Three Decades: The Past Ten Years

If you’re new visiting my blog, I’m doing a series of posts for my upcoming thirtieth birthday, which was two weeks ago. You can catch up by reading here, here and here.

Ah…So, it’s taken a bit of motivation to finish up this series.  It’s taken more time that I had anticipated to dig up old photos, outline the last thirty years chronologically, and pick out the things that I think are noteworthy enough to express important aspects of my life.  Not to mention that the last few weeks have been really busy with Parker starting MMO, and Dan traveling non-stop (which means less alone time for me)…BUT, some of the best times have been in the past ten years, so this is definitely something that deserves to be documented.

I pick back up where I left off, living with my Aunt Marie.  I stopped working at the French bistro, dumped my aspiring rock star boyfriend, and moved on to a different job- waitress at TGI Fridays.  I was attracted to the  fancy flare uniforms with the cute suspenders.  Maybe a little Jen Aniston from Office Space inspiration.  From there, I made new friends who introduced me to the techno club scene in Midtown.  Being twenty, and knowing someone who could let me party VIP style at the most popular clubs in Atlanta made me feel pretty freekin good. Pretty soon, I was going out almost every night spending the small amount of waitress tips  that I should’ve been saving for an apartment, on clubs, pool halls, bars and partying.

One night in particular, while out with co-workers shooting pool, per usual…I was drinking like a fish on a random week night.  During one of my frequent bathroom visits, I found myself washing my hands in the sink, and I just looked up at the mirror and stared at myself...Uggggh…What am I doing?  Am I getting buzzed AGAIN on a random week night?  Is this really all I’ve become?  I didn’t want this to be my life.  I deserved better.  With this epiphany, something began to tug at my heart.  I was on the brink of change.

I didn’t want to be a waitress forever.  I wanted to go to college.  I just didn’t know how, where and exactly what to major in. This became even more apparent when I was working as a waitress every day, getting crappy tips, and sweeping the dropped french fries and crumbs off the floor.  So, the search began for a school and a major.  I needed to go somewhere that was semi affordable since I wouldn’t have someone paying my entire way for me, and somewhere that didn’t need SAT scores, since I didn’t bother taking the test my senior year.  I knew I wanted to do something artistic since Art class was the only thing I seemed to enjoy and excel at in school.  After doing some research, and tour some schools and attending a few orientations, and I decided to apply to Bauder College, and major in their Interior Design program, which would allow me to get an Associates of Arts in Interior Design.  My aunt Marie had such a beautifully designed home, and she that inspired me to get into design.  I wanted to create incredible interiors and use my love of arts and nature to inspire unique design ideas.  After submitting a portfolio, I was accepted into the program.  I also got a small scholarship to help with the expense of the school.

I quit my waitress job and took a job as a front desk clerk at LaQuinta Inns and Suites, which allowed me to go to school in the morning and then bring my homework to work and work a 3-11 shift.  I also was able to save up enough moeny to move out from living with my Aunt Marie, and moved into my own apartment.  This was a nice transition, and allowed me to feel more independent and become a responsible adult. School was also expensive.  Rennie and Dad, My Aunt, and my grandparents helped pay money each month to allow me to go to school.  In addition to that, I took out a student loan for the remainder.  Since it was a private art school it was EXPENSIVE!  School allowed me to straighten up my act a little bit and focus on what I wanted to do with my life.  The last thing I wanted to do was screw up this incredible opportunity that so many people were helping me achieve. The picture to the left is what my “office” looked like in my apartment with my finish boards I created in school.

I was twenty one, and ready to get serious about what I wanted to do with my life.  I started going to church with my grandparents, determined to get my life back together.  I quit smoking, drinking, and partying.  I was done with that.  I decided to lean on God, and let him take the reigns over my life.  I obviously wasn’t doing a good job without him.  I wasn’t prepared to have anymore close calls in without having God front and center in my life.

