Class of 2024

The strangest thing happened a couple weeks ago. Somehow, the vice principal at the freshman academy got my email address and sent me a long detailed email about the class of 2024, and how supposedly I had a child in that class, and there was some meeting I was to attend in the coming weeks. Cleary there was a mistake somewhere, because my oldest is only in….oh crap…8th grade, which means next year she’d be at…the freshman academy, and oh.my.gaw this was actually intended to come to me because I have a child in the class of 2024. Now listen, I’m not saying there were tears, because I’m not that kind of mom. But there were tears.

Last night Ryan and I attended the parent meeting for ninth graders starting the freshman academy in the fall. As we walked in, we passed the familiar faces of parents to the kids my daughter is friends with. Looks like this was really happening. We listened to the guidance counselors assure us that our kids are in good hands- that they really don’t have to know their whole four year plan right this minute, but soon. SOON? She’s a CHILD! A baby, if you will! How in the world will MY baby know what classes she should take three or four years from now? It was all a little overwhelming! For me.

We got home and talked to Lilly about some of her options- what AP classes she would need to take as a freshman, and which ones she could push out to the following years. We discussed study halls and the importance of giving herself a little extra time to work on assignments during her busy seven-period-filled day. She apparently had a plan of her own already brewing. She knew what she was doing taking two years of foreign language as a middle schooler, she knew about summer PE options, etc. My gosh, she’s not a baby, huh?

And just like that, my oldest Little is nearing her high school years, and this mama is not even close to okay with it. Four more years. That’s all. Ya’ll I am not being dramatic. Just wait. It seems like only yesterday I was taking her for “coffee” after her kindergarten orientation. Or for ice cream after her sixth grade “Back to School” night.  What about all those years in between? And so, it hit me that this is it- we only have a handful of years with her living under our roof, and it’s time I really recognize the importance of time with her.

It’s insane to me that I have a daughter who is on the brim of teenage attitude, which very rarely but occasionally rears its ugly head. I am so impressed with her selection of friends, her ease of transitioning to another school, and her love for other people. I adore her confidence and willingness to put herself out there and to try new things. She is the kindest, sweetest, easiest child in the world, and I am SO thankful to be her mom….even if she is going to leave me in four years!

 

My Inner “Her”

I have always remained very faithful to the truth that God has a plan for every single thing. Lately though, I’ve struggled to really live it! (Is that okay, or did I just contradict myself?) I wrote a couple months ago about our miscarriage. And trust me, I had no idea the impact it had on me, and the response to that post just overwhelmed my broken heart, and I am so so sorry to anyone who has experienced anything even kind of like what we did. I know there are those of you who were well beyond the nine week mark, and even those who weren’t, who experienced way worse physical and psychological impacts than I did. And again, I am seriously heartbroken for you.

Since then, we did the required waiting…wait for your regular cycle to happen. Wait for your hearts to heal (huh?). Wait for your body to tell you it’s ready again (I thought we were already ready, really?). I heard the oh-so-common comments that all began with “at least” or “look at it this way”….all that ended in eye roll responses from me. NEVER have I been upset with God… until this miscarriage.

And even still, I can TRUST that God has a plan. And that THAT pregnancy just wasn’t designed for MY body or US. It doesn’t change the fact that I wanted it. And that’s where my inner ugly steps out. She’s all “oh girl, that’s some crap. You want this. You have baby clothes already purchased. You have burp rags, and you even promised to breastfeed. THE THOUGHT.”  Clearly God doesn’t respond to that inner ugly as my husband sometimes does! She’s not pretty. She’s not Godly. She’s not even logical. But “she” exists.

It seems that almost weekly I hear of someone new getting pregnant. Or I see a post from my cute pregnant friend about how hard her 45th week of pregnancy is (you’re fine. stop complaining. You’re a few days past your due date. reeeelax.). It bothers me to a point where I don’t want to go to work, I don’t want to sign onto social media, I don’t want to even try for another baby. I’m just.so.mad. Or sad. Or both. I don’t know. It’s just…ugh.

