One Incredible Year

If Anthony and I have a theme song for our first year of marriage, hands down it would have to be ‘Hold On” by Michael Buble. Here are the Lyrics:

Hold On, Michael Buble
Didn’t they always say we were the lucky ones?
I guess that we were once, babe, we were once,
But luck will leave you cursed, it is a faithless friend,
And in the end, when life has got you down,
You’ve got someone here that you can wrap your arms around.

So hold on to me tight,
Hold on to me tonight.
We are stronger here together,
Than we could ever be alone.
So hold on to me,
Don’t you ever let me go.

There’s a thousand ways for things to fall apart,
But it’s no ones fault, no it’s not our fault.
Maybe all the plans we made might not work out,
But I have no doubt, even though it’s hard to see.
I’ve got faith in us, and I believe in you and me.

So hold on to me tight.
Hold on, I promise it will be alright.
Cuz it’s you and me together,
And baby all we’ve got is time.
So hold on to me,
Hold on to me tonight.

There’s so many dreams that we have given up.
But take a look at all we’ve got,
And with this kind of love,
And what we’ve got here is enough.

So hold on to me tight.
Hold on, I promise it will be alright.
Cuz we are stronger here together,
Than we could ever be alone.
Just hold on to me,
Don’t you ever let me go.
Hold on to me, it’s gonna be alright.
Hold on to me tonight.

They always say, we were the lucky ones.

On the day I was released from the hospital, Anthony was the one who went and got the car. I was not ready to go home. I was not ready to leave my precious baby behind. It didn’t matter that I’d just held her hand. It didn’t matter that I’d be back that night. It didn’t matter that I was feeling better. At that moment I felt like the worst mother on earth – I was going home when she couldn’t. And I just couldn’t stop crying. After my mother and my nurse had helped me into the front passenger seat, telling me over and over again that I would be OK (when all I could do was nod my head at them through the tears) my amazing husband came through for me, once again. He had cued up the CD player to play this song on the ride home. It started playing the moment the passenger door closed. He took my hand before we drove off and he never once let go of it the whole ride home. He sang this song to me and he let me cry my heart out in that passenger seat. And when we made it the 4.4 miles to our front door, he kissed the hand that he had yet to let go of, looked me straight in my tear-stained face and promised me that no matter what happened, we were in this together and everything was going to be alright.

I have to be honest and say that it was not the first time in our 1 year of marriage that he has made this promise to me.

When Anthony and I were married last summer, all I could think about was how wonderful and easy our life together would be. And for the most part, that is pretty dead on. It is easy to love him. It is easy to be loved by him. It is wonderful to hear his voice on the phone or see him when I wake up in the morning. Our day-in and day-out is pretty much that: wonderful and easy. But as anyone who has survived a successful marriage (and I’m talking 20, 30, 40 years or more, not just one!) will tell you that marriage is far from easy. I always thought they meant that things like communication, finances, intimacy issues, the dreaded “In-laws”… you know, the “tough stuff”…were what made marriage hard. But I’ve come to find over our one humble year together that no, that is NOT what the seasoned vets are talking about. They are talking about life in general. It isn’t easy.

Our wedding was wonderful. One of the absolute best days of my life thus far. And our honeymoon was one that several people in my life still envy (and I’m ok with that). It truly was the trip of a lifetime. But once that whole fairytale aura wore off and reality set in, we started to learn what “tough” was. I had been laid off. We lived in southern California. We had an apartment (and all the bills that go with it), 2 SUV’s (with large gas tanks), 2 Smart phones, student loans and a DVR. We learned quickly that it is not cheap to live comfortably around here. So I started pounding the pavement… hard. In 1 month’s time I had been offered and completed 7 (count them… 7!) FINAL interviews. Meaning it came down to me and one other person every time. And every time I was told I was liked and was a good fit, and yadda-yadda-yadda, but the point was that I didn’t have the same amount of experience as the other guy, so sorry but we can’t offer you the job. I was getting so angry. So frustrated. I knew I could dance circles around some of these “more experienced” bozos if someone would just give me a stinking chance to try! And I was about to give up and go work at McDonalds just to have a paycheck.

