Saturday, June 30, 2012

"OH, for the Love of..."

I saw a cute challenge a couple of days ago, one I knew I needed to share with all of you. I was stumbling along some of my favorite blogs when I came across the sweetest letter. It was one that a man had written for his fiance that included some questions that her maid of honor had asked him to complete. The letter was read to the bride at her bridal shower, and upon reading it, she was completely overwhelmed with how much love she really did feel towards her soon-to-be-husband. Now, it's come to my attention that as of recently, I have been very caught up in the... "bachelorette" sense of marriage... meaning I am all "wound-up" and "ready to get this party started"... if you catch what I'm throwin' at ya. It wasn't until tonight with my phone call to Stephen that made me realize, I've lost sight of just WHAT is coming up, and what marriage is going to truly entail, so I went ahead and decided to tackle this challenge myself.

So, Stephen... here is my letter to you. And in no way are you pressured to complete the same for me... *ahem*

1. Tell everyone about your first date:
It truly was a date that was never meant to actually happen. Throughout the summer at Partners 'N Pals, Stephen and I had these harmless crushes towards one another that we both thought would NEVER go anywhere. Considering just how attracted I really was to him, I kept coming up with silly excuses for our camp counselors to get together after work that really had NOTHING to do with work... again, just admiring Stephen from afar.

One night, however, our boss and friend had mentioned that she thought the three of us should get together for dinner. Although she eventually backed out due to an important commitment, Stephen and I both decided we'd go ahead with the plan and grab a casual dinner by ourselves. Although it was never explicitly stated, I was all nerves, realizing that even though we hadn't called it one by name, we were kind of going on a date (because the WHOLE camp knew at this time that we were both attracted to one another).

I tried to dress casually, but still attractively, and we showed up separately. He was a gentleman the entire time, opening doors for me, insisting I sit before him. We also NEVER ran out of conversation... I think we showed up for dinner around 7 and we closed the place down. There were no awkward pauses, no need to feel like I had to go out of my way to impress him, and the food was AWESOME. I seriously had never had a smoother first date. It was like we had been friends for years, and I was so comfortable just sitting and getting to know him.

There was no awkward good night kiss, just a hug, and a little mystery as to where we'd be going from there. I was hooked.

2. If Stephen had one hour to himself, what would he do?
I want to say, spend it with me. But if he truly was by himself, it would be doing something outdoorsy- skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, anything active really. I WISH I had Stephen's natural ability to try something and be good at it.

3. What first attracted you to Stephen?
I physically thought Stephen was very cute at first. He had a great smile, he was so friendly to everyone around him, very talkative, and very outgoing. He just had a personality that I found most people seemed drawn to. What was REALLY the kicker though was how AMAZING he was with children- I had never seen anyone more patient and loving. Plus, he really did seem to love spending time and playing with his camper. Just how attentive and caring he was, I KNEW he was going to make an amazing father and husband one day, and that was VERY attractive.

4. What does he love most about you?
Well, I kind of hate talking FOR him, but when we have discussed this before, I think we've both said that it's how it feels like we have known each other for years- we are TRULY each other's counterpart, exactly what we need from another person to be complete.

5. What do you love most about him?
Aside from what I said above, it's his personality. I have never met a man that people genuinely seem to love being around as much as people seem to enjoy being around Stephen. Everyone that knows him has SUCH wonderful things to say about him. He is the kindest person I know.

Oh... and that smile, mixed with his happy eyes and freckles. Sigh.

6. What is each of your favorite restaurants?
Oh geesh... we love food. I'd have to say though, he is my SUSHI partner, the one person who seems to be down for it any time I am. So... HAPPY SUMO!

7. What is Stephen's favorite season and why?
Ha ha, we've talked about this before! Summer and winter! I know that seems like a cop out, but he always said that the thing he loves about summer is JUUUUUST as he's getting tired of it, it's suddenly skiing season, and just as he's tired of the snow, it's almost time for boating! Such an easy-going guy!

8. When did you first know you loved him?
Very quickly. We were sitting at a mutual friend's house and he was playing guitar, and I was just sitting and watching him, and I knew at that very moment, that I was going to marry him. I didn't know how it could happen, I didn't know WHEN, I just knew he was in my life for a reason, and I COULD NOT lose him. Talk about overwhelming!

9. What has been your favorite date?
Oh my goodness, we have had a lot of good ones. There was a really fun one last summer, where we went to sushi, then picked up goods for smores and headed up into the canyons outside of Provo. We were completely unprepared, with no flashlight or folding chairs, and as we were watching the fire, a raccoon scurried onto our picnic table behind us, and we both screamed bloody murder... so we spent the rest of the night on a blanket on the hood of his car watching the meteor shower. So fun!

