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Friday, July 25, 2014

Girl's Day Out

Sometime last week, I realized that while Brian would be flying out for China really early Sunday morning and I wouldn't get to see him on Sunday, that didn't necessarily mean that I couldn't see Rachael. I debated about whether or not to ask if I could have Rachael for a few hours, but finally my desire to spend time with Rachael overruled my hesitancy to ask. I think I knew Brian would say yes, but it was kind of a big deal! So I texted Brian and asked if I could have Rachael for a few hours on Sunday to do something special with her... and he said yes!

Sunday morning, I went over to Rocky and Betty Jo's for breakfast and had breakfast with their family and Dennis and Mary (Brian's parents, aka Maw Maw and Paw Paw). When I got there Rachael was playing, but then she came over to me and climbed into my lap and loved on me. Then we took a picture to send to Daddy.

Rachael is seriously the sweetest little girl I've ever known. She's is extremely affectionate and funny and smart and adorable... and while all of that is certainly true, I'm also beginning to realize that I have a strongly biased opinion regarding Rachael's wonderfulness. She is a very special little girl and I love her very very very much.

I hung around for a few minutes and talked to Mary and Betty Jo while Rachael played, then took her home (to Brian's) and waited for Daddy to call us before he got on the plane to China. Rachael got to talk to Daddy for a minute and then I gave her a bath and let her play while I tried to keep myself occupied so I wouldn't cry about the fact that our favorite guy was on his way around the world. So, while Rachael played, I picked up her toys and did a load of laundry. Then I got Rachael out of the bathtub, put lotion on her, got her dressed, etc. You know, all the normal stuff. Rachael is a girly girl and I brought nail polish to paint her nails for her, so I did that... and like me, she can't seem to keep it on her fingers very long... except she has the excuse of being 3. I don't know what my excuse is. :) But she enjoyed it and that's what matters.

Next, we went to Barnes & Noble. Mine and Rachael's "thing" is reading. I have always read books to her and she LOVES being read to, so I decided to take her to Barnes & Noble to pick out a new book. We read lots and lots and lots of books. She wanted to read them in the Hundred Acre Woods, so we sat down, and read a few such as: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny, Charlie the Ranch Dog, The Day the Crayons Quit, The Pout-Pout Fish... and many more. She kept saying, "Aw! Poor Piglet. He's up in the tree!"

Finally, I selected a few and let her pick from among those and she chose my favorite book by my favorite children's author! Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems. I was very surprised that she didn't choose The Pout-Pout Fish. I thought it was a really cute book. I was excited that she chose Knuffle Bunny.

Rachael was so sweet and thoughtful. She kept seeing things that K or Z would like. I told her that next time, we would get a surprise for K and Z to take back to them.

She was hungry and requested macaroni and cheese, so when we left B&N I saw the Jason's Deli in the parking lot so I decided that a salad sounded great to me and that she could have her mac & cheese. Rachael chatted with me while we ate and it was so fun to be with her and have people walk by and comment on how cute she is. :) I think I'm going to have to work on saying "thank you" instead of "I know, right?!" While we were sitting there, I noticed that she had her little legs crossed under the table. Cutest. EVER.

The waiter walked by and asked me something and ended the question with "maybe". Rachael thought he called me "baby" so we had the following conversation.

Rachael: Why did he call you "baby"? (or maybe it was "he called you baby.")
Me: He didn't. He said, "Would you like another salad plate, maybe?" Only Daddy calls me "baby."
Rachael: Why?
Me: Because I'm his girlfriend.
Rachael: No you're not. (Said in a "silly girl... no you're not" kind of way.)
[Rachael starts talking about Batman and his girlfriend again.]
Me: If I'm not Daddy's girlfriend, what am I?
Rachael: You're Daddy's little big girl. And I'm Daddy's little baby fishy.

I had her repeat it for me on video for Brian. I've been upgraded from "normal peoples" to "Daddy's little big girl." She has probably heard Brian call me his "big baby" and her his "little baby" or refer to us as his girls, little girl and big girl, etc, because he often says that. More than calling me his girlfriend. We're thinking that "girlfriend" is a cartoon character to Rachael and that her only point of reference is batman. Rachael doesn't realize yet that "girlfriend" is a relationship. I love that she's so sweet and innocent.

I let Rachael get a little ice cream after we finished eating. She thoroughly enjoyed her treat. Sadly, I had to take her back to Jo's house because I had to head back to Tennessee. We had a really great ride back in the car though!! She sang zipadeedoodah, which was ADORABLE! We chatted about Daddy and China.  We sang Apples and Bananas and giggled over the silly ways of saying "apples" and "bananas" and made up our own words.

