The journey may not always be smooth, the path may not always be clear, but in every moment there is a memory waiting to be made. What we make of these moments is up to us.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Making a list and checking it twice?

Last year my friend D and I decided to brave the Black Friday sales. Ian was only 3.5 months old and I was still learning new mommy restraint. (AKA: learning NOT to buy every cute outfit or toy). The sales were totally worth it. I got toys 50% off and clothes 70% off. We decided that day that we would go again each year.

Fast forward 365 days to Black Friday 2010. Ian spent the night with Nonny and PopPop so that Drew and Tim could come with D and I. JaimieLou decided to join in the fun as well. 2:00 am my alarm went off and we were up and going. Starbucks doubleshot in my hand and Redbull clutched firmly in Drew and Tim's hands, we loaded in the car and headed to Kohl's for their 3am opening. I had looked at all the ads and had an idea of what I wanted to get, but no firm list. We weren't looking for doorbuster items or big purchases. Instead we were just looking for deals on toys for little man. Most of his toys are baby toys. Now that he is walking (running) and working on talking, it is getting close to time to pack those toys up and pull out some big boy toys. Between stops at Kohls, Target, and Walmart, I was able to knock out my shopping for Ian (and a few other little things for others).

Here's my two faves (Ssshhhhhh....don't tell him) :)

This awesome little tent and tunnel. He is big on peek a boo from behind big things (like doors) and crawling through tunnels, so this was a no brainer. Plus it is small enough for inside.

Not to be outdone, Uncle Tim has pulled out the big guns. He got Ian a battery powered Handy Manny Quad. (Mommy is looking for a matching helmet, lol)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's THAT time of year...

The holidays means so many different things to everyone.

They mean busy days of nonstop running from dawn to dusk.

They mean dreading stepping on the scale in a week, but eating seconds (and thirds?) anyway.

They mean bumper to bumper traffic on roads that are already way too busy most of the year (ahem, HARBISON).

They mean getting up at 2am, standing in line for hours, and aching feet for days so that you can get those perfect few toys for a certain little man (at a price you can afford).

BUT, most of all they mean warmth. The warmth that comes only from being with family and friends. The warmth that you can feel when you go home (Mom and Dad's house is always called home in our family...even though we are all grown and have homes of our own- funny how that works) and smell the dinner that mom has worked on all day. It is snuggling up on the couch after the overload of Nonny's stuffing, turkey, and banana pudding. Sitting in the same spot that I sat in through my childhood to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Only now it's warmer. It's warmer because sitting on my lap, snuggling with me, making his own little memories after eating his first real Thanksgiving dinner is my little boy.

There is this surrealness looking back on Thanksgiving that was just two days ago. I am struck by how perfect the tiny little moments are that are almost overlooked. Like the one I just mentioned. Thanksgiving was winding down. Drew, Ian, and I were worn out (and stuffed) from two meals in under 4 hours. Mom and I had finished putting the food away and everyone was settling in to their post meal positions. Dad plopped into his recliner. Grandpa (and his trusty purring companion, Diane, my folks cat) settled into his chair with a book. Mom took a place at one end of the couch, Tim laid down with the dogs on the floor (Ben had to work and came later), Drew took the cetner space on the couch, I snuggled into my favorite nook on the end next to him. Ian snuggled with me with his milk cup. And we all watched Scoobie Doo. Yep. It was perfect. It wasn't the Hallmark moment with everyone gathered around a piano, singing Christmas Carols, and smiling with rosey cheeks. It was just our family being us. Being together. It was warm. It was perfect. And it IS what I am most thankful for.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shutterfly Saving The Holiday Card List!

With the holidays just around the corner, I can already feel the pace of life increasing. My days have gone from a speed walk to a slow jog. This weekend I can tell my pace will increase to a moderate run. At this rate, by Christmas, I will be in an all out sprint. The main thing that I put off each holiday season would have to be getting the cards out the door. Mostly because I wait until the last minute to order them, after agonizing over exactly which photo melts my heart most. This year I vowed that that wouldnt be the case. I assured my self that I would make sure the cards were ordered early and addressed and even stamped and put in the mailbox. (Did you know the postman doesn't come take them off the kitchen counter...even if they have a stamp?)

Enter Shutterfly...They are the all in one stop for all things photo. They do prints, gifts, shirts, and so much more. This year I will be doing some super cute photo cards for our family and friends. Ian is growing like a weed. Last Christmas he was only 3.5 months old. Now, at 14 months old, he is walking, talking, and smiling. We had some great family photos taken this fall and plans to use Shutterfly's awesome cards to show our little man to all our extended family and far away friends.

I have picked this pattern for my cards: http://

Or Maybe this one? - http://

Want to pick one for yourself? Check out: http:// You won't be sorry you took the time to look :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 5: My Best Friend(s)

Remember the days of grade school when you had 10 "best friends"? Everyone that wanted to share their lunch or loan you a Hello Kitty pencil was your "best" friend. Friendship was simpler as kids. There wasn't a whole lot of drama when the biggest choice you had to make in a day was playground or tetherball for recess. Life gets more complex as we get older and so do friendships. I am the type of person that would take 2 really good friends over 20 casual friendships. I like to surround myself with good people and keep them close. So far, I have been pretty successful.

