I lead an amazing life. I'm talking about the people that are around me. I am very blessed to have MANY people around me who raise me up when I am low. I had the opportunity to spend time with some of those folks today. And they have been in my life for over half of it which is quite amazing to me. But let me begin at the beginning...
I met Kim my freshman year of high school and if I recall, we immediately clicked. I was in a group of friends with which I really didn't feel I fit, and Kim scooped me up and introduced me to new people who quickly became good friends (many of whom I am still friends with today). It wasn't long before I was a fixture at Kim's house, and I realized where she got her "scooping" abilities. Her family did the same thing. They scooped me into theirs. As I was 15 at the time, I didn't feel right calling her parents Cheryl or Dan, or Mr. or Mrs., so I adopted Mamma and Dad instead...at the time it just seemed easier, but it stuck. I still call them that to this day. Her sister also got looped into my extended family, which I am very happy about. They've been around for many things. We've taken family vacations together...some where Kim came and met my family somewhere, some where both families went in their entirety and some where parts of each family went, but not the whole thing. There have been lots of laughs, lots of accomplishments, some tears, and some goodbyes. But through it all, I knew that Kim's family was behind me just as much as my own was. That is truly a blessing.
My Mom always joked that she and my Dad were not enough, so I adopted parents, and that truly wasn't the case. I just liked loving a lot of folks! (I actually have another set that I also call Mom and Dad Ryan, but we'll get to them in a different post). And I didn't have siblings, something that I longed for as a child, so I created my own. To date, I have 4 sisters, one brother and 3 sets of parents. Not bad for an only child!
Anyway, today was spent at Mamma and Dad's house (well, a portion of the day - I still had studying to do) with J to celebrate my "sister" Jenn's daughter's first birthday. Lil M (my "niece") was born last year just before Halloween and to say she is a gem is an understatement. She's so calm and pleasant...not what some one-year-olds are. She has two older cousins (Kim's sons) who are quite rowdy, and Lil M holds her own. Even though I don't see her a whole lot, she falls into my arms every time without a cry or scream, and I get my "baby fix" as Jenn's hubby calls it. I could eat her up...but I won't! It was a wonderful party with lots of family, friends, food, and of course, a one-year-old shoving lots of cake in her face.
Earlier in the day, I had run across the below photo of Kim and I at our Senior Prom in high school (I'm on the left, Kim is on the right). It made me laugh and I brought it with me to the party, to share with her and her family. They all chuckled at how old the photo was and smiled at the fact that we were still so close.
These people have given me more things that I could ever count. I call them my family, and perhaps someday they will legally become my family if need be (Kim and Jenn have both offered me their bellies if we need them to have a child). I don't know what the future brings, but either way they are still my extended family and I am very grateful for them.
This is another photo I ran across of the ladies of the family that expresses to perfection, how our days together are spent...Mamma is on the left (always laughing which is contagious), Jenn is in the middle, and Kim is on the right. Kim was 9 months pregnant here and we were having a shower for another one of our friends from HS. What do you take from their expressions?
Jenn took a great photo of Lil M and me today. When I get it, I promise to post it. Have a great week folks and I hope that you are as blessed as I am with the people in your lives.
UPDATE: As promised, here is the photo of Lil M giving me "kisses." Isn't she a doll?! I love her so much!