I am a woman on a mission... or many missions, I suppose. I am the mother of two children and a dedicated wife to a fabulous husband. I love my life, even the struggles and tough decisions. Over the most recent months, I have developed a list of things that I want to accomplish in my life... a bucket list of sorts. After much contemplation, that list became a large part of my blog. I am now reorganzing it so that I can track my list, keep my blog about my family, and record the successes, complications, and wonderful aspects of my journey. I hope you enjoy reading about Life with the Ootens! Please feel free to share your list and your stories with me... I love to hear about them!
I've never been good at writing things briefly. I always feel the need to say more... explain more... so, if you like short blog posts... I'm sorry. :)
I am Andrea, mother to two children and wife to the love of my life. This blog is about my family and our journey through life. However, my "About Me" page wouldn't be complete if I didn't give you background info on how I became me. Get a cup of coffee, a stiff drink, or a five course meal... I know this is going to be long.
I was born to two young teenagers (my mom was 18 and dad was 19) in eastern Kentucky. My parents were rebellious, young, and in love, and had married about a year before I was born. Now, I know what you're thinking here... crazy teenagers in eastern Kentucky... rednecks. Well, rednecks or not (if you know them, you know they are not), they are and were the best parents a girl could ever hope for. My dad joined the military shortly after he and my mother were married. So, we moved around... a lot. Before the young age of ten, I had lived in California, Texas, Ohio, Alabama, and a few different locations in Kentucky. I know now how much that shaped my life, even though I didn't have a clue that it was affecting me then.
My dad was a boxer. That will explain a lot of things to you as you read my blog. I practically grew up in a gym... sweat, blood, and tears, all part of our everyday conversations. To impress you, I can say that he fought many great fighters and trained in Mike Tyson's camp for a time. He sparred with Tyson... pretty cool, huh?! Athletics, fitness, and sports have always been a priority in our lives. I, being the clumsy one, am definitely not the athlete that my dad and brothers are, but I love sports and I love to be active.
My parents are truly wonderful. I could not be more proud of them. You know, you hear about people who say that they are best friends with their mom? Well, I don't know how true that is for others, but my mom and I are so close. We always have been. We were never the mother/daughter combo that fought in high school... we have always had respect for each other and have enjoyed our relationship. We always say that we "grew up together" and that's why we are so much alike and, yet, so different.
Back to the story here... my dad got out of the military when I was about 11 and we moved back to our hometown in eastern Kentucky. This is where I call home, despite all of the other cities that I really "grew" up in. This is where me and my middle brother, Cory (four years younger than me), have the most memories of beating each other up, standing up for each other on the school bus, and falling in love with our youngest brother, Colt. You see, Colt was born nearly eleven years after I was, and seven years after Cory. So, we were like miniature parents to him. He was our favorite toy.
It's incredible how strong of a bond you can form with your siblings. My brothers are the people who know me... sometimes better than I know myself. They are the two people I go to when I need to hear the truth... about anything. If I feel like I'm gaining weight, I ask them if I look like I'm getting fat. And, they will actually tell me the truth.
My brothers are two great men that I am so proud of. Cory is recently married and is a wonderful stepfather to three little boys. Colt is getting ready to graduate high school, is going to college with an academic scholarship, and is loved by everyone he meets, even if he doesn't act like he likes them at all. lol. I am very blessed.
The Best Friend
While growing up in LC (that's what I'll call my hometown from here on out), I had lots of great times. I made some great friends that are still part of my life today, but none more than my best friend, Cilla. We met in fourth grade... the only real significant memory I have of our friendship beginning is her signing my Slam Book (LOL!!!) and her crying on the last day of school that it would never be the same when we would move to the middle school. High school came quickly and we became close friends. College is where we became inseparable. Well, I would say inseparable, but the coolest thing about us is that we could be together and apart for any length of time and it would never even remotely impact our friendship at all. We could pick up where we left off like it was nothing. Same goes now, but fortunately, she's still my best friend in the world and we talk more than we probably should. She can justify all of my insane ideas and I can justify any purchase she needs to make for her business. It's totally a win-win. Well, Brad and Bret might disagree, but at least we don't talk to them ALL the time... we just talk to each other.
Meeting the One
Speaking of Brad... I posted a blog recently about him and how we met. I'm going to copy a lot of that here, just to save me time in rewriting it. And, because it really does express it just right. Sorry to those of you who have already read it...
