Dave and I met through friends in 1993. It was kind of like a blind date. We went boating and swimming for our first date. Dave was living in Madison and I was living in Milwaukee at the time (which is a little over an hour apart). We dated long distance for almost a year.
When my roommate moved to Stevens Point, I decided to move too. So I packed up my things and my cat and rented an efficiency in Madison, Wisconsin. Dave and I spent more and more time together.
I loved Madison and spent my first few years substitute teaching at the great schools in McFarland, WI. I also worked part time at a daycare with infants all the way up to twelve year olds. The daycare wanted to begin an all day kindergarten class and asked if I was interested. I loved the opportunity and put together and taught a great program for two years. Meanwhile Dave worked a variety of sales jobs. He loved the different challenges and made many contacts through his work.
After about three years of dating and being together all of the time, Dave finally proposed to me. It was going to be hard for him to surprise me... but he did! I remember coming home from work and walking up to my apartment. I didn't notice at the time but the apartment was spotless, music was playing, and candles were lit. Dave asked if I would run down and check the mail and so I did. I opened the mailbox and inside was a black velvet box. I looked up the stairs and Dave was peeking around the corner. I ran up to him and into the apartment. He got down on one knee (well actually both knees) and proposed! We were so excited and had so much fun planning our wedding!
We had a wonderful wedding in Eagle River, WI (which is about four hours away from Madison). Since most of our guests would have to travel, everyone made it into a mini vacation. We had activities beginning Thursday night all the way through the weekend. The weather was perfect, and we all had so much fun! It meant so much to us that so many people spent the weekend helping us celebrate! We were married on August 17, 1996.
In the fall of 1997, Dave decided to join a partner in opening up a sports bar in Mauston, WI. The bar they designed was beautiful! It opened just in time to celebrate the new year (1998)! The bar was packed and many friends came to celebrate with us! Dave spent a lot of time in Baraboo (which was half way between Madison and Mauston). We spent a lot of time driving back and forth to see each other. I joined him in a new apartment after school ended in 1998. I worked part time at the bar and also cleaned condos with a friend. We had a great summer and that fall I got a Title I postition with the Baraboo School District and also worked part time at a daycare.
After about a year of the bar business, the fun wore off and the long hours were wearing on Dave. We really wanted a change of scenery. Dave's brother was living in Raleigh and knew a friend that was looking for managers to come help with his restaurants. Raleigh's weather was appealing to us and being close to a few family members was perfect. So we packed up again and moved to Raleigh in June of 1999.
We've been in Raleigh ever since. We LOVE it here! The weather is beautiful and we've made many great friends! We were sad when Dave's brother moved away after only one year, but we have been lucky to get "up north" about twice a year to see everyone. I have been a little luckier than Dave, since I get more time off of work.
I found my dream job right away! I was going to apply to five jobs a week, until I got a teaching job. Getting a teaching job in Wisconsin was really hard and so I expected the same in North Carolina. I picked my first five out of the newspaper and applied to all of them. I couldn't believe it when all five wanted to interview me. I later found out that NC really needed teachers. :-) I interviewed for all five but knew right away which one I wanted... it was The Raleigh School. It had the cutest campus and everyone was so nice. I remember how I excited I was when they called to offer me the job! It truly has been and is the best school even twelve years later! Dave enjoyed the restaurant business but worked very long hours!
In 2002 we decided we wanted to adopt a child. We knew right away we wanted to adopt internationally. Dave wanted Korea right away, but I had to do my research first. Of course he was right, and Korea was the best fit for us! We proceeded with the paperwork and were matched with a beautiful boy and saw his picture for the first time December 6, 2002. We traveled to Korea and brought home Brennan on March 3, 2003. I had six weeks off of school and Dave ended up having even more time off of work. Financially it was very tough for us, but Dave was able to be with Brennan the first six months he was in America.
We had so much fun the summer of 2003 because the three of us could travel and spend as much time as we wanted "up north". We relaxed, laughed, and traveled together most of the summer. We felt so lucky to have this time together!
In the fall of 2003, Brennan started daycare and his first teacher is still a wonderful friend today! Brennan enjoyed his daycare for three years. Dave found an excellent job with a developer and truly felt appreciated for his hard work.
Finally Brennan was old enough to come to my school in 2006. We enrolled him in the school day fours class at The Raleigh School. He was young (he turned four that October) and he was tired. He went from three hour long naps to NO naps. It was an adjustment for our sleepy boy! We were going to keep him in preschool for another year, but we completely fell in love with his class of kids! And so Brennan started kindergarten in 2007 (he turned five that October). He is young for his grade, but enjoys school and has had excellent teachers his whole life! We love the changes we've seen because of his wonderful and nurturing teachers. Brennan was a very quiet and shy boy who cried when he stood in front of his kindergarten class for the spring show. He is now an outgoing and social eight year old! Thank you TRS!
In 2007 we decided we wanted to adopt again. This time China was a perfect fit for us. We began the paperwork and everything was logged in China on July 21, 2007. And we waited... and waited... and updated our homestudy... and got fingerprinted again... and waited... and waited... and updated our homestudy again... and got fingerprinted again... and paid more money to our government to update our I600 A... and waited... and waited... and got ANOTHER homestudy update... and paid more money to our government... and got fingerprinted again... and waited... and finally decided to change to the Special Needs Program.
We knew that if we changed to a SN adoption, we could finally bring a child home. We changed in January of 2011 and saw our precious daughter's picture for the first time on March 7th. We sent our letter of intent the next day and got our pre-approval on March 15th. We knew she was perfect for us but we were a little nervous that China may have a different opinion. Finally on April 4th we got our acceptance letter from China! We were so excited, she was going to be ours! We decided on a name- Katelyn Faith, and we'll call her Kate. She is perfect for our family!
Dave and I have had our ups and downs... but through it all we have been good friends. We've definitely struggled financially because of the economy and the unemployment that Dave has had to endure. Happily Dave enjoys his newest job as an independent contractor for KCI. Brennan has been the best gift to us and truly brings out the best in both of us. We were so honored that we would be blessed again with another beautiful and precious person! God is good!
We fundraised and applyed to grants like crazy to bring our daughter home. Financially we truly didn't know how we were going to come up with the $18,000.00 needed to bring her home in June. God was good and with the help of many friends and three grants, we were able to bring her home. We even came up with enough for Brennan to travel with me, which was such a blessing!
The blog is a snapshot of our life and our journey. We still have our ups and downs but always try to stay focused on the positive and the many blessings in our life! Kate and Brennan are truly a dream come true! I can't believe I finally have my two children that I prayed about for so long!
And so our story continues...