10. What is your favorite vacation spot? Together?
We have gone on so many fun trips to visit friends and family, THIS is a tough one... I think TOGETHER we'd probably say our California trip last May. I never wanted to leave, AND I think I convinced Stephen we need to spend AT LEAST A LITTLE of our married life living down there. Plus, Disneyland, beach cruisers, breakfast sandwiches, Aunt Nan, AND the famous Jeni Baird? How could you NOT love California?

11. If you could go to one place in the world where would you go?
Hawaii. Let's get this show on the road! No, but seriously, I am so excited to show Stephen around. For so long it's been "my place"... now I want it to be OURS.

12. Why do you want to marry Stephen?
Stephen is my best friend. I have never felt more comfortable, safe, or cared for than when I have been with him. He is everything I am not. He is the first person I want to see in the morning, and the last person I want to say good-night to. I fit perfectly in his arms. He accepts that I am not perfect, and yet always treats me like I am. When we are together, I know without a doubt, I am the only woman he sees in a room. I have never trusted a person more whole-heartedly than I do Stephen.

I know he will care for and provide for our family. He will be the greatest role model for my sons, and show my daughters how a man should treat them. I am proud to call him my future husband. 

Thanks for always putting things into perspective for me, babe. I owe you. And to everyone else, sorry for the mush.

Friday, June 29, 2012

How Low Can You Go...

Well, time for a milestone update, for those of you keeping track, or have any slight interest in my weight loss- I have OFFICIALLY hit my lowest weight since beginning my diet WAY back in December. This would mean I am my lowest weight since I was a senior in high school. Yeow! ... unfortunately, I do not remember being this JIGGLY as a senior in high school, but I guess that's what time, gravity, and poor eating habits in college will do to you.

Needless to say, I hate dieting. Everything I have pinned on Pinterest within this last week has practically been food because I MISS FOOD. I miss walking into the kitchen and not even have a momentary lapse of judgement when it comes to what I am putting in my mouth. Seriously, every piece of food I put in my mouth these days comes with a little guilt. I repeat my mantra in my head, "Do you REALLY need that cookie?", because dangit, I DESERVE to be jaw-droppingly hot  on my wedding night... and be able to zip my wedding dress on, yaknowwaddamean? I just don't know how many of these going-to-the-gym-twice-a-day moments I am going to be able to handle...

Oh, but I did find a recipe worth trying on Pinterest- apparently if you take grapes and roll them in Watermelon Jell-o powder, it tastes like Sour Patch Kids. Anyone try this? Tell me if it's any good...

Let's look at the stats-

Weight starting my "new" leg of dieting- 135.0 pounds
Weight as of today- 132.8 pounds
Weight loss- 2.2 pounds
Days until my wedding- 25 days

Eeep. Better get to RIPPED. Much love.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Here We Go Again...

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear I just posted a nearly identical post to this one just a few months ago. It's true- I have completely fallen off the dieting, and heck, even the working out bandwagon. It's not that I've gotten lazy. It's just so hard to begin your diet 6 months before your wedding and expect to STAY on that diet for that long... one can only enjoy protein, vegetables, and fruits alone for so long, na'mean?

I blame Stephen. Which is a great route to begin our marriage on, I know. But seriously, every time the boy comes home for an extended period of time, my workouts and diet go to pot. We just enjoy food WAY TOO MUCH, and between the cleaning and packing of my classroom, the in-laws being in town, celebrations, and road trips to Utah, I've managed to pack on about 2 and a half pounds since he's been home. I know that doesn't sound like much, and I didn't think it was either, but let me share an eye-opening story with you:

I don't know which of you ladies are familiar with wedding dress alterations, but this week, I was finally on my LAST one (Meaning, my seamstress had already made the changes I had wanted on the dress, now I just had to step into it and see how it all fit). After slipping the dress on, I stepped out of the dressing room, requesting help with the zipper. After Stephen tried unsuccessfully, we called over our favorite Chinese seamstress to see if she could carefully zip me up. Needless to say, what resulted was painful, embarrassing, and shameful- both she and Stephen had to stand there, holding my dress together, while she pulled at the zipper, proclaiming "Oooooh, YOU FAT! Ha ha ha!"

Now, according to Stephen, this is just the "Asian way." They are BRUTALLY honest, and will stereotypically tell you things without really any consideration to your feelings. Prior to this moment, I didn't think I was FAT... sure, I had put a little weight back on, but nothing that would make me morbidly obese! I wanted to backhand her though. To make matters worse, the rest of the time she was cinching my dress back up, she kept repeating "You LOSE WEIGHT! You go on diet! Eat soup!" Talk about a blow to my ego. I HAVE lost weight... but this woman is telling me it's not enough!

