Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Year: A Letter To My Son

Dear Jack,

I can't believe that an entire year has passed since that very first moment that I held you in my arms. I will never forget the way it felt when your eyes met mine for the very first time, and you grabbed on to my finger with your sweet, tiny hand. All it took was a single second, one brief moment in time, and I was instantaneously and completely in love. In many ways it seems as if this year has gone by much too quickly. Where has my tiny baby boy gone? But in others ways it is hard to remember the days and years without you. I am not sure how we ever got by. One thing I know for sure is that our lives are better,because you are in them. Our family is better, because you are a part of it. I am better, because you are my son.

You have grown and changed so much during this first year of your life! You are officially a walker (sometimes a runner), and recently you learned to clap and to dance. Two of the most precious sights that I have ever seen. You are also saying a small handful of words (daddy, kitty, uh oh), but you refuse to call me Mama. It will be sweet music to my ears when you finally say my name! You also love to wave bye bye, and to put a pretend phone up to your ear when we say hello. At one year old you have eight teeth, four on top and four on bottom. Your smile can light up a room. I LOVE to hear you laugh. It is deep, and rich, and contagious. You love balls, and books, and cars. You also love your sisters. Watching the three of you together fills my heart with more joy than I ever knew was possible. I pray that you will always be close.

You still love to eat anything that you can get your hands on, and you are still covered with delicious little rolls. Kissing and nuzzling you are two of my most favorite things to do. And when you give me a "loving" back? The best feeling in the entire world. Watching you sleep is another of my favorites. You curl up on your tummy, tuck your hands in warm under your body, cross your little ankles, and stick your cute little tush in the air. Pure peace and rest fills your face and my soul. You are now sleeping for nine to ten hours each evening, and Daddy and Mama are beginning to recover from the fog that is the first year of a child's life. It has been exhausting, but I have no doubt that we would choose this year over and over again, if we were given the choice. We would choose you over again.

Jack, you are such a blessing to our family. You are such a blessing to me. I am not sure how we got so lucky as to be the ones to know, and to love, and to raise you. But I am grateful. I will always be grateful. Happy first birthday, little man. I love you to the moon and back.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011


*** Tonight our campus had a party! We had a wonderful celebration in honor of the gift of knowing and loving our son during this first year of his life. We kept it simple. We invited those families who are closest to Jack, and are so thankful that we are blessed with so many friends who love and pray for our boy. We had supper together (pizza, chips, veggies, grape salad (yummo! Thank you, Ms. Faye!), and cookies. Jack opened a few gifts of love. He received a large blue ball, some adorable outfits made by his Aunt Candy, some super cool new toys, a gallon of whole milk (goodbye formula!), and lots of cards filled with words of love. To say our son is loved on this campus would be an understatement. He is adored! Jack is never lacking for arms to hold him. Emma made him a sweet birthday hat. She had to use three pieces of paper to fit his big head :). Grammy (my mom) made his first birthday cake, and we gathered around the table to sing to him. Then he promptly burst into tears! He was much happier once Mama agreed to spoon feed him his cake and ice cream. Yes, he is quite spoiled. Jack Ryan, you are so very loved! It was a joy to celebrate your precious life. ***

Monday, March 7, 2011

Our Story : The Final Chapter

*** Well, this is it my friends. The final installment that I will write about our love story. The truth is, I could write about our story forever. Every time that I think about it and recall all of the details of our brief courtship, I think of something else that I want to share with you here. More memories that I never want to forget. But it is time to move on. While I could seemingly get lost in all of the details of our beginning, the "middle" part of our life continues to go on all around me, and there are other life moments that I want to get back to recording in this space. For example, my sweet, chubby, squishy, cuddly, baby boy turns ONE a week from tomorrow (insert wailing Mama sob here)! I will never understand where the time goes, and I don't want to miss a thing. I hope you enjoy the final chapter of how our love came to be!***

After one wonderful week in Ohio, Boss and I returned home to Texas, bought our first kitten Franki, and picked right back up where we had left off. Life was very, very sweet during those days. I absolutely knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man. There was not a doubt in my mind, and he had shared that he felt the very same way about me.

In the early days of November, Boss began to act a bit funny and I knew that something was up. For one, he told me that I was NOT allowed to check his email for him, which was a favorite past time of mine. And then there was the time that we were spending the weekend with my parents, and Boss and my dad kept having private conversations. That irritated me to no end. Back then, I felt the need to be involved in every conversation, and if I am being completely honest, not much has changed today :). One afternoon I called Boss' store to see when he was getting off, and they told me that he had already left for the day. So naturally I called his cell phone to see where he was, and he told me that he was still at work. Aha! I had caught him, and I immediately knew that he had a secret girlfriend that he was not telling me about. The only thing that I could not figure out was why he had been talking with my dad about his secret girlfriend. Traitor. It turns out though, that Boss was actually buying my engagement ring the afternoon that I caught him in his lie. And he was talking with my dad about proposing to me. And I could not check his emails, because I would see that he had begun to make payments to the jewelry store. So it all made perfect sense, after all. Thank goodness there was no secret girlfriend. She would have been insanely jealous of my ring.

