Belated {Birthday} Visit Post

Friday, December 14, 2012

Well this post is a few months late - but what the heck I'm going to write it anyway.  Back in September, around my birthday, Don, De and Deanna came to visit me and see my new townhouse.  It was really great to see them and to be able to show them around my first real home.  They brought me a birthday card which was really sweet.  Here are some pictures from their visit.  They were on their way to an NC State football game, and I just got home from the gym - hence the sports-themed attire.  Go Pack!

{The gang's all here!}
{welcome, welcome, welcome}
{stairs slidgeage}
{Deanna insisted on cleaning my entire kitchen with a sponge. De looks amused.}

{whoa there! missed a spot...}

{now smile and say "Type-A!"}

{moving onto bigger and better things - like couch modeling}

{sweet little thing}

{a little monkeying around}

{Hawaiian Punch - my beverage of choice when Deanna was in the womb and now she loves it too!} 

You look really familiar...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Since the beginning of Amstel Life in 2009, I've kept pretty mum on the details of my love life. For privacy reasons, I rarely blog about specific people, situations and circumstances involving my love life - until now.  On this very rare occasion, now that I'm engaged (typing those words still brings a smile to my face), I want to introduce this very special person to my readers, share how we met and finally became engaged, and explain how he fits into our open adoption journey.

I met Aaron in March of 2009.  I was living the single life and was out on the town enjoying a few cold ones with my best friend Angela Bell (or as Deanna says, "Angi-bell" because she has beautiful red hair like Ariel) at a local sports cafe in Raleigh (sports cafe just sounds so much classier than sports bar).  I was a month and a half shy of graduating from NC State, and my life couldn't have been crazier.  I was juggling two internships, leading two student organizations on campus, had just begun a part-time job visiting medical practices in the area, and was desperately trying to get all of my school work completed before the end of the semester. Okay, so back to the "sports cafe." Angela and I were there to watch Carolina Hurricanes hockey game, and in order to get a table faster we decided to combine groups with some people we didn't know. Angela and I quickly became friends with the people we randomly got seated with. I was glancing around the room when suddenly, I noticed a very attractive stranger, a few tables away, looking straight at me. Well, actually, he was doing more than looking. He was kind of staring. We met eyes a few times, and I quickly became self conscious. Did I have something on my face? I asked Angela and she gave me a funny look because I clearly didn't. I decided to head to the restroom to double check myself in the mirror anyway. As I was coming out of the bathroom, I spotted the same guy who had been staring at me. He was in the hallway right outside of the bathroom...walking towards me!  This is my favorite part; he walked right up to me and used the old "You look really I know you from somewhere?" line. I laughed, and we immediately hit it off.  Aaron was witty, smart, athletic, attractive and outdoorsy. He asked if I had a boyfriend, and I told him that I did not. Apparently he thought that one of the guys sitting at my table was a boyfriend, so he had decided to approach me privately instead of walking up to my table, introducing himself to me, and risk starting a bar - I mean sports cafe - fight. This explains why he believed a bathroom ambush was the best course of action. I thought that was very noble of him.

Although he was a few years older than me, it turns out we actually had a lot in common. He was athletic (he was a sprinter on the track team at Georgia Tech when he was in college), had three younger sisters, and was a Christian. I was smitten. After a while, I realized that I should probably let my friend Angela know that I was fine and hadn't been abducted.  So naturally, I sent her a quick text that may or may not have said something something along the lines of: "Met someone in the bathroom. Hot. 30." And Angela knew that I was fine.

Aaron and I talked for a while longer, and he asked for my phone number. A few days later, he called and asked me on a date. I told him I was too busy to even think about dating, but if he could wait a month until I graduated from college then I would gladly take him up on that offer.  Well, he waited. It was the evening before I graduated from NC State, and Aaron and his friends met up with me and some of my friends. We hit it off again, and later that same week we finally went on our first date. Three years later, he asked my dad for permission to marry me. Keith gave his approval.

One of the many things I love about Aaron is that even though he's rough around the edges and is one of the manliest guys I know, he is one of the most loyal and kind hearted people I know.  I have felt so comfortable and at ease around him since the minute I met him. It really feels like I have known him my whole life. A few weeks before we went on our first date, we became Facebook friends and he happened upon my blog. He sent me a little message to let me know that he thought the decision I made was admirable and he thought even more highly of me because of it. How rare for a guy to call my decision "admirable!" It was such a relief to know that Aaron wasn't going to be one of the many guys who ran in the opposite direction after learning about my past - and the four-year-old fruit of my loins.