I was 22, when I met Dan.  He was such a breath of fresh air.  I was giddy and in love.  You can read all about how we met here.  It was such an exciting time in our life.  I graduated from design school and landed my first job as an Interior Designer. It was for a small design firm that specialized in hotel design. I was excited that I finally had a “real” job and that I found the man I was going to marry.

Dan and I married on March 19th, 2005. We moved into a modest townhouse, adopted a pup and began our life together. We said that we wanted to travel before we settled down and had kids, so we did just that. We traveled all through Europe, taking three trips and two guided tours. We also took two trips to Hawaii, visiting Maui and the Big Island.  We had a great time exploring together, and learning more and more about each other, other cultures, and this beautiful world we live in.

In October 2008, we found out that we were pregnant, but sadly it didn’t work out. Fortunately, only a few months later, we found out that we were pregnant again and this time, it stuck. Nine months later, our first bundle of love, Parker was born.  What an exciting time in our life.  Dan was traveling full time, and I was working as a designer at a local client Verizon, but I quit my job to stay home.  The hardest, but most rewarding job in the world has been my job as a parent.  It’s so much more challenging and exciting than working my old 9-5 in the corporate world.  I was so excited to be a Mom, that I wanted to be one again soon… so nine months after Parker was born, I found out we were expecting again.  In March of this year, Mason was born.

What a long and exciting journey it has been.  I’m so glad that God didn’t give up on me, and held my hand through this and I’m thankful for family and friends who have seen me through the hard times.  I’m also thankful for my husband who has believed in me and encouraged me along the way. I know many chapters are still to be written, and I’m excited to see what else is in store for me, as I travel through life’s journey…learning and growing and hopefully opening myself up to what God has in store for my life.  So far being thirty hasn’t been so bad, and I intend on embracing it to the fullest.

Three Decades: From Ten to Twenty (Part 2)

If you’re new visiting my blog, I’m doing a series of posts for my upcoming thirtieth birthday.  You can catch up by reading here and here.

So, I pick back up where I left off… Living in Hampstead with my new baby brother.  He was about five months old when my step-sister Lisa, who was fifteen at the time, moved out.  She also didn’t jive too well with having to do so much around the house and help care for a baby.  It was sad to see her go, but she really wasn’t getting along very well with my Dad, and she just wanted to be happy.  So, she moved in with her Dad who lived in a suburb of Atlanta.

Once my brother Christopher became a toddler, my home life took a different turn.  I felt as if all of my evenings and weekends were filled with cleaning, babysitting, homework and a laundry list of “to-do’s”.  I didn’t have time for extra curricular activities.  I never played a sport, got involved in music (either played an instrument or otherwise), did girls scouts, or dance.  Rennie and Dad were so busy and they just simply wouldn’t have the time to pick me up from school and cart me around town to anything extra.  My Dad was back in school, perusing his master’s degree in nursing at UNC Chapel Hill.  This required him to be gone quite a bit, and Rennie was working as a nurse still doing 12hr shifts on the weekends as well as trying to pick up extra shifts during the week.

The house we lived in was a really beautiful home, but I to me, it was much more of a hassle since we had so many chores to do.  I think I would’ve been fine with something smaller, and less chores.  I was frequently exhausted after dinner and cleaning the kitchen, which was accompanied with our daily school homework.  Rennie and Dad were pretty frugal during these years.  Christopher wore cloth diapers (accompanied with makeshift wipes out of paper towels), Rennie and Dad both had older model used cars, Rennie shopped in bulk and used coupons to save money and she shopped the local sewing stores for patterns for clothes that she could make for the family.  We weren’t poor by any stretch, but maybe a little “house poor”.

Gradually, things began to change with me.  I wanted some independence.  I craved love, acceptance, and ultimately I wanted to find myself.  The relationship was pretty shaky with Dad and Rennie at this time.  I just felt like there were too many rules and that they were way too strict.  They believed that spanking and corporal punishment as a justified, biblical way to discipline us (even into our teen years).  I feel like this only put up a wall between us.  I was unable to connect to them, and I felt alone.

