Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adventure, Round 2.

Ok, better late than never on this. The last few weeks have been a little crazy. (As evidenced by the THREE different suitcases we have in the bedroom right now that have been used over the course of the last 3 weeks and not yet unpacked but more or less redistributed to the next one. I swear, this weekend I am doing laundry.)

My future sister-in-law had this waiting for me when we arrived. We're both becoming Mrs. Emrey in 2015!

There was a second part to this vacation story, which was really the entire cause of the vacation story. Tom's brother Troy and his (now wife) Chelsea got married! We arrived in Paso Robles, CA Saturday afternoon and as we drove through the quaint "Main St." downtown area, I knew I'd be just fine settling in here for the next 36 ish hours. (Note: when the entire vacation covers 3 cities in only 96ish hours total, no stop lasts for too long!) It reminded me of a smaller version of the Napa Valley/Sonoma area--but more of a well kept secret. There were vineyards and wineries everywhere you turned, adorable antique stores, cute little restaurants and when I saw the barbershop (called a barbershop) complete with the red, white and blue spinny thing? I was sold. This girl LOVES Small Town, USA. 

Fortunately on this leg of the trip we had little to worry about as the schedule and lodging were all figured out. The bride and groom rented an adorable brick house just off Main St. for their bridal party and families to stay at. It was really nice for everyone to be all in one place, specifically for me who knew NO ONE upon arrival. I met Tom's family (including 2 brothers, a soon-to-be sister in law, a stepmom, her fiance and a handful of complicatedly related relatives). Thankfully, everyone was awesome and we got along right off the bat. We changed clothes and ran off to the rehearsal dinner. The wedding was held a favorite winery of Troy & Chelsea's and we weren't on premise for more than 10 minutes before we were offered wine. That's my kinda place! 

Saturday we took the groom and his men (thankfully they allowed a female to tag along) out to breakfast at Cowgirl Cafe (me, still in heaven). We leisurely ate and I realized just how lucky men have it on the day of a wedding. Following breakfast we took care of a couple necessary errands including a hair cut (thanks to a text from Grammy insisting Tommy get his hair cut for the big day) and a stop to meet Mother of the Groom at a vineyard. Look, when mother of the groom says she needs a wine drinking buddy, you're not just going to let her drink alone!


The wedding was beautiful, relaxed and clearly Troy and Chelsea - which I could already tell, even in only really knowing them for about 24 hours at that point. By the time the reception hit, I felt like I had made best friends with at least half of the guests...and probably also the bartender who knew my order before I was even within reaching distance of the bar.
 
My fiance was the life of the party and I beamed the entire time to be the lucky girl on his arm.
When in wine country...

Managed to snag myself a seat at the head table with the other Emreys.

First dance: Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" (you KNOW there were tears).


Tommy gave a hell of a Best Man speech (there was laughter and tears--despite him not recalling anything he said). There was dancing. There was drinking. There were even bats for a brief period of time.


Apparently there was an afterparty at the house we were staying at...in the dining room which shared a wall and was right outside our bedroom door. Tom and I, being basically professional old people at this point, popped in our ear plugs and were out like lights before midnight.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Adventure, Round 1.

As I mentioned yesterday, Tom and I just got back from our first real vacation and adventure away together. That alone could give you a little set of nerves. Will we travel well together? Can we hit some road bumps and work through them together as a team instead of against each other? Will he still love me after a potential travel related meltdown?! (I've been known to have them on occasion. Last minute travel plan changes don't really go over all that well with my Type A, control freak tendencies. Go figure.)

