I never imagined my life to be as good as it is today. Well, some days I have to remind myself that my life could have turned out worse. Especially on days when I have a head ache, two boys playing basketball in my kitchen and one screaming because he wants the ball all the time. Or when all three are running around in circles or playing ball tag in the house or tooting and giggling non-stop. Believe it or not, they could be doing all these activities at the same time!
Here is how it all started: When I was 19 years old I was beginning to realize that a healthy and loving relationship is possible. These kinds of relationships really do exist in this world. I was in college, trying to get out of a horrible relationship and trying to figure out what my major should be and what I wanted in life. I wanted a career. I wanted my own space and freedom and years down the road I knew I wanted a husband and children. For most of my life I thought that I would get married, have kids and then get divorced. By the age of 19 I was getting the idea that a divorce didn’t have to be in my life’s plan. I figured out other things I wanted to do…I wanted to be happy, I wanted to see mountains and try new things, like hiking, canoeing, camping and be more adventurous. In the spring of 1992, when I was 21 years old my dear friend, Kay, introduced me to this awesome, kind, loving, intelligent, caring, sweet and handsome young man named Eddie. I was eager to meet him because I couldn’t believe that her new boyfriend was real until I laid my own eyes on him. The three of us had a quiet evening in her apartment having dinner and visiting. I loved him! He was just as wonderful as she described. At one point he left the room, probably to use the restroom, I had to ask, “Does he have a brother?” Her response was, “Yes, but he is 17 years old!” I said, “Never mind!”
Fast forward to November 1993: I was single, a month away from graduating from college; with dreams of going to graduate school in a far away state. AND staying single for a long time! It was Thanksgiving weekend. Kay had been talking to Eddie’s mom about life drawings (they are both amazing artists) and she was interested in trying something new. Kay asked me if I could model for them, I agreed. When I was at Eddie’s mom’s house I saw this picture… I thought to myself, “When I have kids I want a little blonde headed boy just like that!” That evening Kay invited me to join her, Eddie and another couple from high school (Katrina and Gene) to dinner. I had no interest in having dinner with these lovebirds. What kind of fun would I have sitting at a table with two couples in love and me as the fifth wheel? No thank you! Kay tried to convince me that I wouldn’t feel alone because Eddie’s brother, Jack, would also be there. I could talk to him. Right! What would I have in common with a young boy who is a freshman in college?! Still, not interested! Kay is a very convincing person and I agreed to meet them for dinner. During dinner I didn’t talk much, just listened to the conversations around me; Eddie asking Jack about his classes, the guys talking about deer hunting and me catching up with Kay and Katrina. After dinner we went out to a local bar where there was dancing. (My best memories of my college years was going to the bars and dancing all night with my girlfriends.) It was crowded and loud. Jack and I got stuck hanging out together while the others mingled. The music was good for a little hick bar next to the railroad tracks. I can’t remember if I asked Jack to dance or if he asked me first. We danced to a few of my favorites songs. The “dance floor” was crowded, we danced close and I could tell he had “a grove”. I didn’t find out until much later that he can’t really dance, by then I was in love and it didn’t matter! By the end of the night we exchanged contact information (he had an email address – I had just recently learned about email and couldn’t believe the concept of email), a nice hug and a little kiss. During my last month of college I could only think of finishing college, going home to spend time with my mom and triplet sisters (who were 5 years-old at the time and cute as can be), and of course seeing Jack again. He wrote me short notes on post cards once a week and we talked on the phone a handful of times. I did most of the talking; little did I know that would be how all our phone conversations would go (and it is still that way).
Fast forward to December 22, 1993: Jack brought Eddie’s truck to Stout to help me move all my junk home. I was embarrassed that he saw all the boxes of my worldly goods. On top of that embarrassment, he brought his sister. I never met Susie before this day. I heard from Kay about how intelligent and how amazing his sister was (and still is). My very first memory of Susie is her carrying out an old milk crate full of my stinky shoes. Have I mentioned how embarrassing this day was? Oh well, it was free help! Our first date (same day as moving day): When we got everything unloaded at my mom’s house Jack invited me to go Christmas caroling with his extended family that evening. This sounded like fun! I wasn’t getting too serious about this guy so it really didn’t matter if I sang Christmas songs with his cousins, aunts, and uncles. Well, afterwards they had a party at his grandma’s house and I fell in love with everyone I met. My favorite memory of that night was watching his cousin, Kate, toddling around, too little to sing. (Now she is in college and has her own blog, click here to see how beautiful she can sing!)
Fast forward to August 1996: I didn’t go to graduate school. I had a job I loved with an awesome company and with potential for growth. I was still living with my Mom and loving it! I was in love with Jack! I am sad that I don’t have this exact date but this was the month he told me he wanted to marry me. Helen took this picture of us right before or maybe it was minutes after we told her that we were getting married.
Fast forward to August 2, 1997:
Our honeymoon was five weeks long. One of our many adventures was backpacking for three days in the Cascade Mountain Range within Snohomish County, Washington.
After our honeymoon Jack moved back to Platteville to finish his last year of college and I went back to my little house in Amherst. In May of 1998 he got a job in Clintonville and we moved to Iola.
Fast forward to September 1999:
Our new house and farm! We would hike around our property almost every day. One of my favorite memories of these early years is of a Saturday night in the spring of 2000. We were planting trees and enjoying our time together and realized it was a Saturday night. If someone would have told me when I was 19 years old, “In ten years you will be on your own farm planting 200 trees with your husband on a Saturday night and loving it!” I would have laughed in their face! In the next few years during our hikes around our property I would imagine a blonde headed boy running through the field.
Fast forward to October 2003:
Fast forward to August 2005:
Fast forward to April 2009:
Fast forward to May 2011:
Our blonde headed boys!
Fast forward to April 2012:
These photos needed updating…May 2015