We met at a beautiful ranch in the middle of nowhere, Texas, surrounded by a group of amazing people. There was an abundance of food, love, and noisemakers.
I felt hopeful about our relationship. I had goals about flossing and reading and working out. I had dreams about going to Spain and getting pregnant.
On January 9 I wrote in my diary, “For the first time in my life I have baby fever. I can’t wait for the day I find out I’m pregnant.” In February I wrote, “I’m so excited to be a mom. I feel ready!” followed by, “Rozy thinks Justin and I are having a boy first.” (10 months later, I would learn she was right.)
We weren’t going to start trying until late spring, so I spent the first half of the year praying for the ability to get pregnant.
Amidst dreaming and praying for a baby, I also grieved the sacrifices having a baby would require (mainly, the ability to travel with ease and as often as I’d like.) There were nights I cried to Justin about this.
Rozy and I went to Guatemala to spend time with a Gap Year squad at the end of February. It was my first time traveling for work in a year. It was a productive work trip.
On March 1, I surprised Justin with a trip to Harry Potter World for his birthday. I told him we were going to Atlanta for dinner with friends – little did he know I was actually driving to the airport. I had booked plane tickets, lodging, rental car, and theme park tickets all without him knowing. I was so nervous leading up to the reveal I felt like I was proposing.
When we were at Harry Potter World I made him wear one of those “It’s My Birthday!” buttons the park provides for free. All day people wished him a happy birthday. I loved it. (He pretended he didn’t.)
The weather was perfect (warm, not hot) and we never waited in line more than 30 minutes. In the afternoon we sat on the curb, eating PB&J sandwiches and Cheez-Its. Later, we drank butterbeer. I couldn’t believe how good it actually was.
This trip is one of my favorite memories from the entire year.
Overall, the first half of the year was slow. Justin and I spent our weeknights cooking and writing thank you cards for wedding gifts. On weekends we read, walked to our local coffee shop, and ate pizza on Friday nights. We attended a few weddings and a gender reveal party. I watched my goddaughter get baptized. We visited family North Carolina and Ohio. We played in a pickup volleyball tournament and attended the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. I choreographed and performed an Easter dance with some friends.
The slower pace was strange, but nice.
At the end of May, after an annoying amount of paperwork, online tests, and fingerprints, Julia and I began volunteering at the local juvenile delinquent center. I had attempted to volunteer for the last few years (this was my 3rd attempt), but it never worked out for one reason or another. This time I was determined to make it happen. It helped to have a friend go through the process with me.
The first time we showed up was during family visiting hours. As we waited for the youth to be brought in, families loaded up with their kid’s favorite snacks and drinks from the vending machine. This small act of love made me choke up. These parents loved their kids so much.
Julia and I were only able to meet with our individual girls a few times before summer got hectic with work and weekend trips.
On May 29, the day before my 32nd birthday, I wrote in my diary:
“How have I changed in the last year? More fulfilled than ever before! Coming back alive to the injustice in the world and wanting to do something about it (aka feeling 21 all over again.) Finally found my footing at work — feeling more passionate and capable than ever before. Actually excited and expectant to be a mom + to create a family with Justin! Getting better and better at managing my ‘7’ tendency for going too fast + doing too much. Feeling more and more secure in my friendships. Wow, God. Thank you for such an incredible year. You were right when you said “the best is yet to come” back in 2011! I can only imagine what you have in store (babies??)”
The next day (my birthday), Justin and I drove to Atlanta for brunch at a restaurant called Homegrown, followed by coffee/chai at Joe’s Coffee Shop. I talked to Justin about why foster care was so important to me and asked him to attend a foster care orientation that was being offered in June. He agreed (happy birthday to me!) After that we picked up my sister Melody and her husband Mike at the airport – they came to visit for my birthday. For dinner, we ate at a delicious Sushi/Asian fusion restaurant with Joe and Talia.
My birthday celebration continued that weekend at Julia’s lakehouse in South Carolina. It was the perfect weekend – filled with friends, food, and a boat (!!) One of my top 3 fav memories from the year.
The rest of June brought me to Orlando with Melody and Charlotte to see Wong family. My brother Paul came to visit, followed by my parents. Justin and I went to the foster care orientation. I spent the month preparing for Gap Year Training Camp in July.
The first three weeks in July were focused entirely on Gap Year camp. July marked three years since I’d been put in charge of Gap Year and two years since I’d been responsible for camp. At the end of camp I wrote:
“I’m proud of how well Training Camp went. The sessions, the flow, the speakers, the worship. I created the schedule – took a few risks – and it all played out so well. I’m also proud of myself for the ways I showed up physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Such a contrast to last year when I had too much on my plate (Passport) and was burning out. I did a good job and it feels good!”
At the end of July/beginning of August, Justin and I went on our first family vacations as a married couple – starting with the Mendolas, then the Wongs. I loved every minute of it.
Later in August, I found out I was pregnant and got into a car accident on the same day. A week and a half later, I was hit with nausea/vomiting/exhaustion from pregnancy that left me disoriented for all of September and October. I traveled to some beautiful places (Europe! San Diego! Thailand!) and saw amazing people during those months, but I mostly felt like I was stuck in a bad dream I couldn’t wake up from. I’ll always remember sobbing that last night in Paris.
November brought relief – I felt like myself again. I started exercising after 3 months of surviving. Julia and I began volunteering at juvy again. I choreographed another dance with friends. Justin and I announced my pregnancy to our families and bought/decorated our first Christmas tree.
December was a whirlwind of Christmas festivities, my best friend’s wedding, driving to Ohio and North Carolina, and finding out the sex of our baby. I ended the year at Julia’s lakehouse, surrounded once again by lots of food, love, and noisemakers.
2018, you were good to me. There were a few bumps in the road (car accident, feeling like crap for months…) but overall you were kind. Together we journeyed through my first calendar year of marriage and the first half of my pregnancy. I’m ending this year with a full heart (and belly!) I’ll always remember you fondly…
Thanks for the ride.