I'm sure that most of you know the background of my amazingly wonderful family the Roses, but in case you don't here is the abbreviated version...My husband, Brian met and married a great girl named Andrea. She was from Michigan so that is where they moved to when they started their family. Brian and Andie were blessed with twins, DJ and Coley in December of 1995 and Jacob in March of 1997. While I never had the opportunity of meeting her, I do remember seeing her and Brian with the kids in church one time, when they were here visiting Brian's family. I remember being struck by what a beautiful family they were and what a cutie the little redhead was. I didn't really know Brian at the time, although I had gone to school with his younger brother, but his dad is married to a good friend of my family ( who also happened to be my 3rd grade teacher!). Anyway, in January of 1998 Andrea very suddenly passed away. My great-grandmother passed away around the same time, and I asked my mom if Marge, Brian's step-mother, was going to sing at my Mama's funeral. She said no and told me about Andrea's passing. I very distinctly remember kneeling in church at my Mama's funeral and praying for Brian and his children. I remember praying that someday they would be able to find peace and comfort and happiness. (I'm sure that God had a good chuckle at that one!) It just seemed so unfair to me. Brian was left with the three little ones to raise by himself. And while he had a ton of support from Andie's family, he felt that he needed to move back to PA where his roots were. Brian and the kids moved back to Pa in July of 1999 as I was moving to OH to work for Nine West Company. Things weren't going the way that I had thought that they would and I found myself really struggling with where my life was going and what I was really supposed to be doing. By January I finally got to the point where I relaized that I needed to just turn my problems over to the Lord, because I obviously didn't know how to handle things. I started a novena to St Therese. My prayers were heard and a little Divine Intervention began to occur. My mom called and suggested that I meet this guy, Brian, Marge's stepson. He was really nice and his three kids were really sweet. He had just moved back to the area a few months ago. She thought that we might hit it off. I thought about it and after talking to my friends about it, I decided to give it a shot. To quote my friends, "Just go and meet the guy. It's not like you have to marry him!" Well, he called me on Valetine's Day 2000. We went out the following weekend. Because I was living in Ohio, he dropped me off at my parent's house after our date. I walked into their house and looked at my sister and told her that I was going to marry him!. She laughed at me, but 77 days later we were engaged. And on November 11, 2000 I became Mrs. Brian Hough! Not only was I blessed with an amazing husband and three beautiful children, but also my husband's family, which includes the Roses, Andrea's famliy.
The first Roses that I met were Jerry and Dianne, Andie's parents. I was sooooo nervous. Who was I to think that I could raise their daughter's children? My fears were quickly put to rest when I met them. They were so welcoming and warm. Jerry with his overwhelmingly strong bear hug and Dianne with her quiet smile. They seemed to be a little bit nervous too, maybe unsure of how things would go? I don't really know, but I think that after we met, we all felt better. As time went on, I met the rest of the clan: Jon and Reen and their kids, Dan, AJ, Sarah and Ethan, Robb and Emilie and their kids Nate, Felicia, Abby, Mia and Kelsie and finally Andie's little sister, Molly. They were all so kind and so welcoming. I know that I keep saying that, but they were really were. They have always been very careful to respect me as the kids' mom, but also open to talk about Andie with me. At first it was a little bit awkward, but I think that because we want the same thing, for the kids to be loved and taken care of, it eased some of that nervousness and made it possible to have an open and understanding relationship. It was and still is very important to me that the kids feel totally free to talk about their other mom and ask questions about her. It is important for me to be able to do the same. It can be very difficult to know that everything that makes you happy in life, everything that gives your life meaning, comes from something so sad. But my comfort has come from these people, who have so lovingly and openly welcomed me into their family, loving me as one of their own, loving ALL of my children as their own. They have truly been a blessing to me and my family.
