My Hubby, a Champion for Undercats

I like to refer to our neighborhood as a cat sanctuary because on any given day and at any given time, you’ll find two to three cats roaming around. There’s usually one sleeping on a fence and another lying on the grassy area in front of a row of houses. In total, there are about a dozen cats of various shades of gray or orange who live here. Amazingly, the munchkins have named each and every one of them and can tell them apart.

One particular cat has become “our” cat. Munchkin #2 started out by calling her Tin Can for her gray coat. The name eventually morphed to Tinny, then Dinny (don’t ask me why! lol), and now we call her Din for short. 🙂

Din is a sweet, timid cat who loves to go on walks with our family. It’s not unusual to see her running toward us from across the court as soon as we step out of our house. She’ll come up and walk in between our legs, all the while giving us gentle nudges with her head. Then she’ll follow behind us as we stroll around the neighborhood. (Funny story: One time a police car stopped hubby while he and Din were walking, and the cop asked if he had a leash for his dog. It took the cop a second before he realized Din was a cat!)

Here’s Din following hubby and the munchkins around the neighborhood!

One particular day, we decided to venture beyond our neighborhood and out onto the main road. To our surprise, Din followed us! She’d never gone so far from home before, but there she was, dodging in and out of the bushes and doing her best to move her furry little paws to keep up. She made it all the way to the end of the street, about half a mile from home, before the wall of an apartment complex stopped her. Hubby tried to help Din find a way around so she could continue following us, but she chose to stay put. At that point we assumed she’d head back home, so we called out our goodbyes and told her we’d see her later.

We eventually made our way back home and had dinner. After we finished eating, hubby announced he was going to go on another walk and asked if anyone wanted to join him. Both munchkins firmly replied, “No!” because they’d had enough exercise for the day (and maybe the week, haha), so hubby went on his own. About ten minutes later he returned with some surprising news. It turned out Din had been sitting in the same place we’d left her! She hadn’t known how to return home and had been waiting for us for hours. Hours! 🙁

Hubby felt bad, I felt bad, and both munchkins felt so bad that we’d pretty much abandoned poor Dinny. But as bad as I felt, I was also so, so thankful that hubby had gone out to look for her. It shouldn’t have surprised me that he did because that’s just the kind of guy he is. Protective, caring, and a champion for underdogs, or in this case, undercats. 😉

He was once the spirited kid who stood up for other kids who couldn’t stand up for themselves. He was the charming twenty-five year old guy who took his time getting to know a shy young woman who fell head-over-heels for him. He is the devoted father who never fails to tell his kids “I love you” every day and shows his love through the sacrifices he makes for his family. And he will be my husband of 18 years(!) this Sunday, the man who has taught me how to live, love, and laugh more fully and joyfully than I ever thought possible.

After hubby rescued Din, I turned to Munchkin #2 and gave her my best dating advice. I told her, “Make sure you marry someone like Dad. Someone who will go look for a lost cat and lead her home.”

I’m so glad I did. 🙂

Happy 18 years to us! Here are some pictures from our engagement photo shoot from 19 years ago. I’m so glad we took them because we haven’t looked like this in a long, long time! 😉

Celebrating Our Sweet 16 (Years of Marriage)

Hubby and I will be celebrating 16 years of marriage tomorrow. Yup, we chose May 5th so it’d be an easy date for him to remember. 😉 (Fun fact: He has trouble remembering his own parents’ birthdays.) As we approach our sweet 16, the one emotion I feel is that of gratitude. I am so thankful because I know I married the right person.

Recently, hubby came back from work to have lunch with me. After our meal, we decided to go to Peet’s (coffee for him, tea for me), and on our way there we saw a man sitting outside on a bench. He held up a handwritten note on a piece of torn cardboard, asking for help. Hubby and I exchanged a quick glance as we passed him. Inside the cafe we placed our order and he went to the restroom. While I waited for him, I took my wallet out of my purse and checked if I had any cash. I rarely do, but that day I found a few bills and placed them in my pocket. I then picked up our order and met hubby as he came out of the restroom. I watched as he also pulled out his wallet to look for cash, and that’s when I knew … I had married the right guy.

“I already got some money—”

“You did?” he responded in surprise. He paused his search and took the cash I handed him. “Oh, good.”

We left Peet’s and handed the money to the man outside.

