Although we have been married for 8 years, we have been together for 19 years. We met in 2001 while working as interns at Disney World in Florida, we went there through the universities that we attended (which were not the same!) We met through a mutual friend and our connection was immediate.
After our time at Disney World, we went back to our colleges, our states, our homes (Hawaii and New York) and continued our relationship long distance. For two and a half years we travelled back and forth to be together. Once Chris graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree, he moved to Hawaii to continue his education in Culinary Arts while Vanessa worked on her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Resources. Upon graduation we both continued living in Hawaii with family while we worked in our respective fields, Chris as a Chef and Vanessa as a Teacher. A year later an opportunity opened for Chris and with Vanessa’s full support, we both moved to West Virginia. Then a few years later moved back to New York, where we currently reside.
In 2013 we were blessed with our daughter, Nora. She is well-mannered, respectful, goofy, thoughtful, compassionate, empathetic, and talented. She loves to draw, paint and do crafts. She enjoys the outdoors and, when the opportunity arises, she enjoys swimming. She even loves music! She is always dancing (she takes Tap) and Ukulele lessons. Most of all, she cannot wait to be a big sister. You can see it in the way she plays with her dolls and stuffed animals: the way she cradles them and rocks them, feeds them, talks to them and the loving and gentle way she tucks them in at night before she goes to sleep.
Family Is Very Important To Us...
As a couple, we have wonderful role models in our parents who have been married for more than 40 years each. It is their commitment to each other and love for each other and their families that we continue to look up to. Through them we experienced the importance of cherishing your spouse and children...and the result of having a fulfilling family life and an environment for our children to thrive in, feel loved, nurtured and secure and to help to create a wonderful foundation for their future life success.
Vanessa comes from a large extended family. She grew up in a family where she is one of 23 grandchildren. They did almost everything together. Growing up in Hawaii and being surrounded by beaches, there were a lot of picnics on the beach, flying homemade kites and trips around the island with a caravan of cars in tow. Weekends were spent with family BBQs, playing and laughing. Family members took turns hosting sleepovers with up to six cousins crammed into a bed, staying up late, telling jokes and talking all night. Birthdays were not just a gathering but a celebration. Vanessa shares her birthday month with 9 other family members and it just made sense to hold one big party to celebrate everyone.
One thing that stands out for Vanessa is having her Nana (grandmother) there for her throughout her childhood and adulthood. Not only did they immigrate to the US together, but her Nana lived with her, her mother, her father and her sister. While her parents worked, Nana was there to make sure she went to school and had a hot meal at the end of the day. She was there for all the birthdays and graduations. Nana also walked down the aisle on our wedding day. As Nana grew older the more Vanessa was able to reciprocate all that she did for her while she was growing up by taking her to appointments, running errands and taking care of her.
Family was also an integral part of Chris’s upbringing. In addition to his parents, Chris spent a lot of his younger years with both sets of grandparents, as well as his 3 aunts and 2 uncles. They all had an important role in taking Chris and his sister to experience new things such as roller skating, bowling, or swimming at the YMCA. We also took yearly trips camping where immediate and extended family (all 12 of us) would go exploring on nature hikes, fishing, learning about animals, and cooking s'mores around the campfire at night.
Chris has an older sister who was a great role model for him growing up. She was busy as a straight “A” student and valedictorian of her high school. She always made time to help Chris with a project or homework if he needed it. She taught him to always try your hardest and be the best you can be.
Chris’ parents always put their childrens’ needs above their own. His father, a factory worker on the night shift, made time to see as many of Chris’ baseball or football games as he could. Chris’s mother, a state employee, personally drove her children to school everyday, helped with countless projects and always made sure they had healthy meals to enjoy. Chris’ parents were always an amazing example of what it means to be a parent and the important responsibilities that come with it.
As a couple, we have wonderful role models in our parents who have been married for more than 40 years each. It is their commitment to each other and their families that we look up to, and hope that we too have just as successful of a marriage as they do with happy children who are successful, well taken care of and loved.