Right around that same time, in November of 1997, my Mom gave birth to my younger sister, Amanda.  What a sweet, happy and beautiful baby girl she was.  It was SO nice to have a little baby sister.  I just loved on her so much. I smothered her all the time with tons of love and kisses.  I had fun helping my Mom pick out outfits, playing dress-up and even rocking her and feeding her.  I loved it!  It was always nice to see my Mom during summer and winter breaks.  She always gave me love and attention.  Even to the point where I thought she was annoying!  I’m grateful for that though, it really showed she cared.

Well, my Dad eventually graduated college with his Master’s degree and began to peruse his career as a Nurse Practitioner.  I was glad to have him home more often and not having to work so hard pulling double duty at school and work.  It wasn’t too long after, that I started a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.  I felt like I needed an outlet from my home life, and I wanted to start making my own money to save for a car.  The restaurant was close enough for me to walk to, and my brother had a truck at the time, and he could also take me to work when he could.  I worked weekend nights at first, and then I started picking up a few shifts at night during the week.  The work was tough…and gross (we had to scale and de-gut fish every Tuesday…Yuck!).  But, at least I was getting paid for it.  I still felt disconnected from Rennie and Dad, so I sought out attention elsewhere.  I met my first real boyfriend at work, and we started seeing each other.

The restaurant atmosphere lend me to pick up some bad habits.  I started smoking from an early age (tried it at a church camp for the first time at 15) but then it slowly became a bad daily habit.  My boyfriend at the time was sweet, and a charmer, but he had a really dark past.  His older sister worked at the restaurant too, and she had a nice family and seemed to have her stuff together, so I tried to look beyond his past. We were inseparable.

In the meantime, things at home were challenging.  Demands for childcare and chores along with my busy school schedule, work and new boyfriend had taken its toll.  It was spring of 1999 and I had just gotten back from spring break with my Mom.  My Dad had gone through my room and found some empty cigarette boxes, lighters and THE EVER DREADED birth control pills.  Ugh.  Every part of me ached.  I felt so exposed and so ashamed that all my secrets were there…laying on the floor in my room. After a big fight with my Dad,  I called a friend of mine, and gathered a few things (I still had my packed bags from the trip to Atlanta) and just left.

Although, I did enjoy my new found freedom…I continued to work, save money and go to school.  A few of my friends would help with driving, and I would help with household chores and gas money. I continued to date my then boyfriend and we went to my junior prom together. For the first time in a while, I felt love and acceptance.  BUT… it didn’t last.  My boyfriend’s felony past caught up with him, and he was back to doing shady things, and ended up being incarcerated.

After a few months had passed of me living with friends, hopping from house to house (courtesy of Jess, Malissa, Jaymi, and Amy).  My Dad and I had contact and I agreed to come home.  We talked through some things, and agreed to make some changes on both of our parts.  My brother had already moved out at the time, so it was just my little brother Christopher and I left.  They agreed to help c0-sign a loan on my first car.  It was an ugly car, but it was MY car.  I had been saving my money from the restaurant job for a while, and I was so happy to be able to afford to put some money down on a car.

Things were going good for a little bit.  I had a little bit more freedom, but I wasn’t exactly the most responsible seventeen year old.  I ended up getting a different job at Perkins family restaurant, and that is where I met another love interest.  He paid me a lot of attention, had a sweet and likable personality (life of the party) and no criminal past, and super fun to be around.  He did, however, have a bit of a drug problem.

One night in Spring of 2000, my senior year of High School, I came home from working one night, and my Dad and I got in a big fight about prom.  I really wanted to go with my then “Perkins” boyfriend, but my Dad didn’t think I should go, and thought I was too irresponsible to be trusted (which was pretty correct at the time).  I of course thought this was extremely unjust, and decided to pack my bags, and move out for good.

