Once Upon a Time….

In 2002 Audley & I packed up our little house in north Alabama and moved to Carrollton, Georgia; a small town just outside Atlanta. We had been married about 7 years, had four kids and just lost access to grandparents and great grandparents for help or just a little break from kids. If you’ve ever moved before, you know just how stressful that can be, but with 3 of our kids under the age of 5 and Audley working 10-hour days I was more than overwhelmed.

This was the Christmas the year before we moved if you want an idea of how young my kiddos were! Weren’t they just the cutest, though?!

The boxes weren’t getting unpacked as quickly as I needed, the house was a mess of toys and half organized rooms; I was exhausted from doing it all, and Audley was exhausted from working so much. It was a crazy time for us and it didn’t take long for stress to creep into our relationship. I was craving adult conversation, especially conversations that didn’t involve potty training, picking up after yourself, Bear in the Big Blue House, Bob the Builder, Rolie Polie Olie, Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire.

Audley was needing to relax from long hours at work, constantly dealing with problems on the safety side of things. We desperately needed some us time, but not knowing anyone in town, and the fact we were on a tight budget, we knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Packed up boxes; a sight all too familiar to us over the years.

One Saturday, after a particularly frazzled day, I was trying to cook supper and it just wasn’t going so well. Audley had managed to leave work early so we had knocked out some of the lingering unpacking, and we were both tired. He asked if I wanted to go out to eat. I looked at him like he had lost his mind because taking the six of us out to dinner was a real luxury at that point in our lives.

Carpet picnics are still my favorite Date Night!  

But then, he did the sweetest thing; something that I’ve never forgotten.

Audley told me to feed the kids, looked at Samantha and told her that he was setting up a movie in her room for her and her two little sisters, then suggested I put Bradley on to bed. Next he told Samantha to take their drinks with them and not to come out until he gave them permission.

No arguments allowed!

 I was really wondering what in the world was going on! Audley slipped off into our bedroom for a few minutes, then told me he would be right back. I later learned he had been rolling coins.

Fifteen minutes later he strolled through the front door to an unusually quiet house with a bag from McDonalds and two sodas. He looked at the badly cleared kitchen table, and grabbed a blanket off of the couch and spread it on the floor. For a blissful hour we sat right in our living room eating our burgers and fries, just talking.

Our tradition of a carpet picnic was born.

Over the years we’ve enjoyed many a carpet picnic, even when we could’ve paid a babysitter, and since the kids have grown older. There were lean times when we had to roll coins; there were times we ordered seafood or sushi from a local hot spot and feasted like kings. Some nights we’ve managed to stay awake to snuggle and watch movies; some nights we fell asleep right on the floor.

Our carpet picnics have been some of my favorite memories in our almost 24 years.

I know Valentine’s Day is over, but the intentional time and effort we put into our marriages shouldn’t be. Parents need a break from parenting every now and then. Husbands and wives need to stay connected to each other and know what’s going on in their lives! I know you only have your kids at home for a short time, but when they get older, move off to college, get married at 20 years old, join the Marines…. it’s just you and your spouse left.

The intentional, mindful time and effort you’ve invested in each other while the kiddos were at home will determine the relationship you will have once the nest is empty.  You don’t want your marriage to be empty as well as the nest.

The relationship you have in your marriage will also play a role in the kinds of relationships your children choose to have.

Take some time for your spouse regularly. I’ve shared several inexpensive ideas all week that don’t even involve leaving the house! Check them out and make plans for you and your spouse together.

Happy Weekend y’all!!

Out With The Old~Finally

To say the least, blogging in 2018 was rather sporadic at Fiddle Dee Dee.  Honestly, life was different and hard to explain, although it wasn’t a bad year. As old as my kids are, a lot of last year was parenting related and since I’m definitely not a “mommy blogger” didn’t want to focus on these things, all the time. It was also an emotional year as my youngest graduated from high school, leaving Audley & Me, for all practical purposes, empty nesters!

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We made a Marine, and a medical assistant, and a personal trainer, and an interior designer….

While I’ve been absent from the blog, my Instagram and Facebook pages stay active and you may have caught a glimpse of our beautiful holiday season among other fun things!

I would love to have you follow me if you don’t already!

On the technical side of things, blogging has been a challenge as my 7-year-old MacBook needs to be replaced thanks to Apple’s way of doing updates (just like with an iPhone) and I can’t update the latest operating system which has rendered my Photoshop useless and slowed down my laptop to discouraging speeds. Hopefully this will all be corrected soon, and I’ve just decided to do the best I can with what I have for now!

January (all 795 days of it) was a trial month, so to kick off this new year & set the tone for 2019, I thought it would be good to update you on where I am in this season of life. It’s an all new adventure!

While I don’t talk parenting, my family has been a huge part of my blogging lifestyle over the years as we travel, cook, celebrate, go out and share, I wanted to update where they are. They were so young when I began this blog.  Now they are making their mark on the world as productive and disciplined Millennials and GenZ’ers.