The thing is, that pregnancy changed me. I can’t start the day without me or Ryan seeing the kids walk into their school. I can’t fathom the thought of someone else picking them up from school, because…what if it gets to be 2:32 and they haven’t seen the kids pop out from Door 10 yet? Will they know what to do? Who to ask? Who to text? Do they have the phone numbers of their friends? No. I do though. So I should be the one….who does….it all.

When it does all work out perfectly, when my mother in law nails pick up, and texts “they’re both home safely”, and I can finally stop obsessively checking my phone….I’m fine, or mostly. I talked to my mom about this- I wasn’t even this “bad” when the kids were babies, when they were completely helpless and unable to communicate openly with me. I chalk it up to being in my early twenties and naïve. Gaw, those were beautiful times, amIright? Things are just so.different.now.

I thought I had control before. I didn’t. I hate that I don’t have control now. I never did. So what’s different? I can’t answer that. I’ll never be able to. I just know that it’s hard. And it’s hard to hear about my friends being pregnant. (I love you all though, and I promise I AM happy for you. I’m just…jealous too.). I DO trust God. I DO trust His timing. I just selfishly wish it was similar to my timeline. That’s just my honest truth. My honest inner struggle. I love God. I trust His plan for my family. I’m just terrible at being patient and letting things happen. (but then….I look at my husband and think….I waited for 36 years for him….and look.)

 

We Set Goals (…it’s what we do!)

I honestly can’t believe it’s taken me three weeks to write about the new year, because you know how I love a good blank slate! This year is different though! I saw so many memes about people who were so glad to say buh-bye to 2019…I’m not one of those people because guys, 2019 was THE.BEST.YEAR.OF.MY.ENTIRE.LIFE! Marrying Ryan was truly the best thing in my world, and getting to add him to my already precious little family just can’t be topped by anything. So maybe I was just basking in 2019 a little longer, who knows! But here we are- 2020 is here, and we’re off, setting new goals!

Last year on our (dating) anniversary, I gave Ryan a journal I had been keeping since our first date. You’ll recall that I knew very early on (see also: before I went on a date with him) that he was the man I’d marry someday, and I wanted to do whatever I could to document our first days and months together. And I’m SO glad that I did. At the end of the journal, I wrote my 2019 goals. Ryan and I agreed to do some goals together (or at least outlined together, what our focus would be for that upcoming year together). Our focus was on spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social changes/advancements. Though we had somewhat different overall goals, through it all, we would support each other and our goals.

And so this year, we checked how we ended up. We were both super impressed with ourselves and each other- we had pretty much stuck to a majority of our goals- and even if we hadn’t nailed them all the way, we did a great job of making each of the topics a priority for 2019.

So as we start off a new year, decade, and lifetime together our goals together became more important. We used the same overall topics (and added one or two), and set new goals for this year. (I won’t bore you with the details of each one…).

The point in this is simple. Doing life with someone who has similar goals and outlooks is so incredibly important. Having an accountability partner is so exciting and comforting. Sure, my physical goal is different than my “runner” husband’s, but that isn’t really the point is it? The point is that we both put physical goals as a priority because we want to have more kids together at some point, and being around for a very long time (God willing) is incredibly important to us both. We want to grow spiritually together, and as a family, because that’s the tone of our home, and it’s how we want our kids to grow up. We want to set some financial goals because we I need want to redo the entire Keeks house, without taking from our “own” money. (Love you, hunny!) We want to read books together (and apart) because it’s fun to question things, learn, and grow professionally and personally.

Never have I been so excited for annual goals, but something just tells me I’m onto another incredible year, alongside the most supportive and loving man! Here’s to new beginnings in 2020!!! Glad you’re along for the ride with us!

 

Seeing (almost) Clearly Now…

As the year comes closer to it’s final month and the decade comes to a close, I can’t help but think back to a sermon our old pastor preached about a 20/20 Vision. I know I wrote it about in my old blog (good luck finding it), but it’s been something that has, quite honestly freaked me out, the closer we get to 2020.

