Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrating our 2nd Wedding Anniversary

I do have to say, before sharing my fun day celebrating my 2nd wedding anniversary, in continuing with my wedding horror story, my honeymoon wasn't much better. We spent the two days after our wedding in a beautiful and fun little town only 45 minutes away from home before flying to Kauai for a week. Kauai is where it got worse. To make a long story short, I ended up with 3 infections and within a week of my wedding, had been prescribed 5 different medications, most of them saying to not drink alcohol or be in the sun. One of the infections was a sinus infection which made it impossible for me to be in air conditioning or else I would cough until I threw up, which wasn't pleasant for Kauai in July. With me being so sick, we didn't really get to go out much but luckily both of us had been before so I guess that helped. We also got our days messed up so we missed our flight thinking that we weren't flying out until the day after. This did end up costing us a bunch more with the airline company but the lady who owned the cottage we were staying in, was nice enough (and felt so bad for us) that she gave us the extra night free. That 'extra' day ended up being the best day of our trip since it was the first day I really felt better, so we drove around everywhere and made the most of it.

With that being said, I wanted to share the wonderful day Branden and I had touring the fun sights around Cork City on our 2nd anniversary. We took a day tour that drove us to Cobh, Blarney and Kinsale. We have been wanting to see all three of these places, but with no car and bus fares being expensive we found that this day tour was actually more cost effective that taking a bus to each. It was also only a 15 seat passenger van so it wasn't like we were trapped on a massive bus with a bunch of old people on vacation. I will give you the trip in photo form and some commentary thrown in. Since we took a ton of photos I will tackle each location in it's own blog to keep it from getting too huge.

Today's blog will be the start of the tour in the historical and picture perfect village of Cobh (pronounced Cove) and if you want history details and yada yada then click on the name and it will give you all the Wikipedia details. I will add links to all sorts of details if you are into that stuff and save me the hassle of having to type it all out (yes, I'm being lazy today). You can also click on the photos to make them bigger and more clear.

This is Cobh Cathedral that sits on a hill above the village. It had many gorgeous architectural features and some other features that I found much more enjoyable and unique...

 It had it's very own resident cat! It was very friendly, despite being a little drooly, and I probably spent more time petting the cat than looking at individual statues and windows in the Cathedral!

It also had it's very own Holy Water on tap in a tank outside! I have never seen something like this before and had to take a photo of it!

On our way down to see the village I couldn't help but take a photo of this adorable kitty! Yes, I am cat obsessed, but that's what happens when I haven't been able to have a pet in almost 3 years.
A view of the village from a dock we walked out on. I love all the colors and can't wait to eventually have my own colorful home in Ireland and live in a cute little village like this.

Propped the camera on some coins, hit the timer button, ran for the bench...and smile!
A shot of the flower boxes along the fence in front of the gazebo in the park.
We noticed that these 3 buildings had crows on them. It was only on these buildings and it was slightly creepy... idea why or if they are just always on these buildings

We really liked Cobh; it was a gorgeous village and very peaceful. The next stop we made was Blarney, home of Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney Stone! Stay tuned for possibly the most green photos you have ever seen! (and I hope you enjoyed all of my fun links!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Anniversary is Here!...Part 4 of what turned out to be 4

If you need to catch up at all you can read it all in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I left you all with the wonderful image of Branden and I peacefully enjoying our time with our nephew at my in-laws house for our rehearsal dinner. After 'sneaking' a suitable amount of cake to ensure a very wound up 2 1/2 year old, we were snuggling together on the stairs when I started to feel some stomach pain and an ache in my side. As it was becoming more uncomfortable, I told Branden that I would be fine but I just wanted to go upstairs to his room and lay down on his bed for a bit. He went to mingle and I had a little lie down to try and settle my stomach. I had eaten quite a load of incredible food so I must have just stuffed myself a bit too much...but it kept getting worse.

My maid of honor Chrissy came up to see what was up and I was riling in pain when she found me. Tears were coming quickly as I struggled with the pain in my side and she tried to soothe me by saying it was just 'pre-wedding jitters'. I told her that I wasn't nervous at all and I had been looking forward to this day my whole life and I wanted nothing more than to marry Branden, but this was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life! She decided to go get my mom and inform Branden of my worsening condition and soon I had a small roomful of people. The pain was excruciating and it finally reached breaking point when the vomiting started. Luckily Branden's best man was an almost graduated nursing student at the time and he came in to see what he could do to help. Between him and my sister, I was soon in someone's car headed to the Emergency Room.

