Okay, so the balloon drop was a little bit like John Kerry’s convention, as you’ll see. The fishing line somehow got stuck in the middle of the wrapping paper, so it took a couple of extra steps to get all the balloons down. But it was successful in the end, and the kids loved it. :) Video, from three different angles:
Exactly one year, to the day, after I originally planned to finish my Brendan’s Defining Days of the Decade series, I’ve finally done it. (Well, except for the “honorable mentions”, which I’ll write up… er, probably sometime next year.) Yeah, it took way too long — we’re one-tenth of the way through a new decade already! — but we’ve finally arrived at #1 on the list. So, at long last, without further ado, here it is: the complete list of my “Defining Days” of 2000-2009:
(tied) December 31, 2007 and July 13, 2009: The Births of Our Children
It’s the biggest cliché in the world, the most obvious and unremarkable answer to the question, What was the happiest/greatest/most memorable/important/defining day of your life? Virtually everyone with kids will say it was the day(s) when their kid(s) was/were born. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this — from celebrities, athletes, whomever. The rank order always seems to be (1) kids’ births; (2) wedding day; (3) other stuff. Before I had kids, I always thought this was a little lame, perhaps attributable to guys pandering to their wives or trying to be politically correct.
I was wrong. Like many clichéd statements, this one is oft-repeated for a simple reason: it’s absolutely true.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, changes your life — to the point that the word “changes” seems grossly inadequate; “revolutionizes” or “utterly remakes” would be more appropriate — the way having a child does. Everything before the birth becomes instantly obsolete, recalled like the quaint mental remnant of a far distant past. One day, your life is a certain way, and then you have a kid, and it’s a completely different way. Oh yeah, and then you go from having one kid to two kids… and it’s completely different again.
What came before, the life you lived prior to the birth of your child(ren), seems like a fog, an impossibly long-ago and far-away memory. As I recently tweeted, when I think back on the time before December 31, 2007, I feel a bit like Gandalf the White, trying to recall the time before his death and rebirth on Zirakzigil after defeating the Balrog. Yes… Gandalf… that was what they used to call me. Gandalf the Grey. It feels just about that distant.
This might seem to suggest that perhaps 12/31/07 — the birth date of my firstborn child — should stand alone atop this list, with 7/13/09 maybe number two or number three. But, first of all, I wasn’t going to do anything that could be perceived as “ranking” my children. Just not happening. :) Secondly and more to the point, Loyacita’s birth was, in its own way, just as profoundly impactful as Loyette’s. I’ve heard it crudely said that, when it comes to kids, “one is an accessory; two is a lifestyle.” That’s a joke, of course, and as I said, it’s a crude formulation — but there’s also more than a grain of truth to it.
(Incidentally, for any blog newbies who might be reading this, “Loyette” and “Loyacita” are, obviously, not our children’s real names. They’re online nicknames, used in this space to prevent the girls from being instantly Google-able from birth. So, for instance, it’ll at least be a little bit harder for some teenage classmate to someday Google one of their names, find this blog post, and embarrass them with their father’s gushing parental prose.)
Much like Loyette’s birth, Loyacita’s birth also marks a very distinct dividing line between “before” and “after” eras of my life, and our life as a family. For just about a year-and-a-half, Loyette was an only child, and we had one kiddo to dote on, and manage, and take care of, and raise. And then suddenly we had two little goobers, and suddenly Loyette had a sister, adding inexpressible richness to her life and ours. As the P.R. hacks at Apple would say, except in this case it’s actually true: “This changes everything. Again.”
* * * * *
Becky’s due date with Loyette was December 31, 2007 — New Year’s Eve. In the days leading up to that date, we talked, half-jokingly, about hoping the baby would be born by then, not only to alleviate Becky’s late-third-trimester discomfort, but also to get the various child tax deductions and credits for the entire calendar year 2007 (a not-insignificant chunk of change; ultimately, it basically funded our trip to Connecticut for Tim Stevens’s wedding in July 2008). But of course what we really wanted was a healthy baby and a healthy mommy; the exact date, and the tax write-off, were insignificant in the grant scheme of things.
Even so, when Becky and I went to bed late on December 30, after eating dinner with her parents (who had just arrived that day from Arizona for their month-long, help-out-with-the-new-baby visit) and watching the movie “Knocked Up” on DVD, I confess I was ever-so-slightly disappointed that we were still at home, and not in the hospital. Perhaps Becky’s sudden last-minute craving for cashews should have tipped me off that something big was about to happen, but hey, she was a pregnant lady; they have cravings. All in all, the odds now seemed heavily stacked against that tax deduction. It looked like Loyette would be born sometime in 2008.
