An Engagement, a Prom and a Birthday

  

I have learned that it is much more difficult to parent older children, especially adult children, more so than smaller ones. I’m not downplaying the difficulty of raising little ones. Raising little ones is more of a physical drain whereas raising older ones is an emotional one.  Yet, all of is more gratifying than most anything else you’ll experience in life.

I remember those days when my kiddos were little and learning to ride a bike. It was hard in its own way but mama had control of it all. When your kids are older, you must parent with little to no control over their lives. Letting go is hard.

Within one week, my oldest got engaged, my youngest went to his first prom and he also turned 17.  It feels very surreal; like being in some sort of time warp or maybe an out of body experience.  At times I feel like I’m hovering above my life looking down and not really even recognizing it.  It seems like everything is changing all at once but I guess that how life goes, right?  “Children grow old and then they leave.” -Parker Millsap, Homeless.  Just sitting over here trying to adjust.

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Twenty Years

nell_steve_holdinghands_fieldboca_resort_front nell_beach_arms_out nell_steve_swing_nell_laughing nell_waving_balcony steve_side_pool nell_looking_over_balcony photoshoot_looking_at_ea_other_laughing_sm steve-bodyboarding-close-up photoshoot_nellstand_stevesit_sm nell_wipe-out photoshoot-20-pic steve_bodyboarding_tongue_out steve_walking_to_beach nell_bodyboarding

It is truly amazing how quickly twenty years of marriage has flown by.  The first decade was spent having and raising young children and seemed to go by at somewhat of a normal pace.  The second decade has gone by in the blink of an eye.  It feels a bit strange and surreal; like a couple of years went by but definitely not ten.  It seems like we went to sleep one night with young children and woke up with older teens.  We now find ourselves embarking on being empty nesters with two adult children.  I really am having trouble wrapping my mind around this time warp.

Let’s back up over two decades for just a minute.  I’ve been told that my marriage and what we have is an anomaly; truly unlikely and almost statistically impossible.  The hubs and I met my junior year, his senior year of high school.  We became best friends and then started dating.  After dating for four years (on and off), we got married at the young age of 20 and had a baby right away at the age of 21.  Being together since the age of 16, getting married young and having a baby at a young age.  Any one of these factors alone sets us up for failure, but all three?  Impossible.  Right?  Well, somehow we made it.  Not only have we made it this far but we are happy; seriously happy.  We are just as happy now as we were way back then, maybe even more so.

I don’t know that there is any one “secret” to my marriage.  I am just as awestruck as anyone looking in from the outside, to be honest.  I feel incredibly grateful for what I have and I definitely try not to ever take it for granted.  I will say that getting married young and having children young as opposed to waiting until we were older and “set up” in life had its real advantages in our marriage.  In those early years, we truly fumbled through life.  We were so young and had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  I think when you get married young, you expect each other to change.  You expect each other to grow.  This expectation allowed us to come together and actually grow up together.  Neither one of us had the answers.  We just figured it out as we went, but we did so together.  It was an adventure.  It was our adventure that turned into an absolutely beautiful life with an amazing marriage and two awesome kids.

What will the next twenty years hold?  I have no idea. I do know that it will lead us into a brand new season in our lives.  We will have two adult children, become empty nesters, put our children through college and watch them spread their wings and start their own lives.  Then it is us again.  Back to the beginning, in a weird sort of way.  We still won’t have the answers but we will figure it out together.  It will be our next adventure.

* Steve, I cannot thank you enough for sticking by me all these years.  I absolutely love doing life with you.  I cannot wait to see what the next twenty years hold for us.  No doubt, it will be something beautiful.  I love you with all my heart.  😉

 

 

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!

2016 :: A Restart

Vision Board

In many ways, my life was on hold in 2015.  There was the tragedy of my mom’s life and death struggle and recovery from her car accident.  My daughter graduated from high school and then moved out of our house for the first time and went to college.  My 3 year long technology project at work launched (still smoothing out the details).  My son moved to a new school and started high school.  2015 was most definitely a year on hold personally as I prepared for and worked through the tragedies and milestones of life.  While there is still much investment to do in these areas, I want to be intentional about my 2016.  I want to make up for lost time.  I want to have a vision, goals and aspirations.  This is quite a strange thought for me as I have literally never done a New Year’s resolution.  I don’t really believe in them.  Instead of putting together a resolution or multiple resolutions that you forget about within the first month of the year; I decided to make a vision/goals board that fully incorporates everything that I want to do this year.  Most are not simply do and forget goals, but things that I want to do, not only in 2016, but on an ongoing basis.  These are things that I want to make into a lifestyle.

So, here it is; my 2016.  It is going to be a year of celebration.  I turn 40, my parents turn 60, my brother turns 30, I celebrate my 20 year wedding anniversary and my brother is getting married.  How can you not celebrate with this line up?  This is a year setup for celebration.

Here is the list of 2016 visions/goals that went into building the board pictured here.  Happy 2016 to you!  Seize this year.  You never know, it could be your best year yet!