I have heard horrible stories of people spending hours in an ER waiting room, which weren't a comfort at a time when I was experiencing the worst pain of my life and was throwing up more than the girl in the Exorcist. Luckily they gave me a barf bag as I waited...but the fact that the bag was clear and had measuring marks on it didn't help much. My mom arrived soon behind us, which I knew because of her shoes (since I was bent over my bag), and thankfully I was called to go into the ER. Both my mom and Branden walked me up to the double swinging doors where they were informed that only one could come in with me. There was a defining moment as my mom had to hesitate and let her baby girl go on without her, knowing that I was soon to be a wife and it was time to let my soon to be husband take care of me.

After some poking and prodding I was hooked up to an IV full of something wonderful and my concern then turned to the thought that the IV was in the back of my left hand...where it was sure to leave a lovely bruise for ring photos! The doctor informed us that the culprit was a kidney stone and the only thing I could really do was wait it out and hope it passed quickly. Not knowing if I was going to have to spend the night or not, I told Branden that I didn't care if we had to lay my wedding dress over the top of me in a hospital bed and drag the pastor in, we were getting married tomorrow! The doctor was very nice, gave me some Percocet and anti-nausia pills, told me to drink lots of water and gave me a paper funnel to strain my urine in hopes of finding the pesky kidney stone. I may have been drugged up, but seriously, a paper funnel!? I was told it could take days for this thing to work it's way out of my system and I didn't really think a paper funnel would hold up, let alone be something I'd be packing in my honeymoon bag!

I was also told by the doctor that someone needed to watch over me that night, and since Branden and I were 'legally' married, we decided it would be best for him to watch over me (plus, it was pretty obvious that nothing would happen!). We left the ER at about 12:30am. Our first night together wasn't exactly what we imagined with me funneling my pee and being a bit loopy from the pain meds. We survived the night and the next day I told Branden that it wasn't good luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding, to which we both laughed and said, "How much worse can it get?".  Oh so naive...

Chrissy came to pick me up and take me to get my hair done. When we arrived at the hair dresser's salon we discovered that the power was out! It wasn't just out at the salon but it was out all through town! I called my mom at the church to find out if the power was out there and luckily their power was not affected. So the hairdresser pinned the front of my hair up and I called my sis to bring her curling iron to the church to finish it. Luckily my sis has this random knack for doing hair so she got to work on the bridesmaids. My cousin's girlfriend at the time also came and helped out since she was a hairdresser. Branden found out that our MC for the reception wasn't going to make it so he ended up jumping around trying to find someone to fill in. A few people later and he managed to snag a past roommate from undergrad (who did a great job).

Before the ceremony, my mom came and informed me that my Uncle had been in a car accident on his way to the church. He was ok but he wasn't going to make it to the church. When my sister got married, my mom took her up to a quiet place in the church and scared the crap out of her by telling her that if she wanted to call off the entire wedding right then and there that she would take care of it and it would be fine. This is nothing to do with my brother-in-law because the entire family loves him and is so proud of him. My mom just wanted to make sure this is what my sis wanted. I did not get this speech, however. My mom and dad nabbed me in a hallway, put their arms around me, and prayed. There was no way they were going to let anything take away from my wedding day.

Fifteen minutes before the ceremony, I popped my anti-naseau meds and percocet and stood with my dad in the 'mother's room' that looked out to the sanctuary but nobody could see in. Branden and I put together a photo slideshow of our fun adventures and set them to Dashboard Confessionals "You have stolen my heart" and Chantal Kreviazuk "Home". As the Newsboys song "Something Beautiful" came on, cuing the bridesmaids and groomsmen, I watched from my dark room as Branden walked out to the place where he would take me as his wife. Dang, I was tearing up before I even hit the isle! I told my dad, "Look at him! He looks so good in his tux!" He had convinced me that he was going to wear a white tux, which I at first resisted but it was amazing! Everyone in place, it was my turn now. The music started and it was perfect. The Verve "Bittersweet Symphony", just the intro instrumental, and when the drums kicked in, the double doors opened and I bawled my way down the isle.

The wedding itself was perfect. I don't know if there was a dry eye in the church especially when we read our own vows to each other and Branden played his song to me. The service was probably only 20 minutes long and we walked out of the church to Coldplay's "Viva la Vida". Our pastor told Branden that it was the best music he'd heard at a wedding.

Ceremony over, we discovered a few more issues. Our wedding videographer didn't make it to the ceremony... I was besides myself. It was beautiful and perfect, and I was on strong pain killers so I don't remember most of it! I still am frustrated about it but we do have some footage of our reception. There were also 2 separate family members that had miscarriages. Since it is a private and painful matter, I won't go into details but thankfully both of them have had beautiful babies since then.

