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Friday, July 24, 2009

Fill Me In On The Last 20 Years

This has been the frequent request as I catch up with old acquaintances on Facebook.  I've written versions of the following so many times in the past few months, I thought I'd post it here.  20 years of life in 500 words or less.  (Sort of.)
After high school, I went to Western Kentucky University to major in music. I don’t know that I took full advantage of the college experience in the best way, but I did graduate with honors and some very good friends for life.

My mom talked me into going straight to grad school (even though I didn’t want to) by saying, “I just don’t think you’ll be reaching your full potential if you don’t.” Since I was too chicken to sing and did not enjoy children enough to want to be a teacher, I settled on a program in Arts Administration – the business side of music. The closest program to home was in Bloomington, IN at Indiana University, so off I went.

Again, I didn’t love the school part, but to this day I have dear friends from that time in my life. (For example, I worked at the opera house ticket office for a fantastic guy. He and his wife just shared a mess of beans from their garden. THOSE are friends worth keeping!)

I fell in love with a boy at IU, so after my internship in Washington, D.C., I moved back to Bloomington to start a career and continue that relationship. (Turns out I didn't enjoy children until I found a guy I thought would be a terrific dad.  From then on, my perspective changed dramatically about kids.) I took a job as an account executive at a very fun advertising agency called Hirons & Co. It was a crash course in the corporate world.

I learned so much in that short time. Not only about work, but how to work through a broken heart. It seems like Bloomington is where I grew into myself. My choices, my decisions, my mistakes -- but they were all mine. Not influenced by my family or a lifetime of “this is what so-and-so is doing.” Again, friends were the highlight of that time. Some now in California, Texas, Illinois and a few, thankfully, still in Bloomington.

During the transition from that job to working as the press secretary for the Bloomington Mayor, I met my man, Brian. Two things that I remember: I remember feeling so honored that the Mayor sought me out for that job when I wasn’t even looking for a change. And the other thing is that in the small group of people introducing themselves that day, I remember thinking, “Oh, he works for the OTHER ad agency in town.”

Brian and I met at church among a group of young, single professionals. It sounds much holier than it was. There was a time that I thought, “Oh my goodness. I’m going to have to tell my children I met their father in a bar.” I’m glad I don’t have to.

The next two years were a whirlwind of milestone after milestone.
  • Started a new job.
  • Bought my very own condo.
  • Found out my father had colon cancer.
  • Married Brian.
  • Found out Dad’s cancer was terminal.
  • Quit my job.
  • Sold the condo.
  • Moved to Louisville.
  • Helped take care of Daddy until he died.
  • Started a new job.
  • Finished building a house that someone else had started.

Happy. Sad. Thrilled. Devastated. I cried a lot. And grew up some more.

While Brian worked at that other agency’s new office in Louisville, I worked in the marketing department at LG&E Energy. It was fun to commute with my hubby and work so close together we could meet for lunch. When we finished our house, our commute from little Sellersburg, IN was a third of what it was in Louisville proper.  

A little dream of mine came true while I was taking piano lessons from the fantastic John Bizianes in Louisville.  He and his twin brother had a band called "Double Vision" (get it?) that needed a female lead vocal and they asked me to do it.  I LOVED it.  I got to sing songs I loved, dress in fancy clothes and they even paid me for it. Memories I'll treasure for a lifetime.  (Click here and scroll down to the Double Vision listing.  You'll see a pic of the band from back in the day and you can even hear a snippet of me singing!)

The fun really began when we had our first baby girl, Samantha, who is now 6 (and a half, she will quickly tell you.) Brian had a job working out of the house then, so he took care of the baby while I went back to work for a few months. I stayed home for good when she was about 7 months old and have never regretted that decision.

Talk about growing up! Nothing like marriage and a new baby to make you realize all your shortcomings. I met a terrific lady while I lived in Sellersburg. She is a few years older and her kids are in the next stage of life ahead of mine. She is my friend and mentor. Everyone needs one. If she hasn’t been there, she’ll help me figure out what to do anyway. Her friendship and wisdom permeates almost everything I do. If you don’t have one these, go shopping for one RIGHT NOW! I found mine at church…it’s a great place to start.

Grandaddy came to live with us while I was pregnant with Chase. Read more about that by clicking here. For those of you who knew my dad, you might like to know we named our son after him. You can read about that here.

Since we can’t seem to stay away from a challenge, Brian was offered a job back in Bloomington at Cook, Inc., so he started up here while I stayed back to have a baby and sell the house. Then we lived in a furnished, rental condo for six months while we built a house up here that would accommodate an elderly person and a growing family. Here’s what I always say about building a house, “If Brian wants to build a second house, he’ll have to do it with his second wife!” Some people love the process and I am not one of those. I tend to care more about living my life than what color the switch plates should be. Crazy, huh?