I moved back in with my friend Malissa graduated highschool, and continued to work.  I didn’t really care about my future at that point, I just wanted some freedom.  My “Perkins” boyfriend was one who loved to party, and it wasn’t too long after living with Malissa in Hampstead, that I decided that I should move in with my then boyfriend.  Of course, the partying started to influence me quite a bit, and I was in such a vulnerable place in my life… looking for love and acceptance where ever I could get it, and in all of the wrong places.  I began to experiment with drugs to fill that void.

It was just one bad decision after another.  I have no one to blame but me for how my life was going.  I was stubborn, selfish, and immature.  Eventually, my bad decisions caught up with me, and I was caught at a party with misdemeanor amount of marijuana and paraphernalia.  After a citation, fleeing, an APB… I faced a judge, was placed in a “holding cell”, and did the usual mug shots and finger prints. Only by the grace of God, I got out within a few hours because someone I didn’t even know, offered to pay my court fees so I could walk.  Un…Freakin’…Real.

My “Perkins” boyfriend and I of course didn’t last and I was left holding the bag, with nowhere to go.  Fortunately, the manager of Perkins took me in, but she and her husband were pregnant expecting in only a few short months.  I was sleeping on the floor of her nursery in a blow up mattress…and time was just a tickin’.  I was broke, had expired tags, court costs from driving without insurance, the whole nine.  I was up shit’s creek without a paddle.  I had no plan, but I knew that I needed a place to live.

One day, as I was driving through downtown Wilmington, listening to Dave Matthews Band, a peaceful calm came over me among everything chaotic and worrisome. God gave me peace about leaving Wilmington and he assured me that he had something bigger and better for me.  I needed to just trust in him.  Since the holidays were near, I decided to go back to Atlanta, per usual during the holidays.  When talking to my Aunt Marie about all that was going on, she decided to take me under her wing.  She was a GOD SEND.

What a beautiful new beginning that was, coming into her home.  She and her family had all the luxuries life had to offer, and here I was with a baja hoodie and broomstick skirt, hemp necklace, looking like a hippie wreck coming into this classy sophisticated suburban mega home. Can you say “Fresh Princess of Bel-Air” Hippie Edition?  That took quite an adjustment!  I was used to having NO money and not knowing how I was going to eat unless I worked a double restaurant shift.  I got a job as a waitress at a local restaurant, and staked out a little home for myself downstairs in her basement.

However, it wasn’t long before I found myself making some of the same bad decisions I did in Wilmington.  I got back into drugs and partying again.  I met a few people at the restaurant I was working at, and started dating the lead singer of a local band.  I was really intrigued to be apart of this group of people. I began to experiment with other harsher drugs.  In the quest to find myself…I lost myself.

Three Decades: From Ten to Twenty (Part 1)

From ten to twenty seems like such a long stretch of years.  Of course there’s no way to entirely capture these ten years in just one blog post, just like there isn’t a way to capture my entire life in a few posts.   This will however, give you a glimpse of what it was like being me at this age. I’ve already realized how much I missed with my first post. Like, how much my Aunt Marie (my Dad’s sister) was such an influential part of my life my first ten years.  Hopefully, I can make up for it by splitting this post into two parts.

Back to Wilmington, where we were then renting an average two story home near Masonboro Sound.  It had been about a year since my grandmother passed when my Dad and step-mom Rennie started looking at building a custom built home in Hampstead, about 30mins north of our current home in Wilmington.  Hampstead was a small beachy town known for their seafood in the middle of God’s country.  Ironically, when my Nannie came up to see us in NC before her passing, we stopped in Hampstead at a local restaurant on the way to Jacksonville, and that was the first time I had been to that small town.  Little did I know that we would be moving there a year later.

They found a plot of land around two acres, and they started the clearing process.  Every Thursday night we’d go up to the piece of land, do some clearing and then put together a large bonfire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Eventually, the home was complete.  It was a beautiful white two story double balcony Charleston-style John Wieland inspired home.

