For my love, my best friend, my soulmate, my J:
Love is passing notes in health class when we were just friends. Stupid boys kept hurting my feelings and you reassured me that there was nothing wrong with me.
Love is having our friend ask us out for each other. On the phone. Way mature.
Love is asking me out – for real – in the bowling alley parking lot after I broke up with you to be a stupid teenage girl.
Love is kissing me when I had braces. And getting cut by them.
Love is beaming brightly when you saw me in the hallway after I got said braces removed.
Love is watching Mallrats together at Gabe’s house. 😉
Love is me telling my dad that you were The One I would marry after dating only a few months.
Love is you traveling through a tornado to come visit me.
Love is me going to a (math & science) boarding school that I worked hard to be accepted into for my Junior & Senior years.
Love is me quitting after only 3 weeks because I missed you too much.
Love is receiving a sapphire ring from you for my sweet sixteenth birthday.
Love is spending every possible minute together in school and out.
Love is you proposing to me on Valentine’s Day our junior year with an amethyst ring at your aunt & uncle’s house.
Love is me accepting. Of course.
Love is attending Junior Prom and spending the next day at Kings Island together.
Love is you waiting for me for an hour before prom because I was having a meltdown over my hair.
Love is breaking up six thousand times during high school because I am a drama queen. Sorry about that.
Love is going to random dances our junior and senior years.
Love is you standing up for me at our senior government convention when a boy just had to make comments about my mom being a lesbian.
Love is experiencing our senior year together.
Love is going to Christmas at the Zoo together. (And wearing his letter jacket everywhere.)
Love is working together at Service Merchandise.
Love is you being an amazing salesperson and me being an awful one. And you using your sales rewards to buy me shiny rings.
Love is you coming to my drama stuff.
Love is going on spring break together (with my family) to Florida.
Love is being nominated for Senior Prom King & Queen.
Love is not winning, but feeling like a princess anyway.
Love is me going to your track meets and cheering you on.
Love is being voted Most Likely To Get Married by our class for the school newspaper. Glad we could live up to those expectations.
Love is graduating together.
Love is you leaving me behind to join the Navy. I know. You had to.
Love is writing you a letter for every day you were in boot camp.
Love is running to the mailbox every day to see if I got a letter from you.
Love is going off to college, but waiting by the phone constantly for a rare phone call from you.
Love is seeing you in your dress whites at boot camp graduation. Holding the flag.
Love is watching you scanning the bleachers for a glimpse of me.
Love is that first hug after they granted liberty.
Love is stealing kisses during elevator rides.
Love is watching your division march in the mornings.
Love is spending an amazing weekend with you.
Love is you reminding me that you wanted to get married.
Love is spending all of my college weekends in the dorm. On the phone with you.
Love is visiting you in Connecticut twice while you were in sub school.
Love is you paying $900 for a 30 hour visit.
Love is having a pregnancy scare and talking about marriage.
Love is deciding to get married anyway even though it was just a scare.
Love is having the two most difficult conversations of my life. Telling my parents I wanted to leave Purdue after only one semester. To move 1000 miles away. And get married.
Love is you receiving phone calls from both of my parents to see if I pressured you into marriage.
Love is being so new in the Navy that you needed a chit just to get married.
Love is planning a wedding in 6 weeks while dealing with finals and a long distance relationship.
Love is getting through it all and walking up the aisle to meet you.
Love is fighting tears together through the whole ceremony.
Love is being too young to have alcohol at our reception.
Love is toasting with sparkling apple cider.
Love is dancing to Lonestar.
Love is starting my freaking period AT our wedding. In my huge white gown.
Love is coming out to a car wrapped in saran wrap with love by our friends and family.
Love is watching a Disney movie and ordering a pizza on our wedding night/honeymoon.
Love is saying goodbye to you just three days after our wedding.
Love is packing up my bedroom so I could join you in Connecticut!
Love is taking a road trip with my dad and little brother to get to you.
Love is walking into our very first home together as a married couple.
Love is seeing that the entire townhome was covered in linoleum and not even caring.
Love is feeling the same way about our shoebox kitchen.
Love is spending our very first night on an air mattress.
Love is sitting for the first few weeks on an inflatable couch.
Love is balancing your checkbook and finding that you ate at a place called Niki’s every day.
Love is being relieved when I found out that Niki’s was a pizza place and not a strip club.
Love is having our very first party (with the inflatable furniture) and meeting all of your Navy friends.
