Warning! Julie did not write this entry. She may even be a little embarrassed to see this published on her blog. I’m good with that. (by JSM – I’ve been “blogjacked”)
Eighteen. Julie and I just celebrated our eighteenth anniversary. The kids and I made dinner, we broke out that special bottle of wine we’ve been saving for that special occasion, and had a nice celebration. You may wonder why we didn’t hold on to that special bottle another two years for the big milestone. She’s already got that one planned and it involves much more bling than comes in a bottle of wine. PinkGirl and FavoriteSon were our serving staff and handled it great for as long as a 13-year boy and a 7-year old girl can work peacefully together. Julie presented me with a card she made especially for the occasion and that’s why I’m writing this post. We are both a little competitive and I figured I could one-up her card by posting where all her friends in the blogosphere can see.
So with no further adieu and in honor of our 18 years of marriage, I’ve compiled this list of 18 things I LOVE about Julie. (by JSM – Thank you, FirstHusband. This was such a sweet, wonderful surprise. This open-hearted list is so romantic, thoughtful, loving, sneaky and affirming! To anyone who reads this: It makes me sound like I’m perfect – but please realize FirstHusband is slightly prejudiced. I’m sure I’ve got my own set of “18 things people hate about me” but nobody has ever compiled them in a list before. No volunteers, please.)
18 – Excellence is a way of life for her. Julie never settles for “good enough”. I don’t even like to use those words in her presence. If you see links, words bolded for emphasis, or maybe even embedded video in this post, it’s because Julie will not accept an average post in her blog. Even though she would never post any of this material herself, she will be compelled to make my post better… and that’s why I love this trait in her. She challenges me, our children and mostly herself to be excellent. I am a better man for it.
17 – She sings down the Angels. Julie and I met in a college ensemble. I was one of the better vocalists in the group until Julie joined and since then, I’ve never struggled with pride in my singing again. There is a richness and quality in her singing like few people I’ve ever heard. I have no doubt you would have already heard her on the radio if she had ever decided to completely sell out to music but she is much more balanced than that. She would never make the compromises needed to be a star and therefore only those of us in closer proximity are lucky enough to hear her. When I’m singing at my best, I can just sit and listen to her… and save a little room for the Angels who came down to listen with me.
16 – She is our family historian. Julie loves to capture the moments. In writing, with video, with pictures, and now on her blog, Julie captures special moments and saves them for our family. I don’t always appreciate this trait while I’m in the moment. Julie will be surprised to know I even admire it because I’m not always gracious about the added logistics burden that goes with the camcorder, camera, computer, etc. But, I’ve never regretted the extra burden when the experience is over and recorded. I’m a regular Compendium reader, especially when I’m away from home. She captures moments I’ve missed and lets me share them vicariously.
15 – She is the family appointment-maker. I’m a visionary thinker. I like the big picture, the five-year plan, developing a strategy and seeing it come to fruition. I HATE making appointments. I think it’s the combination of in-the-weeds detail and personal interaction with strangers (o.k. I’m more than a little introverted) but I just don’t like making appointments. This leaves making all appointments to Julie. Not just those for the whole family, but also those for me. Dentist, doctors, teachers, haircuts, you name it… Julie makes the appointments for all of us. I don’t think she has ever really complained about this even though it would be well deserved. I really appreciate it.
14 – She loves sci-fi and sports movies. I’m an engineering geek. I’m a sports junky (especially all things Nole). Julie not only indulges me watching these movies again and again (we’ve seen “The Core” and “Starship Troopers” more than I can count) she actually seems to enjoy them. She especially likes sports movies; Major League, Bull Durham, Hoosiers, The Replacements, and more. What man wouldn’t be thrilled with a wife who likes sci-fi and sports movies.
13 – She is an overcomer. Julie hasn’t lived a privileged life. Very few worthwhile things have come to her easily. There is no need to get into any of the details but what matters is that none of the obstacles Julie has faced in life have become excuses. Julie defines success in her own way and then achieves it. She doesn’t let obstacles stop her.