The reception was a whirlwind that I don't remember a lot of due to lack of sleep and pain meds but the cake was fabulous! We had beautiful speeches, which luckily we do have on video, and lots of wonderful friends and family telling us it was one of the most touching weddings they had attended. There was a very painful moment at the end as we had to say goodbye to my sis and our nephew before we drove off because they were going back to California, and with us moving to Scotland, we didn't know when we would see them again. Thank goodness their plans changed a bit and we got to see them one last time when we were on our way back from our honeymoon.

Looking back at it, it was a nightmare in some ways but it was also the fairy tale I had always dreamed of. I got my Prince Charming in the end and that was all I really wanted anyway.

One last thing. To this day when my mom is asked how I managed to make it through my wedding day, she simply says, "With 4 inch heels and Percocet!"

All of our photos were taken by our friend Kim Butler of Fleur de Lis Photography 

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Anniversary is right around the corner...Part 3 of however long it takes me

If anyone has randomly stumbled upon my cell then you can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 and join us for this part of the story.

Something I've omitted throughout the previous parts were all of the random 'coincidences' of people we knew, times we should have met, and how I was even Branden's first ever crush! I suppose it first starts with our parents. My mom's family lived across the street from Branden's dad's family and my mom and his dad were in the same grade in school and graduated together. Branden's dad's dad was an optometrist and my dad's family always went to him. Branden's mom was best friends with one of my cousins in high school and when this cousin eventually got married and had children, Branden and I both baby sat for her. When we were young, our families attended the same church, but remember, I am 3 years older, so we never were in the same Sunday school class. However, when I showed Branden photos of me when I was a child, he couldn't believe his eyes! His first crush was when he was 5 and it was on one of the older Sunday school girls that he had seen at church...after seeing my photo, he said that it was me! Crazy, I know but this is just how destiny works.

The house I grew up in was on a hill and I used to babysit for the 3 boys that lived in the house at the bottom of the hill. Branden was friends with these boys and one time he came Christmas caroling with them to my house but my family wasn't home. In his band days, I went to one of his concerts but I was leading a youth group at the time and spent the entire time chasing down my hooligan kids and never got to pay attention to the band. The second CD that his band made was with another one of my cousins, at his studio. Branden's parent's held a young adults Bible study at their house every week that my friends went to and would invite me to go to all the time but I never went. The same friends also went to Scandinavian Folk Dancing every week and would beg me to go with them because it was 'so much fun' but I really need to say more than Scandinavian Folk Dancing?! Apparently Branden went all the time and my friends knew him before I ever did. It was amazing that I even went to that Christmas party where we first met, and even Branden wasn't invited, he was drug along by a friend too. There are more random and odd close encounters but since I've already taken up 2 paragraphs and I can never remember them all, I'll carry on with my tale.

I'm not a huge fan of having to think back on how wrenching our engagement was. Even now as Branden is making me French toast with a vanilla yogurt and pear topping (he brings me breakfast in bed every day), I know how the story ends and that it's happy but it was a torn 8 months.

After his family and I moved him up to Vancouver, BC in September 2008, I pretty much bawled in the back seat of his parent's truck all the way back to the border (at which point I had to stop so I didn't look like a crazy druggie with puffy red eyes). We saw each other every other weekend when he would finish class on Friday afternoon and drive the 5 hours and a ferry back before having to go back again on Sunday evening. I would get so excited on those Fridays! I would do my hair up all nice, put on a pretty dress, make my makeup perfect and then fling the door open and jump into his arms the moment he drove up! He would stay as long as he could before going to his parent's house for the night. We both were waiting for our wedding night so I always had to let him go every night and dream of the day when we would be married and I never had to let him go.

The Sundays when he would have to go back were dark and heavy. We knew it was coming and it got harder every time. I would kiss him goodbye from my door, both of us in tears, and then I would peek out from my window as I watched him drive away. It may sound a bit over dramatic but I would basically have a breakdown every time he had to go, even though I knew he would call me when he reached the ferry about an hour later and would continue to talk to me until he reached the border. As much as we hated having to be away from each other, it did really solidify our communication skills which we find a huge blessing in our relationship now. We talked for hours on the phone every night from about 10pm, after he was done with his school work. In order to not bug his roommate, he would usually go out to his car, which I tease him about because it was parked across from a children's playground and he probably looked like a creeper.

