A fun night out...

Mark and I went out tonight for our 5 year anniversary. We tried a new place down in the Haymarket called Magnolia. Parking was a bit crazy (thank you Regional Baseball) but we were only a few minutes late for our reservation. If you've never visited Magnolia, you should. When you walk in the door they hand all women a rose. It was a unique touch. The environment, food and service were fabulous. I personally recommend the pecan crusted chicken salad with baby greens and apple cider vinaigrette. YUM-O.

Here's a couple shots from inside the restaurant:
Me with my flower:

And my gorgeous husband during our meal:

After dinner we walked through downtown and back to our car which ended up being the exact route we walked to the hotel from our reception venue 5 years ago. We stopped to snap a quick picture:

Five years ago today...

I thought I would take a few minutes to tell everyone in "blog land" how I met and married my husband Mark. Our story starts in 1999 when a mutual friend encouraged us to meet. We were involved in the same youth group and were headed out on a ski trip to Colorado. We did meet and hang out a little bit but he was SO quiet - it was hard to get to know him very well. When we got back home, we were AIM (instant messenger) friends and got to know each other really well. I thought he was such a good guy that I encouraged him and one of my best girl friends to go to prom together! I just had my eye on another guy at that time so I wasn't viewing Mark 'that' way. Things didn't work out with this other gal and Mark and I started hanging out more. One night that I can't forget is a dinner we had at about 6pm at Village Inn. We just talked and talked all night long and the staff had to ask us to leave because it was 2:30am WHAAAT?? That night I went home and journaled about my night with Mark. I basically told God I had no clue what was going on with this guy but that it feels different and asked him to keep me open to whatever might be.

Fast forward a few months and we had been spending TONS of time together. If you would ask our friends from back then, they'd say we were pretty annoying. At this point we weren't dating because I was leaving for Arkansas for school that summer. He still went to all of my formals and prom with me and we basically spent ever spare second we had with each other. On May 16th, 2000 Mark finally said he wanted to date me for sure. It was funny because he didn't want to date me because I was headed out for college but I guess he had a change of heart. :) I'm sure glad he did but it made my time at John Brown University (8 hours away) really tough. My first visit home was 3 weeks in to college and Mark and I talked about marriage (we had only been together a few months). I felt the exact same way and we continued dating. I moved home to be close to him and we got engaged on August 28th, 2002. Finally!! We can get married!!

It was fun/completely stressful to plan for our big day but it was amazing. We had almost 500 guests join us in celebrating our marriage. It was May 30th, 2003. It was record setting hot outside....pushing 90 degrees. There were hundreds of gerber daisies and my cute bridesmaids all dressed up in cobalt blue. The stage was set at Lincoln Berean Church with wildflowers, more daisies and lots of candles. The wedding was a surreal blur. Our wedding party was HUGE with 8 bridesmaids and 8 grooms men and 4 ushers that were best friends from junior high. We all loaded up in our SUV limo after the nuptials and headed out to take pictures.

We arrived an hour or so later to the Train Station downtown. It was breath-taking...sky high ceilings filled with little twinkly lights. The tables were set with bright crisp white linens and each napkin was home to a single gerber daisy (are you catching the theme??) We had lots of laughs and danced the night away.

The whole night was topped off with a walk through downtown to get to our hotel for the night. There were lots of congratulatory honks and yells and it was something we'll never forget.

Here's some of my favorite pictures from that day:

Dear Mark,
I'll have to force you to read this blog since you don't think you need to ever read it because you "know me so well and you know how I feel about things so you don't need to read a blog where I talk about it." Thank you for these past 8 years of friendship and love. I feel blessed that we have each other and we still keep one another laughing. You are my best friend and we have so much fun together...whether we're taking in a concert, football game or just doing the mundane things together (woot woot for Super Target). Thanks for being honest with me and challenging me to think beyond what I normally would. Thanks for taking ANY situation that seems horrible to me and reminding me that everything is going to be okay and that we're still alive and well with amazing friends and families. You are such a good doggy dad. Yes, I'm aware that sounds totally insane but you love those dogs so much and I can't wait to see you love on your son or daughter some day. Let's keep dating like we try to do every week. Let's keep laughing at life and ourselves. I love you more than I could ever express. xoxo ~Ash


So quickly things change...

