Two Children and a Wedding

We have been to a handful of weddings since we became parents.  D’s first flight was to Alaska for Kristin and Adam’s wedding.  He was just under three months!Other than that, I don’t think either boy has attended any weddings.  We have always found a sitter so we could enjoy the event and avoid messing with our sacred sleep schedule.

Recently, we traveled to Gainesville to  celebrate the wedding of a dear family friend. We left early because, well, we have children and they do not sleep in. Ever. Somehow we missed the memo that April 1st was the official departure day of all snowbirds, so traffic was a bit heavier than we would have liked.  We made it safely and early enough for nap time.  The hotel was able to check us in early (Thank you, Jesus) and we got settled in our room.  With all of the commotion and excitement, D had no intentions of taking a snooze.  Cam took a short one.  I knew we would be in for an interested afternoon.

As with all attempts to go anywhere with children, chaos ensued and we were almost late to the wedding.  I have to give my husband a big shout-out because he held everything together and got us there in a cool and calm manner while I was freaking out.


The ceremony was outside at a beautiful farm in Alachua (how do you pronounce Alachua?) My dad was one of the groomsmen and D was very excited to see him walk down the aisle and stand up front.  So excited that he decided to yell, “Hi Grand-dad” during the vows.  He soon realized that this was getting him lots of attention so I had to literally hold my hand over his mouth the rest of the ceremony.  He could not be trusted.


Meanwhile, Cam was beginning to get antsy, so thank goodness we had puffs.  Or, so I thought.  The moment D saw the puffs, he wanted them too.  Which would have been fine if he hadn’t started whining and yelling about needing puffs that very moment.  Again, I am trying to keep my children as quiet as possible so we don’t disrupt the entire ceremony.  Eventually, a battle ensues over said puffs and they have to be put away.

From what I saw of the ceremony, it was beautiful.  Matt and Debbie looked so happy.   The farm was amazing and there was so much space for the boys to run around and there was cool tree right in the middle.  It was nice to be in an area where I knew that we could let them roam while still being able to keep an eye on them.  It was a bit warm so Doug and I traded off trailing the kids.  I probably would not have encouraged the tree climbing while in dress clothes, but I guess that’s what Dads are for.

The reception was held inside and we snagged a table on the edge.  I knew we would be up and down a lot.  D instantly found his way to the dance floor and was totally content to dance by himself.  It was pretty adorable.  I did need to step in to remind him to be gentle with the other children, but overall, he was too busy being a dancing fool.


Dinner was a delicious southern barbecue.  And, naturally, D ate only the mac-and-cheese, only when we could tear him away from the dance floor.

My family was a great help through it all.  They took the boys outside and danced with them.  They helped with dinner and were the extra eyes and hands to help us.


Bedtime is 7pm sharp.  By 7 we had just finished eating dinner and the dancing had just started.  Cam did a few rounds on the dance floor and by 7:30 he was asleep in Doug’s arms.  D, on the other hand, was full of energy and was running and dancing inside and outside.  It didn’t take too long to realize that with one already asleep, that the other would soon crash and we had a bit of a drive ahead of us to get back to the hotel.  We aren’t usually the first to leave, but by 7:45 we were out the door.


I packed pjs and had both boys ready for bed as we got on the road.  You would think they would fall right to sleep in the car.  Not.  You would think they would fall right to sleep when we got back. Nope.  Finally, around 9ish they gave in.


Overall, the boys did really well.  Even without good naps they managed to make it through the wedding without any major meltdowns.  I still think that weddings are more enjoyable when you do not have to chase after your children, especially while being dressed up.   I find that when you expect your children to behave like adults in social settings, you are usually setting unrealistic expectations.  Everything is novel and exciting to them and they have no clue what is socially acceptable.  They just know what their wants and needs are and running in a field, climbing a tree, and calling out to their loved ones are exactly what kids their age should be doing. And, that is ok!  As parents, we teach them how to behave in those settings, but we also have to be realistic about how long and how well they can handle being outside of their norm.   For us, it is always ideal to keep sleep schedules as close to regular as possible.  It just gives you a little extra assurance that they are rested, which means they should be better able to adjust to the new situations.  At least my dress was super easy to nurse in and the next morning the boys slept in!  Until 7:30 am.


