We got married...
Went on our short but sweet honeymoon to Sunriver...
Got home and acted all grown up by chaperoning middle school dances on Friday nights ;)
Went to our first Cal game together...
Had a Fall Feast Family Fun Day at our apartment...
And I started a little team with my kids at the Community Center.
They were National Champions ;)
Matt supported me through it all. He stopped working when Emerald City Dance started growing...and growing...and growing!
Summer of 2012, Mel & Clint got married. I threw her Bridal Shower at our apartments clubhouse.
Emerald City Dance grew to 7 locations. I had 11 instructors. So...we opened a studio.
I was 24 years old.
I worked my butt off on that place. At this point, we were also trying to have a baby.
It was so exciting. But, I was at war already. War with wanting to be a mom and wanting to own Emerald City Dance. Wanting so badly for the moms to be okay with me just "running and owning" the studio and not teaching anymore, but knowing that would never happen. The parents were never happy with who I had come in. I could never get the right instructors... It was just the wrong timing.
Here we are at Mel & Clint's wedding :)
We went on an Alaskan Disney Cruise :)
11 days later, we spent 10 days in Whistler with Matt's family. Purposely took this picture in front of the railroad sign hoping we were pregnant and that it might be a girl...Lilly Belle ;) (We weren't yet) This was September 2012.
We went on a vacation to Disneyland with my team kids in November.
We got home and I had a team sleepover on December 1st.
That night, before I left for the sleepover at the studio, where the kids stayed up until 4am and I was EXHAUSTED, we found out...we were pregnant!
I didn't spend that night with my husband...I spent it with these goofballs cleaning up little girl puke from eating too much candy lol and listening to them be silly girls until the sun came up ;)
Matt was nervous/excited. I was...excited/excited.
Me and the bump worked through dance conventions, rehearsals, meetings and I continued teaching 20+ hours/week plus running all the locations. Here is me and Lilly Belle at a convention.
We got her nursery all ready...
I remember wishing I could do more of this. I was tired and at 27 weeks, I started to hurt. My hips twisted from dancing and were an inch off. I started having weekly chiropractor and physical therapy appointments because of all the dancing I was having to do.
Subs were a no go. I wasn't finding any teachers who would a. show up and b. make the parents happy. So...I chugged through. Matt helped me at home by always making sure I had food and he was always there to listen to me when I needed him. Always.
We went to Sunriver for a long vacation with Matt's family but I wasn't able to do anything since I was 27/28 weeks and unable to walk at this point. Yet...I still taught dance 20+ hours/week. Ouch.
We had some beautiful maternity photos :)
I made it to 38 weeks and a few days, and then...
We met our sweet daughter, Lilly Belle. After a 3 hour and 42 minute labor - Thank you, Lilly Belle!
Here is where our story, Our Adventure, begins and where this post picks up a bit in speed.
While in the hospital, I had a team mom asking me about costumes. ...while in the hospital after giving birth to my first baby.
Then, after only a few weeks at home with Lilly Belle, I felt pressured to come back to teach - to be present.
That was the hardest time in my whole life.
I struggled every-single-day.
I loved my dance kids more than anything. But now, I had Lilly Belle who was my whole world, and I wasn't getting to be home and be present with her. Tons of phone calls and text messages daily.
I never got a maternity leave.
Thankfully, Matt was a stay at home dad, so at least he got lots of time with her and her with him.
I have a hard time writing about this, but this is our family blog and I want it to always be true and real.
I couldn't stop teaching because if I wasn't the one there...people got mad. Things didn't go right. It never worked out right unless I was there. Even when I was there, it wasn't right because I was never ALL there. My whole heart was at home. I would try to bring Lilly Belle with me. She would cry. I would cry. I had to cancel a practice because it was just TOO soon. I freaked out.
All I wanted was a little time just with her. I got a couple weeks, but even those were filled with text messages and phone calls about subs, practices, etc. I was always working because the studio was still going and I was the everything to the studio, to the classes, to the team, to everything.
I couldn't just stop. Matt wasn't working. Too many people ...KIDS...were counting on me.
I slowed down as much as I could.
I took a step back and realized how fast Lilly Belle was growing.
We took the team kids to Disneyland again when Lilly Belle was 3 months old.
I was backstage almost a full weekend with little breaks to go see her. I was still nursing. Pumping in the locker rooms backstage as she wasn't allowed ;) My in-laws came to help Matt and I was bitter at all them. Jealous. Of Matt too. I wanted to be with Lilly Belle. I was just so, so depressed and sad. It was really hard.
Christmas time came and we spent a LONG time at the beach house. We loved being there and I loved being with my family. I loved just being Mommy, SO much!
Lilly Belle spent time with her cousins and they got to love on her chubby little self:)
At this point, we were having a hard time financially. With me not teaching classes, people stopped signing up. The studio started to lose a lot of kids. But, I couldn't always be there and couldn't do it alone. We didn't have enough to hire help, we were such a small program. I was stretched too thin.
We made the decision over this vacation to move in with Matt's parents in their condo.
Lilly Belle didn't mind sleeping in our room a bit longer ;)
In February, 2014, we closed down the studio. The team's season was over, we didn't have enough enrollment and I was stretched super thin. We decided that it was the best thing to do at the time. And although I did and do miss my team kids a lot, I still see a few of them still and there are parents who still stay in touch. One mom, Jodee, even watches Lilly Belle every Tuesday for us. Lilly Belle loves Jodee so SO so much. She gets so excited to see her! We are so thankful. There were a few families who really helped us when we needed it and who were there for me as more than a dance mom, but as a friend. That is what made it so hard. It wasn't everyone pressuring me. Many understood I wanted and needed to be with Lilly Belle. It was a rough time.
Cogsy couldn't stay with us at the condo, so our friends Haley & Liam who I used to nanny for watched him for FOUR months!! We are eternally grateful for them as well. This is what I'm saying, we have met some incredible people while living here...
So the studio closed and we still had our community center program and a preschool.
We moved into a new apartment, the one we are in now. And our babies were reunited ;)
I took the summer off to be with Lilly and Autumn & Jessica did all the summer camps. I just taught on Tuesday afternoons at the preschool.
It was Heaven.
I soaked up every single second with Lilly Belle.
We did go to visit a few times...
And then it happened. The community center called me in for a meeting, just weeks after getting our apartment and back on our feet, to tell us they were shutting our program down.
No real valid reasons given.
My heart was broken again.
In 4 years, I taught over 2,000 children here in Issaquah/Sammamish. ...2,000!
I grew up with them. In those 4 years of starting Emerald City Dance I was married and became a mommy. But more...I became me. I learned so much.
Once that ended, it was time for us to re-evaluate.
Matt had been working for a while at this point and is now at Microsoft again.
We went on a vacation to the beach house and while we were there this summer, in July actually, is when we decided.
In January, we will be moving to Olympia.
We have had an amazing time here meeting some amazing friends and learning so much and growing so much, but...it is time for Lilly Belle to be closer to family and for us to have our home.
Here is what we have learned.
At the end of the day...it's family. And, with my family living in Wisconsin, we want to be close to Matt's side if we are living here.
We are so excited about our new adventure and all the new things we will see and do together as a family.
I will be teaching classes at the Tumwater Community Center beginning in January and will commute 2 days a week for a preschool and Saturday morning classes. I will be with Lilly Belle a ton and when I'm not with her, she will be with her Papa or maybe even her Auntie and cousins sometimes!
We are thankful for the friends we have made and hope to visit often! We won't be THAT far away ;)