Happy Summer

It’s been over two months since the moved to our new beach place and, I have to say, it is better than I expected.  We are enjoying a great summer near the ocean; exploring, relaxing, adventuring and refreshing as we gear up for this upcoming school year. This summer has given me a small glimpse into my future with the hubs and no kids. I’ve seen a quick view of what empty nest life will be like.  I am incredibly sad to see this season go, but, after this summer, I’m becoming more excited for the next season. This coming school year, both of my children will be seniors; one in high school and one in college.  Also, my daughter gets married in a little less than a year!  This means over the next year, we will choose a college for our son. Our son will graduate from high school.  We will plan and put together a wedding for our daughter.  Our daughter will graduate from college and become a registered nurse.  And about one year from now, our daughter will get married! Lots of changes on the horizon.  Lots of emotions to be had.

I have a ridiculous amount of photos to share from the first couple of months in our beach place.  Scroll on if you’re bored and have time.

HAPPY SUMMER!

 

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The Big Move

        

So, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted to the blog but this big change warranted a post. Hoping to get back to more postings about our new journey.

It seems like most people have a similar story; the couple meet in college, they fall in love and get married. They spend the next 10 years or so traveling, building their careers, building a home with pretty things and enjoying time with each other before settling down to have children. Good, bad or indifferent, our story is the opposite of most.

My husband and I met when we were 16 during my junior and his senior year of high school. We fell in love and got engaged at 19 and 20, married at 20 and 21 had our first baby at 21 and 22 with the second baby at 24 and 25. There was no money or time to travel, to build a career, to build a home with pretty things or spend a lot of time together. We focused on our children and our family.

Then in the blink of an eye, we realized our children are pretty much grown. We took a step back and evaluated. We have been married for nearly 22 years and most of our furniture was given to us and we had no matching dishes or towels (just to nam a few). We had been so focused on raising children, we hadn’t really focused on all the little things. We were living like college students!

So we decided to make a big change. We decided to sell our family home and purchase a small town home near the beach. Our town home is about half the size of our family home. This was the perfect opportunity to throw away all of our old crap and actually be adults and buy and fill our home with new and pretty things.

Our daughter has moved out and will be getting married next year (yikes!). Our son will be 18 in a month and will spend his senior year in the town home before he goes to college. After that, it will be just the two of us. We have never truly been married without kids but we are excited about this next season of our lives. While everyone else our age is raising a family, we will be biking to the beach to watch the sunset, paddleboarding down the intercoastal, fishing from our boat, walking to beach restaurants for dinner and traveling the world.

Even though our story is different, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have two amazing (ahem) adult children (still so hard to say) that I am incredibly proud of and a loving husband that I get to spend the rest of my life with. So while it’s sad to see my children go, I am excited to step into the next phase of our marriage; our fun empty nest phase.

Friday

Sunset

Eat food from farmers markets.
Drink good tea each morning.
Read books that make you feel.
Paint, even if you’re awful.
Write, even when you have nothing to say.
Sit in the fresh air outside.
Go on hikes.
Swim in lakes and wade in streams.
Sleep as long as you need.
Work hard at what you love.
Work hard at what you hate.

Love unconditionally and wholeheartedly.

Happy Friday!

Favorite Things

Nell and Steve Sunshine SmallSunset Half Down Small Steve Walking into Sun Small Steve in Sunset Small Nell Sitting in Road Small Nell Running in Sunset Looking Up Small Nell and Steve Sunshine Looking at each other Small Epic Sunset Small Bunny Small Blurry Bird Flying Small Nell Running in Sunset Looking Down Small

We chased the sunset, discovered uncharted territory, held hands, talked, laughed and saw a bunny. Two of my most favorite things; nature and my husband.  This night was good.

Thoughts on Nature

Orange Lion King Sunset Caution Everglades Sign Bird Diving Orange Lion King Sunset over water Orange Sunset Road Glades on 1 Side Bird Flying over Everglades  Sunset with Palm Boys on a JeepOrange and Blue Sunset

I am a sucker for nature; pretty much any kind.  Being emerged in the beauty of the outdoors brings me peace and tranquility like nothing else.  As I sit there soaking it all in, I lose track of time and all worries of this world.  Nature is one of the places that I easily connect with God.  I see him everywhere; His majesty and wonder surrounds me. Florida sunsets are simply the best! What a great way to end an awesome weekend.

A Christmas Celebration

I first want to acknowledge that it has been quite a while since I’ve posted here.  As you all can probably understand, this season has been quite busy.  But more importantly, I’ve been spending time focusing on the things that truly matter most; my family and the multitudes of blessings in my life.

