We love to share our Year in Review posts every year, and since we’re coming to the end of a decade, we thought it’d be fun to summarize the last 10 years together. This is a look back into all that happened and changed in our lives over this last decade. There were a lot of big life events that happened, and it feels like there’s no way any other span of 10 years could hold as many changes as this one did…I guess we’ll have to wait to find out!
We started this decade as Juniors in High School living in Eastern Iowa. We were best friends (but maybe deep down a little more…we had never been “official” but there was definitely special interest there. Also I had liked Curtis for 6 years at this point). We hung out at church together, in youth group, church orchestra, and an adult Bible study. As the year progressed, we formed a tight knit group of friends from church that we hung out with on a weekly basis, doing really cool things like going shopping at Walmart all dressed up late at night for Kool-Aid and ice cream, then watching Monty Python in a blanket fort in one friend’s basement.
Other special events included:
-I started working at my favorite sushi restaurant, and we ate there many times together taking advantage of my discount.
-Our Junior class at church threw an appreciation dinner for the Senior class. We dressed up in these black capes that I made out of bedsheets. We still have the capes.
-Curtis’ mom heard about a thing called Letterboxing, and his family created accounts on AtlastQuest.com and started looking for boxes together.
-A mission trip to Acuna, Mexico to build a house with Casas Por Cristo.
-Traveling together to Nashville, TN to work with 8 Days of Hope, helping residents rebuild their homes after flooding.
-Becoming seniors in high school.
Our first year of “adulthood” began with many questions of “Where should I go to college?” and “What do I want to do with my life?” Curtis became a National Merit Scholar in February and received a scholarship to the University of Arizona. After a weekend trip to Tucson, he decided that was where he would continue his schooling with a major in Physics. Meanwhile, I thought I knew what I wanted back in summer of 2010 – to go to a private Christian college not far from home – but just a week before graduation, those plans fell through. After graduation, I remembered hearing about a massage school nearby and decided to check it out, and ended up deciding to go with that. (Some of the older posts on this blog document this decision and what I learned from it — check out this post from 2012 if you’re interested).
The last question that remained was “What would happen to us?” When Curtis said goodbye to me, I knew we wouldn’t see each other for 4 full months, and that felt like forever. So much could change during that time. But we ended up talking every day and Skyping every week, and when he came home for Christmas break at the end of the semester, we knew we were ready to make our relationship official, and we knew that we wanted to be together forever.
Other highlights from the year:
-Going to Senior Prom together.
-Throwing a graduation party together.
-Curtis went on a 3 week long road trip with his family out West for his college orientation, and visited many national parks along the way.
-I started massage school and ended up loving it. During the first few months I volunteered through the school to give chair massages for nurses at a hospital and sports massages to runners after a race.
-Along with working towards a double major and a minor, Curtis also attended Navigators and a Nobleman group, joined an a cappella group and started hiking with a group of friends.
-I started working retail in the summer, and quit in December just before massage clinics began. After working a 11.5 hour shift from 11:30PM to 11AM with a half-hour break at 3AM on Black Friday, I decided this really wasn’t for me and I no longer go out and support Black Friday shopping!
We spent the year 2012 growing as adults separately, and growing together as a couple despite the distance. I graduated from massage school and worked for a salon & spa, and then later for a practice run by one of my massage teachers. Curtis continued with his busy schedule at University of Arizona, also playing in a concert band. He came home for the whole summer and we enjoyed going on dates and spending more time together and with our families.
The biggest event that year that would end up making a big impact on our future was when Curtis attended a career fair at his school the day after I left from visiting over his Spring Break. He was looking for internships for physics majors, but there was nothing available there. In fact, the only people seemingly interested in physics majors were the recruiters for the Navy. This reminded Curtis of a program he had heard about but hadn’t thought seriously about since receiving his scholarship – the NUPOC program. By this point in his freshman year he had realized he didn’t want to do what he had originally planned, so he was open to other options. He told me about the NUPOC program that night. One of the benefits he mentioned was that he would be paid E-6 throughout his last years of college just for joining, meaning that he’d have money to support us and we could get married and stop being in a long distance relationship. That was obviously a major selling point, and I encouraged him to pursue it. He began the long application process during the first semester of his sophomore year, and passed his physical and background checks.
