Today Dom finally catches up with me. Those 8 months between my birthday in February and his in October seem to last an eternity, what with him and the kids reminding me that I am, in fact, “older.” For the next four months I will revel in the fact that we are once again “the same age,” if only temporarily. In celebration of the most wonderful man I know, here are the top 38 reasons he makes my world smiley:

(Drum roll, please…)

38. When I switched all household, personal care and food products to natural and organic, he didn’t complain one bit. He willingly accepted the natural shave gel, shampoo and toothpaste I imposed on him.

37. He kindly offers to go to the grocery store for me. However, he also understands my controlling and cost-comparing nature, bids me bon voyage, and is always there to help unload when I finally come home from four stores.

36. He is an awesome dad!

35. He is the kid-approved Accelerated Math double-checker.

34. He voluntarily does dishes and floors.

33. He tolerates my home-improvement projects, participates, and acknowledges the success when the project is over.

32. He willingly crawled through attic insulation in the dead heat of summer, scraping skin and smashing his head on wooden beams, all so that I could have separate fan and light switches for a new ceiling fan.

31. He is willing to let me dig up 60 square feet of our back yard for a vegetable garden.

30. When I told him I wanted beneficial nematodes (parasitic bugs) to kill some termites in our flowerbed, he laughed out loud, but let me order them anyway.

29. He has started to take a liking to the bunny rabbits. And even though the bunnies were never his idea or preference, he gently guides the kids in taking care of the rabbits.

28. Despite the fact that he always said, “No dogs on the furniture!” he was the one who first invited Mason up into the bed.

27. He always looks great in a pair of Ray-Bans.

26. He agreed to be the King of Hearts in a joint Halloween costume when we were in college. Who wouldn’t love a man for that?!

25. He lets Mabel lay across his feet at night, even though it is incredibly uncomfortable, because he knows that’s where she’s happiest.

24. He gets tickets for us to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra every year.

23. When I am stressed, worried, or otherwise out of sorts, he sends me to my Mom. He does all he can for me first, and then recognizes when there are things only a mother can fix.

22. He stepped out of his comfort zone so that we could become Eucharistic Ministers together at our church.

21. He calls me at work during the day just to say hi.

20. Even the butterflies love him.

19. He will watch all 6 hours of Lonesome Dove with me anytime I ask. He’s my Gus, and I’m his Lori-Darlin’.

18. He knows the lines from my favorite chic flicks. When I was in my own little world one day in the kitchen talking about a new cookbook I had and making reference to cooking something that “freezes beautifully” I trailed off into quoting the script of Steel Magnolias, finally ending with “Sammy Dewayne Desoto, WHAT is this in my Frigidaire?” From the den, I heard Dom in a southern drawl correctly reply, “Beer.”

17. It was Dom’s idea to go back to school for Accounting credits, and I am grateful that he convinced me to go back with him.

16. He respects nature and enjoys simple beauty.

15. He gladly does all the fun-parent things that I am too scared to do, like riding water-soaked roller coasters.

14. He’s always up for family pictures, even when I’m not.

13. He saves all cards that the kids and I give him.

12. He told me just this week that he buys Coors Light in bottles because he knows that’s the only beer I’ll drink.

11. When we travel, he likes to take extra time to do the fun and unique stuff. He’s willing to rent a car and drive umpteen miles to a winery so we can wander around cluelessly and buy wine that we can’t fly home with. He also will help me drink all the wine before we go home, so the money is not wasted.

10. He has never complained about a single thing I have cooked. If he doesn’t like something, he gently says, “This was okay, but you don’t have to make it again anytime soon.” And if he does like something, he grins and says, “That doesn’t suck!”

9. In a moment of mortal clarity in talking about our wills, I shared with him that I don’t believe I would survive if some cruel twist of fate were to take him from me, and that they would just have to dig his grave big enough for both of us. I’ll never forget the moment…he was reaching into the cabinet for his keys, and he said, “No. If I go first, then you still have work to do. Just know that I’ll be waiting for you.” At any rate, he doesn’t think I’m creepy for planning our funerals.

8. He bought a riding lawn mower. Even though I made fun of it in the beginning, it has proven to be one of the best investments EVER.

7. As Phoebe explained in an episode of Friends, he’s my lobster.

6. He wants me to hunt with him. He has prepared a deer stand this season so that we can sit comfortably together.

5. Moments like this…

4. He plays Chess with the kids, and he kicks my butt in Monopoly.

3. He dances with me in the bar of Ernest’s.

2. He likes my ideas (generally), listens to me talk, and when I wake him up to argue a point, he doesn’t run me out on a rail. He reads my blogs, listens to my music, and supports every wish I’ve ever had for myself. When he disagrees with me, he does so respectfully. He has never said anything to intentionally hurt my feelings, and his gentleness has taught me much about how to treat other people.

1. Even though I know better, he still says he’s the Lucky One.

It is as true today as the first time I said it, Dom: I love you more than life. Happy Birthday!!