Thursday, January 30, 2014

Remembering My 20s (what?!)

Tomorrow I turn 30 years old, but not until 3:38pm.

When you're young, you feel like 30 can never come and that your 20s will last forever. You've never been older before, you've always been the one that people look at and say, 'oh to be young again'. But it comes, somehow, the days pass and you find yourself turning 30. I do still feel young. I take care of 80+ year olds, some who still seem young, so I realize 30 is still young. 

I lot happened in my 20s. Yet, I distinctly remember the day I turned 20 and I feel like it was yesterday. I still feel like 20 year me in a lot of ways, just with more experiences and hopefully, more wisdom. 

I turned 20 years old in my dorm room at Lourdes in Winona. My best friends Kelsey and Casey put up 'Happy 20th Birthday' signs all over the room, got me flowers, and a cake. Cousin Megan joined us (she lived in Winona at the time as well) and we hung out in the dorm room and then went to our favorite Winona restaurant, Chula Vista. I knew it was great, but looking back I feel so blessed and lucky that these girls made my 20th so much fun. Miss you Casey!


I turned 21 as a Junior and 22 as a senior. Basically my young 20s were spent studying to be a nurse. Those were the toughest years, mentally, of my life. The constant strive to do well, the long hours and overnight studying, writing papers, memorizing. That is a huge chunk of what I did for 4 years. 

4am. I decided to set the timer and take a picture of my self :) 
At the end of my 20th year, I knew I would marry Chris and 6mo later, he asked! 
(I could write a lot more about this, but we'll keep it short and sweet)

At 22 I graduated college and became a registered nurse. First on the orthopedic floor and now almost 6 years in the surgical intensive care unit. I cannot even possibly describe all my experiences and learning that this job has provided. I am beyond thankful for this meaningful role, not to mention the flexibility and variety it offers. Working 1/2 time, straight evenings, lets me feel like a stay-at-home mom, which I love.

Also at 22 I slept the last night in my parents home (tear), got married the next day, and moved into the town home Chris and I bought! 

A home together!
October 21st!
At age 25 I became a mother and at 28, a mother of two! A sweet girl and a sweet boy. These were by far the most dramatic and life-altering events of my 20s and probably my entire life. Only a parent, and mostly a mother, can understand how this changes us. 

Audrey Joanne
Carson Adam

I've gained and lost important people.

Lost an amazing Great Aunt and Uncle, Gerald and Helen Erickson to a tragic accident. I lost my last great-grandparent, Neil Hemmer, a man in his late 90s, who never lost the twinkle in his eye and whom Audrey also got to meet! Saw my aunt and uncle, Jodi and Darin, lose their baby boy, my cousin Isaac, on the day he was born. That heartache of that event has become more real to me now that I'm a parent. I lost a dear, dear friend, Casey, just this past fall.

I gained a sister, because my brother Brice got married. Brice and Jenny were actually together like 9 days before Chris and I. Jenny fits right in; I just love her to pieces. I hope she knows how much we/I love her and are so glad Brice found her! She is sweet and funny and not only lets Brice be the Brice we all know and love, but she encourages his Brice-ness :) So glad to share life together with her and Brice. And......some incredible news is that they are expecting their first baby in June. Ecstatic doesn't even come close to explaining how excited I am about this! 

B & J, pic compliments of my Mom :) 
I've gained new friends, mostly other young moms like me. They are so precious and invaluable to me as we walk along together in this same phase of life. To share in the joys and frustrations. I have gained the most AMAZING cousin-in-laws. I am just constantly in awe of the people my cousins have married: Kate, Josh, Michael, Travis, Kate, you all mean so much to me and it's like you were never NOT here. The way you care about our family, me, my kids, has been so touching and remarkable. Love you all! I've gained some more in-laws through Chris' side, they are wonderful as well and they've both given Chris and I our first niece, Addison, and nephew, Zachary! On the topic of those loved and cherished, consider yourself just that if you're reading this! The scary thing about pointing people out is that you might forget to mention someone!

I've come to appreciate my parents on a new level. I've always appreciated them. But now, I cannot explain how much I appreciate them. I am so glad they get to see my kids grow up and I am so blessed by the way they care about my family and I. I just appreciate them more than words.

At 29 Chris and I rented out our town home and bought a house in NW Rochester, we moved in May 2013 and have been loving it ever since. 