Love is finally receiving our furniture from the movers and being so thankful for all of our hand-me-down stuff.
Love is making you a cake for your birthday!
Love is taking a very big gamble on whether it would be edible or not.
Love is celebrating our first married Valentine’s Day with spaghetti.
Love is not having enough money to even buy cards, let alone chocolates or a teddy bear.
Love is being patient with me while I played house (badly) and then finally got off my ass and got a job.
Love is learning to be adults. Together.
Love is making our first friends as a married couple.
Love is finding out that we suck at socializing.
Love is going to a marriage retreat and learning lots of communication techniques.
Love is making our first move together from Connecticut to Georgia after just 6 months.
Love is using walkie-talkies during the 19 hour drive down in separate cars.
Love is watching me have a total breakdown when I realized our new townhome was awful.
Love is loving me anyway.
Love is settling into a life filled with submarines, weird hours, and deployments.
Love is trying to remember how much we loved each other even when we had no communication for weeks and months at a time.
Love is celebrating our first Christmas together just a few days after your first deployment ended.
Love is making cards for each day of a deployment for us to read.
Love is sending family grams as our main form of communication.
Love is trying desperately to have a baby even though we were so so young.
Love is having a surgery for endometriosis and you driving us all the way back to Indiana for a visit while I was still mostly knocked out from the meds.
Love is taking a vacation just to get away from the baby thing.
Love is finally getting our baby wish just days after putting an offer in to buy a house.
Love is realizing that our little vacation away must have been productive. 😉
Love is taking that pregnancy test while you were working overnight on the boat.
Love is envisioning you running to the phone in your underwear to find out about “the emergency”.
Love is watching our life turn completely upside down but being immensely grateful for it.
Love is not being embarrassed when I made you corny signs.
Love is realizing that you would not be here when Aidan was born.
Love is doing everything possible so we could have him just a few weeks early – including drinking a bottle of castor oil.
Love is being super disappointed when nothing worked.
Love is feeling you in spirit when our beautiful baby boy arrived.
Love is you knowing I was being induced on Tuesday, but having to wait until Friday for news from the Red Cross.
Love is you getting to see those photos of our baby boy for the first time via email.
Love is waiting two long months before you could actually hold him.
Love is that amazing feeling of being a family of three and all together.
Love is making the big decision to re-enlist in the Navy for another 4 years.
Love is you supporting me through my late-night struggles with depression during that first year of parenthood. Even if it meant you got no sleep on work nights.
Love is neither of us understanding the depression, but you continuing to love me through it.
Love is watching your mini-me experience his first year.
Love is not sleeping a wink the night before getting to see you on the sub during one of your deployments.
Love is learning that subs smell really bad but appreciating every minute of that day with you.
Love is sending you DVDs to watch while you were deployed.
Love is that unexplainable feeling that I got while waiting on the dock watching the sub pull in each time.
Love is finding out we were pregnant again.
Love is losing that baby and feeling like our world was crumbling.
Love is knowing that we were so early in our pregnancy and being thankful that the loss happened sooner rather than later.
Love is spending that sad week playing video games together – barely sleeping at all.
Love is me getting a migraine and finally getting a glimpse at the awfulness you were encountering constantly.
Love is wondering (even now) how in the hell you’ve been able to cope all these years.
Love is being super lucky and getting pregnant again immediately – and getting the great news on Christmas Day.
Love is finding out we were having a pretty little princess to go with our perfect little man.
Love is you making me fun T-shirts for my second Mother’s Day.
Love is finding out that our life in the Navy was changing.
Love is being grateful that the migraines were taking you off the sub for good (so you wouldn’t miss another birth), but being worried about the future. And the migraines.
Love is getting to experience Audra’s simple and quick (but still painful) birth together.
Love is becoming a family of four.
Love is finally finding out what the future held for your career.
Love is packing up, selling our house, and moving into a hotel for three months in Pensacola while you attended Navy school for your new job. With a 2 year old and a 6 month old.
Love is being crazy grateful that the hotel upgraded us to a suite for free.
Love is getting the surprise of our lives and finding out that “oh honey, we’re fine – I ovulated last week” isn’t always the best method of birth control.
Love is struggling at first, but learning to be excited about our upcoming addition.
Love is finding out we were moving to Maryland and getting excited about the new adventure.
Love is setting up our new home with two munchkins and a baby in the oven.