Of course, Drew is my best friend. He is the one person on this earth that I share EVERYTHING with. I have already done a post about him though and I a lucky enough to have 3 other very special people lined up for this place instead.
Sometimes those simplisitic childhood friendships are able to become true adult friendships. I am lucky enough to be apart of it. I met two of my best friends when I was 5 years old. Erin, Kara, and I all did children's theatre one summer. We hit it off and spent a lot of the summer together. We were friends who hung out some weekends, but at 5 there isn't a lot of hangout time involved in friendships. In school, we were in a lot of the same classes and our bond got firmer. By highschool, we were inseparable. We have a bond that doesn't involve us speaking daily (like we did in highschool). Now we are able to not talk for months (though we try not to let that happen) and we can pick right up where we left off. I have some of the best memories of my life with those girls. There is a framed picture of the 3 of us in highschool in the living room of my house. Anytime I see it, I can't help but smile. Those two girls have my back 100%. We took our first theatrical bows together, conquered highschool together, survived our first breakups by leaning on eachother, went to our first (and 2nd and 3rd) Aerosmith concert together, and have more inside jokes than I can count. They stood beside me when I married Drew. I was the notary that made Erin's marriage to her wonderful hubby, Sean, official. I am honored to get to stand by Kara this December as she marries her wonderful guy, Matt. Both girls were here for Ian's baby shower and are fabulous Aunties. After 21 years of friendship, I can honestly say I think this friendship will last forever.

Erin, Me, Kara, and Kara Anne (Erin's little sister)

Chapin NJROTC Ball 2001

Once in a lifetime, if you are lucky, you find that friend that surpasses all the expectations of normal friendship. The person that is more than a friend, they are family. That sister that God didn't give you because the two of you would have tested your mother beyond belief if you had grown up together. I found this when I was in college. Justin introduced me to a girl that he had gone to school and church with for years. I was looking for a roommate and she was looking for a place to live. I didn't care if we became friends, we just fit the needs to have someone to split an apartment and rent. God had other plans. Beth and I hit it off right away. We ended up working at the same job within a few months and spent our days emailing back and forth complaining about coworkers and gossiping about boys. A few months later, I mentioned that I had a crush on Drew. We were all at the same party and she asked me to point out who I meant. Imagine my shock when she explained they were 1st cousins and had gone to school together too. She and Justin are a big part of the reason Drew and I took the time to get to know eachother.

Beth isn't a fairweather friend. Infact, some of the things that have made our friendship so strong are some of the hardest things we have been through in our lives. She stood by me through a betrayal by another friend and the fallout that followed. She supported me in picking up the pieces and years later, she supported me in giving that person a second chance. I was there for her when her world came unglued after she found out her longterm boyfriend had a lot of secrets and issues that led her to ending their almost 4 year relationship. I did the best I could to help her pick up the pieces. She bounced back stronger than ever. We have shared every adult milestone. We screened eachothers boyfriends, cried tears of joy over the news of our respective engagements, helped plan eachothers weddings, and stood there proudly as we each married our respective guys. Beth made our adoption journey bearable when I thought the parts were coming unglued. She was there for me day or night when I was worried. I was there the night her son was born and blessed enough to hold him before he was an hour old. She drove all the way to Charlotte with a 2 month old so that she could hold Ian the day he was born. Since then, our boys are just as inseparable as their mommies.

Things are always changing, but our friendship just adapts. It made it through 4 years of living together and adjusted to us not seeing eachother as much when she moved out and I changed jobs. It made it through the newlywed phases of our marriages (you know..the time when you don't pay attention to the world outside of you and your new hubby). It made it through the craziness of a pregnancy and adoption journey that took place at almost the same time. It made it through her babysitting Ian daily for us for a year. Now things are going to change again as Beth and her little family prepare to move to the country. We won't see eachother everymorning when I drop Ian off and the drive will be a bit longer for our monthly family dinners. Yet, I am not worried. Not for a single second. I know that Beth is going to be in our lives forever. We are sisters by choice. It's not something you find everyday and it is something you never give up. (Besides, we have two little boys that need to get into trouble together.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day 4: My Siblings

"I don't believe an accident of birth makes people brothers or sisters. It makes them silbings, gives the a mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition that people have to work at."
- Maya Angelou
And, oh boy, did we have to work at it :)
I am the oldest of three children. There is me, Ben, and Tim. Growing up, we pestered,teased, screamed at, and tormented eachother. We were doubt about it. Somewhere along the line though we grew up. Sibling rivalries turned into friendships. Suddenly my "little" brothers weren't so little anymore. They are two very different guys, but they are two pretty important guys to me and two great Uncles to Ian.