If it wasn't for the fact that I couldn't breathe in my dress when all was said and done, I would've laughed her comments off. Now though, I gotta take this diet seriously. I am DETERMINED to be the smallest I can by my wedding, or so help me! Talk about embarrassing if I am BIGGER at my wedding than I was when I first bought my dress. You all are going to have to hold me accountable. No sweets, no excess carbs, no creamy sauces, no fast food... I have to make this work. So here we go again...

Weight as of today- 135.0 pounds
Weight loss goal- 130.0 pounds
Weight gain since I was my smallest- +1.8 pounds


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Home is Wherever I am With You

I'd like to spend a moment thanking [most] of you- thank you for your understanding, thank you for not questioning our decisions (at least, not to our faces), thank you for the support, and of course, thank you to our Utah friends who have made us feel so cared for. I'd also like to ask that no matter your opinion of our choice, you use this post to better understand our situation, rather than pass judgement.

The decision Stephen and I made to move to Orem, Utah has been a long time in the making. Since we have started dating, Stephen has hinted [or flat out begged, let's be honest here] for me to consider packing up my life, dropping my job, and moving down to be closer to him. Although long distance hasn't always been the easiest, I was steadfastly against the idea of Utah- what would my family say? My friends? How angry would my co-workers and my boss be? I couldn't imagine giving up my life, my CAREER, that I have worked so hard to earn and achieve. That would be submissive of me, I'd be falling right into what I (and quite frankly, A LOT of people) view to be the "Mormon way" of the woman giving up her needs to her husband (boyfriend at this time... but you know what I mean).

Following our engagement, the idea of moving to the Provo area was still mentioned, and I still held on to my hopes of keeping my position at Finley Elementary. It started to become clear though that life wasn't quite shaping up the way Stephen and I originally imagined. As a pre-med student, Stephen's priorities were no longer on school. In order to stay competitive in the medical school candidate pool, his GPA would need a little work, and he'd have to keep cramming for the MCAT, but suddenly planning our life AFTER med school seemed more important. We kept pushing all of our focus away from our current circumstances, and we began to build a life in the Tri-Cities, even so much as to go and put down deposits on not ONE, but TWO separate apartments (that was a comical series of events). Each time we put down a deposit, something would come up that would prevent us from moving to those particular apartments, and neither one of us could figure out why so many things were working against us.

Stephen and I began to argue more often. I became angry with his under-grad choices, yelling at him about studying skills and lack of focus, and all the things that he could no longer control. I became angrier at school, more on edge with my family, and generally just a very introverted individual. The straw that broke the camel's back, however, came when Stephen let his parents know that in good conscious, he could no longer graduate on time if he hoped to be competitive... he would have to go back and raise his GPA.

[Disclaimer: Stephen's GPA isn't HORRIBLE, I promise you. I don't want you to get the wrong impression. Medical school is just SO TOUGH to get into these days that he wants to make sure his GPA stands out from the crowd, get it?]

Suddenly, we were all fighting. Stephen and I began to try to work out what could be done to save our situation, and it wasn't looking good. In order to go back to school, Stephen would need to reapply to WSU Tri-Cities, which didn't ensure that all of his credit hours would transfer from BYU. The cost of tuition at even the Tri-Cities campus has gone up substantially, and in order to qualify for student loans and grants, Stephen would need to take a lot of completely unnecessary classes in order to boost his number of credit hours, or face paying out of pocket. Although many people pay out of pocket, and make it work, we were nervous about paying for rent, two car payments (and with the possibility of needing to buy a new car within the next year), car insurance, cell phone bills, utilities, groceries, heat, etc., as well as EXPENSIVE tuition on a teacher's salary. My contract accounted for no pay raise (even though I was moving up the pay scale as a third year teacher), and on top of that, staying with my job at Finley Elementary would require me to begin to pursue my ProCert (I don't want to explain THAT mess, but my teacher friends know what's up), which would be another payment completely out of pocket. To make matters even worse, the job market in the Tri-Cities isn't looking too hot, as the area continues to make cuts, thereby making the candidate pool for well paying jobs across the area even more deep. The possibility of Stephen getting a good job, while also attending classes, wasn't looking great.

Naturally though, at this time, Stephen and I did the math, and realized that the tuition at BYU was MUCH cheaper. On top of that, Stephen already knew he qualified for great grants and loans, plus he was receiving tips about decent, if not VERY well, paying jobs from his friends on the inside around the Lehi-Orem-Provo area in Utah. I of course, was stubborn. My old mentality about being a strong, independent woman was getting in the way of seeing that moving would provide us with a much more secure future. I couldn't imgaine giving up "me." My career, my friends, my family, my LIFE. The only way I could describe how I felt was stuck- I literally felt like someone had dropped me into a twenty foot hole, and the only way I would even try to get out was by digging even further down. I even went so far as to question Stephen whether getting married at this time was the right choice, whether we needed another year apart to better ourselves before we settled down together.

