I can hardly believe it’s been nearly six years since David, Juneau and I packed up all of our earthly belongings in my old Pontiac Grand Am and blindly drove to New Mexico. We had only known each other a year, but we were young, dumb, spontaneous and looking for an adventure.
Why New Mexico?
When I first met David, he told me right away that he was “moving away” the following summer. He had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and he was still figuring out what to do with his life. Turns out, David had dreams of becoming a MMA fighter. When I tell people this, they give me a strange grin – like you’d give someone if they told you they wanted to become a famous actor or singer. I still get this reaction to this day.
The thing about David’s dream was that it was never farfetched to him, and it was never farfetched to me. We still talk about what could have been. I still believe he could’ve been successful at being an MMA fighter, but we didn’t give it long enough to find out.
New Mexico is actually the spot to be if you’re training to become an MMA fighter. I honestly never thought about living out west. I always thought I’d end up in Nashville somehow. But love changes things and I put all my trust into David – lucky for me it worked out!
On top of all of that, we had the ability to be transient and be silly, irrational, young people. We had saved up enough money, I had a job that allowed me to work from anywhere, and we had each other. Looking back, we really didn’t think any of it through. We didn’t even have a place to live when we arrived in Albuquerque. We stayed in a hotel for three days before we found a place. But we finally found an apartment and settled in. I worked from home and David spent hours at the gym. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was all so worth it.
The Trip Without a Plan
We started outside of Charlottesville, Virginia and took 4 days to drive to Albuquerque. We stopped in Nashville, Little Rock, and Amarillo. Gosh, there are so many memories that we still laugh about today. Poor Juneau was such a champ throughout the entire trip, but finding pet friendly hotels was always a challenge. We were able to see so much of the country, experience crazy weather (we had to stop on the side of the road in Oklahoma because a tornado blew through.. not kidding), and really bond together as a couple. We had to work as a team to figure out our route, our plan, our finances, everything. It was as if we took our relationship to the next level just by deciding to embark on this journey together.
Of course, both sets of parents weren’t too keen on sending us out west without a plan. We were told we were crazy on multiple occasions, and we probably were. We had no idea what we were doing or what we were up against. As much as it was an adventure, it wasn’t without it’s hard times. I became homesick and eventually we decided to leave New Mexico because of it.
The Lessons Learned
If we were to move out west now, things would be so incredibly different than it was back then. Some time in between I became more high maintenance, more easily stressed about the logistics of things, and I would try to plan everything to a tee. I’m so glad I wasn’t like that when we actually took the trip. The unknown was the best part of all of it. I think every couple should go on a trip without a plan at least once in their lifetime. We learned about each other, about managing money, about traveling in general, and about what we really value in life – experiences trump everything.
Even now, 3 states, a wedding and a baby later we still reminisce about our trip out west. The foundation of our relationship is built on the way to New Mexico. Some people look back and wish they had traveled when they were younger. We never have to think that way. We did it! We were young, dumb, spontaneous and adventurous!
Today’s post brought to you by adorable photos of Finn and David sharing an apple. Well, in reality, Finn stole David’s apple and decided it was his. It’s actually quite hilarious – Finn hears someone biting into an apple and searches until he finds it. Once he finds it, he will throw a fit until he has it in his hands. We are in for it with this kid! I love these photos of ‘daddy and me!’
Anyways, I realized I post a lot of photos of Finn, and a lot of photos of me and Finn, but rarely any of David! These two have an unspeakable bond and I’m so in love with both of them!
I asked David to help me with today’s blog. With it being Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to give a little insight to our love story. (Also, gotta give credit where it’s due. I totally got this idea from one of my fave bloggers at The Golden Girl Blog, check her out!) Enjoy!
Erica on how we met:
I had just moved to Virginia to work for my uncle’s business. I worked from home, so he suggested that I find a waitressing job so I could meet people. I had never waitressed before in my life! But I found a restaurant that was willing to take a chance on me. I went into work the first day and the restaurant lost power! I was sent home and they never called me back for a second shift. So random… I was discouraged, but I found another posting for a new pizza place that was opening up. I got the job and started training soon afterwards. Looking back now, that storm was indeed the universe’s way of placing me and David together.
I noticed there were two guys that looked to be about my age. One of the guys was David. He was distant for a while, but his smile was contagious. I remember thinking he was so attractive, but not my typical “type”. A few months in, I visited the restaurant after my day job. I had previously looked at the schedule to see when David was working. I remember it was a Wednesday night. I sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine. My manager told me she would give me the wine for free if I helped fold pizza boxed. Well, I ended up folding quite a few boxes, and had a little too much wine 🙂
I totally showed my cards that night and flirted with David so hardcore. I told him that we should hang out. He gave me his phone, and I entered my number. As I was leaving I asked a few more times if he was going to call. He said something to the effect of, “if you ask again, I won’t.” Such a David statement 🙂 He called the next day!
