You are my sunshine

By Mir
May 11, 2010

I’ve often pointed out that Otto is, in many ways, a far superior wife to me. He is romantic; I am pragmatic. He puts away laundry; I prefer to wash it and then wonder why it’s still in the basket a week later. He is nice; I’m kind of a jerk. You get the idea.

And so, with our third anniversary looming, last night I made a special dinner (if by “special” you mean “ingredients thrown in the crock pot on a wing and a prayer,” and I do), and as we lounged at the table after the meal concluded—discussing our upcoming summer travel, dreaming of vacation—I mercilessly mocked something Otto said and then did not exactly pick up on the cues that I was really and truly annoying him instead of being funny.

Like I said: kind of a jerk.

“You guuuuuuys!” called Chickadee, standing between us (as I realized my mistake and stuffed my foot further into my mouth with loving apologies along the lines of, “Hey, know what I love about you? THAT YOU USED TO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR”), “You can’t fight! Your anniversary is tomorrow!!”

“We’re not fighting,” both of us answered, but she was not convinced.

I had to take Chickadee out, after that, and so we had some time apart to cool down, and when we got back she went to bed and Otto and I sat on the couch and watched some television.

Things were… decidedly cool.

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I can be incredibly stubborn. (Shocking, right?) So can Otto. There’s a certain kind of tenacity that drives people to try new things (good!), succeed against the odds (great!), and quietly emanate “You are both wrong and ridiculous” from opposite ends of the couch (uh, not so awesome, actually). It’s just one of those fantastic things we have in common. Ahem.

This morning he got up and got into the shower and I got up and roused the kids and checked my email and went into the kitchen to make breakfast just as Monkey arrived. “How come there are smiley faces at everyone’s spots at the table?” he asked. Having only had half a cup of coffee, by then, I thought maybe I’d heard him wrong. But no, at my chair and his and Chickadee’s were small, smiley-face-paper wrapped packages. “Wait, how come Otto doesn’t have one??”

“Because I am a terrible, terrible wife,” I answered, loud enough for Otto to hear me in the other room.

[Digression: This is the part of the story where we might ordinarily have to insert the “Oh crap I suck” disclaimer because I hadn’t actually gotten my beloved anything and he bought us all gifts. I believe that’s happened a time or twelve. But lucky for me I sucked marginally less, today, because I had not only gotten Otto a Meaningful Present, I’d left it sitting on his computer where he would find it later. But I am sneaky and so I pretended I was empty-handed, and because I do so often ACTUALLY suck, I think he bought it.]

Eventually Otto came strolling into the kitchen. “Happy anniversary!” he said, sweeping me into a hug. We had about half a second to manage a kiss before Monkey was flinging himself at us with a big “MEEEE TOOOOOO!”, so we hugged him too and smiled at each other.

“What’s in the packages?” asked Monkey, bouncing a little.

“You’ll see,” replied Otto. “Wait for Chickie to come downstairs and then you can open them.”

Chickadee appeared a few minutes later, and although I was packing lunches and otherwise running around, I was summoned to come sit at the table.

“Happy anniversary, family!” started Otto. “Did you know that each anniversary has a traditional item associated with it?” The kids shook their heads.

“Sure you do,” I told them. “Like 25 years is the silver anniversary, and 50 is golden?” Monkey continued shaking his head, but Chickadee switched to nodding.

“Right!” said Otto. “And because this is our third anniversary, I went and looked up what the appropriate gift would be. It turns out that for three years, it’s leather! So I thought I would get us all some nice leather boots to go hiking in.” I glanced down at the tiny package in front of me, and the kids did the same. We exchanged puzzled looks—no way were these boots. “But then I realized,” he continued, “that it’s not like we’ll ever go on a long hike, because THIS ONE” (pointing at Chickie) “demands that it be a perfectly balmy 79 degrees before she ever ventures outside.” Chickadee nodded and grinned. “So then I thought… hey, maybe some nice belts for each of you!” Again, we looked down at our packages. Not big enough to be belts, either. “But… then I realized that really, none of you wear belts.”

By now the kids were giggling. I sat back and waited for the punchline to this monologue.

“So I tried to think of something ELSE that would make sense, out of leather. But then,” he continued, “I realized that our resident vegetarian probably wasn’t going to want ANYTHING leather.” Chickadee nodded, and Monkey burst out laughing.

“WHAT IS IT?” Monkey begged.

“Did you check the modern equivalent?” I asked.

“I’m getting to that!” Otto said, gesturing for me to please just let him tell his story. “I did check, and it turns out that that modern 3rd anniversary gift is crystal.”

“HOORAY, WINE GOBLETS FOR EVERYONE!” I cheered, which made the kids laugh again, because clearly these little packages weren’t wine glasses, either.