During the summertime, we enjoyed spending time with my Mom.  She and my step-dad Mark would drive up to NC to come pick us up, and bring us back to Atlanta in the same day.  While in Atlanta, we’d accompany my Mom in the nursing home where she lived and was a caretaker for the elderly. On her off days, we’d love to go roller skating.  It was our absolute favorite thing EVER!  My brother and I ruled the roller rink at “Skate Along USA” off Beaver Ruin Rd in Lilburn.  Those were the days.  Absolutely no worries or responsibilities.  Where my biggest concern was whether or not I would win the “free coke” token during the skating race for my age group.  AND as corny as it sounds, I had this shirt that I wore every time we went skating.  It was my absolute favorite shirt.  It was tie-dyed with three little hearts on it.  Here I am with my Mom and that shirt.  Ah… the memories!

We also visited over the holidays, and in addition to visiting my Mom, we would also visit my Dad’s side of the family.  It was always nice catching up with the Ashby’s and seeing the family who made me feel at home.  Christmas was such a special time with them.  My Dad is one of seven kids, and apart of a big Catholic family. My aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents made for some fun and interesting holidays for sure.  They were very strong in their faith, and every Christmas they would read the story of Jesus and on Thanksgiving, we would give thanks with prayer for all that we were thankful for.   I felt like the family as a whole was such a positive influence on me because it seemed like everyone was happy and successful…they had their ducks in a row so to speak.   It often left me with the feeling that I needed to live up to the Ashby name and do something awesome with my life.  Particularly after talking to my grandfather Ashby.  He was always one to speak words of wisdom into my heart.  Since I admired him and my grandmother so much, I really wanted to take and hold on to all of their encouraging words through the years.

Somehow though, it was lost along the way.  My home life as an pre-teen was less than encouraging.  We ended up moving to Hampstead.  This time it was more difficult to meet people and make friends.  I was eleven when I started fifth grade at Topsail.  I really didn’t meet anyone who I really meshed with.  Since the school was so small, and there was only about four or five girls in my class.  So, that didn’t help matters much.  I was in a bit of an awkward stage and had put on some weight.  This along with the fact that I was tall and bigger than most of the kids in my class didn’t do much for my self esteem. Finally, things started to get better school when I met Jessy in sixth grade.  It wasn’t until I met her that I had found someone as awkward and different as I was.  She was my pal.  My soon to be bestie.

Rennie and Dad found a church in Wilmington that they really liked, and we started attending a “spirit filled” charismatic -style non-denominational church called The Rock.  I made a few friends there, and I enjoyed the outlet socially.  It also helped me further my relationship with God.

At this point, we had started to become accustomed to our new family of five, with my Dad, step-mom Rennie, brother Spence, step-sister Lisa and also our snow shoe Siamese cat Sable (she was the sweetest of cats).  I think the move to Hampstead was quite a change for everyone.  The home was so much bigger than what we were used to in Wilmington.  All of us kids had chores every weekend, and we had to do either dishes or help cook every night.  We weren’t a family that ate out in restaurants at all.  Once in a blue moon we would on the weekends, but mostly it was home cooked meals around the family dinner table.  My Dad worked as a nurse in hospice doing home health care, and Rennie was working 12hr shifts on the weekends.

In the summer of 1993, we found out that my step-mom Rennie was pregnant.  With me being the youngest, I was looking forward to having someone younger around.  On February 6th, 1994 Christopher  Michael Ashby was born.  My little brother.  He was such a cute baby. Even now with my boys, I still remember so much of what went on when my brother was born.  I remember how much he loved Barny.  How he wore cloth diapers, and how we loved to sing to him during road trips.  He was a fun little guy.  He was also really smart.  I remember him knowing the ABC song in its entirety before age two.  He became quite the smarty pants.

We loved Christopher a lot, but being a pre-teen, and having to babysit every other weekend and having to get him ready for church, bathe him, change diapers, wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.  I just wanted to be able to hang out with my friends and be a kid.  I didn’t want to be responsible for one.  I think it was with this realization, that I started to rebel.