Well, we passed with flying colors. We were traveling rockstars and handled everything together and in stride. Our flight arrived at LAX at 5:00, also known as rush hour, in a city known for slow moving traffic at any time of day. We shuttled to our rental car where we experienced our first little win of the trip. Tom had been talking about getting a really cool car since the wedding location took us four hours north of LA and there were some scenic routes to be traveled. Specfically, he wanted a convertible. Financially Responsible and Practical Angie (or Buzkill Angie, depending on who you asked) had reserved a "premium" sedan for the comfort and price. As we walked out on the lot, Chad, our friendly Enterprise associate, asked if we'd be interested in an upgrade. I hesitated, Tom responded with a resounding, "YES!" (One I'm certain he had been holding in since we went wheels up in Milwaukee.) Then Chad asked THE question, "Would you be at all interested in a convertible?" Before I could ask about cost, Tom asked if he could hug Chad. We were clearly not Chad's first good cop/bad cop duo because before I could even form words, good ol' Chad informed us the "premium" inventory was low, so the convertible would be ours at no additional charge. You win, Chad, you win.

From this moment on, when Tom mentioned "his girl" this is what he was referring to.


So we climbed into our new ride for the weekend, me beaming for not spending extra money and Tom proudly behind the wheel of a Camaro.



Our trip had us doing more than a flight there and back. We spent Friday night outside of LA in Glendale where Tom is originally from. I got to see where he lived growing up, where his family lived and his favorite spots in the area. Having only ever dated people who lived near where I was from, it's been a LONG time coming for me to get to see his life pre-Wisconsin. We swung through his old neighborhood and snapped this quick pic from the view outside his grandparents former house on the appropriately named Wonderview Dr.

View from Wonderview Drive.

We had dinner with his brother (only the 2nd family member I had ever met!) and second dinner (which because of our short time frame actually IN Glendale was required in order for him to consume all of his favorite meals) at Tommy's. Note: He still loves me even though I denounced the chili on top of his burger from Tommy's, something he's been raving about since our very first date. He'll keep me around, even if I order chili-less burgers from Tommy's. #TrueLove

Saturday morning we stopped for an all to brief visit with Grammy before we were on the move again. Traveling about four hours north to Paso Robles, CA where the wedding festivities would be held. We also made a stop for lunch at Del Taco, another of Tom's MUST HAVES while in CA. (I was again not as impressed as he was hoping and yet he didn't kick me out of the car!)

He's only smiling because this is before I mentioned I didn't care for Del Taco.

Time constraints meant we couldn't travel up the coast which bummed Tom out quite a bit, but I thought the drive was stunning. We saw mountains, valleys, hills, flat lands and vineyards. My most frequent long commute is from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, so as long as there's SOMETHING to look, it's a more scenic route than I'm used to!

Mountains!

More mountains!

Prairies AND mountains!


We also learned the harsh reality that in May in CA those overcast skies will open WIDE up in no time at all and it will go from 55 to 85 in a matter of hours. Also, you will be in a car without sunscreen and NOT A SINGLE gas station will have any for purchase. Which is how we both ended up with some less than ideal... burn lines? We're too red to even think of calling these tan lines. Fortunately, at the 3rd stop, my forward-thinking fiance thought to grab aloe vera. Because despite not having a DROP of SPF anything, that gas station did have aloe vera, which was beyond appreciated later that night.

More to come in Round 2. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"I Wasn't Done."

This weekend Tom and I took our first official vacation to see his family out in California and attend his brother's wedding. It's a trip I've been looking forward to for a while, for many reasons. And it was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to see him interact with his family and meet the people he's been talking about for the 10 months we've been dating. It's strange that I'm just meeting them now because I feel like I knew them all already. One of our stops included visiting his Grammy, who I had already decided I would very much so enjoy. We talk to her often and she texts me regularly (yes, you read that right, Grammy works an iphone and texts with the best of them!) so I feel like I've gotten to know her, but it was so nice to BE there with her. We talked about Tommy as a kid, about the places she's lived in Glendale and where she lived before that.

It's clear when you talk to Grammy she considers herself quite fortunate. She's had two great loves, three children, and a handful of grandchildren. She's sharp as a tack and still living life after all this. My favorite part about our visit was listening to her talk about her relationships. With our wedding being a short 170ish days away, I love hearing people's experiences and advice about marriage and getting married. Grammy and I have already bonded about being cougars and finding younger men to date and marry. While we were visiting she showed me pictures of Dana, her second love. She considers herself quite lucky to have found two great loves in life and I admire her for her willingness to let it happen again after her first husband, Gramps, passed away.