And then, Anthony showed me, once again, how good it feels when someone has your back. He told me not to worry. At least we could pay for rent and food and gas for one car. If we needed to, we’d make do. But he told me he had faith in me and my abilities and that I’d get a job soon. He suggested that maybe I needed to look outside my field for now, just so we can get by and then we’ll work on finding me a job at a University when the economy got its ass in gear (yes, he did actually say that). For the first time in our marriage he had to look me in the eye and promise that everything would be alright.

I broadened my search, landed 2 final interviews and got offered both jobs. While both were over a $20,000 drop in salary annually, I was finally the one beating everyone else out in the experience field. And even with the pay cut, we had more than enough to get by. So at almost a year later, I’m still the Office Manager at Charming Pet Products because the economy still hasn’t gotten it together. But at least Anthony was right – we were fine.

Then came October. Jen confession #63. Every year that I get a flu shot, I get the flu. End of story. So, several years ago, I stopped getting the flu shot and have been flu free ever since. That is, until this past year. And of course it is this past year that we’ve had one of the deadliest flu epidemics in decades… H1N1 reared its ugly little head. Yes friends, in October of 2009 I contracted swine flu. Yuck.

This flu is gross. Because not only is it your usual fever, achy body, runny nose, over-all-feeling-like-crap, you add a cough and congestion element in that is nothing less than repulsive. It no longer “feels like crap.” It “feels like death.” And only because it makes you feel like you should be balled up in the fetal position and want your mommy like there is no tomorrow, does it doubly suck that it is as contagious as it is.

At a mere 3 months of marriage, Anthony and I couldn’t share a bed. Actually, we couldn’t share ANYTHING. For three weeks it was as if we were living two totally separate lives. Anthony slept on the futon in the living room and used the guest bathroom as his own. He took care of the dog, the cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, and anything else that needed to get done while I wasted away on our bed. I felt so helpless and like I was a burden. I couldn’t do anything for myself and even if I could I wasn’t allowed to touch anything. And I couldn’t even HUG my husband! Otherwise he’d catch it, too. Boo. At one point I got so upset with the whole situation that I kind of had a melt down. It was a  combination of crappy feeling and high emotions. And to make it all better, Anthony pulled a “No-No,” wrapped his arms around me, kissed my forehead, and promised me everything would be alright. He calmed me down, promptly took a VERY hot shower, and went back to his futon. About a week later, I was cleared to go back to work. Anthony never caught it.

The rest of ’09 passed in a blissfully uneventful way. We spent our first holidays together with our families. We did Thanksgiving with my family in Carson City, NV. We had a blast, adding Anthony to our family traditions. And it snowed!!! Christmas was our usual crazy schedule of getting every last family member within driving distance in on the fun. We got to decorate our apartment for Christmas, and we got a real Christmas tree. We were able to give each other our gifts in our own living room, and were just so thankful for everything we had.

We made our trip up north for the annual Greenia Family New Years Eve party. We had been “trying” to start our family for less than 3 months, and as we reached the New Year, I just KNEW I was pregnant. That, of course, was the great news. The bad news was that as 2010 started, so did my morning sickness. By the end of January (about 6 weeks in) I was so sick that my doctor felt it necessary to prescribe medication to help me through my first trimester. While I know I didn’t have it anywhere near as badly as some of the horror stories I’ve heard, I didn’t get off easy either. And on more than one hormone induced meltdown after vomiting more than I thought humanly possible, Anthony had to help me through it and promise me everything would be alright.

You know the rest – My pregnancy was amazing for the short period of time we could keep it going. And when Abigail came 16 weeks early, Anthony promised that everything would be alright – this time not because it knew it would be, but because both of us needed to believe it would be. We ended up promising this to each other several times in that first week she was with us.

Our Anniversary came and went. We love that our Anniversary always includes a holiday!! And Fireworks!! It was a great day that we spent together doing many of our favorite things. We also had a dinner/movie date which was awesome! And we stayed a little longer than normal for our 2 daily visits with Abby – because we could.

I know that every good wife will argue that they have the best husband around. And who am I to deny them? But I will say that after the amazing and highly eventful year we’ve had to start off our marriage with, Anthony pretty much takes the cake as far as #1 husbands go. I know that he’d say that I’m the #1 wife too. And that is simply because we believe it. There is NO ONE else that can make this work the way he has for me, and I for him. We are a solid team.

