I saw something like this on someone elses blog recently and loved the idea so I decided to sit down and give it a try. When I started I thought I would just give brief descriptions and make it short but I had some free time this afternoon and I was in the mood to write so the words just kept coming. It's long (and possibly boring), but it satisfied my need to write today, so...there. :)
Thirty Years Ago: In 1982 I turned seven and I was in the first grade at Hillview Elementary. I have two vivid memories of first grade. First, even back then I loved to write. In fact, first grade was when I realized that I loved to write. Our teacher used to pass around a box that had a pile of pictures that were cut out of magazines and we had to pick on out of the box (no peeking!) and then glue the picture to the top of a piece of paper and then write a little story or paragraph about the picture.
I remember specifically getting a cartoon picture of a boy and an older man (his grandpa?) playing checkers in front of a window and there was a bear peeking in the window. Twenty years later I can still remember what that picture looked like. I don't remember the details of the story I wrote but I remember how much I loved writing it and the teacher loved the story so much that she hung it up on the wall outside the classroom so that everyone could read it. Every time I went in or out of the classroom I walked past my story and I remember how proud I was of it. That's when I started telling everyone that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. I never did become a writer, unless you count a few articles in my high school newspaper, but I still enjoy writing and I now have an 11 year old who tells everyone that he's going to be a writer when he grows up. I sincerely hope that he does. :)
The other thing that I remember about first grade is that there was a little boy in my class who always came to school dirty and his mom had to send an extra set of clothes with him because sometimes he wet his pants. After recess each day our class had to line up against the wall outside the building before we were let back inside. I can clearly remember each day our entire class trying really hard not to stand next to the dirty little boy. There would be the whole class lined up together and then a big space and then that poor little boy standing by himself.
As first graders all we cared about was that the boy was different and kind of weird and no one wanted to stand by him. But I've never forgotten that poor little boy and as adult looking back on it my heart breaks for him. I don't remember his name anymore and I don't think that he went to school with us anymore after the first grade, but I've always wondered what happened to him. First grade was not fun or easy for that little boy. I'm sure there is more to that story that I'll never know, but I wish I could find that kid and tell him how sorry I am that I didn't stand by him after recess. He could have used a friend. I hope that wherever he went his life got easier and that he found some good friends.
I have told my kids that story several times over the years to stress the importance of showing love and compassion for people who are different. I will always regret not being nicer to that little boy and I hope that in a similar situation my children would make a different choice.
Twenty Years Ago: 1992 was a big year for me. I turned 17 and was a junior in high school. It was the year I got my first real job, bought my first car and met my first boyfriend.
I got a job working in the kitchen of the hospital in our town. I went in after school, helped prepare the dinner trays for the patients, delivered the trays up to their rooms, collected the trays after they ate and then cleaned up and did the dishes. It certainly wasn't a glamorous job, but it gave me the freedom of having some spending money and some of my friends worked there so we had a good time even when we were up to our elbows in gross hospital food.
Thanks to the job I was able to buy my first car. My first car was a 1985 Volkswagen Atlantic that I paid $900 for, which was an absolute fortune to me at the time! What is a Volkswagen Atlantic you say? Well, that's a good question, because apparently there is no such thing. At least that's what the DMV told me when I tried to register it. A Volkswagen Atlantic is basically a Mexican Volkswagen Jetta. Apparently my car had made it's way from Mexico at some point and in the process the VIN number had suspiciously been moved and changed. After I bought it and had problems getting it registered a police officer had to come to my house and look at it because they were pretty sure that it had been stolen at some point. After checking it over and deciding that it wasn't worth their bother they let me register it and I was the proud owner of a super crappy car and I loved it. :)
The speedometer was in kilometers instead of miles so I was never sure exactly how fast I was driving, the gas gauge was broken so I was never sure how much gas I had and it turned off every time I drove through a puddle. But I bought it myself, it got me around and many good times were had in that car.
In the midst of getting my first job and buying my first car, I met my first boyfriend. He was a friend of my cousin and a year older than me. I felt very grown up dating a senior, lol. I fell fast and I fell hard, thus beginning a long and complicated relationship that was off and on for years. In typical teenage girl fashion, it was dramatic. :) I have wonderful memories of that time in my life. That relationship eventually ended up breaking my heart, but it was amazing while it lasted and those are memories I cherish.
When I think of high school I think of that year. The job, the car, the freedom, the boyfriend...those were fun times. Whenever I hear kids say that they can't wait to grow up I want to grab them and shake them and tell them to enjoy every minute of their youth. It goes by fast and you'll miss it when it's gone.
