Sunday, December 19, 2010

the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

"The Holidays" 
We listen to Christmas music. We put up lights and trees. We bake. We spend eleven hours shopping for great deals on Black Friday (or was that just me and Leslie?). We write letters and send cards to friends and family that we don't see or speak to very much during the rest of the year. We contribute to canned food drives, adopt-a-family, toys-for-tots, giving tree, and the like. We wrap gifts for our family and friends with love and meticulousness. We get together with family and friends more than any other time of year. We go to church - the only time every year for some of us. I think the month of December encompasses more spiritual reflection than any other month - Christian or not. There's just something in the air. Or maybe that's just my perception.

But on top of that, the giving and the reflection involved in Advent season, the "holidays" still seem to be a crazy and somewhat stressful time to most people. Too often the answer to "how are you?" during December is "too busy". Does it have to be that way? I actually caught myself saying -- so thoughtlessly -- "too many Christmas parties, not enough weekends in December" last weekend to a cashier at Whole Foods as we picked up wine and treats to take to multiple parties we had that night (which were both wonderful). Those words coming out of my own mouth immediately slammed on the breaks of my brain... guilt, embarrassment, re-evaluation... Where did that come from?

Perspective from a man in uniform
I had the pleasure of spending three days in North Carolina this past week, in Fayetteville which is very much a military town as it houses Fort Bragg, the largest Army base in the country. At the airport on Thursday, in my disgruntled-ness that the weather would delay my homecoming by almost 6 hours, I sat down in the only empty seat at the gate which was next to a young soldier in uniform who was headed home for Christmas to see his family in Idaho. We started chatting.

It would be the first time he saw his mom and dad in over two years, ten months of which was spent in Iraq where he had no contact with them at all.

His travels home that day included four flights -- all affected by the delays -- but his spirits were as high as they could be. Talk about perspective. I thanked him for his service and we went on our separate ways.

I later realized that Wednesday of this week was the last working day for most of the soldiers who do not have to stay on base in preparation for potential rapid deployment... which meant that Thursday a lot of them would get to go home for Christmas. This explained why the airports in Fayetteville, Charlotte and Phoenix were just full of soldiers going home for Christmas - it warmed my heart to see them all.

Together for Christmas
Being our first Christmas to be spent together (and three months until our wedding), emotions are gushing. Sorting through different traditions and talking about creating our own. Dan's first Christmas away from his family. Emotions. On top of this, Dan and I have been trying to peacefully find a place where we can worship together and both be nourished and fed and comfortable -- not an easy endeavor given our differing religious backgrounds (or anti-religious).

So this Sunday... right now... as I sit with my laptop on the couch in the waiting area of Francis and Sons Family Car Wash where they will hopefully get a coffee stain out of the back seat of Dan's car while he is at a four hour volleyball coaching seminar... before I head out to do some Christmas shopping and then return to my parents' house to take a Christmas Card picture and get ready for a Christmas party that we have tonight... I just wanted to share the lyrics to Oh Holy Night.

I had never paid attention to the lyrics of this song until recently I discovered how poetic and profound they are.

Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining 'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees. Oh hear the angel voices. Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born.

Merry Christmas to all from Tempe, Arizona. (You would think this would be an autumn photograph, but it's actually our neighborhood this week when the leaves finally changed and started falling!)

In other news... Dan and I are aggressively house-hunting -- wish us luck!
And on December 11th, Dan, with a handful of cousins and neighbors, successfully completed his first organized triathlon! So proud of them all!

Friday, December 3, 2010

job joys

Well, our first Thanksgiving together was full of things to be thankful for! I might write a whole blog on this alone. Tonight I just wanted to mention that wonderful things are happening this week in the work department. Dan got a new job! I am so excited for him and so proud of him. He can tell you more about it, I don't want to post details on the internet but I have such good feelings about this position, I really think he is going to shine and it's going to be a great fit. Hooray for Daniel!