Tim is the baby and will be turning 21 in 12 days. Tim was born when I was 5 and already used to being an only child. I frequently asked mom to send him back. When those pleas were unanswered, I switched to teasing him unmercifully. He will quite often tell people about the summer he was 4 (and I was 9). Bowl cuts were in style at the time and mom had Tim sporting one. It made him look like a minature version of a member of the Beatles. So, I decided to tell him that he had been abandoned by a member of the band and adopted by our parents. I also told him that one day they were going to come back and get him and make him live in England. (Shameful I know....) Eventually I resigned myself to the fact that he was here to stay.
Even at a young age, our roles were a little reversed. I was older true...but he was the brother. He was the boy. That meant he had to protect me. I was a major chicken as a child. I didn't like to be away from my parents overnight. I hated scary movies. Even things that weren't scary struck fear in me. Not Tim...he was boy to the core and had no fear. We went away for a week with my grandparents and I was miserable. I was homesick and scared a lot of the trip. Tim (who was maybe 6) sat quietly while I tried to convince my grandparents that it was him who was homesick. They knew better (I was the one crying...not him) and had no sympathy. Tim stuck by me and tried to get me to laugh. He never made fun of me or ratted me out as a cry baby to mom. He just looked out for me. Same thing happened not long after when we watched ERNEST SCARED STUPID. Dang troll in the movie scared the crap out of me. So, I went to mom and dad and told them it scared Tim and that he wanted to sleep on the floor in my room. They asked him if he wanted to do that. He looked at me, smiled, and told them yes. He didn't tell them I was the baby. Instead, he slept on the floor infront of the closet doors to keep the troll from getting out. Our whole lives have been that way. Tim would never rat me out.
Like all siblings, we have had our differences. When I hit college and he was in late middleschool/early highschool, we really had nothing in common. We didn't hang out nor did we want to. I saw him when I was home for breaks and he would come see my new apartments when I moved. That was about all there was to it. Then he graduated highschool and got a job. He also started working on the same haunted house as me. I suddenly realized that my baby brother wasn't a baby...he was a guy. And he was pretty cool. We had similar taste in movies and music. He and Drew got along great and started hanging out a good bit. Next thing I knew, he was a confidant. I would call him before I called most of my girlfriends to tell him what was up. I found myself asking for his advice and, even though he was 5 years younger than me and at a different point in his life, I found that it was really good advice majority of the time.
Tim is living with us for a while right now. It's really cool to have a great friend/brother there all the time. He adores Ian and Ian adores him. They light up when they see eachother. For a guy who always said he never liked kids, he is pretty comfortable with Ian. I know that soon he is going to move out and get his own place. Its the way of things and it is getting near that time for him. I am so very proud of him and the things he is doing with his life. And I will be proud of him when he has his own place too. BUT- I think I will be just a little bit sad the time has come. I have liked living with my him now much more than when we were kids. And I think that's because now he is not only my brother...he is my friend.


Ben and I have always been the most different. Ben came to our family when he was 10 and I was almost 16. Our family adopted Ben from Texas. He and Tim clicked instantly. And while we understood and loved eachother because we were family, we didn't bond as quickly as he and Tim because of the age difference. I moved out 2 years after Ben moved in. I was ready to explore the world and leave my "boring" family behind. Eventually I realized that that boring family would be the people who were there for me through thick or thin. Ben was no exception to that. If I need him, he would be there. Like Tim, he bailed me out by helping at the haunted house on more than one instance and on no notice. For Ben and I, though, we were still working to find that bond.

The bond was solidified at Ben's graduation. I can give the specific moment when we had a small conversation. It would not have meant much to the outsider, but to us it spoke volumes. We knew that we had to work harder at being better friends. The sibling bond is there. He is my brother. It doesn't matter where he lived the first part of his life or when he came to live with us. He is just as much my brother as Tim. We just have to put aside our strong personalities and do some give and take. And that is exactly what we have done. We text and talk more now. He comes to dinner at least once a week, but the best insight you can get into Ben is the way he is with Ian. He is so proud to carry him around and show off his nephew. He makes sure that when we are all together we get pics of him with Ian so he can share them with his Facebook friends. He is truly an awesome uncle and a great brother. I couldn't be more blessed with the siblings I have.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 3: My Parents

I can say that I am truly blessed when it comes to parents. My mom and dad have been so supportive of me my whole life. They paid for countless hobbies to help me figure out what my interests truly where. Then, when they realized that I wasn't learning the value of things, they had me start paying for my own interests. It's amazing how much harder a child tries to learn to play clarinet when they buy the clarinet themselves.

My mom: I have never met a stronger woman. My biological father left my mother and I when I was only 6 weeks old. Through the divorce and re-establishing our new family of two, she never waivered. She did what she had to do to take care of us. She took a night job so that she could spend more time with me during the day and work while I was sleeping. She sacrificed tremendously for my betterment. That has never changed. My mother will NEVER put herself before any of her children. To this day we have to push her to spend money on herself. She is one of the most selfless people I know. Her Faith is amazingly deep. She trusts in God fully and has taught us to all do the same. Like every parent, she had to learn. To me though, if I can be 1/2 the mom she is, I will be doing great. She is my mommy, my friend, and the best Nonny Ian could every have.

My Dad: Notice I said my dad, not my stepdad. Even though the title stepdad is accurate technically, he is my DAD. It's not a matter of genetics. A dad isn't the person who helped create you biologically...a dad is the man that was there for you while growing up: who taught you to ride a bike, cleaned scraped knees, intimidated boyfriends, came to every piano recitial, every school play, and walked me down the aisle. For as long as my (step)dad has been in my life, he has been an amazing father. He stepped right up. I never felt for one second like I was a burden that he had to take on when he married my mom. He instantly loved me like his own and it showed. The way he treated my mom gave me a great example of what a husband should be like. Like every marriage, there were spats and icky days. I appreciate the fact that, though downplayed I am sure, they were never hidden from my brothers and me. They showed us that even though it won't always be sunshine and can always be happy. My dad is still an amazing role model. I am so proud to have him as Ian's PopPop.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 2: My Child

"Not flesh of my flesh or bone of my bone
Still you are miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grown under my heart, but in it." - Anon.

There are no words to describe the amount of love I have for Ian. He is our first "born" and hopefully the first of many children that the Lord will bless us with. The journey to Ian was incredible. It strengthened us as a couple, it strengthened our Faith, and it taught me a bit more patience. Again, I should start at the beginning.
I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in highschool. I knew then (and was upfront with Drew when we met) that I may not be able to have children biologically. However it wasn't a fact I gave too much thought to until we started trying. Then, it was all I thought about. After trying for 2 years, we were unable to concieve. After much prayer and discussion, we decided to apply to adopt in December 2008. We were approved in April 2009. In May 2009, a friend of ours called us to say that she had met a young woman through her job as a social worker. This young woman was 5 months pregnent and had decided to put her baby up for adoption. She was having trouble finding a family. She asked if I would send our "Dear Birthmother" letter so that she could use it as an example. I did, without thinking much of it. 3 days later, I got a phone call from "K"- the young lady. She said she had read out letter and wanted to meet us. We talked for hours that night and most days for the next two weeks. We got to know eachother. I told her all about us. Finally, the day before Mother's Day 2009, we went to meet face to face. And that is when we "saw" Ian for the first time.

