting down the mountain. Turn, ice patch, turn, lean forward, feel your shins on the front of your boot, turn, ice patch….BUMP!!!!!…phew.

I do still feel like I am going to puke on the chair lift. I can’t make it through a day on the slopes without yelling at another skier for skiing too fast or too close — road rage in the snow. I wish they would close the slopes to all other skiers but me. I would rather be drinking an après-beach Bud Light. I can’t sleep in the night preceding our first return to the slopes each winter. I dread it. I fear the mountain.

And then, deep breath, I have fun. Some of the greatest days are on my skis, though you would never guess it to see me flailing, grimacing, cussing, slowly making my way down the hill. But it’s true. I just may love to ski.

Phew.

Marriage contract in tact.

The Dreaded Mid-Life Crisis: Is This It?

No one tell us at what age it will hit, or even if it’s a guarantee. No one tells us exactly how it will manifest itself. Yet we are warned that it exists.

BEWARE the mid-life crisis.

And, lo and behold, my husband might be in it.

But who’s to know?

What I do know is that in the last year, he:
• Bought a fancy road bike and did a 100-mile race
• Commandeered and renovated his mother’s old Honda motorcycle
• Started an MBA program, even though he is full-time practicing physician
• Talks constantly about getting a Porsche sports car for our family of five
• Is suddenly less opposed to getting a dog

So, is this it? Or are these just the signs that it is brewing, and I have much to fear in the coming months? Or, just as possible, is this just who he is….always seeking new knowledge and adventure so that a crisis never hits?

Maybe he doesn’t even know it’s time.

And what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Right?

Anyway, where there is a void of information or procedure, I like to make my own rules. So I took things into my own hands.

I sat him down. I said, “My dear, this bike-motorcycle-MBA-Porsche thing is it. You can have your mid-life crisis, but it stops here. When the MBA program is over, you can decide about the car.” It’s his money, after all. “But then, no more. You are done.”

This mid-life crisis thing is my gift to him. I will be kind as he goes through it. I will try to put off mine until he is done.

But he does not get to add anything else to the list.

“Deal?”

“Deal,” he said grinning and probably thinking, “My wife is crazy….Or is this her mid-life crisis?”

Really, who’s to know?