Love is finding out that our new love muffin was a boy, and realizing that we couldn’t imagine him not joining us.
Love is adjusting to a new shift-work schedule.
Love is thinking that two 12-hour days followed by two 12-hour nights is freaking crazy.
Love is just being thankful that there were no more deployments in our future.
Love is watching our princess become less of a baby and more of a toddler.
Love is seeing how much her big brother loves her.
Love is experiencing the beauty of birth once again with Austin, even if the delivery was long and painful and riddled with lots of student doctors.
Love is becoming a family of 5.
Love is learning to be parents to three incredibly different but fabulous children.
Love is making sure we came home to celebrate the Colts’ Super Bowl win in Indy. Even though I do not care one bit about football. (Gasp!)
Love is trying to find a passion – photography – and you supporting me through it.
Love is you thinking my work was amazing, even when it was definitely NOT. (Putty colored skin!)
Love is finding out that photography is not a cheap passion.
Love is enduring more depression and putting you through it.
Love is wishing so much that I could have fixed myself sooner.
Love is you continuing to stay by my side even when I did not make it easy for you.
Love is wondering why our babies are growing up so fast?!
Love is partying it up at (and after) my brother’s wedding.
Love is realizing a little late that we are too effing old for that crap.
Love is hanging Christmas lights in the rain because I begged.
Love is only half of the lights working after a week.
Love is having fun looking at fishies.
Love is having Mr. Bear with us wherever we went.
Love is enjoying many mall playgrounds.
Love is always allowing me to practice my photography on you.
Love is you surviving on very little sleep for over 2 years because of your work schedule.
Love is celebrating our last Christmas as an active duty military family.
Love is finally getting through our time in Maryland, getting out of the Navy, and moving back home to Indiana.
Love is getting away for 4 whole days without the kids – to Gatlinburg!
Love is wanting another baby so much because ours was growing up.
Love is being smart enough to know that it wasn’t a good time to add to the family.
Love is thinking you would get a civilian job in Indiana with no problem.
Love is spending about 3 months together finding out that we were wrong. Very wrong.
Love is thinking that as a last resort, I would have to go back to work.
Love is me going back to work.
Love is realizing that as much as I didn’t love it, I needed to be back in a work routine for my sanity.
Love is you becoming a stay-at-home-daddy.
Love is trying to enjoy our first summer back home in Indiana.
Love is you joining the Navy Reserves so we could have insurance again.
Love is watching our big boy going off to Kindergarten.
Love is wanting to cry right this minute because I lost the pictures of his first day when my hard drive crashed.
Love is making due with his school picture.
Love is you going back to school to get your Bachelor’s degree to improve our future.
Love is deciding that as the next last resort, we’d move to a state bordering Indiana for a job.
Love is that not happening either.
Love is loving me at my highest weight.
Love is believing me when I promised to quit smoking.
Love is me actually quitting smoking.
Love is joining a gym with me.
Love is neither of us actually going to that gym for over a month. Ha.
Love is not blinking an eye when I decided to change the way we eat as a family.
Love is trying every new meal I made – even though I’m a horrible cook.
Love is giving up fast food. Well, you mostly did.
Love is getting to watch our big boy playing baseball.
Love is realizing that we may have to try a few things before knowing what our kids enjoy.
Love is never failing to tell me that I was beautiful.
Love is appreciating me as I lost weight.
Love is you waking up and packing my lunch and snacks for me every day so I would have plenty to eat at work.
Love is encouraging me to hire a trainer even though it cost a lot of money.
Love is listening to me whine about the pain that trainer caused. 😉
Love is making another last resort decision – we’d move anywhere for a job as long as we were together.
Love is finding that we were just not in control of the job situation.
Love is just knowing that I’d move to anywhere in the world so you could have a job you love.
Love is watching you get healthier and being so proud. So so proud.
Love is learning to be active together.
Love is supporting my idea to homeschool our kids and believing that I could do it.
Love is me being able to stop working full-time when you got a good-paying job.
Love is believing that it was a temporary gig with crazy hours to just get us by until you could find a career in your desired field.
Love is knowing you’d endure the instability and crazy hours just to support our family.
Love is knowing that no matter what – you’d always find a way to support us.
(Love is knowing now that you would end up working at that temporary job with crazy hours for 18 months.)
Love is going to our 10 year high school reunion. At my high school graduation (ish) weight.
Love is matching our PJs with our kids.
Love is teaching our babies how to be healthy.
