Nick and JC Joyce both attended the University of Nebraska and both worked at the Scheels All Sports store in Lincoln, but it wasn’t until they met on a friend’s boat in August of 2002 that their relationship really began to develop. “I wanted to learn to wakeboard,” JC says with a laugh.
They started dating in 2002 and two years later, they bought a Shiba Inu they named Mattie, after Matrimony. Two days later, they were married. The Joyce’s moved to the Black Hills in June of 2008 with Mattie and a yellow lab named Peyton, for JC’s work with Scheels. “We love the Hills,” Nick says. They still enjoy camping and boating, and the dogs love to ride along. Even in their few short years here, the couple has developed strong relationships and are genuinely happy.
“We have lots of friends and an awesome church family” JC says. “It’s just a good community. The people here have values that are closer to what ours are,” Nick says. “And it’s a safe community.”
A safe community is more important now than it used to be. In July of 2012, the couple became doting parents to twins; their son Alexander and daughter Avery. Xander, as he’s been nicknamed, is the spitting image of his father, according to JC, and Avery is already quite mobile, keeping Nick on his toes.
“We actually planned it that way, quite a ways in advance,” Nick says of his role as a stay-at-home father. The decision was made when JC entered the manager candidate program at Scheels. When the twins were born, the decision paid off. “It just didn’t make sense to pay for childcare for two! Besides,” he jokes, “she’s a lot smarter than I am.”
Parenting has, of course, brought lots of new changes for the couple and a whole new routine. JC gets up at 5am to fit it all in, comes home for lunch, and occasionally has to go back to work after the kids are asleep. “Raising children is certainly work,” JC admits “but there’s such an amazing reward.”
For instance, when the pair was born, Xander spent a week in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU. On instruction from their doctor, when they brought him home they laid Xander and Avery in the same crib, on opposite ends. “When I came back from the bathroom they had snuggled up close to each other and were looking into each other’s eyes.”
As life goes on and the kids grow, JC works to keep a sense of balance. She keeps her phone handy so she can answer emails “pretty much ‘round the clock.” When she’s home, the couple divide and conquer, each taking charge over one ever-more-active baby. “I don’t know how he does it sometimes,” she says, smiling at Nick.
“It used to be a lot easier” he grins. “They’d eat, and sleep. Now, if I go to change his diaper, I have to keep an eye on her — she’s very mobile. It’s hard to keep track of both of them at the same time. And both are kind of teething now…it’s been interesting.”
“The most important thing for us has been to keep them on the same schedule,” JC says. “If one wakes up to eat, we wake the other. Otherwise, all we’d do is feed babies,” she laughs. “Especially in the beginning when they were eating every two hours. By the time we got them fed, cleaned up and back to bed, we’d maybe get an hour of sleep before they were up and hungry again. The schedule, the routine, it really saved our sanity those first few weeks. Even an hour of sleep was precious.” “Until you have kids,” Nick says, “I don’t think you fully understand the self-sacrifice that goes into it.”
The couple is no stranger to self-sacrifice — for each other, their children, and their community. And they are glad to give back. JC has been on the board for the United Way of the Black Hills for the last five years and has just finished serving as the president. The couple has been donors for United Way in every community they have been in. “We get to see first hand how many needs there are in this community,” she says. “I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to serve on the board. I think it’s important to give back — to know I can do just a little bit to help.” The young mother also sits on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “It’s been a really good board to be on too, to serve in that capacity. It’s just as important, but totally different. I get to advocate for both people and businesses in the Black Hills.” JC and Nick also serve in their church. She plays bass on occasion, and sings on the Worship Team, and Nick is the Men’s Ministry chair.
When asked about the kind of parents they hope to be, JC explained some of the principals they consider important. “We want to be the kind of parents that model the values we hold, and our faith. We want to be the kind of parents our kids want to come visit,” she says, grinning. “We want to raise kids that are respectful, and put their faith in Christ. Some of the things — family dinner, reading to the kids — they might not fully understand as eight-month olds, but we know they will later. For instance, every night before dinner, Nick reaches out and says ‘Xander, hold my hand, it’s time to pray.’ That will be really cool when he actually understands.”
The couple attributes their strong, growing family to the foundation of faith Nick and his wife have built together. “Life would be a lot different, a lot harder, if we didn’t have that common ground to fall back on.” Their best advice for new parents, especially those of twins, is to just “Take it one day at a time. It’s all worth it. You just kind of figure it out as you go along. We’re gonna goof up, and we know that, but hopefully these two don’t realize it.”
The couple plans to have more kids in the future. They are just praying to have one at a time.