Another reason I think Aaron and I bonded so quickly is because we have both experienced loss in our lives at about the same time. My loss was the result of me getting pregnant in high school and ultimately choosing open adoption, but Aaron's loss wasn't his choice. Unfortunately, his mother passed away from cancer in 2007 – before I had a chance to meet her. From what I’ve heard, she was an amazing, vibrant, Godly woman who deeply touched every person she knew. Fortunately, I've had the opportunity to watch a video of Myra speaking to their entire church on Mother's Day, and his three sisters, Jenny, Hannah and Anne, each have beautiful characteristics and personalities that give me glimpses of what she must have been like.

Over the past few years, Aaron has spent lots of time with me during visits with Don, De and Deanna. Recently, we took a trip down to South Carolina to visit our wedding venue for the first time, and we took that opportunity to spend some quality time with Don, De and Deanna (who recently turned 7!). We asked Deanna to be a flower girl in our wedding, and she then asked us if we could just get married "tomorrow" so she didn't have to wait until next year. We all laughed. So naturally, we decided to take her with us to our wedding cake tasting appointment. Turns out she is a pretty good decision maker. :) It's awesome to see Aaron and Deanna getting along so well, and of course Don and De love Aaron too.

It's so clear to me now that this is how things are supposed to be. If you had told me five or six years ago that I would be as happy as I am today, I would have never believed it. Never. I still remember the tears and the sadness and the depression and the guilt. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to overcome those things.  But here I am today, a very real testament to the fact that with a little faith, anything is possible.  It's amazing what God has done - and continues to do - in my life.  Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."  I'm so thankful that even when I didn't understand why I had to go thought what I went through, God did.  He used my lapses in judgement and turned them into tremendous blessings. After all of the heartbreak and discouragement and loss, it's encouraging to know that all along, God had a greater purpose and a better plan for my life. I'm still learning to trust Him everyday and walk by faith and not by sight, but I'm so thankful to have this amazing guy by my side to help me navigate through this crazy journey.

Photos compliments of Erin Dietrich Photography :)


Thursday, September 6, 2012

A few months ago I made the executive decision to finally hire {a professional blog designer} to give Amstel Life the look I'd always envisioned.  In previous months, I had played around with my template settings and for one reason or another, I just couldn't find the perfect combination of color, font, and layout to really make my blog a true reflection of myself and my story.  I knew I needed to find a blog design specialist who could give Amstel Life the visual boost needed to really stand out.

So I took my search to - what else - the Internet!  I began my search for a custom blog designer on Google.  I did lots of research and previewed a ton of portfolios.  By mere happenstance, I came across a website called Key Lime Digital Designs by the lovely Kendra John.  I absolutely loved her portfolio and her design style was exactly what I was looking for. I submitted an inquiry form and she responded almost immediately.  I felt so comfortable from the moment I read her first email.  Kendra worked tirelessly over the past few weeks, giving me mock-ups and more mock-ups and changes and more changes and edits and more edits until I finally figured out exactly what I wanted.  To say that I was a bit indecisive at times would be an understatement. :)  Thankfully, Kendra stuck around.  I'm so happy to finally have a blog design that really stands out and that reflects my personality perfectly.

Thank you times a million, Kendra!


National Council for Adoption: the blog

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thank you all for the wonderful congratulatory comments.  Aaron and I are so excited to start planning our wedding.  I'll reveal the full story about how we met and how I realized that he was "the one" in one of my next blog posts.

Something I forgot to mention on my blog is that my story was published on the National Council for Adoption Blog on July 17th.  Here's a link to the story: Open Adoption: A Birthmother's Story |  Maintaining Openness in Adoption and Finding a Good Fit for All Involved.

Can't wait to share more!


Truth be told...

Friday, June 29, 2012

I've written a ton of awesome blog posts lately - in my head.  Truth be told, for one reason or another, none of these posts {that have seriously been written in my head} have made it from my brain to the keyboard.  I don't know if it's procrastination or feeling too vulnerable to share what's in my heart. This blog has been a great way to share my experiences as a birthmother, but I have to admit there are times that I envy those anonymous bloggers who are free to write about whatever the heck they want without the fear of offending someone they know personally. It's much easier to be honest when you don't have to worry about offending someone you care about.  Anyone else ever feel like this?