We met at Applebees in Conchord Mills. After talking for an hour about details and such, K told us that she had decided we were the family to adopt her son. Then, she slid an envelope across the table and said, "Meet you son." Instantly, Drew and I both had tears in our eyes. We opened the envelope and saw ultrasound photos. There, in a black and white blur, was our son. There was a profile shot of him sucking his thumb and I knew I was in love.

The next 4 months were spent talking, driving to Charlotte for visits, dealing with lawyers, and waiting. I had programmed K's ringtone in my phone as Dave Matthew's "American Baby". Starting in late August, anytime I heard the ring my heart skipped a few beats. September 15 started off like normal. Drew left for work around 545 am and I stayed in bed. I had just fallen asleep when "American Baby" echoed through our room. K was on the other end telling me to get up to Charlotte b/c she was going to the hospital. I jumped out of bed, called Drew, grabbed our bag (prepacked of course), called work, called Mom and Dad, called his mom and dad, called our housesitter. By the time Drew got home from work, I had our bags in my car, I was showered, dressed, and waiting in the driveway. He jumped in and we were off. We rushed up, met our friend AJ (who introduced us to K) who led us to the hospital. We saw K, who was only up for visitors for a bit. We sat down in the waiting room at 9am to begin our wait.

And boy did we wait. I paced a hole in that waiting room.. Around 845 pm, the docs and nurses were buzzing in and out of K's room. And we waited.....waited......waited...At 10pm a nurse came out to tell us that at 901pm Ian was born. Happy and healthy and huge! 9lbs 7 oz and 21.75 inches. She asked for me and placed a bracelet on my wrist. She said that K and I were the only two who could call for him from the nursery. Then she took us to a little room to wait to meet him before he was taken to the nursery. We waited, with our parents, in silence. And suddenly there he was. My beautiful baby boy. I knew then and there that I would love him forever. God had tied our hearts together and there was no doubt he was our son.

Since the moment he was placed in our arms, it has been a blur of love, smiles, tears (happy mostly), and adventure. Now our little man is one, walking, trying to talk, and exploring the world. He is the center of ours. Our little family is amazing. We wouldn't changed a thing...well, except maybe to expand to a family of 4. Maybe in 2011??

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 1: My Husband

This is a great way for me to document the story of us to share later with our kids later.....SO---I guess I should start at the beginning. Drew and I met through a mutual friend, Justin, in Spring of 2002. Justin and I were co-directing a theatre company and Drew came with him to our staff meeting. It was far from love at first sight. Neither of us really made a positive impact on the other as we were on opposite ends of an issue that was being discussed about how to progress the company. I remember complaing to Justin that night that I wasn't a fan of his friend, Drew. things change, since I am his number one fan now.

Fast forward to October 2002 and the opening of the first haunted event my theatre company ever worked: BloodMoon on the River.(Later know as just BloodMoon). Drew came out and worked the event with us. He ended up getting bitten by the bug that seemed to have gotten to all of us by this point. We loved design and performing our own art. We designed, directed, and staffed 3 of 7 scenes at BloodMoon in 2002. After the event wrapped up, we wrote 2 original plays to showcase and did a production of AGNES OF GOD. Drew was involved in all of them becoming our unofficial house manager. I don't really know how it happened looking back. I think he just came out to support all of us and got put to work the first night. The next night he came back and did the same job (plus some) without being asked. After a few performances, we just leaned on him being there. We hung out and chatted before and after the shows, but it wasn't anything beyond a friendly acquaintence. We were actually both seeing other people.

Blood Moon 2003 rolled around quickly. That year our group was incharge of designing, directing, and staffing the entire cast. Drew became one of our core people. He was there everynight, came early to set up, stayed late to clean up, and was always available to help on off days. By this time, we were both single....and I was starting to notice him. He was really funny. It was something I hadn't noticed at first because he can be so quiet and reserved. But spending 9 to 10 hours a day together weekend after weekend, I realized he had a really sarcastic sense of humor that I really dug. Just as we prepared for opening weekend, Drew as in a car accident. He was fine, but his truck was not. He was left without transportation. At the time he was living with his brother, Josh. So Josh would drop him off. I lived closer to him than any other staff member, so I would take him home. I think that's what did it. We had 30 minutes in the car to just talk. And since we were driving home at 2am, talking was imperative to staying awake. BloodMoon wrapped up and it was weird not seeing eachother all the time. So, we started texting and hanging out after work.

He helped me move into my first apartment in November. Since my roommates hadn't moved in yet, I was not happy about staying alone. He was awesome and crashed on my couch downstairs most nights until the roomies moved in later on. By December, we were hanging out every day and talking all the time. We had our first kiss at a New Year's Eve Party at 1200 Jan 1, 2004. We didn't talk about what it was really. We were seeing eachother, sure. Was it exclusive? Were we dating? It took us a month or so to figure it out. We were best friends...that much I knew. We did everything together. Grocery shopping, movies, etc. I helped him pick out clothes. He helped me clean my apartment. We would go to the laundry mat at the same time to do our laundry. That's exactly where we were on 2/16/04 when we became official. I was sitting in the chairs of the laundry matt, legs in his lap, reading, while he flipped through a magazine. Out of the blue he looks up at me and tells me that he thinks we should not see other people and just be us. See what happens. I couldn't agree more.