OK....so that's the somewhat abbreviated version of the history of my family...Now that everyone is up to speed on how our whole famliy fits together, here are a few of our more recent happenings:
A few months ago we received a phone call from Molly telling us that she was engaged and getting married in August. She wanted Coley to be a junior bridesmaid and the boys to be the altar servers at her wedding mass. We were all very excited about the wonderful news. The kids were thrilled to be a part of their Aunt Molly's big day. I was really looking forward to an opportunity to go and see everyone. We decided to make a mini-vacation out of the trip so Brian and I packed up the kids and headed to Michigan. My mother-in-law Joan and her husband Patrick were coming to the wedding too, so they let DJ and Jake ride with them. It made the ride a little bit less squishy for the kids. We had planned to leave our house Tuesday evening after Brian got home from a meeting at church. But as they say, the best laid plans... Our van was at the mechanics getting inspected and tuned up for our trip. We were under the impression that it would be done by Tuesday morning, but we were very wrong. The mechaninc called us at about 9:30pm to tell us that we could come and pick it up. We decided to switch things up a little bit and get a few hours of sleep before we headed out. We packed the van up and hit the sack. We got up around 4:00 am, (not a time for human beings to be awake!) made some final rounds around the house and loaded up the kids and by 5:00 am we were on the road. We made a few stops along the way for gas, food and the inevitable potty breaks. We made it to the Roses house in Grand Rapids by 1:00 in the afternoon. The kids burst through the door yelling, "We're HERE!!!!" Nothing...Nobody was home! Coley jokingly said, "I bet Nana Rose went to buy DJ a ham!" DJ is a true lover of ham and because Nana Rose loves him so much she always buys him a Heavenly Ham whenever we go there or they come here. As if on cue Dianne walked in with a Heavenly Ham in tow! Too funny! After many hugs and kisses and some lunch, the kids headed out to the pool to splash out some of their pent up energy from the 8 hour car ride. It was then that Molly and Michael walked in. Brian and I finally had the chance to meet the groom! He was really nice and he and Brian hit it off right away...although it was a bit of a challenge to accept the fact that he is a Cleveland Browns fan. (GULP!) But since Molly was obviously over the moon in love with him we decided to let that one slide, although it did come up in conversation several times!
Reen and John had very kindly invited us to their house for dinner that night. It was great to get all of the kids together. The cousins sure get along well! Coley and Sarah hung out with their little shadows, Hannah and Gianna, in tow. I think that Coley really looks up to her big cousin Sarah. She loves to spend time with her and talk about "teen-things." After a slow start Isaac and Ethan became inseperable, to the point that Ethan told his dad that he wants Isaac to come to his birthday party in February! Dj and Jake played football with their big cousins Dan and AJ along with Dad and Uncle John. That was quite a game! Jake took one for the team and ran right into a tree. He has the scar to prove it! But don't worry because he made the catch! That's what's important, RIGHT?! It was a great evening and I enjoyed having a chance to chat with Reen and her mom. Here are a few pictures from that night:
Here is Sarah with Coley and Gia. Can you tell that Gianna loves her big cousin?!
The little ones bouncing on the trampoline.
The next day was Thursday and the big bachelorette tubing party! I have to admit that I was thrilled to be invited, but terrifed. I am deathly afraid of drowning and I wasn't quite sure what Molly meant by tubing. My fears were quickly put to rest. We arrived at this campground that had about a zillion old school buses literally overflowing with innertubes. We picked up our innertubes and alot of twine and headed to the river. We tied ourselves to eacother waded into the water and floated...8 miles down the river. It was so peaceful and relaxing and alot of fun. There were 11 of us altogether. Coley, Sarah and I along with some of the bridesmaids and Molly's friends. It was great! The whole ride took about 4 hours and the water was pretty nice. It would go from very shallow to very deep, so you coukld get out and wade a little bit or swim if you liked. I got out one time and decided that I was never doing that again. Of course right after I decided to hop out of my tube it got really deep and I couldn't pull myself back into my tube. It kept flipping over. It was not a graceful or pretty sight by anymeans. Just ask Coley! I think that she may be scarred for life! There was also a very interesting story of my 12 year old daughter being picked up by a rugged young kayaaker (sp?). Yes Sarah and Coley were literally picked up by the sweet kid with the raft. They had jumped out of their tubes to swim and check out some little clam-thingies and didn't realize how far ahead of them we had gotten. I was starting to get panicky, but then he came along and offered them a ride. Normally, I would be totally against my 12 yearold daughter just grabbing onto some strangers raft, but it was desperate times! When they were safely delivered to us, we thanked Kayaak Man and he went off to rescue some other young damsels in distress. Unfortunately I have no pictures from our tubing adventure, but it's probably a good thing!
Stay tuned for the next installment of "Our trip to Michigan"