19 Years Later



Happy Anniversary, Marco! Can you believe it has been 19 years since our wedding? The day was perfect. The temperature was an ideal low 70s and the New England leaves were just starting to turn into their gorgeous fall foliage colors. That morning, as I got ready, I scarfed down Dunkin’ Donuts and prayed I wouldn’t stain my dress. Spoiler alert, I didn’t!

Katie Beth, our flower girl, was so tired. It was nap time and she looked at me before walking down the aisle and said, “Auntie! Hold my hand!” Her dad rushed over and took her hand and walked with her. I love that memory; she was my buddy.

I walked down the aisle to Over The Rhine Rhapsodie … and there you were. My best friend. Oh the butterflies!

5 children, 3 states, medical emergencies, work trips, vacations, major job changes, leaps of faith, fights, laughter, death, and more. I hasn’t been easy. I can’t even put into words our journey because it would be a book. It is all worth it to be with you. I hope you feel the same.



So, Mr Gardner, here’s to another 50 years. You’re stuck with me. I was wrong on the day of our wedding. I thought I couldn’t love you more than I did in that moment, but I was naive. That was such an innocent love. Now, I love you madly and deeply and so much more than I ever thought was possible. There are still butterflies. No regrets. Happy anniversary, my love.


Happy Anniversary!

Just over 16 years ago Mark and I decided that our friendship had grown and so we decided to date. That lasted exactly one week and we decided we wanted to get married. A few months later we made it official when Mark put a diamond on my finger and we told our families.

We were met with mixed reviews. Some felt we were making the biggest mistake ever. Some thought I could do better. Some thought Mark could do better. Some thought this was a great idea. Mark would be good for me; he would help me mature. I would be good for Mark; I would help bring him out of his introverted shell. Others didn’t care because they were too caught up in the romantic notion of 2 friends being destined for each other.

To the nay-sayers, well I I want to say to you I hope your hearts have developed a happier attitude about life. To the supporters I want to thank you. I still remember who you are.

On October 3, 1998 Mark and I vowed to stick it out, be faithful, love each other always, support each other….you know, marriage vows. It was a beautiful day. It was in the 70’s and the sun was out. For an autumn day in New England I couldn’t ask for better weather.


The verse included in my vows

I thought it was an omen….silly me. So naive. Weather on your wedding day doesn’t determine the out come of your marriage. It is all about attitude. That’s OK though. My 21 year old self believed in romance, love, and good weather.

I still believe in those things but I also know a large dose of determination and hard work also need to be added.


Our wedding day….Ah, so young. Photo Credit: Guy Williams

The years have been everything I could imagine and also filled with surprises. We have had hard times, but honestly those can not compare to the joys. The good times and The laughter far outweigh the tears and stress.

I do not have any regrets. I married the man of my dreams. He may not do things the way I want and he may play games (achem RISK) that I just can’t understand the appeal to. He also is funny (yes, Dear, I am admitting it publicly), helpful, loving, hard-working, he is an amazing dad, he respects and encourages me (and the kids), and he kind of worships me. I love him, not dispute his quirks, but including them. I choose to love every aspect, even when I am angry.

On that note, I am so glad I said “Yes.” I do not regret it and I know it was the right decision.
I know we have a long road ahead and it will be filled with tons more laughter and love.

I love you Mark. Here’s to another 75 years together 😉
(yes, that puts us over 100…Gotta think BIG!)

Road Trip to New York

At the beginning of August Mark and I packed up the 5 kids and dog and took the nearly 24 hour trip to upstate New York. In order to avoid hotel costs Mark and I drove straight through. He definitely drove more than I did, but that is because he is just simply amazing 🙂


Our first stop once we hit east of the Mississippi River was Dunkin Donuts. Oh my word, how I love their jelly doughnuts. I may or may not have eaten 2 😉
I have not been to any doughnut place that does their jelly doughnuts like DD. They cover them in a very fine granulated sugar. Most places use powdered sugar or glaze. I have even encountered frosted ones (blech). A few have kept them plain. None hold a candle to how DD does them though. Excuse me while I think about their yummy goodness for a minute.
OK, enough about my love affair with jelly doughnuts.

The second place we stopped was Wegmans. Ah Wegmans. How do we love thee? Sigh. I have never found a grocery store that compares to Wegmans. If you have never been then head east and go to one. Trust me. You won’t regret it. I love them and I splurged on their Greek Bar. I didn’t get stuffed grape leaves (what is wrong with me??) but I did get stuffed olives. Mmmmmm. Feta stuffed and almond stuffed to be exact. OK, now I am hungry. I need to move on.