Also, it seems like every time I even think about posting an update, I find something else to do that's "more important."  I'll blog just as soon as I fold all of this laundry that's piled on my bed... and Clorox wipe up the kitchen... and then check out the newsfeed to make sure nothing important has escaped my eyes within the last 15 minutes.  Ha.

I was sitting in church last Sunday morning, on the very last page of our sermon notes, I saw something that caught my attention. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says "If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done."  In context, this verse is referring to a farmer who is waiting for perfect conditions to plant seeds. It made me realize that if I continue to wait for perfect conditions to write a blog post - it's probably never going to happen.

There are plenty of things to write about.  First, some updates from the past year.  I was able to attend the Birthmom Buds Annual Retreat this year in Charlotte, and it was fabulous.  Here's a nice little group pic.  We had birthmothers from all across the country, and it was so so so so so great to finally meet some of these women.  I already knew a few of them through blogging, and it was particularly special to have been assigned to sit next to sweet, little Leah from o-momma writes. {}, whom I've had the pleasure of meeting in Raleigh a  few years ago. If you haven't had a chance to read her blog yet, hit that up!

In other news, I had the opportunity to participate in my first mission trip in March.  I went to Barbados with a small group from Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  We went down to "Bim" as the locals say, to encourage an existing sports ministry there.  It was an unforgettable experience, and it was amazing to see how God is working through sports ministry in that part of the world, and humbling to be a small part of that. We really bonded with our new Bajan friends. I think of our new friends often, and of course, I'd go back in a heartbeat.  I'll share more about my journey to Barbados, how I got involved, and what we specifically did there, but in the meantime, here are a few of my pictures:

Aaaaaaaaaany whoooo.  Oh, and I recently bought a house.  A townhouse to be specific, but a big deal nonetheless!  Here's a picture of my humble abode.  She's a real gem, and these past few weeks have been filled with painting, decorating, and moving. By the way, this is the 3rd time my boyfriend has graciously helped me to move everything that I own into a new place in the past three years - that's love. He's definitely a keeper.  

Never in a coon's age could I have imagined I'd be a homeowner at 25, but here I am, planting my roots even further in a city that I {absolutely} adore. I'll save the exciting story of how I happened upon home-ownership for another post. 

Finally, my last update is something that deserves acknowledgement because it is a part this open adoption story.  Deanna's birthfather is getting married.  I'm very happy for him, and I'm thankful that his fiance is a wonderful person who also loves Deanna very much. Since our relationship ended many years ago, a huge fear of mine was that he would end up marrying someone who didn't love Deanna as much as we do.  I am so thankful that I don't have to worry about that anymore.  As De, Don and I have always said, the more people to love on Deanna the better. 

Something I've come to realize in the {nearly} 7 years since Deanna's adoption, is that God does have an amazing plan for my life. Although I must admit that I couldn't always see that plan. One of the many awesome things about God is that He will make the plans He has for us clear in His perfect timing.  His plans are to prosper us, and to give us hope and a future. Isn't that amazing? In the meantime though, there are times where we have to walk by faith and not by sight. There have been many times in the years following Deanna's adoption that I've felt completely uncertain of what God had in store for my life, and I tried really hard to make things happen in my own timing.  But I'm so thankful that God has put me exactly where I was supposed to be at each point in my life. Ever faithful, He has opened the right doors and closed the wrong ones.     

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 55:8-9.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than you thoughts. 

Thanks for hanging in there while I took my mini-hiatus.  Looking forward to getting back to writing again. 



BirthMom Buds Fiesta

Friday, February 3, 2012

Okay, my fellow birthmoms. Guess what's coming up in May? Yep, you guessed it!  It's the annual BirthMom Buds Retreat!  This year, the BirthMom Buds Fiesta is being held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Uptown Charlotte. We'll have weekend of activities planned beginning on Friday, May 4th - Sunday, May 6th. Limited space is available, so if you plan to attend, be sure to email Coley at: as soon as possible.

Hoping to finally meet some of my fellow birthmom bloggers this year!

Hasta Luego!