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.




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.

Twenty Years

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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.  😉



An Unexpected Question

Nell and JoAnna Earl and Jo Beer Mr and Mrs Ehret Bridesmaids Beer Something Old

My little brother is getting married this year to the absolute sweetest girl!  I am beyond excited for the both of them.  Recently, I saw this package sitting on the counter and took it upon myself to examine it because I noticed the cute “Earl and Jo” wording on the side with the wedding date beneath.  After looking at all sides and telling JoAnna how cute it was, I pick up a bottle and saw the sweetest and most unexpected question, “will you be my bridesmaid?” I squealed and of course I said and big YES!  I get to stand up for my soon-to-be sister and I am beyond honored.  And let’s be honest, this idea is probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen; definitely Pinterest worthy!  Now onto picking out a wedding and bridesmaids dress.

Date Night Selfies

Steve Sick Facenell-looking-backNormal Selfie

After being married 18 years, having a fun date night can sometimes mean going to a good restaurant for dinner then going home, sitting together on the couch and watching New Girl. We tried to take selfies but Steve couldn’t stop making faces and I couldn’t stop laughing. We managed to finally get in a “normal” one in the end.

What 18 Years of Marriage Looks Like

Holding hands front view cut off Holding hands front view Nell laughing Holding Hands looking at each other Holding hands steve making me laughHolding hands front view

This is what eighteen years of marriage looks like.  Our marriage is officially an “adult”. We have been through some of the best times and some of the toughest times.  We dated young (high school), got married young and had children young.  We experienced our “typical 30’s” in our 20’s by getting married at 20 and completing our family by 25. This was both good and bad.  We were too naive to know any better (bliss) yet too rushed to really enjoy the small moments especially with our children.  The great news is that when our children are off setting up and living their own lives, we will still be young (for the most part).

Today, many couples wait until they are finished with college and fully setup in life before pursuing marriage.  This was definitely not the case in my life.  I met my husband (Steve) the first day of my junior year of high school and we’ve pretty much been together since.  We got married at 20, had our first child at 21 and the second at 24. This means that we now have a senior in high school and an 8th grader.

Starting your relationship at the age of 16 means that you automatically expect there to be change.  You expect that each other will become different as time passes.  We were opposites and it worked.  We complemented each other yet molded and changed over the years to mesh quite nicely. Essentially, we grew up together.

Looking back I can definitely say that we have each changed; me more so than Steve.  I was a very reserved and shy teenager. I remember like it was yesterday him telling me, “I’m going to change you”. Of course, I immediately told him that he was crazy, but to be honest, he was more right than I could have ever imagined at the time.  Now, I am outgoing, bold and almost aggressive at times; totally different than when I was 16. So, yes, Steve has changed me.  He gave me confidence in myself and hope in the future.

Steve has changed a bit as nearly two decades will do that to a person but he is still that same sweet fun loving person that I met in sixth period on the first day of my junior year of high school.  He was and still is a lover of life, lives in the moment and makes me laugh in almost every situation.  I fell in love with him for his good looks and his sense of humor.  This is still the case 18 years later.  Happy 18th to my wonderful husband.  I would not do this life with anyone else.

This is what 18 years of marriage looks like.

Check out our story here.

The Wedding Plate

Wedding Plate 800
We decided to do a major clean out of our kitchen cabinets and drawers which was a huge effort and was way past due. Surprisingly, my husband is the organizer in the family. Messy and overflowing cabinets bother him much more quickly than it does me. So this means that I cleaned out the pantry and he cleaned out everything else. As he spent hours scouring through cabinet after cabinet, I ran errands. When I came back home I noticed an old but recognizable plate displayed on our counter. I immediately said to him, “aw it’s our fine china from our wedding.” I was totally correct but I found out that this one wedding plate had a much deeper meaning to him and therefore was the reason that he decided to display it on our counter.

You see, we were very young when we got married. We were young, naive and totally clueless. When putting together a wedding registry, the lady at the store told us that we absolutely much pick out a fine china set. Not knowing any better, we followed the direction of the clerk and picked out this pretty design. Looking at the price tag, we both said that there was no way that anyone would spend that much money on a set of china. Well they did. We received one set and it was from my in-laws. What this one wedding plate reminded my husband of were those times of innocence and being totally clueless. That may sound negative but it was completely the opposite. We were truly naive, clueless and broke but we were blissfully happy. Times were simple back then and we were madly in love (and still are).

The plate now sits on our counter as a friendly reminder to not get caught up muck of the day-to-day grind, enjoy each other and enjoy all the small simple things. That’s how marriage and life is meant to be. I guess sometimes ignorance can be bliss. Who knew that a simple wedding plate could change our entire perspective.

* My husband is the sweetest and I was incredibly blessed to have him as my husband then and still to this day almost 18 years later.

Way to a Girl’s Heart

Surprise Flowers
Every girl loves flowers.  There’s no better feeling than getting surprise flowers just because.  My sweet husband had these beautiful flowers delivered to my office with a note that said, “Just because you’re awesome”.  I am beyond blessed with the best husband ever.  My heart is overwhelmed and overflowing.

