Morelli, the man

Believe me, Morelli is not perfect. I have been married to the man for 10 years. He is far from perfect, but he's pretty damn good in my opinion and parts of him are excellent. My friends and family think he's perfection.

They don't have to live with him or deal with his wake. My mother told me once that in every relationship someone has to be the calm and someone has to be the storm. Joe and I both used to be the storm. Then I was the storm, and then he was the storm. Now, we trade back and forth pretty regularly, depending on the subject.

We have 4 sons, Joe Jr. who is 9, Tony, 7, Nicky, 5, and Gianni who is 2. We finally had a daughter, Sophia, 2 months ago. I know, I know. Yes, we know what causes that. We just couldn't bring ourselves to stop before now. That's another story.

Mr. Perfection leaves his underwear wherever he happens to drop them, which could still be just about anywhere. He feigns incompetence when it comes to the dishwasher so I will stop asking him to load it, and he thinks those brown eyes will get him out of just about any jam. He's right on that count. He can stare at the TV and turn his ears off better than my dad can – especially during a disaster with the kids that may involve bodily fluids of any type.

I never thought I, Stephanie Morelli, bounty hunter extraordinaire, would be really happy in this kind of life. I still don't cook much. If it is beyond Macaroni and Cheese, Joe cooks it or we do takeout. I don't really keep house all that well.

I'm sure Joe's mom cringes when she sees the windows she worked so hard to keep sparkling all those years (we traded houses with her when #4 was born). And I'm sure she wants to die when she comes to visit and finds Joe's underwear in the entry hall because that's just where he took them off last night. He's not self-conscious about his physique at all. He has no reason to be – at 45 he's still an Italian hard-body. I guess that could give the boys a good self-image or it could just make them weirdos. Joe knows that when Sophia is a little older he will need to straighten up a bit, but for now, he's happy being free as a bird. I'm not saying that he walks around naked a lot, but he doesn't hesitate to do it if he wants to. And I don't mind. He looks great.

Joe never had to really manage money before the kids came along. We did okay financially. Not rich by any means, but he had a decent steady income and mine was okay but sporadic. But when it came down to paying $3000 worth of bills and he only had $2600 to do it, he was clueless. Heck, for me, it was heaven. If I had to pay $3000 worth of bills, I would have only had $1800 to do it with before we got married. I understood how this game was played. Anyway, financial management became my responsibility as soon as we learned Joe Jr. was on the way. Ten years later, Joe still forgets to tell me little things like the fact that he took $200 out of the ATM, so we have overdrafts and then the shit hits the fan. This is typically when the brown eyes help him.

I have to say, Joe is a great dad. Each of the boys looks exactly like Joe did when he was a kid. Our daughter, I think will look like me, but with lighter hair maybe.

When Joe Jr. was born, Joe was a changed man. It was like he was validated or something. A 'real' man – chest out, chin held high – his seed had created this child. It's like I wasn't even involved. Joe was just pumped higher with the birth of each boy. His 'tribe' he called them. Then, Sophia came along. And Joe melted. By the time she came home from the hospital he was a goner. I knew then that I would never be the number one girl in his life ever again. I tell him that this is what it would be like if he could love me totally and unconditionally. He says he does, but I can see that he knows the truth. He loves me as unconditionally as he can, but Sophia is his girl.

As for the boys, you know, Joe's a man's man. He actively encourages burping and farting amongst the boys. I swear. They have contests. It is gross. Of course, being boys, they love it. Since Joe drinks beer from a bottle, it is a must that, once each boy is old enough to manage a bottle of his own, they must have root beer when their dad has beer. They idolize him.

Since Joe Jr. was able to toddle over to Joe when he came in from work, the routine has been the same. Joe hollers to me that he's home and then he steps aside to the hall closet and locks his service revolver into the gun safe that we had built in there. The safe clicking shut is the signal the kids are waiting to hear before all hell breaks loose and all of them run at him full speed. They all fall on the floor in a writhing mass of giggles and hugs – and sometimes farts. They wrestle for a few minutes while Joe tries to teach the bigger ones to be careful with the littlest. Joe eventually rises like the Phoenix from the bottom of the pile with at least two children in his arms or hanging from his neck and, smiling, drags the others, clinging to his legs, with him to give me a kiss. He's still a great kisser.