And an anecdote from my work: A little taste of what it will feel like to change my name. After a few years worth of hand-written notes, I recently ran out of my little "From the desk of..." notepads. They only come in boxes of 12 notepads, so when it was time to re-order I was concerned because my name will be changing in March and I dislike wasting things. Lucky for me our print shop was able to split the order and get two of them with my current name to last me until next Spring, and the other ten have my soon-to-be married name on them! It is so tempting to use them but I keep them safely locked away in a drawer... I did bring one home to take a picture of it, here's a sneak peak... I think my new name looks pretty good!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

family plan

I took the plunge. Gave away my old phone and joined Dan's plan.

Two iPhones in love :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

sealed with a high-five

Dan and I are two weeks in coaching a club volleyball team together. This is my sixth season coaching, Dan's first. Our team is delightfully wonderful, we have the minis - nine and ten year olds (can you believe how young they are starting volleyball these days!!!). They are little studs.
I love looking from off the court to see all twelve of them huddled around Dan, who is almost twice their height. He is so good with them! The best part is they don't know we are engaged (some of them suspect but aren't confident enough in their suspicions to accuse). At practice we are Coach Julie and Coach Dan and it's all business. In the beginning, it was surprisingly difficult to keep it platonic. Not that we can't keep our hands off each other for an hour and a half straight, it's just that we are accustomed to a certain amount of physical contact as the status quo, and we can't really hold hands etc. (or any kind of affection, even verbal) on the volleyball court.
We fixed this by creating the following code:

high five = kiss
high ten = real good kiss
elbow bump = hug
toe touch = i love you

So if you ever watch us coach and see us exchange a high five, you'll know it's actually a PDA.
Our team will probably figure out that Dan and I are romantically involved when we have to miss a week of practice because we are on our honeymoon... so we should probably tell them ahead of time. A little later in the season we'll come up with a creative and cute way to tell them that we are getting married. Open to suggestions...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Give me an N give me an F give me a P!

We just took a class called God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage, curriculum based on 1. the biblical foundation for marriage by God’s design (i.e. Genesis 2; Matthew 19; Eph 5; 1 Cor 7) – and examining what all that actually means – and 2. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (=amazing. Study it.).

Key take-aways: entering marriage must be a Free, Total, Faithful, Fruitful mutual self giving, each of these four qualities is equally necessary, and equally influential and dependent on the others. JPII’s TOB is pretty intense, but in summary I would say it addresses: What does it mean to be “man” by God’s design. What does it mean to be “woman” by God’s design. What does “one flesh” really mean (and love vs. lust). How do we take all this and live it out in our indissoluble marital unions. There are books upon books studying TOB, which was compiled in the 80’s based on JPII’s General Audiences from 1979-1984. TOB seems to me to have picked up momentum in the last decade with certain subsets of Gen Y. A very logical atheist could look at the body’s natural design and arrive at some of the same conclusions as JPII, but it’s way cooler when you consider how we were designed with purpose by a Creator who loves us and wants us to be full of joy (and our marriages too!).

We’ve also been going to a series of four sermons on the marriage topic by a Presbyterian pastor, which have been really good. Quite a bit of overlap in biblical references from our (Catholic) Joy-filled Marriage class to this (Presbyterian) talk series, which is really cool. Last weekend’s talk was on the importance of emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy as being equally important and equally dependent and influential on one another.

We are pumped about all this stuff. In theory… it’s beautifully fool proof. In practice… well, we certainly know that our marriage will have its share of challenges! Sometimes we just chuckle; we are doing all this marriage prep and talking about all these things but at the end of the day, like every marriage, ours is going to require hard work and sacrifice and unconditional love and respect even (especially) in tribulations.

Up next is Natural Family Planning (NFP), which we are especially pumped about. NFP is a diligent practice that serves as a sort of “game plan” for chastity within a marriage, upholding one another’s dignity and human nature, and of course achieving or avoiding pregnancy by observing the natural fertility cycle. NFP employs the principles of self-mastery, self-giving, all three kinds of intimacy, communication, and an intense study of male/female fertility by both partners. In other words, Dan is going to know what my body is up to pretty much all the time… which, as you can imagine, has great benefits! Imagine, a man’s tender consideration of what’s happening in his wife’s body any given time of the month – what a beautiful thing. It’s not a cure-all for marital issues, but it’s a great habit and the statistics supporting NFP are incredible.