Three Decades: The First Ten

It was the early morning of Monday, August 10th, 1981  at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, GA when my Mom gave birth and introduced me to the world.  I was a big baby, weighing in at 9 pounds.   My mom recalls it as being an exciting experience because she was happy to have a little baby girl, but nervous because I was just 18 months apart from my older brother, Spencer.  I was told that I was a pretty laid back baby. Mom recalls the experience of having two under two exciting, but challenging.  One instance in particular that stands out is one time when she was cleaning and went in our room to check on us, and my brother had covered my entire face with baby powder.  She said “You  didn’t cry, you just looked up at me with your big brown eyes waiting to be rescued.”  My mom recalled my favorite doll, which was a little cabbage patch kid doll.  She said I took it everywhere I went.

My Mother was a stay at home Mom at the time, and my Dad was a Phlebotomist at Emory Hospital.  We were low income, or as my Mom would say “really poor”.   We lived in Stone Mountain in a two bedroom apartments (my brother and I shared a room) that didn’t have air conditioning, and very poor heating in the winter.  One winter my Mom recalls it being so cold that there were icicles inside the windows.  She describes it as a very difficult time for all of us.  They were young and new parents, being only 23 and 24 years old.

My Mom didn’t feel like she was supposed to ask for help, and that she just needed to wait for things to get better.  My Dad in the meantime was going to school at night, studying to become an RN so that he could provide a better life for us.  This along with the financial stress caused a big strain in their relationship.  There was fighting and abuse, and what ultimately ended in divorce when I was five and my brother was six.

The divorce and separation led to a bitter custody battle.  At one point during the whole ordeal, Spencer and I were even removed from the home for a few days and placed in temporary custody with a family that we had never met.  I’m not sure if it was a foster family, or someone appointed from DFACS, but I remember feeling scared and confused.  No one really explained much to us during all of this. It was nice to have my brother there with me, going through the same thing.  We supported each other a lot through this, even at the young age that we were.

My Dad was ultimately awarded primary physical custody of us.  Even though my Mom had blamed him of physical abuse as well as drug abuse, it was not something that was able to be proven. My mom had been admitted a few times to a mental health clinic and was diagnosed with a mental illness. This was a deal breaker in the eyes of the judge.  Also, my Dad had a stable job working the graveyard shift at a nearby hospital (which provided a decent means to support us), and my Mom didn’t have a job.  The court awarded my Mom with visitation, and we spent time with her every other weekend.

I had some of my favorite childhood memories being with my “single Dad” and brother. My Dad loved playing basketball, and he would take us all the time to school playground, and we would watch him play basketball with all the “brotha’s” in Atlanta.  I thought my brother hung the moon, and I wanted to be just like him.  Because of my Dad and brother having such a presence at the time, I became quite the tomboy.  I loved to try to play basketball too, and one time in particular I remember wanting to take off my shirt because my Dad, brother, and all the guys on the basketball courts had their shirts off one hot summer day.  I just didn’t understand what the big deal was.

We continued to have a good relationship with my Mom.  Weekend visitation was spent mostly at Nannie’s house. She loved to spoil us with tons of hugs and kisses and cook big meals for us.  Some weekends we’d sit in the living room with our TV trays eating homemade sloppy joes and watch Hee Haw.  It was a good ‘ol country home.  I loved that place.

One day at one of the school playgrounds, while Dad was enjoying his typical weekend basketball game, I met a few girls my age (around six), and their names were Shannon, Amanda, and Melissa.  I also met Pam, their Mom, and I learned that they didn’t have a Daddy.  I later inadvertently introduced her to my Dad, and they began to date.  Their courtship unfortunately didn’t last, but one good thing did come out of it.  My half brother, Joseph Daniel was born who I met once as a baby, and not again until he was in his early teens.  I loved hanging out with Shannon and Amanda.  They were my age and I loved playing house with them and making mud pies in the back yard.  Good times.