She talked about how special it was that her and Dana were able to share life during the retirement phase, that they were able to spend every moment together, every day. She showed pictures of trips they had taken, birthdays they had celebrated and of their wedding day. She pointed out how, in every picture, Dana always had his arm around her. She remembers the first day he ever put his arm around her, June 11th. It was all so special.

She was beaming in those pictures. I commented to her, "You look so incredibly happy." And more than anything I'll take away from that visit and her marriage advice was how she responded... she grabbed my hand and said, "Oh Angie, I wasn't done loving him."

I hope to have many of the same blessings Grammy has had over her life, more than anything I hope I'm never finished loving that Grandson of hers. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

So You're Getting Married, Part II

Earlier this year I wrote "So You're Getting Married" with a list of a few things I learned while starting the process of planning my wedding.

Today I bring you part II in that series. This is a more focused post, specifically when it comes to vendors.

When I got my first tattoo (I was 16 and had parents who agreed a small flower was fine and being 16 I was too shocked my parents said yes to give it much additional thought. Thankfully I still like it 15 years later!) the man who wielded the needle was a kind older man who looked a lot like Santa Claus. If Santa Claus had a spider web tattoo on his elbow and ink over more than 50% of his body. Maybe he was just an old man with a beer and a bowl full of jelly. Whatever, he was really nice. And I remember thinking, "huh, that's so nice that he's a big bad biker dude (which I, at the time, assumed anyone with that many tattoos had to be) and he's still so sweet to me." Looking back, Santattoo (I just came up with that, right now. That's hysterical.) was probably more terrified of a panicked 16 year old chick with her two parents in tow getting a tattoo than I should have been of him ... Perspective and whatnot. He helped me tweak the design a little bit. Choose a color that wouldn't fade. Even took a break (in the midst of the TINY design that took 15 minutes TOTAL) when I thought I was going to pass out because I saw blood and waited while my dad ran to the gas station next door to get me a Snickers so I could bring my blood sugar back up. (I had NO business getting a tattoo, NONE.)

When I got my second tattoo, the guy was an ass. Told me the design I chose was too small, he couldn't do it in more than one color and he barely spoke to me the entire time. Rushed through the whole thing. And I remember thinking that time, "Huh, I don't think that's how you're supposed to be. Santatto should teach lessons or something." Years later, when I was no longer 18 and (somehow even more) stupid, I realized that should have been a red flag and I should have taken my money and hightailed it out of that place because someone who can't treat a customer with respect has no business leaving permanent markings on them. #LifeLessons.

Now at this point you may be wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Did I get a wedding related tattoo? (No, but now that's a thing I'm thinking about wanting.) Did I ask Santattoo to marry us? (Nope, that's probably slightly outside of the feel we're going for with this wedding.)

Here's where it ties in to the wedding. That lesson was true and extends far beyond just the "ink world". When you have a business that involves some sort of service, you should not be an asshole to people. You just shouldn't. But there are a lot of people, place and companies that stop JUST short of that. I would highly recommend, when it comes to getting married, you avoid those people/places/companies at all costs. Because here's another thing I've learned: weddings are expensive. You are spending a lot of your hard earned money (or if you're lucky, someone else's hard earned money) on one of the biggest days of your life. There is NO place, in ANY of that for someone who isn't nice or helpful.

Thankfully, that is not the experience we have had. For as much as I gush about how awesome our wedding is going to be, I gush *almost* as hard about how incredible our vendors are. They are smart and helpful and encouraging and funny and OH MY GOSH CAN WE ALL JUST GET MARRIED?! (Kidding, I'm all set with just the one fiance.) They have helped me think of the little details I maybe would have never thought of. They tolerate my long lists of questions. They gladly (or at least in front of me) draft up version number 7 of a contract after I change my mind one last time. They take time and sit with Tom and I to make sure our day will be perfect. They've bought us lunch and given marriage advice and made us feel so damn good about the day we're planning.