It's quite the journey my 20s have been. It's been learning to be a nurse, a wife and a mother, and most importantly, another stretch of the journey of seeking God and striving to live as He would have me live.

I learned in my early 20s that God is so so so very faithful. He let me feel the ache of a broken-heart, but at the same time, the joy and peace of a soul who knows it's maker. I saw Him make a life new in my (now) husband, which is the single most amazing thing I've ever been a part of. From all of this I have learned to trust that God will continue to be faithful and keep His promises to me. I cannot doubt Him for a second, He proves himself over and over. This doesn't mean He makes things easy, but it means He continues to provide and be my firm foundation. I can only hope I can continue to trust even more readily. 

At 20, my day consisted of, well, studying and maybe sharing a few laughs with Kelsey and Casey over supper. At 29 years and 364 days, my day consists of waking up two little ones, getting them dressed, fed, taking one to preschool, playing toys with the other, taking a temp, giving Tylenol, praying for them, cleaning, feeding them again, discipline, love, fun, frustration, kissing owies, room time, nap time, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, more toys, diapers, laundry, dishes, making supper (or not!), and waiting for my sweet husband to come home and see that I actually shoveled the ginormous amount of snow off the drive-way today! I love it all. Oofdah! 

My little joys
There's so much that has been done over this past decade! It's crazy to think it's almost over. I'm perfectly fine starting my 30s tomorrow. There's a lot I'd like to be better at, to achieve and accomplish. I certainly hope that I can! My kids are going to grow up during this decade. In ten years from tomorrow, they'll be almost 15 and 12. Wow. I'm beyond grateful for the relationship/friendship/partnership I have in my husband. I have no desire to go through my 30s without him! I so appreciate him. I'm sure we have a lot to learn as we soon will enter into having a school-aged child! 


This is long, but 10 years is a lot to think about! 
I am now entering the decade I vividly remember my parents being in! Generations aren't so far apart after all!

29 year old me, signing out!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Remembering Casey

My friend Casey passed away on October 2nd of this past year. She was getting scans clear of leukemia, which she battled a few years back, but just this past fall, Multiple Sclerosis came, an all-too vicious and aggressive version of MS. 

When I think about Casey and how I miss her, I really just want to write a 50 page book covering every detail of our 10 year, 1 month friendship. That way I can always look back and remember every instance, but I've decided there's no way I could ever forget any of it! I want to share every memory of her with you, but I won't, for it would take all day and then some!

Over the last several years, I haven't seen Casey much, she moved to Kansas to teach after college, but we'd see each other when she came back on breaks: summer break and Christmas break. So, I've grown to be accustomed to being friends from a distance, keeping up through emails, facebook, occasional phone calls.....but now, I feel like I should be seeing her. It was just Christmas break and us four roomies would have gotten together at Olive Garden. We would have started giggling instantly about something random, but then we would have gone around the table and each taken a turn to update each other on our lives. So, I"m sad. I'm not sad and missing her every second of everyday, not like Casey's beautiful Mama and Dad, who feel her lost so deeply in each moment. I'm missing her often though; when I'm in the car alone and I hear a song that reminds me of her, the color purple, and now, when I should be seeing her, I really extra miss her.

It seems unreal and unfair and it even makes me mad that I can't see her. I want to hang out with her, talk to her, laugh with her. When I see her face in my mind, she looks like she always did, all smiles, tan skin, dark hair. I feel like she must be in Kansas, ready to come home to see us soon, any day now. Then I remember what has happened and I see her in her hospital bed taking the breaths that would fill up her last day here with us. She wasn't tan, she didn't have her hair, she didn't have her smile. I leaned down and kissed her head and I whispered to her, "I love you friend, now go see Jesus". She was surrounded by a great army of family members and friends; Casey loved her family and friends and they loved her.

I'm so grateful her Mom let us come say goodbye, how gracious. I'll remember that day, but mostly, I will not. I will remember all the fun we had, her crazy antics, and her giant smile.

I miss her, she was on my list, my small list of dear, dear friends; friends that will always be friends. I can't quite seem to make it a full reality in my mind that I'll never see her on earth again, it pains my heart to think that that is an actual fact. I want her back, I do. I'll miss her forever while I'm here in this place.

So, that was my moment of grief, but don't feel too sad for me, I don't need comforting words, I just want to think about her and share her, so I appreciate you reading this and letting me get out my memories and sharing in them with me!