David on how we met:
I met Erica soon after I left the Marine Corps while we were both starting up a new restaurant in town. I remember the training and noticing her. We became friends shortly after we started working together. I always thought she was funny and attractive and planned on asking her to go out sometime, but what actually happened is something I never would have imagined! One evening while I was working, Erica came in to have dinner and had a few glasses of wine. Before she left she asked me if I wanted to go out on a date and I obviously said yes!
Erica on dating:
David and I moved in rather quickly now that I look back on it. However, I love thinking about this time in our lives because we were so carefree and spontaneous. We got serious fairly quick, and a year later, we were traveling the country. We lived in New Mexico, North Carolina, New York and Indiana in the four years we dated. We also adopted Juneau, our first baby, who completed our little trio.
Our journey took us many places, but it was in Indy that I realized we would be together forever.
David on dating:
Dating started out pretty normally – going to dinner and a movie here and there. We spent New Years together in DC about 4 months in. Then things took off and the next thing you know it, I had bought her a puppy (Juneau) and we were moving in together. Yes, it was fast but, man did it work out! Then we made a huge decision to road trip out west and move to New Mexico. We spent the next few years moving from state to state, both of us taking on new adventures and sharing the experience the whole way. You can say our relationship moved fast but it was through all of that that I found the amazing woman that I am lucky enough to call my wife!
Erica on getting engaged:
I had finally landed my career job and we had settled into our home in Virginia. We had been together four years, but the timing never felt right. A year earlier, David and I visited a jewelry store while we still lived in Indy. The first ring I tried on I fell in love with. I didn’t know it at the time, but David had put the ring on hold and was waiting for the right time to pop the question. The day he proposed, the ring had arrived at our house! He told me later that he had plans to make it a huge event with my family, but once the ring arrived he got so nervous he just fell to the floor and asked! It was so sweet 🙂
I will never forget that afternoon. It was a Wednesday evening. He picked me up from work and on the way home he was acting so strange. As we pulled into the driveway, he muttered the time ‘5:17’. We walked up the stairs and he let me go in first. This was such a tell, now that I think about it – David always walks in first ‘just in case.’ I put down my bags, turned around to pet Juneau who was jumping on me, and David was on his knee! I basically shoved the ring on my finger. Over the previous four years there had been so many disappointments, so many wrong moves, so many decisions we had to make based on our gut. In this moment, everything felt exactly how it was supposed to.
David on getting engaged:
So, the engagement was not quite what I was planning on but it still got the same result, haha! The ring I got her has a whole different story of its own, but let me tell you, when I got it, it was burning a hole in my pocket. I got it the week before Erica’s family was coming to town for a skiing trip and I was going to propose then with all of her family around. The problem was, the night that I received the ring I just couldn’t wait. I don’t know if it was nerves or excitement but it was happening and it was happening that night. We were coming home from work and walking in to the apartment when right there in the kitchen I turned her around and asked her the most important question of my life – and she said yes! We both laugh now because I had given my best friend a lot of grief about how he proposed to his wife in the hallway of their house and, damn, if I didn’t do the same thing!
Erica on how she felt on our wedding day:
Excited! Our wedding day was exactly how I had always envisioned it. It was so magical having all of the most important people in our lives come together in the yard I had grown up in. I’ll never forget seeing David’s face as I walked down the aisle. He looked so handsome and so proud. I stared at him so much that day. There was a shift in our lives – before July 11, everything was so uncertain. After that day, everything has felt right.
David on how he felt on our wedding day:
I can honestly say that on my wedding day I felt very normal and excited the whole time until we lined up and waited for Erica to come down the aisle. All of a sudden I became overwhelmed with emotion when I saw her – excitement, nerves, happiness and thinking “My God she looks amazing!! The reception was the best time that I have ever had! All of our friends and family in one place! Everyone having a great time listening to music, eating good food, and having some drinks. By far one of the best days of my life, and I’m not just ‘being cheesy’, as Erica would say.
Erica on finding out she was pregnant:
Looking back at it, I think I knew I was pregnant long before I actually found out. I remember doing some community service for work about a week prior to taking the test. I came home feeling exhausted and super dizzy. I thought it was from all the paint fumes! I was in such denial.
David went away on a fishing trip for the weekend and had no cell service. I was about 10 days late at that point. I had to work that Saturday and film a big project, so my mind was on that. The next morning I got a text from David asking if I was still late. I told him yes and he came home that afternoon with four pregnancy tests.