We got back home and I was in Rachael's room getting a few of her things together to take to Jo's house and I was going to re-braid her hair. She sat down in my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck and wouldn't let go. She just wanted me to hold her and hug her; I was MORE than happy to oblige. When I took her over to Jo's she hugged me and kissed me and told me she would miss me and that she didn't want me to go. I didn't want to go either! I was glad when she started playing so I could leave without having to pull her off of me first. Leaving was hard enough as it was! I almost cried.

I think Rachael is trying to figure out exactly what my role in her life is and what place she wants me to hold. She's is extremely well-behaved, but I could tell at times that she was testing the boundaries a little to find where they stood. She didn't misbehave AT ALL, it was just obvious that she was figuring out where the lines are and what my response would be.

Rachael is such a gift. I am so thankful that God chose me, not just to be in Brian's life, but to play a part in Rachael's life as well. Rachael is one of the greatest blessings that God has ever given me. To have the privilege of taking care of her, loving her, being responsible for her, being loved by her... and helping to guide her through life and prepare her for eternal life... it's a gift.

I am so thankful that her mom gave birth to her. I think the mom/ step-mom/ ex-wife/girlfriend(eventually wife) relationship can be a complicated one and I hope to avoid some of those complications... or at least ill-feelings on my side of things by always maintaining the perspective that one of the greatest gifts in my life came from H. Without her, I wouldn't have the joy of Rachael in my life. Loving Rachael warms my heart toward H. I can't and do not want to ever replace Rachael's mom; she is special. But I am very much looking forward to our relationship (mine and Rachael's, and growing as a family with Brian) continuing to grow so that one day Rachael will feel like she has been blessed with, not just one, but two mommies who both love her very much. I don't ever want this to be a competition for Rachael's love and affection -- she has plenty to go around. I just want Rachael to be the happiest and most secure little girl in the world knowing that she has the love of a VERY wonderful Daddy and double mommy-love.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Meeting Rachael.. and other important people

This past weekend, I met Rachael for the first time. Leading up to the visit, Brian and I were talking about it and it just hit me... I would be meeting my daughter/ future daughter. I already think of her as mine.

Friday, when I got to Brian's house, he had the garage door open for me, so I pulled in... He and Rachael were waiting for me on the steps and I took her right out of his arms to hug her and hold her and kiss her sweet cheeks. She hugged me back. She wasn't even shy!! It was an amazing moment of finally getting to hold her in my arms. Eventually, I gave Brian a hug. :)

Brian took me inside and gave me a tour of the house while we stopped to play with Rachael and be entertained by her. She's adorable. We had worship with Rachael and she and I picked out her church dress and hairbow. Then we went over to Rocky and Betty Jo's (his brother and sister-in-law and neighbors) to hang out. They had some of Rocky and Brian's friends over so I got to meet lots of people. I was really excited to finally get to meet Betty Jo in person. We had skyped a little and texted some so I felt like we were already friends. We played Catch Phrase, which is a favorite of mine.

I put Rachael to bed over there and kissed her goodnight. She and K and Z said their prayers and Betty Jo and I listened. For the first time ever, Rachael prayed about me. She thanked Jesus for ME! :) I actually teared up. To me, that was the mark that I had made it into her inner circle. I told a friend a couple of weeks ago that when Rachael included me in her bedtime prayers I would know that I had arrived. Well, y'all... I have arrived. K and Z also thanked Jesus for me. Z said, "Thank you Jesus for Amburger... amburger... amburger... noooo..." :) it was ADORABLE. He's my buddy.

Sabbath morning, I got to church just a couple of minutes before Brian, so I went in the direction that I assumed his mom's classroom would be and found Mary and gave her a hug. I was really happy to see his family in person. Then Brian and Rachael and Rocky and Betty Jo and the kids got to church. Rachael was wearing her cute little dress that she and I had picked out and I fixed her hair and put her hairbow in. She was so pretty!

I went to Sabbath School with Brian and then picked Rachael up from her class when it was over. I took her potty and then took her into church and gave her the Sabbath bag I had made for her. It had puzzles, coloring books and crayons, and stickers in it. I also have been working on making some felt dress up doll people for her to play with. Rachael sat in my lap for most of church and colored. She wanted me to take her down for the children's story, so I did. The kids were sent back to their seats before praying and Rachael went back to her seat and was called back... which embarrassed her. But instead of staying back with Brian, she came back up front and climbed into my lap and buried her face in my neck. She's my baby!

