If I counted them all, I’m pretty mathematically certain that I would have a million and two stories to share about this family. Maybe I would start with the time that I met Ali when we had the exact same schedule in sixth grade. Terrified of such a “big school” and nervous that I’d be That Awkward Girl who never made any friends, Ali made me feel welcome in a tight-knit circle of friends who had grown up together. Maybe I’d share the many pool days I spent with Ali, Bridget and my older sister, Sarah, soaking up the warm Virginia sun, getting unhealthy sunburns and always ending the day with a Chipotle run. I could tell you about the time when I was a freshman on our high school’s cross country and soccer teams, and Bridget, a senior who could have played the I’m-Too-Cool-For-You Card, chose instead to write me notes of encouragement before each race or game. There was also that time that I got my first speeding ticket with Ali in my passenger seat, and as tears streamed down my cheeks—half in embarrassment and half in fear of how angry my dad would be—she kindly told me everything would be okay. And you know what? It would be.
It is a little mind-numbing to think that the Ruotolo family has been a part of my life for 11 years now. I can’t even begin to know how to write this blog post to communicate how much I really love this family, and how many moments we’ve experienced together. What I can articulate is this: I’m a believer that great families like this one don’t just happen. They require a strong foundation that is willing to give everything of themselves while asking for nothing back. Someone who puts their family’s needs before their own without a second thought. For the Ruotolos, that someone is their mom, Kelly. So when Ali, Ryan and Bridget asked me if I’d want in on a 50th birthday surprise for her, I didn’t hesitate for a moment to say YES!!!! We planned a morning to meet in Haymarket, the cute little town that—despite all of their crazy traveling—this family has called home for a long time. Kelly has done so much for her kids, and, quite honestly, for me too, over the years, that I’d want part in any opportunity to show her what just how much of a Super Mom she really is.
So Kelly, happy, happy birthday! Thanks for all that you do, and all that you have done, everyday to help shape your kids into people that I’m proud to call friends. I hope that you love this gift of capturing this moment of their lives and will cherish it even after the next 50 years have rolled by.
Happy birthday, Kelly!!
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