10 months later, he got down on one knee to ask me to marry him. (Which will be a post in itself). 11 months after that we were married. And since then, I have gotten to spend everyday, every night, and a whirlwind of memories with my best friend.

I have learned that life is up and down. There are highs and lows. There are calm times and their are rocking seas. Through everything that happens in life, Drew has been my constant. No matter how crazy, sad, happy, trying, easy, hard the situation is...Drew is there with me. Together, with our Faith in God and our love/friendship with eachother, we can overcome anything. I couldn't ask for a better manto share this life with. I have no doubt that God picked the best man for me. We balance eachother out. We can make eachother see reason when no one else can. He is my best friend, a terrific husband, and an amazing father. He makes me a better person and for that fact alone, I am eternally thankful.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

30 Days of Reflection - Starter Post

It seems that each year after highschool has flown by faster and faster. Somehow leaving school changes the way you view your entire year. As a student, you live for Christmas break, spring break, summer vacation, and the little inservice days throughout the year. As you enter the working world (and no longer get 6 weeks off during the summer), the year seems to go by faster because there isn't much break from the day to day.

It doesn't seem odd that this would dawn on my in the fall - a time full of big events in our lives as a couple and family. September 15 is Ian's birthday. 14 days later, Sept 29, is Ian's birthday, and a mere 2 days later, October 1, is our anniversary. It is quite a sentimental time of year for us. So, I thought what better time to do a month of reflection. Each day I will do a post reflecting on a different topic. I found this through a friend. The original was much more geared towards teens, so I changed the topics some. :)

Day 1: My Spouse
Day 2: My Child(ren)
Day 3: My Parents
Day 4: My Sibling(s)
Day 5: My Best Friend
Day 6: My Best Childhood Memory
Day 7: My Best Teenage Memory
Day 8: My Best College Memory
Day 9: My 21st Birthday
Day 10: Our First Date
Day 11: Our Engagement
Day 12: Our Wedding Day
Day 13: Our Honeymoon
Day 14: Biggest Accomplishment (Besides Kids)
Day 15: Favorite Vacation
Day 16: My Faith
Day 17: My Friends
Day 18: My Past (2 big events that shaped me)
Day 19: My Present (where I am today)
Day 20: My Future (where I want to be)
Day 21: Favorite Song (Top 2)
Day 22: Favorite Movie (Top 2)
Day 23: Favorite Book (Top 2)
Day 24: Favorite Time of Year
Day 25: Favorite Holiday Tradition
Day 26: Biggest Regret
Day 27: Someone that changed your life (and may not even know it)
Day 28: Favorite Saying
Day 29: 10 Photos that Sum up your life before this year
Day 30: 10 Photos that Sum up your life for the last 12 months.

So, there you have it. Since tomorrow starts a new month, I am going to start this little project then. How appropriate that I get to talk about my spouse on our 5th wedding anniversary. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Overdue Update's been a while since I posted something. Things have been going so quickly it is crazy. Here's a quick run down:

Ian is now saying: Da-da, Mama, Key (kitty), Lu (one of our dogs), Im (Tim), Hey, Buh (bye).
He is standing up without holding on to anything.
He can take a few small steps, but generally would rather crawl .
He had his first haircut last Sunday (No more curls!)
He can now hold his sippy cup and prefers to do it himself.

Plans for his 1st birthday are well underway. We have decided to do a rubber ducky theme. Ian loves ducks and has since he was born. So, we have a ducky cake, blue/yellow/white table cloths-balloons-plates-silverware, his old ducky bathtub as a cooler, and a cute rubber ducky birthday banner. I am going to do chips and snacks in pails like you would have at the beach. We'll also have blue punch with ducks in it. It has been fun planning, but at the same time a bit sad. I can't believe how fast this first year has gone by. Already I have trouble remembering what our life was like before he was here. It just seems like my heart would have been so empty without him.

As his birthday gets closer, I am hit more and more each day with how blessed we are. Don't get me wrong, we have known since day one we were blessed. I think that in the hustle and bustle of having a newborn I often overlooked how blessed we are. Our adoption journey to Ian was amazingly simple and short. We took the classes in December, got approved in April, met Ian's birthmother in May, and Ian was born in September. Start to finish the process was exactly 9 months. God is SO amazing! He had Ian's life all mapped out and put everything exactly where it needed to be for Ian to make it to us. The thought of it gives me chills. I thank God everyday for Ian and for his birthmother.

That brings me to another thought.... I am in awe of Ian's birthmother to this day. At the age of 17, she made the most selfless and giving decision she could make as a mother- she chose to 1) Give her child life and 2)To give her child a better life. This is nothing short of heroic to me. She felt she couldn't offer Ian the life she wanted for him, so she worked hard to find people who could. Drew and I are humbled and thankful for her chosing us everyday. I hold a piece of her heart in my arms each day when I hold my son. It isn't something that I take lightly. Drew and I have always said that we will be upfront and honest with Ian about his adoption. We use the word all the time now because we don't want it to ever appear taboo to him. When the time comes, we will explain everything to him. We intend to tell him that this was the ultimate act of love on his birthmother's behalf. She put his life and happiness before hers in every choice she made. She has stayed firm in her convictions that this was the right thing to do and we stand firm in our agreement.