Have you brought your children to a wedding?  What are your tips for traveling with children and keeping them happy at a wedding?

With Love,

From Me To You

Back at the Blog

Somehow this little blog is about to turn two! And, it is about time that I get back at it.  I’ve been debating about the direction of this blog.  The original intention was to share photos and stories with family and friends who live far away and want to keep up with our growing boys and our lives.  While I like sharing and love hearing that people enjoy the photos and stories, it does take a bit of time and energy.

Like I said, life has changed a lot since my last post in my second trimester.  Camdon was born and life has been a whirlwind.  We expected life to be more work with two children and we expected that priorities would shift for a bit. I feel incredibly fortunate to have enjoyed a lot of time at home with my new little guy.  I know that many women do not have this luxury and I am deeply grateful for the ability to do so.  I am thankful for my exceptionally supportive husband, who has given me the time and space to focus on my role as a mom.  And, I am always mindful of the flexibility our business has allow us.  Returning to work has been an interesting balancing act. Doug and I talk about work all the time, so while I might not physically be in the office or out in the field everyday, I still know what is going on and can work on projects from home or with clients in  a way that works with our family’s schedule.

Donovan’s first seven months were total chaos.  Looking back, I just laugh to myself as I remember how much we did.  As if becoming new parents was not enough, I job searched and accepted a new job. We traveled to Alaska. we moved to Florida. I started working full-time (and commuting to work for the first time in 3 years…living on campus had its perks!). I was pumping five days a week.  Doug was restarting his real estate business and learning a new area.  We bought and moved into our first home!  We were out of our ever-loving minds.  Only now, as I look back, do I really realize how chaotic it all was!  But, it was what we had to do and we did it.  Life seemed hectic and frenzied at the time but somehow, it really wasn’t all that bad.

Camdon’s first seven months have been the exact opposite.  We had a nursery ready for his arrival. Our house is thoroughly kid-proof and most of our projects and to-do lists were accomplished before he was born.  We knew what to expect.  We had been through the new baby transition before. We knew what to do.  We knew our resources.  Our family was close by and were an amazing support!  We planned for time as a new family and what work would look like.  We only planned one big trip to Wisconsin to celebrate two wonderful women who both turned 90!

With any new baby, life was filled with lots of highs and simultaneously, plenty of lows.  Taking care of two children at one time is no joke!  And nursing is freaking hard at the beginning, even if you have done it before.  Also, nursing a baby and keeping a two-year-old happy and safe is not an easy task.  Amidst the daily struggles and growing pains, so many special moments occur. I knew they would all fly by before my very eyes, so I worked extra hard to just be present.  To be in the moment as much as possible and to remember as many details as I could.  And, even with that mindfulness, I still sit here typing and wondering how seven months has really passed by.

So, I’m going to catch you up on the months that have passed.  I think I left off in October of 2015…so I might shorten some of the stories and there will be fewer pictures.  I think I’ll add a few more blogs about life.  Not just what we do, but some reflections on what is on my mind.  And, you might see more about work on here because work and our life is pretty intertwined.  As always, I’d love to hear what you think.

Here are few pictures of the boys in the cutest shirts from Auntie Yaya!

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With Love,

From Me to You

September 2015

One of the best things about September is football is BACK!  College Game Day mornings return and lazy Sundays watching WAY too much tv resume.  There is something wonderful about a new season.  All of the possibility and potential is just brimming from each player and you once again hope that your team will win it all.

Sharing our love of football with Donovan is only natural.  I am usually pretty strict about the ‘no-screen-time’ rule, but football is just different.  Thankfully, Doug and I made a vow (literally, before we got married) that we would root for the Seminoles as our college team and the Packers for our professional team.  Many of my Bears fan family were shocked by my allegiance; however, I have found that when the Packers win, my husband is happy and so is our household 🙂

Donovan did learn many cheers and chants this season.  He will eventually know the correct words to the fight song and he had to begin learning about first downs, touch downs, and cheering for his teams.  We quickly learned that Donovan picks up everything we say.  So, during certain moments of frustration while watching games, we had to be mindful of not using words out of anger.  Inevitably, those would be the only words that he would hear and repeat.