12 – She puts up with me. Everybody has their quirks. I probably have some of yours. Julie accepts and works with mine. She gives me more room than I deserve even when she sees me squandering time in ways that have no redeeming value.
11 – She is a voracious learner. Julie lives the idea that there are very few unique experiences and therefore, someone has probably written about what she needs to know. She doesn’t just like to read, she reads to learn. I am in the process of reading two books and recently completed three others. I can’t even begin to count how many books Julie is currently reading, highlighting, taking notes from and cross referencing. As I sit at her computer I’m looking at bookshelves and cubbies bursting with knowledge and freakishly organized. Julie will never be limited by her experience. When faced with a problem, Julie will research, study absorb and apply knowledge from wherever she can find it.
10 – She is our children’s advocate. Julie values our children as people. She loves who they are. She respects them. Most important of all, she stands up for them. Read “Be a Champion” on Pragmatic Compendium and “freedom to be different” on Pragmatic Communion (yes, Julie did/will add the links as I predicted in #18, above) and you will see what I mean. I love that she doesn’t let anything keep her from standing up for our children.
9 – She is the glue that holds our family together. I travel for my work. Sometimes I travel a lot. When I’m away, Julie takes up the slack. She gets the kids where they need to be, she keeps them fed, and most importantly she distracts them to the point they almost don’t notice I’m missing. Even when I’m home, work is demanding and stressful. She frequently picks up my slack there too. Although she tries hard to keep me from noticing how much she covers for me, I notice enough to be grateful.
8 – She taught me most of the soft skills I have. I’m an introverted engineer and a geek. However, compared to most introverted engineer geeks, I have well developed people skills. Much of this is due to Julie’s patience and perseverance in teaching me “soft skills”. Even today, she always listens to me and adjusts my perspective on people to something much more in line with the rest of society.
7 – She inspires people to be what they can be. Julie doesn’t have much patience for “if only”. She won’t listen long to “woulda, coulda, shoulda”. She is so used to overcoming obstacles in her life, she excels at helping other people see past the obstacles in their life. I can’t count the number of times I’ve overheard her questioning people about what they want from life and challenging their notions of why they can’t get it. I’m certainly better for this and I believe others are too.
6 – She is a problem solver. When faced with a problem, Julie doesn’t waste energy with worry or regret. She thinks, researches, plans, and solves. The type of problem doesn’t matter, technical, personal, emotional, you name it, she solves it. Not bad at all for a non-engineer.
5 – She makes life special for our kids. Julie is constantly thinking of things she can do to make our kids feel special. Little things like putting comics in their lunchbox, big things like the perfect summer camp or decorating their room the way they want it. Julie cherishes our children and makes sure they know it.
4 – She is a successful entrepreneur. FavoriteSon had just been born. I had just started a job with a small company with a small salary. Julie quit a well-paying and stable job to start Pragmatic Computing. Thirteen year later, her first client is still her best client. Her reputation in her community is such that all she has to do to get all the work she wants is to make a few phone calls. She continues to refine and recreate her business model to flow with the times.
3 – She created the underwear principle just for me. Really. Eighteen years ago in our starter apartment, I really did leave my underwear in the same spot on the floor by the bathroom door every day. Rather than fight or get mad about this, Julie put the clothes hamper right under my underwear pile. Throughout our marriage, she has applied this principal to bring order to our marriage and home.
2 – She told me to buy a boat. Now that we have one, she is telling me she wants a bigger boat. Enough said.
1 – She really is pragmatic. Pragmatic isn’t a theme or a cute naming scheme for Julie, it’s a way of life. Practical application, results oriented, sound application of fundamentals, making the complex simple, etc. Her decision making, her philosophy, her freakish organization, her life. Julie is pragmatic.
I’m lucky to have been married to her for 18 wonderful years and I’m looking forward to many more than that to go.
(by JSM – After I read this, he asked me to make one little edit, at the bottom of the post. He tricked me into typing his last two words.)