Blogger, RELish and her family

Along with today’s outfit of the day (a bright pink mumu because…#momlife), I’m excited to share a guest post by my hubby, Phil. I last interviewed him here about how his experience in becoming a first-time dad.  Since it looks like that post was one of your all-time favorites, my wordsmith of a husband is back today by popular demand. This time, I asked him to open up a bit about his version of our love story. Since some of you may be newer to this blog and I haven’t shared too much about how we met since our wedding posts (more here, here and here), I’m excited for Phil to get you all caught up below in his own words. Engagement Photos Temescal Canyon

1) How did you meet your wife?

It was a dark, stormy night when out of nowhere a rainbow appeared… 🙂  Many years ago, my band was looking for a female vocalist.  After auditioning a few singers, it seemed that we hit a dead end.  Our bass player had recently met Arielle on a Spartan Race and found out that she was an aspiring singer.  He invited her to audition for us, and the rest is history as they say.RELish By Arielle and Autumn Twilights perform at Viper Room

2) What attracted you to her?
Everything.  I know it sounds cliche to say that, but it’s my truth.  We immediately clicked on a creative level, she was absolutely beautiful, and she was such a passionate, professional woman.  It was all SO attractive.  To this day, we have the same bond.
3) What inspires you most about her?
I’ve never met anyone more determined to bring her dreams and passions to fruition.  She works, she blogs, she draws, she runs, she’s a loving wife, and most recently, the most amazing mom to our daughter.   She lives everyday working her hardest and trying to balance all aspects of her life as best as she can.  Everyday she finds time for me, for our daughter, and time to work on passion projects.  I can only hope to have that much drive and determination.  I owe so much to her.engagement photos RELish By Arielle
4) How did you propose? Walk us through the day. What were your favorite parts? What made you most nervous?
Aaah, that was such a great day!  It was a freezing cold day in December when I proposed to Arielle.  December 27th to be exact.  We were back in Virginia visiting my family for Christmas.  I had arranged for a few of my friends to be a part of the proposal at a state park that I frequented while growing up there.  The day was all about showing Arielle places from my childhood.

She had never visited my hometown, so it was going to be a walk through my history.  I was so nervous because I had to keep the ring on my all day until we got to the park.  I was so afraid that she would see the ring and my plan would be ruined. The plan was to take her to the park and show her around.What she didn’t know was that I had friends planted at the park, staged as tourists, who would walk close to us and take pictures of everything.  She had never met these friends before, so she wouldn’t be able to identify them.  The park sits along the Potomac River in Great Falls, VA, with beautiful scenery all around.

From the trees, to the rocks, to the running river below which divides Virginia and Maryland.  On the other side of the river was another friend who was staged in Maryland, prepared to take panoramic shots of the proposal.  As we walked through the park, I found a perfect spot to propose on the rocks overlooking the river.  My friends were set, and the proposal was on.  It was truly a magical experience.  I think my favorite part was how well the plan was executed.  It was perfect.RELish By Arielle's wedding at McCormick Home Ranch in Camarillo, California

