20 Years

Ten years ago this week, we took family photos in Amarillo. It was a weird time – Chuck was living back in Chattanooga to help care for his mother while the boys and I stayed in Texas waiting for our house to sell. He came back for our anniversary, and I scheduled these photos for us. It was the last time we dressed up in coordinating outfits and paid a photographer to take our picture. The boys were seven and four years old. We could very easily see over their tiny little heads.

Today, Chuck and I have been married for 20 years, and to celebrate, I decided it was time to retake this sweet photo (and one other), but also to capture some new ones. Hold on tight, y’all. Stephanie with Adara Photography knocked it out of the park.

We are still just barely able to see over their heads, though we know this won’t be a thing for much longer.

Our boys are now 17 and 14 years old. They are both in high school, braces-free, and embracing our love for traveling. Despite it being a tough year, we have laughed a lot together.

While family portraits were a priority, so were photos of Chuck and me as a couple. Twenty years of marriage is no small feat. We aren’t still here because it’s been easy or because we’ve been lucky. Seeing us like this reminds me that hard work and dedication is not overrated.

The other photo I wanted to recreate from 2010 was an image where we deliberately bookmarked ten years of marriage:

It felt silly then and a little silly now, but Chuck was a good sport. If we do this right, we could wind up with a sweet collection of memorable photos marking each decade as we cross its threshold.


One last thought: Many years ago we started talking about booking a big trip to the U.K. to celebrate our 20th anniversary. It was something we daydreamed about, something worth waiting for.

Then, after taking the boys to Iceland in 2017, we realized that international travel was far more accessible and affordable than we once thought. Shortly after Bill passed way in April 2018, we decided that waiting for that big trip didn’t make sense anymore. Life was short and unpredictable. Instead of waiting two more years, we took the big U.K. trip that October. It was perfect in every way possible, and while part of me – that annoying, meticulous, perfectionist part – wanted a big round anniversary number to commemorate with a trip like that, I know now it was absolutely the correct time to go.

After all, little did we know what 2020 had in store for us. Not only was Dad’s illness lurking, but so was a global pandemic. How even more heartbreaking would this year have been if we’d waited for 2020 and had a huge, incredible trip to cancel.

All that being said, when this pandemic is over and the borders open up, go where you’ve been wanting to go. Figure it out. Take the trip. Don’t waste time.

Above all, go with the person who makes you laugh like this:

700 photos later…

In 2006, Chuck and I started talking about taking a trip to the UK. Until last week, it had always remained a conversation, a daydream, or thing that would happen eventually. 

However, earlier this year we decided it was time to stop making excuses and instead it was time to go. We’d been waiting for the right time, whatever that meant, and then we realized there would never be a perfect time. When is it a perfect time for anything, really? There are always sacrifices to make, commitments to rearrange, and money to spend elsewhere.  

We booked the flights and a smattering of hotel rooms and AirBNBs. We rented a car and mapped out an ambitious itinerary. How much could we see and do in 11 days? What would we forgo for another time to see the things we’ve wanted to see for years

We went from one end of the UK to the other, from the White Cliffs of Dover to the coast of the North Sea. We traveled nearly 1,500 miles by car and even more by plane. I ran a half marathon in England and we visited the tiniest towns in Scotland where a few of Chuck’s ancestors lived.

We traipsed castles where royalty still lives and explored ruins from centuries ago. We ate our weight in meat pies and washed it down with barrels of cider. It rained a bit, but not nearly what I feared it would. We made the most of every second and capped off the trip with a one-night layover in Amsterdam. 

The magic happened in the UK though, and I have 700 photos of proof. It will take me ages to edit the best ones and morph them into a video, not to mention posting them here. (For record-keeping, I’ll post a smattering of photos for each day we spent there. The wanderlusts and super curious are welcome back to view them.)

For now, though, I must force my brain back into work mode and sync it to Eastern time, but all I really want to do is lay in bed and enjoy my American kitchen. 

If you’re ready, start here. 

Anniversary week and fall break

Our anniversary fell on a Saturday this year, and while last year’s anniversary celebration was bigger and better, this year was just as sweet. There was no trip, no big event to signify No. 17, no big gifts or hurrahs. Just a lazy day at home and a lovely dinner in town, just the two of us. Contentment means life is good wherever you are.

Our anniversary kicked off fall break, so the week has been punctuated by long runs (me), hunting (Chuck and Jeremy), and lots of sleeping in and reading (Jackson).

Yesterday we went to Dollywood, the one thing we said we’d do over fall break. We had season passes in 2011, and I’m pretty sure we took the boys again in 2012 or 2013, but my memory fails me so I can’t be sure. Regardless, it’s been a minute since we’ve been to Dollywood.

Much like our experience last summer at Hershey Park, we rode a few coasters together, then the old people bowed out. Jeremy and Jackson love riding roller coasters together, which is a gift to these two parents. Have at it, boys. Have at it.

As the day wore down and the crowds increased, we ran into Jimmy and the kids (Lesli arrived later, but we missed her!). Since Jimmy was flying solo for a couple of hours, we stepped in as co-pilots for a few rides.

Be still my heart when Catherine, the sweet, shy introvert who takes her time with people, insisted I ride a kiddie coaster with her! Foolish to resist, I agreed enthusiastically and off we went to stand in line. She instructed me on how to hold her close on the ride – just like Mama does – and even held her arms in the air on the last go around. I’ve been around this little one since birth, since she eagle-eyed me in the hospital: 

Now she snaps pictures with me willingly, not shy, not reserved, and I couldn’t be happier:

The other thing I’ve done over fall break is clean out the boys’ closets and dressers. They are blessed with so many hand-me-downs that I haven’t bought clothes for them in years. After sorting through the many things I found underneath Jackson’s bed, I held my breath at this last little gem – a note from Jeremy to Jackson, many years old now:

It is a sweet reminder that while we may be in a rough season of picking and prodding, there is love there. Thank goodness, y’all, because 11 and 14 are tough ages. I’ll take every reminder I can get.