Please pray for us and the birth mom/dad that we've been speaking with. They are having some doubts about adoption and we want to be loving and supportive though we're disappointed. It's just a matter of waiting to see how things will turn out. We don't know much more than that except we have a couple meetings next week with our caseworker and a big meeting with everyone next Friday.

Thanks for the support. This is a roller coaster for sure.


Let the fun stuff begin...

Mark and I started planning for our little guy this weekend. It's been fun to look around for OUR baby and not just for other's babies. We bought a few outfits because it's so fun to pick out baby clothes and I can't believe the cute stuff that's out there!! I've had my eye on a crib forever but it is now "out of stock" and I'm not sure if it will be in stock before September. Here's what I love:

It's very modern and different and we love the clean lines and simplicity of it. We're considering this other crib:

We went to Kid's Stuff today and were totally blown away at how expensive everything is!! It seems like kids barely use half the stuff parent's buy anyways. ;) We left there totally confused and overwhelmed. After some internet surfing, we found a crib set we both love and ordered it because it was on clearance (a word I like). :) It's pretty neutral but we'll for sure "boy it up". :) Here's the crib set:

I'm anxious to hear what people think of crib bumpers. I've heard some controversy that they are a choking hazard but yet everyone I know uses them and every crib at every store has them. ??? Hmm...


The day my life changed...

It was a pretty normal Monday morning.

Then my phone's text message alarm chimed.

It was a birthmother we've been talking to for a couple months informing me that her and her baby's dad chose Mark and I to parent her baby.

I immediately began shaking and crying. Was this moment really happening??

We are going to be parents. There are barely words to describe how that feels. We feel immensely blessed that we were chosen by this amazing birthmother. We're thrilled to have them as a part of our future family. We're humbled at God's grace.

I'm sure there are a lot of questions because we JUST started our process. Most of you have read that it takes almost a year to get approved through our agency. Our case is totally different because we were an "identified" situation. Through and through it's been a total "God thing" which sounds like a cheesy thing to say but there is no way we could of orchestrated this!

Needless to say, it will be a whirlwind 3 months in our lives. We're expecting our SON (yes, it's a boy...WOOT) in early September. Stay tuned for more....

~future mama Ash


Intake interview: CHECK

Mark and I made the ever-thrilling drive to Omaha on Friday morning for our intake interview that we've waiting a month and a half for. It's basically the beginning of the home study process. We met with a really nice gal from the Children's Home and went over questions/concerns first and then jumped right in to the interview process. She asked us questions about how we met, what our dating life was like, what made us want to get married, how we spend our time these days, our family background, etc, etc. I realized how freaking long we've been together!! It's hard to remember my life pre-Mark. We met and started our friendship almost 9 years ago! It's REALLY crazy that we'll be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary this month.

The only 2 slightly humiliating things said in the interview went something like this:
("K" is the intake coordinator, "M" is Mark)
First embarrassing moment:
K: (to Mark) "Do you or Ashley suffer from any mental illnesses, any diagnosed problems with depression or anxiety disorders?"
M: "Well, Ashley doesn't handle stress very well" (at this point I turned to him STUNNED...not many people could handle the stress associated with my job and I think, considering everything going on in our lives, I do a relatively good job handling stress. He later apologized but I'm pretty sure he still feels that way.
Second embarrassing moment:
K: (to Mark) "What do you and Ashley do with your free time?" (I was thinking of a million things...take our dogs to the park, go to sporting events, hang out with family/friends, do mundane things grocery shopping, etc)
M: Watch TV.

So anywho. It was a great experience and we're super excited for our next step: ADOPT (A Day of Parent Training) classes in July. Yes, July. Until then, we have a stack of books to read about adoption and the plethora of things you'd never know you needed to know about it. Overall, this process is amazing compared to fertility treatments. We just feel so hopeful and excited about the future and not sad and spent. It was really strange to be driving to Omaha with Mark and not going to get poked or ultrasounded or inseminated. When we drove pass the exit for my reproductive endocrinologist and had to fight the urge to exit the interstate because I did it for 13 months! Praise God for fresh beginnings and for the joy this process has already created in our lives. :)