Before we closed our eyes and went to sleep, the clock struck midnight, and I said jokingly to Becky, “Hey, it’s December 31. If you’ve got a ‘bun in the oven,’ you should be doing ‘ding!’ right now.”
Some joke. Shortly after 2:00 AM, Becky poked me awake and said, “I think my water just broke.”
Never, ever, have I so quickly roused myself from sleep, and on just a few hours’ rest, no less. I’m nothing like Becky’s dad, whose years of medical training and experience being “on call” have taught him how to go from sound asleep to wide awake and alert at the drop of a hat (as I learned when I stepped on that scorpion). But, just this one time, that’s exactly how I was. I snapped into action instantly, practically leaping out of bed, grabbing the phone, calling the doctor, gathering our stuff, and preparing to head out the door. I made the long-awaited drive to Park West Medical Center, where we checked in sometime in the 3:00 AM hour. They promptly confirmed that Becky was, indeed, in labor, and sent us up to the labor & delivery ward.
We sent texts to a handful of relatives and close friends, informing them of the news. And then we waited. At first, Becky’s labor was relatively painless, and progressed gradually. If I remember correctly, I think I was able to catch a few winks, and then I know I went down to the hospital cafeteria and had some breakfast — including a big plate of eggs, the very same “last meal” before becoming a dad that my father (a fanatical egg-lover) had at Hartford Hospital when my mom was in labor with me.
Eventually, the labor sped up, and Becky got quite uncomfortable, quite fast. In the course of maybe a half-hour, she went from wanting to see how long she could go without pain relief, to begging for an epidural ASAP. This led to our most memorable delivery-related story, as I — not Becky, but me — nearly crushed her hand from squeezing it so hard, and almost passed out/threw up, thanks to a major freakout about the epidural. The whole needle-near-the-spine concept always made me a little bit queasy, even when we were talking about it generally at our childbirth/parenting class, so when things went every-so-slightly amiss in Becky’s case, with the anesthesiologist needing to shut down the first epidural and start over from scratch because of a heart-rate spike or some such thing, I nearly lost it. Becky says I turned a whitish-green color and looked like I was about to pass out. I ultimately staggered to the floor across the room, got myself a glass of water, and calmed down. Needless to say, the nurses were teasing me about this for the rest of the time we were in the hospital. :)
In any event, after that minor hiccup, the epidural was successfully inserted, and Becky went from feeling acute pain to just feeling a ton of pressure. Things continue to progress and, before too long, it was time to start pushing. She was a real champ at that, taking only about 20 minutes from the start of pushing to Loyette’s birth.
Loyette was born at 2:13 PM, weighing 7 points, 14 ounces and measuring 21 inches. When she emerged, she initially looked quite a bit like a greenish alien, and didn’t take her first breath for a few seconds. (Thankfully, I’d read all the baby books that explain how normal this is, or I might have been scared for those few seconds.) Then she gasped, made a raspy cough-like sound… and started scream-crying. Not that I blame her: can you imagine how disconcerting that must be, to go from a warm, soft, quiet womb, to the cold air and harsh lights of a hospital room, with all sorts of other creatures poking and prodding and cleaning and testing you? I’d scream-cry too!
Anyway, I promptly went over to where the nurses had taken Loyette to do the initial, immediately after-birth stuff that they have to do before the baby can be brought back to mom (we’re talking just a couple minutes). During that time, I was able to talk/coo at her a little, and it was evident that she recognized my voice, just like the books said she would from all that “talking to the belly” I’d done in the preceding months. My voice really seemed to give her some measure of comfort amid all the strange weirdness that was happening in her suddenly enlarged world. And then I put out my finger, and she grabbed it with her teeny, tiny little hand. That… that was special.
* * * * *
Shortly before midnight, while Becky was in the bathroom and Loyette was sleeping, I realized I had a golden opportunity to use the “HAPPY NEW YEAR” banner I’d bought on a whim at Wal-Mart some time before, and placed in our hospital bag just in case, to create a photo for the ages to post on the blog at midnight. So I took the picture…
…and then set to work on the blog post, which I timed to appear at precisely midnight (and which would get Instalanched). Underneath the photo, it read:
A new year, a new baby, the miracle of new life, and a new chapter in our lives. Never has the turning of the calendar’s page meant so much to us. What an amazing day.
