It's no secret that 2011 was a banner year for me. I knew last year, when I made my 2011 resolutions, that my year would be full of good things. I was well on my way already to meeting my fitness and health goals. I was a few weeks away from trying on a wedding dress and already in the process of planning a wedding. The kids were thriving and thrilled about the wedding and their new soon-to-be-stepfather.
I worked with a therapist to get past my fears of getting married again and having a second wedding. I worked with Mr. Wonderful on becoming not only co-habitants but also co-parents of three kids in a home where they had lived since birth.
For the first half of the year, Mr. Wonderful and I continued to live apart as we both felt it was extremely important for our children to transition as slowly as possible. I also wanted to relish my free time in my own house a little bit, as I was accustomed to having an entire closet and bedroom to myself, and loved having his apartment as a "kid-free retreat" on the nights they were away. Finally, 2 months before the wedding, he began to move his things over slowly, and finally began sleeping here every night. This ended up being a bigger transition than getting married was. I felt twitchy about having so many new things here, making room, and having a man living in the house again after priding myself on my independence for so long.
The first half of the year also brought a complete remodel of our house, which was so exciting and so needed on many levels. This is the house that my ex husband and I bought together, and although he didn't live here long, he did live here. Mr. Wonderful felt that aside from this old 1973 home never having any updates, he wanted to make it his own; so he hired a contractor and we made it completely over, from the ceiling to the floor, even adding two living spaces. I have gone from tolerating my home to absolutely loving it, every square inch. We have a space surrounding us that we designed together, from the paint colors to the flooring, and we have room to stretch out and have our own little "kid-free retreat", right here. Because he added the additional living space, he kept all of his apartment furniture, and we moved it all into our new media room, which ends up being where we spend every evening together after the kids go to bed.
In June we decided to take a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico, sort of on a whim. We spent a week together, snorkeling in the beautiful clear Caribbean water with our babies. We sipped pina coladas under straw huts while the kids jumped the waves together in the ocean. It was a truly magical week and one I don't think we'll ever forget, and would like to repeat each year.
Finally, in September, the entire family headed out to San Francisco, in what proved to be the most perfect 10 days of my life. We showed the kids a beautiful, historic city that we loved, we partied with our parents and siblings, and finally stood together on a second story balcony with all of them watching, with the fog-covered Golden Gate bridge just behind us, and made our life-long commitment to be together and love each other until death do us part. A week-long honeymoon exploring the San Francisco area together followed, and we headed home to celebrate with all the friends and family who watched our entire relationship unfold over the past two years.
October brought stress as Mr. Wonderful's father had a stroke at the same time that we found out that my father's brain tumor had begun to grow again. They both had several surgeries the same week. Both made it through wonderfully and are doing very well at this point.
In November, Mr. Wonderful and I decided it was time for he and I to have our own baby: a fur-baby :) We found the perfect Golden Retriever puppy for our family, and we brought her home and have been madly in love with her ever since. This is likely the closest Mr. W and I will ever get to having our own child, and it has been such a great experience. It has united our family in a way, our puppy Cali (short for California) is a piece of the family that he never had to share with my ex and something that makes our family unique to this new formation.
And recently, our first Christmas with Mr. Wonderful living here in the house. We threw out the fake tree and all my old decorations that I've had for years, and decided to start completely over like we did with the house, so that he would feel included. We found a gorgeous tree, a real one, and he designed a beautiful light display for our house and yard that he was really proud of.
It's funny to go back and read about the beginning of the year. It's amazing how much things can change in such a short period of time. It feels like we've been married for years and this is how it's always been. I remember the kids begging Mr. W to stay over and asking me constantly when he would move in, and now he takes them to school in the mornings. Life is good; it's nice to have nothing HUGE on the horizon, just everyday life and the little challenges that each day brings. Mr. W and I are happy, and always striving towards the best relationship possible and making each other happy. He blows me away with his commitment to me on a daily basis. I keep expecting him to give up on me; to proclaim me too high maintenance, but instead he evaluates my needs and comes up with the best way to meet them. Every single time. 2 1/2 years after meeting him, I still feel like the luckiest girl on the planet.