Casey wasn't a girl of grief and sadness, she was a bright, bright ray of sunshine and light, so, she would want me to share fun pictures of us, which I'm sure I've shared before, but I'll do it again because I can't get enough of them. They are in no particular order, in fact, they're rather out of order....

The Roomies: we were all at each others' graduations. I graduated first, then Kels, then Heather and Casey together.
It always meant a GREAT deal to me that Casey was so kind and accepting of Chris as he became a part of my life. I could tell that she actually enjoyed him being around, she didn't have to put on an act and tolerate 'Brianna's boyfriend' hanging out with us, she just joined in on the fun and it was a pleasure for me to be able to have fun all together. (To Chris' credit, I happen to think he's super easy and fun to be around, even when you've just met him :) She even told me, "Brie, I really like Chris" They became C-Dawg #1 and C-Dawg #2 (Chris offered for Casey to be #1, but she had to be #2 cuz she hates odd numbers, haha) They shared a very similar goofiness :) 
Where we became friends, at our dorm: Lourdes. Fall of 2003, we all started at WSU! Kels and I shared a room and Casey was in the room next to ours! Kelsey, being the boldest of the group, insisted upon meeting the girl next door and went right into Casey's room and introduced herself. It was all history from there! Casey was 17 (almost 18)  here, Kels 18, and me 19. Oh the stories I could tell from this place. The highlights involve: pounding back and forth on the walls, 4 am fire alarms, more pouding on the doors, celebrating birthdays, etc :)
You know you've found a real friend when you can do the gopher together after having just nearly met.
I specifically told Casey if I ever needed to blackmail her, I would use this picture. I don't need to blackmail her (duh), but I might as well share this now! What a nut! By the way, in case you don't know us, we spent all of our years at college sober, although one might think otherwise from this picutre, haha!

Another excellent picture I'm sure Casey would be glad for you to see :) 

Casey and I were ninjas, I have about 15 similar pictures as this. We argued and fought, literally, over who was the best ninja. (All in fun)  Casey would write me messages or emails and end them with something like this: "Well, that's all for now, miss you..."**Casey roundhouse kicks Brie to the jaw, Brie falls to ground and Casey is declared best ninja** haha I miss that. 
The end of the 2004-2005 school year. This was the year we all lived together at East Lake. The next year, we didn't have Kelsey :( We went to Olive Garden in La Crosse, played games, and had a living room sleepover to celebrate finals being over!
Backtracking from the previous picture...this was our FIRST night together for the 2004-2005 school year! We were busy unpacking and catching up, but I made us stop to pose for a timed picture (I'm glad I did that a lot!) This is my favorite one of all of us. Note in the picture above this one how LESS tan we are!

Roomies+Chris+Cousin Megan. Just like she treated Chris so well, she also was so sweet to my cousin Megan, who also lived in Winona at the same time as us. It meant so much to me that we could all be together and have fun. Megan and Casey are a lot alike in my mind, two people that are easy to feel at ease with, and very funny too! The two of them even had a lunch date once without me (after I graduated). How cool is that?!

Oh Bish, I miss you! This was taken on a super fun summer night when all us roomies, plus Cara, got together. So fun!
This girl was goofy for sure, but something I always cherished in her was her amazing ability to listen. We spent a lot of time together my senior year because our other roomie was out of town a lot that year. We took lots of study breaks to go to Culvers and such :) What would I have done without her that year!? Every time we ended our conversations, I always said, "I feel like I talked too much!" And she'd always say, "B, you can never talk to much!" She was a genuine listener, the kind of person that makes you feel acknowledged, validated, encouraged, and important by the way she listened and responded. I truly felt like I could tell her anything.
Just one of many of its' kind :) 
Casey and Audrey
Casey and Carson
Pretending to bite. Why not?
We were all looking at Casey because we were having a little get-together for Casey, as she was about to embark on her teaching journey in Kansas!
Roomie hands made into a star. Can't remember who's idea this was, but I do remember it took us a while to get it right enough to resemble a star!
This was June 25th, 2013, the last time we were all together. I'm so grateful we got this last time! We went to Olive Garden (of course), came back to my new house so I could give Casey a tour, then went mini-golfing :) 
Casey packed a whole lot of greatness into her all-too-short life! Her Mama raised Casey as a single mother and she did a remarkable job! Casey was honest, fun, brave, goofy, smart, welcoming, and so hard-working. She did the best she could at everything she did! She also got to achieve her dream of being a teacher. I know from listening to her stories how much she loved the kids she taught and how badly she wanted them to succeed. I have no doubt she made a difference in their lives, each and every day! She is missed there too. 