Doug’s mom, Kathy, came for a wonderful visit.  We took her to the Columbia for a nice lunch together and we visited the Aquarium.  We also enjoyed a dinner and a sunset at Siesta Key with my family.  Kathy is so sweet with Donovan.  She is incredibly patient and good with children and she played with Donovan so much.  This allowed Doug and I to finish a few house projects that we had been putting off since we hardly ever have time carved out to tackle them while watching the little man.  We all loved our time with her and wish that she lived closer.

We also got to enjoy a date night, thanks to Grandma Kimmy!  We were joined by our favorite third wheel, Andrew!

We loved using our zoo passes for “swap-tember” and visited the aquarium as much as we could.  Donovan and Evey loved seeing all of the fish and animals that live under the sea.  It is awesome to be able to share many fun outings with friends and their children, especially when they are close in age.  Most importantly, they just ‘get it’ when your child is crabby or needs a break because they have been there.

Donovan is still learning to be gentle with his friends, especially poor Evey!  He gets so excited to play with them that he needs to take a minute to calm down.  I have loved Dr. Harvey Karp’s book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block.  I recommend it to anyone with a toddler.  We have been practicing many of the techniques and our favorite is just taking a few deep breaths to just restart and move forward when Donovan gets too worked up.

Other fun times from September included trips to the park, school picture day, eating out (Donovan mostly likes to eat crayons…don’t let those sweet pictures fool you), adventures to Bass Pro Shop and Top Golf (courtesy of Auntie YaYa) and of course the joys of teething.

We also shared our big news with all of our family, friends, and Facebook.  It was nice to have our big secret out in the open so we no longer had to dodge certain topics or situations.  We shared the news at my parent’s Labor Day BBQ since many of our family and friends were there for the celebration.  As for the morning sickness and hormones, well, they were still hanging in there with full force.  Luckily, I started to feel better a little further into my second trimester.

With Love,

From Me to You

LBD 2: First Trimester Re-cap

Due Date:

March 9, 2016 (Doug’s 35th birthday!!)

Sex:

Sorry, folks!  We loved waiting for the big surprise to be revealed at the delivery, so you will have to stay tuned until March.

How we found out:

Since Doug and I were trying to get pregnant, I was completely aware of every change that occurred in my body.  Since I was pregnant before, I was absolutely positive that I knew I was pregnant.  I think I surprised Doug with my certainty.

When you are trying to get pregnant, any time spent waiting is miserable.  You just want to know if you are pregnant or not.  Given my certainty, I opted to try the early detection pregnancy tests.  I took the first test on June 28th and it was negative.  Since I knew it was really early, and I was sure that I was in fact pregnant, I didn’t really think much of it.

On June 30th, as Doug was getting ready for a trip to Wisconsin, I took another early test.  This one had a faint line.  I began googling and reading discussion boards to see if I could take this as a good sign or if I had to wait longer.  We decided to be cautiously optimistic, yet celebrate that we had a new baby on the way.

On July 3rd as Doug returned, I took one more test.  This one had a full dark line, so we felt more confident in our exciting news.

Reactions:

Jenna-I knew I was right!

Doug-Yay!  LBD 2!

Donovan-Has no clue what is going on 🙂

Keeping the secret and Sharing the news:

This time around, we didn’t feel any rush to share our secret with anyone.  After having one child, you suddenly become a target for questions about when you will have the next one.  People observe when you drink and when you don’t and how you act or if you seem tired or sick.  It seemed that everyone was just looking for clues that I could be pregnant.  It was was a little bit obnoxious, so I felt more justified in holding on to the news a little longer.

We told my family first because they would be the most likely to figure out that I was pregnant.  While we were at Anna Maria Island, we had Donovan wear his “Big Brother” shirt and wait for my parents and sisters to notice.  They were all excited about the news and all admitted that they were suspicious that something was going on.

We shared the news with Doug’s family via FaceTime in a similar fashion.  Adam and Kristin took the longest to notice the shirt, but to be fair, they were also taking care of their new son, Simon.

Once our family knew, we started making calls to friends.  It was a great reason to catch up with people when you have exciting news to share.

We shared our big news with most of our family and friends at my parents Labor Day party.  We had taken a few pictures of Donovan and put them up on the TV.

Our Facebook announcement came the following weekend.

