Hello, my name is Maria Hays. Let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on a street where all of the neighborhood kids would meet up to play Release, Capture the Flag, and explore in the woods between our houses and the next neighborhood over.

For seven years, it was just my mom, dad, and older brother Damen, who is fifteen months older than I am. My brother and I convinced my parents to bring home a dog once, but I don’t remember if that was before or after the best day of my childhood.

I never thought I would be a big sister…

Before Ian came along, I would beg my mom for a little sibling. She would always tell me no and make excuses that seemed pretty selfish. I’m not giving birth to another child. We can’t afford to have another baby. Our house is too small for three kids. Excuses, excuses, excuses. 6 year-old me was rolling her eyes, but also crying. I had finally accepted that it was just never going to happen. I was so convinced that I didn’t even believe my mom when she finally told me I would be a big sister.

The best day in my short seven years of life came on February 26, 2003 when my mom had my little brother, Ian. The excitement leading up to that day was intense. I remember sitting at our dining room table after dinner trying to choose a name for him. “How about Mayon?” My dad was crazy, but we still laugh at the idea that Ian could have been called Mayon Hays. (Get it? Like mayonnaise?)

Ian is in tenth grade now, taking all of the courses with almost all of the same teachers I’d had back in high school.

Looking back, I see that it wasn’t particularly a personal achievement of mine to finally get a little brother, but it did show me that anything can happen. And trust me; so many crazy things have happened since February 26, 2003. And you’ll hear about some of them in my blog, Never Say Never.