one-half with my better half

Seventeen years ago today, Dan and I had our first date. Gosh, we were BABIES, just seventeen years old.

Dan and Jen - Photobooth

1997 - Prom - Dancing

1998 - Grove City - Crush Party

2000 - Cheerleading - Basketball - Jen and Dan

If you think about that math for a moment, that means we’ve been together for half of our lives now. That is a crazy milestone. We’ve been through everything together- all the Big Stuff. High School graduation, college, college graduation, first cars, first jobs, first house… all of it. With him.

2001-05-19 Graduation - Dan and Jen kiss

Sometimes I feel like it’s just dumb luck that we lasted through college together, and even our 20s. We got married so young- I had just turned 23, Dan was still 22. At the time we felt all KINDS of grown up, but looking back, OMG we were clueless. So young.

2002-06-08 Professional - Jen and Dan Dance BW
June 8, 2002

But we made it through those young and dumb years somehow. Found our footing with careers and each other and figured out our Plan together.

2004-06-26 Vacation - Dan Jen
at the beach in 2004. Back when it was a Vacation! and not just exhaustedly schlepping three kids around in the sand!

I’m being honest when I say that being married to Dan is really easy. He makes it WAY easy for me (no idea if he’d say the same thing about me… maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that one? haaaa). He makes me laugh and keeps me sane. He forces me to remember that things aren’t SO SERIOUS and TERRIBLE. He’s the most patient person I’ve ever met in my life. He puts up with my hare-brained ideas and projects and ignores my temper and ability to blow things out of proportion. Heck, he also puts up with me sharing a LOT of our lives publicly on the internet! He’s a nerd with me. He was there to cheer me on when I quit my job seven years ago to work for myself and he has never made me feel like I couldn’t do something. Ever.

He’s the very best kind of friend.

Italy 099
In Rome, 2006

Italy 693
In Florence, 2006

All dressed up.
Vegas, baby. 2011

Just about ready to set sail! IT'S 49 DEGRESS WTF FLORIDA??!! :)
On our freezing cold cruise ship! 2012

And now we have three babies. Three people who are the best and worst parts of both of us. I never imagined when I said yes to a date with that cute boy from work at seventeen years old that it would lead to all of this.

proud papa

holding baby sister
…and then Audrey…

…and finally, Zachary

For me, this year has been the hardest year of all in our time together, just because I feel like most of the time lately, we’re struggling to find each other. Three kids is HARD for two people to manage and still have time/energy for ourselves and the other person. But I know we both realize that this is where we are in our lives right now and it won’t be like this forever… or for very long. A blessing and a curse, really.

I do sometimes miss when we were young and carefree, with the big decision of the week being where we would go and park the car on Friday night (HAAAAA), but I also can’t imagine being anywhere but here, at home, with my best friend and three ridiculously cute kids.

Saturday morning couch pile

In another seventeen years, Maggie and Audrey will both be in their 20s and Zach will be in high school (OMG EXCUSE ME I JUST VOMITED AND THEN PASSED OUT AND ALSO CRIED A LITTLE BIT.) I have no doubt that I will still love this man. Very much.

Happy date-a-versary, Dan!


  1. Hillary

    September 20, 2013 12:21 pm

    Dude. 17 years is a long time. Congrats to you. How great that you found each other and have grown with each other. Being married to your best friend really is the best.

  2. Melissa

    September 20, 2013 12:37 pm

    This made me smile. :) You two are awesome together & such a great example for your kids. Happy date-a-versary!!

    (George and I were 19 when we started dating so we’ll be 38 for our one-half in 2017!)

  3. Kate

    September 20, 2013 1:07 pm

    oooh, I love this! And it makes me realize that I totally missed our 10-year date-a-versary 10 days ago – that’s what three kids will do to ya! :) Happy 17 years to you two, and here’s to 17 more!

  4. Allison

    September 20, 2013 1:07 pm

    OMG, these are just amazing. I love the pictures and you are SUCH a cute couple.

  5. bessie.viola

    September 20, 2013 1:10 pm

    Happy date-a-versary! You two are adorable… and I can hear your love in your words. How beautiful.

    Here’s to the rest of your lives, together!

  6. Jenn

    September 20, 2013 1:32 pm

    Happy Anniversary to both of you! I love your story because it is so similar to mine – I’m Jenn, my better half is also a Dan, and we’ve been together since I was 16 and he was 18. We’re now 29 & 31 with two kids… yikes! Once I’m 32 years old I can say I’ve spent half of my life with Dan (mine, not yours ;) ), and I can’t wait for that.

    I love all of the photos documenting your history together. Aren’t awkward teen photos just the BEST? :D I think there’s a scrunchie and some yellow smiley faces in mine, since they were all the rage then, lol.

  7. K

    September 20, 2013 1:54 pm

    Oh, Jen, I love this. I love how you’ve grown up and grown together. That is so very special.

  8. Susan

    September 20, 2013 2:09 pm

    Love this – congratulations and happy anniversary! – Susan

  9. red pen mama

    September 20, 2013 2:11 pm

    You have captured just about everything that is wonderful about marrying the right person and hard about being married and having (3!) kids. Nice job.

    Congratulations to you and your Dan. (New theory: a lot of the good guys are named Dan.) Keep finding each other.

  10. Jesabes

    September 20, 2013 3:38 pm

    Oh, man, you’re making me tear up in the middle of the library, with kids running all around! Partly because this is so sweet, partly because…oh shit. We’re going to have three kids! That’s a lot!

  11. Tara

    September 22, 2013 2:07 am

    You guys are the cutest.

  12. Jennifer Connelly

    September 23, 2013 10:20 am

    I love this so much! Happy stories and a happy family. You were kids and now you have 3 kids, it’s cool that you have shared that journey. Congratulations on the milestone!

  13. Angela

    September 23, 2013 10:57 am

    I love stories like this! Happy (dating) anniversary! My husband and I started “going together” when we were 14, got married at 28, and just celebrated our 12 year anniversary. Here’s to many more years together for the two of you!

  14. Dave (ScrumpyDaddy)

    September 23, 2013 8:30 pm

    Happy Date-a-versary, you two! Ours is September 23rd; having gotten together when I was a few years into college, ours will “only” be 14 years, but we can say many of the same things. You guys go great together! It’s so awesome to find that person that can go through everything with you and be your best friend, sharing the serious, the happy, the sad, the heartwarming, and the silly. Happy 17 years! You two are still a cute couple; how could you not make three adorable kids?! :-)

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