2020. It seemed so far away. “Will I even live to 2020” my 25 (tehehe) year old self wondered.  It seemed so.far.away. And here we are. On the cusp of 2020. And I think back- have I done it all? Have I hit the goals I set for myself ten years ago? Have I grown? Have I matured? Am I better? Are those pesky insecurities gone? What am I doing? Where am I going next? Ya’ll, if I’m being honest, I’m strugggggggling with life at the moment.

In a season that has seemed infiltrated with difficulty (disguised as growth?), my hope is that I’m constantly learning from all these life lessons. My prayer is that there IS a lesson to be learned. That, although God isn’t trying to teach me a lesson as a punishment, there is SOMETHING to be learned- growth to be had. And am I getting it? And if not- what do I need to grow and learn?

I read through a lot of my old blog, and I can’t just ignore the similarities. My insecurities are the same. Many of my struggles are the same. And though I am more independent in my thinking and beliefs now, I do still put a lot of pressure on Ryan to fulfill me. By that, I mean…I am more confident in myself to make decisions for myself and the kids, but I put a lot of weight on Ryan’s involvement with those decisions. I WANT him to be involved. I oftentimes look to this kidless-for-38-years man to justify my final verdict on how to handle an issue with my almost-twelve-year-old’s screen time. I look to him to determine how to move forward with sending my teenager (gaw…d e a d) to a high school football game alone on a freezing Friday night. “Wear that hat. No, use this scarf. Stop! That isn’t warm enough. Here, take this!”  While I sit in the corner replaying my 8th grade years, knowing that a high school game is nowhere for my ill-prepared-for-winter-weather-13-year-old to be.

Guys. It’s just hard right now. I’ve not fully fulfilled my 20/20 Vision from 10 years ago and thank God, because my goal was to be living on the beach of North Carolina or Georgia by now. And thankfully, I am #kekiongadaydreaming with Ryan instead. And while the “coast” of Fort Wayne isn’t what we all envisioned for our life, I can honestly say it’s MY perfect paradise.

I love my husband. I LOVE that I have someone to navigate the hardships of tween/teen years with. I LOVE that he never makes me feel unloved or unimportant. I love that I go to bed every.single.night knowing that he adores me and wants to make me happy.

You know what I hate about my 20/20 Vision outcome….I hate that I don’t love myself. I hate that, ten years ago, I didn’t know how much I didn’t love myself. I hate that I didn’t know that if I didn’t fix it then, I’d be dealing with it now (at 35-ish). I hate that I’d deflect my own insecurities onto my husband. I hate that I haven’t dealt with my STUFFFF…. I hate that I feel this way.

But.

I know one thing.

I know that MY GOD is the ONLY one who can TRULY and FULLY fulfill me. I know that a marriage won’t EVER do that. I know that a perfectly supportive family won’t do it either. I know that ALL the BEST songs in the world won’t complete me- no matter how I try. As a music-lover who has sat here for the past 89 mins listening to the same song on repeat, I can tell you- NOTHING other than the TRUE belief and TRUST in God, will EVER fill EVERY single void.

And so. There is still time for me. There is  still time in this ten-year-challenge. I have time to CHOOSE to see God EXACTLY as He is- to see that He wants this for ME! Ya’ll, God wants my heart to be stirred, but He wants me to feeeeeel loved by those in my life. He wants my marriage to strive and He wants my marriage to be an example of His love to the Church. I trust this and believe this with every single fiber of my being.

Continue reading “Seeing (almost) Clearly Now…”

God Willing

A lot has happened in the very short time we’ve been married. We knew that we wanted to add to our family, and knew that, due to our ages (!) we didn’t want to wait long. It’s funny because for the past eleven years I’ve said “NEVER” to having more kids. The thought never even crossed my mind, until I started dating Ryan. I knew he wanted to have a family “of his own” and though he adores my kids, I always knew he’d want to have more kids. Well, as my Ryan Middleton clause would have it, I would do dang near anything Ryan Middleton wants, so kids together we shall have!