Chart and sharpies in hand... we’ll start NFP class in January. I’m stoked.

Friday, October 29, 2010

holidays are apon us

Dan and my first Halloween together... Brilliant idea... check. Costumes... check. Tonight we are carving pumpkins... check. It's exciting. This represents the beginning of the season commonly referred to as "The Holidays" - our first cycle of holidays together, which also includes both of our birthdays. It's very symbolic. And very exciting :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

reality tv goes bridal, and my hunt for accessories

I've been on another business trip since Friday and in my down time I have been watching maybe a little too much TLC in my hotel room... particularly Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings. Mediocre reality tv goes bridal. Has anyone seen the episode of Four Weddings where the one lady kept toasting to herself at everyone else's wedding? Ha ridiculous!! I knew it was time to leave the premises when I found myself on TLC's website almost signing up as a candidate for our wedding to be on the show. Step away from the computer Julie! (I went for a long walk!) As silly as the show is, it's really fun for me to see the variety of real-world weddings, what things work, what things I like, what ideas I might not have thought of; and NOT have it be in the context of some magazine editor trying to influence me or some wedding website trying to appease its advertisers.

I've also been thumbing through some bridal magazines for inspiration (as though we hadn't already picked our colors and I hadn't already bought my dress...). But I'm staying totally focused and not back tracking. Five months out, we are well into wedding planning, all the real big things are pretty much done, now we are working on details. One of those details is my own accessories. The bridal magazines are cool to flip through but some of the fashion accessories are a little bit ridiculous for me. I wish I could pull off a giant bird's nest hairdo complete with fake bird and nest and giant peach pearls but... oh wait no I don't.

I'm pretty sure I've picked out my vail, but I'm not sold on any particular jewelry/accessories. I was thinking that it would be really cool if one article of jewelry or hair accessory that I wear on my wedding day could be my "something borrowed" (anyone want to accessorize me?) -- not anything sentimental, just something that successfully polishes the look that I am going for, that happens to belong to somebody I know. I mean it would be cool if it were sentimental too, but I can't play favorites and oh man if I were to wear a sentimental piece of borrowed jewelry from every woman I love, I would be a little TOO bedazzled I think! Plus the last thing I would want is for someone's feelings to be hurt if I chose not to wear a sentimental article they offered to lend. So maybe I shouldn't go there. I'll just keep looking.

I am kind of freaking out about shoes... My feet blister very easily and I have ankle and back issues, so they've GOT to be comfortable if I'm going to wear them for 9 hours. My fiance is 6'6'' = I really want to wear heals (plus my dress really looks better with heals!) but I don't walk well in heals. I was thinking a wedge might be the safest option but I'm not really finding any wedding-worthy-wedges that I like or that go with my dress. Hmmmm.... just keep looking.

P.S. Dan booked our honeymoon! I'm not sure if he wants me to broadcast the exact destination, so all I'm going to say is it's going to be amazing - it will involve mountains, and snow, and seclusion, and snuggling, and snowboarding, and hopefully a fireplace and a bear rug. Pretty sweet, eh? ;)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

the way to a man's heart is through his stomach

Over the last seven months, the times I have prepared food for Daniel he has always received and consumed it with gratitude, never expressing disappointment... but I'll be the first to admit that cooking is not currently one of my specialties... and anything I've ever cooked for Dan has been mediocre at best; nourishing, but not impressive in the least.

Don't worry, we spent a good four hours at Crate&Barrel examining and selecting potential kitchen items to register for (what a peculiar experience, the whole registering thing). So with some cool gadgets, a hungry husband, and an amazing mom just a phone call away (man she can cook!), I'll have all the tools I need to become a great chef of a wifey next year.

But for now, I'll stick to what I know how to do.
Bake. Chocolate chip cookies to be exact.

I'm not trying to brag or anything but in some circles, my chocolate chip cookies are somewhat of a legend. I'm very proud of them. A long time ago I perfected a recipe to produce cookies that are exactly how I like them, and I still make them to this day with the same hands-on perfectionism as I did when I was in high school.

