Saturday, August 28, 2010

True Love Inspiration


Yesterday my grandparents celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary! That number just takes my breath away.  These two people are two of the most amazing people I know and have always been an inspiration for true love and commitment. As long as I can remember, I have looked to their marriage as what it really means to be in a loving committed relationship.  Married in 1948, these two have faced six decades societal changes and economic events together. Not only that, they raised 6 girls the oldest seperated from the youngest by 16 years. They have mentored 12 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Additionally they have provided a loving home for countless 4 legged children. For those of you that have wondered, this is where my love of the 4 legged creatures come from!

Growing up I spent many of my summers at their house and everyday my grandpa would sit down at the dining room table for breakfast and look at my grandma and tell her how much he loved her and they would "Cheers" their juice glasses.  To this day they still hold hands and my grandpa refers to my grandmother as "Darling."  Through all these outward signs of affection you can still see on their faces how much they truly love one another.  

Nai and Pop thank you for all you have always done for me and for being a true marriage inspiration.  As Nick and I embark on our life together, I can't think of two people more fitting to aspire to be and model our relationship after!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Meaning Behind "26 to forever"

I thought I would take a step away from wedding plans and explain the title of my blog.  Many have assumed it was connected to the engagement happening just before my 26th birthday and while they were partially correct there is a little more to the connection. 

Someone told me just before my birthday that when they had turned 26 they thought they had done it all and lived life. I think this was more in reference to their longing to be 26 again but that got me thinking, at 26 I feel like my life is just beginning.

Don't get me wrong I've done some pretty amazing things and had some great experiences in my 26 years but for the last few years, at least, it's felt like I was just waiting for my life to begin. I had a great job and I worked with great people but the rest of my life left something to be desired. My social life had become compartmentalized into weekends and I felt like I was in a long distance relationship, not just with Nick but with all of my friends.  I only had one friend within a 100 mile radius I felt like I could call on a random night to go grab dinner or ice cream and while she is a fantastic friend we both had busy work schedules and walked the fine line of being too needy of one another.  I really just felt like my life was in limbo waiting for the next big thing to just happen.  So when I was offered the new job in St. Louis, I made a pact with myself to stop letting life just pass me by and to make 26 more than just an entrance into my late twenties but a year of new beginnings. I also set some goals for myself that I had intended to blog about to keep myself accountable to my pact. 

Little did I know at the time Nick had been making plans of his own (see his most recent post on his "2-by-4 Moment" and "The Pickle" While I'm thrilled with the change in direction and re-prioritization of some of my goals I do not want to lose sight of my original pact .  My hope for this blog is that it can serve dual purposes, keeping everyone updated on wedding planning and details, but to also serve as a place to hold myself accountable to my personal commitment to myself. 

"26 to forever" really is about new beginnings:  The beginning of a new life together with Nick and the new beginnings of  personal commitments to myself.  So for those of you that check in regularly for the hope of more wedding details I hope you will indulge with me and enjoy my personal journey as well.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stuck in the Land of Indecision

I know many of you out there were hoping my next post would be an announcement of at least the date, but if you didn't guess based on the title you are going to have to wait a little bit longer.

It has been a month since we got engaged and we have yet to officially make any decisions. You may be saying to yourself "what's the problem? It's only been a month after all."  Well for those of you that know me well, know that while I can  be rather indecisive I am also very task oriented.  I like to make lists, but more importantly I like to cross things of those lists and as of today nothing, not one thing, has gotten crossed off my list.  We still don't have a date, a church, a reception site, or colors; and I have found myself saying at least once a day "Can we please find something even something small to decide on so I can cross it off my list?"  But alas the list remains. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One lucky girl...

An important part of the story of the proposal night I left out is that on our walk back to the hotel Nick gave me 2 ultimatums.  Now that might sound strange, but let me explain. (And remember I already had the ring on my finger so I would have probably agreed to just about anything at that point but luckily they weren't that outrageous)

The first ultimatum was that I not be a bridezilla which I figured was rather fair. I told him that if he ever felt like I was turning into a bridezilla he could call me out on it and I would stop.  17 days into the engagement and he hasn't had to call me out yet...I consider that a success!

The other ultimatum was that this wedding would be about us; not just my dreams but his too.  He wants to be just as much a part of this process as I am.  Now how could a girl say no to that.  So we made a deal to go through the whole process with each other and to make every decision together.  He is so committed to this deal that he even went to a wedding show with me last weekend and I don't think he was completely miserable!  We have also decided to blog together giving both our perspectives of each step of the process.  (I referenced his blog in the last post but in case you missed it here is the link

Now don't get me wrong this making every decision together does have a downside.  Let's be honest every girl has little details that they dream about being part of their wedding.  For me one of those was exciting the reception to sparklers like this:

I mean how cool does that look!  Now for those of you who don't know (I will spare all the real nasty details) Nick had a small accident with some sparklers a few years back that resulted in some pretty nasty burns.  I had a feeling he wouldn't be thrilled about the idea but thought maybe just maybe when he saw how cool it looked he would change his mind and decide sparklers weren't so bad after all.  Unfortunately, I was wrong; he still seems to be rather traumatized by the event and was really not thrilled with the idea.   Like I said I wasn't completely unprepared for a no, but actually hearing it stung just a little and I may have wished just for a second that he would just do the stereotypical groom thing and not care (and yes I am well aware this was just a bit selfish).  After I pouted just a little we talked about it and decided we would come up with a different plan that was just as cool (any and all ideas are welcome!)