Other notable events:
-I completed my massage clinics, graduated massage school, and passed the Iowa licensure exam.
-Immediately after finishing clinic, I contracted Epstein-Barr Virus and was sick for a month.
-I visited Curtis over spring break, and together we traveled with his Navigator group to Chinle, AZ where we worked with missionaries and built a house for a family. Afterwards we went to Payson with the group for a few days of vacation.
-Curtis and I traveled with his family to New Bern, NC to work with 8 Days of Hope again, then stopped in KY to visit Mammoth Cave National Park on the way back.
-Right after that trip, we visited my grandparents on my dad’s side and Curtis was able to meet them for the first time.
-Once Curtis returned to college, I spontaneously decided to take more classes through a community college. I took 18 credits online while working full time that fall.
-After years of starting blogs, never telling people about them, and eventually deleting them, I created another new one on Blogspot called Saving Time in a Bottle. I intended it to be a creative outlet where I could both share my thoughts and also talk about benefits of massage and sort of promote myself. I never ended up doing that last part on the site, but at least I didn’t delete it!
2013 was the start of our new life, our new adventure. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve/Day, surrounded my our families in my parent’s house, Curtis asked me to marry him. We were engaged for 7 months, and were long-distance for over half of that time. I worked, planned our wedding, and enjoyed my last months living with my family, and Curtis completed his sophomore year, planned our honeymoon, and made arrangements for where we’d live in the fall. He also traveled to San Diego to tour a submarine, completed a phone interview, and finally traveled to Washington DC where he was officially offered a spot in the NUPOC program in the Navy.
We got married on July 27, on a beautiful and cool summer day at our church, officiated by our youth pastor. We left on our 2 week honeymoon, a tour of the Great Lakes where we enjoyed seeing waterfalls and lighthouses, visited Canada for the first time, and found letterboxes together. We returned home to Iowa and spent a few more days with our families before finally saying goodbye and moving to Arizona together.
The transition from living over a thousand miles apart to living together as a married couple was seamless and felt natural right from the start. We loved starting our home together and creating our own routines, including going out and doing something each weekend to make the most of where we lived. We started hiking a little bit, hung out with friends, and would walk to a nearby mall and look at puppies for easy and cheap date nights.
Other events that year:
-Curtis bought his/our first vehicle and learned to drive stick shift…within a week before driving back to Iowa for the summer.
-We found our first ever Whispering Giant statue in Minnesota while on our honeymoon, and our second one in Kansas 3 weeks later while driving to Arizona. Both purely coincidental and by accident, but it sparked a new hobby for us.
-When we arrived in Arizona, we stopped at a rest area in Holbrook for a letterbox. While sitting in our truck with the doors open, a dog appeared by the side… a basset hound, looking up at us with the sweetest eyes. We knew right then that if we ever came across a basset hound puppy, we’d be in trouble.
-We traveled to Albuquerque for the International Balloon Festival, San Diego for my birthday, Phoenix for a letterboxing event, and home for Christmas.
2014 was all about taking advantage of the freedom we had and the beautiful place that we lived. We hiked every weekend and took many trips around the state of Arizona. The year started off with our biggest hiking trip yet — 14 miles round trip with over 4000 feet of elevation gain up to Window Rock. Honestly, it was awful and I wasn’t ready for it in any way. We didn’t do any big hikes like that for over a month after, but with time I slowly started coming around to the idea, and by May we conquered the highest peak around Tucson together. We set many other big hiking goals for ourselves and conquered them one by one.
Curtis completed his Junior year and began his Senior year of college. As far as his responsibilities for the Navy were concerned, all he had to do was keep his grades up and do PRT every 6 months. While I was waiting for my massage license to be processed, I started volunteering for the pastor of our church, editing transcriptions of his audio messages. He was starting to consider redesigning his website and asked if I’d be interested in helping out, and I agreed.
