How I Met Your Father, Pita Shawn

Dear Kids,

I’d like to tell you the story of how I met your father. Like most stories, this one is full of life lessons. Pay attention—you just might learn something!

I was twenty years old when I met your father. I had spent the summer with my best friend, Ashley, filling every second of our three months of glory with sunshine, sand, and road trips. We were summer goddesses, wearing our giant sunglasses and always smelling like suntan oil and bronzer.

Lesson Number One: Find a really good friend.

Neither Ashley nor I was dating anyone, so we spent most of our free time together, living life fully. Although our schedule was wide open, our days were jam packed. We did whatever sounded good at the time, meeting new people and going new places. We loved to rollerblade around Iowa City, flying down the residential hills, and rHow I met your father 3olling leisurely down by the river behind the IMU.

Lesson Number Two: Go out into the world with your friend and be unique.

After one long rollerblading adventure, we found ourselves sipping drinks on the porch of some friendly coeds who had offered us rehydration. After all that exercise and sunshine, we decided we were hungry for breakfast burritos. Although we knew of no Iowa City establishment that sold them, one guy piped up that his friend worked at Pita Pit, and maybe he could pull some strings? (Pita Pit did not make breakfast burritos back then like they do now! Who knows if we were the origin of that idea!?) It was worth a shot. We stopped at the closest gas station and picked up a dozen eggs, and then strolled into Pita Pit to make our request.

Lesson Number Three: Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want, even if it’s not the norm. Ask politely.

There he was: Your daddy. Standing behind the smeary Pita Pit plexiglass, chopping veggies, grilling meat, and slinging shredded cheese like a pro. He had hair down past his chin, his deep-set eyes sparkling under his Pita Pit trucker hat. I was smitten.

As he started scrambling up the eggs, he asked us what kind of veggies we wanted, and I quickly replied, “Oh, all of them! Everything breakfasty!” He paused for a second, looked at me sideways, and asked, “Seriously? Any vegetables I want? Even onions?” I smiled and said, “Yep, even onions,” and that was it. He was smitten.

Lesson Number Four: Eat your vegetables.

How I met your father 2A few weeks after our breakfast pita meeting, Ashley and I stopped into Pita Pit once again, and Pita Shawn, as we had come to call him, invited the both of us to go see the movie Napoleon Dynamite with him. The three of us went to the movie (thank you, Ashley!) and your daddy held my hand during the movie. A few days later we had our first one-on-one date, and your daddy cooked me food in his tiny apartment, and we went out to some cliffs overlooking the reservoir and looked at the stars. I impressed him with my knowledge of constellations and my ability to win at word games. He impressed me by making me food and playing guitar.

Lesson Number Five: Be proud of what you know.

At that time in our lives, I didn’t know that Pita Shawn, who had not yet ever changed a diaper, would one day swaddle his baby girl and put her to sleep better than anyone. I didn’t know that he would become such a good chef, and that we would learn to grow our own food together to feed our family. I didn’t know that he would be at once playful, tender, rambunctious, stern, and compassionate. I didn’t know he would rock his babies and tickle his toddlers and explore the world with his big kids. I didn’t know that some days we would be elbow deep in diapers and dishes, exhausted and overwhelmed, and other days we would soar above mountains overflowing with blessings. Your daddy didn’t know that I, at that time just a new girlfriend who liked veggies, would one day be his wife with a messy ponytail and a baby on her hip who looked just like him.

Kids, you don’t get to know your future. But you do get to make lots of choices in life that will lead you to it.

Lesson Number Six: Make choices that reflect your heart, your values, your dreams.

Your daddy and I did, and we found each other.



How i met your father 5

Lianna is a homesteading mama of three: a sparkly seven-year-old daughter, a joyful five-year-old boy, and a confident three-year-old boy. After graduating from the University of Iowa’s college of education, she started Wondergarten Early Enrichment Home, a multi-age, play-based early childhood program. A self-proclaimed Queen Dabbler, she has a long list of hobbies (from gardening and canning to sewing and painting), and doesn’t mind being only mediocre at all of them. She lives with her husband, mother, three kiddos, dog, cat, rabbits, dwarf goats, and chickens on an acreage in the country. The Cornally family spends their time talking about education, learning how to grow and preserve their own food, and romping around in their woods.


  1. I love this story! (and the cast, of course). Something rather uncanny is that I just showed the wedding video of this story to Lenora last night, not knowing you were writing about it. We loved watching it together. It is a great story any time!


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