From our family to yours, have a very Happy New Year!!
* * * * *
The second of the two “tied” Defining Days had a much more orderly beginning. Loyacita had been due July 8, 2009, and there was much speculation about a possible Fourth of July baby (given that Becky was born on Flag Day, me on the day before Halloween, and Loyette on New Year’s Eve), fueled by Becky’s strongly held motherly belief that this kid was coming early. But the days passed, and passed, and no baby came. Before we knew it, the calendar had turned to July 13, which had been set some time earlier as our induction date if the baby hadn’t arrived yet. (January 7 was that date for Loyette, incidentally.) So instead of a 2:00 AM wake-up call, we did everything in a planned and orderly fashion, leaving Loyette with Grandma & Grandpa and heading to the hospital at the arranged time in the morning to get things moving at last.
The strangest thing about that stay in the hospital was the very fact of leaving Loyette behind, particularly for the purpose of going and having another baby. In a strange but very acute way, it felt like we were somehow “cheating” on her. To be suddenly toddler-less, and wrapped once again in the hospital cocoon of labor and then delivery and then those intensive first few hours, felt like a completely different world from the one we’d by then grown accustomed to with Loyette at home. Some confused subconscious part of my brain almost thought that Loyette had somehow regressed into a tiny baby again — the idea that we now had two of them was simply very hard to compute with the older one temporarily absent from the picture.
But I digress. Anyway, we got checked in and settled, and before long they started the process of trying to induce labor. This time, there were no epidural dramas, but for a while it seemed like things were stalling. We watched several hours of the Lord of the Rings DVDs that I’d brought to the hospital, in case we needed to kill time. Becky posted a bunch of Facebook status updates. And we waited.
Then, rather suddenly as I recall, things began to speed up, and the next thing we knew, the “pushing” phase was starting up again. This time, it took all of four minutes. Literally, the delivering doctor had only just gotten set up and ready, and suddenly it was time to catch the baby. Loyacita was born at 2:41 PM, weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces.
What followed is a bit of a blur, as these things tend to be. Again, there was the initial alien appearance, the first cry, the tender finger-grabbing. Then, before long, there were moments like this:
And pictures like this:
* * * * *
Becky was too exhausted for visitors that first day, and thought it would also probably be better for if we waited. So we kept to ourselves and our new baby that night — and then the next morning, Grandma and Grandpa brought Loyette in to meet her new little sister. Loyette was tender with Loyacita, previewing the wonderfully close and sweet relationship they’d develop in the time to come.
But above all, what she really wanted was to see Mommy & Daddy again. Not fully understanding why we’d left the previous morning, despite all our attempts to explain it (hey — she was 17 months old), she was just absolutely beside herself with joy and relief to see us again… and absolutely beside herself with dismay and horror when it was time to leave. Grandma and Grandpa later said she was screaming like a banshee all the way out through the hospital. Poor thing.
When we brought Loyacita home from the hospital the next day, we were nervous about how Loyette would adjust to this new reality. Again, her primary reaction was simply relief and joy that we were home (and clinginess — she didn’t want let us out of her sight for days). I’ve always loved the picture below, taken just a short time after we returned, for how well it expresses that moment in time:
What was amazing, though, ws how quickly, over the course of just a few days, Loyette completely accepted Loyacita as a new member of the family. She used to have a habit of doing a sort of “roll call,” naming out loud everyone in the family (adding, say, Grandma and Grandpa or Papa and Nana during a lengthier visit), and it was almost immediate that the word “Baby” was added to the roll call, symbolically initiating Loyacita into Loyette’s permament world.
That was the beginning of an amazing relationship; watching the two of them grow up and develop their sisterly bonds has been the greatest joy of the last year-and-a-half of my life, culminating in recent weeks with Loyacita finally becoming a confident walker to the point that they are now just constantly following each other around the house, playing together, and generally being incredibly cute in how they relate to one another (like last night, when they were both “reading” books in Loyette’s room for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, and when I walked in, Loyette informed me, “No, Daddy, you have to leave. We need our privacy.” LOL!)
* * * * *
I could go on and on forever about the joys of those little girls. I won’t, because we try not to blog about them too much, and because I don’t want this blog post to become a completely soggy and utterly clichéd mess. But what’s certain, indeed it goes without saying, is how utterly and inescapably central their respective entrances into our lives were to my life in the last decade.