Chase was such a good baby that Ava followed very soon after. Chase just turned four this past June and Ava will be three in September.

Grandaddy is still with us and very healthy. He fixes his own breakfast every morning. Samantha will be starting 1st Grade in just a couple of weeks. (Click here to read about why we homeschool.) Chase is more handsome and sweet than I could’ve been smart enough to ask for. And, our little, red-headed Ava keeps us on our toes, but mostly follows whatever mischief her big brother and sister are into.

I could not be happier with my life. I love teaching my kids and learning from them, too. I love that I get to know my Grandad in a whole new way in these very golden years. I love that I get to share the joys and challenges of life with a wise and loving man who cares more about the character of our family than the kind of car we drive.

I’m still a huge Elvis fan and I’m reminded of the first stanza of an old hymn from one of his gospel albums.

Why me, Lord? What have I ever done 
to deserve even one of the treasures I’ve known?
Tell me, Lord? What did I ever do 
that was worth loving you or the kindness you’ve shown?

Now, fill me in on the last 20 years of YOUR life!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weddings Make Me Happy

Hang on to your hats, folks. You'd think it was my own wedding album, I have so many pictures.

Brian's cousin, Tricia, married Dave in Sarasota on June 28th. It afforded our family a fantastic opportunity for a vacation to beautiful Bradenton Beach nearby. The wedding and part of the reception were outdoors. Beautiful isn't the right word for it. It was perfect. Truly perfect and we had a ball!

Brian's brothers, Derek and Chris, and Chris' girlfriend, Rachel.

And, I was there, too!

The happy couple.

Sammie loved meeting the bride and followed her around for an obnoxiously long time and Trish was sweet enough to let her.

Brian's Aunt Mary on his father's side, the mother of the bride.  She's as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.  When we told Sammie Aunt Mary would be there, she said, "Woohoo!"  She has that effect on people.

Trish thought of everything right down to the dino bites (ketchup already on the plates) with mac and cheese for the kids' dinners.  Chase's FAVorite!

The other happy couple.  

All my kids are in love with Rachel and they want her to be with them all the time.  And, so do we.

The newest baby in the family is Trish's big sister's baby, Ryder.  My kids love babies, so they each got a turn to hold him and Ava went first.  She did well until she started poking him in the eyes.

Doesn't Chase look like a natural?  He was rocking baby Ryder here.  What you don't see is when he rocked him too far the other way and the heavy-headed baby went all the way over, face first in the grass.  They didn't let us hold him anymore.

Pa and Ava have a special relationship.  Pa tells her to do certain things and she takes them as mere suggestions, so they have a long talk about it until he sees her way.

The wedding colors were hot pink, orange and bright yellow.  This is on the empty Chinese take-out boxes:  Because you've made our lives so sweet, please fill this box with your favorite treats.  They had huge containers of pink, orange and yellow jelly beans, salt water taffy and malted milk balls.  That was a lot of sugar for the ride home, but the kids loved it!

The ceremony was still in the heat of the day, so they'd filled this bucket full of cold, bottled water. After the ceremony, they brought out an identical bucket filled with games for the kids. Bubbles, frisbees, giant balloons and other fun stuff. Is she brilliant or what? Reminded me of our wedding reception. It was gourmet desserts for the grown ups and a special kids' table where they could decorate their own cookies and cupcakes.  

It was a perfect open space for the kids to play after having to sit still for 13 whole minutes!

I couldn't convince anyone to dance, so I started with Rachel!  After awhile they played a new line dance called the Cupid Shuffle (which I thought was the Cuban Shuffle for about a month) and Derek hopped right out there with me.  I wish I had a picture of THAT! 

Then Brian and I snuck in one swing dance which was the most fun of the night for me. Are my boys handsome or what?

At least Chase watched the girls from the view of the dance floor.

I'm so grateful we were invited to be a part of their special day.  My Daddy used to say that everyone should have a big wedding with lots of festivities and lots of witnesses.  It's about more than just the two saying "I do".  That one day is a memory to treasure for a lifetime.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

They Change in the Blink of the Eye

Kristin and the kids have been in Little Rock since last Wednesday. I was at a meeting from Wednesday to Saturday, so I had plenty to keep me occupied. Now that I'm back home, though, it sure feels lonely. So, I just looked through my iPhoto library. The first thing that came to mind as I looked at the pictures is that I can't believe how much the kids have changed in such a short period of time... 

Brian Signature copy