I did have fun planning the wedding though and managed to figure out what basic design theme I wanted to go with, picked out bridesmaid dresses, and found my wedding dress which thank goodness was well in advance because they sent the wrong one the first time! In March, Branden was getting frustrated with his University and was thinking that he wanted to change the topic of his Master's degree. Someone told him about the University of Edinburgh and that Master's degrees only took 1 year and cost less. When he called me up and told me not to get my hopes up but that he was going to look into a possible change in Universities in September, I basically jumped up and down yelling, "We're moving to Scotland!"

Finally the day came for him to move back and I have never felt so at peace and happy before. It was such a relief! I begged Branden to not start up any job and just to focus on planning the wedding instead, which thankfully he was more than willing to do. He had done event planning before with the band so he actually enjoyed the crazy details and things which stressed me out to no end. He also had to plan all of the paperwork and details about moving to Scotland on top of it, so I was extremely grateful for his hands on involvement of our wedding. Since I didn't' have a passport and needed one for Scotland and we knew we would be moving only just over 2 months after our wedding, we decided that my name needed to change sooner than our wedding date in order for the paperwork to be done in time. So on June 7th, 20 days before our actual wedding, we signed the legal marriage certificate in Branden's parent's kitchen and turned it into the court house. Legally we were married but we did it as low key as possible and didn't count it as the real thing until the wedding day. Thank goodness we did this because all of the paperwork didn't get through to us until the day before we flew out for Scotland!

The day before the wedding was exciting and so much fun! A lot of our friends came and helped us decorate the church and reception location. Our rehearsal went off without a hitch and we eagerly headed to our rehearsal dinner which was all prepared by my incredible cook of a mother-in-law. The food was amazing!!! After stuffing ourselves, Branden and I sat quietly together on the stairs by the table full of food including a chocolate cake which our nephew Hunter, who was only 2 1/2 at the time, was trying to convince us to give him more of. It was a sweet moment as we snuck him bites and my sis took secret photos as he peered tiptoed over the table and begged for more. I will never forget that moment even though what happened next was the beginning of the nightmare...

One of our engagement photos taken by our friend Kim Butler of Fleur de Lis Photography

Have a fabulous weekend and be sure to stop by on Monday for the wedding story! *dun dun dun!!!!

Click to read Part 4

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Anniversary is Closer...Part 2 of however long it takes me

If you haven't read the first part then you can find it here to catch up.

So, where were we...oh yes! Branden graduated at the beginning of May 2008 and moved back home for the summer. He was all set to attend Regent College in Vancouver, BC (a 5 hour drive and ferry ride away) in September so we were well aware that our time together was limited. I don't know if I'd say we were a 'love at first sight' couple but it wasn't long into dating that we knew that this was it...and by 'not long', I mean about a few weeks. Even at Branden's graduation, all of his family that were there (and I had only met that day) were making references to us getting married. His great aunt even said to me after just meeting her,"At Branden's next graduation, you will be married and pregnant!" Some women would run away screaming at this type of pressure but my heart kind of already knew. Thank goodness though that at his last graduation I was NOT pregnant but just happily married!

We made the most of our summer together and since I had a great paying job and Branden made pretty dang good money tutoring, we had a blast visiting wineries, eating in fabulous little restaurants, lounging in parks, getting Chinese take-out for picnics at the beach, and visiting fun towns in his dad's Porsche. Branden taught me to swing dance and would bring me fresh bouquets from his mom's garden. When June came upon us, we were openly talking about marriage and had even looked at wedding rings. I came up with our wedding date as we were driving in his car for a dinner. While trying to figure out the best date, I pulled out my cell phone calendar and looked at a June 27th, 2009. It was during summer break from school and after my dad's and his brother's birthdays so we decided that would be our date. We didn't tell anyone except my best friend Chrissy and since we set the date before June 27 that year, we decided to have a -1 year anniversary. Chrissy suggested wedding ring shopping which was fun but made us realized that my ring wasn't going to be something we'd find in a store and neither was Branden's.

By the time we told all the family that 'we knew', we came across little surprise because everyone else seemed to 'know' too. Our summer swept on and we enjoyed taking lots of photos of our outings with a trip to Victoria, BC (the capital) and a hike to some natural hot springs with some good friends included in our growing photo album. I also got to go to some of his concerts which were fun. One evening, we had been swing dancing in his parent's basement which is a large hardwood floored mini theater, Branden got his guitar and told me that he had written me a song. He sang me a wonderful love song that apparently he had written after 2 weeks of our re-finding of each other, and I of course I cried! I couldn't believe that this man could exist! He was musical, very intelligent, extremely romantic, could dress himself very well, took care of himself and groomed himself well (and he wasn't gay!!). It was incredible!