The best line in that song is the one that goes, “We are stronger here together than we could ever be alone.” And for us, it is our #1 truth. If Anthony and I have learned nothing else this year, it is that we are a force to be reckoned with when we stand together as one. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it another gazillion times – I would not have come through the birth of our daughter anywhere near as well as I did if it weren’t for him. He keeps me safe. He keeps me SANE!!! He’s got my back. And he means it when he promises that everything will be alright.

Cheers to us, Ant! Happy first anniversary with many, many more to come. I can’t wait for the stories we’ll be able to tell. I love you!

-Jen

Adventures of the Newlyweds

This past Thanksgiving marked the first official holiday Anthony and I shared together as Husband and Wife.

(As I have said before – technically, it is the second holiday… I seem to remember spending 4th of July with him… 😉 But I still don’t count that as our first official Holiday together, seeing as how we were celebrating our Marriage that afternoon, rather than INDEPENDENCE Day!)

I was so happy to be in Carson City, NV with my mother’s side of the family. Don’t get me wrong – I loved Thanksgiving last year with Anthony’s Family. It was a blast and I learned a lot! But I missed and longed for my own family and our homegrown traditions (as I’m sure Anthony expeirenced this year).

Thanksgiving is so wonderfully predictable and dependable at my Grandmother’s house. Cooking starts at 9am. The Parade is on – if you don’t like it, go away. Dad BBQ’s the Turkey. Mama and Granny rule the kitchen – what they say goes. What they ask for (nicely, of course!) gets done. The “Kids” set the table. Everyone contributes something. This year I did the ham, but usually I do the Jello Salad. New Tradition this year = Anthony contributes, too!!! He brought one of his favorite family traditions to us. Every year his mother makes cardamom bread for Thanksgiving. It is Anthony’s favorite. Anthony learned how to make it this year from her! He made it and brought it for everyone to try. Everyone loved it! He has been told he is expected to provide it from now on. That made him smile. A little part of him is now officially part of us.

“Dinner” is really “Supper” as we eat around 4:30pm. PopPop says the prayer. Dinner always lasts a rediculously long time as we are all eating and talking and laughing, and eating some more. Clean up is a team effort – everyone has a job. The table and kitchen are 85% clean before dessert is served (always several types of pie and hand made whip cream, which I got to make this year).

I LOVE our Thanksgiving. It is one of the few times a year I get to see my Mom’s side of the family, and I always miss them more when I have to go home. But this year, it was so special – Anthony was no longer “The boy Jen brought” or “Jen’s Friend.” He was just Anthony. And more importantly, a member of the family. Not that he hadn’t been welcome or anything before now – he was! Everyone loves him! But this year was different. The jokes were no longer “inside jokes” as he was in on them. He participated, rather than obverved. And, as always, he made me feel incredibly lucky to have him by my side.

(Ok, everyone, all together now – Awwwwwwww.)

Oh – and Anthony and I got to share a bed this year! Thanks to Alyse being gracious enough to give up the sofa sleeper, Anthony and I didn’t have to sleep on the air matress and non-fold out couch (respectively). So Thank you, Bug! It made our first Holiday together that much more special. 

Now to my favorite part of T-day weekend. Seriously people, the BEST part of Thanksgiving weekend for me has NOTHING to do with Thanksgiving. True, I love T-day and all of its traditional glory. But Black Friday – now THAT is something we do right. Shopping, you say? NO WAY!!! Dude, after all that tryptophan, we sleep! We wake up no earlier than 9am. This year I slept till 10! Lunch is left overs. YUM. Then, the family – the WHOLE family, Granny and PopPop included – goes bowling. Joey, my 3 year old cousin, loves to bowl. And we all have a blast watching him. Let’s face it, we know my dad is going to win, closely followed by my Uncle John. But we play! And we cheer each other on, and have a grand old time. Black Friday rules in my fam!

Ok – Time-out must be taken this year to adress “The Bet.”

My father is a logical, level headed, incredibly smart man. But every now and again, he does something totally out of left feild that ends up biting him in the butt. This is one of those times.