Basically, my wedding day will be as amazing as it's going to be, due in LARGE part to the incredible team of people we've chosen to work with. And I would like to strongly recommend that you either work with these people or make absolutely certain that whatever vendors you choose, make you feel that same way.

Laura Zastrow Photography - I met Laura 2 1/2 years ago when she photographed another friend's wedding. Before I even saw a SINGLE picture she had taken, I told her she was going to be my photographer if I ever got married. Since then, she's become THE BEST photographer in Madison, according to Madison Magazine. She takes ridiculously incredible pictures (like some of my very favorites below) and she's managed to stay every bit as awesome.

Source: Laura Zastrow Photography

Source: Laura Zastrow Photography

Source: Laura Zastrow Photography

Smoke Shack (Hospitality Democracy) - Specifically Ryan, who's been our catering/wedding planning extraordinaire. Ryan has not only helped us figure out a menu and all of the catering related logistics, but EVERY time I get an email or have a conversation with that man I learn something new/think of something I never would have on my own. (For instance, always include your last names and wedding date in an email signature to vendors to help them keep organized.) He has helped us coordinate details with other vendors, helped craft the most delicious menu and does it all with patience and a smile. Had the BBQ not been enough, Ryan sealed the deal on Smoke Shack.

Anodyne Coffee - Lindsay, the event coordinator at Anodyne, had her wedding there before she started working there. This girl knows the ins and outs of the place from both sides and is willing to share every last detail she can think of. And, AND, after our first meeting, she sent me a SEVENTEEN page PDF master document that contained every single detail she had for her own wedding. Be still my detail loving, organization needing, Type A control freak heart. Honestly, besides being nice, friendly and patient (sensing a theme here? I ask a lot of questions) a woman who has a master document like that is MY PEOPLE.

Amelishan Bridal Shop -  Jane was the sweetest woman. She couldn't have been more than 5' tall with arms of steel. Seriously, bridal gowns are stupidly heavy for the most part and she would walk through that store with a few on each side, held far above her head (because she's so tiny) getting all the dresses that me, mom and Siobhan would ask for. But, beyond being sweet and incredibly helpful, Jane would say things like, "now remember, when it's altered to fit you, you won't have that bra fat in the back" or "when it's your size you'll have just the right amount of appropriate cleavage" and THAT is the stuff a bride-to-be needs to hear!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Goals, resolutions or just getting sh*t done.

Way back in January I decided instead of haphazardly setting resolutions or goals for the year I was going to spend the month figuring out what it was exactly that I wanted to happen this year. I researched how to successfully set goals. What others were focusing on. Whether it should be small actions with combined larger results, or one big giant goal that takes the whole year, or a word to use as a mantra... there's options. And everyone has a reason for their own.

Then, the threat all Type A, control freak personalities face came knocking. I had possibly overanalyzed the decision and became overwhelmed by the information at hand and decided I should just ease up and let it come to me.

Fast forward to present day and it's March and I haven't set any sort of specific goal. (Sometimes I amaze even myself at how quickly I can go from too much control and planning to absolutely none at all. It's truly a talent.) I mean, to be fair, I did totally redirect all control and logistical focus towards planning a wedding, so it's not like I was just sitting on my ass...but still.

So I decided this past weekend to spend a little bit of time figuring out what I wanted out of 2015. I mean, it's shaping up to be a pretty big year for me (did you hear I'm getting married?!) and I know there will be a lot of external situations brining change. I also, for the most part, hate change. So I'm trying to figure out how I might balance the chaos, encourage positive internally driven change and end 2015 feeling like I've actually accomplished what I set out to do.

I've kind of decided on a hybrid of things to focus on but ultimately the come together and work with each other for the greater good of... me.