We do have an open adoption. Right now we send pictures two times a year, visit 2 times a year, and she can call us anytime. We allow her to send gifts and write him letters. I am saving all the letters she sends him in a scrap book. It's important that he have those one day. Our agreement is only valid until he turns 3. At that point we have to evaluate how it is effecting him. We get a lot of concern from family and friends that this is a bad plan. We are told we shouldn't have visits at all (even now) because it will only confuse him later. I couldnt disagree more. Surely it would be confusing to a child who doesn't know this life to be sat down one day and told, "We are not your biologicial parents...." Telling him from day 1 and exposing him makes this his normal. We always have, and will continue to, put Ian first, as does his birthmother. If we ever feel it is too much for him, we will change how we handle it. Until then, this is our life. And we love it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Baby Filled Weekend

This weekend I got the privledge of co-hosting a baby shower for one of the best couples I know. Justin and Abi are expecting their second child in October. 2 years ago I was able to throw them a shower for their first son and it was a blast. We all decided then that we would be sure to throw showers for all of our future kids (instead of just hosting one for the first child). After all, even if you are having another child of the same gender there are things you need for each child (diapers, bath stuff, etc). So, instead of a shower, we had a sprinkle to restock their nursery.

When we through the shower 2 years ago, none of us had kids. They were the first couple in our little group to have a baby. Oh how things change in two years! At this shower there were ample babies and new ones on the way! We had Colby, Reese, Maggie, Lex, Sullie, Liana, Legree, and Ian. Plus we had three women with babies on board! Beth and I each brough a basket of toys from home for the kids to play with. We all had a great time talking and catching up while watching the kids play. Hard to believe that by the time we throw another shower there will be a whole new round of babies to play with. It was an awesome day and I came home ready to just relax....

Ian had other plans. He was WIDE open. He had missed afternoon naptime because of the shower and was catching a second wind. He was everywhere. When bed time finally hit, he was worn out. I sat him in my lap and sang to him. That's my favorite part of my day. Lately he has started facing me while I sing to him. He smiles and watches my lips move. Everynow and then he will reach out of touch my lips and giggle while I am singing. Then he will snuggle into my shoulder and play with my hair until I finish singing and lay him down. Usually he will stand up and watch me leave the room. Then he crys for a few minutes and says, "Dada....Dada". It really didn't mean he was calling Drew because he calls both of us Dada. Until last night....last night, he called out "Mama". I stopped and waited to see if I heard him right. Again, "Mama". I couldn't resist, I went right back in his room. He smiled and said, "Mama". I ended up singing him one more song and he laid down to sleep. Tonight when Drew put him to sleep, I peeked in to say goodnight. Drew told him to say Bye Bye Mama. Ian just smiled. I came back down the hall and Drew got Ian all settled and put to bed. Then I heard him tell Ian to say Bye Bye Mama again. And he did! He said "Buh Mama" :) It was so sweet. I have never heard sweeter words :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Carnival of Madness

This weekend Drew and I headed up to Charlotte with Tim, Justin, Abi, Matt, and Kara to see the Carnival of Madness. Ian spent all afternoon Saturday with my parents and then Jon kept him at our house overnight. (We got home around 2am Sunday).

What is the Carnival of Madness? It was a concert at the Verizon Amphitheatre. It's in its first year and, if this year is an indication of what the future holds, it will be around for a while. The line up this year was 10 Years, Sevendust (!!), Puddle of Mudd, Chevelle, and Shinedown. Drew and I were especially excited to get to see Sevendust and Puddle of Mudd. We have seen Chevelle before and they were great. Neither of us were really big Shinedown fans (b/c we didn't know a lot of their stuff), but we like some of their stuff we heard on the radio. 10 Years has 2 songs that I know, but I wasn't worried about catching their show.

We left Columbia around 2pm with Justin and Abi in our car and Matt/Kara/Tim in Matt's car. We through in a CD that Justin had made and given to me a long time ago and rocked out to Big Wreck, Sevendust, Cake, Incubus, and more on the way up. We got parked and settled into camping chairs around 4pm to enjoy some adult beverages. These were required due to the heat. It was 98 degrees with a heat index of 112. 10 Years took the stage at 5pm and we headed in to find our seats around 530pm. Sevendust rocked my face off shortly after. They are AMAZING live. They are so humble and seem to genuinely perform because they want their fans to enjoy their music, not because they want the fans to worship them.

After a break to change the stage, Puddle of Mudd was up. Now out of our whole group, Tim, Drew, and I were the only Puddle of Mudd fans. They opened with Control (one of my favorites) and I knew right away we were in trouble. They just sounded off. They played Psycho and Blurry and a few others, but it was really pretty lame. The highlight of their set was their closing number: 1) It was AC/DC's TNT and 2) It was the end of their set. I left hoping they were having an off night, but after reading reviews of other stops on this tour, it seems they may just not be so good live.

Chevelle was up next. They did not fail to impress. They weren't big on interacting with the crowd, but their music was awesome! Three talented musicians that sound like 5. Just a great time.

Finally, it was time for the tour headliners: Shinedown. I don't know a whole lot of Shinedown. I know 45, their cover of Simple Man, Save Me, and a few more. I didn't really know what to expect. I was totally impressed. The lead singer has an amazing voice and range. His stage presence is insane. He just commands attention. Plus, they are (like Sevendust) hugely appreciative of their fans. They came out rocking with Sound of Madness and carried strong through 45, Crow and the Butterfly, and many many more. We slipped out early to beat the crowds, but I did get to hear Simple Man as we walked through the parking lot to the cars.

I got us lost on the way home (Imagine that). Missed the exit to 277 to get back to Matt and Kara's. Drew was napping, but Justin and Abi were awesome and helped get us back with directions their phone. I now know that Farrow Rd runs right into Bull St.