Our Love Story

Nell & Steve High School black and whiteHigh School messing around black and white Prom Pic black and white

I’ve been told that our story is like a Lifetime movie. And the more I think about it, I guess it kind of is.

It was the first day of my junior year of high school.  I was new to the school.  I was new to public school in general.  I had spent the first 10 years in a private (Catholic) school.  I walked in that day not knowing a soul.  I was scared to death.

Backing up two weeks before the first day of school, I had to go up to the office to register.  While there I met the band director, Mr. Farnsworth, because I had decided to twirl the flag in the band instead of taking P.E.  I mean what prissy girl (like me at the time) would want to get all sweaty in the middle of the day; no thank you.  This decision had more far reaching effects than I could ever have imagined at the time.

Now back to the first day of school.  I’m sitting in the auditorium with all the other juniors.  All the freshman, sophomores and juniors are called to their home rooms.  Well everyone except for me.  This was a very small school and I was literally the only new person that year so I wasn’t called with my class.  So there I sat in the back on the auditorium; just me and all the seniors.   At this point, my now husband, Steve, glances back at me and does a double take.  He elbows all his friends, saying “that HAS to be the girl that Mr. Farnsworth was talking about.  Yep, apparently when you’re the only new girl word gets around, even through the teachers.

I finally get past the mortification of sitting alone and being completely passed over and get through the first day to 6th and last period which is band class.  By this point, everything is a blur.  I’ve met so many people that I’m just glazed over at this point.  Well, that is until the very handsome, 6’2” Steve comes over to my chair, holds out his hand and says, “hey, my name is Steve”.  I had a boyfriend at the time, but didn’t care.  I was completely mesmerized by Steve.  Wow, he was cute!

Band required a lot of after school practices and long bus rides to football games.   Steve began his pursuit.  He pursued me for three months.  We became best friends.  He says now that he knew I was his the day I started complaining to him about my boyfriend.  He was right.  One Friday night I told Steve that I was going to break up with my boyfriend and that I would call him as soon as I did.  I had barely hung up the phone when there was a knock at my front door.  I opened the door to see that same dreamy 6’2” blonde standing in front of me.  And what were the first words out of his mouth?  “Will you go out with me?”  Of course I said yes!

We fell in love with each other immediately.  I mean, we fell really hard, really fast.  I have the letters to prove it (no cell phones back then). Our lives revolved around each other.  We would take any chance we had to be together.  We even consolidated our lockers into one so we could have more time together between classes.  It was us against the world; that was our saying to each other.  Our relationship was all in.  It was passionate.  It was magical.  We were soul mates.  That junior year was one of the best years of my life.

Our relationship had gotten so serious that Steve proposed to me Christmas of my senior year.  But by March we had hit a big fork in the road.  He was headed off to a university 5 hours north and my dad had been transferred 1,000 miles away.  We either had to get married right away or separate for a while.  We both knew we were too young and needed some time to grow up a bit so we decided that he would go to college and I would move with my family.  I kept the engagement ring and he kept the wedding band with the understanding that one day they would come together again.

Our separation lasted two long years.  I dated other guys and he dated other girls but it was never the same.  We kept in touch by phone talking about once a month.  At the end of this one particular summer, he let me know that he would not be living in the dorms anymore and that he was moving into a house with three of his best friends.  He promised to call me with the new number as soon as he had it.  One month turned into three with no word whatsoever.  I was devastated.  I was heartbroken.  I mean, I thought he was the one.  I decided to try one last attempt and said to myself; maybe even out loud that if this was meant to be that he will call me.  I sent him a birthday card at the end of September to his parents address.  September went by with no call.  October came and went and so did November.   I finally got a call the last week of November.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was actually pretty mad at this point.  Come to find out, Steve had gotten the card and kept it but was trying to put me out of his mind in hopes to move on.   Apparently that didn’t work.

After that, our calls went from every week to everyday.  Then in January I decided to make a trip back home.  I remember seeing him for the first time in two years and being mesmerized all over again.  Wow, this guy really takes my breath away.  We spent the entire weekend together and by the end of it were officially a couple again.  We picked up right where we left off.  It was as if no time had passed.

We both had semesters to complete so we had a long distance relationship for 6 months.  I had decided to finish my semester and move back home with the intentions of getting married.  Of course, I didn’t tell my parents this, but I’m pretty sure they caught on.  As soon as I moved back, Steve proposed again with the same ring and of course I said yes.  I told my parents and the wedding plans began.

As the wedding planning progressed, the next step was to get a blood test for my marriage license.  After we got married, we planned to live near the college Steve was attending and I would enroll there also.  Unfortunately, they required me to get more shots and I was afraid of needles.  I decided to lie and say that I thought I was pregnant to get out of getting the shot.  Ha Ha, you can guess what happened next.  Yes, to my surprise, I was actually pregnant.  You can read the full surprise pregnancy story HERE.  In order to not be any more redneck that we already were, we decided to move up the wedding date a few months so that I wouldn’t be showing in my wedding dress.  We got married on Saturday, September 7, 1996.  And we lived happily ever after….

{No seriously, it just gets better and better every year!}

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