I’m very proud for people to know my kids and the influence they share on the world!

One of the very first pics of my kiddos on the blog…. it’s safe to say things have changed.

My little family is all grown up!

Samantha and her husband, Justin celebrated their 6th anniversary in December!

With one of my grand-dogs

 

She’s working for a primary care doctor in Tennessee and Justin was just honored with law enforcement officer of the year for the entire state of Tennessee and will be honored next weekend in Nashville.

County LEO of the year honors in December

Samantha has the DIY bug, and has been doing a lot of work on the little house she and Justin live in. She’s become the unofficial party planner for just about everything at work and pulls together fun events for her co-workers.  Healthcare may be her calling, but she has a gift for decorating and entertaining.  It’s so much fun to see her latest projects and plans!

MacKenzie celebrated her first anniversary with Michael and turned 21 all in the same week. They bought their first house last year as well.

And our other grand-dog

She began her senior year of college, is finishing her major in exercise science, and is a personal trainer in Greenville.

Such an adorable Preacher & Wifey

The Golden Strip Church of Christ where Michael has preached for 3 years, has grown immensely, and they just purchased a new building for their use. It’s an exciting time for these two newlyweds.

Madeline played lacrosse her freshman year at Point University, but decided to change her major to interior design, attend tech school (a very smart move for her creative spirit), and move home for her sophomore to keep her loans and other costs down.

Just hanging around in Missouri

As you know, I’m a firm believer that a 4-year degree isn’t for, or necessary for everyone. Having one definitely does not guarantee a job! She’s doing well and I love her vision board projects she has had to pull together. Ethan Allen furniture at The Mall of Georgia featured one of her holiday table settings during the month of November which was voted on by the public and received the honor of “best in class”. Madeline did a fantastic job!

Ethan Allan tablescape contest

Bradley: Our baby graduated high school and 10 days later left for Parris Island where he earned the title of United States Marine.

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The most handsome Marine serving right now. I am entitled to be prejudiced.

Earned the Title

He’s in his schooling right now to become a MP. Let me tell you, Audley and I are two extremely proud parents!

As for us, Audley & I celebrated 23 years of marriage in August, purchased a much needed new vehicle for all the road trips we make (we have kids in 3 different states now), took an empty nesters cruise to the Bahamas and Cuba that turned into a couple cruise with Samantha and Justin, and went all out for Halloween.

We traveled to Parris Island, I visited Camp Lejeune, and we celebrated Thanksgiving in Missouri with Madeline, Bradley and five other Marines who were also stuck for Thanksgiving.

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Christmas brought our children home which will probably be the last one we celebrate together for a while as Bradley will get his orders for a permanent duty station soon.

Missing Justin as he was on duty… support the Blue y’all; they sacrifice so much.

All together at my parents in Tennessee

This month wraps up two years since we moved to metro Atlanta. It’s not the first time we’ve lived in the Atlanta area since we married, and I grew up here, but it’s not the same.  Atlanta doesn’t feel like home, and I can’t say I enjoy living here. I do love the convenience of a real store for baking supplies (not Michael’s or Hobby Lobby), a really awesome gym, and shopping for virtually anything I need if feeling chill enough to face the traffic, but honesty I do not call Atlanta home.  Atlanta is a cold and lonely place, and while it is in the South, it’s not really a Southern city.

Audley changed companies last December, leaving the corporate world behind, which has done wonders for his stress levels. The down side is he drives 75 miles one-way to work everyday.  I’m really hoping 2019 brings a move our way!

To where, I have no clue, but I can be packed in a week.

So here we are, the first full week of February throwing out the old and embracing 2019.  I’m focused on keeping our house feeling cozy and warm, engaged on our marriage (a little differently now that the kids are grown), getting back to healthy habits and self-care that has taken a back burner again (making me feel rather slobby and frazzled), and finding out who I am now that I’m no longer a full-time mom (I seemed to forget there was life outside mothering).

It’s amazing how much can change in just a year, but I hope you will be patient with me, and join me as I embrace this new season of life!

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From Veteran’s Wife & Momma to Military Mom & Empty Nester

Bradley left for Parris Island last Sunday.

This is no picnic on a beach; my son is training with the best to become a United States Marine!

Y’all, Audley & I are so proud! I’ll admit, I am a wee bit nervous. I know how hot Southern summers are; the heat index is 103° today here outside Atlanta! Can you imagine the South Carolina coast? He’s a tough kid choosing to leave this time of year. Audley went to Oklahoma for Army boot camp and then when he changed branches went through boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois for the Navy (yes, my hubby served in both; thought the Navy had better schools & made the switch), so his weather experiences were a whole lot different!!

Serving & supporting our country is very important in our family.