This Christmas was quite a bit better than last.  Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot of good things to be better than last year.  Last year was spent in a trauma ICU room with my mom fighting for her life.  I am happy to say that this Christmas wasn’t just a little bit better than last Christmas; it was leaps and bounds better than last year.  My mom’s amazing recovery resulting from miracle after miracle (see the one year update here) which meant that she was with us this Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus, opening many presents and eating delicious food.  My daughter was home from college and we enjoyed some great family time with her and with my husband and with my son watching movies, shopping, opening presents, laughing and enjoying life.  And if that wasn’t enough, we had some very exciting Christmas news that was icing on the cake.  My brother proposed to his girlfriend!  I helped him pick out the ring weeks earlier.  He proposed on Christmas morning but my parents had no idea.  He surprised them on Christmas day with the proposal.  We absolutely love her and are beyond excited that she will be joining the family.  I am finally getting a sister!

So this Christmas was a celebration of life; recovered life, renewed life, and new life to come.  It was a Christmas of hopes and dreams and pure joy and happiness.  We are truly blessed!

Merry Christmas to you and yours during this wonderful season!

Nell and Steve RestaurantBanana with Bow Candelight Christmas Service Earl and Joanna  Nana and Papa on Boat Nana Many Presents Nana Papa Earl Bunny Ears Nell and Joanna Nell Dee Trey Restaurant Papa Hammock Papa Leezo  Papp Driving Boat Steve Fried TurkeTrey on the Boat

I’m on a Boat

Boat - Mom and NellBoat - SteveBoat - Trey DrivingBoat - Mom BundledBoat - PapaBoat - Joanna and KonaBoat - Steve 2Boat - Mom and DadBoat - Nell and SteveBoat - Earl Cast NetBoat - Trey DrivingBoat - Nell Lighthouse

My dad has worked so very hard for over 40 years; selflessly, tirelessly and wholeheartedly giving everything he has. The only thing that he’s ever wanted is a nice salt water fishing boat. Because of my mom’s accident (11 months ago today!), he had to retire suddenly and much earlier than he expected.  Because of this, he didn’t think he would be able to ever have his dream boat. Well, I’m excited to say that after all his hard work and the horrible year that he’s had (that none of us can ever imagine) he got his dream boat this past weekend. The entire family went out on the boat on Sunday. Dad’s favorite thing is to have all of his family together, but this time he had all of his family on his dream boat. He was in heaven. I cry tears of joy every time I tell this story. He so greatly deserves this gift. He is the most amazing man and I am beyond excited for him. I foresee many more days with family in the boat enjoying the water and each other. God is totally in the process of taking something that was a tragic and absolutely horrific situation and right before our eyes is turning it into something good. Just to be a part of this story has been so amazing; a true privilege. You just never know how things are going to turn out in any situation. Life is certainly not easy for mom and dad. But we are starting to see so much positivity and blessing in their lives. I can’t think of any two people more deserving of a blessed life.  Now, let’s hit the water!

Time

This place.  It seems when we are here, time stands still.  I love going out to the Everglades with Steve to watch the sunset.  It is in these moments when we can put everything aside just be.  We can sit and watch the beauty all around us while we talk about big things, little things, silly things, insignificant things, everything. I love dreaming. I love thinking about what can be.  These are some of my most favorite moments.

Sunset with RaysNell in Everglades Really Close Steve Hands out in SunSteve at Everglades SunsetSteve Looking at Sunset Sunset Hand No Parking any timeNell Walking in Everglades

Fifteen

Trey with Lit Cake

Look who’s 15! Not even sure how this happened. When I  hug him, my head rests on his chest. He has become a young man overnight.

We have entered the cave phase where he wants to be alone in his cave (room) playing video games. My only complaint at this stage is that I miss him. I miss him a lot. I miss his laugh, his smile and his amazing sense of humor. This kid is hilarious and can make me laugh like no other; well like one other. He’s just like his dad. He is hilarious to the core with an incredibly sweet heart. I am so incredibly proud to be his mom. He is the most amazing boy, ahem, I mean young man.

Happy birthday, Trey! I can’t wait to see what your high school years bring. I love you more than words can say.

Lately

I have to apologize upfront for the lengthy post. If you’re bored, read on. (pictures below)

I know I have been MIA from the blog for a while now. Life has been quite crazy lately. To be perfectly honest, 2015 has been a “B”. Life is hard. Life is difficult. And sometimes life just plain sucks but on the flip side there are always bright spots and things to be grateful for.

