What Not To Say When You’ve Just Started Dating

“We need to talk.”

That is the instant message that Julie sent me less than two weeks after we started dating in September of 2005.  Upon reading this, my stomach sunk.  I hadn’t been in too many relationships before this one, but I knew what this meant.  Television had taught me that much.  She was breaking up with me.  I was upset, not only because I really liked this girl, but also because I had grossly misjudged Julie’s feelings about me.  I thought the relationship was going well.  I was having a great time and we were seeing each other every day.  But it had come to this.  We met up and I resigned myself to what was to come.

She was acting strange and a little nervous.  We walked a bit and I was just hoping she would get to it instead of dragging it out.  Just rip the band-aid off.  Finally, she said, “I’ve got something to tell you.”  I took a breath and prepared myself for what was to come.

“I have mono.”

My reaction was probably not the best.

“Oh thank God!”

It turns out, I was nervous she was breaking up with me, and she was nervous that she may have given me a communicable disease.  In the end, she agreed that “We need to talk” was not the phrase she should have used and I agreed that, in the future, I should not take as much pleasure in her illness.

She was sick and lethargic the whole semester, which included a trip to the ER and a dose of Vicodin (another fun story!).  I never got so much as a sniffle.

But at least we have a story to tell.


DJ’s Family

Julie has had her turn to talk about her family and now it is mine.

DJ's Family (from the left): Trevor, Brad, Jon, Helen, DJ, Julie

DJ’s Family (from the left): Trevor, Brad, Jon, Helen, DJ, Julie

My parents, Jon and Helen, are both awesome.  They grew up in separate towns outside of Philadelphia.  They met in college where they both were studying to be elementary school teachers and they were married shortly thereafter.  They both found jobs in the same school system in New Jersey, so they packed up and moved to the place they would stay to this day.  They both taught for over 35 years until they retired a couple of years ago.  Teaching so many students over the years in a smaller town, they truly became a staple of the community.  They can’t go anywhere in town without see somebody they know, and they like that (and so does my brother when it gets him out of traffic tickets).

My dad, Jon, was extremely active in my life.  He coached every team I played on growing up.  At different points, he coached my teams in soccer, basketball, hockey, and baseball (t-ball, little league, and senior league).  Once I got into high school playing on the soccer and tennis teams, he never missed a game, even they ones that required a two hour drive up the road.  Now retired, he spends most of his time trying to figure out what to do with himself.  A lot of the time is spent playing golf and yelling at the Eagles, Flyers, or Phillies, depending on the season.

My mom, Helen, has had a much easier time adapting to retired life.  She is still the music director and organist at her church, something she has been doing since before I was born.  Unfortunately, she passed none of her musical ability onto myself.  She also teaches piano once a week to a few students.  She is an avid reader, jigsaw puzzler, and likes to work on dollhouses for a hobby.  A lot of her time is spent heckling my father for yelling at the Eagles, Flyers, and Phillies through the TV.

Together, they like to travel.  Since retiring, they’ve cruised to Greece, Russia, Germany, Mexico, and the British Isles.  They also have plans for South America in a month or so.  They both can’t wait for a grandchild.  I know my dad in particular is going to spoil his first grandchild with lots of fun things that no kid would ever need.

I have one older brother, Brad, and coincidentally enough, he is also awesome.  Whereas I am a more analytical and scientific mind, he’s the creative one and got all of the music ability from mom that passed me over.  He graduated college with a degree in Theatre, and has performed in shows up and down the East Coast.  He can act, sing, dance and I’m secretly jealous.  As if this weren’t enough, he’s also written a play that has been performed in a couple of states.

Brad also just got engaged.  He has excellent taste, because his fiancee, Trevor, is one more awesome person to add to the family.  He’s a project planner at a pharmaceutical company, and he does his best to keep my brother grounded, which is not an easy task.  They’re getting married in October, something I’d be more excited about if I didn’t have to wear a suit.

This is my awesome (have I mentioned that yet?) family.  It is truly a blessing knowing that our child will be adopted into such a loving extended family.  Sometimes, I think they look forward to it as much as Julie and I.

Throwback Thursday: How I Won Our Wedding Ceremony

DJ and I are competitive. We have this weird way of turning most things into a competition. DJ might not always know it’s a competition, but that just means I get an (unnecessary) head start.

One such situation: our wedding ceremony. Most people ask themselves “how do you make a wedding competitive?” Those people just aren’t trying hard enough.

During one trip to DJ’s parent’s house in college, we went to an arcade and won a cheesy little silver bracelet. Over the next three-ish years, we traded this thing off for birthdays, anniversaries, valentines, etc. DJ gifted it to me a few months before the wedding and I hid it away in my bedroom, allowing DJ to think I forgot about. Or most likely that I lost it. That probably would have been his assumption.

