Our 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago on October 2 Andy and I got married at the Cincinnati Observatory.

It was a lovely wedding.

We honeymooned in Italy by way of Paris. Our total time in Paris was fewer than 24 hours, and immediately upon our return I said I wanted to spend our 10-year anniversary in Paris.

Ten years ago we were young, idealistic, without children and a mortgage, happy to live on boxed noodles and one car. I started a Paris Fund Jar, swiping change from Andy’s dresser, thinking about all the street crepes I would buy in what seemed like a lifetime away.

So much can change in 10 years, and yet it can go by so fast. In a letter Andy wrote to me for our 10th anniversary he reminded me of this: In those 3,652 days we had three kids, acquired one dog, went through six job changes, bought and/or sold five cars, had six surgeries, bought two houses and celebrated 34 birthdays.

Life—beautiful and hard, quiet and thrilling—happens.

We’re on a strict three-year money-savings plan right now, with hopes for a solid (financial) future.

Throughout our 10 years, Andy (who is, at times, more reasonable in his daydreams) would joke about our 10-year anniversary trip to Paris, telling me that certainly we could go—as long as it was Paris … Kentucky. And so, several months ago, knowing Paris (France) was decidedly out of the question, we decided to book a room in Paris, Kentucky. Turns out, from the pictures online and a magazine article a friend gave to me, it’s a lovely little town in the heart of horse country.

But then we really looked at the cost of it, and thought about how it directly conflicted with our grand three-year money-savings plan. And so we downsized our (or, perhaps, my) daydreams, again.

And so, on our 10th anniversary, we went back to the Cincinnati Observatory and had a picnic underneath the same tree, in front of the same rock, we were married 10 years ago.

It was perfect.

Andy came home from work a bit early and grilled some chicken for sandwiches to pack. We included some chips and Sofia Minis. We sliced an avocado and homegrown tomato on a small cutting board my mom had given to me as a Bride’s Day gift (for the 12 months prior to our wedding my mom gifted me something small on the 2nd of each month—a tradition I hope to carry on for my children should they choose to marry someday). And we packed our picnic in a basket gifted to me by dear friends, during a bridal shower.

Earlier that morning, while the kids were at school, I went to The BonBonerie and got two slices of cake—carrot and opera cream—the same flavors we had at our wedding.

The weather was cool with a warm breeze. As the sun set bats flew over us. The leaves around us were just starting to change color, and the Observatory behind us lit up.

After our picnic we attended the Observatory’s weekly Thursday lecture and viewing. We learned about eclipses, and viewed the moon and a gold and blue double star in the beautiful, old telescope.

But, of course, not all of life is wonderfulbeautifulperfect—not even 10-year anniversaries.

On the way to the Observatory I was irritated. We were running a half hour late—and only had a sitter for four hours. I was worried it would be too dark for our picnic, and that we would be too rushed. I was worried we would be late for the lecture. Upon our arrival I noted that the big, old, beautiful tree we were married under was half dead. I was worried that was a bad omen. And selfishly, unrealistically, spoiledly, I was also irritated we weren’t in Paris—France or Kentucky.

But something happened during our walk over to the tree. Maybe it reminded me of our wedding day walk from the Observatory steps to the tree, hand-in-hand, listening to the walking violin players, leading all our family and friends behind us. Whatever happened happened suddenly, and by the time we spread out our picnic blanket and poured the champagne, I didn’t even care when I spilled half a glass all over my chicken sandwich.

While at The BonBonerie I splurged (sorry, grand three-year savings plan) on these cookies for the kids.

After their dinner, and before we left for our picnic, we gave them the cookies. We told them why we were going out on a Thursday night, the reason we were celebrating. We told them we married because we wanted to be a family. And that we wanted them, someday, and now that we had them, how thankful we were.

Tonight, thinking and writing about all of this, I was reminded of an article written in Cincinnati Business Courier, about local engagements. I was interviewed for it. Where some other couples talked about getting engaged on a six-day backpacking trip through Glacier National Park or on a mountaintop in Bar Harbor, Maine, I talked about how Andy surprised me—during a picnic—at Mariemont’s Dale Park.

