My Boi Kittle

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I gave birth to three sons, but in reality we have a fourth son. He came into our family when he was about seven years old and not matter what we do, we cannot get him to leave! Yeah, this is not a “Blind Side” kind of story. Nope, this it’s more like Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver…I kid, I kid! It’s really like Fred and Barney from The Flintstones. Two guys who are good separate but better (and full of trouble!) together.

Will Kittle (Kittle in my house since i already have a Will) played soccer at the YMCA with Luke when they were little boys. They became fast friends who despite going to different schools until college, remain best friends to this day (I like to think Kittle is Luke’s Lynne… except they break more stuff and eat more food!) So as is want to happen, over the years of the boys being together, he just became family. I can’t even begin to count the nights he spent at my house nor the meals he’s shared with us and vice versa at the Kittle house. So much time together that both my other two boys are almost as close to him as Luke is.

Now don’t misunderstand, it has not always been smooth sailing with these two. Oh no! There was a time amidst broken school bus windows, destroyed furniture and conversations with the youth pastor about their latest “incident” at church when I thought I would pull their hair out if they didn’t calm down and straighten up! But not only did they straighten up, Kittle and Luke have become fine young men who are both excelling at Georgia Tech (yes, Ga Tech even though for most of his life, Kittle, bled the red and black of the University of Georgia BullDawgs!)

I love the fact that even if Kittle is only home a few hours, we get a visit. Heck, he comes by to visit whether Luke is here or not. Like I said, he’s our fourth and cheapest son… we’ve yet to pay a dime for his college tuition! Now food on the other hand…

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30 Years And Counting…

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We’ve been friends for 30 years… 30 YEARS PEOPLE!! That is a really long time to continue liking someone who is not family and we not only like each other, we truly love each other and cannot imagine doing life without the others. We’ve definitely had our share of STUFF- cancer, divorce, career changes, infertility, marriage issues, faith crisis, children and so on but the one constant? Unfailing love and support.

It started innocently enough, we were at cheerleading camp the summer before heading into our junior year of high school. Each room was a suite for four people so my best friend and I looked around to find two unsuspecting souls others to share a room with us. Our eyes locked with theirs and a beautiful friendship was born. I know most of you found your dearest and best friends in college. Maybe you were sorority sisters or were random roommates/hall mates but we are part of the smallest friend group in the world- lifelong friends from high school. We didn’t go to the same college, in fact we set off to three different schools yet we not only stayed best friends we became closer with every year.

Once all the kids were old enough (we have 11 amongst the 4 of us) we decided it was time for some girl trips. (I’m sure when you think of girl trips you think of wild, crazy, not family friendly times but we are a different breed… no, we are NOT boring, just different thank you) We can spend an entire weekend watching movies, eating amazing food, playing cards and talking, lots and lots of talking. I use the term “watching movies” loosely because we’ve started hundreds of movies on these trips and yet only Shawn and I tend to see the endings. I don’t care if we start the movie at 8:00pm, Kay and Lynne are just not going to make it to the end. It’s like it is engrained in their brains to release melatonin and fall asleep before the ending. I’m seriously not making this up people!! Inevitably breakfast is spent with Shawn and me recapping the movie for the sleepy heads sometimes having to start from almost the beginning (Lynne has actually fallen asleep before the opening credits finished but don’t tell her I told you, K?) Is it weird? Yes, but it’s just what we do.

Now that the kids are mostly in high school and up, we’ve gotten more creative with our trips. When you have four people splitting one room you can afford to go places that are super nice like the St Regis or the Ritz-Carlton (feel free to comp our room hotel people) and that is exactly what we do. We’ve started working our way through the east coast Ritz-Carlton’s one by one always staying at club level. Why club level you ask? One word, MACAROONS. Yep, Lynne is our self-proclaimed travel agent and she is in LOVE with macaroons. (I think she single handedly created the great macaroon shortage in Key Biscayne Florida in the summer of 2012 but I can’t prove it.) Another perk of staying at club level at the Ritz? ADULT ONLY POOL. Hello!! We’re there to enjoy a break from our family so it’s the perfect place to hang out and what else, talk.

So ladies, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of being the Awesome Foursome, I want to take this time to thank you. Thank you for not sharing with my kids all the trouble I may or may not have gotten into, times that I made a fool of myself in front of a boy and most importantly, how gifted I am with a roll of toilet paper and a few trees. Remember, I know your secrets too!