Are there more days like December 31, 2007 and July 13, 2009 in our future? Perhaps. Who knows? We’re young yet. :) But at least for now, those dates are without rival. They represent, without question, the seminal events of my entire life to date. And they certainly belong right at the top of this list: the Defining Days of my Decade.
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Tomorrow is Loyette’s third birthday, and we’re hosting a “Noon Year’s Eve”-themed birthday party for her. Becky (who is awesome) is doing the vast bulk of the planning, preparation and house-cleaning (did I mention Becky is awesome?), but she tasked me with devising a way to have a “balloon drop” at noon. So last night, after Becky blew up several dozen balloons (to review: Becky. Awesome.), I experimented with several methods of suspending them up near the ceiling. Streamers didn’t work. Twine was going to be problematic. Then we hit upon the solution: wrapping paper!
That’s a giant single piece of (post-Christmas discounted) wrapping paper, secured with masking tape at both ends. I put it up last night, and — knock on wood — it’s remained stable so far.
I’m just hoping the balloon drop goes better than the one at John Kerry’s convention. I don’t want a bunch of 2- and 3-year-olds to hear me say, “We need more balloons. We need all of them coming down! Balloons. Balloons. Balloons. What’s happening? They’re not coming down. All balloons. Where the hell! Nothing is falling. What the f**k are you guys doing up there?”
A year later than originally planned, it’s time — long past time, really — to publish the final two items on my Brendan’s Defining Days of the Decade list. (Of the last decade, that is. Y’know, the one that ended on December 31, 2009. And no, I don’t believe the decade “technically” ends tomorrow. That logic might fly for centuries and millennia, but not for decades. More to the point, if I thought the decade ran from 2001-2010, then 7/2/00 and 11/7/00 wouldn’t be on this list, obviously.)
Anyway… Today, #2. Tomorrow, #1. But first, to review:
(tied) March 7, 2005 and December 30, 2005: Our Wedding Day(s)
All right. So I’m cheating a bit here, by cramming two dates into one item on the list, and calling them “tied.” But it’s worth it, because in order to explain the “tie,” I have to tell a story that’s never been told before here on the blog — and it’s a good one.
It’s the story, in short, of how Becky and I got married for football tickets.
* * * * *
Well, okay, that’s not really right. I mean, we got married because we love each other, because we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, yada yada yada. I’ve talked about thatshmoopystuff a bunch already, in previous Defining Day write-ups, and I’ll do so again a bit later in this post. But to understand how there could be a “tie” for “Our Wedding Day(s)” — i.e., to explain the timing — we definitely have to get into the football-ticket-related side of the equation.
As you already know, Becky and I got engaged on July 3, 2004. Less than two months later, I headed to South Bend, Indiana, to start law school. Then in early January 2005, almost exactly six months to the day after our engagement, Becky left Arizona and moved to Indiana to be with me — but not before, over winter break in AZ, we picked the date and site for our wedding: December 30, 2005, at Gold Canyon Golf Resort.
(Coincidentally, we picked the date and site exactly a year beforehand, on 12/30/04. The place where we’d hold our ceremony was flooded that day, due to a freak rainstorm on the 29th, but we knew Arizona climate well enough to know that wasn’t likely to happen again that time of year, and we had no qualms as we reserved the date & place for our big day, one year hence: 12/30/05.)
Our timing created a bit of a problem, however. Becky would be living in South Bend with me throughout 2005, and she was my fiancée, and she certainly wanted to be able to attend Notre Dame football games with me that fall (my 2L year). After all, if you’re living in South Bend but not going to the ND games, you’re basically missing out on the only redeeming quality of living in South Bend. :) Plus, USC was coming to town in October — specifically, October 15, 2005; you might have heard of it — the only time we’d get to see the Irish host the Trojans during my three years in law school.
But because Becky wouldn’t be my wife until late December, after football season was over, I wouldn’t be able to get her season tickets in the student section, since only a spouse can get guest season tickets to the football student section at Notre Dame — not a fiancée or any other family member, only a spouse. That meant I’d have to scramble to secure Becky a ticket to each individual game (which would be most difficult for the most important game, USC), in whatever section or row happened to be available, and then hope the ushers wouldn’t notice that she wasn’t in her proper seat (which they usually don’t, but occasionally do). Or else I could try to sneak her in altogether, using someone else’s ticket booklet — a sometimes do-able, but always risky, proposition.
Neither of these were particularly appealing options, especially when it would be so simple to just buy her season tickets in a seat right next to mine — if only we were married. Which we would be, very soon, but a few months too late for it to matter.