My dad was observing my cousin Alex bowl. Alex ended up with 2 pins, close together, but not next to each other. My dad said he’d give Alex $10 if he could knock down both pins. My father knew that the chances were VERY slim, and that $10 wasn’t that big of a loss, if somehow he did make the shot. As my father predicted, Alex didn’t make it. “Awwwwww,” we all said. “Good try, Alex!” Then, Alyse went up to bowl. After her first turn, she ended up with a 7/10 ish kind of split. Super difficult shot. Dad said, ‘Whoa! That is a $50 shot. If you make that, I’ll give you $50.”

Guess what happened…

She made the shot. And Dad had to pony up. One of those stories we’ll be telling for a while…

Anywho – after we are done bowling, the whole gang treks back to Granny’s house for Taco night. Let me tell ya, peeps – I don’t care how good that Mexican place is down the street. These are the BEST tacos you’ll ever have. Period. We love Taco Night. Pan fried corn tortilla tacos, lightly salted, with perfectly seasoned ground beef. Add the “fixings” to your liking and dip in home made green or red sauc. Have some authentic Mexican rice (also home made) on the side, and you’ve got a recipie for the best dinner on the planet.

Mine always looks a little bland – all it is in there is meat and cheese… but still soooooo good!

Taco night ends our festivites. We go home on Saturday so we have Sunday to rest before the world goes back to normal on Monday. It was truly a wonderful holiday filled with family, fun, and amazing food. Can’t wait to do it again in 2011. Now onto Francis Family Thanksgiving this year! Woot!

Oh yea – did I mentioned it snowed while we were there?

Love it.

-Jen

Art & Wine Festival

Two Weekends ago, Anthony and I traveled up north to visit friends and attend the Annual Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival. We flew up to NorCal on Friday night, spent Saturday in San Francisco with Anthony’s parents and good friend, Danny Greenia. We went wine tasting, had lunch at our favorite diner in Geradeli square, and wandered around for the afternoon. Saturday night, we went to the Sharks Vs. Cyotes Pre-Season Hockey game at the Shark Tank. Sharks won!!! Woot!!! (Sorry I don’t have any pictures of that! Left the camera at home).

Sunday, we attended the Festival. We met up with Danny again, along with our friends Kim, Morgan, & Mariel, and enjoyed the music, the food, and the art! It was great fun! And Anthony ran into many old firends (or their parents) and got to introduce me all day as “My Wife, Jen.” It was so cool to hear. Hahaha. Enjoy the photos!!!

Danny’s Great Smile to start off our day!
Beautiful San Fran.
On the way to the Wine Cellar, we saw this in a store window. Lauged really hard and agreed that this is the kind of thing we’ll probably dress our kids in when we have them. Too funny.
Ant & Danny in front of Cellar 360.
The View from our table:
The Boys, settling in.
🙂 Great photo of Ant and his Mom laughing at something they were talking about.
Gaby loves to share wine!
Here we go, people! I’m trying wine!! Well, sniffing first…
Savengion Blanc – I actually could tolorate this one. It tasted like grapefruit.
Check out the spread! 2 different kinds of goat cheese and one kind of cow cheese – the cow cheese (the really thin one with the purple line) is “Drunken Cheese” which means it is soaked in wine. And those crustini’s… OMG to DIE FOR!!! So Good. They were drenched in some buttery, salty, garlic-y goodness and we ordered a second plate! We ate every last one! Can’t wait to go back, just for those!
Some artsy photos Ant and I took of the glasses:


Ant trying wine. Also a big step for him. Niether of us really like wine.
Oh, Danny – my wino friend. He and Gaby loved trying them, and discussing them.
Second one I “liked” (which really means that I can handle/tolorate it enough to drink a glass – I still don’t actually LIKE any wine). It was about the 5th or 6th wine I tried. It is called Nightengale, and it is a dessert wine.