5) Describe your wedding. How was the planning process? How about the special day?
In one word: Magical.  We had such an amazing day surrounded and showered with so much love.  I couldn’t have planned it or imagined it any better.  The planning process was thorough and trying at times, but in the end we all worked as a team.  As an event planner, I was definitely much more involved than most grooms-to-be.  I love planning and seeing all parts come together and work seamlessly.  Wedding planning is a lot of work, but as I know, it mostly about managing personalities than it is planning the actual event.  Once you can get everyone on the same page for the same common goal, it gets so much easier.
6) Describe your experience throughout pregnancy. If you could go back, what would you do differently?
Honestly, as a man, I feel that you don’t experience as much connection or emotion as you thought you might throughout pregnancy.  As I stated in my previous post, it’s not quite real until the baby is here. We go through the motions, we shower our partners with love and support, and try to prepare for fatherhood.  I’m not sure what else I could have done differently except all the cliche answers.  sleep, go out  and do things that don’t come as easily when you have a child, sleep….Did I mention sleep?!?  Otherwise, I feel that your role is to love and support as best as you can, while managing your emotions and preparing for the next stage. Blogger, RELish By Arielle welcomes Naiya Lennon
7) Describe the birth of your daughter. What was that day like for you? What will you always remember?
Chaos.  Honestly, chaos.  Nothing went as planned and there was really nothing magical about the experience as many people have described their experiences.  It was raw, emotional, sad, scary, and exhausting.  I know I should say everything I’m supposed to say about how beautiful it was, but it wasn’t.  It was a brutal day with twists and turns at every step.  Yes, finally being able to hold Naiya was amazing, and felt surreal, but the process was painful, and that’s me speaking, not even Arielle.  I can’t imagine being her, hoping for this amazing birth experience, but instead being hurled through an emergency surgery as your child’s heart stops in the middle of labor.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, she’s my hero, now and always.
8) Tell us about the first three months of parenthood. If you could go back, what would you do differently? What would you tell yourself then if you could?
The first three months of parenthood was very difficult.  I know some people may see it as part of the process and I should have seen it coming, but NO ONE is prepared for that.  I was not prepared for those first few months.  I was not prepared to lose that much sleep, and listen to that much screaming, and feel so distant from my wife, and feel so out of control with my emotions.  I truly felt like I was having an out of body experience.  I didn’t recognize myself.  I was so sad when I should have been happy.  I was so depressed when I should have been excited.  I was experiencing so many raw emotions that were so new for me, and I didn’t know how to fix it.  I was putting on a smile for so many people, including both of our families, all while feeling hopeless inside.Newborn photography welcoming blogger, RELish By Arielle's daughter, Naiya
I didn’t feel like I was getting support from many people during that time.  Yes, there were plenty that really stepped up in my time of need but so many that didn’t.  There might even be people who read this post and see for the first time just how bad it was.  I’m so thankful for my wife and my family for really understanding what I was going through.  Despite how much love they were giving to our daughter, they found time to check on me and understand what I was going through, and helped me navigate those uncharted waters with me.

I’m really not sure that I could or would have done anything differently, sometimes experiences reveal you to yourself, and sometimes those revelations are important to your evolution as a person.  Those tough times made me a better man, husband and father.  I’m proud of myself for getting through to the other side of my depression during that time.  There were some days I thought I’d never see the light.
9) What is the most important relationship advice you’d give to other new parents?
You MUST take every opportunity for time together, by yourselves.  If someone offers to watch your child for a few hours, DO IT!!  Ask for help, so you can have time together.  It’s very easy to get into a bad routine of ONLY being parents, and not being good partners to each other.  That is a slippery slope and must be avoided at all costs.  You need that love, you need that partnership, you need that support.  Don’t lost sight of what got you there.  It was the love between two people that lit the way.  Keep that torch lit at all times.RELish By Arielle baby style from Target
10) Where do you see your family in five years? Ten?
I truly hope we’re travelling and living life to the fullest.  That’s all we want for ourselves.  Work our butts off now to enjoy that fruits of our labor later.
11) What are your biggest goals for your relationship? How about as a father?
My biggest goal for our relationship is to love each other more each day.  If a day goes by where my wife loves me less than the day before, I need to recognize, take responsibility, and work to make the next day even better.  We may not always be perfect–and arguments and differences will come–but we should always be more in love with each other than the day before.  As for fatherhood, I need to be the best for my daughter.  I need to be her rock.  I need to be her light.  I want to make her proud every day to be my daughter.  I want to inspire her to be her best.
12) What do you love the most about your wife?
I love most that my wife never stops working on being the best person she can be.  She wants to be the best wife, the best mom, the best blogger, the best worker, the best producer, the healthiest eater, etc.  I love that passion, drive and determination.  I admire the amount of love she has for so many.  I love that despite the way she’s sometimes treated by others, she forgives them and never loses that love for them.  I love the passion she has for motherhood and how much she has embraced her new role.  I love her passion for creativity and the arts.  I love that she loves me.  I feel lucky every day that I’ve been so fortunate to deserve the love of such an incredible woman.  I am truly blessed.

Photography: Azusa Takano