That fall, the day finally came when we met a basset hound puppy and just couldn’t say no. We brought Charlotte Antebellum home just two days later and quickly became those crazy dog parents. While her constant nipping and accidents in the first few months together were annoying, she proved that she could keep up with our hiking and she also enjoyed going on road trips. She fit right into our family and our lives are better because of her.
Other events in 2014:
-Planning a big Southwestern road trip for spring break, which we took with my brother Grant.
-Traveling to Flagstaff multiple times, once for a letterboxing event, and the second time to visit national park sites in the area and conquer a major peak on our bucket list: Mount Humphreys, the highest point in Arizona, and our first state high point.
-Taking a 2 week trip back to Iowa to visit our families, and surprising them a day early.
-Curtis participated in a research program at U of A for Microwave Spectroscopy over the summer to fulfill requirements for his degrees and the Navy.
-Celebrating our first anniversary by taking a weekend trip to Santa Barbara and Joshua Tree National Park.
-Spent 3 days backpacking to Supai, AZ, taking in the beauty of Havasu and Mooney Falls and hiking all the way to the confluence with the Colorado River.
In 2015, we became what felt like ‘real adults’ with bigger responsibilities than before. We left behind the ‘college world’ and started on our new journey with the military. The first half of the year was all about making the most of the last bit of freedom that we had. Curtis graduated in May with double majors in Physics and Astronomy and a minor in math. We then packed up almost everything we owned into a Pod, said goodbye to our friends and our first little apartment, and moved Charlotte and I back to the Midwest in preparation for what was to come.
Curtis went through 12 weeks of OCS that summer while I did everything I could to stay busy at home. September finally came, and I traveled with some of our families to watch his graduation and commissioning as an officer. We moved back to Arizona for a few months, which we now look back on as a more difficult time for us. After the structure and routine that OCS gave him, it was hard for Curtis to enjoy not doing much of anything in a recruiter’s office. We wanted to enjoy being in Arizona, but were more than ready to move on with our lives. Finally, the time came in December to pack up and move once again, and after visiting both of our families we arrived in our new home of Charleston, SC.
Also in 2015:
-We took several road trips, including a weekend in Phoenix, Spring Break in Southern Utah, and another weekend at the Grand Canyon where we hiked down to the Colorado River and back in a day.
-We celebrated our 2nd anniversary early by spending a week in Door County, WI right before Curtis left for OCS in RI.
-I hiked my second state high point with my family in SD and enjoyed several days in the Black Hills and Badlands.
-While living in IA, I was able to work remotely for our pastor in AZ, helping him move his old website to the new server.
-We enjoyed taking in the history in the Northeast for the first time with my dad and 2 of our younger sisters after graduation in RI. While driving home, we drove through Ballston Spa, NY, and the beauty of the rolling hills and the small town feel left an impact on us.
-We enjoyed the best part of PCS-ing to the fullest: driving cross-country! We spent extra time in CO on our way back to AZ.
-We became Uncle Curtis and Aunt Jessie to the cutest little girl, Grace Kathryn!
At the beginning of the year, 2016 looked like it would be full of Curtis carrying out his commitment to the military with very little time to spend together or little time for travel. However, we ended up having more time off than planned, and thanks to living in 2 completely different places, we had many opportunities to take many unique trips.
We spent the first 8 months of the year in our big and beautiful house on a military base in Goose Creek, SC. Curtis attended school for 6 of those months and graduated in August. What was supposed to be a time consuming school turned out to be easier than he expected, so we kept up with our routine of getting out and exploring the area every weekend, and got away for at least one weekend every month.
After Curtis’ graduation in August, we packed up once again and moved to the little NY town we fell in love with: Ballston Spa. We were able to travel a lot in the break between schools in SC and NY, and because of that this season ended up being one of the best in our lives. Once the next school started, we had less time to travel, but our outlook on military life and life in general stayed positive.
Also in 2016:
-We hiked to 5 new state high points, all with our darling puppy leading the way.