After church we had potluck. I sat beside Rachael and took care of her. Then we all went to the nursing home to sing to the residents. Brian and I were squatting down and Rachael wrapped her arms around both of our necks and squeezed the three of us together and said, "I love you both." We went back home and put Rachael down for a nap and Brian and I ended up taking a nap too. Rachael didn't sleep long, but stayed in her room talking to herself and singing songs for a while... After a while, we let Rachael get out of bed and we all played together.

Brian started packing for China and I helped him... and snuck a few things into his bag. In the meantime, Rachael played in his room and on the bed and played with me while we worked. She also wrote her name on a card for Daddy that told him how much we miss him.

Later, we headed over to Rocky and Betty Jo's. On the way over, Brian was holding my hand, so Rachael asked why he was holding my hand.

Brian: Because she's my girlfriend.
Rachael: She's not your girlfriend.
Rachael: [talks about batman's girlfriend]
Brian: Well, if she's not my girlfriend then what is she?
Rachael: She is just a normal people. And you are a normal people. We are all just normal peoples.

We think that Rachael's only point of reference for a girlfriend/ boyfriend is batman. Therefore, a girlfriend is a pretend character, not a relationship. More later on what Rachael says I am to her daddy...

I talked to Betty Jo for a long time on Saturday night. I think we're going to be good friends. It'll be so nice to have a friend who lives right next door. I love that I didn't just get Brian and Rachael, but a whole family AND an instafriend. :)

Brian and I left Rachael with Betty Jo and went home and spend some time together then I headed back to my friend's house really late while he got a little sleep before getting on a plane to China. :( It's terrible when my Love is on the other side of the world and my Little is 5 hours away. I miss my "normal peoples"!

I'll post later about Sunday... girls day out with Rachael.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our First Weekend Together

Brian came to visit me last weekend! After counting down the days for 22 days, he finally arrived. I wasn't nervous until I left work. I had the busiest day of work that I've had in a long time, so it was good to have that as a distraction. When I got off work around 3:30, I rushed home and jumped in the shower, fixed my hair, put on makeup, etc. Then I waited... and waited... and waited. Really, I only waited about 30-45 minutes from the time that I finished getting ready until I saw Brian, but it felt like an eternity.

Brian and I met at the Southern Adventist University Student Park. We wanted a place where we could just hang out and talk and it was the perfect place. As soon as we got out of our cars, we hugged... and hugged... and hugged. Finally, it was like he was a REAL PERSON!! I was a little nervous when I was sitting in my car waiting for him to arrive, but as soon as I hugged him, the nervousness went away... and the giddiness hit! I was soooo giddy. :) We walked to the Goliath Wall and spread a blanket on the ground and just enjoyed each other's company for a few hours. We also had an audience of groundhogs who eyed us suspiciously on several occasions. We decided to leave and go back to my house so he could meet my parents. When we walked back to our cars, he took my keys out of my hand, unlocked and opened my car door and then handed me my keys and closed my door. That was a definite first for me!! It was very sweet. I would soon discover that I will rarely ever have to touch my car door, in or out, with Brian around. I've dated guys who open doors, but I've never had someone who opens EVERY door, EVERY time like it just comes naturally. It's not forced with Brian and it's not like he's trying to put on a display for me... he just treats me that well naturally.

Friday, Brian came over for breakfast; I made him blueberry muffins. After we ate, we headed up to Lookout Mountain to do the touristy thing. I was wearing wedge sandals, but had taken my flip flops with me just in case we decided to do a lot of walking. Brian is so sweet and thoughtful... he's always thinking of my comfort or what's best for me or my health or whatever, because he encouraged me to wear my flip flops instead because we'd probably be doing a lot of walking. Then, out of habit, I grabbed my purse, and about halfway through the parking lot, he asked me if I wanted to leave it in the car. I was so thankful that he suggested both of those things. He is so attentive. I love that about him.

We toured Ruby Falls and then went to Taco Bell for lunch. (Friday is Brian's TBD, a.k.a. Taco Bell Day.) After we ate, we sat side by side looking at pictures of Rachael on his phone. We must have been sitting there with our heads together for a long time, because another patron came up to us and commented that whatever we were looking at must be really good because we hadn't moved from that position in a while! And of course it was good; it was pictures of our little girl!

After Taco Bell, we headed back up the mountain to the Incline Railway. When we got to the top, we sat on the lookout and enjoyed the view and the cool breeze in the nice shade. Brian is so easy to be with and to talk to and to just sit quietly with. He is my favorite person to hang out with. W
e rode back down the Incline and then headed to our favorite place of the day -- Rock City.