I have warned him that Joe Jr. is nine now and may not want to participate in this ritual much longer since teen angst may settle in early. Joe chooses to just relish it while it lasts. I think he secretly worries that he's going to have 4 teenaged boys still tackling him in 10 years and that he's going to get the crap beat out of himself. He would never admit that, however. When the wrestling gets out of control and I hear the unmistakable 'ugh' and see him roll into a little ball because he got racked, I know he's been reminded that they are getting bigger. He told me last week he's considering wearing a cup at all times.

Sophia is just two months old so she's not joined in the tackling brigade yet. I'm sure she will and I'm anxious to see how her feminine presence changes the dynamic of the household from the frat house we've been living in for the past several years.

Joe has always been an early riser. He's still got an amazing libido, my Italian Stallion, and most of our lovemaking happens in the mornings because, hopefully, I am waking up as refreshed and energetic as I will feel all day. My libido has been able to hang in there, too, and because he's such a great lover, I very, VERY seldom turn him down. I heard him boast to his brothers last week, much to my embarrassment, that in 10 years I have turned him down 4 times. I don't understand how a man can forget your birthday but can remember how many times you have turned him down for sex. I guess that's just the way they are built. I like the way Joe is built.

My friends tell me that after marriage their husbands started getting lazy in the bedroom. No foreplay – just wham, bam. Not Joe. I think that's why our sex life has still got so much appeal. He is pretty selfless in the bedroom, I mean, don't get me wrong, it is all so he can do it all again tomorrow, or this afternoon, or tonight. But, he makes really sure I am happy before moving along to his own needs.

Our morning routine is simple and has been the same, pretty much, since the first child was born. Typically, he gets up after we make love in the morning and he retrieves the baby and brings the child to me in our bed so I can nurse. Joe will have changed the diaper and the baby is usually all smiley. After his shower, he goes and gets the older boys all roused out of bed and dressed. They are usually crunching on cereal by the time I make it downstairs. He drops the school aged ones off at school on his way to work.

Since Gianni is just two now, he's still not on the big boy's schedule. Usually still in his jammies, he will be doing his darnedest to keep up with the mob. It hurts his feelings so much that his daddy takes the other boys and leaves him here that at least half the time Joe loads him up in the car, too, and then drops him back off here with me before going to work. Joe just can't stand to see those tears and know he's hurt Gianni's feelings so if he has that extra 10 minutes, he goes out of his way.

We traded houses with Joe's mom when #4 was born because we were busting out at the seams and she offered. This gives us 4 bedrooms and a big fenced in back yard – officially known as the 'mud pit' since Mother Nature can't keep up with the foot traffic of all these kids. This house is used to it. Joe's family had 5 children as well. There is a nice rose bush border around the edge and some shade trees, but little grass can survive. Joe and the boys embrace the availability of natural resources, so on Saturdays we often have a big mud football game with cousins – Joe's siblings and their kids. It really isn't football since many of the kids are too young to embrace the rules – it's more of a mud wrestling match with a football thrown in to encourage hand – eye coordination.

Since we have 4 bedrooms, the two older boys share one and the two younger boys share one. We are in the third and, until now, the fourth has been a home office that I work in sometimes, doing private investigation work and various odd jobs. I guess we'll move Sophia in there when she's bigger. Maybe I can talk Joe into adding on a room downstairs for an office. I have been trying to squirrel away money for a boob job once Sophia is weaned, but I may put it into remodeling instead. Choices, choices.

We have a lively 80 pound animal shelter reject named Sam. Bob, our first dog, lived to a ripe old age and then died of natural causes. Joe was devastated. I've never seen him that broken up over anything except when I miscarried at 21 weeks once. I cried for days over Bob. The kids were still small and Joe wanted them to grow up with a dog, so after about a month we went to the shelter and found Sam. His little puppy lips were bloody from chewing on the wire cage. He had funny wispy hair on his ears and on his long skinny tail and he had HUGE feet. He is a funny sort of yellow brownish color. For whatever reason, with all the beautiful little wiggly puppies there, Joe picked Sam. It proved to be a perfect decision because he's almost Bob reincarnated. In the first day home he ate a rectal infant thermometer, an entire lasagna, and a binkie. And he never got sick. We knew Sam was the dog for us. He patiently laid perfectly still when Tony and Nicky were learning to stand up and used his ears as pullup handles and when little fingers were tangled in his hair and chubby fists pulled his lips. If someone is sick, Sam doesn't leave their side. He still eats everything and seems to have a cast iron stomach which comes in handy around this house.

So, needless to say, this is my life. I can't imagine wanting it to be any other way, except maybe if we could have an unlimited supply of money. Of if I could fly.