This is the beginning of a blog series that walks through how all of this started. So let’s start with In the Beginning…
DJ and I met on eharmony. Yep – we met online. Both of us were about to end our subscriptions, but from the beginning, something just felt different about our match. I think DJ was most surprised by the fact that I didn’t bolt when he answered “yes” to my “did I count four kids” question. After about a week of nightly phone calls, we decided to meet in person. We had our first date at the Macaroni Grill, and they practically had to kick us out so they could clean up for the night. Did I mention that I was on crutches when we first met? I had recently suffered a stress fracture in my foot from over-training while running. It wasn’t exactly the way that I would have chosen to meet a prospective suitor, but it obviously was a successful first date! 🙂
Now, both of us had previously been married, but we also knew that we wanted to do things differently this time around. Dating wasn’t something we did just for fun – it was purposeful, intentional, and something we took very seriously. It was more like a courtship. We were aware of the mistakes we made in the past, and we wanted to avoid those same mistakes again.
Introducing him to the kids…
DJ was first introduced to my kids as an idea of a person. By that, I mean that he made a cake for my daughter’s birthday, but all she knew was that “my friend Mr. DJ” made her a cake. And it was amazing, of course. Food is the way to the heart, right?
Kid-free dates were supplemented with play dates with the kids so they could all meet and get to know each other in a casual environment. This helped us both understand our different (but similar) parenting styles and the inter-relational dynamics among the kids. My advice with introducing kids to potential significant others is to just use good judgment. You know your kids better than anyone, and you have to do what you think is best. I know people who’ve introduced the kids early, and those who’ve waited until they were engaged. For me, I needed to see the interaction fairly early on because my kids were young (5 and 8 at the time DJ met them), and whoever I ended up with would really be stepping into that fatherly-role because my kids are almost always with me.
Meeting my family was another big milestone. Family is important to me, so I knew that I wanted to find someone who fit in well with my (crazy) family (who I love dearly). Well, I was amused when DJ messages me one day and simply asked, “What’s your dad’s name again?” When I told him he said, “I’m auditing him!” I busted out laughing! They work for the same company, and at that time, DJ was working as an auditor. Needless to say, that was probably an awkward conversation. “Sir, I need to recuse myself from this audit because I’m dating your daughter.” We still get a laugh out of that!
Valentine’s Day 2014 was special simply because we spent it together. I’m really not a huge fan of commercialized holidays, and I believe that you should show the person you love how much they mean to you every day, not just one day out of the year. DJ does a great job of that, which is probably why I have no idea what we actually did that Valentine’s Day other than spend it together. 🙂
One of my favorite dates, and most memorable, was when DJ took me to the ballet. I had never been, at least not as an adult who could appreciate it, so it was awesome to experience the culture. I encourage you to try new things together. Share things that you love with your significant other, and see if they love it too! We enjoy our “fancy” dates, even though we don’t get to do them often.
Every fancy date must be followed of course, by a trip to Krispy Kreme. I mean, every formal evening should end with a Hot Now sign! DJ teaches me to not take things quite so seriously, to just go with the flow and have fun along the way.
We also went through some tough stuff those first few months. DJ’s mom was battling cancer, and he was caring for her. He learned a lot about me during that time too, in my willingness to help him (and his mom) and to support him during that time. I learned how important family is to him (and me too!) and his willingness to step up to fill a need. I am grateful for the time that I had to get to know his mom, and for her to get to know me. I believe that she would be happy that we are married now. DJ knew before she passed that he wanted to marry me and he was able to have conversations with her about it, and I’m so glad to have known her, even for just a short time.
Even in the hard times, DJ knows how to laugh. This picture is from Ivie’s final hospital stay. Our sister-in-law joked with DJ to “put a ring on it” with one of the flower rings of the birthday cake they brought in for him. So he did! But he didn’t actually ask the question. This was all for a laugh. When I asked later why he didn’t (jokingly) ask the question that goes with the ring, he said he didn’t want to joke about that. 🙂
But not much later, with many of our friends and family present, he asked for my hand in marriage. He knew that I wanted the “old-fashioned” type of proposal, where he had asked my dad for permission to marry me, and he had apparently done that some time before. So when he did propose, my mom’s response was “finally!” Haha. He had also asked all of the kids – now how he got them to keep that a secret, I will never figure out!! I was so excited, and our boys immediately exclaimed “we’re going to be brothers!!” What an exciting July 4th it was!!
And that is the beginning of The Perfect Blend!
Stay tuned for the continuation of our story…