You always hear that when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and endure many trials, this is when God can do the most work. All I can say is that God must be doing something big. I have no idea what, but something big. Life is hard. Life is tough.   It just is. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by our circumstances, we will most certainly exist on a roller coaster of emotions. I try to reside above my circumstances and see my life from God’s point of view, but I fail miserably all the time. I’m learning and trying to allow God to mold and shape me along this journey; to become the person that He wants me to be. It’s only April but I’ve learned many life lessons this year, and particularly two lessons stand out to me at this moment and time. First, you have to look at your blessings. If you’re busy being thankful for what you have, you have no time for complaints (I fail at this often – just ask my husband). Second, is to rise above your circumstances and view your life from God’s point of view. It’s difficult but when you do this, that issue that seemed like the biggest thing in the world, becomes only a small blip on your map of life.

Life has been crazy; some things good, some things bad, some things horrible and probably everything in between. Here are a few; my mom’s tragic car accident with a roller coaster of life and death moments, the long continual journey to her recovery, my Granny becoming sick twice, my Granny finally passing away, celebrating my daughter turning 18, celebrating my mom’s 59th birthday (which we weren’t sure we’d get to do), planning my daughter’s senior prom, planning for her high school graduation, planning a graduation trip and trying to land a huge 3 year long technology project at work (in which I am leading).

The topic of my mom; where do I even start? It is been miraculous, yet devastating. I have in some ways become a back up caregiver, supporter and mother to her this year and will continue to do so for as long as it takes (probably years). This area can and does easily become a big roller coaster of emotions but I am forever grateful to God for saving her life and slowly brining her back to us. I will say that celebrating her 59th birthday was the most special birthday celebration of all because, honestly, three or four months ago I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible. Then there’s my dad; my poor sweet dad. His life has flipped upside down and inside out. He had to leave his job, sell several properties, fight with insurance (daily), move across the country, take over the rental business, start paying all the bills and biggest of all has had to become the caregiver for my mom. The crazy thing is that he does all of these things simultaneously. He has always been the rock of our family and he still is but my brother and I have been there to help hold him up when he just can’t go anymore. He’s giving it all he has in an extremely difficult situation. As I tell him weekly, “I’m not concerned about mom. She’s coming back. I’m concerned about you.” (posting daily on her CaringBridge site)

My Granny. Oh, my sweet Granny. I’m not ready to talk fully about this yet but when I am, you’ll most likely see a blog post about it. I will state it simply like this. She was more than a granny. I was a daughter to her and she was a mother to me. I meant the world to her. We had a one of a kind special relationship. I have her wedding ring on my finger as I type this post and every time I look at it I cry. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by since Easter that I haven’t cried over losing her. She is by far the closest person to me that I’ve ever lost.

In all of this darkness, there’s the bright spots in my life. I get to watch my little girl turn into an adult, plan prom, pick out a dress, witness all those last moments of her high school career, plan for her upcoming graduation, plan an exciting graduation trip to celebrate, pick a college, pick a major, and plan her future. How exciting this has been. The excitement and joy on her face makes everything better. Yes, there are many difficult things happening this year, but on the flip side of that, there are all these exciting moments that I am so blessed to get to be a part of. This is the biggest, most monumental year Danica has ever had. I am loving every minute of it. These are all lasts to experience and I plan on being there for every one of them. For me personally, it is emotional for yet very exciting at the same time. I can’t think about all if it too hard because I will cry. I can’t believe we have reached this moment in her life. I feel like she should still be that sweet little sassy southern girl with a twang in her voice. I cannot wait to see what her future holds. There is no doubt in my mind that she will do amazing things.

Then there’s work. I never really talk about work on the blog but this year is a big year. My manta last year was that 2015 would be a big year for me (without my mom’s accident happening) due to the launch of this project, Danica graduating high school and going off to college. I work in technology for a local non-profit. This project is three years in the making and it is huge. We are literally replacing the entire technological infrastructure of the organization. God is in this and I am certainly trusting in Him.

When I reflect on everything that my life holds at this moment in time, I can easily get overwhelmed. What I have to remember is that God has a plan. Only He knows the big picture. I’m learning to take each day, one day at a time, which has been a monumental lesson for me as I am a dreamer and a planner. Honestly, for my own sanity, I have no choice but to operate this way and it works. Life is short and fragile. In a moment it can be flipped upside down. The people you love the most won’t be there forever. Your children will grow up fast and move on with their lives. Soak up every moment of this day. Let the ones you love know how much you love them. This may be the only opportunity you have to do so. Enjoy each and every moment with your children because before you know it, they will no longer be living under your roof.

All I can say is this.  Live for today. Life is short.

Here are a few pictures of life lately.

Mom and Dad at LaunchDee FAU ShirtMom and Nell at LaunchNell & GrannyMom & Dad on Moms BirthdayGranny RingNell & Dee at the Beach 18 BirthdayCR Beach