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Hitched: 12 years of marriage, and never a dull moment
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By Dorothy Schneider and Brian Wallheimer
Dorothy Schneider and Brian Wallheimer have their hands full with three young children: two daughters and a son. They tell stories about the kids, but also the challenges of building and maintaining their own relationship through all life’s ...
Dorothy Schneider and Brian Wallheimer have their hands full with three young children: two daughters and a son. They tell stories about the kids, but also the challenges of building and maintaining their own relationship through all life’s challenges.
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By Dorothy and Brian Wallheimer
Nov. 20, 2017 1:55 p.m.

This time of year is a hectic one with families assembling for Thanksgiving and plans being made for so many December holidays. There are presents to buy, yards to clean up and work to be done before taking days off around Christmas and the new year.

Amidst all that, my birthday lands just before Christmas. And more importantly, Dorothy and I celebrate our 12th anniversary on Nov. 26.

It feels like this has been a crazy year. Dorothy took a job around this time last year at the Exelon nuclear plant in Byron. And just during the last few weeks, she accepted a promotion to the corporate team, which means she's out of the house a little more and a bit stressed as she learns her new role.

I've taken on an almost-full-time writing job since the summer. That's great in the sense that I don't have to dig around for work too often, but stressful since I have a bit more to do on top of the stay-at-home dad duties I took on a few years ago. Oh, and I donated bone marrow twice and decided to take on writing a book that will likely take several years of research and work.

Yes, it would be easy to think of this as an exceptional year, but then I got thinking back on the 14-plus years Dorothy and I have been together. It seems there has never really been a 'normal' time. Here are some highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be):

  • After meeting in graduate school, Dorothy and I moved to New England for newspaper reporting jobs, living on a shoestring budget. During our time there we decided the booming housing market was a great investment. So we bought a condo in Connecticut literally days before the housing market crashed, which kept us on that tight budget a little longer than we had planned.

  • Before that condo purchase, Dorothy and I lived in a small apartment where I proposed. Of course, I had planned on Dorothy being home from work late, a pretty common occurrence in the journalism world. When she called to say she was on her way, I insisted she stay in her car while I scrambled to finish a homemade meal, clean up, get dressed and put on nice music so I could pop the question. It later occurred to me that it probably looked like I was having some sort of affair while Dorothy froze in a dimly lit parking lot wondering why she couldn't come inside.

  • Always ones to look for deals, Dorothy and I took a weekend honeymoon to Niagara Falls. It turns out it's a really inexpensive place to go in December, when it's only really you and a handful of foreign tourists who were clearly feeling duped for coming to such an inhospitable place for a vacation. Years later we sold plasma for some months to get out from under the loss we took on the disastrous condo purchase. But then we kept up with the plasma process months longer to finance a trip to Italy for a five-years-delayed but less-frozen version of our honeymoon.

  • Upon moving to Indiana, we got the worst dog known to man. Muzzy is a sweet puggle, but she snores constantly, and she is known to eat underwear, socks, tubes of diaper rash cream, sticks of butter left on the dining room table and glass Christmas tree ornaments. We love her still, though sometimes Dorothy has to be reminded of that.

  • Dorothy talked me into being surprised on the gender of our first-born, Ellie. But I insisted we know for the second time around. We spent months thinking we were having a boy until a technician later said the baby looked like a girl. For the record, the tech was correct about Katie, but it was more of a surprise than we expected. And before Charlie was born, I mercilessly grilled doctors and technicians to be sure they were all on the same page this time.

  • In Rockford, I made the move to leave journalism for the second time. I committed myself to raising our children, a task that has been equal parts fulfilling and overwhelming at times. Dorothy made the leap from journalism into corporate communications and public relations. These are great situations for us, but far cries from the lifelong journalists we had planned on being.

    Going back 14 years to meeting Dorothy at a party in graduate school, I can't imagine we could have laid out the road we took to get here. We've changed, seen the world change dramatically and learned to fight through hard times to get to the good ones, of which there seem to be more and more all the time.

    Here's to another crazy year. I'm sure the next will be much of the same. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Brian Wallheimer; brian.wallheimer@gmail.com

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