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Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It occurred to me recently that I had not posted here about how Chris proposed.  So that's what you're getting today! (Let the celebrations commence!)  I know it's kind of long, but I am really proud of him and I love our story; I don't feel that I would be doing it justice if I tried to cut it down.

So, here you are:

Chris proposed while we were on a trip to San Diego in May 2009.  My dad and stepmom were planning a trip to San Diego during the weekend of Chris's birthday; Chris's mom, stepdad and brother were living in San Diego at the time.  Since our parents hadn't met yet, this was a prime opportunity to have the worlds collide, so to speak.  Little did I know what would happen on that fateful trip, and how much Chris had orchestrated...

On Chris' birthday, a Friday, we had made plans to have dinner at one of the best restaurants in San Diego (El Agave in Old Town --YUM!), with the various parental units in tow.  Before dinner, we were going to meet with my dad and stepmom for a drink.  On our way to that drink - to be had in downtown Coronado - Chris took me for a stroll down the boardwalk of Coronado.  For those who are not familiar with the area, you can see downtown San Diego from the boardwalk and it is a truly beautiful walk.  We had walked the boardwalk many times before, most notably on our first date and on our previous anniversary.  As we walked, we reminisced about the times before, talking of love and their relationship.

Near the end of the boardwalk, far from any place where they might meet my family for that drink, Chris stopped walking.  Hand in hand, he asked me if the remembered The Note.  

Of course I remembered The Note!
Here's the deal with The Note:
As you may or may not know, before Chris had left for Thailand in September of 2007 - about nine months after we began dating - Chris gave me a sealed note, warning me not to open it until Chris told me that she could.  Torture!!
When he returned from Thailand, I was thoroughly disappointed to learn that I would not get to open The Note.  I had been so good an patient!  No dice.  During the next year (and then some) Chris took The Note from my possession (citing distrust for my ability to refrain from opening it). I bugged Chris about it, Chris pretended to lose The Note.  Later, I found it and caught him in the lie.  

So, yes, I remembered The Note.

Chris asked if I wanted to read The Note, which, of course (if you know me at all, you've guessed) I did.  He produced the infamous Note from his shirt pocket, handing it over to my waiting and now trembling palm.  I turned my back to him, as if he were going to read it over my shoulder.  
I unsealed it, and drew the innocuous-looking card from the envelope.  
At this point, I was suspicious of The Note and its sudden reappearance, but did not dare to presume what was coming.  
I opened the card and, written inside, having been jealously kept in hiding for nearly a year and a half was:
"Will you marry me?  Check yes or no."
'Check Yes or No' is a very romantic country song, 
and one which, I later found out, 
was playing when Chris was writing The Note)

My eyes filled with tears and I turned to find Chris on one knee, a ring box open and held out in classic style.  Ignoring the box, I flew down on the concrete and hugged Chris, nodding and crying.  Chris would later tell me that many people in the homes and hotels next to the boardwalk were clapping and cheering for what obviously was happening.  
Eventually, Chris asked me if she wanted to see the ring. (Oh, yeah!!  That's part of the deal, isn't it?) 
I did.  It was and is perfect. 

We walked back down the boardwalk, Chris revealing how much planning had gone into that moment.  Chris had been conferring with his parents and mine to organize the event starting in January.  
This also explained why Chris had been so edgy on the plane ride down, when he'd gotten pissy at me when I was trying to ascertain whether or not he wanted a pretzel while I got one for myself.  

I marvelled at the ring, asked questions about how he had put it all together, and listened to him reeling now that it was over. (He was shaking a little, too.)

They arrived at the restaurant and my dad and stepmom were waiting.  They had told everyone there what was about to happen (having known it was coming for months), and we received cheers and joyful looks when walking through to the back patio where they joined my dad and stepmom.  Mostly, I was speechless (well, as speechless as I ever get), but I drank the champagne that was ordered and enjoyed the feeling of the moment.

After the drinks, we joined Chris' family for dinner, which was lovely (although my memories of the evening are fuzzy from all the surprise and joy).  
Following that, we, as a newly engaged couple, went to the country bar, InCahoots, which we had frequented while living in San Diego.  This was also where Chris tells me that fell in love with me; country dancing will always be an important part of our relationship.  We were able to share the news with many of our friends.  Funnily enough, however, another couple got engaged that evening - strangers to us - right on the InCahoots dance floor.