And thinking about that I thought about the wedding song we danced to, “Simple,” by k.d. lang.

And so it all came back, full circle.

“and love, as philosophy
is simple …
and ours …” —k.d. lang, David Samuel Piltch

Our 2,371-mile Summer Vacation

It’s snowing and almost Christmas so, basically, the perfect time to post about our summer vacation, no?

When we learned that Andy’s cousin, Julie, had gotten engaged, Andy and I talked about flying out, just the two of us, to attend her wedding. But then she sweetly asked Sophie to be a flower girl, and the boys to be ring bearers. (To illustrate how excited Sophie was with this request, let me just say that she practiced daily—and for months we had loose silk flowers all over our house.)

The rest is my fault.

I Google Mapped the drive from Fort Thomas to Dallas (where the wedding took place) and then decided I wanted to spend a day or two at the ocean (which is not at all on the way). And then I thought about how long it had been since we visited Andy’s sister, Liz, in Atlanta. So I tacked that on. I tried to add on a few days in New Orleans and Memphis, but Andy cut me off.

I’m pretty sure I packed all the kids’ clothes.

All of them.

First stop—Atlanta. We met Liz and Eric for pizza at Mellow Mushroom.

We had ice cream after. We let the kids share one bowl, picking whatever they wanted—which resulted in a chocolate-dipped waffle cone with orange ice cream topped with gummy bears. I said I was full.

The kids were thrilled with the hotel room. Considering most nights we have at least one-if-not-two kids in our queen-size bed with us we thought it would be no big deal to all pile in a king-size bed.

We were wrong.

Hotel cuteness.

After breakfast with Liz and Eric, we headed onto Pensacola, Florida. We stopped here for boiled peanuts. Turns out, I don’t like boiled peanuts. I do wish, though, I could capture everything about the man who sold them to us—he has been selling them on the side of the road for sixty-plus years, I think (June was a long time ago now). He and his stories were worth the stop.

Next stop: the ocean!

Turns out, Owen isn’t a fan of the beach. He is a fan of sitting in his beach chair eating fruit snacks all afternoon, however.

Later that day we discovered Quietwater Beach—which was basically a knee-deep, bathwater-temperature haven for the kids.

We wore them out that day.

And then promptly woke them up for a stop at Joe Patti‘s for fresh shrimp.

Andy made the most delicious shrimp scampi that night.

We spent the next day back at Quietwater Beach, this time walking the boardwalk and venturing out farther, which meant life vests.

We stopped for some homemade popsicles at a cute little place and then did one last walk on the beach.

Owen wasn’t a fan of the noise of the waves.

I loved that last walk.

This was our cute little cottage, which I found online.

There were two bedrooms—we packed bed rails, and this was how the kids slept.

Next we had two days of driving, first to Shreveport, Louisiana and then on to Dallas for the rehearsal dinner. We stopped at a high school for a picnic lunch.

We made it to Texas. I’m skipping so much. Details about how we didn’t eat any fast food, choosing instead picnic lunches or roadside diners (with some successes—who knew roadside Thai could be so delicious in Texas?—and some failures). Of will-they-ever-go-to-sleep-in-this-one-room-hotel bedtimes mishmashed with the late-night, slap-happy, all-five-of-us giggling I so very well remember from one-room-hotel vacations as a child. Of colossal van meltdowns. Of the most fantastic family bonding that only happens on trips like this. Of a thousand games of “I Spy.”

But I digress. The wedding was at The Cotton Mill in McKinney, Texas.

It was hot. And beautiful.

Here are the boys practicing pulling their wagon, which held the third ring bearer. I have to admit: When Julie told me her vision (that the boys would be pulling a wagon together, without an adult, down the aisle and that another living being would be in the wagon) I pretty much envisioned disaster. Turns out, I wasted a lot of time worrying. They were great.

Here’s Julie, the bride-to-be, showing the flower girls where to be.

Emmy and Sophie


waterfall watching

my groom

That night was Fourth of July. So after the lovely rehearsal dinner at The Pantry Restaurant, we surprised the kids with sparklers outside our motel room. This went splendidly—until Owen burned his thumb (great parenting, no?).