“I thought about that,” he said, “but I figured giving the kids wine was probably not a good idea.” The children were now completely intrigued; what in the world could possibly be inside these little packages?? Otto took in their expectant faces and smiled at me. I smiled back. “Go ahead and open them,” Otto said.

We each ripped back the paper, and there we found… crystal suncatchers in a droplet shape. Mine was larger than theirs, but they were otherwise all three the same.

“You hang them up,” Otto explained, “and they catch and reflect the sunlight in pretty ways. I’m going to hang them right there”—he pointed to the bay window alongside our kitchen table, directly in front of where Otto sits—“and I’ll have the whole family right in the window.”

“But you didn’t get one to represent YOU,” I pointed out, “so it’s not the WHOLE family.”

“I’m the one who gets to face it every meal,” he said with a shrug. “There’s one for everyone important to me.”

And then there were many “thank you!”s and “happy anniversary!”s and I finished packing lunches and life went on.

Otto found his present later, but that’s another story. This story is about how I’m a jerk and he loves me anyway, and how this wonderful man never forgets to show my children that they were also a conscious, wanted choice and not merely part of the package he had to take if he wanted me. He wanted all of us, and three years post-legal-document he’s still happy to have us. I think.

I don’t know if my gift to him communicated everything I’d like to tell him, so I’ll have to settle for this: Sorry I’m a jerk sometimes. You are still my favorite, and the reason there’s always sun for us to catch.


  1. Leandra

    I should know just to keep my tissues handy whenever I click the Woulda Shoulda link in my reader.

    Happy Anniversary! I hope it just keeps getting better and better!

  2. Jean

    That man is a dream. Sigh. Lucky you, lucky kids. Lucky Otto.

  3. s

    ok, next time I need a disclaimer for a tear jerker outside of Love Thursday.

    so sweet….he’s an absolute gem, regardless of which anniversary a gem is associated with! (ok and don’t even tell my kids that other kids get anniversary gifts – they’ll want my husband and I to divorce and remarry to keep the whole gift competition/gift fairness thing going) cripes I don’t even get an anniv gift!

  4. MaryP

    THAT was lovely. I love how you don’t whitewash things, and yet manage to be real in a kind and respectful way — even of yourself. That takes finesse.

    My third anniversary is coming up later this month. Better get cracking, because, like you, I have a husband whose gift-giving reliability often makes absent-minded me (absent-minded but no less loving! Really!!) look a bit jerk-ish…

  5. Rebecca

    Happy Anniversary!

    This is what I’m hoping for, a wonderful man who will choose both me and my daughter.

  6. Burgh Baby

    Happy Anniversary, y’all!

  7. Rasselas

    Hey, you said no more cliffhangers. What’d Otto get? :D

  8. steff

    Awww…that was great!

  9. susie

    Happy anniversary, Mir and Otto! So glad you found each other again.

    And I remembered your anniversary – today is mine too. :-)

  10. L

    I too can be a jerk and my husband loves me anyway. In that way, yours & mine are similar. In all other ways, not so much. For example, mine never forgets to show his step-daughter how much he dislikes her and doesn’t want her around. Which in turn makes me act like a jerk. These contradictions tend to make my head explode on a regular basis. It makes for a messy head. :)

    You are a lucky woman.

  11. Megan

    Oh man! Otto made me cry. Which is good because the department copier is making me cry too but NOT IN A GOOD WAY. I’ll take suncatchers and rainbows and family anniversaries over crumpled paper and burnt toner any day.

    Happy famliversary!

  12. sassymonkey

    Happy anniversary. :)

  13. meghann

    Happy Anniversary, you two!

    (you know, Otto really *should* give classes. Especially after that rant of mine you had to read this weekend.)

  14. RuthWells

    Oh, I think I caught the sniffles. Happy anniversary, Mir, Otto, Chickie & Monkey!

  15. birchsprite

    You have the loveliest family! Happy Anniversary all of you.

  16. elz

    Happy Anniversary. I hope today is full of gluten-free cake, champagne, and lots of sunshine….I would have said other stuff, but your dad reads your blog. So, moving along.

  17. Becky

    Congrats on the anniversary! (from someone else who got a second chance)

    A great post about a wonderful, thoughful man…who obvious appreciates the relationships he has in you and the kids.

    By the way? Pretty sure you aren’t chopped liver…pretty sure you wouldn’t be writing something like this if you were.

    For what it’s worth.

  18. kris

    Happy Anniversary!!

  19. Jennifer Joyner

    Wow! What an awesome guy. Happy Anniversary to your family!!!

  20. Jamie

    Happy Anniversary! What a great reminder of what’s important in life.

  21. Half Assed Kitchen

    We love Otto. And you too. Marvelous post.

