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.  😉

 

 

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)

Sixteen

Danica and Trey Po Disney SignHot Air Balloon Danica in Zero Nell 1970 Nell and Dee Matching Shirts Typhoon Lagoon Trey and Grumpy Donald Nell Flower Wall Steve and Trey Donkey King Trey on Bus Nell and Trey Pop Century Nell 70

This amazing young man is now 16. I remember very clearly the day that he was born. There wasn’t much toil. There wasn’t much labor. In just five hours short hours he made his appearance into the world at 10:35 on a Tuesday night. I couldn’t believe that I had a long, skinny, blonde hair, blue eyed baby.

As I’ve mentioned here on the blog previously, when I was raising my babies, I looked too much into the future and did not enjoy the moment. This is definitely one of my regrets. That being said, one of the things I did right was when Trey was a baby. I had a sinking feeling that he would be my last and every single night, when I rocked him to bed, I held him extra tight and extra long and just gazed at him as he slept in my arms. I didn’t want to put him in the bed before I absolutely had to. I treasure those deep longing moments with him cuddled in my arms sleeping. If I close my eyes and think really hard, I can still see that sweet baby face in my mind.

How to fast time flies. It seems that you blink and suddenly your baby; your youngest is 16 and and in high school.

In those younger days we was all boy and very hard to keep up with. He made us laugh all the time. I guess looking back he’s always been the “funny guy”. This kid was ALWAYS hungry; so hungry, in fact, he wanted to eat every 30 minutes yet spit out all of his vegetables.

Today, he loves football, working out, laying in bed and watching TV,  playing video games, going to water parks and eating.  He is a thoughtful, considerate and kind young man.  He considers my feelings.  He thanks me every night for cooking him dinner.  He apologies when he thinks that he has upset me.  What mother of a 16 year old boy can say that? Not many! I am blessed beyond measure.  Trey is excelling academically, socially and athletically.  I am so very excited about the amazing young man he is becoming and am so grateful to be on this journey with him as his mom.  I think he is just down right pretty darn awesome!

Happy 16, bud!  Here’s to many more together.  I love you!

*Since he loves water parks, we did a weekend trip to the Disney water parks in Orlando to celebrate.  

A Berry Picking Birthday

Berry Picking Truck Dee Picking Berries Nell and Dee Selfie Nell and Dee Sitting Nell Picking Berries Pickings and feet Nell SillyNell walking to camera

Well, I just turned 39.  I was told to enjoy this last year because your 40’s are the hardest decade.  Typically, you’re taking care of children and aging parents at the same time.  Most likely you make good money but not yet the best of your career and you’re strapped to put kids through college.  I don’t know if this is exactly true.  I am raising children and will be putting one in college and one in private school (God willing) this fall.  My parents are young; late 50’s but with my mom’s recent car accident and struggle to get well, maybe that qualifies.  They way I look at it, I hit the “hard decade” early.  That’s probably because I started young; married at 20 and first baby at 21.

All in all, I’m still going to enjoy this “last year”.  My birthday weekend was the first time I set aside time to just play and enjoy myself since my mom’s accident two months ago.  I ache when I can’t be there with her but I absolutely love spending time with my family.  This birthday was spent thrift clothes shopping and berry picking with my favorite girl and grilling out my favorite foods with my family at home.  It was amazing.  I have to remember to set aside time for myself and simply enjoy life.  40 will be here before I know it.  😉

*the berries were used to can jam – stay tuned for a future post.

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!

Kids Retreat

The kids have been gone now for three weeks. These times are always bittersweet. It is nice to have alone time with my husband but I do miss my children terribly. We always consider that a husband and wife need the time alone and away from the children. But in all honesty the children need time away from us. It allows them to get a break, a change of scenery and to refresh. Being apart allows the kids and parents the opportunity to miss and appreciate all the little things about each other. Being apart for a month of time has allowed us to understand and truly appreciate what each person really brings to the family and to our household.

I know for certain that this time has allowed my children to bond with my parents which indefinitely means that they are getting spoiled beyond measure. A good example is recently my mom asked me, “how do you cook for these children. They are so picky about what they eat.” My response to her was, “I cook whatever I decide to and the eat it.” Apparently my mom is going above and beyond and cooking many different things to give them what they want. Bless her heart. She truly is the sweetest grandmother to my children. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen any other grandparents more engaged in their grandchildren’s lives. We are all blessed beyond measure to have them.

So they truly have had such a great time visiting with their grandparents. They’ve done a week long camping trip, they took a trip to San Francisco, they went to the movies, they’ve been bowling and they swim in the backyard pool more times than anyone could count. Yes, they will certainly come back spoiled. But in all honesty this trip will be great for everyone. Family is so important and these are the opportunities we have to build bonds and relationships with each other.
kids in san franD wake boarding