Last November I recorded on these pages how Boss popped the question , so I won't repeat that story now, but I will say that with his ring on my finger I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. It was a dream come true, to know that someone loved me enough to want to share his entire lifetime with me. It was a dream come true, to know that that man was Boss. I didn't take my eyes off of my ring for weeks. Being newly engaged was everything that I dreamed of and more, but various people's reactions to our engagement was not.

Surprisingly enough, we had our entire families support. In the beginning, my parents were cautious about my interest in an older, newly divorced man, but their cautions quickly faded as they spent more and more time with him. By the time we were engaged (you know, a whole two months after we started dating ) they were completely okay with our decision to marry. Boss' family was supportive, too. They might have thought it all to be a little fast, but they were nothing but supportive of our choice and respectful of our decision. It was several of our friends who had negative things to say. I know their worry stemmed from concern that this was happening too quickly, but many of their words hurt. I was the happiest that I could ever remember feeling in my entire life, and I wanted those that I loved to be happy for me, too. I will admit that some of my joy was stolen away by their words. But they could not steal the love that was growing in my heart for Boss on a daily basis. Once I asked Boss what we could do to show all of the naysayers that this was the real deal. In his wisdom, he told me that the only thing that would show them that we were forever committed to each other was time. And here we are, almost nine years and three children later. I do believe it is finally safe to say, booyah naysayers! Ohh. That felt good :).

We decided to set the wedding date for May 31, 2003. That would give us six months to plan our special day. I even dropped out of college so that I could put all of my time and efforts into planning our wedding. (Gasp! I know, right? To any and all teenagers reading this, dropping out of college to plan your wedding is not wise. And don't worry. I went back to school soon after we were married, before I dropped out again once getting pregnant with Emma. What can I say? For me, dropping out had nothing to do with lacking brains. All I have simply ever wanted to be was a wife and a mother, so a degree and a career were not for me.)

I loved every single moment of planning my wedding to Boss. We chose to be married on the grounds of an old, southern Bed and Breakfast, so the decorations were minimal, but the surroundings simple and beautiful. My cousin's wife made all of the flowers. Cake tasting was awesome, and the one we selected rocked. My aunt, my mother, and I went shopping for my dress. We selected our bridesmaids and groomsmen (people who were important to us during that special season of our lives). We selected music that we loved. My sweet daddy hired a carriage to cart us from the ceremony to our country bar-b-que reception, complete with karaoke and all of our family and friends. If I had to plan it all over again, there is not one thing that I would change. (well, maybe one thing. I think I would have really loved having a first dance. I can just picture Boss and I swaying under the trees to Rascal Flatts The Broken Road. And since we wound up getting pregnant pretty darn fast after we were married anyway, it would not have mattered if I really had gotten pregnant from dancing with a boy, just like my grandpa had told me I would. Ha! Oh, I would have also changed the heat. It was hot as blue blazes that day, with a heat index of 106. Whew!) But seriously, it was the most romantic day of my life. On May 31, 2003 my life was forever changed. I became Mrs. Boss Zickafoose. Two lives were molded into one. Two hearts began sharing one dream.

So that is our story. Or really, it is God's story. I will always be amazed that he brought a small town Ohio boy and a big city Texas girl together in the heart of Aggie country. I will always be amazed at how he worked out all of the details, so that the two of us could transform our two separate lives into one life. I will always be amazed that he created another individual so perfectly for me. And I will always, always be thankful. Those first few months together were complete bliss. But since then,life, with its ups and downs, has also happened. The road we have traveled has not always been easy, but there is no one else on earth that I would rather travel with.

The End.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Story (Part 7)

So where was I? Oh, yes. Boss had just informed me that he wanted me to fly to Ohio with him to meet his family. Next week. Ahh! This was getting really serious, really fast. I determined that we were either crazy in love, or we were just plain crazy, and I hoped it was the first one. No, I knew it was the first one, so I said yes, I will go to Ohio with you. Like it was the most normal thing in the world to ditch my classes, hop on a plane, and fly to a state I had never been to with a man that I had only been dating for a month. But it felt right, so I agreed to go.

