Sarah and Justin met as young television news professionals in Albany, New York in 2007. Sarah was a news producer at the time and Justin was a news videographer. We fell in love shortly after we met, were engaged a few months later and married just over a year later! We’ve been married almost 14 years (Sept. 2022) and together for 15 years.
Today, we live in Marcellus, New York, a quiet suburb of the City of Syracuse, and only miles from the Finger Lakes. We love it here! We have a wonderful family, great friends and a terrific support system. We both work in higher education – Justin as director of marketing and communications at Cornell Law, and Sarah as senior associate vice president for communications at Syracuse University.
We have a strong relationship, for which we are both so grateful! We are friends first, always. We talk nonstop. We make time for each other and most importantly, support each other. At the start of our marriage, we faced challenges – Sarah’s father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Justin was laid off one month after we were married, significant fertility challenges and so on. By being communicative, honest and truly equal partners, we’ve overcome every challenge together. And each challenge has made us so much stronger. We often say there is nothing we can’t do together. Beyond our friendship, we are very much in love. We have so much fun together and invest in our relationship. We love being together and know what makes us happy. We’ve grown so much over the last 15 years, as individuals and as a couple. We’re never standing still and always moving forward together. Our personalities complement each other, and we genuinely enjoy being around each other!
We have a ton of fun together and spend the bulk of our spare time together! I am a foodie - love trying new recipes, new restaurants and exploring hidden gems whenever we travel. We love to travel - whether a road trip to the Outer Banks or a trip to the Caribbean, we enjoy being away together! We love to work out, including spinning, strength training, swimming and hiking. We love sports. College and NFL football (Syracuse Orange and the Buffalo Bills) and college basketball (again, go Orange!). We have season tickets to SU Football, go to a lot of basketball games and love parking in front of the tv on an NFL Sunday or during March Madness. We hang out with our moms quite a bit - they're together a lot and great friends. We like to spend time with friends, like to get massages and facials, and recently we put in a pool.
We were both raised as Catholics. In fact, Sarah's father was an altar boy growing up and almost went into the priesthood until he met and fell in love with her mother! God has always challenged us, pushed us to be better and only given us as much as I can handle. Faith and kindness are important to us; organized religion is not. When Sarah's father was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she read several books on how to support him, how to navigate the journey and how to manage the stress. In one of the first books, by an author who happens to be the father of Sarah's high school classmate, he wrote, “I am a big believer that God only gives you what you can handle.” We’ve really owned that ever since and believe it to be 100 percent true.
We live in a wonderful neighborhood in Marcellus, NY, which is 20 minutes from Syracuse and 15 minutes from Skaneateles. We can be in Boston, Philadelphia, New York City and Toronto within five hours by car. I love that we’re a quick plane or car ride away from so many great destinations!
The first house in our neighborhood was built in 2008 and there’s one way in and one way out! It has about two dozen homes, most of which have small children. It’s a super safe neighborhood; kids are on their bikes all summer, drawing with chalk and building snowmen and snow forts in the winter. Our neighbors can be seen walking their dogs, running or out managing their properties. We are very close with our neighbors Dan and Amanda, who live directly next door. They have three young children, Holly (10), Norah (8) and Jacoby (3) and we spend a lot of time with this family. This past summer we put in a pool and our neighbors were over what seemed like every day! We even helped Norah really learn to swim! Folks trick or treat with their kids, sell girl scouts door-to-door and there are always holiday gatherings. Justin’s brother, Brandon, and his family are planning to make an offer on a house that is becoming available soon and we’re keeping our fingers crossed and praying to the real estate Gods, this one works out! This will be the third house they go for, but with the housing market so hot, it hasn’t been easy!
Our school district is wonderful – on the smaller side, with great academics, activities and athletics. All the schools are lined up near each other in the village area, which is less than three miles from our home. It’s one of the reasons we selected this home in 2014!
Our home was built in 2008 and we moved into it in March 2014. We are the second owners of it. It was actually the model home for the builder. We’ve put a lot of work into it over the years to make it “ours.” This includes putting a large deck off the back of the house for sitting outside and grilling and eating meals outdoors. Next, we finished the basement, adding additional closet space and a bathroom down there. We call it our “fan cave,” although it will be a wonderful playroom when our child is old enough! It has our workout equipment, our ping pong table, our television set up and Justin’s beloved vintage video game console and game collection! I love bags and shoes, he loves video games! In 2018, we did a large renovation of our first floor to include creating a much larger, open kitchen, installing a pantry, creating a laundry room and a mudroom, painting, redoing the floors and tiling, and painting throughout. This home now officially feels like us! We have a few more projects we plan to do, but nothing as big as that renovation! Our next project will be consolidating a bedroom and the office upstairs to create a large nursery for our child to grow into! We love our home, it’s warm and inviting and is the go-to gathering home for our families! We have Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Easter here and there’s nothing I love more than having a house full of people laughing and eating! We have a gas fireplace we love sitting in front of during the cold months and just put in a pool (which is fenced in, and town approved) last summer. This really is our dream home!
We also have four wonderful cats that we adore! They are indoor cats and are cuddled and loved like no others! We have Ebi (almost 3), Minnow (2), Guppy (1) and Uni (7 months). They are all named after fish because we love the ocean and love fish! Their litter pans are kept away from the main part of our home in the unfinished side of the basement, and their food and water is kept in the kitchen.
We have a three-bedroom home with two full baths, two half baths, family room, dining room, kitchen, office, pantry, laundry room and a 1,000 square-foot finished basement. We are planning to remove a wall between one of the guest rooms and the office to make it a larger room for a child.