Napkin. Looks cool.
Wandering around SF means a trip to Boudin!!
The boys, checking out MORE wine. Hahaha.
Meet my new friend!
Segway Tour!!! I want to do this someday!
Sigh. I love San Fran…
Trolly!!!
Sunday, on our way to the festival.
How cute are parents? I love pictures like this of them and of my parents. I sneak them in whenever possible.
GIANT spider. Bleh!
Danny stole the camera for a while! It was a beautiful day, even if it was too hot!
Mr. Anderson’s Band – we always watch them.
Oh Morgan… Never without the Iphone.
Anthony (wearing Kimmi’s hat) and Kimmi!
The Group! (Minus me, the photographer)

We had such a great time visiting with everyone. A weekend up north after 6 months (or more for Ant) was a great treat! But it reminded us of how much we loved living up there, and now we miss it. Not that we didn’t miss it before – we are just more aware of it. We love the people here in SoCal – they are one of the greatest reasons for being down here! But we know where we want to end up, long term. In the meantime we’ll enjoy our mini vacay’s to visit there. It was a great weekend! Can’t wait for New Years!

-Jen

Anthony’s Birthday

This past week, Anthony turned 24!

Birthdays are always special for the two of us. We always do something nice for each other like breakfast or a gift we’ve really been wanting… oh, and let’s not forget that Anthony proposed on my Birthday! But usually, it is something simple. This year, however, seeing as how this was his first birthday as my husband, I wanted to make sure he knew just how special he is. So I did a little more than normal this time around.
First, I arranged a dinner for him at his favorite restaurant. When we lived in NorCal, we discovered this burger joint called “The Counter.” We LOVED it. Such amazing food. And we were sad when we moved back down to SoCal, knowing we wouldn’t be able to go there all the time. But then, we found out that one had opened here! In Westlake! So for his Birthday, the dinner venue was an easy choice! His siblings and a few close friends came to eat with us. It was a lot of fun! And of course, Anthony is always happy to see our niece, Laila.
In addition to dinner, I invited a few friends that Anthony didn’t know about. His good friend and college roommate, Ritchie, came out for the evening to be with us. He showed up at the house to suprise Anthony and got a few rounds of Wii games in before dinner. And our good friends, TC and Jane were secretly invited too! They couldn’t make it to dinner, but they drove out later that evening (bless them) just to hang out for 2 hours and then go back home. We have such good friends!
Ant’s Birthday continued on Saturday with my parents – Our family tradition is that the Birthday Person gets to choose what is on the menu for dinner. Ant chose Poppi’s Ribs! Sooooo good! And that was followed by Family Game Night. My parents bought him Wii Resort Sports for his birthday and he was exstatic! He’s been wanting that game for weeks! And we stayed and played the game with my parents until 1 in the morning! Always good times.
And lastly, I bought Anthony the final book (DVD collection) to the Avatar Series – something he’s been waitng so patiently for – and you should have seen how happy he was! That is the best feeling, when something so simple makes him so happy! And he knows that I’m paying attention to things that are important to him.All and All, his birthday was a total success and we had a great time. Cheers, Anthony! Happy Birthday!

-Jen

Lovin’ the married life!

Anthony and I have been married for 25 days already! Where does the time go?

Ok, so I always knew I was going to love married life. But I really didn’t know just how much I was going to love it. I especially didn’t know if it was going to be all that different from the relationship Anthony and I had just 26 days ago.

And then I look at this picture:
This is just ONE of the many amazing pictures that our photographer, Brienne Shepard, took on our wedding day. But this one is my favorite (so far, as we haven’t seen them all yet!) of just the two of us. Not only is it a great photo, but I see more than most people see when they look at it. I go straight to our smiles and our eyes. I know what those smiles mean. I know what that look says.

I can’t remember a time that I was happier than I was on my wedding day. And I can’t remember a time I saw Anthony happier, either. It was a wonderful day. And now that it is over and the honeymoon has come and gone, we are left with the “back to reality” feeling. It’s the everyday stuff that is no where near as exciting as being surrounded by 150 people in fancy outfits and our own paparazzi. But I gotta tell ya – I love it. I love going to bed at night and saying good night to my husband, as opposed to my boyfriend. I love his kisses (which seem to be more frequent than they used to be… or maybe I’m hallucinating) and his hugs. I love cooking dinner for us. I love just hanging out with him.

Neither Anthony or I have changed as people in the last 25 days. Same old, same old. But we have become a family – an official one – and I am loving every minute. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

-Jen

(And just because I love these 2 photos so much – I’m posting them too!)