So, at some point in January or February of 2005, it occurred to us that there was a solution to this problem. We could get legally married a bit early, before football season. That would allow us to buy season tickets together, legitimately. And then we could still hold our big public wedding ceremony in December — “declaring our love before our families and God,” as I’ve often said in explaining this to friends and family — despite being, “technically,” already married.
* * * * *
A few other considerations also weighed in favor of an early legal marriage. For instance, there was some thought of Becky getting on my student health insurance (though we ultimately didn’t do that). I also liked the idea of removing the infinitesimal-but-not-nonexistent possibility that I could somehow get in trouble for violating Notre Dame’s code of conduct by, er, “living in sin” with Becky. (Really — no joke. Premarital sex is against the rules, even in private housing, even for grad/law students. And, although this virtually never happens, you can technically be expelled for it.)
But truthfully, the ultimate decision was almost entirely based on the football ticket thing. If it weren’t for the desire to get Becky season tickets to Notre Dame football, we definitely wouldn’t have gotten married “early.” We never would have even thought of the idea.
Now, admittedly, obtaining football tickets might sound flimsy and insubstantial as a rationale for making decisions related to something as significant as a marriage (though perhaps not to die-hard college football fans!). But the thing is, we already knew we were going to get married; the only question was the timing and the formalities. Keep in mind, we’d been dating since 2000, and were deeply and madly in love, with lots of long experience living together, going through ups and downs together, weathering the storms of life together. So it’s not like this was some snap engagement, and we needed a bunch of time to be sure it was going to work out. We were both 100% sure we were going to get married. We were completely comfortable that neither of us was going to get “cold feet” before December. Thus, there was no real downside to moving things up by a few months (or ten).
Anyway, we discussed the idea between ourselves, and decided we both liked it, and wanted to do it. But we didn’t want to proceed if it was going to upset either of our families. So we talked it over with both sets of parents. Everyone was OK with it. Thus, the decision was made: during spring break in Arizona, we’d find ourselves a judge and get hitched.
* * * * *
So, on Monday, March 7, 2005, we took the plunge, legally speaking. Wearing a pair of my t-shirts — me in my circa-1998 Red Sox shirt, Becky in my lucky Gonzaga shirt — and with a $50 cashier’s check from the local supermarket, Basha’s, in hand to cover the relevant fees, we drove down to the East Mesa Justice Court and, shortly before its closing time at 5:00 PM, walked into the chambers of Judge R. Wayne Johnson. And got married.
Naturally, this being me, the moment was videotaped. The quality, though, was a far cry from that of the professional videographer who we would hire to document our big wedding ceremony almost 10 months later. The “videography” of our legal wedding consisted of me haphazardly placing my point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot digital camera, with its 320×240 video recording function activated, precariously on the judge’s desk, leaning it on some random object to point it in roughly the right direction, and hoping for the best. The resulting video is a bit crooked, and certainly low quality — but it captures the moment when we became husband and wife. And it’s never been seen before publicly. Here it is:
Afterward, we celebrated our newly formalized wedding bliss by… driving to a nearby Sonic and picking up some fast food for dinner. Now, if that’s not a classy “reception,” I don’t know what is. :) And then we headed to north Phoenix to meet for the first time with Jim Hushek, the “married Catholic Priest” who would conduct our December 30 ceremony.
That’s right: as it just so happened, on the very same day that we got legally married, indeed just a few hours later, we met the guy who would declare us husband and wife — again — later that year. We were totally open with Father Jim about what had just occurred, and about the nature of our December 30 ceremony (ceremonial, spiritually meaningful, but not legally binding). He was totally fine with it. We liked him, and promptly chose him to officiate the ceremony — one of several examples of major wedding-planning decisions that we made during spring break, in those initial hours and days after getting married. How many people can say that? :)
* * * * *
So… that was wedding day number one, and the first of the two “tied” dates on the list. I think it’s fairly self-evident why it belongs on my “Defining Days” list — though I’ll nevertheless have some more to say on that topic a bit later. For now, suffice to say, it’s the day I got married to the love of my life and the future mother of my children. It’s the day Becky and I went from college sweethearts with plans to get hitched, to a legally recognized married couple.
(Oh, and it’s the day she became eligible for those football tickets — which she got, of course.)
At the time, however — during that almost ten-month period in between our legal wedding and our ceremonial wedding — we tended to talk about the events of March 7 more as a technicality or formality, and referred to December 30 as our “real” wedding date. We couldn’t wait. Our friends and family were gathering together from distant points all across the country, coming to Arizona to see us get hitched and celebrate with us. Some of them knew the March 7 story; others heard it through the grapevine. It was something of an open secret. Among those who knew, nobody seemed to much care. What mattered was the ceremony, celebration and big ol’ party that we’d be throwing in December.