I had been to Ruby Falls as a child and while the view at the top of the Incline was wonderful, the Incline Railway itself was somewhat anticlimactic. It was really neat to see the view of Chattanooga as we rode up though. :) Rock City is gorgeous! You can supposedly see 7 states from a peak that is located in Rock City. There are also little garden gnomes in one area. It's just a very pretty place. There, Brian and I, toward the end of our walk, sat down on a swing and talked some more... and were eaten by mosquitoes. Totally worth the thousand bites.

When we finished on Lookout Mountain, Brian took me to dinner at a Mexican place not too far away. I'm so glad we both like Mexican food. Our food was really good. He got some kind of burrito... it was HUGE. And I got a vegetable quesadilla that was delicious. We both ended up taking leftovers home.

We left Cancun and went to my office, which is right down the street, so I could show him where I work. From there, we went downtown. Chattanooga has a really great downtown. It's kind of artsy. They have a walking bridge, so we walked down the bridge and then sat on a bridge and looked out over the Tennessee River for a long time and watched the moonrise and the sunset while we talked. The bridge goes over the Tennessee River and Coolidge Park, so I took Brian down to the park to see the carousel where I want to take Rachael and the interactive play fountain that I want to take her to. Then we walked down the sidewalk and they have bronze footprints in the sidewalk showing the steps for different dances: a waltz, a tango, the cha-cha... and my favorite, the kiss. So we danced on the sidewalk in the middle of downtown Chattanooga. And well... when we came to the footprints labeled "The Kiss"... we may or may not have done that too.

We finally left and went back to my house where we just hung out for a little while before Brian went back to his hotel room. It was a really wonderful day.

Sabbath morning, Brian came over for breakfast before church and I made him some eggs while I was preparing our Sabbath lunch. Then we went to church. It was sooooo nice to spend Sabbath with Brian. After church, my friend Brooke came over for lunch and to meet Brian. I made pasta with whole wheat angel hair pasta, julienned vegetables lightly sauteed with a smoky balsamic marinade, tossed with pesto, topped with pine nuts and parmesan and romano cheese. We also had bruschetta, broccoli, and banana pudding for dessert.

We visited with Brooke for a while, and when she left, Brian and I went to Signal Mountain to go to Falling Water Falls. We never really found the falls that we went for, but we didn't look very hard either. We enjoyed the view and each other's company. We had a really great conversation there and on our way back to my house. When we got to my house, the air conditioner was not working so we sat out on the front porch for a long time and eventually fell asleep out there.

Sunday, Brian came back over and took me out for breakfast somewhere with air conditioning. :) We went to Cracker Barrel, which is always delicious. Then we decided to go to the Ocoee for the day and swim to stay cool. We stopped at a few places along the way, but ended up at Goforth Creek. We sat on a rock for a long time and on a rock in the water. It was a really pretty place. After that, we went back to my house and showered then went out for dinner at China Kitchen.

Before we left for dinner at China Kitchen, my dad talked to Brian and I and basically said that they're really impressed with Brian and my dad really complimented me. It was so sweet it made me cry. My parents really like Brian... but then again, what's not to like?! He's amazing.

Our weekend came to a close... and Brian held me close in the car for a long time while I cried over how much I would miss him and how much I love him. Then we finally had to say goodbye when he took me back to my house.

It was the best weekend of my life. Brian was everything and so much more than I ever dreamed he would be... I am the luckiest girl ever.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Words are inadequate...

I love words. I tend to be loquacious and verbose. I have a much larger vocabulary than I utilize on a daily basis. You would think that due to my large vocabulary, being a logophile, and using an abundance of words, that words would not often fail me. But when it comes to Brian... I am often left grasping for the right words to use.

I write about Rachael a lot; in part, because she's Rachael and she's adorable, but also because I want to remember all of these little things about her. I tend to not write about Brian as much... not because I don't have plenty to say, but because I don't know how to say it. It is difficult to put into words what Brian means to me.

For you to really understand how wonderful Brian is, you would not only have to know him personally, but you would also have to understand what I've had in the past... and quite honestly, I don't really want to rehash some of the terrible relationships I've had. They aren't worthy of the words or the time required to share.

I have never had a guy send me flowers at work... until Brian. Brian listens to me and really wants to know me. He truly doesn't care about things I've done in the past except that it helps him to know and understand who I am today. He treats me so well. He wants my input and perspective and truly values it. He's considerate of my time... He is more than happy to tell me to go have fun with a friend and he does it without making me feel guilty for being away from him or like he doesn't care that I'm not talking to him. He's not possessive. He's not jealous. He's not insecure. I like that. Then again, he has no need to be any of those things because I'm all his. Brian has a way of making me feel secure. I think it's that he's consistent and I know that I can trust him. While he is consistent, he is not predictable... and that's nice because he's able to surprise me all the time.

