Kristi Tolman of Elmhurst, IL


When I was a little girl my mom gave me a silver charm bracelet and told me I could start collecting charms to fill it.  I still remember picking out my very first charm at Disneyland -- a flying Dumbo -- and feeling it somehow gave a sense of importance to our family vacation. That's how it was each time I added a charm -- Shamu at Sea World; the fountain in Fountain Square in Cincinnati; a cable car in San Francisco; the Girl Scout logo.  Each charm marked a moment and captured a memory that could easily be relived each time I looked down at my wrist.

Now that I'm a mom, I've started a charm bracelet for my daughters.  They are still much too young to understand what the charms mean but I know someday they'll feel the same thrill I did as they gaze down through a glass-topped counter and painstakingly choose the perfect charm to add to their bracelet; the perfect charm to capture the moment. When I look back on my 40 years of life it's easy for me to see the big moments but I think the fun of a charm bracelet is the ability to also see the humor in those moments.  Ahhh, those moments. The oh-my-gosh moment I knew "real life" was about to begin while sitting in a graduate-filled stadium  with my three closest friends drinking milk and eating Ding Dongs during our UCLA graduation.  (#2164 Milk Bottle) The tears-streaming-down-my-face moment I knew it was forever during a flight from San Diego to Phoenix, when the pilot of the airplane came on the intercom and said, "Kristi Gustin, Eric Tolman wants to know if you'll marry him." (#1474 Plane, 727) The princess-for-a-day moment that 350 of our closest friends and family  watched us become Mr. and Mrs. Tolman.  (#2418 Tiara) The absolutely-sobering moment we bought our first house and the reality of what we had just done really started to sink in. (#1285 Door) The I-am-woman-hear-me-roar moment I became the first-ever female vice president of the company I worked for and realized that even though I'd always said that a woman would be vice president only when "pigs can fly," a woman was in fact being promoted and that woman was me. (#0604 Pig) The can-you-believe-it's-already-been-ten-years moment I stood in Paris with my husband celebrating our wedding anniversary. (#2345 Eiffel Tower) The I-can-not-believe-we-are-this-blessed moment, when Eric and I learned that we were going to be parents to not one, but two little girls waiting for us halfway around the world.  (#7758 Twins) The incredible, unbelievable, truly-amazing moment we became parents in the Civil Affairs Office in Guangzhou China and held our daughters for the very first time.  (#3796 China) The full-circle moment I bought my girls the very first charm for their charm bracelet and realized they had a lifetime ahead of them to fill that bracelet with their own moments (#3182 Mother)

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