Today Leslie asked me to bake cookies for her to take to school tomorrow, and it hit me. Daniel's never had my chocolate chip cookies! I have not once baked since I met Daniel. I think I told him about my cookie recipe once, but was discouraged when he speculated that they could never compare to his Aunt Cheryl's cookies. And it never came up again.

So tonight, I baked. You know how some batches are better than others, well tonight's is a real good batch. A real good one.

I made up a plate of cookies for Dan and his roommates and will hand deliver them with love tomorrow, anxiously awaiting approval, holding my breath for that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when someone tells you the food you prepared tastes good. If Dan and the boys don't like them, I don't know what I am going to do with myself! I say this in jest, of course, but there is a tiny bit of self-worth and identity at stake here.

Hopefully my cookies and I will find the way a little deeper into to Dan's heart. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In Loving Memory Mrs. GP

I have spent the last couple of hours reading the wall of a facebook event wherein one alumnae organized what turned into thousands of former students to together wear pearls one day in honor of our favorite high school teacher, Mrs. Grimes Priebe (Mrs. GP), who joined the angels last week at age 36 after a fight with cancer. I attended the memorial mass yesterday and was so blessed to see a few of my high school classmates and former teachers and be in community with them during this time. Among others, her husband gave a beautiful eulogy. Her children (so little) are beautiful. Everything was beautiful. She was beautiful. I can't believe she's gone.

The wall of this facebook event has become somewhat of a virtual eulogy, friends and students of hers sharing memories of stories she told and "Pearls of Wisdom" that she gave to us every day. Pages and pages of it. The admiration that we students had for Mrs. GP was beyond words, she epitomized what it meant to be graceful, strong, smart, feminine, loyal, wise, a good friend to all who knew her. It was almost intimidating how amazing she was, like you wanted to present the best version of yourself each time she called on you, not out of obligation but because you just respected her so much and felt honored that she knew your first name. I remember signing up for classes before my senior year with such anxious anticipation to find out if I had gotten into her class, knowing it was my only chance to experience the legend of Miss Grimes. I remember how engulfed I was as I copied the content of her beautifully scribed white board into my notebook every day, awaiting her presentation. The next two semesters were no disappointment - quite possibly the most captivating class I've ever taken. She taught AP Psychology by curriculum but taught us so much more.

Missing her and grieving that I never got to know her better, or became more like her, has been a great source of perspective for me these last few days. What's important. I wore my mother's pearl earrings all weekend. I don't really want to talk about the wedding right now. Just wanted to say rest in peace Mrs. GP and thank you for so much that you humbly offered the world, we are all better because you were in our lives.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Important Things

At six days in, I'm almost done with my business trip to the east coast (with the few, the proud, the Marines) which is the start of the longest stretch of time that Daniel and I have ever gone without seeing each other. Ten longgg days. It's rainy here and I've been working a lot. I love visiting this city and work is exciting, but I miss home and I miss Dan. I'll get home on Friday but he is going out of town for the weekend and won't be home until Sunday night, so we won't see each other until Sunday or Monday. Boo hoo. I've been pretty gloomy about it.

The important thing is: Dan and I are spending forever together. Ten days is just a peanut. It's hard to imagine but some day we are going to have to get to a point where 24 hours apart isn't agonizing. For now, I just have to keep reminding myself that we have love and trust and self control and patience... and I have a good job that sometimes sends me to cool cities. I guess I should change my phrasing of a previous sentence: I miss home and I miss Dan, BUT I love visiting this city and work is exciting. My dad always told me (in every way possible of saying it) that attitude is everything. It's really true.

Along those lines (of important things)... marriage prep classes! (UNITAS) They have been so great. I am so so so thankful for the people who take time to serve their community by participating in the marriage preparation ministry for us engaged couples who don't have it all figured out. The topics have been very thought provoking, and have ignited some important conversations between Dan and I. Families of Origin, Communication, Love Languages, Value Systems, the importance of including God as the one of the three beings in the marital relationship. It's Thursday night and I'm in Washington, D.C., which means that Daniel is at marriage prep class without me tonight... I can't wait to hear about it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

cute photo alert! (engagements)

Jane Zarzynski is doing our wedding photography and our engagement shots as well. We decided that since it's still so hot outside, we would do some engagement shots in her studio now (since we just can't wait!!) and then later in the year do some outside when it's not so hot. Her studio is really cool with lots of fun colors and walls and furniture to work with. We had so much fun, just being ourselves and changing outfits and hanging out.