I remember the face he made when the first one was positive. I remember feeling excited and absolutely terrified. I remember crying and thinking about being a mom. I remember feeling sad that it would no longer be David, Juneau and me, but so anxious to see what our baby looked like and which one of us he would take after.
David tends to let his emotions well up quickly, and then after thinking on them for a minute, he becomes pretty rational. I’m the opposite. I tend to think on things for some time, and then let it all overwhelm me. We never complemented each other more than in the hours after finding out we were pregnant. I had to do the initial talking down and then, for the following 20 weeks, it was on David to talk me down! And that’s exactly why we work 🙂
David on finding out Erica was pregnant:
When we found out Erica was pregnant I was excited, while still also thinking “are we really having a baby or is this still a dream?” I was coming home from a fishing trip with a buddy and got the call from Erica telling me she was however many weeks late and thinks she’s pregnant. I remember telling her “well if you are we need to know!’ So I got some pregnancy tests home – four tests! – because one would never have been enough! We took all four! There was the whole ‘I’m not ready’ and happiness all within five minutes of each other. But, man, it has been the best thing that has ever happen to me. I love Finn more than I knew I ever could!
Erica on parenting with David:
I have seen tremendous growth from David since meeting him. In the first four years of our relationship, he changed from a young boy who just left the military with no idea what he wanted out of life into a man with a path and the determination to follow it. However, I have never seen someone transform so quickly as I have watching David become a father.
Finn is absolutely the apple of David’s eye. The way he chats with him when he thinks I’m not listening. The way he talks about the future and what he wants for Finn. The way he takes on responsibilities – even the tough ones like bedtime or changing a poop-y diaper. David is the best Dad in the entire world. He has made me fall in love with him all over again.
David on parenting with Erica:
Parenting together has been just like any other adventure we have taken on together, but much more rewarding than all others combined. Wehave the days when everything is easy and we just take in all the happiness with Finn. Then there are the days when Erica is yelling, Finn is yelling – and even Juneau! – those are the days when you just have to laugh and come together to make it all work! Watching Erica as a mother has been amazing and I enjoy every minute of it. Her and Finn laughing together is the sweetest and funniest thing a man can watch, and I get to enjoy that all of the time!
When it comes to me, Finn has taught me patience, which is something I previously had very little of at times. It has been challenging but also very rewarding and fun. Most days I cannot wait to pick Finn up from daycare and get him home to spend the two hours we have with him before he goes to bed. In the end, parenting has its ups and downs just like anything else and its no walk in the park, but just like anything else in life that worth anything, it wouldn’t be so rewarding if it was easy, at least that’s what I tell myself some days! Haha!
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, David and I thought it would be fun to find out what our love languages are. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Gary Chapman wrote a book about the five love languages that couples communicate with. Each result gives some insight on how you give love to others and how you would like to receive love in return. The results are:
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
At first, we thought it would just be fun to find out our love language, but it led to a longer conversation about why we may feel that way and what the other can do differently to enhance how we communicate. I was surprised to find out that David and I both scored high in Words of Affirmation and scored low in Receiving gifts. We are very different in how we express emotions, but in reality that played a small role in how we accept love.
My top result was in Acts of Service which I totally understand. It’s such an adult way to show love, but when David helps with housework and cooking, it means more to me than anything. To me it just says “I know you’ve had a stressful day, so here, let me take this off your list of things to do!”
If there is any indication that I have a two month old and am officially back to work, it’s that I’m blogging about our first anniversary nearly a month late! We are maybe finally getting into a routine, but that doesn’t mean that things aren’t as crazy as ever! In fact, when we got back from Colorado, we didn’t even realize our anniversary was just a few days later. Thank goodness for nearby grandparents who are always willing to take Finn!
In any case, our first year of marriage was incredibly crazy. Getting pregnant was not in the plans, but it was a true blessing. However, we did quite a bit other than have a child! Our marriage began with a relaxing and spontaneous roadtrip that we called our “mini-moon”. David and I spent five days exploring New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. I went fly fishing for the first time in Lake Placid and we were able to check a few states off our “traveled to” list.
We celebrated friends’ weddings with them, we took an amazing trip to Belize, we spent time in New York with family, David got a new job and wrapped up another year of school (almost done!). We made new friends, celebrated other’s pregnancies, welcomed a niece to the world, traveled to Colorado, and welcomed our little Finn man.
I can’t say marriage changed much for us since we had been together for a while prior, but it did solidify our family. I can’t wait to see what year two brings for us. A new house! A first birthday party! New Christmas traditions! More snuggles with Juneau! And lots and lots of love and laughter.
We joke that we kind of let life happen to us, rather than planning for life, but that’s just who we are. At the end of the day, good or bad, I’m so blessed to have David as my husband. And like we always say, even in the hardest times, we always make it work!