When I look back now on December 30, 2005 and the days surrounding it, it’s that gathering of all those wonderful people which helped make it so special. Our core group of revelers — i.e., our large wedding party, plus some other close friends who were also staying at the resort — was simply an amazing and wonderful mix of people, family and friends from different stages of our lives (Becky’s high school, my high school, college, law school, etc.), seamlessly integrating into a cohesive group despite, in many cases, having never met one another before. They made our wedding so memorable, and oh so fun. Becky’s mom repeatedly and frequently tells us that it was the second-best wedding she’s ever been to — after her own — and that the attendees from the community where she and Becky’s dad live (basically just down the street from Gold Canyon) still talk about how much fun it was, five years later.
But perhaps more to the point, nearly everyone who we desperately wanted to be there, was there. Our friends and family came from far and wide to, as I put it in my impromptu post-reception speech to the video camera and the assembled partygoers,”tell us that we’re cool because we love each other.” As I said: “We really appreciate all the love and affection and congratulations… We love each other, and we really appreciate you guys coming out to honor us.” It was corny, and not all that well-articulated, and I may have been a little tipsy when I said it — but I meant every word!
* * * * *
Anyway I won’t walk you through the whole story of our wedding day and the events surrounding it, as — unlike the heretofore untold story of the March 7 wedding — it was heavily blogged at the same, and heavily documented since. But since I posted the video of our legally binding vows, I should probably post the video of our ceremonial ones as well:
And then, of course, there was our… unique… first dance, to the song “In Spite of Ourselves” by John Prine and Iris Dement. We first heard this tune playing on some random country radio station in Kansas while driving across the country during college, and instantly fell in love with it. If you haven’t heard it before, here’s a flavor of the lyrics:
She thinks all my jokes are corny
Convict movies make her horny
She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs
Swears like a sailor when shaves her legs
She takes a lickin’
And keeps on tickin’
Never gonna let her go.
He’s got more balls than a big brass monkey
He’s a wacked-out werido and a lovebug junkie
Sly as a fox, crazy as a loon
Payday comes and he’s a-howlin’ at the moon
He’s my baby
I don’t mean maybe
Never gonna let him go.
Here we are, dancing to it:
And finally, some more “highlights” from our awesome reception. A few specific things to look for: at the very beginning, we’re introduced (by my dad) to the strains of Trojan Marching Band music, and we shout “BEAT THE LONGHORNS!” as we walk in. This was five days before the 2006 Rose Bowl, remember. They were heady times, people. :) At 1:30 of the video clip, the SHA girls (Becky’s high-school friends) serenade us. At the 4:15 mark, don’t miss Uncle Rick’s hilarious message, followed by Uncle Steve “playing” not the spoons, not the forks, but a single fork (LOL). Then at 5:10 come my parents with their song for us — a Irish folk tune, naturally (and one that they also sang at their own wedding in 1977).
It was, to say the least, a day and night to remember. And I daresay we looked a little spiffier than we had in my old Boston and Gonzaga t-shirts. :) Here’s a Flickr photoset of the festivities, including before and after the wedding. A few photo highlights:
Bride & Groom.
Becky and her bridesmaids.
Becky and my groomsmen.
Brotherly & sisterly love.
Everybody! The whole, ridiculously large wedding party, being goofy.
One Ring to Rule…..er, wedding rings. :)
The SHA Girl “family”!
Bride & Groom at Sunset.
* * * * *
Of course, all of this invites one obvious question: which wedding date do we consider our “anniversary”? The answer, perhaps not surprisingly, is a bit complicated.
When we decided to get legally married “early,” we very consciously pondered this very question, and decided that we still intended December 30 to be our “anniversary” going forward. It was, after all, the big ceremonial wedding with family and friends, the one where we’d “declare our love before our families and God.” And indeed, this decision to treat December 30 as our anniversary was, in my mind at least, a crucial element in maintaining the mental notion (some might say fiction) that it, 12/30/05, was our “real” wedding day, whereas 3/7/05 was just our “technical” or “legal” wedding day.