So clearly this deal wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be and it's going to take a little work on my part to let go of control and really be open to him having just as much say as I do and making compromises when necessary but I think it will be a good life lesson for both of us.  And in the end I think I really am one lucky girl and by him being as involved as I am this really will be OUR dream day!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Proposal Story...

Nick's version of this story can now be read on his blog here!

So here is the story you have all been dying to hear (be prepared it is a long one-if you don't care about the background just skip to Saturday, July 24th)...

Sometime in February:
We buy Cubs/Cards tickets for the game in Chicago the weekend of my birthday.  We decide to make a weekend of it and spend part of the weekend with my grandparent's, go to the game and then spend the night in the city after the game.  We then decided we would go back to my grandparent's for lunch.  He also talked me into it being a good idea to stop at his parent's house on the way home for dinner. I wasn't completely thrilled with the idea mostly because I knew it would make a late night and I had to get up Monday morning at 5 am to drive back to Jefferson City for my last day of work (which was also my 26th birthday) 

About 4 days prior to the day:
My sister and Aunt somehow get it in their heads that the perfect birthday present from Nick would be an engagement ring.  I blow it off thinking there is absolutely no way he is proposing.  I had just moved back to St. Louis and Nick has spent the last several months in commitment phobia stage (turns out that was all just a show...tricky boy!) Not to mention making an engagement ring my birthday present just wasn't his style.  Really in my head engagement was about 2 years off- the next 6 months would just be too soon for him and then it would be an election year and that just wasn't going to happen- so I was thinking at the earliest the after the 2012 election.

Thursday, July 22nd
I drive to St. Louis from Jefferson City.  It was about 9 by the time I got to Nick's house.  We load the car for our weekend in Chicago.  As we get ready to leave he hands me a wrapped box- my birthday present.  He made a huge sacrifice and somehow managed to find a Cubs jersey in St. Louis which was apparently quite a feat given there is only 1 store in the whole metro area that carries them.  I was extremely excited and grateful for his sacrifice.  We leave St. Louis and drive to his parent's house for the night to break up the trip a little.

Friday, July 23rd
We leave Decatur and start the trek to my grandparent's house where we had plans to spend the day on the beach relaxing.  About 2 hours into our trip Nick asks, "What's that noise?"  My response, "I didn't hear anything but why is the road so rough all the sudden?"  As I start to say, "I hope we don't have a flat"
Nick says, "and we have a flat tire"  So we pull over onto the side of the highway and Nick changes the flat tire on my car rather quickly without getting too frustrated or upset and we are back on our way with as little time lost as possible.  We make it to my grandparent's only a little behind schedule, but at this point Nick is exhausted so he goes to take a nap while my sister and I drive into town to get my tire fixed.  Finally by late afternoon we make it to the beach where we enjoy the rest of our afternoon relaxing in the lovely lake Michigan.  My sister however, has not dropped her brilliant idea and bugs Nick the whole time about when he is going to propose.  At one point he even tells her he can't propose because he is "keeping his options open" (I told you he was tricky). We head back to the house for dinner and some board games (Nick gets a glimpse at the famous Kingma "art of cheating") .  We are enjoying a wonderful game of Boggle (by enjoying I mean I was getting my butt kicked by Nick and my grandpa) when my aunt Cyndi calls.  She was babysitting my cousin's son who had gotten sick and she wasn't sure what she should give him.  My grandma hangs up the phone and says, "Listen up everyone I have an announcement! Carl is proposing to Paula tonight!" Turns out she couldn't call my cousin to ask because he was proposing to his girlfriend that night at the Jack Johnson concert in Indy. My sister takes this as an opportunity to lay it on thick about how cool it would be if we both got engaged the same weekend.  In an attempt to down play and get her to stop with the pushy engagement plans I say "Who wants to share that weekend...that is a terrible idea" Having no idea of Nick's plans- he was apparently freaking out a little inside when I said that.

Saturday, July 24th
We woke up early on Saturday to get ready to head to the city for the baseball game.  Now we should have left with plenty of time to stop by the hotel, check in, park, get to the train station and make it to the game on time; however, we ran into several detours and closed roads.  We finally made it to the hotel and the parking garage where Nick and I had a short argument about just leaving the luggage in the car because we didn't have time to take it back to the hotel, again me having no idea there was an engagement ring in the trunk of my car or understanding why he was so upset about just leaving everything in the car for a few hours.  So we make it to the train station and get down the steps and my sister says, "Do we have the tickets?"  Well we left them in the car, so Nick runs back to the car to get them.  He miraculously makes  it back to the train just in time and makes the same train we do. We finally make it to the game by about the 2nd inning, find our seats and relax for a while!  It turned out the be a beautiful day for baseball and the Cubs won!
notice the beautiful cubs jersey!

ignore random dude!