The next day was wedding day. Aunt Susan made all the bridesmaids and flower girls cute towel wraps to wear while getting ready. And Jill made necklaces for Julie and the entire wedding party.

There was a lot of waiting.

Check out Sophie’s hair—one of the bridesmaids did it! I struggle with putting her hair into a ponytail so I thought this was just amazing.

Julie gifted the flowers girls with pink shimmer dusting powder, which, as you can imagine, was a huge hit.

Here’s Andy fixing the bow ties on our two handsome little boys.

I took a quick picture of the empty reception hall.


pink bow-tied brothers (love)

a few more pictures of the grounds and decoration

This is Blair, Emmy’s mom—she made both of the flower girl dresses. Not only can I not do hair, but I also can’t sew. So again—I was in awe.

Sophie, who loves all poof, couldn’t have been happier.

And here she is putting on more shimmer dusting powder—on her feet.

the beautiful bride and her beautiful mom

Aunt Fran (the bride’s grandma) and Jill (Sophie’s grandma)

the boys, waiting

Ross, the groom, built the cross.

I was in charge of moving the wagon and getting the boys back to their seat after their walk down the aisle, so I don’t have any pictures of it (Andy was in line with Sophie). I’m pretty sure I had more butterflies than they did over this simple walk but again, they were great!

the ceremony

Sophie and so-chic Grandma

Next up—pictures! I didn’t realize they had intended for me to be in a huge extended family picture and I missed it. I’d like to say it was for good reason but honestly it was a combination of 90°+ temperatures and Spanx …

fancy dress, glass of wine and a diaper bag

first dance

Of course we had trains at the wedding.

The kids loved loved loved dancing. Blair found lacy rompers for the flower girls to wear under their dresses, which both Sophie and Emmy stripped down to as soon as the reception started.

The reception was great fun and it was so nice to catch up with and meet extended family and friends.

This is pretty much how we all felt once it was over.

The next day we went to Tracy and Jeff’s house (Julie’s parents) for a cookout and swimming before the happy couple left for their honeymoon.

It was a fun, exhausting, beautiful, hard, memorable, completely worth it trip. Thank you, Julie and Ross, for inviting our kids to be in your wedding—it’s something they still talk about, to this day.

I’m already beginning to talk about our 2014 summer vacation. Andy just keeps changing the subject.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” —Helen Keller

John & Corie’s Wedding

Earlier this summer we celebrated John and Corie’s wedding with many longtime friends. It was a wonderful evening. Congratulations!

“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.” —Martin Luther

Ashley & Mark’s Wedding



We finished our drive home from vacation on a Saturday and that night a sitter arrived at our house to watch the boys (yes, it was a bit crazy). We decided Sophie was old enough to stay up late for a wedding, and she was invited, and she loves to dance, so we got her all dressed up for Ashley and Mark’s beautiful reception at the Oscar Event Center (oh, how Jungle Jim’s has changed!).


Heather and Jimmy


Corie and John


the beautiful bride


Matt and Christi


Our dancing queen—she was shy at first, but late into the evening she taught all our friends “Daisy’s Dance” and everyone was doing it on the dance floor. “Jump forward. Jump backward. March, march, march. Clap, clap, clap. S.l.i.d.e to the one side. S.l.i.d.e to the other side.” Again and again and again.


Danielle and Corie


Joe, David and John


I think he’s convincing her to smile.


Dancing is hard work. Especially when it’s past your bedtime.

Congratulations, Ashley and Mark! We had a wonderful time at your reception.

“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company
than a good marriage.” —Martin Luther

Kristin and Tom’s Wedding










Early August we attended our good friends’ Kristin and Tom’s beautiful wedding ceremony at Ault Park. It was like something out of a movie—butterflies and finches fluttered about as two families joined, so honestly and openly proclaiming their love—and joy—for each other. A delicious meal at Cumin in Hyde Park followed—it was a most wonderful Saturday. Congrats, Kristin and Tom!

“This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.” —Rainer Maria Rilke