Another great thing that came out of that relationship was how more involved in church we got.  Pam was an evangelical Christian who home schooled her girls.  My mom and Nannie had taken me to their baptist church, during this time as well.  At some point during this time, I gave my heart to God and decided to live my life for him.  I remember that I didn’t understand all there was to know about being a Christian, but I wanted to do good, and be an example of Christ’s love.  I was baptized at the age of six in the YMCA swimming pool.

A few years later, My Dad tells us that he met someone special at work that he would like for us to meet.  I remember this like it was yesterday.  My Dad told us to put on our best outfit and that we were going over to her house.  We were planning to cook at her house and have dinner with her and her daughter.  I was so excited to possibly have a new sister and to meet a new wife for my Dad. I put on my favorite little black outfit with a ruffle skirt, and did my hair up in pigtails.  Rennie and Lisa were their names, and they were great.  Rennie was a classy southern Mom and Lisa was a fun young girl who would soon become my new friend and playmate.  Rennie was a real girly-girl, and defiantly took the tomboy right out of me, and got me interested in being more glamed up. My Nannie (my mother’s mom) also loved dressing me up and taking pictures of me.  I guess it rubbed off a bit since I’m definitely more of a girly-girl today.

In Spring of 1989, my Dad married my soon to be Step-Mom, Rennie.  It was nice having a big family of five.  With both of them being a Registered Nurse and having the income of such, we were able to afford so much more than we did when my Dad was single and barely scraping by.  It was nice to have a new home in Stone Mountain and the holidays were more than I could ever ask for.  We were still visiting with my Mom every other weekend.  My Mom went on to get married a few years later to her now husband Mark.

Even though both of my parents were married to their new spouse, there was still tension between my parents.  Rennie was also a divorcee and they both really wanted to start fresh in a new city.  They did some traveling to decide where we would possibly move.  After considering Galveston TX and Wilmington, NC, they decided that Wilmington would be a better fit to lay stakes and relocate.

My Mom and my Nannie weren’t too thrilled about us moving.  They called and wrote us often, but it wasn’t the same.  The visitation changed to every summer break and spring break and every other Christmas.  Even though I missed my Mom and my Atlanta family, I was kind-of excited to be living so close to the beach, and the cute little artsy town that Wilmington was.  As any move can be on a kid, it was a bit of an adjustment making new friends and getting settled in school, but eventually I got the hang of it.  Even though I was a pretty shy kid,  I joined a cheerleading squad for a local flag football team, and I met a few friends.  I loved the beach, and quickly became a little beach girl in love of the sunshine and waves.

My Nannie and Pawpaw came to see us a few months after we moved to NC. She told us that she was sick, but we didn’t really know what was going on.  My uncle had leukemia at the time, and she always asked us to keep him in our prayers.  When we came to visit over spring break the following year, we found out that my Nannie had passed away the day after her 55th birthday of breast cancer a few weeks prior.  I was devastated.  My uncle on the other hand, found a donor and was cured of his leukemia.  I took my Nannie’s death very hard.  It made me question things, and feel things that I had never felt.  This was my first of many challenges that helped me learn and grow, but was so difficult at the time.

Three Decades- Preface

On August tenth, I will have graced this beautiful earth for thirty years.  THREE- OH Peeeple!! Whew… That seems like SUCH a long time!  It has been a long journey, and one that many of you probably don’t know much about.  That’s why I’ve decided that I would write a little bit about where I came from.

Those of you who read my blog maybe know me from a playgroup, or church, or perhaps we went to school together over the years, or maybe worked together.  You are probably more acquainted with my two boys, my parenting style and family life than you are with my past.  It’s been an eventful thirty years, and it has shaped who I am today.

Starting soon and up until my birthday, I will do a series of posts that will talk about just that…what made me, ME. Stay tuned!

