i have a seven year itch

Last week, my husband Jon and I celebrated 7 years of marriage, and in June, we marked 10 years of togetherness.

Everyone jokes about the 7 Year Itch. But I have it, y’all.


Except…it’s on my finger.

First photo with my ring after we got engaged in 2006.

First photo with my ring after we got engaged in 2006.

You see, somewhere in the last year, I developed an allergy* to my white gold wedding rings. Sure, some skeevy dudes may say they’re “allergic” to their rings, when really they’re not wearing them so they can mac on chicks, but this is no lie. Wearing my rings has started to cause my finger to immediately break out into a red, bumpy, itchy rash. I figured out it was the gold because my silver stacking rings, a Valentine’s gift that I wear on my right hand, don’t cause the same problem.

“I’m allergic to my wedding rings,” I announced to my doctor hubby one day, showing him the rash. He asked if I meant symbolically or literally, but thank goodness, the only itch I’ve got is the one on my finger. I’m not itching to get out of our relationship or marriage at all.

And my best friend and hubby was handy in diagnosing my problem too. It turns out it’s fairly common for people to develop allergies to the nickel used as an alloy with the gold to make it strong enough to stand up to the wear and tear it gets as jewelry. But he’s seen enough nickel allergies to know I don’t have it, since nickel is also commonly used in the hardware on things like jeans, and I don’t develop a similar rash to the rivet on the waistband of my blue jeans. Also, the gold posts on my pearl earrings have started irritating my ears, too. So, I am forced to conclude, I’m having an issue with gold, not nickel.

I’ve taken to wearing one of my silver stacking bands on my left hand as a placeholder, but I’d really like to get back to wearing my rings again. I hear a temporary solution is to coat the ring in clear nail polish, and a permanent one is to get it plated with rhodium.

As for seven years, I’m happy to celebrate how far we’ve come. Becoming parents has truly been the hardest thing our partnership has endured, far more stressful than moving cross country, grief, and trauma. Still, there’s no one else I’d rather be raising my family and living alongside.


We celebrated lucky number seven with a little road trip to Texas, spending a night in a bed and breakfast in Dallas, checking out the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the Dallas Museum of Art, and then continuing to Austin for LOTS of tacos, a visit to the LBJ library (thankfully for me, my husband indulges my political geekery), visiting with friends, seeing the bats, and eating some BBQ. It was a lovely getaway, and we’re super thankful that family took care of our kids and pets so we could get that time together.


We stayed at the lovely Corinthian Bed and Breakfast in Dallas.


Beautiful glass work by Dale Chihuly at the DMA.


Visiting the LBJ library on the UT campus. He passed such an amazing amount of progressive policy!


Pretty sure Jon wanted to keep the Jeep we rented for the trip.


Stopped by Wendy Davis’ office, and even though she wasn’t in, some of her staff let me take a picture in her office. Big fan!

*Allergies can develop at any time, even after years of exposure without event to the allergen. This is why when people tell me they “aren’t allergic” to something like poison ivy, I always tell them, just wait! With enough exposures, you’ll eventually trigger a reaction!

testing our patience

If you asked pretty much anyone who knows me, they will confirm that I am generally not a patient person. I always thought that it was a good thing that I married Jon, because he brought a calm, steady patience to the table, mediating my fly-off-the-handle tendencies to balance me out a bit. While pregnant, I was sure our children would like him better, because he’d be the endlessly patient one, and I’d be the frustrated, snippy one. It’s also a fact that I generally fall apart and begin to freak the eff out when sleep deprived, with deprivation meaning anything less than 8 consecutive, unbroken hours of sleep, possibly less than 10. (Seriously, ask Jon sometime about that incident where I *sobbed* on a red eye flight.)

But, as Jon noted during an epic Etta screamfest yesterday: maybe it’s maternal instinct or something, but somehow I’m the one with more patience with the babies. Now, I am generally opposed to making biological generalizations about things like “maternal instinct” and other forms of gender essentialism, so I have another explanation, one I offered to him: it’s just that, if I freaked out over all of this, I would literally be freaking out every day for the rest of my life. Being patient is just a self-preservation technique for living with two tiny humans who occasionally like to SCREAM THEIR EVERLOVING FACES OFF FOR SEEMINGLY NO REASON.With whom I am often left all alone.