The first thing I did? I went shopping, of course. Meeting the parents required a whole new wardrobe. Not that there was anything wrong with my old wardrobe, it's just that it wasn't new. And a trip like this required new. I remember I wore a white button down shirt (very sophisticated and mature to impress his mother), jeans (hey, I am a Texas girl, there is no other form of leg attire), and brown boots with a three inch heel (no real reason for this choice, except for the fact that I was sure his family would like me better if I was taller) on the day we flew to meet his family. It was a very cute outfit, but a very bad choice for a day of travel. I was sweating up a storm and my feet were killing me before we had even boarded our first flight. The saying that love hurts had never rang more true. Being in love was literally hurting me that day. But I pressed on.

We reached the area surrounding the airport quite early, so Boss suggested that we have lunch at a nearby mall before we headed on over to catch our flight. I thought it was a superb idea, because my feet clearly needed to move more in my three inch heels. We grabbed a quick bite and then headed to a pet store to browse before we had to leave. Pet stores always made me depressed, and I never made it past the first cage of sweet little kittens in that particular shop. I could have stared at them for hours, but Boss startled me with his next words.

I think we need to get a cat together.

Huh? Come again? First you want me to meet your mother, and now we are going to raise a cat together? Should I remind you that you are newly divorced, you are five and a half years older than I am, and that we have only been dating for a month? Are you insane? (Of course I did not say all of those things. That would have been rude). Instead, I turned to smile at him, and meeting his eyes was all it took. While looking deep into his eyes, I would have agreed to raise five hundred cats with him if he had asked me too. Suddenly it sounded like a brilliant idea. The best idea in the world. So we agreed to buy a kitten the day we returned from our trip. And that was that.

Both flights to Ohio went smoothly. Back then I was not afraid of flying (now, some days I am afraid to cross the street. Becoming a mother has done something strange to my soul, and suddenly the world has become a much scarier place) and I was simply excited to spend the day with Boss, soaring high above the clouds. We talked a lot that day about trips we wanted to take, and where life might lead us. I made sure that everyone around us knew that he was my boyfriend, because to me it was the best news in the world and I wanted to share it with everyone that I saw. Others might have found me obnoxious, but if they did I did not notice. It was just my man and I on our way to Ohio to meet his family.

After we landed in Columbus I made a beeline for the nearest restroom so that I could brush my hair, reapply my lipstick, and wipe the excess sweat from my armpits. Just keeping it real. Meeting the family was quite a stressful ordeal for me, and when I am stressed I either sweat, rash, or throw up, so the sweating was actually preferable. It could have been much worse. After I deemed myself presentable, I mustered up my courage and we headed to meet his mom and his sister in baggage claim, and I am happy to report that they were both pleasant and completely normal :). I began to relax immediately. We grabbed our bags and hopped in the car for the hour drive to his parents home. I am not sure what I was expecting Ohio to look like, but what I saw was not it. It looked just like Texas, only more green with more hills. And there was not an Amish buggy in sight. That was a disappointment for sure.

An hour later we pulled up to his parents house (a charming little home in a charming little neighborhood) and I instantly felt at home from the moment that I walked in the door. It was a wonderful week, for sure. Boss' mom showed me pictures of Boss from when he was a baby, we visited his old college campus and spent an evening with his mentor (the same guy who brought him to the church I was attending in the first place), we went to the Pumpkin Show (festivals fast became my new favorite thing), and I met about a bazillion of his relatives. There are seriously that many. But I think the best part was getting to spend so much uninterrupted time with Boss. We talked, and we talked, and we talked. Late at night, after everyone else went to bed, we would sit up and talk. He told me more about his past and his first marriage, and everyone that I met reaffirmed what I was beginning to know for sure in my heart. That Boss was the real deal. That his divorce was not his fault, and there was nothing that he could have done to save his first marriage. He was genuine, hard working, loyal, and caring. And most importantly he was committed to Christ. By the time we left Ohio, I was head over heels in love with this man. For me, there was no turning back.

To Be Continued.

P.S. We did head to the animal shelter and pick out our kitten the day after we returned from our trip. We had wanted a male cat, so that we could name him Frank (after Frank Sinatra, because he sings our song, The Way You Look Tonight), but we ended up selecting a female kitten instead. I was walking past her cage to get to the cage that I was told held a brand new litter of tiny, fuzzy kittens, when out of no where a scrawny black paw swatted my arm. When we peered into her cage, she was the ugliest little kitten that we had ever seen. But we immediately knew that she was ours. She had chosen us. Since she was a girl we named her Franki with a heart dotted I, and she is still with us today. Our first, hairy, black baby. She lived with Boss until we were married, but she has really always been my girl. Shh. Don't tell. Boss thinks that she likes him best.