Third and last photo dump from Key West

Each morning began by the pool, which isn’t a bad way to start a day.

last-lay-by-the-pool

On our last full day in Key West we walked to Ft. Zachary Taylor Beach and enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner at Sloppy Joe’s.

white-flowers-on-the-street

ft-zach-taylor-trees

ft-zachary-taylor-beach

That is Lesli and Jimmy enjoying the calm water and loving how not crowded it was.

lesli-and-jimmy-at-ft-zach-taylor

visitor-on-the-beach

anniversary-group-at-ft-taylor-beach

The last time Chuck and I went to Sloppy Joe’s we were 18 years old, which meant we went to a historical bar and ordered a couple of Cokes. This time, we enjoyed being over 21.

old-enough-to-drink-at-sloppy-joes

sloppy-joes

We saw these other beautiful things on the island too…

ut-on-a-cocnut

green-bay-on-a-coconut

Before heading out for the evening we had someone at the hotel take our photo:

last-night-out

Then we took a less formal one:

last-hurrah

Though our first trip to Key West will always be a warm spot of nostalgia in my heart, it was better the second time around, and not just because we were with friends. It’s truly a place for adults to cut loose and leave responsibility at home.

I’m thankful for this man, who’s kept me laughing and loved for two decades straight. I couldn’t ask for a better partner.

last-photo-in-key-west

Thank you to our mothers (my mom and Jimmy’s mom) who kept our children happy and safe so we could escape reality for a few days and celebrate our anniversaries.

Second photo dump from Key West

We rented scooters to get to Higgs Beach, which meant it was time for Chuck and I to recreate our 1997 Key West photo that we love so dearly. Ignore the time stamp – it was not 1994. I didn’t know how to change the date on my 35mm camera, so on record every event happened in January 1994. This photo was taken in July 1997 – a selfie before selfies existed – on a scooter.

TBT 1997 Key West

This one was taken on October 9, 2016 – a legit selfie – on a scooter.

remake-of-our-1997-photo

Higgs Beach was calm with a delightful breeze. We got in the water only briefly, then scooted around the island drunk on nostalgia.

higgs-beach

wilson-at-higgs-beach

On Monday we opted for a four-hour sailboat cruise with snorkeling and kayaking and happy hour. We even caught the sunset. (I didn’t snorkel or kayak since I’ve been there/done that and I’m happy to sip wine on a boat.)

But first, I enjoyed a slice of Chocolate-Covered Key Lime Pie on a stick:

chocolate-covered-key-lime-pie-on-a-stick

sailing2

mast

The afternoon got more beautiful as it went along.

sailing1jimmy-and-lesli-on-the-sailboatus-on-a-sailboat-in-key-west

headed-towards-sunset

sunset-on-october-10-key-west

the-other-sailboat

Third and last photo dump… 

Throwback to camping, and hello autumn

Hey, remember when we used to go camping? Circa 2012?

Millers and Prichards

I am so ready for this again.

It’s nearly my favorite month and there’s much to look forward to. Our wedding anniversary, SEC conference football, an evening with Liz Gilbert. My heart swells at the thought.

Come October 1, I’ll officially be in the holiday spirit – the sort of spirit that enjoys eating copious amounts Brach’s candy corn while ignoring tooth pain. The kind of spirit that burns autumn harvest candles and orders Salted Caramel Mochas. The kind of spirit that opens up all the windows in the house so the temperature drops to brisk 60 degrees. Hello fuzzy blankets and wool socks! Hello boots and skinny jeans! Hello chili on the stove and slow-cooked roast in the oven!

Hello, autumn. I’m so glad you finally showed up.

xoxo

Pinterest for Anniversary No. 14

I could post old photos of us from the last 18 years of being together, 14 of which have been as a married couple, but I’ve done that a dozen times. Here’s last year from Vegas, here’s the year before that when we were camping. Here’s a photo that was taken about five months after we started dating in 1996.

Instead, I’ll share with you a few of my favorite things I’ve pinned to my husband-specific board on Pinterest. It’s a dumping ground for building furniture, Mad Men references, and homages to beards and tattoos. Occasionally, I post something sweet to remind myself (and him) that this journey we’re on is the best. Continue reading “Pinterest for Anniversary No. 14”

Hiatus

Oregon CoastlineWe are escaping, just the two of us, and it shall be fabulous.

My online presence will be slim to none, minus a tiny bit of Facebooking I have to do on October 5 on account of the Tennessee/Georgia game. Otherwise, I’m detaching.

xoxo

Year Twelve, a video

Forgive the late-night Friday post! Today flew by.

I took my favorite photos from last October until now and set it to one of our favorite songs. We didn’t really exchange gifts for our anniversary because we’re facing a huge heating and air conditioning overhaul, so this is my economical and sentimental attempt to show the depth and breadth of my affection.

Enjoy, and happy weekend to you.

Cheers to Year 12

Sixteen years ago, I met this man. We started dating pretty soon after. And about four years after that, we got engaged. We were married 12 years ago, and I’m still very content and pleased with all the times I said yes.

Happy Anniversary to my amazing man and partner in life. It’s been a fabulous collection of years. Cheers to dozens more.