Let's recap, shall we!
If you know me, and you know me well, you know that my teenage years were horrible. I mean, I was given so many wonderful opportunities from my parents, and I know I had so much love and support from my family - but growing up in a world where girls are just down right MEAN...well, it is hard. And like you hear so many times all over the news now about bullying...I was a victim of being bullied and I almost let a group of girls in high school take me down and end my life. I haven't talked about these "black years" (as I refer to them because I have 100% blacked these memories out of my memory as I never want to relive those horrible years), but I am currently working towards my Gifted & Talented Certificate and my professor has been assigning so many assignments for us to read passages and reflect...and I kid you not, memories are coming back to me that I haven't thought about in YEARS. It's painful, it makes me sad and it makes me cry to think that I almost let these horrible times get the best of me...and then I have an over-whelming sense of joy when I think of everything I have today...and the people in my life!
I turned 20 on a snowy day - actually it was a blizzard that year...April 27, 2003! My friend Alexis and I went to Chino Latino's for my birthday dinner! I still remember her getting hit on as we entered the restaurant :) This was the year that I had just come back from a terrible knee injury in college. I had patella reconstruction on March 1, 2002 (yes I still remember this)...and I came back so strong. I was in the top 30 in the nation for 3 point shooting and my team made it to the National Tournament. We were ranked # 1 going in and WOULD have won...if we wouldn't have gotten food poisoning :( But my coach was right...we may have walked away 4th place winners, but the memories of that experience will NEVER be forgotten!
I transferred to Winona State University to begin my education in Elementary Education! It was there that I met Shannon Neimeier (now Shannon Branstad)! We had rooms next to each other in Lourdes Hall :) We used to talk on AOL Instant Messanger and laugh at each other through the walls! We had hilarious nicknames for each other and played practical jokes on each other! Like when I taped "Women's Rugby" signs all over her door and they contacted her nonstop to join :) Haha! Or when I accidentally set off the fire alarm during finals week because I burnt my puppy chow :)
Shannon was there with me to celebrate my 21st Birthday downtown...and like any birthday of mine (since this one), she out drinks me! We had several enjoyable moments together downtown, running to ZaZa's for midnight wings (yes running in the winter, summer or rain) from downtown Winona to get some buffalo wings...
I ran into Alyssa Sahli at Target in Winona (we went to HS together, but she was a grade behind me, and the same church, and our parents were friends...we just never hung out!) Anyway...we became roommates and best friends! Alyssa has become a sister to me over these years and is always there for me no matter what - even just to listen to me vent! She has always supported me in every adventure I've taken...and I am so glad she entered my life when she did...I LOVE YOU SAH!
I developed so many wonderful friendships in college - the TLC (Terra, Leah & Cori), our laughs, our snacking, our games of "Apples to Apples"! And then...like life tends to do - we all graduated from college and began going our separate ways...but it is so fun when we get back together!
In my early 20's I got involved in the Miss Minnesota organization! I held two local titles: Miss Great Plains and Miss Coon Rapids. I was 4th runner up in 2007 and sang! I hid my voice in HS because of the experiences I listed above...but the confidence I gained from competing, learning how to interview, learning how to carry myself, present myself and work with others no matter if they agreed or disagreed has truly helped shape me into the woman I am today.
I got my first job working at Peace of Mind Academy in Woodbury! It was great and I made some great friendships, but I knew this was not "it" for me. So I took a job in Austin, MN teaching kindergarten! Austin - seriously! The boy in my interview was cute, but AUSTIN!
So I packed up my car (and my mom's car and the moving truck) and left my broken heart (yes I did make mistakes in my 20's...I needed to date all the wrong guys in order to find the right guy!) behind and started new! That cute boy in my interview kept popping into my classroom while my parents and I were setting up my room! Later, that cute boy and I started dating, got serious, moved in together, picked out a ring, went on a vacation to the Dominican Republic, got engaged, got married and had three beautiful children together! Can you guess who that cute boy is!? Yup - he's the handsome, amazing, supportive, funny, patient, intelligent, creative, patient, calm and did I mention patient man that I am more in love with today than I was on that day in October when I fell in love with him (when I was extremely ill and he brought me to ER...)...Josh, I love you so much and am so very thankful that YOU hired me to work in Austin (or so you like to think that you hired me!)