And can I just say this... Jane is AMAZING. I cannot believe what she was able to do with the lighting and capturing our personalities in just the click of her camera.

Here is just a little preview.
Jane's website is and she also shares stuff on her blog at Capital A-mazing.

Some stories to come... lots going on... four weekends on the road visiting family and we completed our first step in marriage preparation. But for now, this nightowl is almost out of energy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can it be? Seven months?

As I paid my credit card bill online today, which I always do right around this time of the month, I looked at the calendar in the bottom right-hand corner of my computer screen and stared at it and realized, it's the 19th. I cannot believe that seven months from today we will be married. That means we've been engaged for three months. I feel like we've been engaged forever. But I also feel like seven months are going to fly by. How exciting.

Did I mention we picked our colors? We were (well, I was) all over the board... couldn't decide... liked so many things... but one day we decided and now everything is falling into place, design wise. We're calling it Gun-metal and Garnet, but basically it's dark grey and deep red and ivory and black.

We've also picked the bridesmaids' dress. How beautifully marvelous is the chaos and chatter of coordinating the same dress for these girlies I love so much. It's all been really fun.

We also took our FOCCUS couples inventory last week to kick off official Marriage Prep activities! So things are moving right along!

Side note... anyone have a great recommendation where I might find some super duper COMFORTABLE shoes that are also fancy enough to be worn underneath, oh, a wedding dress? I don't walk well in heels but I want to stand really tall. I get blisters easily but I want something that doesn't look like a sock! White/Ecru/Ivory or Red. Help?

Life outside of wedding planning is good too. I fell in love with Daniel even more (which I didn't think was possible) over this past few weeks as we endured a couple pretty heavy things all compacted into a few days. Seriously, how did I get so lucky. We are learning how to communicate and love each other through trying times. It's a beautiful thing.

We're kicking off three weekends in a row of special family time and travels... Tomorrow we take off to see the Tehachapi crew, can't wait for Mountain Fest and to see the family and the nephews! Next weekend we're off to San Francisco where I will finally get to meet my new brothers and father-in-law (I'm so giddy I can hardly stand it!). Then the weekend after that we're headed up north with my family for the usual (but never ordinary) Labor Day festivities. I am just relishing this time of exciting introductions and weekends on-the-go.

More to come :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Big Move

Old School

Daniel and I discussed a while ago that it would be great if I could move back in with my parents for a little while right before the wedding. There's something charmingly traditional about moving from your parents' home to your husband's. It would open up more opportunity for me to spend some time in communion with my family before branching out and starting my own; also for Daniel to spend more time with them as well.

Given my no-roommate situation at my home in Scottsdale, it became immediately apparent that financially it made sense for me to leave there and move in with my family as soon as possible. So, with great luck and I think fate, I was able to find some great renters the first day I posted it for rent on CraigsList. And as soon as we returned from vacation in mid-July, I started packing. OK, 'we' started packing (I had so much help for which I am so thankful!).

The Move "Home"

It has been an emotional experience for me. Lots of changes. Transitions. Letting go of my walking park, my 8 minute commute, my cute lime green walls and yellow kitchen, my comfortable little independence. In the moving process I also had to let go of a lot of insecurities and ownership... as someone who has lived pretty much on my own since college, with utmost privacy and control of my own environment, I've acquired a lot of "stuff" that I didn't typically share or show other people. Now with a new fiance helping me go through and pack all my stuff, I felt extremely vulnerable and exposed. A healthy process I think.

One weekend, two trips to Goodwill with heaps of another-man's-treasure, and three trailer loads later...
Here I am, back in the house on Homestead Lane.

I have been so enveloped in love throughout this whole process. My parents, my fiance, and friends helping out and offering support. I am so blessed.

Now that I'm here (in the basement this time around... like a little apartment cave complete with little white dogs) it will take a little time to normalize but it's been really great so far. Three days down, seven months to go!