A Real BFF…

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I was seven years old when Lynne chose me. Chose me for what you might ask? To be her best friend, confidant and partner in crime. Why did she choose me? I’ll never know but I’m oh so blessed she did. When Lynne and I met, I was a shy, introverted second grade little girl who did everything she could to fade into the background. As the youngest of three kids each a year a part, I was most concerned with not causing trouble. Of course that ALL changed with time and most importantly with Lynne (yep, I’m blaming you!)

My first clue that life as Lynne’s BFF would be different should have come when we were in middle school and she walked into homeroom to inform me that we were going to be in a community play where she would have the lead and I would have a secondary role. K? Ok…and we were. Lynne has the gift of giving… not of gifts (even though she’s good at that) but of true potential. She gave me the confidence to be on stage in spite of my total lack of talent and ability not to mention my terror of speaking in public.

My ballroom dancing skills, tennis prowess, date to the Junior Prom (hi Jeff!), bizarre sense of humor and uncanny ability to burst out laughing at the MOST inappropriate time are all credited to Lynne. For some reason when she was doing life with me, I had no fear of failure, rejection or falling short. She embraced life with such joy that I just assumed it would all be fine. And you know what? It was.

Those that know me now struggle to believe me when I tell them how painfully shy I was before Lynne. You see in just the last 10 years I’ve spoken at women’s retreats & events, been the design coordinator for a major golf tournament, led countless Bible studies and often get accused of working the room wherever I am. The very confident woman you see today was many years in the making.

I know that much of what I am today is because Lynne refused to take “no” for an answer. Now we were not always building character and good life skills but since I’m not sure if the statute of limitations has expired yet, I’ll keep most of our adventures to myself. What I will tell you is that 38 years later with us both happily married and mothers to seven kids total, we are still best friends (yeah, yeah I know I’m supposed to say my husband is my best friend but realistically, I never would have had the courage to go out with much less ask him to marry me if it weren’t for her… so he understands!) So to all of you out there like me, make sure you thank the Lynne’s in your life for helping you become the woman you were truly intended to be. If she’s anything like my Lynne you can do that by sending her a few dozen macaroons.

My Ansley

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               It started oddly enough. Our church’s women’s ministry was beginning a new mentoring program. Now this is something that has always been near and dear to my heart because I’ve always been blessed to have an older friend to help me navigate life. Cindy showed me how to be a wife, Peggy showed me how to be a mom and Leigh showed me how to be a Godly woman. (hey, they did their best… they’re not miracle workers) So when the sign-up for this appeared, I was SO in!!

                There was an initial meeting to see who was interested and then a second meeting where you found out your match (yes, it felt somewhat like match day at med school… would I get picked? would I like said pick??) When they introduced me to my mentee, I was perplexed to say the least. She was single, young, career oriented and worst of all A MORNING PERSON!!! What were you people thinking?? I knew without a doubt this was never going to work.

                She insisted we get together the very next night to decide when our required weekly meetings would take place. I began to soften when she wanted to meet at California Dreaming since they have croissants to die for. We were not far into our conversation when she dropped the BIG BOMB “Let’s meet early one morning.” Those of you that know me might need a minute to stop laughing…. those of you that don’t, should know that I sleep until the LAST POSSIBLE SECOND because I am not, nor have I have ever been or even aspired to be a morning person. So I quickly responded, “I can’t I have to be at work by 8:30am.” (insert sickeningly sweet smile on my face J) to which she quickly replied in her self-assured twenty-something way, “Get up earlier. It will be like found time.” Well, what do you say to that?!?! I rolodexed through my brain to find an excuse, any excuse to get out of this horror that I found myself in and I. HAD. NOTHING. So I agreed.

                That was the beginning of many realizations for me: we are never too old to learn or make a new friend, I was oh so wrong about this not working out, God’s plans are SO MUCH better than ours and a diehard non-morning person can change. Our meetings (yes, she not only convinced me to meet TWICE a week but to meet at 6:45am- over an hour and a half before I had to be at work) not only were the highlights of my week but seven years, one move to Nashville (her), one retirement (me), two babies (her!) and one empty nest later (me) we are closer than ever. We text/email daily and see each other no less than once a quarter. She is a part of my boy’s lives and I am a part of her kid’s lives. We keep each other on track especially where our faith is concerned. She even had her own “Are you kidding me reaction?” when we were paired and if she’s really nice, I’ll let her share that one day.

It’s funny because a co-worker once pointed out that when I’d refer to her in front of others I would always say “my friend Ansley” like that was her whole name. Before long, I noticed that I’d shortened it even more because she is my dearest friend, my confidante, my book-loving twin, my cheerleader, my pride check, simply put people, she is MY ANSLEY.