Travel – Hawaii/Costa Rica/Mexico
20 year anniversary & pics
Book teaching
Making friends
Investing in marriage
Have more fun
Smile more
Peace, joy, hope
Stillness (not busy) – letting God work
One day at a time
LOVE
Crossfit
Invest more in 401K
Less confusing; simplify
Go to the ocean more (body board, sup, snorkel)
PMP (project management) certification

2015 :: A Not So Sad Goodbye

Sunset on 2015

Goodbye 2015! You were a quite a crappy year; probably the crappiest yet. But if I’m completely honest with myself, in looking back, in between all the tragedy and hardships were major milestones, joy and miracles. We have my mom with us on this earth. I have an amazing husband that loves me fiercely. We have two extremely amazing and successful children. We are gaining a new family member and overall our family is closer than it ever has been. Looking through the 2015 window of hard times is a future 2016 full of life, new beginnings, hope, love and family. So, what I guess I’m saying is thank you. Thank you for the tough times that has brought forth more blessing than I could even imagine. Bring on 2016! It’s going to be the best year yet!

Happy New Year to you all!

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

Scenes from the Weekend

Trey nana and papa Lunch with Dee Friday Night Lights Football Huddle Prayer Football Everglades Sunset Cup in the Sun Ray Cooking under the lights Coffee in the Hammock SwingBeachClouds

It was the first weekend in October and it is officially fall, I guess.  Living in south Florida gives fall a whole new meaning.  Let’s just say that this was the first weekend where the heat wasn’t scorching, the temps stayed in the mid 80’s and there was a great breeze.  This meant that we could actually stay outside without sweating.  It was amazing!  I was outside every chance I could get.  Here are a few pics from the weekend.

  1. An after game pic with Nana and Papa.  Look how long his legs are!
  2. Taco lunch with my college girl.
  3. Friday night lights.
  4. After game huddle.
  5. Everglades sunset at the football game.  Sunset was beautiful, getting eaten alive by bugs was not so nice.
  6. Sunrise and coffee.
  7. Family cookout.
  8. Coffee in a hammock swing may be the best way to start the day.
  9. The super moon brought clean waves.
  10. Sunny days and sun rays.

 

 

 

Scenes from the Weekend :: Celebrating 41

Wings are Served Steve Deep DiscussionSteve Laughng Hysterically    Nell Crab Legs Steve and Papa Watching GameNell and Nana Selfie Papa with Silly HatFull Moon before Eclipse Friday Night Lights  Dee Home Mom with crocheted Hand SockButterfly Boil Beginnings Backyard Work in Dress

 

The hubs turned 41 on the 27th.  In true Steve fashion, to celebrate, the decision was made to lay low, hang around the house with family and friends and cook his most favorite meals.  I am a busy body, always wanting to be on the go but I have to admit that the chill birthday weekend he planned was perfect. I had the best time and went into the new week nice and relaxed. Here are some of the pics from our weekend.

  1. Special homemade wings and some football watching.
  2. Good convo with he in-laws.
  3. LOVE this! A true belly laugh. This pic makes me smile every time I look at it.
  4. CRABS! Cooked my famous seafood boil.
  5. “Watching” football.
  6. Selfie with my favorite lady.
  7. Crochet experiment gone wrong.
  8. The blood moon before the eclipse.
  9. Friday night lights.  Trey’s team won 32-20!
  10. SHE CAME HOME TO VISIT! I miss her face so badly! (having grown kids is harder than I expected)
  11. The successful crochet sock for mom’s arm.
  12. Backyard butterfly. I call these the bumble bee butterflies.
  13. Seafood boil beginnings.
  14. Landscaping in a dress.  Why not?

College Girl Ceremony

Handley Family - White Coat Nell and Dee White Coat Dee with Nana and Papa Dee Walking In Dee and Nursing Friends

Our college girl was one of 100 chosen for the direct admit nursing program at her college. The college has a tradition of doing a white coat ceremony at the beginning of the nursing program to signify their commitment to nursing and an initiation into the program.  We absolutely could not be any more proud of our girl and the future that lies ahead for her.  Congrats, Dee!  We love you!

The College Transition

Loaded Truck Dee On Back of Loaded Truck Dee Wallking in with Box Dee Opening Dorm Door First Time Dee Room Before Decorating Dee on Bed in Dorm Dee FAU Sign Nell & Dee Hug GoodbyeDee and Roomates

Our tribe of four is now officially down to three. My daughter moved out of our house for the first time a couple of weeks ago to venture into her college career.  The only way to describe this major life event is bittersweet. On the one hand, I am exceedingly excited for her as the opportunity ahead is an amazing one that she will, no doubt, run with and make great things happen.  She was one of only 100 students accepted into the direct admit nursing program as a freshman.  This makes me one happy and proud mama.  On the other hand, I am sad and lost.  After moving her into the dorm, the first steps back into our home with her bedroom empty was difficult to say the least.  The emotions I experienced were far harder than I had mentally prepared myself for.  Not only is this special girl my daughter, she is my best friend. There was an aching emptiness inside that I wasn’t quite prepared for.  It has been two weeks and most days I’m ok.  There are hard days where I find myself upset and in tears.  I’ve been told by other mothers that have paved this path that it does get easier as time passes.

Overall, our college girl is doing great, adjusting to college life with classes underway.  Life change can be difficult but usually those difficult ones are the most rewarding.  Off to new adventures.