I know that this is odd, because we haven't even met in person yet... but I miss him. I feel like I've known him forever, until I realize that I've never even held his hand. (1 full day until I do!) My friend, Brooke, pointed out that this is the first relationship that I've had that's conflict-free. When I talk about Brian to her, it's all good... not "He's great, but there's this one thing..." There is nothing about Brian that I'm uncomfortable with or that needs to be fixed or changed. I love him just the way he is.

I do love Brian just the way he is, but I also love that I see changes that are taking place. I can see the Holy Spirit working in his life, and that's amazing to me. If God's going to work on him, I'm ok with that... we all have room for improvement when we use God as our measuring stick.

Brian makes me so happy. Each day is a gift with him and each day is one that I want to enjoy and to live in the moment of. I want a future with Brian... a very long one... but I want today right now.

Brian speaks my love language... and he does it effortlessly. He appreciates me and the little things I do to show him I care and they make him feel really loved. He doesn't take me for granted. He tries to make me happy everyday (and succeeds!). Brian does the planning... he takes the lead in things, but without dragging me along... and instead it's more like having me by his side to make decisions with him. He doesn't make me plan all of our upcoming dates, but he listens to what I want.

There is so much about Brian that I could say... but completely inadequate words with which to say it. I am so thankful that God brought Brian into my life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Getting attached...

Brian and Rachael are in Florida this week on a family vacation with Brian's brother and sister-in-law and their two kids and his parents and uncle and... I think that's it. I haven't been reading to Rachael since they've been there since they're either getting home really late or she's playing with her cousins or I'm out shopping, which is what I was doing last night.

Brian asked me if I wanted to read to Rachael last night, and of course I did, but I wasn't at home. He said he'd keep her up for me if I wanted him to. While I would have LOVED that more than anything, Rachael was going to have a big day of Disney today and needed her sleep.

A little earlier that evening, I was Skyping with Brian, and Rachael came into the room, so I started talking with her. She started showing me her shoes. She is a girl after my own heart! I love talking to Rachael and listening to her chat about the things that are important to her or hearing her ask me questions. I like seeing that little glimpse inside her brain.

Last night, while I was at Target, Brian said that Rachael was wanting to Skype with me and that she was sending me smilies on Skype. I told him that she could call my phone, so they called me and I got to talk to my sweet girl before she went to bed. She asked me what I was shopping for... further evidence that she is my kind of girl! We talked about her playing in the pool and going to Disney tomorrow.

I told her goodnight and wished her sweet dreams and then told her that I love her, like I do pretty much every night. She doesn't always say it back, but that's ok. I don't expect her to. I love her and she should know that. But tonight, when I said "I love you" she said "I love you too." It's so special to be loved by that little girl and to get to be part of her life.

Brian said that he's attached to me and that she's becoming that way. He said that when she sees the tablet, she asks if they can call me or if I'm on there or if he's talking to me. I love that she asks for me and thinks about me and that I am becoming part of her life and not just her being part of mine. I can't wait to meet her and finally get to kiss her myself instead of having Brian do it for me. :)

Tonight, Brian called me while they were still at Disney. Rachael wanted to talk to me, I guess, because he put her on the phone and she just started chatting away and telling me all about her day... and the "one that wears the blue shirt" (Donald Duck). She always wants to know where I am. I look forward to the day when she doesn't have to ask that question, because I'm right there with her.

I can't wait to make memories together.

I really love that little redhead. She is so sweet and affectionate. She is such a precious and special little girl. I can't wait to be able to introduce her to my parents and my grandparents and my brother and Amanda and Allison, Brooke, and Beth-Anne. I can't wait to have her come visit in Tennessee and to take her to ride the carousel in Coolidge Park and to play in the interactive fountains. I want to take her to the Tennessee Aquarium and see her oooh and ahhh over everything. I can't wait to snuggle her close and read her favorite books to her. I can't wait to play with her and braid her hair and paint her nails. I can't wait to take her to the Imagination Station and see her playing on the same playground that I loved as a child. I can't wait to be with Rachael and spend time doing things just for her. I can't wait to see her face light up over things that delight her and I can't wait to stare at her peacefully sleeping self without the vastness of cyberspace between us. Loving a child is one thing... I've done that plenty of times in my life. But being able to love Rachael and factor her into the decisions that Brian and I make and to really have her be IN my life and to affect how I live it... that's incredible. I pray every day that God will give me love for her as if she's my own and to help me to think of her needs before my own and to make decisions with Brian for our relationship that are also best for her.