Present. 
My first major focus came from a quiz I took from a "Commit to You" yoga challenge through Gaiam TV. My mantra that resulted from this challenge quiz was "I am here."

I have always struggled with being in the present. See: being 4 years old and asking for a briefcase for Christmas so I could play pretend "go to work" which was just me announcing "I'm going to work!" and then standing between the storm door and the front door holding my briefcase. I've always been too excited by what's next to truly focus on what's currently happening. I need to be more present in all that I do. Quit tweeting while I'm composing an email while listening to a podcast.  Eat your dinner. Not eat your dinner while you snapchat as you watch Gilmore Girls. Actually BE in the current pose of yoga instead of anticipating the next cue. Truly listen to people when they're talking instead of thinking what my response will be. There's little moments in every single day that make up our day, our week, our year and our life. I need more moments, less milestones.

So, for 2015, I will be present. I am here. Wherever the hell here may be.


Intentional. 
Truly assess EVERY SINGLE aspect I allow into my life. Every task I fill my time with. If I'm going to choose to be in a moment, I must want to be there - either because it's brining me joy or value. For example, I will spend time with people who make me happy, instead of negative forces. That brings me joy. I will workout more. Despite it possibly not making me happy at all in the present moment, it brings a necessary value to my life. That value might be toned arms for a wedding dress. Or preventing an ass so fat it doesn't fit in pants. It can vary from day-to-day. This applies to people, activities, things and even food. (Sweet baby Jesus does it apply to food... It's tough to intentionally eat and find value in a big mac - I mean, I CAN do it, but it's harder than broccoli.)

Less. 
In order to truly be present and intentional, there must be less clutter. Less noise. Less distraction. My second focus of this year is to be minimalistic. I have more stuff than I need. Side note: while I was procrastinating on setting a goal, and after being motivated by my friend Gina who's currently decluttering while raising a toddler, I stumbled upon this decluttering challenge and decided that was a good start. I've been throwing away sh*t regularly and it's pretty freeing! At first, I was all, "But this champagne flute from Alpha Chi Omega formal circa 2007 is VERY special." But then, I was all, "NIKOLAS. You have 17 champagne flutes and have never ONCE had a toast of any kind in this home. Pick 4 and ditch the rest." Unfortunately, the AXO flute wasn't part of a matching foursome and will soon belong to some random person seeking fanciness at Good Will. I have lived in my house for 9 years, have barely had to consolidate a single closet or cupboard. I have things I've forgotten I owned TWICE. 

There are some other little goals I'm working on... eating better, working out more, getting up earlier in the morning, being on time... but they all ladder up to these mantras, intentions, whatever you want to call them. I'm still figuring out how the all come to life in the every day kind of way...but it's working for me. Sometimes I'll intentionally eat some pizza. I'm still going to multi-task because that's a sickness I can't kick. And I'm sure I'll become a nostalgic sucker and keep a damn t-shirt form 1997 because I've convinced myself it's important. But, I'll seek improvement in these areas and that'll be a big fat win. Plus, now it exists on the internet so it's real and I have to stick to it. That's how cyberspace works, you know? 

Friday, February 20, 2015

So you're getting married.

I have struggled with what to post here about this whole "planning a wedding" thing. I don't want it to become a wedding planning blog. I don't want to post all the details here because I want there to be some element of surprise for my guests (who are pretty much 90% of my readership). It's not that there hasn't been activity. True to my Type A, organization-loving, planner-driven personality, basically the whole damn thing is already planned (and has been for weeks). In a few days I'll be sending out contracts for the caterer, dessert, hotels, photographer and rental company. There are a ton of details being worked out and yet I don't really want to talk about those (unless your my mom, in which case you get a call from me every day after work to give you an update on what I've planned over lunch that day).

So instead I'll talk about what the last 6 weeks (post-engagement) have been like. Here are my observations about the post-proposal, pre-wedding planning phase.