When I was 26 years old (very quickly turned 27) I gave birth to my favorite daughter, Callie Lynae! This girl has brought so much happiness to my life! She is so outgoing, well mannered, caring, hilarious, creative, dramatic, imaginative, intelligent and absolutely beautiful little girl :) She is my side kick and we do so much together! She and I will forever have a strong bond of mother-daughter that nobody will understand but us, and I love that so much!
We lucked out more than anyone by landing the BEST daycare provider EVER! Jessica Crews has literally been given to us by God himself. What more could you possibly ask for than to have your own children cared for by such a loving and caring woman who is so passionate about caring for your children!
When I was 29 years old I gave birth to my handsome twin boys, Collin Donald and Carter Lowell. They are so handsome, smart and curious little boys! They fight and bug each other like brothers are supposed to. They are obsessed with their big sister who loves them so much! They want so badly to get around more quickly than they currently are! Collin is such a curious, high energy, eats all the time, giggles, smiles and cuddly little boy. Carter is more the sit back and observe type - he loves playing with cars and balls. He has the most contagious laugh and a smile that lights up the room!
I would give anything in this world to keep these three gifts from God safe, happy and healthy!
In this decade, I received:
Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education
Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education
Masters Degree in Educational Leadership
Specialists Degree in Administration K-12
and 1/2 my Gifted & Talented Certificate (I will receive this degree in December 2013...so JUST in my 30's...I guess I have to start my 30's out with a bang!)
I have developed amazing friendships in Austin! Through marriage I have inherited a "Life Coach" - but I think of her as one of my best friends! Jason & Lisa Denzer are the God Parents to Collin Donald, our 2nd born child! They are there for our family through the most craziest of times! For times to celebrate, stress, go crazy and times to just veg out and enjoy each other...and those times are my most favorite! We are the Godparents to their handsome and already athletic son Casey...whom I hope to have as my son in law one day! Their daughter Ava is family to us and treats my kids like her own siblings! Ava & Callie (according to Ava) are God Sisters!
Technically through Josh, but I met them when I moved to Austin - Blake and Brittany Pawlikowski...Josh's best friend from college! It's not very often that you meet "the right one", meet his best friend - but LOVE his partner! Not this case...I ADORE both Blake and Britt! I hate that they live so far away, because I know that we would have so many amazing times together, our kids could play all the time together and grow up together! I love when we get to see them and spend more time together! Blake & Britt are God Parents to Carter and we couldn't have chosen a better couple!
In this last decade, I played basketball, coached basketball, coached more basketball, supported my husband coaching basketball, encouraged my children to play basketball, and have already allowed the idea that my daughter may be a .... wait for it... a dancer! I have learned SO quickly that the things I love, and the things my husband loves don't matter at all as long as our children are happy and are doing something they love! Callie will be 13 years old when I enter another new decade and as slow as I want this time to go, the things God has in store for her are so incredibly amazing that those moments are the only moments I can't wait to see what he has planned...but I can wait, because I want her to stay little. Collin & Carter are going to be turning 11 when I enter that new decade! They will have entered their own new decade. Will Collin still be our extrovert child who is so unbelievably curious? Will Carter be our introvert who is such an observer? Will the boys play sports? Will they be musical? Will Callie be in sports or the Arts? Either way - I don't care what they do. I want them doing something they love and if cuddling up with mom is what they want to do...SO BE IT!
Just think Josh (Jason & Lisa Denzer- this includes you guys) in one more decade, the four of us will be traveling to a remote island and renewing our vows...because that will be our 15 years that we have been talking about :) FYI - start saving now!
I am so thankful for all the wonderful moments in my life. I am so thankful for the struggles I had overcome and the confidence I have gained. I can't imagine my life without the friendships we have, the family and most importantly the family we have created! I may post so many pictures, I may write about my kids and talk about my kids so much that it makes people sick to their stomachs - but guess what, they are my kids and I am so proud of them and I love them so much that I really don't care what you think :-) I have memories from blogging that are amazing and detailed descriptions ..I still haven't made this into a book, but I think I should quickly get on this :)
So like the title of this post says...A decade to remember, I can't help but look back at these last amazing 10 years, smile and say "If you were apart of this amazing ride...THANK YOU!" I can't wait for you to be apart of the next 10 (and of course more!) years...
The only problem with starting a new decade...I look back at my 20's and think "Wow, I accomplished A LOT!" I look forward to my 30's and think..."What on earth are you going to do now?!" I guess I am going to raise some KICK ASS KIDS and have one HELL of a marriage :-)
Congrats Mom & Dad...your youngest daughter just turned 30!