The 25th Year

Last week we officially closed the door on the last 3 years of our life in Loganville as we dug up the hydrangea & locked the door.

Now as full empty-nesters Audley & I are finally under one roof (he’s been living in an apartment for 2 years instead of driving 150 miles round trip everyday for work) living on the west-side of Atlanta. This was the 15th move we’ve made in our 25 years of marriage, which we also celebrated last week.

This move was probably the most difficult and for sure the most stressful in the fact he & I did 90% of it alone between Audley’s work schedule, wedding planning for our youngest daughter, lots of uncertainty and a of course this pandemic.

2020 has been an interesting year to say the least.

While 2020 has been memorable in its own way, the beauty and nuttiness of the last 25 years mixed with the excitement of the next 25, definitely overshadow any craziness that this one year has thrown our way.

Audley and I have four amazing kids, & now three sons-in-law (so much has happened in the last 10 years while writing this blog) who are contributing so many beautiful and positive things to this world of ours. Police officers, medical personnel, minister, exercise specialist, preschool teacher, Marines (we have 2 now!); we have much to be proud of when looking at our kids.

Having an empty nest at the quarter century milestone is a whole new world for Audley and me.

We have never been “just the two of us”. I became a full-time mom the day we said “I do”. Being parents together for the entirety of our marriage has been a large part of our identity.

Now, with Madeline saying her “I do” last month the full-time parenting chapter of our story has closed! Now we get to write the next chapter as we discover new adventures together. I have no clue as to what the next 25+ years will look like for Audley and I, but can guarantee it will be filled with love, growth, discovery, new adventures and as always God-centered.

So cheers to the next 25 years and whatever adventures come our way!

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!!

A Little Romance on Valentine’s Day

I have been a cheesy, hopeless romantic for as long as I can remember. This began when I was young and was fostered by the books I read, classic movies I watched, and creative writing in journals long gone. I adored the writings of the Bronte sisters, and the often tragic love stories of Shakespeare. I soaked up Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables wishing for my own Gilbert Blythe, and dreamed of being Christy traveling to the Appalachian Mountains to teach school. Twenty-fours years with Audley and I’m still that same romantic.

Tulips from Mr. Jones … just because

It’s easy to keep romance in our relationship as I am married to a man who, while not as hopeless as I, romances me in his own sweet ways. During the years we’ve been together he has planned special dinners, brought home little gifts or flowers when I least expected it, and refused to take gift ideas from me or the kids because he wants to pick out that perfect birthday or Christmas present himself. Whatever it is, it’s always special because Audley thought of me. To be truthful though, it’s the little things that mean so much. He loves the cheesy dates I pull together, including the ones where we just stay in.

These are some of my favorite moments. There is nothing more cozy that being in your own space without the world and its crazy distractions closing in around you.

With Valentine’s Day just a couple of days away (and on a week day), we took the time over the weekend while Audley was off from work, for a little relaxation, quiet time, and “cheesy” romance. With a fire in the fireplace and a nontraditional snack, it was the perfect time for conversation and reconnecting. Being romantic is a way to savor each and every moment you and your spouse have together; enjoying the unique journey you are taking together. Romance is such a simple way to show affection, and is not as difficult as people would like for you to think it is.

For our romantic evening in, Audley built a cozy fire in the fireplace, we found a fabulous country station on Spotify playing a little George Strait, Alan Jackson, Shenandoah, Reba, and Randy Travis, and I put together a wine and fruit board that we could snack on while talking.

While simple, this is such a wonderful way to spend time together. In a time where we are always on the move, disconnecting from the world is very needed for every marriage. You never realize how much the world infringes on your time, space and mind until you unplug!

Baker’s Dark chocolate and white chocolate melts; I just used sprinkles, pecans & mini chocolate chips on hand for decorating.  

Evenings in like this are also wonderful when finding a babysitter is difficult. Find something to occupy your kiddos or send them to bed, then enjoy each other’s company. Schedule simple couple time regularly, just as if you were scheduling a meeting at work. Be mindful in keeping romance in your relationships, and unplug from the world!

Aldi’s special cheese collection for Valentine’s Day.  BTW, Aldi has a great assortment of flavorful cheeses on a regular basis.  Its worth checking out!

My favorite part about this simple night in is that it didn’t cost much at all! Since it is close to Valentine’s Day, Aldi had these fantastic heart shaped cheeses along with some unique flavors (Wensleydale cheese with raspberries and white chocolate, aged cheddar, & cranberries with Wensleydale) in the store. I just paired them with crackers and made my own chocolate dipped strawberries for 1/8 of the cost of Godiva. Paired with non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice (Aldi had a Rosé grape juice cocktail) and crackers, this was the perfect platter to relax with and enjoy.

By the way, the cost of our evening in was around $23. That’s it.

When you look back over your years together, these are the simple moments you will remember and treasure. Take some time and plan your own “cheesy,” romantic evening in. You won’t regret it!

Valentine’s Date Night In

It’s the beginning of that week in February that everyone loves to hate: Valentine’s Day.

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If you ask most people, It seems they would rather skip Valentine’s Day, and feel it’s an overrated, commercial event.

I’m just the opposite, being a hopeless romantic I absolutely adore Valentine’s Day! It’s such a fun holiday whether you celebrate it with a sweetie, your kids, or gal pals! And despite what so many like to think, you don’t even have to spend a fortune to make it special!

Money doesn’t equate love, but thought, time and effort definitely show how much you care.

This week I’m sharing several ways to celebrate this holiday of love with your significant other, girl friends. & even yourself. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to find a whole new side of Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is on a Thursday this year, and you know as well as I do all the “good” restaurants were booked weeks ago. If you hit the local steak house, you’re going to be waiting for hours and looking over the movie guide there isn’t a thing worth seeing at the local theater!

So who ever said you have to go out for Valentine’s?

How about a movie night in?

If you don’t have grandparents nearby to entertain the kids for a little bit, after supper send those kiddos toddling off to bed early, (they’ll get over it), dim the lights, light a few candles, grab a box of donuts, a couple of mugs of hot chocolate and your favorite cheesy rom-coms for a cozy night for two!

This is the ultimate evening in; pajamas and donuts (oh my!), a patchwork quilt, and laughter as you just unwind together.

Need ideas for cute romance movies?

Try these:

You’ve Got Mail

Sleepless in Seattle

The Princess Bride

Kate and Leopold

Sabrina

Never Been Kissed

and Audley’s favorite, the Little Rascals (He’s such an Alfalfa fan)

The cost of this date? If you make your hot chocolate from scratch and add whipped cream, around $25.00 (a dozen conversation heart donuts from Krispy Kreme is $10.99).

By the way, you can’t even go to the movies for $25.

You don’t have to fight crowds. You’re able to spend time with your kids before sending them off to bed. Donuts taste way better than stale popcorn at the theater. And if you fall asleep snuggled in a patchwork quilt with you spouse on the sofa, it’s even more romantic.

Want to make the evening a little more romantic? Plan it ahead of time with your spouse, and send each other messages throughout the day to keep the excitement up for those few simple hours together. Use quotes from the movie you’ve picked out, conversation heart messages, or just a text saying how much you’re looking forward to sharing a little time with them that evening. You can make your messages a little spicy if you choose…. and I’ll just leave that here for you to ponder.

Love it or hate it, like anything else in life, Valentine’s Day is what you make of it. Try something new this year and see what happens!

Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for another easy, inexpensive date for Valentine’s Day!

What’s your opinion of Valentine’s Day? Let’s hear your thoughts!