After the game we boarded a very crowded and hot train and headed back downtown.  After we dropped my sister off at her train to head back to my grandparent's we walked through Millennium Park, took some pictures, and did a little sight seeing.
I made Nick take this picture...He was not thrilled!

We got back to the hotel just in time to shower and get ready for dinner.  We had plans to walk to Weber Grill Restaurant where we enjoyed an absolutely amazing dinner- I would highly recommend the restaurant.  I even got a birthday cake:    

After dinner we decided to walk to Navy Pier to see the fireworks.  We got a little lost on the way but we finally made it only to find a sign that said "Fireworks Canceled" We were both a little bummed but decided to just walk down Navy Pier and enjoy the night and the sunset.  It was quite beautiful:


After walking down the pier and back Nick suggested we find a photo booth and take some pictures.  We finally found one but it was inside and very hot!  There was also a screen on the outside so anyone could watch what was happening on the inside and there was 4-5 children and their moms watching everyone take their pictures.  They were also making awkward comments about poses-just a little weird.  But we ended up with cute pictures nonetheless.
We then decided to walk to the John Hancock building for drinks.  After a rather long walk (much longer than it looked on the map) both of us were tried, hot, and had very sore feet.  We walk in the building only to find a very long, slow moving line at the elevator.  There was a THREE HOUR wait at 10 pm to go to the restaurant so we vetoed that idea and decided just to find another bar.  I kept telling Nick "It is fine we will come back and do all these things some other time" (again having no idea there was a proposal that kept getting ruined).  At this point I was very tired and hot and really would have just been ok going back to the hotel and going to bed, but Nick kept insisting we go find a drink.  So we walked around looking for a bar and finally end up at the Hard Rock.  We are enjoying our drinks when Nick suggests we stop in Grant Park and see the Buckingham Fountain at night.  Again I really could have just gone to bed but decided I would indulge him since all his other Chicago touristy plans were ruined.  We hailed a cab and asked him to take us to the park.  We were in a bit of a hurry because the internet said the park closed at 11 pm so we didn't have much time.  I told the cab driver where to take us and how to get us there so he wouldn't drive us around and waste time.  Well he was very confused and asked us for a street address ('s Grant Park is it that hard to find??)  Luckily the iphone came to the rescue and we gave him a cross street and we made it there.  We walked across the street and are welcomed by the beautiful fountain and some John Philip Sousa.  I stopped to snap this beautiful picture:
As I go to take another the lights go off, the music stops, and the fountain turns off! Park closed.  I'm of course thinking well at least we got to see it right? (little did I know)
I don't really remember much else from this point forward so I'll try and piece it together:)
So Nick suggests we walk back through the garden and as we head that direction he stops and says something like .  "You know what I've learned tonight...even if everything goes wrong it doesn't matter as long as we are together." I of course get all sappy and give him a big hug.  Before I know it he is down on one knee and has a box in his hand.  I immediately start crying.  I honestly have no idea what he said next and I just stood their crying.  He then got a sappy look on his face and I realize I hadn't said anything.  I then say "Yes!" several times and give him a big hug.  I also remember several people walking by commenting on "how it was the most romantic thing they had ever seen"  
We start to walk back to the hotel and he asks, "Do you like the ring?" At which point, I realize I hadn't even looked at it!  Once I stopped to look at it, it was perfect and beautiful.  

I'm pretty sure neither of us got much sleep that night and I spent most of the next several hours giggling and staring at my finger! 
Side note:  His first plan was at the fireworks, his next plan was the photo booth but it was hot and the spectators freaked him out (I think he gets props for creativity on this one though!), plan 3 was the top of the Hancock tower but waiting 3 hours just wasn't happening and plan 4 was the fountain- who would have thought all 4 ideas would have fallen through!

Sunday, July 25th
We wake up fairly early, especially since neither of us got much sleep, and started back to Indiana to my grandparent's house.  I decide I was just going to let my sister figure it out on her own.  We pull up to my grandparent's house and she is outside loading her car.  I hand her a bag with my left hand, ring quite visible, and she doesn't even notice.  
Nick says, "wow you are oblivious!"  
Sarah says, "What are you talking about?"
Martha, "I don't know what is he talking about?"
She then looks down and sees my ring.  At which point she starts screaming, "I knew it, I knew it!" as she skips up the driveway. We go in and share the news with the rest of the family and enjoy a lovely lunch with the family before heading to Decatur to tell his family (I now know why he was so adamant about having dinner with them!)
We got to his parent's house, where all his family was waiting.  We call his parents out to meet us and his dad walks out the door and just grabs my hand (the wrong one at first).  Apparently they had a feeling it was happening and just knew that was why he wanted everyone there.  They were all also very excited and full of questions!  We enjoyed a lovely dinner and birthday cake (I know I almost forgot it was my birthday the next day too).  We left after dinner and presents and didn't get back to St. Louis until after 11 (remember I had to be up at 5 am the next morning).  

So there you go...the very long story!  Stay tuned for what is sure to be more adventures as we plan our wedding and enjoy being engaged! Also check out Nick's blog