I informed him that I needed a minimum of 8 months to plan a wedding but I was so antsy to get engaged that I prodded him and teased him about proposing quite a bit. Finally in August (I know, it was only 4 months) Branden's band had a music festival coming up that they were playing at. I was allowed to go and Branden told me that he would be playing my song halfway through the set and then I would be allowed to be introduced on stage after it...wheels in my head started spinning.

1. He's singing and playing my song on stage at a music festival
2. He's introducing me after the song

Girl Conclusion: I'M GETTING ENGAGED!!!

I was so excited but didn't let on to him that I knew. Chrissy got to hear my thoughts though and the day I was leaving for the festival she told me to try and not be disappointed if it didn't happen. But I was so sure it all added up and it was just the way I would have wanted it to happen so I totally had my hopes up! It was a nice hot day when we arrived at the festival and I could tell Branden was acting a little I got more excited! I was trying to make him comfortable and at ease so I snuggled up to him to try and calm him (and to see if I could feel a ring box anywhere) but he still was a bit nervous...and I couldn't find a ring box. We were in the backstage area in an air conditioned tent for a bit but just before the show, I noticed my mom showed up...more excitement!!! We were about 3 hours away from home so it's not like my mom was just 'in the area'. The band started their set and I waited anxiously on the side of the stage watching the set list as it neared my song. Finally the time had come and my song was up! This is what happened...

Luckily there was also a professional photographer from the festival that took a ton of photos of it all!

The ring was tied to a red ribbon and inside a calla lily in the bouquet and it was perfect!

I wanted something that looked antique with filigree and only round diamonds since they sparkle the most. I love my ring and still stare at it, admiring how unique and detailed it is.

We could not have been more excited! Oh, except that I had to sleep in a tent in a corn field which Branden didn't put the rain fly on since he figured it was nice and wouldn't rain...At 6am I woke to the sound of drops on my tent which also woke Branden who was sleeping in the back of a suburban with the lead singer. I jumped out of bed and had to cover my tent as Branden laid in a dry vehicle thinking that he probably wouldn't hear the end of this one (the fact that I'm blogging about this shows that he was right). I can't really complain though because I got the proposal that I wanted and the man that I only dreamed existed!

Sorry this was a bit lengthy but stay tuned for our engagement spent mostly apart and the wedding you couldn't possibly make up!

Click to read Part 3 and Part 4

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Thoughts...with a Shout Out to Mom Blogs

It's hard being away from your family, especially when you have 2 amazing dads in your life and Father's Day comes along.

My dad is a wonderful dad who is the reason why I never want to grow up despite growing older. His life motto is "18 till I die" and although I don't exactly have any desire whatsoever to go back to my teenage years, I definitely always cling to a youthful spirit and playful attitude...or maybe it's just sarcasm. He used to take me hunting and fishing which I loved. Even if we had a slow day fishing and couldn't get a bite for hours, he would ask me if I wanted to head back to shore and I would just say, "nope". And no matter how bored he may have been, he stayed out to have that time with me. Part of my dad's 'rebellious youthfulness' came out on his birthday last Friday; he finally got a tattoo at the age of 58. I'm so proud of him! Plus when he's 80, it shouldn't be all wrinkled and disfigured since he got it later in life! He loves my mother completely, loves my sis and me dearly (surprising since he had to share 1 bathroom with all of us girls growing up!), and he is such a wonderful Grandpa to my sis's boys. I was truly blessed with a great dad.

My father-in-law is my other amazing dad and I thank the Lord every day that I got the in-laws that I have! Over the past 3 years, I have been able to see the wonderful aspects of his life in my husband and understand just how great of a dad he was and is because of the men his boys have become. He loves his boys unconditionally and every opportunity to show them his love. He taught my husband how to change his oil and even though Branden learned how, they always did it together. Branden would say that his dad would still try and re-teach him some of it every time, and even though he knew it already, he never said anything because he loved seeing his father being a father. My father-in-law also loves my mother-in-law completely and honestly. They have a great relationship and would be lost without each other. I love seeing how great of a father he is because I know that he has instilled that in my husband, which I have seen glimpses of already when Branden is with our nephews.

What a blessing to have 2 wonderful fathers and their support as we are away, but it doesn't make it easy on days like Father's Day.

My last thought about Father's Day is thank goodness my husband isn't celebrating it yet! We aren't planning on having kids for at least 3 or 4 years so that he can finish school and then we can actually get a chance to travel finally! As I have been finding more and more blogs out there, I find that the typical funny blog is written by a mom. I have been trying to find a writer like me who doesn't have kids yet but I just keep getting caught up in the mom crowd. Now, I like the mom crowd I have found because they are hilarious, but they also hold a very special power that I don't think they are aware of...