I cry A LOT. 
I mean, I always cry a lot but this is some weepy shit. This phase has totally reaffirmed my fear of being a hormone-filled pregnant woman because I will likely just float away on a river of my tears. Sometimes, when I'm driving to work in the morning, I start to think about the wedding day and marrying Tom and I just start crying. I become so freaking overwhelmed by the love and happiness I feel about that day and I cry. On the spot.

Related: There are things I cannot think about. 
We had most of the wedding planned within about a week of the proposal. My incredibly patient fiance would come home each day to a barrage of ideas I found, people I talked to, things we could get, etc. He would intently listen, offer his opinion and help me me make decisions. We have thought about a LOT of things. However, I have quickly learned my list of things I cannot think about for fear of crying myself to a state of dehydration. These things include, but are not limited to:

  • Almost anything to do with Tom and the day of (this includes first look, vows, first dance, seeing, speaking or touching him). 
  • Almost anything to do with my Dad (first look, father daughter dance and GOD FORBID THAT FREAKING TOAST).
  • Most things to do with "my people" (bridesmaids, bridal party, my mom, my friends, everyone being in the same room to celebrate the love I have for that man...oh god, I could cry right now just typing it and I'm not even really thinking about it).
I am terrified of a dress. 
I'm not much of a clothes shopper. For the longest time, thanks to my previously gigantic boobs, dresses were pretty much out of the question. (See: The time I skipped a formal entirely because I couldn't find a dress to fit over them and also fit the rest of my body in THE ENTIRE CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS.) Maybe I still have PTSD from that or something. Basically me trying to find anything other than a Maxi dress (because those are just sweatpants without legs) is like asking a dude to pick up a bra. What are these descriptions? People wear that? WHAT DOES THIS FLAP DO?! I have been super excited about every single part of wedding planning except for picking a damn dress. NBD, just a dress that EVERYONE IS WAITING TO SEE. Just a dress you're going to MARRY YOUR HUSBAND in. Every time I think of what kind of dress I want I basically just hear a little voice saying, "Don't screw this up, Nikolas." So no, thankyouverymuch, I do NOT have a dress yet. I'm going to need to be a little hammered for that part. 

You should marry a good man. 
I guess I kind of knew this one before I got engaged, but it's become very apparent in this post-proposal phase. Planning a day to commit your life to another person should be, and for the most part is, a very happy experience. However, there are undeniable logistics of a wedding that inevitably make things temporarily not as happy. Money, numbers, crazy family members, whether there is brisket on the menu, etc. (some of those may be more applicable to my wedding than yours). Tom has been amazing. He's interested, he's engaged, he's contributing. He was willing to visit an entire warehouse of vintage rentals and even held a pro/con session of his own between two different sets of table numbers. He's understanding with me when my Type A (which sometimes stands for "asshole") takes over and loses its shit about some stupid detail that doesn't matter at all. He's helpful when I get deep into an excel file and start to get an overwhelmed look on my face. He's patient when I ask the same question 100 times a week despite knowing there will be no change in answer. If you're going to plan a wedding and marry someone, make it someone good. I can't imagine doing this whole thing with someone who sucks. 

My people are awesome. 
I knew this. I've known this for a very long time. But nothing makes you get all gooey inside like thinking of all your favorite people being in one spot at the same time. And then, when you get to ask people to stand up with you when you marry that man that you weren't sure you'd ever find and then you did and they love him and he loves them and it's ONE BIG GIANT LOVE FEST. Oh man, that is some good stuff right there. One of my favorite parts of planning a wedding so far has been asking people to be a part of the big day. I still have a few asks left and I think I might be intentionally procrastinating. This has turned into my favorite drug. The excitement leading up to it, the thrill of asking, the burst of love when they respond. Ugh, it's GOOD STUFF. I don't want it to be over. So sorry to the "yet-to-be-asked" list...y'all might be waiting a little bit longer. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

That Time I Got Engaged.

(I'll be honest. I've put off this blog post for a while because I've known no matter what I decide to write, it's never going to fully capture what happened. That's a very stressful place to start a blog post at, but I'll do my best.)