During our wedding, we gave the kids necklaces with the words Deo Volente engraved on them. The words are ones that Ryan introduced to me early in our relationship. Ryan always said that he’s not arrogant enough to think he’ll have kids of his own, or that things will “work out” a certain way that HE wants, but rather he trusts that things will be just as God will have them be. The words engraved on the kids’ necklaces have been more impactful over the past 5 weeks than I could have imagined.

God Willing.

We found out very quickly after our wedding, that we were pregnant! I took a test a few days before my missed period, so I wasn’t completely sure, but I knew I couldn’t do any of the cute reveal videos on Ryan because there was zero chance I could keep this a secret from him, regardless if the test was accurate or not. So I took three more over the following week. All positive! We were pregnant!!!!!

I instantly went into planning mode for how we would reveal the news to our family, knowing we’d have to tell them super early because of an impending family cruise on which I’d now be painfully sober! They’d know something was up, so the news had to be broken! And it was! We had cute announcements to our parents and siblings, and kept the news fairly mum after that.

Shortly after getting back from our cruise, I told Ryan I just didn’t FEEL pregnant. We had our first appointment scheduled for two weeks after we got back from the cruise, but still, something didn’t feel right. Before, I felt bloated and tired, and grumpy, and…PREGNANT. This day, I didn’t feel anything. We called the doctor and they got us in immediately for an ultrasound. No heartbeat. Nine weeks into our pregnancy, it was over. An hour after our ultrasound appointment, we were walking out with an appointment for the following day to have a d&c. I can’t share exactly how I was feeling at that very moment, because it’s just not something I’m ready to write about. But to say our hearts were broken would be the understatement of the century.

I’ve never really experienced grief like this. And still, it’s hard to really put into words the feelings of loss over a nine week pregnancy. It’s like sitting at a red light, waiting to turn, and cars are speeding past you, shaking your car as they pass. You sit there, and everything else keeps moving. You still go to work, you still make dinner, feed the dog, and yet…struggle to figure out how to make your mind go back to normal. The physical pain from the procedure ends. Your flower deliveries and sweet cards stop coming. The packages of precious baby clothes you’ve been ordering for the past month finally come to an end, thank God. Your husband no longer touches your belly, but instead pours you a glass of wine for your tears. Your kids stop referring to the baby, and focus more on Halloween costumes instead. Everything goes back to normal. Except for your mind.

Here’s one thing I know. Ryan and I will keep trying for a baby. We will continue trusting our God to carry out the plans He already has in place for us. We’ll keep loving each other fiercely, whether or not we have a baby. We will enjoy every blessing we already have- which Ryan reminds me of constantly. We’ll spend time being newlyweds and smothering each other with all the love for each other! We’re confident in our future together, and we’re hopeful that, GOD WILLING, we’ll have an addition to our family someday.

We Got Married!

I’ve been trying to write this post for almost two months now. Nothing I wrote seemed to do justice to what I wanted the message to be, so I just typed and deleted for the past 50 some days!

For the past two months, I’ve been Mrs. Ryan Middleton! Our wedding day was the most perfect day I could have ever imagined. With the help of many, we were able to host our wedding at our home, and it was seriously flawless. One of my closest friends came in from Colorado to photograph our day, and again….she did an incredible job capturing the day perfectly! We hired a band to set up and play gorgeous music for our guests (and anyone across the lake from us!), we had delicious food catered in, and had all our closest friends and family with us. The day was perfectly intimate, and it truly encompassed all our love has been and continues to be. It was more than just a great day- it was so so perfect!

Everyday I wake up, listen to my husband get ready for work, watch him with the kids as they head off to school, and thank God that this is my life. And that’s no joke. I am more in love with him today than I could have ever imagined.

wedding pic

Embracing the Dust

When I decided to start writing again, it was absolutely for my own benefit. I write to release, to vent, to process. Hearing from any of you, reading my blog, about how my words help you,  is just icing on the cake! Naming my blog (Second) Lucky Chance is not something I fully thought through when I first got back into the Blogosphere. At the time, it was just a way to incorporate my original blog, while announcing my “comeback” (obviously I use that term loosely, as I know I have approximately 5 whole followers, 4 of which are family, LOL)! Almost two years back into writing, I feel a whole new appreciation for the word “second” and the impact the word has on me.

