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.  😉

 

 

Freshman

Trey first and last day of freshman year

Last day of freshman year! It has flown by and has, by far, been his best school year yet. Trey has grown and flourished this year excelling academically, socially and athletically. This kid nailed freshman year and I couldn’t be more proud. He worked so hard in his classes, on the football field and on the track. He truly went above and beyond putting in extra hours and going the extra mile (literally in some cases); he gave it his all and then some.  All this hard work is starting to pay off and will continue to do so. This is one amazing young man and I am one exceptionally proud mom.  Love you, bud!

(Here’s a little side-by-side view of first day and last day of freshman year)

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.

July

A photo of my children every month :: July

D and Jake Trey July After Baptism

Dee {17 years and 4 months}:
After having a long distance relationship between Belgium and the U.S. for a full year, Dee’s boyfriend came for a visit.  It was a joy getting to know him.  They spent the two weeks going on dates, hanging out watching tv and going to church camp.

Trey {14 years and 2 months}:
I am so proud of this kid! He went to church camp and recommitted his life to Christ.

They Are Home

Back from Cali

After being gone nearly a month to California, my kids are home. The hubs and I had nice quality time alone but, it is great to have them back where they belong. Our family is whole again.

As a bonus, my parents flew back with them to close on their retirement home here in Florida! I am so excited for them and excited that they will live nearby soon. Check back for more details on this in the near future.

June

A photo of my children every month :: June

D in a Hat papa and trey fishing

Dee {17 years and 3 months}:
They spent the entire month of June in California with my parents.  They got to do so many cool things together but she got some special treatment alone like breakfast in bed and a girls day manicure/pedicure with my mom.  She had a blast but is looking forward to the next chapter of her summer.  Her boyfriend (who she hasn’t seen in a year) comes back from Belgium, she has church camp and then gets to go on a trip with her boyfriend and his parents to get him setup for college.  She’s beyond excited.

Trey {14 years and 1 month}:
They spent the entire month of June in California with my parents.  Trey got special treatment in California by going on fishing excursions with my dad.  He had a so much fun but is looking forward to coming home and starting football next week.  Also, he is now just a tad bit taller than my dad.  He is growing so fast!

Mothering a Teenager

Aiport Drop to Cali 2014
Summertime is here. School is over and it was time again to drop my teens off at the airport to fly across the country to stay with my parents for a month. Letting go is never easy and lately I find myself having to let go of my teens more and more. It’s such a stark and drastic difference to go from a life that revolves around them to an empty home. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the alone time with my husband but it’s quite the adjustment.  Letting go is like ripping a band-aid off in one fail swoop. As they get older, I find myself trying to balance that need to protect them, but also giving them the room to make their own life decisions. This is particularly difficult for me with my 17-year old who is on her way to senior year, making college decisions, and has a long distance boyfriend coming home for the summer. We are on the peak of so many very important life decisions for her. Some that will impact her for the rest of her life. It is exciting, scary and sad all at the same time. There are more emotions than I could ever begin to express. With God’s grace, I just do my best to find that balance and walk closely with both of my children on each of their journey’s guiding, supporting, and, yes, sometimes letting go.

I find that as my children moved from childhood into adolescence, the exhaustion moved from physical to mental and emotional. But, it’s worth it. It’s worth every single moment that I have invested whether that was cheering for a victory or crying alongside them in defeat. They always say that a mother is only as happy as her happiest child. I find a lot of truth in that. As a mother, my heart and soul is poured into each of my children so whatever they go through, I truly go through it along with them. Mothering a teen is hard but it is also incredibly rewarding. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

May

A photo of my children every month :: May

May Danica May Trey

Dee {17 years and 2 months}:
May is big month with end of year exams, scheduled SAT’s and AP exams. It’s also the month that the seniors complete high school and the juniors are crowned as seniors. My girl is officially a senior. Let the tears begin!

Trey {14 years}:
May is Trey’s birthday month. He turned 14 in May and the one thing he wanted to do was try archery lessons. He did his first lesson on his birthday and as usual did an amazing job. This kid is just naturally good at sports right out of the gate. It blows my mind! So proud of him.

The Senior Year Journey Begins

Senior CrownD in Senior Crown

This week is senior crowning week for my daughter. All the graduating seniors are officially done with school and gone from campus and the juniors are crowned “official” seniors of the high school. Granted the crowns are simply black Burger King crowns that the students decorate but they are much more than that symbolically. This crown marks a right of passage and a huge milestone for Dee. She is officially a senior. This crowning marks the beginning of her senior year and therefore the beginning of much emotion and crying for me. Senior year will be filled with figuring out college, scholarships, clubs, grades, ACT’s, SAT’s, expenses, etc. But more than that it will involve my sweet girl moving into adulthood.

Let the tears begin. I need to start stocking up on kleenex now!

After School :: Fisheye View

Home Entrance ViewD in Room on Skype Fisheye Kitchen Cooking Fisheye Trey attacking D at door
I ordered a couple of new lenses for my DSLR; a fisheye lens being one of them. I thought I’d take some after school pics around the house to try it out.  Our after school activities involve a lot of crock pot cooking, boyfriend Skyping and sister tormenting.