I don’t tell this story to brag about our “good deed”, but I do want to brag about my hubby. 🙂 In the time I’ve known him, I’ve learned that he is a generous person with a soft spot for people who would be considered underdogs. He is generous with his money (guess who’s the saver in the family?), but it’s because he understands that money is a tool which can be used for good. Even though he can never wait to get the latest and greatest gadgets, he is patient where it counts the most: with people. He makes time for the munchkins and showers them with daily “I love you’s” and kisses (in private of course, never at school!) and also forgives quickly. I still remember the time munchkin #1 accidentally dropped his precious Nikon SLR camera on the floor. He winced for a split second, but his love for his kids soon replaced any other emotions he could have had in that moment. As a husband, he has been my biggest fan from day one. He walked by my side as I finished grad school, let me squeeze his arm during labor contractions, and supports me daily as a stay-at-home mom. Even though he has yet to read any of my books (he doesn’t like to read, haha!), he encourages me to write and proudly tells his coworkers that his wife is an author.

Hubby is the more generous, gracious and giving spouse in our marriage, and quite honestly, my better half. And because of who he is and his care for our family, I have learned to be more generous, gracious and giving. The reason I wanted to give money to that man outside of Peet’s was because I’ve seen hubby do the same time and time again. The fact that we both opened up our wallets that day showed me that the past 16 years of our marriage have molded and shaped us. We started out as two very different individuals, and while we still are opposites in many ways, we have also influenced one another for the better. Our viewpoints and interests are more aligned. We see eye-to-eye on the bigger issues in life and let the minor ones fall to the side. Rather than a state of coexistence, our relationship has become one of communication, cooperation and companionship. And would you believe it, our marriage has also become more fun. 🙂

If you’d asked me early on in our marriage whether or not I’d married the right person, I don’t think I would have been able to answer with a firm yes. But now? I’m certain I married the right man. Because this man makes me want to be a better woman.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the Lord and our family and friends for supporting us through our marriage! And our munchkins for bringing so much joy (and white hair) to our lives. Happy anniversary, Honey! I love you. 😀

Celebrating 15 Years of Marriage!

I was driving with a girlfriend a while back and she was kindly holding my phone up so I could hear the directions from the GPS. Midway through our route, my phone beeped to signal that an incoming text had been received. A preview of the text then popped up at the top of the screen, causing my friend to gasp in surprise.

“Is it your anniversary?!” she exclaimed.

“Huh?”

“D just texted that he misses you!”

She held up the phone for me to see and, sure enough, there was a short text from my Honey (that’s actually the name I have for him in my phone, LOL) that read “Miss you!” with a couple of kissy face emoticons next to it.

Hehehe. 🙂

Nope, it wasn’t our anniversary that day, but it is TODAY! And I am soooo thankful to be celebrating 15 years with hubby today!

I almost feel like we should receive an award of some kind for all our effort (’cause according to hubby, 15 years of marriage has felt like a loooong time, haha), but the best reward we have is the blessing of waking up and being able to “do life” together these past 5,475 days. And looking back, I know we couldn’t have gotten here without the help and support of:

Our friends, especially in the early years when we were navigating through the ups and downs of a new relationship.

Our Pastor P. and his wife, M., who counseled us in the early stages and helped us tie the knot.

Our families, who have been especially helpful in offering to babysit the munchkins so we can go on dates and have grown-up time.

Our kids, who always seem to squirm in between us when we’re sitting next to each other on the couch, but who unite us as partners in parenting.

Our favorite TV shows (hello, Lost and Fringe fans!) that gave us something to do and talk about when we were up to our ears in diapers and tantrums.

Our cell phones that make it possible for us to communicate throughout the day and send one another mushy texts like the one referenced above. 😉

Our church, for reminding us of what’s important in life and providing lots of material for deep discussions.

And most of all, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who brought us together in the first place and has been growing us into better people and better spouses. Because of Him, we have reason to die to ourselves in order to mature in love.

It’s been a fun and wild ride and there’s no other person I’d want to take this journey with. Happy 15 years, Honey! 😀

engagement

This song, “Thank You”, by Jason Chen perfectly sums up how I feel today.

Who do you want to say thank you to for supporting you in your life?

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo… margaritas!

That’s probably what most people think of in relation to the 5th of May. For me, however, I think of a white gown, spring allergies and 90 degree weather with no A/C!