We stuck with that decision for the first couple years of our marriage. But then, we had a kid. And, as it happened, she was born on December 31, 2007 — two years and a day after our ceremonial wedding. Our second anniversary, in ‘07, was just about completely overshadowed by the aftermath of Christmas and the impending excitement of the baby’s arrival. We realized this was going to be a continuing problem going forward, as our anniversary would always be hopelessly sandwiched in between Christmas and Loyette’s birthday/New Year’s.
So we decided to move our anniversary.
Starting in 2008, instead of celebrating on December 30, we decided to celebrate on March 7. So we went from celebrating our second anniversary on 12/30/07 to celebrating our third anniversary on 3/7/08. Our marriage “aged” a whole year in just over two months! :)
Our fifth anniversary, therefore, was this past March 7. And today? It’s the five years to the day since an awesome, utterly unforgettable day in our lives. But it’s not our fifth anniversary. That already happened; we’re coming up on six years now.
Nowadays, Becky sometimes refers to December 30, 2005 as our “reception” or our “party.” When she does that, I invariably point out that we didn’t just have a reception or a party — we had a ceremony, too. Declaring our love before our families and God. I still think that means something, as does she. December 30, 2005 was our wedding day, just like March 7, 2005 was our wedding day.
But in the end, when we look back on December 30, 2005, I suppose she’s right that it’s the “party” we remember above all. It really was a great party, and a wonderful celebration of our love — the love that we had formalized in the eyes of the law almost ten months earlier.
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I promised some “shmoopy stuff,” and I’ll conclude with it, because otherwise I risk missing the point a bit here. For as wonderful as the December 30 “party” was, and as amusing as the March 7 “football tickets” story is, neither the party nor the story are, of course, enough by themselves to lift these dates all the way up to the #2 spot among my “defining days” — ahead of 9/11, of the USC-ND game, of the day I found out we were going to be parents, of Katrina, of all the other momentous days on this list.
The party and the story can’t do that. Only Becky can do that. Or more precisely, Becky and me. Us.
My love for Becky, which was formalized in a marriage contract on 3/7/05 and declared publicly as such on 12/30/05, is quite simply the central fact of my life, not just in the decade 2000-2009, but in this new decade and, I can say confidently, in every decade to come — for as long as we both shall live, as they say. Our love, our marriage, is the bedrock foundation of my life, on which everything else builds.
I love Becky, truly, madly, deeply, moreso than I could ever properly express. Moreover, that love is, in a sense, baked into every aspect of our lives. It’s bound up in my feelings about the amazing house and neighborhood and city that we live in together; in my joy at the memories we’ve made, and continue to make, together; and in my inexpressibly profound love for the children we’ve had together.
Of course, love is not just a noun, it’s also a verb, as Becky (channeling Dr. Phil, I believe) has often said. That is to say, love isn’t merely something that you feel, it’s also something that you do, a series of actions and choices that express love, and express themselves as love. That can be a hard charge to fulfill, at times, amid the everyday stress of adult life, with jobs and bills and kids, with a house to keep clean and two adorable but high-maintenance little girls to manage. But we always remember, even if we’re cranky or irritated or downright pissed about something, how much we love each other. And I think we always, in the end, find a way to show it — the verb as well as the noun.
And that, I think, I hope, is the essence of healthy marriage, one that can and will last into all the decades of our lives to come. Love, not just felt but also expressed, necessarily implies all those other things you need to make a marriage work: trust, friendship, communication, respect. I don’t think either of us ever doubts that we have those things.
We are, of course, not perfect. No one is. And yet, in a sense, I like to think that we’re sort of perfect in our imperfection. Which, really, is the whole point of our song. Like John Prine and Iris Dement say:
In spite of ourselves, we’ll end up a-sittin’ on a rainbow
Against all odds, honey, we’re the big door prize
We’re gonna spite our noses right off of our faces
There won’t be nothin’ but big old hearts dancin’ in our eyes.
Above all, March 7, 2005 and December 30, 2005 are defining days of my decade because they are symbolic of that — of us — of Becky’s and my love for each other, and everything that goes with it.
* * * * *
So there you have it. Our wedding days, each highly significant and memorable in their own way, each “defining,” and tied for #2 on the list.
Rachel Dulitz maintained sole possession of the lead for the fourth straight day in the LRT Bowl Pick ‘em Contest with a 3-0 record Wednesday, improving her impressive prediction streak to 7 out of the last 8 bowls — during a time period when the average contestant has only gotten between 3 and 4 of those 8 games right — and increasing her lead to a 2-point advantage over her nearest challengers.