That’s not to say I don’t sometimes *feel* like freaking the freak out. This newfound patience is not without limits. Heck, there was even that one afternoon where I handed screaming Etta to Jon and literally flopped on the floor toddler-tantrum style, in a silent flail that expressed all the frustration and exhaustion I felt. There have been evenings where I swear, if I have to do one more baby-related thing, I will just lose my shiz, so I have to sit and drink wine and read fashion blogs for 30 minutes while he handles the babies, no, do not even ask me to draw up a syringe full of one of their myriad medicines. I have a feeling these moments will keep occurring.

In the meantime, it’s been a strange world to be the patient one. I basically don’t even know how to deal with Jon being frustrated and impatient, because it’s such a complete role-reversal. Not that he (or anyone else in a similar situation) isn’t totally justified in his frustration, but he’s usually the rock and I’m usually the tornado, and we whirlwinds don’t much know what to do when our rocks go flying around. Not that he’s really flying off the handle. My husband is so naturally even-keeled that his impatience and frustration looks like anyone else’s level-headedness, but still, I find myself getting frustrated with his frustration, as if I’m saying in my head, “BUT YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO FREAK OUT! YOU HAVE TO BE THE CALM ONE, ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY!” Which is, of course irrational. He gets to feel his feelings, just like I do.

All of this is to say, this whole parenting thing is a strange new world. I was afraid of the ways it would change us, but it’s changing us anyway, like it or not.

In closing, here’s a triptych of Etta demonstrating how we freak the freak out around here:



my valentine

Mush alert. But hey, there’s more maternity pics ahoy, so…

photo by Christen Byrd.

Happy Valentine’s Day, to everybody, but most especially to My Favorite. We don’t tend to do a lot for Valentine’s Day. Sometimes we go out for a nice dinner, sometimes I buy him his favorites, Hot Tamales and Reese’s Pieces, sometimes I bake something elaborate, and sometimes he sends me flowers. But my favorite part is always a handwritten expression of love inside a card, and that’s what we always do. I put on my red fuzzy robe this morning, and, slightly hungover from Tylenol PM, limped out to my recliner to find a card from My Favorite, who had to go to work at an ungodly hour this morning. It made me smile just like he always does.

I have no grand theories or pronouncements on love. I have no relationship advice to give. I met the love of my life when I was 18 years old, and I don’t just love him, I like him a LOT. He’s my favorite person to hang out with. There is literally nothing about my life that isn’t better for him being in it. Being with him makes me insanely, ridiculously happy. And even though this pregnancy thing is hard, and even though the twins thing is often largely terrifying, the only way I know how to face anything is with him holding my hand. So I’m going to keep on holding on.

Photo by Christen Byrd.

*If you like the photos, hire Christen Byrd to take some of you!

my baby just cares for me

Mush alert.

Being pregnant has given me the warm fuzzies for my husband. I feel closer to him because I know we’re basically jumping off a cliff together, and because I know that we’re making something beautiful together, and because there’s no one else in the world I’d be willing to take this kind of adventure with. But I’m also feeling the love because he’s taking excellent care of me.

I shouldn’t be surprised– he’s always taken great care of me. When we were dating, we were in a car accident one Thanksgiving. I was driving us to my grandparents’ house on a wet road and hydroplaned while trying to grab my ringing cell phone (don’t phone and drive, kids!). The car spun into a ditch, and the airbag did a doozy on me. It turns out, thanks to mild scoliosis and an extra mutant vertebra that’s shaped like a wedge, I had a perfect spot for a compression fracture of my spine, and to this day am a quarter inch shorter on my left side as a result. After the accident, when deciding whether I would go back to college or go home with my parents or stay with him, he was adamant that he would take care of me. And he did– he fed me my pills on schedule, let me sleep in a recliner, and kept me supplied with my favorite ice cream until I felt well enough to go back to school.