How I was feeling:

This time around the morning sickness was way worse.  I needed to eat as soon as I woke up and I always felt as if I could throw up at any moment.  I only wanted to eat carbs.  Frozen food was the only way that I could satisfy my urgency to eat immediately.  Snacking was critical to not feeling too sick all the time.  And, dinners, well, let’s just say that there was a lot of eating out and frozen meals.  I just could not bring myself to cook because then I would want nothing to do with what I had made.  I also adopted what I like to call, fourth meal.  As if the snacks didn’t add up to additional meals, this meal came after dinner.  If I missed fourth meal, then the night and the morning were extra nauseating.

No one warns you that having a toddler is a lot of work.  It is wonderful, and exhausting on a typical day.  Add in being pregnant and you reach a whole new level of fatigue.  This time around, I did not have the luxury of laying on my couch while watching mindless TV.  I still had to take care of my little guy who needed my attention and wanted me to play.  The silver lining was nap time.  I greatly appreciated snuggling with Donovan and taking long naps together.  The only problem was that I could have taken at least two more naps a day, but he wasn’t interested.

Doctors appointments:

The first few appointments are so exciting as you get that final confirmation that you are pregnant.  My new doctor does more ultrasounds that my doctor in North Carolina. So, we could see our little one growing.

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Our little blob at 8 weeks 
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Our growing LBD 2 at 12 weeks

Soon the excitement wears off a bit as I remembered how many doctors appointments there are and how much waiting you do for quick check ups.  And, I hate having my blood taken, even though I have gotten better.  It seems that your blood is needed way more frequently at the beginning to make sure that you and the baby are healthy.

First pregnancy and second pregnancy comparisons:

As I mentioned before, I completely underestimated how much work it would be taking care of Donovan and being pregnant.  I tried so hard to be fun and playful, but there were days that I was just not on my parenting game. I had to cut myself some slack and realize that I could get through this and I would feel better one day!

There was certainly less anxiety with this pregnancy than the first.  Since I had been through it all before, I knew what was coming next.  I didn’t need to read “What to Expect When You are Expecting” and I didn’t need to google every symptom.  I still had the first trimester worry that the baby would be health and that we would make it to the second trimester successfully, yet it wasn’t at the front of my mind because I was busy with LBD 1.

It is amazing how quickly you forget the misery of the first trimester when you decide to have a second child.  Since I felt worse this time, I found myself wondering how I forgot about this from before.  As a parent you learn to not wish time away because your child grows so quickly.  I felt a simultaneous urge to hope that I would feel better as soon as the second trimester began.

Doug and I did not anticipate to get pregnant so quickly.  We expected a few months of trying before we would have our intended outcome.  We are so thankful that we were blessed with such an smooth process.  The timing will put Donovan and the new baby at exactly two years apart.  I guess March was meant to be birthday month for the DeGroots 🙂

As I mentioned before, Doug and I were not in a rush to share our news.  It wasn’t that we were not excited, but more that maybe we were not ready to admit how much our lives were about to change.  We wanted to continue to enjoy our lives as our little family of three and not get too wrapped up in what was to come.  We knew there would be plenty of time for preparations once I started to feel better 🙂

I did start to wonder how I could love a child any more than I love Donovan.  I know that my love for him completely caught me off guard so I assume that the new love for LBD 2 will do the same.  But, I do worry about comparing the two.  What if I do love Donovan more?  And, how do parents of multiple children give their children all the love that they need?  It was easy with Donovan because he was the only one.  He has always been the focus and has received my full attention.  How do second children even come close to experiencing what the first received from their parents?  I’m sure that instead of dividing your love for two children, it will just grow.  For now, we are enjoying each day before everything changes in March 🙂

As you can see from the pictures below, this time around I opted to take my “bump” picture in whatever I was wearing that day, instead of wearing the same thing.  I also have a new little buddy joining me in each picture.  Stella voted to sit these weekly pictures out.  And, let me tell you, Stella was a much easier customer than Donovan.  It is fun to look back and see how Donovan has changed over the past few months.

