Both of us were in graduate school when we met, but we were both dating the wrong people. It took us a while to figure that out, after graduation, actually. But when we were single, Derek wrote on Facebook that he was going to a barbecue place to listen to bluegrass music, and Kelly flirtatiously joked that, in that case, they were definitely meant to be. Facebook messages led to phone calls. One night when a thunderstorm meant that cell phone reception was bad, Derek drove to his office to use the landline to call her and felt awful about racking up a three hour phone bill that night.
Monthly cross-country flights led to an engagement at a dive bar because the fancy restaurant where he intended to propose was closed for the winter (oops!). She said yes and we've been married now for ten years. We make a life with two careers (minimum, Derek usually has a few extras), far away family, close-knit friends, and with a commitment to God, the world, and one another.
We're too modest to brag, but we do feel our home is absolutely awesome! We lucked into it because the family who built it had to move pronto so we got a great deal. It has four bedrooms, a family room with a fireplace and tall ceilings with windows from the floor to (almost) ceiling. It's on a hillside overlooking a beautiful river. The hill is too steep to climb up easily, so last year Derek made a stairway (135 steps!) so we can get down there to fish and play. We're in the woods, which makes for lousy gardening (curses from all the shade!) but wonderful walks. The kitchen is a showpiece, and we love to have people over for big dinners. Every Sunday in the summer, for instance, we host a potluck dinner for 20-50 people. We make a main course, usually something on the smoker, and others bring sides and desserts. Derek made almost all the furniture in the house, and hopes slowly to replace all remaining store-bought items with homemade. There's a great deck where we eat lots of meals when it's nice. Kelly does the enormous task of keeping toys organized in the large family room in the lower-level, next to matching bedrooms and a bathroom. The property is about four acres on a gravel road. It feels secluded and remote, but it's only five minutes from the town where we work. There is a large playhouse with a swing set in the front yard up on a raised deck that is Madeleine's secret clubhouse where she stores her fossil collection and pretends she's a rancher.
"Kelly finds it easy to see the best in people, a skill that I lack. She is the rare person who is not naive about how much hurt and ickiness is in the world, but still is truly joyful, hopeful and willing to work for a better future. She is passionate about looking out for her family. She will drive many miles to go to a craft fair, a small town festival or a cool covered bridge. Her precision and desire for order make for delicious scones, a pristine house, and a day that's full of activity, but nothing is missed. She is a fantastic mother. She worked as a nanny to a family for many years and learned that kids thrive when there's some order and some rules, but ultimately know they are loved. She's faithful, whip-smart and quick to laugh at internet memes, goofy jokes, and the antics of our pets." – written by Derek
"Derek is outgoing, quick to laugh, and always looking for a good friend to invite to a party. He knows more people across the country and around the world than you can imagine, he forms deep relationships and keeps them across time and great distances. He likes music, woodworking, storytelling, bad puns (and good ones), and delicious foods. He loves to eat, but more importantly loves to cook up great feasts to share with everyone we know and love and people we want to know better. Derek loves to sing, especially with other people in choirs. While he is very social, Derek also enjoys time alone in his woodshop dreaming up the next beautiful creation he can give to a friend or family member. He is brilliant. He reads and remembers nearly everything, his office is floor to ceiling books and he can talk to just about anyone about just about anything. He is a creative and loving parent, including our daughter in his projects and teaching her to love learning. He is a beloved colleague and mentor." – Written by Kelly