Our third stop was our friends’ house. They have 3 kids whom match up age-wise with 3 of our kids. We hadn’t seen them since we left New York 6 years ago. It was wonderful to catch up and finally meet their baby, who is just a bit older than Zen. I am so glad we stopped there and I pray we get to see them again soon. My only regret is we didn’t take pictures of us together! What the heck is wrong with us?!?!

The next day we took a 10 minute drive to my Aunt and Uncle’s house. I have been wanting to see them for awhile now. My aunt is the sister I never had and I spent a lot of time visiting her when I lived in New York. My uncle is fighting cancer so I wanted to see him before his next treatment round. I got to see my cousin and her sons, one whom I hadn’t met yet. I also got to meet my other cousin’s girlfriend. Unfortunately he was at work so I didn’t see him.
They all got to meet Princess and Zen. Last time they had seen me I was pregnant with Princess and my cousin’s youngest was just a twinkle in her eye (meaning not conceived yet).
It was a gorgeous day and we spent it outside. The kids had a blast in my aunt’s amazing garden. They picked carrots and raspberries and broccoli and cucumbers. They washed them with the garden hose and ate them. They were in heaven. My kids love being outside and they love gardens. Overall, it was a lovely visit and i wish we could have stayed longer.


That evening we loaded up and drove the 2 hours it would take to get to Mark’s parents’ house. They had never met Princess or Zen so this was an exciting trip.
Once we got there the kids ate snack and I dried all the clothes since they got soaked. They were in the roof carrier and it poured. Not just rain, but torrential downpour. Nothing was spared. Thank goodness we only had clothes up there! It was well past bedtime by the time the kids got tucked in.

The next day was my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary! We spent the day hanging out and then they went to dinner to celebrate alone. While they dined Mark and I brought the kids to the local YMCA to swim. When we returned Mark’s brother and sister and her family were there. His brother came up from Florida. We have seen him recently since Florida is closer for us to visit than New York, but it was still great to see him again. Mark’s sister lives close by to his parents’ house so we hadn’t seen her in 5 years. The kids were thrilled to catch up with their cousins.
It was great to see everyone again. The cousins all played together while the adults chatted.

The next day was the big day; the reason for the timing of our trip. My amazing sister-in-law had planned a dinner celebration for Mark’s parents but they had no clue that out-of-state relatives had come to help celebrate their anniversary!
We got to the restaurant where we had a private room. My sister-in-law had planned the menu and provided a cake. Mark’s parents were thrilled to see everyone. I got to meet people for the first time (crazy since Mark and I have been married over 15 years). The food was amazing and the restaurant was very patient and understanding about our food allergies. My in-laws had a great time. My sister-in-law did an amazing job making this memory.

Once we were all done we headed to a park across the street. My sister-in-law brought fresh fruit and water for everyone, the kids played, and we got pictures taken. Overall, it was an amazing time. Again, hats off to my sister-in-law. This never would have happened if she hadn’t been planning it!

What a joy to celebrate 50 years of marriage! Not everyone makes it to this amazing milestone. My in-laws are an inspiration. They have endured a lot through life. The road wasn’t easy and yet they stuck together and walked hand-in-hand. Their story is beautiful and I am so glad my children got to help celebrate with them.

The next day we piled the kids and dog back into the van. We stopped in Rochester, NY to have lunch with a very close family friend and then headed back to MO. Yes, it was a fast trip. We didn’t get to see many people whom we love. We also didn’t get to see any sites. We missed my favorite Rochester places like the Seneca Park Zoo, Strong Museum of Play, the Science Center, and Lake Ontario just to name a few. Although Mark and I and the 3 oldest kids have been to Niagara Falls it was a long time ago. We drove by the exit and I sighed sadly. Perhaps we will be able to go back soon. We shall see….

We are cozy in our home and settling in nicely. I am scrambling to get ready for the new school year. The kids are swimming nearly every day and I am slowly catching up with friends.

The trip east was too short, but I am so glad we saw who we could. Maybe next time I won’t let 6 years pass by before I see people!

Peace and love,

**I am careful to post pictures that do not show people’s faces unless I have their specific permission. I opted not to post my in-laws, despite the fact the trip was for them, because I have not asked them if I can post their beautiful faces 🙂