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.  😉




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.

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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My Pregnancy Surprise

Nell Preganat and Baby Danica

My husband, Steve, and I met in high school.  We got engaged in high school, broke up, got back together and re-engaged.  There is a lot more the story of Steve and me that I’ll save for another post.  I was literally living in a camper on my grandparents’ property.  Looking back, I see how super trashy this sounds (ha, ha oh well)! We were in the process of planning our wedding.

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 another MMR shot which I had heard was super painful.  I was afraid of needles at the time and one of Steve’s friends told me that I could tell the health department that I was pregnant and they would sign a paper so that I didn’t have to take the shot and could still get into school.  I remember the visit to the health department as clear in my mind as if it was yesterday.  I even remember the dress I was wearing.

The nurse took me back for the blood test and I proceeded to tell her that I needed the MMR shot as well but that I thought I was pregnant and asked her to sign the paper so I could get into college.  She left and after a few minutes came back in and told me to follow her.  She gave me a cup and told me to pee in it but didn’t tell me why and I didn’t ask.  I gave her the cup and she sat me down to draw the blood.  She then told me that they had to do a pregnancy test before they could sign the paper.  I thought, “ugh, I’m going to have to get the shot!”  Then it happened.  She walked over, picked up the stick and said, “it’s positive.”  I went into shock.  I was totally lying and literally had no idea I was pregnant.  I began to shake, kind of like you do when you’re nervous but I was shaking so badly that it was almost to the point of convulsions and all of the color ran out of my face.  The nurse came over to me and grabbed me asking if I was ok.  I began sobbing so drastically that was gasping for air.  I barely got the words out that I didn’t think I was pregnant and that I was just trying to get out of taking the shot.  She was super sweet and tried to console me.  I guess God showed me!  That’s what I get for lying!  To this day, that moment is still the biggest shock of my life.

I decided that I would wait until after I was married to tell my parents.  One thing I never wanted to do was tell my parents that I was pregnant before I was married.  Unfortunately, my mom found my prenatal vitamins in my purse.  She didn’t confront me.  Instead, she then had my dad come down and they both kept telling trying to get me to tell them.  I refused.  I wasn’t doing it.  I wasn’t saying those words.  Finally, since all the hinting didn’t work, my mom got mad and said, “fine, you won’t tell us what is going on, but in a few months you won’t be able to hide it!”  At that point, I knew that they knew and I walked outside where they were, sat down and told them everything.  To my surprise, they were very calm, consoling and helpful.

We moved up the wedding date from end of 1996 to beginning of September and my sweet Danica was born on March 3, 1997.  We were young, just married and had no idea what we were doing but I wouldn’t go back and change it for the world.  That wonderful little surprise just turned sweet 16 this past Sunday.  She is beautiful inside and out and I am so incredibly proud to be her mom.

Nell and Danica Sized Danica Camera Sized Danica Sunglasses Sized