Brad and I met when we were in high school, in 1998. He moved to my high school during our senior year and I immediately decided that I was not going to like him (at all). Of course, that was because I was totally attracted to him and dating someone else. And, I thought he was the arrogant, cocky football/basketball star that would come in and play me, break my heart, and run off with some other girl. lol. So, I wasn't about to fall for him. I avoided getting to know him in our first period English class on the first day of school. I sat in the front row, he sat in the back. Typical. It was Advanced Placement, so I have to admit that I was kind of impressed that he was even in the class, but I figured that he had just been lucky and they had put him in the class because of scheduling or something. On to second period... Advanced Placement Calculus... in walks Brad Ooten and plops himself down in the seat right behind me. Again... I'm impressed. He's athletic (quarterback at his old school - sigh), good-looking, and smart. I'm doomed.
Over the course of the next six months, I found that we were so much alike (and so opposite) in SO many ways. We had a good time together. He made me laugh and helped me understand some of our calculus problems that I didn't always get. :) He had a great smile, could play the best defense of any high school basketball player I had ever seen, and he was sweet. He wasn't arrogant at all. In fact, I can remember one of the reasons that I fell for him was because he didn't treat the less popular girls any differently than the popular girls that were all swooning over him. He was faithful to his girlfriend at the time - yes, I will admit that I found that attractive, as much as it makes me mad that I am sure people are attracted to Brad for the very same reason now. :) We loved the same movies, shared the same viewpoints on most things, and had the same goals in life. We even would say the same thing at the same time... a lot. Random things that just made us realize that we were supposed to be together. For instance, his stepdad had been coming to the tobacco store that I worked at for months and months. I always had his Skoal ready for him when he came through the drive through. I had his schedule down to know when he would come through, just because. I don't know why. I didn't even know he was Brad's stepdad. He just was one of the customers that I really liked (probably because he had teeth and/or didn't have strong body odor, unlike most of the other customers we had - lol). Imagine my surprise when he walks out on the football field with Brad on Senior Night. I thought I would die of shock. And, what's funnier is that Rick (Brad's stepdad) brought Brad's best friend from West Virginia through the drive through at the shop to "see the prettiest girl in Louisa." All of this happening before either of us had put all the connections together. God was just telling us to be together... I'm sure of it, especially now. There was nothing I could do to resist him... He was just "the one."
We spent four years after high school at different colleges, managing a long distance relationship about 4 hours apart. It was tough, but we made it... and we got to do a lot of things independently that we really wanted to do. In 2003, we got married barefoot on the beach at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with all of our closest friends and family there to play a part.
We now have two amazing children. Bailey, our firecracker, five-year old, know-it-all, roll-her-eyes-at-her-mom, loving, sweet, and crazy-fun daughter has always had more energy than anyone we've ever met. She's the daughter that will make our lives hell when she's a teenager, but will make our life interesting and keep us young until we are 80. lol. And, she'll be the caring, sweet child who will take care of me when Alzheimer's sets in.
Jake, our OCD, Spiderman-obsessed, three-year old, jumping-over-everything, climbing-on-anything, throwing everything, thinking-faster-than-he-can-talk, sometimes insecure and always affectionate son has always been headstrong and stubborn, but cool and calm (until you piss him off - then WHOA!) and easy. He'll be the kid that sneaks out the bedroom window for months without us realizing it. The kid that steals with his friends, but doesn't get caught even when they do. He'll have us so snowed that we won't know what hit us. Or maybe we will since I know that he's snowing us. :)
And that brings me to the final thing I need to write about to complete this and get you "caught up" on who I am.
I had a breakdown or an awakening, whatever you want to call it. I had been a professional fundraiser for nearly 7 years. I loved raising money... but I had a real desire to stay home with my kids. My husband received a promotion at his job and I took complete advantage of the situation and quit my job. Everyone thought I would lose my mind at home with two kids. And, maybe that played a part in why I had this desire to start something new. About a month into staying at home, I decided that I wanted to have an adventurous life. I've never been good at being idle... not that my two kids didn't give me enough to do. I guess I just needed to be more than just their mom... to be more than a wife... to do all the things I had always wanted. I had always said, "If I didn't have to work, I'd do this..." Well, here was my chance. And who knows how long it would last? So... I decided to start my bucket list and live by it. It became a part of my blog, like everything seems to, and it's now a major focus in my life. So, enjoy reading... I hope that the list is inspiring to you or just hilarious to read about. :)