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Week 6- July 16th
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Week 7- July 21st
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Week 8- July 28th
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Week 9- August 4th
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Week 10- August 11th
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Week 11- August 18th
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Week 12- August 25th

With Love,

From Me to You

June 2015

Leaving my job in May was a huge accomplishment for our family.  It opened up more time for us to spend focusing on our priories and allowed for more quality time together.  May was a blur as I adjusted to the reality that I now had time to do everything and anything I had ever wanted.  And I was loving all of the time with my little guy.

I am grateful to work for an amazing company that invests in their agents by providing opportunities for learning and growth.  Ignite is an intense course that allows new agents to learn the nuts and bolts of the job.  I found myself in the classroom three days a week and it was overwhelming at times.  As a new agent you do not always know what you should spend your time on or how to really do anything.  Working with Doug was awesome because he had already paved the way and had systems and leads ready for me.  At the same time, we had to learn how to really work together.  In everyday life you work with your spouse to coordinate schedules, plan meals, take care of the house, and spend time together as a family.  You communicate all the time and share how you feel about different situations.  Yet, when you work together in a professional environment, we found that we had to work through some differing expectations until we were on the same page.

I was hungry to prove myself as a competent part of our team, yet I needed Doug’s insight or input to accomplish the simplest task.  I am thankful that my husband held my hand and was patient with me, because, let’s be real, in life no one can really do that for you in any other work situation.  At the same time, I know I drove him nuts because I needed so much help.  The summer is an especially busy time in the real estate world and I jumped right in.  I worked with two buyers right away and learned so much in the process.  I quickly learned how my schedule would always be changing depending on the needs of my clients and it was nice to work hard one day and be ok with taking some time to relax the next.  I came to realize that working in real estate is all about problem solving and being flexible.

Here are a few of the out-takes from our headshot photo shoot:

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Someone once told me that in life you should really try to avoid making big life changes when you are in the middle of transition.  And, if you must, you should really try to keep it to no more than two big things at once.  Some how I have never really been able to follow that advice.  When I finished grad school, we got married, moved to a new state, started new jobs, and adopted Stella.  Three years later, we moved back to Florida, started new jobs, bought a house, and all of this with a child under one.  You would think that starting a new job was enough excitement for our lives, right?

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Well, Doug and I were lucky enough to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary on Lido beach.  GiGi and Granddad were more than thrilled to watch the little guy for us so we could enjoy our first weekend away.  Doug and I were sitting at the Charthouse enjoying a bottle of wine and reflecting on life.  The topic of our next child came up.  We had always said that after Donovan turned one that we would at least begin the conversation about LBD 2.  For me, parenthood has been a calling that I never knew I would love as much as I do.  It is no secret that I want to have multiple children now, but I suppose it is best to take it one at a time.  As we talked about the future and our family, Doug made the bold statement that he was ready for LBD 2.  I was stunned.  I was mostly surprised by the certainty with which he made this statement.  And, I was also caught off guard by the fact that I was the one who was hesitating at all.

Of course, we knew that there were no guarantees with getting pregnant.  We were very lucky with how quickly we got pregnant the first time.  And, then you do have nine months of pregnancy before the baby would arrive.  So, really you could be looking at a full year before life would truly turn up-side down.  So, we talked about it more and as we were leaving dinner, we had decided to start trying and see what happened.

Looking back, it is comical how easily we made that decision.  The first time around, we talked about every possible scenario over and over for about a week before we both felt really ready.  This time, we knew what we were in for and we knew we could do it.  We wanted our family to grow.  And, we were pretty lucky again.  Sure enough, I was pregnant by the end of the month!

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First Car Accident

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At the Chadwick Company Picnic

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Teaching Donovan how to be a buyers agent and climb stairs 🙂

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Go Lightning!

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First trip to the library!  Book Worms Rule!

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Magic dust for the win!  Bandanna to save my hair not for fashion 🙂

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Happy Anniversary!!

And we can’t forget Father’s Day!  I have never mowed the lawn before and I knew that Doug would really appreciate it, so I gave it a try and it was really hard!  I don’t think that I will volunteer for that chore ever again 😉

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With Love,

From Me to You

May 2015

Good-Bye USF

My last day at USF was May 1st.  It was strange leaving a job that I had only been in for less than a year.  I had no regrets leaving and I was looking forward to my new career in real estate and more time at home with my little man.