Give me a Five

It all began in winter of 2004. As a college student, I lived alone in my loft apartment nicely decked out with bohemian tapestries and other vintage lovelies with my BFF rescue kitty Chleo.  It was then that I decided it was time to join the new millennium by getting this new phenomenon called the internet on my old yellow tinged piece of junk some would call a computer.  Although it was widely used throughout the world in 2004, my little hotel front desk income could barely pay the rent, so I was a little late getting the internet. When I did, I decided I would explore a little bit. I became curious of things like Yahoo chatrooms. One in particular caught my eye. “Advice Central”  is where people can go to give or receive advice on any topic they wish or just view the open chatroom board. I chose to view the board to to see if there was something that caught my eye. That’s when I saw “Nocturnal_Poet” post A/S/L. Which means Age/Sex/Location (for those of you who are not familiar with chatroom lingo) which turned out to be 29/Male/Roswell, GA. Hmm…Roswell GA? I know where that is! I live less than twenty minutes from Roswell. So I instant messaged him and that’s when it all started.

We stayed on neutral topics and discussed things like favorite movies, favorite bands, what we did for a living, what I was studying in college, etc. I thought he was very interesting and enjoyed the online attention I was getting.  I found myself excited to login to see if he was online so we could chat and catch up on our day.  Even though I thought there may be a connection there, I was leery of giving my phone number out over the internet and I mentioned this to Dan when we were chatting. So, instead he gave me his number. I was unsure of whether or not I was going to call him. I actually sat on his number for a few days. I’m not sure if it was because I was afraid of what I might hear on the other line, or if I was afraid that we wouldn’t connect over the phone like we did over the internet.  That was until one beautiful unseasonably warm winter afternoon. I went for a walk in beautiful Soap Creek which has amazing trails through what I’d like to call an enchanted forest. It has old paper mill ruins with knee high fields of grass with beautiful overgrown wildflowers and a creek with rounded pebbles and gentle rapids. A tranquil setting that I have made my little sanctuary away from home to talk to God, clear my thoughts and get some exercise. It was there that it was made clear to me that I was suppose to call Dan. It became SO clear in fact that I started to get excited. I jogged back to my car with a spring in my step. We later talked on the phone and he asked me to join him for dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse.  Of course, I accepted and looked forward to that night.   As soon as I walked through the door I saw him right in front of the hostess stand with his arms open. I gave him a hug. It was with that warm embrace that I felt something different. I knew, without a doubt, that I was suppose to be there. I was suppose to be with him. The dinner went really well. So well in fact that we decided to continue the evening by going to see a movie. We saw Big Fish, which now is one of our very favorite movies.

About a week later I wrote in my journal. This is what I wrote:

2004-Our first picture together

2/03/04

“It’s been a little while since I’ve written and I can’t believe I have waited so long. I met the man that I’m going to marry about a week ago. I know those are very serious words, but that is honestly how I feel. There is absolutely not one aspect about him that I dislike. Dan has every quality that I want in a man. He is a Christian, he’s smart, successful, polite, handsome, funny, and so much more. He went to church with me this past Sunday and met my Grandma and Grandpa and spoke to them when we all went out to lunch. I could tell that they approved of him. I am so very thankful that I met him and I cherish every moment I spend with him. I am so in love…my days are filled with many smiles.”

I later went on to graduate college in Spring of 2004 and landed a job with a local interior design firm that specialized in hotel design.  Dan was working locally for a company that specialized in digital certificates.  We began to attend Peachtree Christian Church as a couple and it just happened.  We fell for each other hard and fast. We were engaged by late spring and married by March 19th the following year.  We got married at Peachtree Christian in its beautiful main sanctuary with amazing stained glass windows and we had our rehearsal dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse where we had our very first date.  Our wedding was beautiful yet small and modest.  The most important thing to us was that we made a commitment to each other and God in front of our friends and family in the house of the Lord.

Its been five years. Yes, FIVE I say. I can’t believe it. Never did I think that I would find someone who was so right for me. Someone who is such an intelligent, handsome, and good hearted person who has an incredible sense of humor and a wonderful father.  Now, five years later on our anniversary, we get to celebrate our love.  Nothing could possibly make me happier.