Side note... after about 60+ try-ons... I found my wedding dress!!! I can't post a picture in case Daniel actual reads this blog... but email me if you want to see it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

did somebody say dresses

So apparently there are... like... millions of wedding dresses out there. After visiting 3 stores in 2 weekends, and trying on probably 50+ dresses, and really (like REALLY) liking about 5 of them, I'm a little bit overwhelmed. My option-itis is in full force. I've been accused of indecisiveness, but I really just want to get it right and have everything feel perfect and fit into the big picture and the vibe that we're envisioning for our wedding day... I don't just want to find a dress that looks good on me. It's so hard! Just venting. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

(parents) meet the parents

dinner... without a hitch!

planning continues, life comes together

Here's the latest checklist

Date: set
Chapel: booked
Reception Spot: booked
Photographer: booked
Marriage Prep: on it
Colors: under discussion
Dress: on it (sort of)

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...
Wedding planning is super fun -- all the things you dream about as a little girl coming to life -- and the newly-engaged bliss is definitely still upon us...

...BUT I've also had a real dose of reality this past couple of weeks. Wedding aside, we've had talks of real estate, moving, finances, child-rearing... Two grown adults, with grownup jobs and grownup houses and grownup families and independent ways of doing grownup things... MERGING LIVES. I'd be lying if I said that the logistics of it aren't overwhelming me quite a bit. And there's no checklist for that. No complete meltdowns to date, but close. Lucky for me I'm engaged to the most amazing man in the world who always keeps my stress level in check, always knows the right thing to say, who always helps, always makes me laugh. And he has an iPhone.

Project 'Merging Lives'
This weekend we are truly taking the next step in Project Merging Lives... as I type this, my future in-laws have already crossed the California/Arizona border and are vastly approaching the Phoenix metro area, on their way to join my parents for dinner tonight at Daniel's house, which Daniel and I will have prepared. We wanted to extend a symbolic gesture, inviting our folks into our future home and preparing a meal together for them. I can only imagine what is going through their heads. Three months ago (exactly) their son/daughter was going on a blind date constructed by the infamous Shane Jones. Today they are having dinner with their future in-laws. I think it's glorious but I hope it's not too overwhelming for them.

Beyond tonight we have a fantastic weekend ahead, full of plans. But plans aside, we are so looking forward to our families getting to know one another. I'm hoping for lots of laughter and sharing stories of childhood and bonding. We are so blessed.

Off to Daniel's kitchen!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

drumroll please.... the proposal story

Here it is, as promised. The Proposal.

May 21st, 2010.

5:00pm. Daniel arrives at my house to pick me up for date night. Lets himself in. I'm still putting makeup on. He enters my room, one arm behind his back. Smiles, looks at me, pauses, "I love you.", kiss on the forehead, hands me a dozen red roses.

He's waited until he was in love to ever give a girl a dozen roses. I should have known something was up. Instead, in this moment, the stress of my day, my week, simply dissolves. I suspect nothing.

5:17ish. Depart from my house. The air, fresh. The day, hot. But in a happy kind of way. The mood, care free. Stop at the dry cleaners. In the car, smooth music, "how was your day?", hand holding, lots of loving glimpses. His shirt, a casual button down. My hair, in a bun off my face.

5:33ish. Cornish Pasty, table for two. Classic Rock playing in the background. Black and White photographs on the walls. Tiny little restaurant. Waitress with beautiful long curly hair. Me, cider; Daniel, beer. We decide to order the The Pilgrim with extra cranberries, same thing we ate the last time we were here, a little symbolic. Tenderly holding hands across the table. The sun is sneaking in through the window at the front of the bar.

The last time we had been here was our fifth date. It had been the first night that we (mainly me) opened up -- trusted -- became vulnerable -- let my guard down and felt safe. Previously treading water in a sea of fear and uncertainty, I found that night that Daniel had been sent out with a paddle and a rowboat for two to take us back to the shore together; I just needed to be ready to get in the boat with him. Patient... he was so patient...