They hold the power of mixing subconscious birth control in their words! Amazing I know, but the more I read and read these hilarious stories of theirs, the more my womb becomes silent and my biological clock stops ticking! It's fantastic! No baby urges, no "crap I'm going to be an old mom" thoughts and no desire at all to give up my sleep schedule. The other day Branden and I talked about extending our plan on when to start a family and he made a comment that he was actually concerned that all these blogs that I've been reading have been making me want to start sooner... I laughed at him! If anything, I have been more easily persuaded to enjoy my time with him while it lasts!

Also, I love my nephews like a mad woman and wouldn't give up my time spent with them for anything, but after a long day of playing inside, outside, drool, screaming, running, tackling, crawling and no afternoon nap, I came home to my husband looking like an exhausted wreak (and I may have even eaten a cheerio that I found in my hair). I really don't think I'm ready for that and I want to thank all those mom blogs for making this Father's Day an extra special one since I know I won't be celebrating it with my husband for a nice long while!

I hope all you dad's had a blessed Father's Day!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Anniversary Aproacheth...Part 1 of however long it takes me

This month is going by fairly quickly, which means that I am going to have been a married woman for 2 years when the 27th springs upon us. When we think about our two years of married life, Branden and I agree that it has to be much longer than just 2 years! We have lived in 3 countries in this time and my head is still spinning from thinking about how we managed all this. My wedding day may have to be a 2 part blog just to list all of the crazy things that went horribly wrong and could be considered what nightmares are made of...but you will have to wait until my anniversary to read about it! *insert evil laugh here*

I figured I would start with the basics. Branden and I get asked all the time how we met and we always have to look at each other to figure out where the easiest place is to start. Normally it goes something like this:

Back in December 2006, I was invited by a friend of mine to go to a Christmas party, which was basically going to be a bunch of homeschoolers that were a few years younger than me that I didn't know. I was a public school brat that couldn't resist a good homeschool joke and cringing at the sight of jean jumpers on girls playing baseball. Plus I have social anxiety so a group of strangers is like being thrown to hungry sharks after having a fight with my razor while shaving my legs. Ultimately, I was convinced to go and strangely enough, I met a tall, dark and handsome stranger that had the most amazing smile I had ever seen...then I met Branden. Ok, I kid, I kid! It was Branden, and we hit it off playing Taboo on the same team. As most people figure out fairly quickly after meeting me or reading my blog, I have an odd way of thinking. My parents used to tell me that nobody thought as crazy as I did, but as Branden and I became some of the only people to guess each other's words in Taboo, I realized that I had found someone else like me. We rocked that game! Our team shot ahead and a lot of it was to do with the fact that our thinking synced up brilliantly (or maybe our team was cheating but I don't think either of us would have noticed if even a bear came in and ate away our competition). We chatted a bit and I discovered that he was a guitarist in a band Zeo Doxa and was working on his bachelor's degree in the Seattle area (about 3 hours drive away). I also learned that he was 3 years younger than me and drove a very nice BMW.

We left that night and life went on as if that magical blip was a lost moment. He did tell me that he told his mom that for days after that night he was kicking himself because he didn't get any contact details from me but if it was meant to be then we would somehow meet up again. Almost a year and a half later in March 2008, I was surfing around my friend's friends on myspace (there's a word you haven't heard in a long time!) and lo and behold, I came across Branden! I am not a forward girl at all and was so done with relationships and boys (especially ones younger than me), but for some reason I had to write him. Luckily for me, it was his birthday so that gave me a good reason to start chatting. I sent him a quick little note along the lines of "Hi. Happy Birthday! I don't know if you remember me but we met at a Christmas party a while back. How is college going?". This was on the 30th of March and started a flurry of long emails back and forth over the next 2 weeks. Every day I would be so excited to go to work and log onto my email to see what he had written me (that's what work is for, right?). I didn't have internet at my house, so soon he asked for my cell phone number and then started hours of long phone calls.

Our first official date was a couple of weeks later and arranged when a friend of mine was going to Seattle to get her hair done and wanted me to go along, but she would be in the salon for hours. Branden offered to come meet us and keep me company. He took me to Ikea which was actually really fun for a first date, and he later revealed was a way to see my tastes and get to figure me out more! It also happened to be an incredibly hot and sunny day in April (random in rain country), and so being in an industrial park area, we found a big grassy lawn in front of a random parking and laid in the grass and talked for about 2 hours. It was a perfect date, and by the 21st of April we were 'official'! In May, our amazing summer together started after he graduated and moved back home.