Cinco de Mayo is my and hubby’s wedding anniversary and this year we celebrated eleven years. Yes, eleven years.  That seems like a very long time, long enough where I no longer just think about growing old with hubby, I am growing old with him.  Sure, time flies when you’re having fun, but marriage, unfortunately, isn’t all fun and games.  Having a happy, fulfilling relationship takes a lot of work. I repeat, a lot of work.

As an almost only child (aka. someone who is selfish and used to getting my way) and non-communicator (verbally that is!), I’ve had to learn some tough lessons about a marriage relationship. Here are 3 of those lessons that have helped me tremendously in becoming a better (though not perfect!) and happier life partner.

1. Be positive. There was a time right after the honeymoon period ended when I started working on my math skills. More specifically, I got really good at keeping score.  I would have conversations like this in my head:

50 points for me for doing the dishes
100 points for me for cooking
50 points for me for doing laundry
– 30 points for hubby for not taking out the garbage
– 20 points for hubby’s “lost socks”

I may have gotten really good at addition and subtraction, but keeping track of all the things hubby wasn’t doing right (in my perspective) turned me into an unhappy, critical person.  I lost sight (and track) of all the things he was doing well, like surprising me with a milk tea at work or taking the time to listen to me vent about my job.

So I did the “Men in Black” trick – I tried to erase my (negative) thoughts and memories about hubby and focus on the good ones.  I didn’t have a fancy neuralyzer to help me do this, but just relied on good old fashioned technology, namely an attitude adjustment.  It’s amazing how having a positive outlook of hubby helps me to be a happier spouse, too.  🙂

2. Never assume.  You know how there are some people who speak their minds all the time so you know exactly what they are thinking about?  Well, unfortunately I’m not one of those people.  I’m all for the idea that silence speaks louder than words.  🙂  So, in the early years of our marriage, I admit I subjected hubby to many experiments to see whether or not he was a mind reader.

It took me a while to realize that I should never assume hubby would know when I was upset about something or, even more importantly, why I was upset.  How could he know I’d been waiting two days for him to take the garbage out if I didn’t let him know?  Sure, I could hope he would see the garbage piling up and the flies buzzing around it (I’m kidding!), but it would be a lot easier to just bring it up.  Expecting hubby to know exactly what I am thinking about without telling him is like having a body full of hives and not wanting to do anything about the intense itching – it’s unrealistic and frustrating!

As I began to open up and speak up (and stop relying on my Jedi mind tricks), communication became a lot easier and simpler for both hubby and me.  Once again, learning this lesson made me a happier person to live with.

3. Row together.  On our honeymoon in Kauai, we spent a morning learning about kayaking and marriage from a tour guide.  He told us that tandem kayaking is a great way of seeing how well couples, especially newlyweds, work together.  He couldn’t have been more right!

Image courtesy of wiangya/freedigitalphotos.net

I learned on that day, and the 4,015 days that followed(!), that rowing together takes lots of humility and patience – humility to listen and take directions from each other and patience to keep rowing until you get the right rhythm.  Marriage is like kayaking; it’s all about cooperation, doing what’s best for the team and making sure you have your partner’s back.

The hardest lesson I’ve had to swallow is that all is not fair in love and war.  There are times when one person needs to do more than 50% (or whatever they think is their share in the relationship).  If one person can’t row for a while, the other teammate will need to do more to keep the kayak going.  It won’t be fun or easy, but this is definitely the “for better and for worse” part of love.

Hubby and I took turns “rowing more” so we could both finish our degrees.  He took on all the financial burdens of our family when I quit working full-time to go to school.  Later on, I took on much of the responsibilities at home (with a toddler and newborn) when he took night classes.  There were some crazy days (and I’m so glad I had family around to help), but we did our best to support each other.  We really made it a joint effort of earning those diplomas!  Now, if only I could claim his degree on my resume.  😛

In reality, I guess eleven years isn’t that long of a time period.  It’s barely like a teenager in terms of people years (it’s a completely different story though in dog years!).  I’m sure there is still much to learn about marriage.  So, I’ll just keep on rowing with hubby and see what the next eleven years (and more) may bring.

Here’s Colbie Caillat’s song for the one I said, “I Do” to on Cinco de Mayo… 🙂

What lessons have you learned about marriage (either your own or someone else’s)?