Anyway, over dinner Daniel reflectively compares our current emotional location to that of our last visit to this restaurant. Before: undefined, unsure, afraid. Now: so much in love. He knows me, really knows me. We're so connected, so committed, so happy. We talk about this and about our blessings. Between bites we're grinning at each other with uninterruptible eye contact. As he's looking at me chewing my cranberries and turkey, his eyes well up with tears. He excuses himself from the table to step outside for a second. He comes back and apologizes, "I almost lost it, I just needed to get it together for a sec." I should have known something was up. Instead, in this moment, I think to myself how sweet and dear my boyfriend is and how lucky I am to have found him. I suspect nothing.

6:41. Back in the Jeep, we're off to Tempe Town Lake. We're going to re-visit Site 2 of our fifth date. I just told him a week or so ago that I really want to go back to Tempe Town Lake with him soon because I feel like it's "our spot". It's where we continued our deep conversation that would later represent a turning point in our relationship, it's where we sat on our bench under the bridge and relaxed and talked some more, it's where he gently put his arm around me for the first time as we walked back to the car from our bench. His arm around my waist felt so good, so perfect. It's where I finally allowed myself to surrender and start to fall in love with him.

6:54ish. We arrive at Tempe Town Lake. The sky is amazing. I've got my camera in my purse, and I feel inspired to take some pictures. Out-stretched arm, self picture. OK now I'll kiss you on the cheek. OK now you kiss me on the cheek. OK now I'm gonna take one of the sun. Toss the camera and my purse in the car. Ditch the high-heels and put on my flip flops. It's about 96 degrees out but it doesn't feel hot. The breeze was perfect. We're walking along Tempe Town Lake. Daniel keeps looking at his phone to see what time it is, I notice, but I don't think anything of it.

The sun is creeping down towards the western horizon.
Me to Daniel: "it seems late for how bright it is, I wonder what time the sun sets this time of year?".
Daniel, immediately: "7:22."
Me: "Really. How would you even know that. I don't believe you."
Daniel: "It's at 7:22. You'll see."
I should have known something was up. But it's not unusual for Daniel to know random things off the top of his head so I suspect nothing.

We're walking. I'm practically skipping. Holding hands. We are so ridiculously cute. In the best mood. So in love and so happy to be there. If I had to describe the mood I would say grounded and peaceful with a touch of playfullness. It was the perfect evening.

7:22. Sure enough. Sun set. Daniel is holding my hand and says "let's step over here and watch the sun set." How romantic, I think. A few steps off the side walk, we're in the gravel towards the lake. We've got our arms around each other's waists. The sun sneaks behind the city of Phoenix and gradually a bump becomes a crescent and the crescent becomes a sliver and the sliver becomes a speck and the speck melts. Daniel kisses me. No one is around. We're kissing. And we're kissing. And we're standing there kissing. It's a real good kiss - resembles our first kiss, overflowing with genuine emotion and chemistry and tenderness. Between kisses Daniel is whispering sweet things to me. We're face to face. Just us.
Daniel (whispers): "I love you."
Me (playfully): "I love you too."'
Daniel (seriously): "I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
Me (still playfully): "I want to spend the rest of my life with you too."
Kiss. He smells so good. He feels so good. Everything feels so perfect.
Daniel gently moves his left hand from my cheek to his pocket. He reaches into his pocket and before I know it he's down on one knee. At this point it hits me that he wasn't just whispering sweet things to me, he was proposing.

"Julie, will you marry me?"

I see that there's a little wooden box. I register that there's a ring in it. He just asked me to marry him. Is this really happening?


I pull him up from kneeling on the gravel and hug him. Lots of cheek kisses and wreckless face-grabs and more cheek kisses. I'm excitedly flustered, "Is this really happening?" "Did you just say that?" "Right now, this is happening right now?" He's steadily smiling and just saying "yes, it's really happening, yes it's happening right now." and accepting my cheek kisses.

A minute or two goes by. I'm still holding the box in my hand.
I am ridiculously excited. I'm jumping up and down.

"Well, do you want to put it on?"
Oh right, the ring!
I put on the ring. Oh it's so beautiful. And oh it fits. And oh it's so beautiful and perfect.
More hugging, more cheek kisses, more flustered excitedness.

An old man and his basset hound walk by leisurely on the side walk.
"WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!!!" I yell at him.
Poor man. Startled, he mutters "well, congratulations."