The whole day was a great time. Sure it was hot and I probably sweat more than I had in years, but it was worth every minute. Great friends, great music, and just fun times. Plus, concerts are great for people watching. Those of you that are friends with Justin- watch his FB page for future pictures. There was a guy in front of us who enjoyed one to many adult beverages (and probably a lot of drugs) and was just rocking out the whole first half. However, he passed out and was out cold through Chevelle and Shinedown. Justin got a good pic of himself with the guy passed out in front of him. Add to that the fights in the lawn mosh pit, the fight between drunks in the parking lot, and the questionable fashion choices of many- we were truly entertained even when the music wasn't going.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Selfish in my own way

I had a great day yesterday. After work, I went to see Eclipse and have sushi with my friend Jaimie. She is only in town for the summer and even though we work together, we haven't seen eachother much this summer. It was so nice to go have a girls' night out and catch up. My awesome hubby held things down at home. By the time I got home Ian was fed, bathed, and asleep in bed.

I checked my email, took care of some laundry, and started to wind down for the night. I realized that I hadn't seen Ian much that day. We spend a few hours together every morning before I take him to Beth's, but usually the bulk of our time togethers is in the afternoons during playtime, dinner, bath, quiet time, and then a lullabye for bedtime. I always go in to check on him when I am going to bed, so last night I was selfish....I went in to sing to him. Now, he didn't need that. He was already asleep. In fact, I was risking doing more harm then good. If he had woken up, he would have probably been hard to get back down since he is teething and cranky. Yet it was something that I had missed that day. I love that time when he either sits in my lap in the glider rocker or lays in his crib while I rub his back and sing to him.

It occured to me that many of the things we do for our children are because we enjoy them as much or maybe even more than they do.
  • I buy Ian toys because I love to watch him figure things out. Sure he loves his toys, but usually he would be just as happy with the box the toy came in.
  • We dress our kids in super cute (sometimes embarassing) outfits.
  • We plan big 1st birthday parties to celelbrate the first year of life of these wonderful miracles God gives us.
  • And in my case, we go through routines to savor every minute we can with them.

  • Ian got really restless when I went in his room, so I didn't get to sing to him. I just peeked in, told him I loved him, and left the room. Gives me something to look forward to tonight though.

    Think I will sing him "Godspeed" by the Dixie Chicks. If you haven't heard it, check it out.

    Here are the words:

    Dragon tales and the "water is wide"
    Pirates sail and lost boys fly
    Fish bite moonbeams every night
    And I love you
    Godspeed, little man
    Sweet dreams, little man
    Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings

    Sweet dreams
    The rocket racer's all tuckered out
    Superman's in pajamas on the couch
    Goodnight moon, we'll find the mouse
    And I love you
    God bless mommy and match box cars
    God bless dad and thanks for the stars
    God hears "amen" wherever we are
    And I love you
    Godspeed, little man
    Sweet dreams, little man
    Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
    Sweet dreams

    My Little Man

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Maybe it isn't what you meant, but....

    Lately I have been coming into contact with a lot of people who are working towards an adoption or have recently adopted. It is amazing how this one thing in common so quickly bonds people together. I think it is because we have all been in similar situations and can all clearly relate to what the other is going or has gone through.

    Before I go any further in this post, I want to say that Drew and I are SO blessed with amazing family and friends. Without their unwaivering support, we never would have been able to make it through our first adoption journey with any sanity left. They were there for all the Ups (the call saying we were matched, the baby shower, Ian's birth, and bringing Ian home), all the Downs (the weekend we thought that Ian's birthmother changed her mind, the delays in getting us home after Ian was discharged from the hospital, the hold ups in our initial paperwork), and all the waiting. They listened to us cry, yell, laugh, and probably sound out of our minds. Even though they couldn't 100% relate to what we were going through, they could see it was hard on us and they did everything in their power to make the journey as easy as possible. They welcomed our son into their lives with open arms, tears of joy, and accepted him for exactly what he is: our son, regardless of what DNA says.

    When you are adopting, it is amazing the amount of input you get from everyone who finds out. Most of the time it is extremely supportive. In fact, we often ended up embarassed because people would tell us how amazingly unselfish they thought we were for adopting. The truth is that we never went into this for praise. We went down this path to find the child God intended for us. Yet all too often, we found people making statements with either the best laid intentions or with sheer curiousity that would hurt us. I never for one second believe that any of these people intended their statements the way they were taken. Our nerves were already raw, our hearts were on our sleeves, and our stress level awas through the roof. We took everything personally. I am not saying that that was ok on our part or saying that people should have walked on eggshells around us. Now that the stressful part of the situation is behind us, I can look back and see what people meant at the time. So, I thought it would be interesting for other adoptive families and people who are interacting with them to see what these statements where and what we hard vs. what was meant.

    What was said: You're adopting? You decided you don't want to have any on your own?
    What I heard: So, you want to be totally selfish and have a cute baby without having to go through any of the hassle of labor?
    What I think of it now: I am sure it is an innocent question. However as someone who has battled and continues to battle fertility issues, it is like a dagger in the heart. I want nothing more to be pregnant. We tried (and continue to try) to have children biologically. This may not be the plan God had for us at that time or ever. He directed us to OUR son through adoption. If in the future we have children biologically, we will be equally as thrilled to hold them as the first time we held Ian. You can never know what is going on in someone's life. To assume that they don't WANT to have children biologically can be very hurtful to people who CAN'T.

    What was said: Are you sure you want to raise a child someone else had? What if something is wrong?
    What I heard: How can you love a child you don't know is perfect?
    What I think of it now: First of all, every child is perfect to their parents. Ian could have been purple with lime green spots and I would have loved him just the same. He is my child. To me procreation is Russian Roulette. You can have two completely healthy parents and have a disabled child. And I have an issue with that being considered a bad thing. We told Katie (Ian's Birthmother) from day one that we were adopting him no matter what. If he had a birth defect or other issue, we would still be in 100%.

