On January 17, 2000, my best friend Dianne and I volunteered to work at the Japanese fundraiser booth at a school event called Share Fair. That single decision set the course for the rest of my life and I will be forever grateful to her for roping me into joining her. 🙂
That evening we arrived at the booth early because we didn’t have anything better to do. That is where I met Greg. I knew who he was because Dianne was in Japanese class with him and she used to have a bit of a crush on him. We’d show up at these fundraisers together the year before to spy on him. Because that’s what 8th graders do. I also had piano lessons after his little sisters and was aware that he belonged to that family. So knowing that he was working the booth before us, we decided to go ahead and join him for the rest of his shift.
My memories of those first few hours together just make me laugh. First of all, I was a total giggly mess. And Greg was doing basically everything he could to brush me off. I remember a big argument because he insisted to me that his mom and sisters, who were across the cafeteria eating, were not actually his family. Even after they walked over to talk to him. I told him that I worked at Cousins and he went into a big thing about how Subway is the only sub place worth going to. We had nothing in common. He was a video game nerd who only wore Dragon Ball Z shirts and never had a girlfriend before. I was coming off a couple month span of being totally boy crazy, with different crushes every week. Oh, and I suppose I should mention that we were both 15. He was a sophomore and I was a freshman.
I also have some very sweet memories from that night. Mainly, Greg refused to leave when his shift was over and stuck around with us for ours. It had to mean something! He also spent a long time continuously retrieving a ball for a little boy who kept kicking it at us. I dubbed him Super Greg at that point, made a little cartoon character for him, and continued to call him SG for a very long time after that.
Somehow after that first night together I managed to get his email address or chat name. I started sending him messages online and also writing him notes when I found him in school. Looking back, I was basically stalking him and really quite bold! But my persistence wore him down and he eventually agreed to hang out with me again. The picture above is the first picture taken of us on February 4, 2000. We were going to hang out at a youth group type hangout place, but it ended up being closed. Instead we went with my family to my little brother’s elementary school dance, where we wandered the halls and laughed at the pictures on the walls. After the dance we went back to my house where I played piano and he sang along with the songs. It was sweet. 🙂
The next night, we went on our very first date to the Turnabout dance. It was quite the fiasco getting him to agree to go with me. But it happened!
And that was how our relationship began! We’ve always called January 17th the day we got together and continue to celebrate it every year. I don’t remember a whole lot of specifics from the early days, except that we spent as much time together as we could. I’m pretty sure we never so much as even had a lunch period together in high school, but we’d always be writing each other notes and talking in between classes. We spent a lot of time hanging out each others’ houses, went to every dance together, and sometimes spent time at parks, concerts, etc. On February 25th, we had our first kiss. On March 17th, I told him I loved him after watching him at his choir concert. We were basically inseparable from then on.
I can’t find a picture of our first anniversary together, though I do vaguely remember celebrating it by walking around a mall together. This was still before I had a digital camera, so two years of photos are packed away in a box somewhere. If they even exist. This is as close as I could find, from Greg’s junior prom in May 2001.
Our second anniversary in 2002. Greg was a senior and I was a junior.
Our third anniversary in 2003. This was a harder year because Greg was in college and I was still in high school. I know we spent as much time as we could together on weekends, but he wanted to experience the college life and we both had separate jobs we needed to be at.
Fourth anniversary in 2004. We were much happier here! 🙂 Greg was at UW Madison and I was at Edgewood. It was a lot easier to be together when we were living in the same city. I loved this new stage in our relationship where we were both adults and could start forming new traditions together. My favorites were our Thursday nights. We’d always go out to dinner at Chipotle or Buffalo Wild Wings and then attend Primetime, a Campus Crusade meeting. We were both always busy with college things, but Thursdays were a priority.
Our fifth and favorite anniversary, January 2005. Notice the ring? 🙂
At this point, we knew we wanted to be together forever, it was just a matter of feeling ready to move forward. We were 20, both still in school. I can’t remember what else we did on this anniversary date, but it ended with us sitting at our favorite spot, a fallen tree next to Lake Wingra. Greg got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was one of the best days of my life.
Our sixth anniversary, 2006. This was another kind of tricky year as we figured out when and how to make a wedding happen. Greg was going to graduate and had a job lined up in Minnesota. I had a year left at Edgewood. We didn’t want to put off getting married more than a year and a half after the engagement and we didn’t want to spend five months living apart from each other while I finished. In the end, I decided to transfer to Minneapolis College of Art and Design to finish my Graphic Design degree. I stopped at Edgewood six months before the wedding so I could work full time while Greg finished his final semester. In the end, I wasn’t able to go to MCAD because financial aid fell through. I have a lot of regrets about the decisions we made this year and sometimes wonder about how differently things could have been if I had just finished my degree when I was supposed to. But we were young and in love and NEEDED to be married!
Our 7th anniversary, 2007. We were married and living in Minnesota. Greg was working at Thomson West and I was working part time at Panera while finishing up a graphic design certificate at Sessions Online School of Design. Many people say the first year of marriage is the hardest, but I found it to be a whirlwind of fun and excitement. It was great for us to move away from everything we knew, so we could just focus on each other and our new lives together. We had so much fun exploring the Twin Cities. I think back on these early years of marriage as when we were most spontaneous and fun together. I kind of miss it!
Eighth anniversary, 2008, came with a surprise! Actually it was planned, but still very exciting!
This was another year of transition as we got ready to become parents. I was also finishing my bachelor’s degree online while working at a church as a Communications Specialist. 2008 was also the year we bought our first house. A lot of change and a lot of excitement!
Ninth anniversary, 2009. The year of new parenthood. Life with a baby who never slept and wanted to nurse 24/7. It was an adjustment, but it also brought us closer. We learned how to tackle parenting responsibilities as a team and deepened our relationship with each other.
Tenth anniversary in 2010. This is the year we became pregnant with Shepard and decided we wanted to move back to Wisconsin to be closer to family. It was the start of a very hard year of transition and adjustment as we dealt with a lot of issues trying to sell our house. But the struggle also brought us closer as we learned how to deal with things better together.
Our 11th anniversary, 2011. Just a month and a day before we welcomed Shepard into the world! Besides the chaos of living in a variety of places, dealing with a newborn who threw up five times a day in a house without a washing machine, I remember this as a pretty fun year. Shepard brought a lot of sunshine and happiness into our family. It’s also the year we eventually moved into our apartment after FINALLY selling our house. And the year Caden began his journey with speech therapy.
Our 12th anniversary, 2012. Life with two rambunctious little boys!
Our 13th anniversary, 2013. Another year filled with parenting and making the most of things.
Our 14th anniversary, 2014. These years have not been very exciting to our overall life story. But we were together!
Our 15th anniversary, 2015.
Our 16th anniversary, 2016. This was our first monumental year in awhile. We also celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this year. Our biggest event of the year was buying a new house. The crazy process of looking at houses daily, arguing and comparing all the pros and cons of each one, and finally falling in love with the same house for all the same reasons, was quite a journey. SO many ups and downs in like a three week span. But it brought us together and made us realize how align our priorities still are. Sometimes that’s easy to forget when we’re busy with kids and our own interests. When it comes to what really matters, however, we are still a team.
And that brings me to today – our 17th year of being together. We’ve been through a lot together and I’m sure we’ll go through much more. But we’re in it for the long haul and I can’t wait to see where life will take us in the next 17 years!
Happy anniversary, Super Greg!