Fifteen Years Ago: 1997 was a huge year for me! It was the year I got married! I met Shawn in 1995 at work. I got a job answering phones for a multi-level marketing company and Shawn was one of the first people I met on my first day. The boyfriend from high school was still making an occasional appearance in my life and apparently trying to make a career out of breaking my heart and that relationship, while not currently on, was still messing with my brain, so dating wasn't really in the cards for me at the time. Shawn was a wonderful friend but it was two years and one more appearance by the heartbreaking boyfriend before I finally came to my senses and realized what a great thing I had right in front of me and I married my best friend!
We got married on June 21, 1997 and I'm excited about celebrating our 15th anniversary this year! When we got married Shawn was just starting his doctorate in pharmacy and he had four years left. We lived in a cute little apartment for the first three years of our marriage before the university sent us to the town we live in now so that Shawn could do his internships. I have such wonderful memories of those first few years. We were poor and struggling but we were ridiculously happy and I smile when I think of those years.
Ten Years Ago: In 2001 Shawn was finally finished with school, our first child was a year old and we were ready to be done with poor college student life and we built our first house! When we moved to Boise in 2000 to do Shawn's internships we only planned to stay here for that one year and then move back to our hometown. But at Shawn's very first internship they loved him so much that they offered him a job with a huge sign on bonus when he graduated and after four years of being poor college students we just couldn't pass it up. We knew that it would put an immediate end to apartment living and scraping by and we were ready! So we stayed in Boise, Shawn took the job and we built a cute little house in a new neighborhood. I loved that house and it was so fun to watch it being built and to pick out everything in it. We spent a good part of 2001 picking out carpet and tile and light fixtures. That was a year of exciting changes.
(Duh, after posting this and reading through it again later I realized that 10 years ago was 2002, not 2001. Why did I write about 2001? Oh, well, I'm sticking with it. 2002 wasn't that interesting.)
Five Years Ago: I'm realizing as I'm writing all this down that it seems like every year listed was a huge, life changing year! 2007 was definitely no exception, because it was the year we decided to adopt!! Josh was born in 2000 and Matthew was born in 2003. We knew immediately after Matthew was born that our family wasn't complete, but due to Matthew's traumatic birth, some health issues I had and some other factors, I really kept dragging my feet when it came to adding to our family. We talked about it for a few years and every time the subject came up we both just kind of felt uneasy about it. I couldn't explain it then and I can't explain it now, we just could not feel good about having another biological child. There wasn't one specific reason that I can pinpoint, but it was something we struggled with for a while.
The long version of that story is in the first post on this blog, so I won't go into it, but the bottom line is that in 2007 we felt strongly prompted to adopt and finally our struggles were over. It just felt right. It was like a light finally went on in our heads and all the "should we or shouldn't we" discussion about having another baby immediately stopped. We knew exactly what we needed to do and we were so excited about it!
2007 was the year of the paperwork. International adoption is an intense, time consuming process where they pretty much bury you in paperwork for a while. We filled out more paperwork in that year than I think we've filled out in the rest of our lives total.
It's funny to look back on that process now because I can see that we had absolutely NO idea what we were doing! I could pretty much write a book on what I know about Korean adoption at this point but in 2007 I could probably write a paragraph and I probably would have had to consult the internet first. We knew we were doing the right thing but we were still kind of vague on exactly what we were doing or exactly how we would be going about it. It was kind of like when our first child was born and we said "Yay! We have a baby! Ohhh...crap, what are we supposed to do with this baby?" You know that feeling? Anyone who has had a child knows that feeling! Deciding to adopt sort of felt like that. Fortunately we worked with an amazing adoption agency (WACAP.org, in case you're looking for a great agency!) and we picked an even more amazing country to adopt from and everything worked out great.
One Year Ago: Anyone who has been following my blog knows that last year was not my favorite year. I had some health issues, I was stressed out, frazzled and anxious and I needed to reevaluate myself. I did that, I worked through it and I have closed the book on last year. Enough said. :)
Yesterday: I spent yesterday morning reading book two of the Hunger Games (I know, I'm way behind the times) and I spent yesterday afternoon shopping for shoes with Shawn. All in all, a pretty good day. :)
Today: This morning I went to church, had a meeting after church, started book three of The Hunger Games (I'm officially obsessed) and then I sat down to write this blog post, which has become much longer than I thought it would be. I wonder if anyone actually read all of this. :)
Tomorrow: This week is spring break for my kids so tomorrow all three of them will be home. I like it when they're all home. They play together well and the boys help keep Clarissa entertained so there's a good chance I'm going to get the rest of the Hunger Games book read. That's pretty much my plan for tomorrow.
Later in the week we're going out of town for a few days for a little spring break trip. Details of that adventure to follow soon! :)