It was about this time though that the statements I was actually making hit me. I truly believe there is never a "right time" to be married. If Stephen and I held out for a "perfect" time, we'd be pushing this marriage back for years. Our marriage won't be about taking the easiest route, but it will be two people coming together, from two very different lives and backgrounds, trying to find a way to blend our craziness together into one. And at that time, I wasn't willing to budge. Even when I saw there was no way to find a good middle ground for us, I REFUSED to acknowledge that it might be my time to give in a little.

Another disclaimer for you less spiritual individuals- I can't even tell you how often how hard I began to pray at this time. Over the last few years, I have found that in my darkest times, I tend to get the strongest answers to prayer. So needless to say, when I began to ask the right questions- "What is it you want us to do? What plans do you have for us? Do you want us to pack up and move to Utah?"- I felt peace that I hadn't felt in months. As scared as I was, and as stubborn as I felt, I knew there was a reason I felt so calm when I asked these questions.

Stephen and I are meant to be, I know this without any doubt in my mind. Our circumstances have lead us to find one another when we both needed a person in our lives that provide what we provide to one another. He brings out the absolute best in me, and has changed my life in ways that I never imagined possible. We need each other, and it was time that I finally faced the fact that I knew, for months even, that moving to Utah was truly what was, and is, best for us.

Before you jump on my back, let me explain. I know I am giving up a teaching job when people are begging for jobs. I know I probably seem ungrateful to some people who worked so hard to help me land my position, and I promise, I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunities I was given. I met some amazing people, worked harder than I ever thought I would, and put SO MUCH work into that DREAM fourth grade position (seriously, in a way, I was spoiled. Working alongside my master teacher in the school I student taught in, pretty primo), it is very hard to walk away from it. The reasons I want to keep my job at Finley though were pretty selfish. I was worried what it would look like to others, I was worried I was letting people down, I was worried about all of my hard work being for nothing. I am lucky enough to be in a field of work that, yes, although you and EVERY OTHER PERSON I HAVE TALKED TO assures me that the candidate pool in the Utah is completely saturated and half the women down there are teachers, I know I will get a job when the time is right. Whether it is for a position next year, or whether I am subbing, or whether I have to wait until Stephen and I are in a more permanent spot in our lives, I have faith that I am supposed to be a teacher, and I am a good one, and the perfect job will come when I am ready. I will find work, and I will help support Stephen and I, and it doesn't matter if it's in Finley or at another district. What does matter is that I am doing what will most help my family, including my future children, in the long run. We all know I will NOT be making the money in the family- teachers get paid SQUAT. Getting into this marriage, I knew that Stephen would need a lot of support getting to his goal of being a doctor. I also know that if he can get there, my family and I will be taken care of. It is just a matter of having faith knowing that although our lives might not be picture perfect for a few years, we will be taken care of.

So with that being said, my current situation is this- as of today, I have applied for 16 teaching positions. I am holding a preliminary Utah license, as my credit hours and teaching experience has been verified by the USOE (like our OSPI), now I am just waiting for the fingerprinting to clear for my official, paper license. Stephen and I have found a wonderful apartment in Orem, and if I wasn't so frightened of stalkers, I would totally show you pictures of the grounds on this blog (text or message me on Facebook, and I'll show you!). The apartments were built in the late 90's, but are in the middle of a remodel. They have vaulted ceilings, two-toned paint, a separate dining room and kitchen, large patio with storage, separate laundry room, pantry, a HUGE walk in closet, and a roman style bathtub in our bathroom (seriously cannot wait to decorate this place!). And, the biggest perk? We are right down the street from Krispy Kreme! Ha ha ha.

Stephen is waiting to hear back from a few companies he applied and interviewed for positions for, but I promise, even if these don't work out, he and I have come up with quite a few back-up plans (we have talked this out A LOT, promise). He is currently on track to take the MCAT and begin applying to med schools this fall (let's cross our fingers that we'll end up in Arizona or Southern California for a while!!). Tomorrow we are leaving to spend the week in Utah getting apartment needs together, clean out his current, "singles" apartment, and be fitted for our wedding garb. Oh yeah, and we're getting married in 38 days!

Our lives might not be perfect. We might disappoint people. We might be judged by people who don't understand. We are happy though, and we both feel very good about our situation. And I have learned that although change is scary, we're going to be fine, because according to Pinterest...

Home is wherever I am with you!