Second chance. Second love. Second chapter. Second marriage. Second family. None of which I thought I needed, wanted, or would have. Yet, here we are a little over a month from my second wedding, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this life and these “seconds”.

Yesterday I stumbled upon a quote that hit hard for me.

“Dust doesn’t have to signify the end.

Dust is often what must be present for the new to begin.”

And let me just tell you about the literal dust we’ve got in our home at the moment. First, after a couple years living as a bachelor, my darling fiancé has some significant dust build up in his home. (He needs me, ya’ll!) Add to that the drywall dust from a bathroom and basement renovation, and you’ve got a full on dust-shit-storm. I’ve struggled over the past month with leaving my squeaky clean (in comparison), newly-built, perfectly-me home, to transition into the Dust House.

Then there’s metaphoric dust. And we have our share of that, as well, let me tell ya. The idea of getting a second chance at love is beyond thrilling to me now, especially because it’s alongside Ryan. But it isn’t always easy because we both have a past of disappointment, betrayal, pain, loneliness, isolation, heartache, and much more. There’s also a past of happy times, great memories, other families, vacations, friendships, and love. We both have dust from our past that affects both of us differently and at different times.

So when I read this quote, I realized that I am actually thankful for the dust- both literally and metaphorically. (Ryan if you’re reading this, this does NOT mean your cleaning skills are up to par. You still have to dust the house!) The literal dust in the house signifies a new basement living room for our kids to play and make memories with friends. It’s a space where we’ll watch movies together as a family. It’s the dust of a renovated bathroom for our teenager, and for our guests that we’ll host. It will be the memory of our very first home project together that is so TOTALLY US. And even the dust that Ryan forgets under the couch- it signifies the man I get to marry and spend the rest of my life with.

The metaphoric dust will be stuff we’ll forever be thankful for, because though it was never part of our original plan, it led us to each other. I am THANKFUL for his past. I am THANKFUL for my past. Every single heartache, obstacle, and opportunity has lead us to this relationship with each other, and I am THANKFUL for that. I am THANKFUL we’ve learned from our past, and get this second chance to write a second chapter in life.

Sparkling with Love

My kids go to Minnesota a handful of times throughout the year, and though I always love the break, the weeks are long without them. Over the past year, Ryan and I have done our best to plan trips or time together, when the kids are gone, so as to distract me, and make the weeks go more quickly! This year, summer break started with the kids headed to MN, and Ryan and I agreeing to a staycation!

We decided on a few days off at the end of last week, and packed up for some much-needed time on the water! The weather was great, the company even better! Friday morning we decided on a boat ride. It was something we have grown to love! So, we headed out!

Remember the story I wrote about last year, detailing our first boat ride together in Monticello? The one where he thought he’d be romantic and shut off the boat so we could just float in the middle of the lake, chatting, listening to music together? Only to get ready to leave and find that the boat wouldn’t start….leaving us stranded for at least four hours until his dear Uncle Mike could rescue us. Yeah, that story! Well, guess where Ryan directed us Friday morning? To that exact little spot, with the perfectly sparkling water! It was so fantastic!!!

But then.

He shut off the boat. WAS HE NUTS?! Didn’t he remember what happened last year?! I just kind of chuckled, thinking this man had lost his dang mind!

I turned around in my seat to take a picture of the water- so calm, like glass. I looked out- there was no one around. It was just me and the man of my dreams, floating in the middle of this perfect setting.

I turned back to him and noticed him sitting awkwardly in his seat, not realizing at the time it was because he was down on one knee!! He started talking…most of which is a blur to me now. I just kept thinking “Good grief, being on the water really brings the mush out of my boyfriend.” Then I heard the words– he asked if I would marry him!!! I looked at him, looked down at his hand with the blue ring box in it…and literally lost all chill I had up to this point! “WAIT! You’re like ASKING ME, right now, to marry you?!” (Smooth Gretch, super smooth!) Of course I said YES!

