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.

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.