  22. Nothing But Bonfires

    Awww, stop! I’m all teary! What a lovely guy. I remember reading you before there even WAS an Otto and it makes me so happy to think of how happy you all are now.

  23. Zuska

    Note to self: do NOT read WCS when it might make you weep and you only have a minute to compose yourself before co-workers descend on your office. Sniffle.

    Damn, he’s good. This is about the SWEETEST thing I’ve read in a long time.

  24. Jen

    Happy Anniversary! Comparisons are insidious, so I’ll just say–Boy you guys sure won!

  25. Randi

    AWWWWW!!!! Otto needs to start a “how to be an awesome dad and husband” club!

  26. Holly

    Awww, Happy Anniversary! What a lovely story, you are truly blessed, and so is he…

  27. Amelia

    oh, mir. that’s just beautiful. so happy y’all have each other. happy famiversary! :)

  28. MamaChristy

    For the record, I don’t think you are a jerk. But Otto is so unjerky that it would be hard for anyone to stand next to him and not feel like a jerk.

  29. karen

    I’m still coveting Otto… is this a bad thing? …lol.. Happy Anniversary to a really cool couple. :-)

  30. Scottsdale Girl

    MAAAAAAAAN, I just had to use the “huh what? oh no, no its just these darned allergies” excuse AGAIN.

    Hee. Happy Anniversary to all the sunshines in the Mir/Otto household

  31. Crista

    Happy Familyversary! We (your loyal and devoted readers) knew long ago that Otto was a keeper, and he just has to keep on proving us right :).

  32. Donna

    That is such a sweet story. You are so fortunate to have a husband like him! Here’s to many more happy years together!

  33. Katie in MA

    Happy Anniversary! Thanks for sharing your sunbeams and rainbows with all of us. :)

  34. Julie in Austin

    Happy Familyversary to all of you! If I may say so, I think you ALL are lucky to have EACH OTHER!

  35. Tracy

    That Otto…there he goes and did it again. You are so blessed, Mir. But of course, you know that! Happy Anniversary to your entire family!

  36. Heather

    *sniffle* That is just too sweet.

  37. Lynda M Otvos

    Wow, that’s a keeper for sure! Happy Happy to the Four of you.

  38. Emma

    That’s awesome but it also means that I’ve been stalking you for almost three years now, as I discovered you on your wedding day!! I must learn to comment mmore so that I don’t seem such a lurker!!! Happy Anniversary xxx

  39. Reb

    Hey, Mir, I just read yesterday’s post. If Monkey really hasn’t grown taller in the last year, get him to a doctor. My brother had a problem with his growth hormones and could’ve been treated, if Mum and Dad had realised he needed to be. Instead, he hardly grew at all after about age 10.

    Not wanting to frighten you or anything, he’s probably fine. I’d just hate to have my brother’s problem happen to Monkey too.

  40. Jennifer

    Damn. You did it again. Here I am crying in front of the screen. I have no further need for tearjerker movies since I found you. And your stuff is so much better.

  41. Brigitte

    I could maybe dredge up some lovely symbolism for when the sun shines in that window and covers Otto with little rainbows, but I’m just not that deep. Happy anniversary!

  42. Karen

    Awww. Happy Anniversary to all! This is so beautiful. Your family is so beautiful.

  43. Aimee

    Aw, Happy Anniversary to all of you! Sorry I’m a little late….

  44. Rachel

    Stupid monitor gets all blurry when my eyes fill with tears… I hate when that happens at work! Love the post & Happy Family Anniversary!

  45. Heidi

    Huh, I don’t take teasing (or mocking or taunting) well, so I guess that makes me a little thin-skinned? Sounds like Otto rises above it beautifully! I started reading shortly before the proposal. What a ride it has been!

  46. Jane

    Happy Anniversary to you and your sweet family!

  47. Cele

    You guys make me cry every single time. Late happy anniversary. You are a good example for blending families into a happy working loving unit of four.

  48. 2horseygirls

    My 6th anniversary is 5/13 and except for the first one, there has been something going on for every single one that as prevented us from celebrating: his work, my work…this year is DD’s school open house.


    It doesn’t matter to him because it’s just a day, and he treats me and my now-10 yr old DD like princesses every day. (eh-hmm….I have a little work in that department, but still am amazed (and so very grateful) every day to be with him.)

    However, I loved Otto’s idea, so I looked up 6th anniversary. Traditional is candy & iron; modern is wood.


    Does anyone else sense a fire pit with smores makings in our family’s future? ;)

    Thanks for a great post that reminded me why we chose each other to be a family in the first place!

  49. MrsDoF

    Lovely crystal reminds me of the movie POLLYANNA and how the girl helped the old folks to be nicer people.
    Congratulations on your anniversary :)

  50. mom, again

    lucky for us, we are both absent minded, and completely likely to remember we are mad, or at least, to forget why.

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