By the time we got married, we had already known each other for more than 6 1/2 years. That's a total (at the time of this anniversary) of knowing each other 17 1/2 years. What is significant about that you may ask? Well, we officially have passed the point in our lives where we have both lived more years knowing one another than we lived before we met. Am I making sense? We have known one another longer than we haven't. Anyway! When we say that it's hard to remember not having one another in our lives, perhaps that makes sense now.
We had some very "interesting" ups and downs over our years of dating (and the keeping in touch between our periods of dating) - including time where we kept in touch from different sides of the world. We encouraged each other to follow our hearts and do things important to us, even when it meant sacrifice on our part. For example, me leaving for 18 months on a mission was difficult for both of us, but Mark was super supportive and I will forever appreciate that.
As for during our 11 years of marriage:
- We have enjoyed traveling to places around our country, as well as to other countries and cultures together.
- We endured unknowns with schooling/training together (applying to med schools, externships, residency and not knowing where they would take us).
- We have moved 9 times (13 if you count externships in different states during last year of med school).
- We had our apartment robbed.
- Mark got through ACL replacement surgery.
- We had our car vandalized.
- I spent 3 weeks volunteering with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina.
- We endured the heartache of infertility (and its accompanying years of diagnostics, surgery, medications, and failed procedures).
- We escaped safely as our apartment building burned down.
- We took a trip to Chicago where I won a ton of sweet stuff on the Oprah show.
- We supported each other through the second half of undergraduate work, 4 years of medical school, 3 years of residency...and all the late nights, missed time together, studying for boards, and crazy stress that accompanied it!
- I was blessed with a full recovery after a severe (and excruciatingly painful) grease-fire burn on my hand/arm.
- We supported each other through the roller coaster of the adoption process including...communication and near-matches with several birthmothers, a birthmother changing her mind on placing her daughter with us, and 6 long days of wondering if we were going to lose our sweet Noah (after he was born) before the complete joy of becoming parent was realized with the miracle of him joining our family after all.
- We had our car stolen and dumped in a river.
- I comforted Lincoln as Mark gave him stitches after a bad fall.
- We were blessed to experience pregnancy and bringing a child into the world after 2 separate successful rounds of in vitro fertilization (and it's associated daily injections, complications, sickness, and 2 c-section recoveries).
- We finally graduated from being renters and bought a home - back near family!
- We experienced the sleep deprivation that comes with a colicky baby.
- We have watched our boys begin sports, learn to swim, and develop interests and talents they love.
- Mark has been blessed with a career that he enjoys and excels at.
- We know how to push each other's buttons, finish each other's thoughts, and cheer one another up.
So, here's to eleven years...and a zillion more to come!
And now to tell about how we celebrated our 11th anniversary. I surprised Mark with an overnight getaway! The weekend before our anniversary I told Mark that we were going out one evening to celebrate and that my mom was babysitting. That was true, but I also had overnight bags packed and reservations at a hotel (and fun planned for the next day too)! So, we left to go out to eat, but I drove us to our hotel where we checked in and then tried out being spontaneous (which is not my strongest suit - I'm a serious planner, and that's only been amplified since having kids).
We ended up grabbing a tasty meal at Siegfried's and then walking to a nearby theater for a movie. It was a lot of fun even just walking and running down the street together - with no stroller or diaper bag. Don't get me wrong...I love my life with kids and love being a mom, but being out with just my husband and being spontaneous reminded me of what things were like when it was just the two of us.
A picture of Mark and me before leaving Hotel Monaco...
For breakfast we enjoyed pastries at our favorite bakery Les Madelaines. Mmmm...
Their Kouing Aman is to.die.for!
Then it was off to Park City where we visited the Olympic Park! First we took the chair lift up, in order to take the zip line down! This shot was taken from the chair lift of the smaller ropes course (we did the larger one later that day), with the K120 ski jump in the foreground.
The Extreme Zipline (the steepest zipline in the world)!
And a video clip of Mark on the alpine slide:
Mark and me before beginning the ropes course. We opted to do the high (more advanced) course, and I was really excited! It wasn't until I had to take my first step off the podium that I got super nervous.
Here are a few pictures of Mark and myself from the beginning of the ropes course...
Mark giving things a go...
Now, I can't resist the comparison here...the ropes course to our life together. I know it's a bit cheesy, but I can't help myself. So, I'll describe it as it was on the course and you can draw out the similarities:
At first we were full of energy and giddy to begin the course. Once we took our first step off the platform we realized that the course was actually much more challenging than we had anticipated. Some areas, including difficult transition spots, were almost overwhelmingly difficult...and at other areas I found myself pleasantly surprised with my capabilities.
The course was exciting, and the encouragement from one another helped a lot. It was also invaluable to know that we had a support system of rope and harness (representing our families/friends/faith) holding us up. Slowly, we completed section after section of the course. Each section was different, and each challenging in its own way. Between each section we had a few moments to enjoy the security of standing on the stable platform before moving on to the next section.
Then, as we were just over half way through the course a huge storm blew in. The rain was pouring down on us, it was windy, and there was lightning. The course became very slippery. Our hands got cold and it was harder to maintain our grip (as well as concentration) on the course. Even if we had thoughts of turning back at this point it wasn't an option, and it was actually important that we proceeded quickly to get off the course due to the lightning.
If I was nervous before, at this point I actually became scared. At one point I had to stand still and close my eyes to gather my wits. Mark was ahead of me calling out encouraging words and prodding me to continue. We were the only people on the course at this point, so the workers were calling out tips and encouraging words occasionally too. I became ultra-focused and was able to set aside the fear that had gripped me. I quickly completed the last few sections of the course. I felt such a sense of relief upon completing the course, and it felt so good to have my feet on solid ground and to feel the familiar grasp of Mark's hand.
Then together we enjoyed the distinct satisfaction of a shared accomplishment.
So, some of the correlations were obvious (or spelled out) and some weren't, but I felt like that journey was a pretty good comparison of how we've weathered life together. The course was pretty crazy, and we enjoyed talking about it the rest of the drive home after that. A perfect end to our whirlwind anniversary getaway! I love you, Mark.