    If someone came and told me they were pregnant, I would never say, "Are you sure that's a good idea? I mean, what if he is born with a problem? Your family has a history of " No way would you ever hear that! So, why would that be ok to say to an adoptive couple.

    What was said: Now that you have Ian the pressure is off. I am sure you will be able to have your own kids now?
    What I heard was: Now that you got Ian as a bandaid to the problem, I am sure that you can get right on having kids that share your DNA.
    What I think of it now: This one is two fold. Sure, there is less pressure. We wanted a child so badly that it was something always lingering in our minds. Now that we have Ian our lives are so much fuller. However we want more kids down the line, so there is still a lingering thought in our heads. But that thought isn't what caused the issue in the first place. Having Ian didn't magically fix the fertility issues that we struggle with. This is going to be a battle we fight everytime we decide to have another child.
    The 2nd part of that is that saying we could have kids of our own implies that Ian isn't really our child. Ian is 100% our child. He is our first born and the love of my life. I would move heaven and earth to protect him. I can't imaging having a better son or a stronger connection to him. No matter how many children we have (adopted or biological) Ian is always going to be my son. I don't need papers from the state, related DNA, or even similar looks to tell me that he is mine. I feel it in every part of my heart.

    Those were the top three things that made us cringe. Again, I know that the strangers that asked them asked with honest intentions. Yet, they were some of the most hurtful things I heard (and continue to hear). Again, don't walk on eggshells around people who are adopting. The one thing that all adoptive families want is support. In our own way, we are expecting a child. The paperwork, waiting, and matching time are like pregnency, labor, and delivery to us. We are excited and nervous, just like most expectant parents. We want you to share those feelings with us. All the other comments and concerns can wait until another time.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Milestones, Memories, and Muscles

    This week has been full of memorable events and milestones. Friday was my Dad's birthday, so we had my parents over for cake. Ian loves his PopPop and was happy to shower him with drool and baby smiles on his birthday.

    Saturday Ian went to spend the day with Papa J and Grandma T (Drew's folks). He hadn't seen them since our Shealy family beach trip July 4th weekend and I needed to finish painting our bathroom and bedroom. I dropped him off in the morning and he spent all day playing with them. I finished painting our rooms and got all the art and curtains rehung. Drew spent the morning doing a landscaping job in Chapin. We took a break mid day to celebrate Dad's birthday as a family and all met at FarmBoys BBQ. Grandpa B (my grandpa), Mom, Dad, Drew, and T (my little brother) all ate our fill of yummy BBQ and headed home. Drew's back was bothering him, so he grabbed a nap and T pressure washed the house. Papa J and Grandma T wore Ian out and after a quick dinner, he went right to sleep.

    Sunday AM Drew was really sore. His lower back was hurting a good bit, but he had made plans to go fishing with T. He sucked it up and they spent the AM fishing while Ian and I got ready for the cookout we were throwing for my little brother, B. B just finished up USAF Officer's Training school and came home after 6 weeks away. Midday Grandpa B, T, Drew, Mom, Dad, B, and Katie (B's girlfriend) all came and we caught up, told stories and just spent a great day together. By the end of the day Drew was hurting pretty bad and went to bed early.

    Monday is Ian's day to spend with Nonny (my mom), so I took him up and got him settled with her and came to work to start my day. Drew and I work for the same company, so it isn't uncommon for him to stop by my office during the day to say hi on his breaks. Monday AM, he came in well before his break and told me he had to go home. His back was hurting too much for him to stay. We called and got him an appt with the Dr. Turns out he pulled the same muscle group he hurt Spring of 2009 when he unaligned his pelvis. Dr told him to rest until Thursday and gave a muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory. While poor Drew was feeling achey, Ianbaby was feeling icky. We realized that he is cutting 3 teeth at the same time on top! Poor little man.

    Ian didn't let his teething pain hold him back though. He took his first steps on Tuesday! Beth and I were playing with him when I dropped him off. He let go of the couch and took 3 little steps to a toy before sitting down and crawling. He thought we were crazy for cheering him on, but it was so sweet. I feel so blessed that I was able to see it happen. As a working mommy, I always worry about missing these milestones. So far I have been there to see him crawl, pull up, and walk and that makes me SO happy. I don't think it will be long before my lil man is running around like crazy. He has to do something to keep up with Legree when he is with Auntie Beth. :)

    All in all it was a pretty eventful week, but aside from Drew being was full of wonderful memories. This is what life is all about. :)

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Shockingly I am at a loss for words

    I know that any friends of mine reading the title line of this post are in disbelief. I created this BLOG in early July and have yet to post anything on it. This is because I have had no idea what to post. I have started a few entries, but then been unhappy with them or run out of time to finish them. Even now, I have been sitting here staring at the monitor for quite a few minutes in an effort to figure out what to say. Guess I will just start at the begining:

    Why am I creating a blog?
    Well, my wonderful friend, Beth, created one to document the day to day with her precious little baby boy, Gee (Legree). He is about 3 months older than our little man. As I started reading her posts, I realized that this is a great way to make sure that we remember the little things. Those moments that later on can be really great memories. Having just adopted our amazing little man, Ian, in September we are having more and more of the milestone moments that I want to be sure we remember. I want Ian to be able to read this when he is older and try to remember all the fun things we did when he was little.

    So, that's pretty much what this will be...just a place for me to post thoughts about what has been going on with our little family. Nothing to exciting or entertaining to everyone else, but the most important things in the world to us.