Leaving Day … June 10 from the recruiting center in Athens

Bradley’s going to answer to a whole new level Of authority, a level that as strict as I was on my kids, he can’t fathom! He kept telling everyone I prepared him for the DI’s.. yeah he doesn’t have a clue!

The 12 weeks he has remaining ( it’s hard to believe one has already passed!) are going to be weeks of massive transformation; he’s going to learn to make a “rack”; an epic #momfail based on the condition of his room after he left!

{Y’all it was BAD!!}

While he is transforming into a Marine, Audley & I will make the transition into empty nesters. We have never never experienced “just us”. I became a full-time Momma the day we said “I Do” and for 23 years my identity has been Audley’s wife and eventually the mom of four amazing kids! It’s kind of exciting to discover the adventures hubby and I will enjoy together without having to plan every detail around lacrosse, wrestling, band, color guard, soccer, baseball, and youth group.

Unlike so many couples who fall apart at this stage of life because they cant adjust I am sure we are going to be just fine and dive into adventures we never experienced as newlyweds! We have worked hard over the last 23 years to keep us and our marriage first so that we aren’t two strangers living together. It’s kind of exciting.

Out in a canoe at Watson Mill Bridge State Park over the weekend

Now that graduation and the busyness of the spring has passed I’m planning to do a much better job of blogging! So for those who have stuck around, thank you!! I hope my summer content inspires you to dive into adventures and enjoy where you are in life both at home and out and about!

Graduation 2K18 & the Future

For the third time in three years and fourth time overall we have celebrated another graduation in our little family.  Last weekend was so special as siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends all celebrated this youngest child of ours.

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Audley and I couldn’t be more proud of the four children we’ve raised and the young adults they have and are becoming.

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If you follow me on social media (you really ought too!), you know our Bradley has enlisted in the Maine Corps and leaves in just 6 days for boot camp at Parris Island, SC.

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This was not a decision made lightly, but one Bradley has carefully weighed and considered.  Bradley’s decision was made in part because honestly, the military is in his blood.  Audley was a Navy submariner, his grandfather in the Army national guard, his great-grandfather & that whole generation of great-great uncles on both sides of the family were in the Navy, Air Force and Army serving in WWII and the Korean Conflict, and his great-great grandfather served in WWI, with other direct descendants fighting in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.  Service for what one believes in and in this country is in Bradley’s genes; it just comes natural.

Bradley’s decision was also made because he absolutely despises school and he realized that there was no reason to borrow or pay money to be somewhere he didn’t want to be. He isn’t interested in trade school right now either as he isn’t bent that way.  Bradley is a natural born leader, a protector, and a servant.  He desires to take care of others and a college classroom is most certainly NOT going to satisfy that need!

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I applaud his decision.  Not everyone is cut out for college, yet society (or the student loan companies) seem determined everyone needs to go!  As parents we should not make our kids into what and who we think they should be in their careers, but lead and guide them in the direction their personality and desire takes them.  Bradley has chosen service to his country; a country he is actually very proud to live in.  As a matter of fact, about 20 of his classmates have made that same decision!  They are joining the guard, the Navy, Army and a total of five will be Marines with my son; one just left for boot camp just three days after graduation!

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Some of Bradley’s friends have chosen trades.  Kudos to them!  You do NOT have to have a four-year degree to be a success in life!  Ask my husband who works with welders, steelworkers, and the like everyday and are making 6-figure salaries.

Now before you start passing judgement, I am not anti-college.  First, I have a bachelors degree (although I’ve never used it) in Public Relations and Mass Communications.  After serving six years in the Navy,  Audley, first studying to be an EMT & Paramedic (these are both license programs), now has his Master’s degree and a list of letters from professional certifications behind his name that have benefitted him greatly in his career of construction safety.  Our oldest, Samantha, has an associates in general ed which allowed her to sit for certification programs, giving her a career in the medical field that she absolutely LOVES!  MacKenzie will graduate with her bachelors next year in Exercise Science (a field which she is passionate about) and plans to sit for a couple of certifications, one allowing her to train athletes.  Madeline is also working on her 4-year degree although I’m pretty sure she’s majoring only in Lacrosse right now, but having a lot of fun on that scholarship!   Each of our children chose their own paths into adulthood, including two who married at 20 years old!  We’ve encouraged them to follow their dreams , supported them and offered guidance when we saw they needed it.

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Samantha & Justin; December 2012

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MacKenzie & Michael; June 2017

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Madeline looking fierce in white!

When I graduated college the keynote speaker made the statement that “if you don’t love the field in which you are working, get out of it and find a new path”.  Unhappiness in a career affects you not only at work, but in your personal life as well.

So here’s to you Class of 2018!  Don’t let societal peer pressure dictate which path to take.  Follow your passions and your heart into a career path you love.  Be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher.  Become a personal trainer, a welder, a photojournalist.

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Bradley with his recruiter

And if your heart says be a Marine, by all means, BE A MARINE!

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