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Lucky #13

This week Matt and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. YIKES! It seems so crazy that 13 years have passed since that hot, July day when we first started our lives together. And yet it seems that we’ve known each other and been together all our lives. We just fit…so easily, so naturally.

Reflecting on our marriage this week, I got to thinking about all the good times we’ve shared, as well as the huge obstacles we’ve overcome. In JUST 13 short years, we’ve been through a lifetime together already. I thought it only fitting to take some time to ponder the best of each of our 13 years…and so, here are a few highlights!


Our first year of marriage. Two ‘kid’s just starting out together; so happy in our little house with our puppy and kitty…and each other. I remember Matt video taping me as I decorated our Christmas tree…while our favorite Christmas music played in the background and Penny lay sprawled out on the couch. All was perfect in our tiny little house…except for my hair (what WAS I thinking!?!).


Hope and Chad got married and one of our best friends became our brother. I have always cherished the relationship Matt and Chad share. It is unique and special. True brotherhood through thick and thin. I love my sister dearly, and we were both so happy that they finally admitted they too were meant to be.


We rang in the new year (and Y2K) at the house with Blake and Amy and started the year off grateful that the world didn't blow up. Lots of friends were getting married and having babies. We celebrated along with all of them when we brought home our 3rd 'baby'...a 10 week old puppy. Buddy joined our family in the summer and things have been a happy, hairy mess every since!


We took the Trans Am on our first Cruise to the Woods. We’d been to the car show for years – but it was the first time we DROVE our own car through the cruise. It was a beautiful fall day and we had a great time with friends.


One of the best highlights from 2002…came near the end of the year. Our sweet, sweet niece Meghan Grace Kepler came in to our lives and stole our hearts forever. We loved her from the moment we first held her and happily grew into our new roles as Aunt Emmy and Uncle Matt. I can still hear her not-so-little squeals of delight when Matt would play with her and snuggle her.


Our move to the big city! It was a little emotional, leaving our first little house in Boone – it had been such a good starter house for us FULL of happy memories, but we were thrilled to spread out into a bigger house in Des Moines. We quickly made the house our own and hosted our first (of many) Karwoski parties at the new house. Fun and friends in our house…we quickly realized how much we enjoyed that!


We had a Minnesota vacation…with the Kepler’s and the Karwoski’s! Hope, Chad, Meghan and us shared a teeny, tiny 2 bedroom cabin for a week up north. Meghan was here, there, and everywhere…and we had the best time! We fished together, and enjoyed being in one of our favorite places together.


Was a year of BIG changes and challenges for us. But it started out with a family trip to Texas to celebrate my birthday with my parents. Even today, I long to always be with my parents on my birthday…it seems wrong not to celebrate together. I love them SO much. We had a great time visiting the Alamo, and the San Antonio Riverwalk. We toured a little safari ranch with animals we could feed from the car – though they mostly scared us all!! But we had a wonderful time with the family that weekend.


Sweet ‘Little Matthew’ as we so often call him, joined our family in early 2006. It was hard not being there as much as I wanted to throughout Hope’s second pregnancy – but we were still coping with our hugely altered life after Matt’s stroke. I was there when he came into the world, even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to be!!! But it was a special night I know I’ll never forget. Matt and I were both deeply touched when Hope and Chad asked to name him Matthew…it still chokes me up to this day.


Marked the year where we really started to regain more of our former selves and former lives. Matt started breaking out of his shell more, trying new things, and opening himself up to opportunities for fun. He joined me on a trip to Boston where we toured the city and Harvard areas together, he took a boys’ trip up to Minnesota fishing, we started a new tradition of attending at least one IA and one ISU football game together, and he let Chad and Jay drive the Trans Am up to the Cruise to the Woods.

Was another turning point for us. We sold the Trans Am and made plans for Matt to spend 3 months in China, experiencing traditional Chinese treatments to help aid in his stroke recovery. It was so hard to be separated for so long – and it seems surreal that we actually DID it…what an amazing experience. While Matt was away, friends and family helped me move into our newly built home – custom made just for us. What a blessing! We had another trip to California where we took in ocean views and spent Thanksgiving with my family back in Texas.


Things were really coming full circle for Matt. He bought himself a project car and made plans to tinker on it with the guys. We took a family trip to Wheaton to spend time with Matt’s family and had a wonderful time with his cousins in downtown Chicago. We also took our first family vacation back to Minnesota after Matt’s stroke.It was emotional for us all, but we had a great time together, despite the challenges and changes. It felt good to be in a familiar place together, after all those years.


The good times rolled on and on in 2010. We celebrated with Matt’s grandpa as he turned 90 with a big family weekend in Ames and Des Moines. We had a blast with the family once again. We both stepped out of our comfort zone and joined a group of people from church to play on the softball team. (Matt cheered from the dug out while I attempted to play.) It was the perfect chance to get to know some people better and some wonderful friendships started to blossom. In the fall we hosted a party to mark the 5th anniversary of Matt’s stroke with a celebration of LIFE and friendship. I also trained for and completed my first ½ marathon – running in honor of Matt and those impacted by stroke. We spent 4 awesome days in Orlando for the race and had the best time with his parents before and after the run. It was simply an amazing experience and I was soo happy to achieve such a huge accomplishment with the inspiration of my Matt.


Well – we’re off to one heck of a good start this year as well. Though, I’m not sure anything will top our trip to Hawaii and all the adventures we had there…I have no doubt that many more good times, memories, fun, and blessings await us.

Looking back on the past 13 years, through our photographs and memories, we simply cannot deny how much we’ve been blessed. While it has NOT been easy, and our path has had its valleys, I know that we’ve been guided all the way through. I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it again, but I know without a doubt that God picked us for each other. We were meant for each other right from the beginning. I know that the challenges we’ve faced are as they should be, though I can never understand the whys, I am grateful for all the many blessings that have surrounded us throughout them.


Emily said…
I love the picture of Matt holding his arm over his head. A great reminder about relishing every victory! The half marathon counts, too, I suppose! Congratulations on 13 great years - and many more!
Matt and Emily said…
Thanks Em!

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