Interestingly, later that evening, Chris asked if it was romantic that he had written the proposal Note so long ago.  I laughed and told him that it most certainly was.  This is why I love this man.

Also, when we left San Diego the following evening, our engagement was announced over the airplane's PA system and they were presented with a bottle of champagne to take home.  (Courtesy of Chris's stepfather, who was working for the airline.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Oh Baby!

Big news.
I mean, big.

But probably old news to [many of] you who read these posts.

What's that?  Oh, you want to know what that actual big news is?
Fine, I suppose:

My sister-in-law is pregnant!!

Here's how I found out.
I was invited by my father to join the family for a family dinner in honor of my brother's friend's boyfriend's birthday.  Yeah.  This was a little weird, but not that weird since people tend to fall in love with my family (or else find it horrendously obnoxious) which means that people who are not related by blood or marriage often join our dinner tables more frequently than seems typical.
I had plans to hang out with my bestie, but we decided to go ahead and both go to the dinner since - hey! - free food and generally good company.  So we went (along with Chris), socialized with everyone before the meal, and sat down to eat.
Sister-in-law suggests, casually, that my brother do the prayer (instead of our dad, essentially).  My brother begins the prayer, sending thanks for things like the food, the family's general health, and etc.
Then he gives thanks for the birthday boy......and THEN he says "and thank you for the baby in [my wife's] tummy."

Absolute silence ensued.
Typically, after the prayer ending we all loudly and cheerfully say "AMEN!" (even those of us who are not religious, just cause it's fun).
That night: silence.
I'm looking at my brother with a confounded expression written ALL over me.
I think I speak for all the dinner attendees when I say that, at first, we weren't sure that he was serious.  My brother is known as a joke-ster and his delivery is usually quite dry, so this type of joke wouldn't be unusual for him.
I looked to my left and right, down the table to my dad and step-mom, back at my brother and his wife.  My brother looks amused; my sister-in-law looks scared.
I ask if he's serious.
He, still smiling, nods.
I look around again.
I ask again.
Same answer.
Everyone is slowly regaining a sense of how the world is turning.
And then....I start crying.  No more words.  Just a really hideous crying face (*exactly* like the ones I'd made at their wedding several months earlier).
I jumped up out of my chair and gave my brother and sister-in-law each a hug.

My dad is still upset at being so completely caught off-guard.

The baby is due on Valentine's day of next year, so there will be a beautiful niece or nephew attending his/her very first wedding in May.

I still tear up thinking about it.
I cannot wait to be an auntie.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


First, I want to add a kind of explanation regarding my absence.  You see, I have been meaning to write new blog posts and actually post them, truly.  Lots of things have been happening and I have tons of ideas about what I want to write about and's just been a crazy-life a Chez Carolynn. So, hopefully I'll be better at being diligent in keeping up so that all 4 people who read this know every detail. (Please note: I am laughing at my own narcissism and shaking my head at my own feeling of needing to apologize for having gone *gasp* TWELVE DAYS ZOMG! without posting about my wedding planning for a wedding that is 10 months away.)


My family threw Chris and me (and yes, that's the correct grammar) an engagement party last Saturday.  We invited those who we thought would be able to make it out for the party and tried to keep the guest list manageable.  It was held in my father and step-mother's backyard, with tacos and quesadillas made to order, a chocolate fountain, and a beautiful (although very hot) day.
Chris' mother, stepfather, and brothers all made it out from Hawai'i and New York for the party, which was truly lovely.  Because my family lives in the area, it was easier for them to make it, so I had lots of family and friends there at the party which was excellent.
Here are some highlights:
--Chris was embarrassed by a game we were forced to play by my parents (think "Newlywed Game" style questions)
--We failed miserably at the game....whoops!
--My father and stepmother surprised us with a gift of gorgeous toasting flutes (we weren't registered for any)
--Chocolate from the fountain got all over the place
--Siblings and parents gave speeches
--I completely forgot about my camera after guests started arriving, so I only have photos of the decor.
--The flowers were amazing!
--I hardly saw Chris at all, because we were socializing with different groups at different times
--I feel like I didn't talk much to anyone at all!! (I guess this will be more intense at the wedding!)

There was more, but that's what comes to mind at the moment.
All in all, we had a great afternoon and evening, and it was wonderful to see our families mingling and getting to know one another better.