Love is going through this entire journey with me.
Love is telling me your favorite part is the confidence I’ve gained.
Love is supporting my efforts every time I want us to be better parents to our kids.
Love is knowing that we will never be perfect parents.
Love is realizing somewhere along the way that our family is just right with three kids.
Love is understanding that I’m struggling with the scars left from my old body.
Love is aiming to making sure I know that you still find me beautiful – scars, skin, and all.
Love is getting muddy for the fun of it.
Love is trying new things together.
Love is indulging me in my long, ass-numbing, painful bike rides. We love them sometimes. Not so much other times.
Love is feeling like a sexy hot young couple for the evening even though we are an old married couple every other day.
Love is embarking on a new way of schooling the kids – virtual public school.
Love is seeing our girl start Kindergarten.
Love is experiencing some hiccups, but feeling like it was the best thing for our family right now.
Love is watching my insanity when prepping for our family photo shoot.
Love is you totally getting into the session and not being a party pooper/normal guy.
Love is watching me gain some of the weight back as I struggled to accept my body.
Love is learning how to make being healthy only a portion of our lives.
Love is seeing our oldest two babies win their soccer championship!
Love is experiencing our daughter’s dance recital.
Love is me finally realizing how much of a toll work and school were taking on you.
Love is trying to cut you a little slack when you acted like an ass out of exhaustion.
Love is pretending that I’m never an ass.
Love is being thankful that the stress of work and school wouldn’t last forever.
Love is taking taekwondo as a family. Even if it only lasted 5 months.
Love is hitting rough patches with our relationship.
Love is being best friends and talking through the rough patches.
Love is remembering that you are super sexy in BDUs.
Love is taking family walks.
Love is taking our first real vacation as a family – to Disney World!
Love is knowing that you were hesitant to spend the money, and I’ll be forever grateful that you agreed anyway.
Love is seeing our youngest try his hand at soccer.
Love is figuring out that those two are mostly in it for the snacks.
Love is finally watching your hard work pay off when you received your degree.
Love is feeling so much pride that my tears just spilled out.
Love is then immediately going through our longest separation in the past 7 years – just 2 measly weeks for drill.
Love is thinking that I couldn’t possibly handle doing anything longer than that.
Love is finding that life is quite ironic.
Love is entertaining ideas about you deploying to Afghanistan for a year as a contractor.
Love is knowing that you’d probably get deployed with the military if we didn’t go the civilian route.
Love is watching me do nothing but read books all summer. Out of fear/denial. Out of boredom.
Love is cuddling on the couch while I read and you watched TV and/or slept.
Love is you being super annoyed with the reading, but knowing it was what I needed at the time.
Love is being inspired by you and finally realizing that I was ready to go back to school.
Love is you being as excited about it as me.
Love is you listening to me stress about finding the perfect school.
Love is finding the perfect school and officially becoming a student.
Love is seeing our baby start his first year of school.
Love is getting word that you’d definitely be leaving for a year.
Love is recognizing that it is not just about paying off debt but about an incredibly opportunity for your career.
Love is knowing that I created most of the debt with my shopping habit.
Love is being scared to death that something will happen to you over there and I’ll have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life.
Love is doing everything we could to prepare for you to leave.
Love is believing that we can get through anything.
Love is being grateful for the two months of training in the states to get ready for the year overseas.
Love is your day of departure arriving and me only having about five crying fits.
Love is realizing that you were gone and we could handle this.
Love is deciding to make this an adventure.
Love is FaceTiming during all of your non-training hours.
Love is saying absolutely nothing most of the time.
Love is wondering how well we’ll actually do when you’re in Afghanistan and we can’t just FaceTime constantly.
Love is finding out how to be a better person while you’re gone.
Love is always trying to be better. A better wife to you, mother to our kids, citizen of the world.
Love is being with you for nearly half of my 30 years, and craving at least another 60 more.
Love is you listening to me dream about the future and believing that we can do anything and everything together.
Love is knowing that we can always work out our kinks because there just is no alternative.
Love is recognizing that we still annoy the crap out of each other sometimes. And that’s okay.
Love is accepting our individual strengths and weaknesses.
Love is hoping that we can both continue to grow together.
Love is being sure that we have the most amazing kids ever.
Love is making a temporary sacrifice for a permanently brighter future.
Love is you and me. And our little ones. Forever.
Be safe. Don’t forget you love me. Come home when you’re done.