And that marks the end of my Casey tribute! I miss you friend, I will never stop missing you. Your absence is felt by your family, friends, and kids you so lovingly taught! I like to imagine you doing your groovy dance moves with the angels, your smile (and curls!) restored once more! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

9 Weeks as a Home Owner (oh wait, we were already (town)home owners)

I could write a small, no large book on the journey we took towards purchasing a single-family home, but instead, I will spare you that seven years, and just start with, "Hey, we live in a house!"

9 weeks ago tomorrow, we moved into our split-level home, with the help of a fabulous crew of humans.

I can hardly believe that 9 weeks ago, I woke up in my townhome. I lived there for almost 7 years, how am I not there anymore? It also feels like we've been in the house for a while now too. Such is any change in life, we can hardly comprehend it's arrival, then it's gone and hardly a thought that passes through our minds.

I could write another book (these imaginary books I'm referring to would be really boring, by the way, and I'm not confident in my comma usage, so book-writing is something I don't see happening for me) on the topic of my townhome, which I love. But let's focus on the house.

Things I new I would love, but love all the more now that they are a reality:

1. The walk from the kitchen to the outside garbage is about 1/20th of the distance it was at the townhome, maybe even 1/30th. Sometimes, I take recyclables out there three, four times a day. It used to be that old stinky garbage bags, boxes, plastic containers would build up over days. Finally, while the kids napped (or I'd have to take them with me), I'd load up the wagon and wheel my garbage down a city block to the garbage corral. Add in the endless MN winter and you can imagine the physical struggle. I've never been more excited to pay for anything in my like than I am to pay for garbage removal. However.......I never thought a garbage corral would have any perks, but sometimes, when you have like 50 boxes from moving, it's nice to be able to throw them all in at once!

2. I can drive my car into my garage, open the trunk, and take my groceries up 8 steps to the kitchen. I don't have to wait for the kids to nap, get the trusty wagon out and make 3 trips up and down the side walk to get my groceries in to the 4X4 foyer of the townhome. Again, throw in MN winter and it just makes it all the more sweeter to have an attached garage.

3. Space. Just room to be and move and live. We don't even use the downstairs family room, days go by without even entering it. But for each child to have their own room and for us to have our bedroom floor back, and for a living space with room to breathe, ahhhh, it's just the best. Nothing is decorated. I'd rather create a new family budget than figure out what to do with a giant blank wall. The downstairs has no furniture. I had to call my dad to come help put up a small shelf. It doesn't matter though. The space is so fantastic! Someday it'll be more put together, but for now it's clean, organized, and spacious! The first thing Chris and Audrey did was create a game called 'Dog-Catcher'. She is the loose dog and he is the catcher. Do you think we had room to play dog-catcher at the, we did not.

4. A yard, oh a precious yard! Our area of grass at the townhome was probably like 12X6 feet. We specifically told our realtor, 'Don't even bother if the yard isn't usable, if there's a hill, it's not for us.' When we saw our house online for the first time, we thought it looked great, but we couldn't see the backyard from the pictures. We were anxious to get here and check out the yard, because after all the extensive searching we did, we could tell from pictures that this house could be it.....but how was the yard? When we got here with our realtor, all I did was run in, up the steps, through the kitchen, and out the deck door to see the yard. "The back yard is flat Chris!!!!!!.....Sylvia (our realtor), we'll take it!" Seriously, if we were gonna have a yard, we were gonna be able to use it. I love it. I love that within a few days we had a beautiful new swing set from my parents, a pool set up and neighbors already over to play. I know Chris and I both felt it, when we saw Audrey run and play and swim and giggle with new friends, a feeling of, 'yesssssss, this is what all the effort was for, she is freeeeeeeeeee!' I also love how Chris has taken an interest in the yard. He's been weed killing, trimming, seeding, and mowing. Things I'm interested in for sure, but would never find the time to do. He's doing a great job with it. And bonus, we got a $10 mower at a garage sale that is like new.

5. A sense of settledness. I know that's not a word. We now feel like we have a place to be. We still like to eat out, go places, and visit people. But now, after supper, the first thing on our minds is not, 'what on earth are we doing to do tonight, were can we go?' Now we're just more content to be home. Audrey can go play with the neighbors, we can sit outside and play with Carson, and play pretend basketball (no hoop yet). There are just more options, it feels open and bright and spacious. We have endless great memories of the townhome and the silly things we did there with the kids. The games we played in the small living room; the dance parties after supper. But it got small and dark and boring rather quickly.