For those etiquette sticklers: yes, I know that, typically an engagement party is held 1-4 months following the actual engagement and, thus, our party is a little out of line with that, being 14 months post-engagement.  We have our reasons for that being the case, but I don't feel the need to justify it.  It's frustrating, though, that people would be irritated with this 'breach' of tradition as if it were a big deal...because it's not.  I trust and hope that there weren't any invited to the party who chose not to attend for that reason alone.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Questions We Ask

Even before Chris and I got engaged, we were talking about marriage; we were very clear that we were going to get married and when. Since our families knew this, they suggested that we begin checking in with ourselves and each other in a way that resembles pre-wedding counseling. That is, they encouraged us to start talking to one another about important topics that inevitably arise during the course of the marriage.

To us, this seemed like a good idea - not with the idea that we were checking or testing to see if we were right for one another but so that we had covered these important topics before they come up as a problem. To that end, we searched through reviews of books that purported to do exactly what we wanted it to do. We came up with this book:

So, more than a year ago now, we ordered this book and started making our way through the hundreds and hundreds of questions that cover just about every topic you could think of:

  • Hopes and Dreams for the Future
  • Histories
  • Education
  • Life Experiences
  • Career
  • Ethics/Values
  • Love and Commitment
  • Sexuality
  • Children and Family
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Past Relationships
  • Money
And more.
It lists questions to ask your future spouse, along with elaborations of the questions, like, why it is important to talk about these things.
We haven't gotten through all of these questions yet, but we're plugging away.

And it has been......terrifying satisfying explosive hilarious enlightening.
Some questions we sped through; wham, bam, we got that bizness DOWN!  These are questions where we already knew what one another's answers would be, and there were no surprises.

Other questions....not so much.  
A few were non-issue sorts of questions (e.g. about experiences in college; we were in college together, so I mostly got to see them all or hear about them early on).  
There were also questions where we were surprised by one another's responses; generally those went well, but didn't make us feel amazing about how well we knew one another.

The final subset, well, I have to admit that there were some questions that did not go smoothly.  I don't want to go into too much detail, but some questions led to disagreement on particular topics.  Sometimes this also led to an inflation of how important that topic is...or how relevant it is to our lives as a couple.

In all, though, I think this is one of the smartest moves we've made about the wedding.

What I'm really looking forward to, as well, are the OTHER sections:
  • Questions to Ask Your Friends and Family
  • Questions to Ask His/Her Friends
  • Questions to Ask Your Future In-Laws
  • and
  • Questions to Ask Your Lawyer
(They also have questions for your children and religious leader, but on both it's N/A for us.)

It's an extraordinary experience to, so explicitly and thoroughly, explore these topics with one's betrothed.  I don't think that any of the answers would have changed our commitment to one another, but it has definitely helped us feel like we're entering into this endeavor with a lot of great tools and knowledge under our belts.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Other Sister

So my last - and obviously quite thrilling - post was about my family.
Then I realized I left out some extraordinarily important news!

In 1996, I, along with my family, moved from Missouri out here to California.
Cut to two years later, I have few friends, but I join a Girl Scout Troop.  Here, I met Jessica.  Things started kind of rough, with both of us feeling each other out; she was defending her position as the bossiest among us, and I was the newcomer, trying to find my place among girls who had known each other for a very long time.
Cut two twelve years later and we are best friends, but we behave more like sisters.  That is, we never needed to see or talk to each other every minute of every day because our relationship is such that we're just there for one another in an intangible way.  So she is my sister.
In May 2009, I got engaged.
In December 2009, she got engaged.
Her wedding is June 2011.
My wedding is May 2011.
Cut one more time to last week: I get a phone call from her (a rarity, as neither of us are much for talking on the phone).  She's calling to inform me that she and her beau are moving to back to the area!  This will be the first time since 2003 that we have lived in the same geographical area.
I could not have been more thrilled.
Even better: since she is getting married a scant 5 weeks after we are, and her wedding is set for the SF Bay, as well, we will get to plan our weddings TOGETHER!

One more thing:
She's planned her arrival (by sheer happenstance) to be on the day before or day of my engagement party; that's only a handful of days away at this point!

I cannot wait to have all my sisters - and incidentally, bridesmaids - here: genetic, step-, in-law, and friend.