Once I get it together, the wheels start turning in my head. I should have known something was up all night.

I uncover that Daniel had spent an hour with my parents that very afternoon discussing his intentions with them and asking for their blessing. Quite a handful of people in his family also knew that he had plans to propose to me that night. Also, of course my thoughtful and meticulous now-fiance had champagne on ice waiting for us in a cooler in the trunk of the car.

After we finished our special moment at Tempe Town Lake, the shock and excitement turned to celebration and sharing throughout the whole remainder of the evening. A handful of phone calls to our closest loved ones. "We're getting married!". Champagne with my parents and sister. We were able to Skype with Daniel's mama and crew so they could share in the excitement. My dad even busted out Dean Martin's greatest hits record on the phonograph that I didn't even know he had.

Probably forty times I said to Daniel that night the words "We're getting married." Every time the words left my mouth they became more and more real, and thus more and more exciting. He would (and still does) just look back at me lovingly, "Yep, we're getting married."

We're getting married.

So there it is.

Friday, May 28, 2010

heart grows fonder

The "dudes" left first thing yesterday morning, leaving us "babes" behind for about 41 hours before we will join them in California for the upcoming weekend festivities. It surprises me that being apart from Daniel for such a short time could be so... noticeable. I really have felt his absence these last two days. Very excited to fly out there tonight and reunite with my dude.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

why wait

Too Soon?

I think especially in relationships, we (collective) have a general anxiety about moving too fast, doing things too soon. "Too soon" according to... Statistics? Experts? Parents? Religion? Sometimes it's our instincts that tell us to wait (instincts = good.), but sometimes the waiting is based on preconceived notions we develop based on other sources (not always good)...

But for me and Daniel it has always been "why wait" -- These two words came up a few times during our 2+ month courtship with regards to things like how long until it was ok to call or text again, how long before meeting the parents, saying I love you, talking about marriage, etc. I'm pretty sure those two words might have come up during Daniel's hour-long conversation with my parents asking for their permission to marry me. Maybe something about 'after 29 years of waiting for the right woman, "why wait" to put a ring on her finger.'

The momentum of our relationship, the instincts, were unmistakable. Why wait to get engaged? 2 months might be "too soon" for some couples to get engaged, but it certainly wasn't for us. We were, without a doubt, ready to be fianc├ęs (said with a cheesy French accent).

Now enter wedding planning. Picking a wedding date.

There was talk of a short engagement, perhaps a wedding late this summer or early this fall. If love and excitement between the two of us were the only ingredients for marriage, we'd plan a wedding for this weekend. Shoot, we might already have eloped by now.

But on the topic of when to get married, all things considered there might be some real solid answers to the "why wait?" question. Sometimes advice from the aforementioned sources (experts, statistics, parents, religion) are worth heeding. At least so says my instincts. They protect us from impulsiveness, haste, missing the forest for the trees. A.k.a. Beyond party planning, there is the real important stuff -- marriage preparation. Prudence, patience, meticulousness. Respecting the healthy reality that it takes a sensible amount of time to arrive at the point where you are good and ready to share a home, a life, a family, with another individual.

So all that said, plus some other logistical reasons, we've set a date... we'll be getting married next March. Exactly one year and a day after our first date (how cute is that? we booked the chapel today!). Ten months seems so far away! But I'm told it will go by ridiculously fast, and I know it will be well worth waiting. And as for all the other instances of "waiting"... the countdown is on.

wedding websites

yep... we're getting married!

It's true... It's been three days since Daniel asked me to marry him and I still get excited (almost startled) when I glance down at my left hand and catch a glimpse of the glittering beauty on my fourth finger. It's all so surreal and so wonderful.

These last few days have been all about making phone calls and making plans. About being excited and being in love. And they've been about starting to scratch the surface of completely reframing my life over the next year.

A wedding. Moving. Doubling my extended family. Coming home to the man that I love. Learning to share my life with someone. Learning to love and communicate better every day. Perhaps learning how to cook. Perhaps giving my parents some grandchildren.

I'm going to be a wife. We're really doing this.

I promise a lengthy account of the proposal story, more pictures, and pithy anecdotes about wedding planning... stay tuned.
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