I greatly miss my co-worker, Melissa, who taught me how to be an advisor.  How to ask the right questions and know what students really mean by their questions.  She is such a dedicated and hard working woman.  I am thankful that she was there to show me the ropes and keep me from losing it when I was frustrated or down.

I was most happy to say good-by to my breast pump.  Three times a day was getting old, but Donovan wasn’t ready to wean.  I gave up a lot of opportunities to connect with colleagues and friends so that I could pump during my lunch.  I also learned that it is ok, and frankly, good to take breaks during the day.  It helps you refocus and turn your attention back to your work with a fresh mind.  I was so thankful for a job that allowed me the flexibility to pump and that Donovan and I were able to keep our nursing relationship going.

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Rachel arrived home from FSU that same night, so obviously, some Champagne was in order!

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Rachel Turned 21

Cinco de Mayo might be the best date to turn 21.  It certainly is a special day in our lives as it is Rachie’s birthday.  We celebrated at Don Pablos for dinner and toured the Village for Rachel’s first LEGAL night out.  Look out world, all of the Schwartz sisters are legal!  In other news, I am old.  10pm was WAY too late for me to be out.  But, we were happy to celebrate Rachel’s milestone 🙂

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Summer fun!

We enjoyed an awesome beach day with the Motley’s.  We also stepped up our beach game by purchasing a pop-up tent to keep the little ones in the shade.  Also, Donovan likes to eat sand…

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Mother’s Day is one of my new favorite holidays as it is a reminder of how much I love my new role as a mom.  I never knew that I could be so thankful for my little guy or how much he would change me.  I also find myself appreciating my own mother in new ways.  She has taught me more than I will ever know and she has helped me in more ways than I can count.  Being a mom is a tough job and one that doesn’t always get the thanks that it deserves.  But, it is the best and I am thankful  to have the best mom around!

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During the riots in Baltimore, the Rays hosted an extra game with general admission for all.  We got a big group together and enjoyed the Sunday game!  The Rays won!

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Donovan the Toddler

It seems that since Donovan turned one, he has grown and changed so quickly.  He loves practicing animal sounds and he has quite the repertoire already.  He still loves reading books, but now he likes to try to read them to himself.

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He has always loved exploring, but now he is into everything and he cannot be contained.  Every ordinary object is now a new toy yet to be discovered.  And, have I mentioned that he loves to climb on everything?!?

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As much as I see him growing up into a big guy before my eyes, he still needs his Momma.  Especially when he is sick 😦  He is loving the extra time with me at home!

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Adjusting to the new job

It is strange to wake up one day with a whole new schedule and set of priorities.  I no longer turn into a crabby person on Sundays nights as I scramble to get the chores done and the family ready for the new week.  I still have responsibilities and things to do, but now I have time to do them and I’m not up against a stressful and dreaded Monday deadline.

It is nice to drive with Doug to work and to drop off Donovan for only three half days of daycare.  I wasn’t easy learning the ropes of a new job, but Doug is a patient and amazing teacher.  He puts up with my lack of knowledge and encourages me to work on projects that utilize the strengths that I bring to our team.

Working from home is not as easy as it seems.  There are distractions everywhere.  And, mostly, it is the cute little boy who needs me.  I try to be as productive as possible, but sometimes, work has to wait.

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One of the many perks of working with you spouse are lunch dates.  With Donovan at daycare, we can find time to eat and catch up.  We talk about work a lot more than we did before, but we also find time to check-in and support each other.

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Wisconsin

With the new job, comes flexibility.  It is so nice to plan a vacation without needing to check with someone or request time off.  We headed to Wisconsin to visit family and celebrate the wedding of Doug’s cousin.

Donovan had a great time on the plane!

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We spent time with Grandma Kimmy and we really enjoyed the Milwaukee zoo!

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We saw Great-Grandma Irene and Uncle Terry for dinner.

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We arrived at the DeGroot house and Cathy hosted Ed’s birthday and invited Doug’s childhood buddies and their families over for a fun day.  It is fun to see how their children grow!

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We traveled to Antigo, Wisconsin to celebrate the wedding with the DeGroot family.  The wedding was beautiful and the reception was a blast.  Such great time with family!

