It is hard to believe that it has been 16 years since my husband and I said, “I do”! 16 years of memories, great times together, challenging circumstances … this is life.
It’s interesting that when we first got married, I remember someone telling us that the first year of marriage is the hardest. That wasn’t the case for us, actually. We had a great first year, thankfully!
We've been through lots of stress in recent years ... job stress, pre-term labor issues before our daughter was born, serious extended family issues. Those kinds of things aren't exactly easy on a marriage, but we are committed to working through whatever life throws our way. And as a good friend told me in college .... "this too shall pass."
Anniversaries are a good time to reflect on all the amazing memories made in 16+ years of knowing one another. So today we celebrate the many great moments we have been blessed to share...
The first memory goes all the way back to the time my husband asked me out. It goes like this. We had ridden the Appal Cart down from the apartment-style dorm we both lived in, on separate floors. As we walked towards our classes and talked, he said to me that he would be honored if I would go out with him. This caught me a bit off guard. I'd never been asked out on a date like this before .... not a memory a girl would forget, even with my memory seemingly getting worse each year.
When we first got married, we planned to wait for at least five years before starting a family. We ended up waiting about six years before we decided to adopt our first child and by the time he came home it was 8+ years after we'd gotten married. So we made lots of great memories with friends and just had some great times together.
While we waited to be able to travel, we actually got into a habit of playing a lot of Scrabble!
Our first "kids", really, were our pets, as is common for couples. We were actually told that pets were good "training" for having kids.
Not sure I agree completely with that, but we enjoyed our cat, Buddy, and our dog, Spencer, a lot.
One memory I'll never forget is just after we adopted Spencer, we went shopping for a kennel for him. John had him get in the kennel at the store to make sure it was big enough and he looked at us as if he thought we might leave him there. It was pitiful and I felt sure it was from the trauma of having been a shelter pet... heartbreaking.
Buying and owning our first home was a fun experience. It was a lot of work, too, as the home we bought had been owned by an elderly couple and it needed quite a bit of TLC. They specified a carpet allowance in the listing and as soon as we saw the carpet we understood why!
We painted the shutters and trim a different color and painted the inside the colors we liked. They had a sunroom that had some termite damage, so the walls were removed as a part of the contract. We made that area into a screened porch instead, which our cat loved since he was an indoor cat. When we sold our house to move to relocate, our realtor thought we might have to repaint our very red kitchen. But we ended up selling it in less than 2 weeks and the buyers loved all the colors we had chosen.
This one is probably a bit selfish on my part, but one good memory for me was the day John left law enforcement. It is a terribly stressful field and not easy on marriages, so when we talked about him going to culinary school and he decided to do that I was glad.
It's interesting how life diverts you from your plans ... we planned on starting a catering business. As he neared the end of culinary school, we had started the process of starting a personal chef business instead. But then when we decided to adopt we knew we could not do both financially, so the business got put to the side.
So later on, we decided to start a food blog as a way to share his talent and recipes, and it's been fun seeing his recipes published in now two Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, and featured on The Daily Meal and Yahoo Shine! We are still hopeful that maybe one day he can look at a culinary business again.
While John went to culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, we were able to eat at some amazing restaurants. The local restaurants benefit from having culinary students to employ, which coupled with being a tourist area makes for really good food.
[Photo Credit: The Saturday Evening Pot; Used with permission]
Through a good friend, I discovered my all time favorite restaurant, The Mustard Seed. If you are ever in Charleston, be sure to put it in your itinerary!
Sitting on a plane, looking out the window at its wing for the very first time, realizing that you're about to be up very high in the air is an interesting feeling for someone who prefers to have her feet on the ground. And it's hard to believe that my first flying experience was our trip overseas to bring our son home!
We did have a brief, very turbulent flight from Charlotte to Atlanta when we left, but the rest of the flights were fine. Except for the final flight coming back home, where I got very dehydrated and on top of the stress of the major life changes, traveling internationally, and missing the meal that was served while changing a diaper, I got really ill.
I will never forget how I was so weak I couldn't even carry our son and how John seemed more like a superhero to me at this moment, somehow managing to carry our son, our carry-on and then gathering our luggage all on his own. It was a scary experience and if I never fly again I will be okay with that!