We’re just about 10 percent done with the 2010s, but as you may have noticed, my “Defining Days of the (Last) Decade” blog series remains unfinished, stalled at #3. But not for long!! I’ve finished writing #2, and will soon be done with #1 as well. I’ll be publishing them exactly one year to the day after I originally planned to: #2 tomorrow, #1 on Friday. No, really!
That’ll leave just one remaining loose end: the “honorable mentions,” which I’ll get to, er, sometime next year. :)
Rachel Dulitz yesterday maintained the lead she’s held since Sunday in the 6th annual Living Room Times Bowl Pick ‘em Contest, but her 4-bowl winning streak ended and her 2-point lead shrank when Iowa stunned Missouri. Now, several different scenarios — including my not-quite-3-year-old daughter, “Loyette,” taking a share of the lead — are possible today, with three bowl games on the schedule.
Okay, I’ll be quick here. I have no interest in engaging anyone about the science of global warming, if it is a danger, and/or if we caused it. I have my ideas on this and I am sure you have yours. And for this moment, that’s all well and good. Right now, all I want is a little sanity.
A snow storm is not something to point at and say, “See, global warming is not real.” Most of you damn well know it, too. That is as sensible as someone saying, “See global warming IS real,” during a mid-August heat wave.
Global warming does not mean we no longer have weather or seasons. It does not mean the temperature does not dip below 70 degrees ever (Fahrenheit by the way. Screw you Celsius!). Global warming is a lot more complicated that just “things are hot.”
So believe in global warming or don’t. Think it is our fault or not. For now, I don’t care. But please, please, please, please stop citing cold and snow in December as evidence that it is not real.
(And no, this is not directed to anyone in particular or in reference to any article or TV show in particular. This is just a chestnut that always gets trotted out when things get cold and winter-y and I’ve about reached my tolerance capacity for it.)
As the Northeast continues to dig out from the Great East Coast #Snowpocalypse #Snowmageddon #SnOMG Blizzard of 2010 — or, as they call it in Buffalo, “December” — here’s an awesome time-lapse video from Belmar, NJ, which was right smack in the middle of the heaviest snow bands, and received a whopping 32 inches of the white stuff:
Two nights after leapfrogging the competition in a “Jewish Christmas miracle” when Tulsa beat Hawaii in Honolulu, Rachel Dulitz took sole possession of the LRT Bowl Pick ‘em Contest lead when Florida International beat Toledo in dramatic fashion Sunday in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Randy Styles (WOLFMANBC) stayed a perfect 6-0 and took sole possession of the lead in the 6th annual LRT Bowl Pick ‘em Contest when San Diego State beat Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl last night. Casey Zak (DARMOKANDJALAD), who picked Navy, fell back into a second-place tie. Top of the leaderboard shown below.
Everyone shown picked Hawaii in tonight’s Hawaii Bowl (worth 2 points) except MUROYALS and RACHELDULITZ, who picked Tulsa –and will tie Styles for first place if the Golden Hurricane wins.
One of the co-leaders is guaranteed to take sole possession of the lead Thursday: Zak if Navy wins the Poinsettia Bowl, Styles if San Diego State does. (Both contestants, along with everyone in the pool except Loyette, picked Boise over Utah tomorrow.)
The Denver Pioneers wrapped up their nonconference schedule Tuesday with a 4-9 record — and perhaps more importantly, a 2-game winning streak — as they won 73-55 over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, in a game that was actually far more lopsided than the final score.
“This sends us off to Christmas Break the right way,” said Coach Joe Scott after the game. (Hence my use of the Santa photo above — which, incidentally, is published with permission of SID Mike Kennedy; backstory here.) The Pioneers have an eight-day break before their next game, also at home, on December 30 against Sun Belt foe Louisiana-Lafayette, kicking off the conference season.
“I’m happy for our guys because obviously they needed the success; we all did,” Scott added. “And hopefully we can use this as a springboard as we head into the league.”
Brendan Loy is a 31-year-old attorney, erstwhile journalist, and veteran blogger in Denver, CO. He formerly blogged as the "Irish Trojan." Brendan's wife, Rebecca Loy, also 30, is a stay-at-home mom in Denver. Brendan and Becky have three daughters, whose blog nicknames are "Loyette," "Loyacita" and "Loyabelle." More info here. Several others blog here in The Guest Room.
The Living Room Times is named after Brendan's old school newspaper, circa 1993-1999. All viewpoints are welcome and vigorous debate is encouraged, but to combat spam and trolling, you must be registered to comment. You can read the "blog rules" here. View alternate mastheads here.