But, the whole time, I knew exactly where it was and what I was going to do. Packing for the wedding, I didn’t remember jewelry, or a book, or a bunch of other things, but I remembered this bracelet. I pulled the minister aside during the rehearsal and explained my plan. I needed a few moments in the ceremony, before the vows.

The day of the wedding, I walked down the aisle carrying my bouquet and this bracelet. We went through the ceremony and finally the minister announced that I had a special gift I wanted to present to DJ during our ceremony.  Yes, yes I did.

I win.

I win.

I briefly explained the significance of the bracelet and proudly exclaimed my victory. Try as he might, I can’t think of any situation that he could use to top this. The look on his face and the laughter of our friends and family made it totally worth it. And I made him put it on right there.

I think this story pretty well sums us up. We love to laugh and we love competition. When both can be mixed   to make one unforgettable moment? That’s everything.

If you look on his wrist, you can see the bracelet.

If you look on his wrist, you can see the bracelet. And we practiced that dip. A lot.

Julie’s Family

I’d like to introduce you to my family.

DJ, Julie, Larry, and Susan

DJ, Julie, Larry, and Susan

That’s my dad, Larry, and my mom, Susan, in their living room. They’ve been married 30 years this coming May. They still live in the house in which I grew up.

Larry – my dad was a police officer, but resigned that line of work shortly after they found out my mom was pregnant. He went to work for the city government, ending up in the community development office. There he worked on building stronger, safer communities in the town in which they live. That’s where he retired in 2011. After a few months of retirement and driving my mom crazy, he went to work for his church. He’s now the administrative pastor for his church and is very happy doing that. He was a great dad growing up. I remember him being at all of my sporting events and band competitions. He coached volleyball, volunteered with the PTA, and worked concession stands. He always helped me with math homework and is one of the most patient people I know. We would get into screaming matches over algebra, but he always stuck with me, making sure I got it. He has always been supportive of me, even when he had reason not to be. My first semester of college, I failed an anatomy class. I was terrified to tell him, but not for one second was he upset or angry. Whenever I have a fix it problem, he’s usually the first person I call. When we bought our house, he took a week off work to come down and help us with projects around the house. He is going to be a fantastic grandfather and has been on us to have kids pretty much since our wedding. He’s going to be fun and caring and always there for whatever our kids need.

Susan – my mom grew up in a teeny, tiny town in Ohio and moved to Maryland when she was eighteen. She’s the reason I’ve always been bold and not scared to try new adventures. My mom has been in healthcare my whole life and is the reason I went into healthcare myself. As a mom, she was always doing so much for my childhood. She made halloween costumes (there was one dalmatian costume in particular that really stood out), planned awesome birthday parties, and was also active with the most of the organizations I was a part of. I started playing volleyball in  sixth grade and she volunteered with the school league. Sixteen years later, she’s still there, every fall, helping new girls get into the sport. I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t always encouraging me, even when I felt I couldn’t do it. Even now, she’s the one I call in crises (big or small) and she always knows what to say to make it better. She is going to be such an involved grandmother. I think if it weren’t for the three hour drive between us, she’d probably be here every day. Heck, a three hour drive might not even stop her.

Together, they raised one awesome daughter (if I do say so myself). And, together, they are going to make great grandparents.


Christmastime is one of the busiest times of the year here in our household.  It starts the day after Thanksgiving, when I lift the ban on Julie listening to Christmas music.  That Christmas music doesn’t stop until the end of December.  That first post-Thanksgiving weekend is our weekend to decorate and get the lights up on the house, but most of all, it is our time to cut down and decorate our Christmas tree.


Every year in the lead up to Christmas, we like to do something for our neighbors.  This year, we decided we wanted to give out cookies and went a little overboard.  We made about 15 dozen cookies, hand decorating over 100 of those.  It took a full weekend, but it was a lot of fun.


This year, we started what we hope will be a new tradition.  This was the inaugural year for the Tacky Lights Run.  This 6k race is at night and winds the runners through a neighborhood famous for its tacky lights.  It absolutely poured that night, but everybody still came out all dressed up in lights and Santa costumes.  It was really pretty special.


Christmas day is our day.  We exchange our gifts and make cinnamon buns and just enjoy the day together.  We can’t wait to share this with our child.  In the days after Christmas, we visit with family.  This year, both of our parents travelled to our house.  It was really nice to have them around and enjoy the season with them. As I sit here on New Year’s Day, writing this post, I can’t help but think of all of the changes that 2014 might bring.  It is a little daunting, but we couldn’t be more excited.