                                               Branden's graduation May 6th, 2008

Stay tuned for the amazing summer, when we 'knew', an amazing proposal (video included), and an engagement spent in separate countries!

Click to read Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Just call me "The Child Whisperer"

I had every intention of not really doing anything this weekend (I know this sounds ridiculous for a person who doesn't work, so weekends really mean nothing to me). We have surprisingly been quite busy lately though, so taking it easy was top of my's amazing that going to only 1 place a day becomes 'quite busy' when you don't have a car and have to walk at least a mile and a half to get anywhere! My plan was slightly shot out of the water though when we discovered that the Street Performer World Championships were taking place in a park behind our house. At least we slept in a little...

There was a great atmosphere, tons of families, dogs, and face painted children wielding balloon swords. We watched a few acts but since we had lived in Edinburgh and experienced The Fringe Festival, this literally was a walk in the park. I had even seen two of the performers in Edinburgh before. After watching our third act, we scouted out the perfect bench! It had a great view of a main performance area and it was in the shade (anything to avoid more freckles!). After much anticipated waiting, the people at the bench finally left and we took our prized position. Soon though, a sweet little girl came right up to the bench and attempted to sit right next to me on my bench...I love kids, but I worked for this bench, so as she looked up at me with a smile, I pointed across the little field and said, "Look! There's a puppy!" at which she screamed, "PUPPY!!!!", as she sprinted towards it and far from my bench. There was an actual puppy and it was a cute little jack russell. I probably would have screamed and ran for it too if I had not been watching it roll in something moments before.

Branden looked at me and laughed at how easy I managed to eject a child from my personal bubble. I told him that I could also easily do it to adults if only someone in the distance had a bottle of whiskey. Not long after this we realized that we could really only watch so many juggling, balancing and unicycle acts so we decided to head home and gave up the coveted bench.

Note to readers who may use this child dispelling technique: Only send a child to a puppy or kitten IF the person with said animal is no where near a large white van with covered windows and Sponge Bob hanging from the rear view mirror. This is called a creeper.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two geniuses are better than one

Disclaimer: The content of this post is not meant to offend any of my friends or family back home...especially since I know you all laugh about this stuff too!

When I first started getting to know my now husband, he told me right off the bat that he was planning on moving to Ireland and staying there permanently. I had no issues with this since I always wanted to see the world but was stuck in my little bitty home town where I was only destined for a 4x4 with a lift kit, some sort of hunting dog, all of my clothes from Walmart and I would forever be tormented by Twilight tourists (Considering that I lived close enough to Forks to know that the hairiest things living in the woods are just loggers and the concept of pale vampires is a stretch in a town with such a high population of Mexicans, I never even attempted to read or watch anything related to the craze). Thank goodness I do have friends from back home that live outside this box, or trailer if you prefer, but I always thought there was something so much more out there for me.

Another thing I learned when I first met Branden was that he was brilliant and had taken German, a little French, can read ancient Greek and took a bit of Hebrew. I, as a true American, took Spanish in high school and only the 2 years that I had to take. I asked Branden why he never took it since it seemed very practical but he said that since so many other people take it then he should always be able to find a 'translator' and plus there shouldn't really be many Spanish people in Ireland. Out of curiosity, I asked him about how many Spanish people were in Ireland and he looked at me grinning and said, "Six".

And so our story continued and after we found our shared house in Cork, Ireland, we discovered that out of the 5 roommates, 2 of them were from Spain! As a woman, I was born with the ability to pull little details out of my brain from many years in the past for the pure reason of antagonizing, and as a wife it's my duty to exercise this ability. So one night, soon after moving in, we were laying in bed (the perfect setting for my ability) and I mentioned that it was extraordinarily lucky that we were living with 1/3 of the population of Spanish people in Ireland! Thankfully my husband knew that I was a sarcastic woman well before marrying me so he laughed and admitted that maybe his past ideas were slightly flawed. No harm done.

As I said before, he is a genius but as I find with geniuses, they can lack slightly on a few basic common sense things, which is perfect for us because I am not a genius and my intelligence mostly relies on commons sense, which makes my husband think that I am brilliant when I do something as simple as use the shampoo as body wash when we run out of body wash. I think this balance is very much needed in a marriage like ours, especially when most everyone else will see that my husband is a genius since he is doing a PhD on the representation of female saints in medieval Ireland and will have it by the time he is 27 (how old I am NOW), but he makes me feel like a genius when he marvels over my ability to make no-bake cookies with Nutella and granola because I need chocolate (recipe will be posted later).