I hope I don't come off as spoiled. As if our townhome life was this horrible existence and now we finally got what we deserve. I realize I deserve nothing, but we worked and dreamed for something a bit more for our family of four. We were really quite trapped there at the townhome (that's another book and it features topics like housing bubble burst and Fannie Mae and 'how on earth did this happen to us') and the only way out was renting it, so that's what we finally did. So actually, we own two homes. I sometimes forget that now. After a really trying 2012/2013 in which I spent more hours on the phone than not, we finally made the move.

I prayed (and prayed and prayed and prayed) that God would give us the desire of our hearts to make a home for our kids that they could flourish in, not because we deserved it, but because it was only silly things out of our control holding us back. And He did and we are so thrilled and grateful.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Sweet Buddy

My precious Carson turns one today, at 11:04 to be exact. He was 6 days last, but when he was ready, he was ready! A contraction woke me out of sleep at 6am. I quick took a shower and started packing a few last things because I knew he was coming. I had to get Audrey up quickly and gave her a pop tart. As I was rushing around, she said, "This is kinda a silly morning, isn't it Mama?" She knew something was up!

A few hours later, baby boy was born and I've been in love with him ever since! Both Chris and I love how he has blue eyes, because the rest of us have brown, it's a color we never even imagined one of our children could have! He has the sweetest smile in the world and he's always given it out easily, it's extra cute now that it has 6 teeth poking out. His chubby cheeks are the best!

Chris and I always say that Carson just loves being a baby. He's been crawling since five months and he's very very good at it. He's been able to stand up in the middle of the room for at least 1.5 months now and about a month ago, he took his first steps. He currently stands up all the time, maybe takes about 4 steps and then goes back to crawling. He also doesn't like change, he likes his formula nice and warm. We tried luke-warmish whole milk for the first time and he wanted nothing to do with it. We were not surprised. We love his babyness and plan to hang onto it as long as possible. It was fun when Audrey walked at 9 months and adapted to all changes like it was nothin', but it's fun now to see Carson take it nice and slow.

I love his sweet personality, he's not super easy going, but I think he's more laid back than Audrey was. His current favorite thing to do is play with balls and put things in their place. Like putting the balls in the toy car, the toy coins in the toy piggybank, and the cd's in the toy cd player. He will also look up at a light and say, "hot", so that's his first word! He loves to be outside, but isn't a big fan of letting his legs touch the grass, so he does a very effective bear walk that's pretty funny to see.

Buddy loves to be played with and is now actually starting to be very silly with his big sister, even initiating wrestling around with her. It's such a blast to see them together. There's just so much to say about this boy that I love, but I'll leave it at this now.

God has truly enriched our lives with this tiny boy. We simply adore him. Happy 1st Birthday to my tiny love, Carson Adam.....

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Four Year Old Girl

My sweet Audrey Joanne turns 4 years old today, April 19th, at 5:17 am! She's been hoping and wishing her birthday would come pretty much the day after her last birthday! It's so hard to believe it was already four years ago that my water broke at a restaurant and soon after, we had our baby girl. It's been an interesting four years, challenging, but mostly great :) I wouldn't trade it for anything!

We just love this sweet-hearted, thoughtful, smart, creative, talkative, articulate, silly, clever, fiesty girl, who just loves to play and have fun.

A quick list of her favorites include:
  • Disney Princesses
  • Wrestling with Daddy
  • Making Carson laugh
  • Cooking with and helping Mama do anything around the house
  • Making cards for people
  • Watching her 'shows' (Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, Super Why)
  • Being an 'adventure girl', this means she likes to run around outside collecting things like pine cones, rocks, grass, etc :)
  • Playing with David, Sammy, and Emily
  • Doing her hair (over and over)
  • Wearing pajamas
  • Shopping 'by herself' (I hide out of her sight)
There's a million things more to say about our lovely girl, but I have to stop sometimes. We love watching her grow and learn. She is still a little sponge, taking in everything she learns and asking tons of questions.

Happy Birthday sweet girl! We love you so much!!!

Her Birth Day

One Years Old

Two Years Old

Three Years Old
Last Day of Being Three!

Below are a few pictures of the past year :)