A year into our marriage, we moved to Charleston, SC, where he was doing his residency in pediatrics. I had a hard time with the move, far away from everyone I knew and loved, in a strange new place, working a job I didn’t really like much, and for the first few months I was pretty much a mess. One day, I attempted to go for a bike ride with our dog Bessie, and she pulled me off and I scraped up my knee really bad. Bleeding and hysterical, I called Jon. I’m sure it sounded awful on the phone, because he biked all the way home from the hospital, bandaged up my knee, which was really not as bad as my hysterics made it sound, held me, hugged me, kissed me, and then biked back to work. He never said anything about how crazy I’d acted about that skinned knee. He knew it was just an emotional catalyst that broke the dam that had held back my sadness and depression about the move, and he loved me through it. Eventually we made friends and settled in, and when it came time for us to leave Charleston, I was sad then too.

Last winter, I got the flu. People who tell me they think they have the flu, I have one response for them: “Do you feel like you’re dying? Do you think maybe death would be preferable to the way you feel right now? OK, maybe then you have the flu.” It was the sickest I’ve ever been. I had a fever of 102 for 8 days straight. I coughed so much and so hard that I bruised my ribs and was sore for a month afterward. All told, I was sick the entire month of December. Jon was working lots of shifts in the ER, and, in between, when he should have been sleeping, kept me dosed on meds, made sure I was fed, and prevented our house from falling apart. He held me as I coughed and cried and promised me I’d feel better one day, even though in the middle of that illness, I didn’t really believe him.

Now he’s dealing with me, hopped up on a double dose of twin hormones, admittedly acting insane a lot of the time, the kind of pregnant person they make jokes about. While he did jokingly reassure me that my insanity isn’t a new development for him to deal with, he has made me feel so cared for. He encourages me to nap when I’m tired, he picks up the slack that I’m leaving in all the things to be done around the house, he bought me Miralax and reminds me to take it (and he’s not grossed out by talking about gross pregnancy symptoms like constipation!), and he helps me find things I’m willing to eat. He gets me wet washcloths and anti-nausea medicine and holds my hand as I sit next to the toilet and cry, because even throwing up makes me cry these days.

In other words, he’s doing what he’s always done: taking amazing care of me. Just like I know he will take amazing care of our babies. And maybe I’m hormonal and mushy and this whole post is making you want to barf (hey! welcome to the club!), but telling the story of this latest adventure would be incomplete without a little insight into the awesome partner I have along the way. This whole thing would be entirely too terrifying without him.

now we’re 5

Because we were in Costa Rica for our anniversary, I didn’t get to do a post like I usually do on July 29th commemorating 5 years of marriage to Jon. But, we got to be in Costa Rica for our anniversary, so that’s pretty awesome. We constantly talk about the kind of life we want together “someday” when he’s finally done with medical training and I’m finally done with school, and in looking at the kind of goals we set for ourselves: simple living, being generous with others, living in a way that is good to the environment, we’ve realized that the people we were 5 years ago wouldn’t be having these sorts of dreams for the future. We’ve changed a lot in our time together, which I guess is to be expected when I met my true love at the age of 18 and got married at the ripe old age of 21 (Jon’s 5 years older). I think we’ve both changed each other for the better, and I’m sure there’s lots of change still ahead of us. I’m sure glad we can keep growing together, forever. I know I can face anything as long as I’ve got my best friend by my side.

On a bench in a park in downtown San Jose. Everywhere we looked, couples were making out in public. That's not quite our style, so this was our contribution.


Ignoring the cheesy images, here’s a song to dedicate to the one I love, “Loving a Person” by Sara Groves, a favorite of mine:

8 years of summer lovin’

8 years ago, I got a call from the summer camp where I’d been a camper, saying they were short on counselors, and even though I was technically a year too young to be a counselor (they want college freshmen, I had just graduated from high school and wasn’t eligible til the next summer), and I hadn’t even applied for a job, did I want to work there for the summer? I jumped at the chance for a summer of fun, and my first day there, met the hottest guy I’d ever seen, no lie. It turns out he thought I was pretty cute, too, and within 24 hours, we were smoochin’ and smitten. 8 years later, he’s still the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad he’s mine.

Summer 2003.


These days.