*Photo taken before we were engaged at one of our favorite restaurants back home, Ajax's Cafe!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Is he wearing a double rainbow???

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray this from my nightmares keep,
And if I die before I wake,
Sue his freaky pink rainbow shirt off!!!

Goodnight All!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My First Baby

Ok so I'm not a mom, I haven't given birth, and I haven't raised anything more than a very neurotic Irish Setter (and even then I was only 8 when we got her so my parent's paid for everything) BUT, I consider my first baby to be my nephew Hunter, who is now 4 1/2. I remember when I got the phone call that my sis was in labor on Halloween. All the "Trick or Treaters" got to hear me yell over the top of them, "I'm going to be an Aunt!" as I threw candy wildly in their direction whilst jumping up and down.

My nephew Hunter was born while I was living in Washington State and my sis was in California. When Hunter was just over 2 months old, my sis moved to my parent's house (which was near mine) for 8 months while her husband was deployed. They moved up again for another 8 month deployment when we was just over 2 years old, and by the time they moved back to California, I had gotten married and moved to Scotland. The last time we saw him was at the beginning of this year, when his daddy was deployed again and Branden and I were spending 3 months in transition between Scotland and Ireland back in Washington. Over these short years of his life, we have had some great moments! During our last trip back to the States we made a dinosaur cave out of a cardboard box, a Komodo dragon den with blankets behind the couch, stomped on sharks that were living in my parent's huge mud puddles and attempted to kill my back playing "Auntie Moo's Safari Park".

Yes, I am dubbed Auntie Moo and up until a few months ago my husband was Auntie B...which isn't so strange to hear from a California boy, but he's now catching on to Uncle. He LOVES dinosaurs and animals so I love showing him lots of strange creatures on youtube. This started his obsessions with Komodo dragons. At first I told him about them and said that they were huge lizards that had poison in their spit. I specified that this was so they could bite a bigger animal and the poison would kill it for them...this didn't sink in right away. The first time he wanted to play Komodo dragon, he was the dragon and I was a water buffalo. When he attacked me, he just ran up and spit on me. I, laughing hysterically, explained that I understood his thinking but he couldn't actually spit on me, and then with the help of youtube showed him that Komodo dragons weren't a bunch of thugs that just went around spitting on things. This did the trick.

Auntie Moo's Safari Park was an instant hit! I told him to hide so he couldn't see what I was doing and then I placed his dinosaur toys up and down the hallway in different doorways along the way. Once I was done, I gave him a bucket with some soft quilted squares, which I informed him were bombs, and told him to climb on my back as I got down on all fours. "Welcome to Auntie Moo's Safari Park, I am Auntie Moo and your tour guide today will be...(pause and let Hunter chime in with his name)." Off I crawled down the hall until we came across our first dinosaur. I would stop and ask Hunter what kind of dinosaur it was and what it ate. If it was a leaf eating dinosaur we would kiss it's head and thank it for not eating us, but if it was a meat eating dinosaur Hunter would have to pelt it with bombs and we would make a 'run' for it. When the obvious happened and my back and knees threatened to kill me after a few times of playing this, Hunter got down on all fours in the living room and told me to get on so I could play "Hunter's Fafari Park" (safari was a slight mouthful). We did find a way to work it so that I didn't crush every bone in his body or leave him paralyzed and this was one of our favorite games.

I think I deal with living 4,500 miles away from my family fairly well...until I start to think about my first baby and now his 8 month old brother Brady, who is such a delight. Our goodbye before we moved to Ireland was traumatic for me, and even though we now have so much fun on Skype and make it work well for the both of us, I can't bear to think about that night without welling up. Luckily though, Skype has been a God send and we still play dinosaurs, since we brought some with us, and even made a mini landscape on our bed complete with paper trees, bushes and grasses for his very own Easter Egg hunt with us. I made paper eggs and hid them in our created world so that he could find them on the screen. There are lots of hilarious and fun memories I have with my nephew but I thought this would be a good introduction for future blogs...and I'm excited about the relationship through Skype that I am able to have with my younger nephew, which I will get to blog more about in the future.

Again, this isn't my 'typical' blog style since I have been much more reminiscent lately, but along my normal train of thought, I think a big part of my successful relationship with my nephews is that I regularly would like to make forts and play with cardboard boxes, and so having a kid around gives me a viable reason to do it without looking like some anti-social weirdo!

I am fine with growing old, but I don't ever want to grow up.