It is hard to describe the emotion you feel seeing and holding your son for the first time after first seeing his picture 7.5 months prior. We chose a little dump truck with balls that pop when you push it as an icebreaker toy. We called him "Poppy" and we have him put away for our son to have when he leaves home.
Here we go with another selfish one ... for our wedding anniversary after we brought our son home, my husband gave me basically a shopping spree to my favorite store, Petite Sophisticate, which sadly is no more. I had transitioned to working part-time from home and then adjusting to adding parenting responsibilities on, not to mention some of the needs our son had at that time or the fact that we had not been in the area for very long so no real support, needless to say, it wasn't an easy time.
My husband knows how much I love to shop for clothes and how rarely I spend money on myself (the above text he sent me more recently but it definitely is proof of this fact!), and so this was a thoughtful, generous gift I really enjoyed and will always remember.
One of the things we enjoyed about our trip overseas was seeing the loving care provided to the children by the orphanage where our son lived. Orphanages have a sort of stigma attached to them from the horror stories that have been told of some of them, but we truly believe that at the particular one where our son lived, the staff do the very best they can with the resources they have. No, it is not enough, which is why more families need to consider adopting or donating to help families who are adopting with the expenses so that every child can have the chance to have a "forever family."
That said, our son had some developmental delays when we brought him home and we were so happy after having worked hard with him in the months following his homecoming to see him take his first steps just 6 months later! At 14.5 months, he couldn't even sit without support, so the progress he made in those few months was truly amazing to watch.
I will never forget the moment I heard the words, "It's a girl", at the ultrasound while pregnant with our daughter. We were excited to get to have a little girl. I was so thankful to have such a healthy pregnancy for the first 2 trimesters (pre-term labor contractions and constant monitoring began 8 weeks before she was born), and it was fun to see our son get so excited about having a little sister.
Seeing him give her kisses while she was in utero was so sweet!
I have enjoyed many sweet memories being able to be a part time WAHM with our children and to homeschool our son for these past two school years. We aren't sure what next year will hold, but I am thankful, even though before kids I didn't see myself homeschooling, to have had the experience even if we decide not to continue.
It has been fun seeing my son grow and mature academically and also to enjoy seeing how the Abeka curriculum we use reinforces the things that we teach as parents.
The dedication of our children to the Lord, of course, is a special memory. Parenting is no joke, and I am thankful that God has given us great advice and guidance in His Word and support through the Church!
One day after we finished school our son was ready to give his life to Jesus, so what an amazing blessing for me to get to pray with him as he did this. This is without a doubt one of the best moments a parent could have.
The following Sunday he was baptized .... such a treasured memory!
My husband has felt before like he lacks in talent, but we have benefited from his talent through the years as he put our screened porch floor in our first home, framed and screened the porch, helped rebuild the fence that Tropical Storm Gaston took a section out of in that home, built our fence at our current home, built our children's treehouse and built floor to ceiling pallet bookshelves in our current home.
And this is, of course, in addition to his cooking talent, which I mentioned earlier. He developed a recipe for me that he makes every now and then for me called Portobello Mushroom Caps Stuffed with Prosciutto and Goat Cheese.
This one I saved for last because I wasn't even sure if I should share it. It's not something men would want to broadcast to the world ... but it seems like more men nowadays aren't necessarily holding their emotions in when circumstances might lead to shedding of tears for a happy occasion.
In fact, I just heard a male DJ on the radio station today talking about crying so much going down the road when touched by the lyrics of a song played on the radio that he almost had to pull over. I have witnessed my pastor shed tears from the pulpit while preaching passionately about Jesus and issuing the call for those who may want to surrender their lives to Him. Personally, this is one of the many things I do admire about my husband ... the fact that he does not hold emotion in because he somehow thinks it will prove his masculinity. So here goes ....
The final memory I have to share is of the tears that he shed at our wedding when I walked down the aisle. I have never doubted his love for me and that day when he felt such emotion at our wedding that the tears came flowing, I knew for certain as we said our vows that this man I was committing to live the rest of our lives with did truly love me.
Thank you, Honey, for loving me through these past 16 years, through smiles and through tears, happy and sad, through the good and the bad. Here's to many more .... Happy Anniversary!