We’re now a few days removed from the proposal, and ya’ll I am still so excited and surprised! I cannot believe I get to marry the man of my actual dreams!! To say that my life is better with him in it, would be the biggest understatement ever! I’m so thankful that I get to do the rest of my life with him.

 

Ryan,

You are my everything. You’re my absolute best friend. I am beyond thankful for all you do for me and the kids. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with you! I promise to always be faithful, honest, and supportive of you. You will never fully know the extent of my love for you! You have been the blessing I never knew I was missing. I cannot wait to see what is in store for the four of us over the next few months, and beyond! Thank you for knowing this proposal would be the memory we’d always look back on and love. Thank you for introducing me to the beauty of sparkles on the water. Thank you for being so intentional with our story, and with our future. I love you so much, and cannot wait to marry you!

 

Grandma Anglin

I really miss my Grandma Anglin. Like, I really really really miss her. The older my kids get, the more I wish she was here. I wish she was sitting in the stands watching Lilly play basketball. And though she would for sure disapprove of him playing, I wish she was sideline with us at Anderson’s football games. I see Lilly changing into a teenage girl, and wish so badly that I had my Grandma here to encourage me that it will be alright, yet help tame that Gretchenesque sass that is seeping from Lilly’s pores, already. I see my sweet boy who still lets me pick him up and smother his face with mama kisses, and I know that my Grandma would also love to have this same sweet boy curled up in her lap too.

Yesterday I got to meet Ryan’s grandma who recently relocated to Fort Wayne from North Carolina. I was so excited to meet her, but nervous because…well Grandma’s can be tough! When we walked into the room, she instantly took Ryan’s face in her hands, and just lit up. And…knowing my sweet-hearted boyfriend, I’m sure his heart was bursting with love too- he had been waiting to see her for weeks since she moved to town! She looked at me and said words that I know my very own grandma would say- she told me I was pretty, and asked me about my kids. It made my heart sing! There is just something about the approval of a grandma that matters so so much.

This weekend we celebrate my Grandpa Anglin’s 90th birthday. I wish, so badly, that my grandma was here to celebrate with us, and though I know she’s always with us watching over us, it still pains me a little to know that she’s not physically here. I miss her hugs. I miss her laugh. I miss her hair. I miss her picking at my grandpa! I just really really miss my Grandma Anglin.

Happy Birthday, Love

Do you ever sit and think about how thankful you are someone was born? Like, sure I feel this way about my kids, but they’re my kids! Today I am so thankful that Ryan is on this earth, but even more so that I get to do life alongside him.

Over the past (almost) year, I have learned his quirky habits…like how he sniffles if he’s sleepy, and how he rubs his eyes after a long day at work. I have learned that he wakes up painfully early so that he has time to read from his bible, drink his coffee, and of course watch a little PTI…all the while still making it to work before me! I’ve learned he never skips morning coffee- like ever.

I have witnessed his endless facial expressions- the one when he’s reading a work email, the one when he gets a text from an old friend about the latest beer or recipe he’s trying, the look he gets when he’s watching an intense sporting event, and the expression he has when we connect glances from across the room (yes, that happens in real life, people!).

Today I am thankful for the very rare moments Ryan busts out the guitar to sing a ditty for me, and even more when he plays for the kids! I am thankful for the times he makes us take pictures- even when I’m looking a mess- because he is intentionally documenting our precious moments together. I am thankful for the man who attends two church services with me every week, and the conversations that each service sparks between us.

I am thankful for the guy who helps coach my son’s basketball team. I’m thankful for the man who showed up to every.single.basketball game of my daughter’s. I am thankful for the guy who rushed onto the field with me when my youngest got hurt during his final football game. I am thankful for having someone to sit with through 5th grade spelling bees, robotics matches, and AGBL award banquets. I have learned the value of “showing up” and “being present” in life, all parts of it, because of Ryan.

Today is Ryan’s 38th birthday, and though I haven’t spent the previous 38 with him, I am looking forward to the next 38 together.

Happy birthday, love. You are more than a blessing to my life. You are my favorite person on this earth, and I am so incredibly thankful you are here. Here’s to the best year of our lives!

ryan