I have said yes to a lot of stupid things in my life. Skipping most of Econ 101 my junior year. The Apple River Trip of '04. Almost every shot of whisky consumed. I have also said yes to a lot of really amazing things in my life. The University of Minnesota. Alpha Chi Omega. My house. My current job. In all my 31 years, not a single "yes" has ever been more confidently, emotionally, or excitedly uttered as the one I delivered (through sobs and laughter) on January 10, 2014.

This guy, my best friend, the one who makes me laugh until my sides hurt, swoon so hard I fear I may never recover and makes every single minute of my life better, asked me to marry him.


I should have been suspicious when a friend randomly called to celebrate my birthday. I should have questioned why she would be willing to come and pick me up AND drop me off. I could have gotten confused when she randomly called an audible and suggested drinks at the Iron Horse after dinner. But it wasn't until we got out of the car and she took off running inside. It wasn't until I saw my Tommy standing in the vestibule of the Iron Horse Hotel that I knew for sure something was happening. There he was, in my favorite flannel the man owns, looking nervous as hell.

Now let me tell you, this man has, on more than a handful of occasions, brought me to tears by just randomly telling me how he feels. He's got a way with words and he's not afraid to show it. (Even if he's showing it in a Farm & Fleet parking lot as we're about to go look at grills and it catches me so off guard I end up sobbing my way through the bird seed aisle. True story.) So when he started to talk and his voice quivered and I saw tears, I knew shit was going down.


He walked me over to a corner of the patio in the front of the hotel. I know there was screaming from inside. He took my hands. I don't remember everything he said. (It felt like maybe I blacked out from happy?) I know he told me he loved me. And I remember just before his voice cracked completely and he started to really cry he got down on one knee. Then, he asked me to marry him. And I remember a flood. Of memories. Of emotions. Of moments in my life that made me question if this moment would ever happen for me. (You don't spend a three year block in your late 20's/early 30's without that coming into question more frequently than you'd care to mention.) And once the flood passed, I remember feeling a relief that I can't find words for. An affirmation that I found him. My partner in crime, my best friend, my future husband. 


And then, I realized, right before he got down on that knee I had heard a noise I knew. See, my inability to contain tears is a direct inheritance from my mother. Except she tries to pretend she can lock it up. And she does ... until she can't anymore. And when that moment happens a little gasp comes out. I realized right as he took his knee I heard that all too familiar gasp. As we hugged and kissed I heard more screaming. Tom asked, "Do you want to go inside?" to which I responded, "Do I know those screams??" 

We walked inside the doors and just when I thought I couldn't possibly feel more love than I did in that very moment, I was hit by another flood. This time in the form of my family and my best friends and the people who loved me while I waited for him. The people who carried me when I couldn't anymore. The people who kept hope alive when I wanted to give up. The ones who assured me with each break-up or bad date that somewhere out there HE was waiting for me. And they were right. And I was so damn happy to be immediately surrounded by all those people with him. One by one, they threw their hugs around me and my (at this point VERY) ugly cry face. Friends from Milwaukee, my mom & dad, friends from Minnesota, my brother and sister-in-law, friends from Texas, friends from high school, my nephew, friends from the internet. All of them, right there champagne in hand, ready to toast me and my new fiance. 

It was, without a doubt, the most incredible night of my life. The next few hours surrounded by all those amazing people flew by. I have never felt such deliriously high amounts of happy and love in my whole entire life. 

I'm so thankful for Tom for planning such a special night for me. I'm thankful for my mom and Sukie and Holly for knowing when my Tom wouldn't be able to handle ALL the planning and stepping in to assist. I'm so thankful for the friends who made it to the occasion. I'm BEYOND thankful for Danielle bringing a camera and capturing what I couldn't possibly remember all of. I'm thankful for whatever I did in life to deserve these people and this man and the ability for it all to come together in one night of stupid levels of happy. 

Oh, and of course...I'm pretty happy to have this pretty lady adorn my left hand.