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We headed back to Milwaukee for a Memorial Day BBQ at Grandma Kimmy’s house.  The weather was perfect!  And, we enjoyed some quality time with Brian and Pip and their sweet children.  We wish we lived closer to them!

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Our trip was a busy one, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world!  It was perfect seeing so many special family and friends and getting to do so much, too!

With Love,

From Me to You

Love Me Do

My parents have been, and still are, the shining example of what love should be.

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They make time for each other

They respect each other’s differences

They laugh

They support the other when life is not what they have expected

They are at their happiest when they are together

They make love look effortless.

My parents taught me about family and the unconditional love that must always be shared. They reminded me that family is the group of people who will always be there for you. I am lucky to have two younger sisters and as I grew up. I knew I loved them, even if they annoyed me or got in my way. As an adult they are two of my closest friends. Even though I am certain that I was not a perfect older sister, they found away to love me in spite of my shortcomings.

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When I met Doug, I thought that I had love all figured out. But this time, there was something different. I could feel it deep in my core.

There was something in how he made me feel.

He made me laugh.

He was genuine.

He made me feel at ease.

Of course, his deep blue eyes and warm smile helped, too 🙂

With any new love you get that tingling anxiety and prickly excitement every time they call or accidently graze your skin. You become so wrapped up in the newness and the thrill and you devour every moment together because they all pass by so quickly. You are learning about this new person and you have a million things to ask so you can feel that you really know them.

Eventually the rational side of your mind knocks on the door to remind you that all of these special feelings are just wonderful but we need to know if this guy really measures up. Is he really as good as he seems? And with that you begin to check off the items on the checklist that you have created over your dating history. You look for flaws and reasons to disqualify this new guy. This is where love comes in.

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Getting to know people takes time. It cannot be rushed. Love is what carries you to the next step and by that point, if you do find a flaw, doesn’t seem quite as important as before. Love smoothes out the wrinkles and allows you to accept people’s imperfections.  After all, we are all imperfect.

Loves grows. It changes with every season.

Dating

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Engaged

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Newlyweds

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Good times

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Hard times

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New beginning

Our first family photo :)

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With each stage love is there as the foundation.

Communication

Patience

Selflessness

Commitment

Honestly

Trust

These are what keep your relationship together and growing, but love is the backbone.

I thought I understood love.

I knew that when it was right, it would just work. Like it did for my parents and like it did when I met Doug. I knew that love took work and it would be there if you learned how to say “I’m sorry” and to work together. I knew that unconditional love is the easiest to take for granted. But the day that Donovan was born I learned about a new kind of love.

When you are planning to get pregnant you are thinking about a person that you don’t even know.

Hoping

Wishing

Praying

When you find out that you are pregnant, it becomes real. You watch your belly grown and you feel this life inside you move and turn. You might even name this little being. But…

You still don’t know this person.

The day your baby is born and you meet them for the first time, you are in love. The pain of labor and the frustration of pregnancy mean nothing because you are finally holding this special person. A tiny representation of you and your partner—a symbol of your love. And you are filled with more love than that you could ever imagine that your heart could hold. You never knew that your heart could feel so full.

As I held Donovan I could not believe that I loved him as much as I did, after all, I barely knew him. And at the same time, I was willing to do just about anything for him. I didn’t have to find his flaws or qualify whether or not he deserved my love. It was just there, overflowing unconditionally.

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As I watched Doug hold Donovan and share the same emotions, I couldn’t help but think that love is a funny thing. It is different in each relationship. It is hard to define. It makes people do incredible things.

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I reflect on love as Doug and I celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. Love has many shades and forms. And in some ways, love is a culmination of a lifetime of love shared with you by others. I am so thankful for the examples of love that have taught me life-lessons that I didn’t even know that I was learning. I am honored by the unconditional love of my family. I am grateful for the love that didn’t allow me to disqualify imperfection. And I am in awe of love that has come into my life and changed me for the better.

If it wasn’t for love my life would be different. Love will still change and it will continue to grow in new ways. Tonight I am just so thankful for all of the love that fills my life.

I love you, Doug. Thank you for loving me each day in spite of my imperfection. For always working together to make our relationship work. And, for the love that grows with our family. I couldn’t love Donovan as much as I do if it wasn’t for you. Happy Anniversary!

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With Love,

From me to you