We are close to everything! The closest hospital is six miles away, Upstate Community; the schools are in the village and less than three miles from our house. Restaurants, lakes, mountains, museums, theaters, shopping, apple orchards and farms surround us! We can be anywhere in a matter of moments!
I was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. I spent the first seven years of my life in Plymouth, Massachusetts. We then moved to New Hampshire, a place we vacationed and had a condo, for a couple years as my dad opened a new business. The recession of the early 90s caused him to close early and we moved back to Massachusetts just before my 10th birthday. We lived on Cape Cod after that, and sold my family’s longtime home in 2016. I loved growing up on Cape Cod and took full advantage of all it had to offer! I spent summers working at golf courses and restaurants. I surfed, spent days on the beach and played sports year-round. My dad and I golfed together often and my mom and I loved kayaking together! As a child, we traveled a lot, we went skiing, went to athletic events, and just in general, had a ton of fun!
From day one, my parents and I have always been close. We always had a strong, honest, fun and loving relationship. My brother is eight years older than me so I had a lot of alone time with my parents growing up as a result. And I'm so glad I did - of course, I love my brother! My parents were 100 percent invested in me. They supported me, empowered me, challenged me to be better and celebrated with me when I succeeded. My parents never missed a soccer or basketball game or tennis match. They were active in my schools, provided me a strong foundation and moral compass. They worked hard, so hard, but played hard. We traveled together, enjoyed theater together, went for meals together. I was never too old to be by their side and now, as I am older, I am grateful I never missed time with them. Today, I am remarkably close with my mother. She and I have been through a lot together. My father, who has lived with MS since 1971, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's in 2013. Together, my mom and I, with Justin's great help, cared for my father. We kept him home, bathed him, entertained him, found places that would help keep his mind sharp, explored treatment plans, etc. We did this for six years. It was a second full time job. In late 2018, it became clear, he needed more support than either of us could give physically. He was falling a lot, had trouble getting in and out of the restroom and shower, and so we made the difficult decision to move him into a long-term care facility. He has been there for nearly three years now and I have no doubt he is alive today because of my mother's strength and resilience, our collective advocacy on his behalf, and because of the Herculean effort of the nurses, health aids and activities folks at his nursing home. Sure, most days, he doesn't know who I am. But he's there, with the same big smile he's always had, a squishy Italian hug and his enduring love for me.
I had an incredibly fortunate childhood and want nothing more than to emulate my parents when I have a child. I was very, very lucky to have parents that gave me room to be me, to succeed, to fail, and they were always there – in good and bad times – to support me.
If I had to describe myself, I would say I am kind, selfless, tenacious, resilient, loyal and loving. I love taking care of people around me, I love exceeding work expectations and I love being challenged. I think people enjoy being around me, consider me light-hearted and fun to spend time with. I like to take leaps of faith while at the same time, I like knowing that I am well positioned to thrive when taking that leap!
I grew up in the small rural hamlet of Memphis, NY, 25 minutes west of Syracuse, NY, with my parents (Chris and Denise) and two siblings. (Brandon and Marie) I loved my childhood, from playing with friends near our house to participating in a variety of sports. My family lived in the same house my entire childhood. The house is an original farmhouse located on 25 acres of field and forest. Many of my childhood memories revolve around exploring the land with our family dog Sabrina. In addition to spending almost all my time outdoors when possible, I was an avid baseball player. From first grade up through my first two years in college, baseball would be a part of my life. When growing up in a household of diehard Yankee fans, it is hard not to take a liking to baseball and of course the Yankees.
Our family of course had ups and downs. My father was laid off twice and my younger sister was in the hospital for months because she was born very premature. Through it all, with the help of our extended family, we made it through. My family may not have been blessed with a lot of money, we worked hard and wanted for nothing. Again, my childhood was amazing and would not trade if for the world.
I have two siblings, both of whom live less than 15 minutes away from us. Brandon (44) is my older brother and is married to my sister-in-law Melissa. My other sibling is Marie (31) and she’s married to my brother-in-law Chris Carlin.
I have a great relationship with my siblings, though closer to my brother. I have an older brother, Brandon, and a younger sister, Marie. Growing up we got a long great, and because of the age differences, we were in three different places in our life, and I believe that helped us from getting at each other. Both are now married, with my brother and his wife fostering/hope to adopt, two lovely little girls, and my sister has been married for two years with no kids. As adults, I have a very close relationship Brandon, and we see each other all the time. If Sarah and I are fortunate to have a child, both Brandon and Marie will be great as part of our support system, as well as an awesome uncle and aunt. Sarah is also especially close with Brandon's wife Melissa. Sometimes people ask if they are the siblings!
My parents are Chris (71) and Denise (67) (Kotlarz) Gravius. When growing up I had a great relationship with both my parents. My dad is a hard worker, though very reserved, while my mom is a very caring, loving and outgoing. My parents may not have had a lot of money but we NEVER wanted for anything! We went on vacations, I played sports, and had wonderful holiday traditions. Through their financial difficulties, to even the medical scare of my sister when she was born premature, they always protected us and we never knew the full extent of how hard life was hitting them. I had a great childhood and a lot of fun. They also made sure both me and my siblings got our education and set us up for success as adults. While no family is perfect, I would not trade my experience. Today, I am blessed to live right down the street from them - less than 15 minute drive. They still live in my childhood home and we spend a lot of time together and together with Sarah and her mom, my mom and I travel to the OBX once a year and take lots of fun weekend trips. I am so fortunate that my relationship as a child with my parents has only become stronger and more steeped in respect.
I would describe myself as caring and loving person, who is driven to get the best out of life. I love my wife, love my family and want nothing more than to make them happy.