-We took a special interest in county counting — Curtis had always kept track of the counties we had traveled through and we had a road atlas where we highlighted the roads we took, but we finally started a joint online map together this year. We also made it our goal to visit all 46 counties in SC and succeeded on our 3rd anniversary trip to Wilmington, NC.
-We started our first garden in our backyard in SC.
-We traveled all around SC, and took trips to FL, GA, and NC as well.
-We visited our families during our PCS from SC to NY.
-We traveled all around the Northeast US and Canada, some of the best trips we’ve ever taken.
-We began our first ever hiking challenge, the New York Fire Tower Hiking Challenge.
2017 started off strong, but an unexpected twist in the middle of the year changed the course of how we thought the year would go. After things had been going so well for us, it was only a matter of time before something unexpected came along. After Curtis graduated from his program in NY, we began to prepare for a temporary move to CT before carrying out his orders to WA…until a detailer called us with an order modification. The next 6 months that followed ended up being the most stressful in our lives as we prepared to move to Hawaii. Once the dust settled and we moved into our home on the island, we braced ourselves for the reality that comes with being stationed on an active duty boat in the Navy.
But the year wasn’t all bad. Here are some of the highlights:
-We enjoyed traveling around New York and spending weekends in the Catskills, Finger Lakes, and Adirondacks.
-We took a trip to the Mason-Dixon line and enjoying the history there
-Curtis graduated from both Prototype in NY and SOBC in CT.
-We completed the New York Fire Tower Challenge, and also hiked to 7 state high points throughout the year.
-We returned home for a few weeks between living in NY and CT.
-We spent 10 weeks living in a hotel in Southeastern CT and explored all over New England.
-When it came time to move to HI, we spent an entire month driving across the country before flying to Oahu.
-We bought our first house and had a few weeks of down time to get to know the island together.
2018 was a difficult year for us. After years of moving around and traveling often, we found ourselves stranded on an island with very little free time together. While Curtis was only gone for around 35 days altogether, his schedule was very time consuming while he was on island and it felt like we were on a constant cycle of working and waiting for the next day off. We kept up with our same routine of going out and enjoying the island with whatever “weekend” we had, but by the end of the year we were worn out and more than ready for a break.
Our favorite moments from the year were:
-Island hopping to Maui and backpacking in Haleakala National Park.
-Hosting my family over their spring break.
-Starting our second garden and planting banana trees and sugar cane.
-Celebrating our 5th anniversary on Kauai, exploring all over the island.
-Hiking many ridges in the Ko’olau mountains, and completing 2 major bucket list items, Olomana and Konahuanui.
-Spending a week on the Big Island of Hawaii and backpacking Mauna Loa and hiking Mauna Kea.
After a year of struggling to find peace and balance, things vastly improved for us in 2019. Curtis earned his Submarine Warfare pin and qualified Engineer, and together we found ways to relax and enjoy the time we had together — which was much less than last year. Curtis went on several underways with his boat and I found lots of ways to stay busy and pass the time. Even though we had exhausted most of the things on our “Hawaii Bucket List” by the middle of the year, we managed to be content with simpler weekend adventures. We’re ending this decade on a positive note, very excited to see where God sends us next with the Navy.
Notable events this year include:
-Hosting friends and family in our tiny home.
-Curtis’ boat getting out of shipyard.
-Traveling to DC for Curtis’ PNEO interview and road tripping home to see our families.
-Adding 3 more state high points + DC to our list.
-Curtis’ boat made port calls in Alaska and California and I was able to travel to meet him both times.
-Having my sister Sarah come live with me while Curtis was gone on his longest ride this year.
-Getting the tattoos we had been planning for almost this entire decade.
My favorite part about looking back is seeing what little things that happened early in the decade eventually became big things to us. Finding a statue on the side of the road led us to planning road trips around visiting other statues by the same carver (and meeting the carver at one of the statues). Hiking just another mountain on our bucket list turned into a goal of hiking to all of the other state high points. And seeing a dog shortly after getting married brought us to eventually meeting our puppy and making her a part of our family. We aren’t where we thought we’d be at the beginning of the decade, but God’s plan for us turned out to be so much better than we planned.
Here’s to another decade of adventures!