How We Got Engaged

slide12July 19, 2008, seven years ago today, lives were changed.

Plans were altered.

Questions were asked.

It was unlikely that Sarabeth and I would ever meet – me from California, she from Florida. The chances were slim at best.

We didn’t meet on either coast as one might think, but in the middle of God’s country, Colorado Springs where we met at school.

It took me maybe two weeks at most to ask her out. But like all good things, our everyday courtship ended and I had to go back home to California and she back to Florida. We dated each other from our prospective hometowns for a year and a half.

That’s eighteen months with over 3,000 miles between us.

It wasn’t easy. I hate talking on the phone to begin with, and at some point I gave up and dumped Sarabeth.

Worst mistake ever.

I don’t know how or why she ever accepted me back when I came to visit her on her birthday. But I’m glad she did.

I made many promises that I was going to propose to her, but every time, I found some excuse or another to put it off again and again.

I had moved up to Seattle to work at a camp early in 2008 (almost as northwest of the continental country as one can get, while Sarabeth was almost as southeast as one could get).

She came to visit me on July 18 and that night I told her I couldn’t propose to her yet. I needed to wait.

Again.

Maybe around Christmas.

To her, a snail could crawl from Florida to Washington quicker than I was going to propose.

I picked her up from her hotel the next morning to bring her to the camp I was working at to show her around campus. I was wearing a raggedy shirt that she had expressed disinterest in at some point in our relationship. After all, I had no reason to dress up.

The chapel was first on our tour. Before we reached it, one of my colleagues came out and said I had an important call to take. So I passed my girlfriend off to him and asked him to take her to the chapel and I’ll meet her there in a few minutes.

I ran to the offices not to take a call, but to shed my raggedy shirt, and put on a nice button down I had purchased and checked for the trillionth time that the box was still in the breast pocket. I removed it and clamped it tightly in my sweaty hand.

While this was happening, my colleague led her to the chapel where she found a video of me projected onto the big screen talking about how much I love her and how glad I was that she was there. Then video ended with me saying, “Now, I have just one question to ask you…”

And right below the screen I walked in through the door with the ring in my hand while John Mclaughlin’s “So Close filled the chapel through the speakers.

I asked the question. She said yes.

We sat on the steps and talked and laughed and made plans for the rest of our lives.

“I have just one more surprise for you,” I said.

I then led her down to the camp’s lakeside as the morning sun danced in its reflection, and there on the sand was a table set up with flowers, two chairs, and a couple of servers (the camp cooks) ready to take our breakfast order.

Our own private breakfast on the lake.

And lots of pancakes – she loves pancakes.

But I knew our engagement anniversary would be celebrated for years to come, and I wanted to set a tradition. So later I took her to our favorite restaurant, Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle. It was a good choice because so far there has been a Cheesecake Factory in every state we’ve lived in.

Well, this year, Cheesecake Factory is being postponed until Wednesday the 22nd. We’re taking our daughter to celebrate her adoption day and our foster son.

Traditions are meant to be tweaked.

As long as they’re still shared with the ones you love.

Adoption Week is here!! Follow my Facebook Page for updates!

When to Let Your Kids Watch What

Las-mejores-películas-de-miedo-para-niñosProbably one of the most controversial issues with parenting is when to introduce nostalgic entertainment to our kids.

Moms and dads seem to always have a different view on this topic, and Sarabeth and I are no different.

Every dad wants to show the old Star Wars movies to their sons, while moms seem content to let them watch The Little Mermaid for the eightieth time. (Not that I have anything against The Little Mermaid–I think it’s a masterpiece.)

One thing Sarabeth and I agree on is that our kids won’t have their own video game consoles – that’s just setting the whole family up for failure, and is a no-brainer on many different levels, in our opinion.

But I made a comment the other night in bed when we were watching The Lord of the Ringsimg494678dbe5ca2 that went something like, “I’m totally fine letting our kids watch these movies even when they’re five.” (Keep in mind this was during the scene where the cave troll had just stabbed Frodo in the heart and the other members of the fellowship were beating it to death.)

Sarabeth was gracious enough not to say anything, probably realizing I had at least four years to come to my senses.

Heck, I play Jurassic Park with my daughter all the time, pretending to be an T-rex while she’s a raptor. Our son just plays the stagnant dilophosaurus since he still spits up overtime he moves.

I’m all about skipping the whole Playhouse Disney stage and jumping right into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

zs5WlqpUgxtNA6Ycf0naoaVRdDBut that’s because I forget that The Never Ending Story made me scream bloody murder when that wolf jumped out of the trees. And some old non-Disney cartoon version of Pinocchio gave me nightmares for weeks (in an alternate story, Stromboli actually did cut the puppet up into firewood – although, that may have just been a bad dream Pinocchio was having – I never cared to resist that).

It’s easy to forget that kids still think everything is real. The only thing that can be construed as imaginary is Mom and Dad telling them to do something they’d rather not do.

But I’m sure when the time comes to make those decisions, I’ll know my kids enough to know if they’re ready for such fun revelations.

Besides, it might all be moot. Who knows if, when my kids are thirteen in 2027, they’d even be interested in watching those old fantasy movies about “hobbits and stuff” made twenty-seven years ago.

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Adoption Update

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Good news. Extraordinary news.

Incredible, exciting, jubilant, fantastic, exquisite news!

We had out first adoption social worker visit last week. Not a foster care social worker, but an ADOPTION worker. We have now officially begun the process of adopting Baby A.!! (The real name of which we’ll reveal at the time of adoption.)

At seventeen and a half months, Baby A. is doing wonderful. She is growing fast and learning even faster. She laughs a lot and sleeps through the night (mostly), and really loves to be tickled. She just recently overcame her fear of the bucket swing at the local park, loves to slide down the biggest and fastest slides, and is always anxious to go outside for a walk or splash around in the bathtub.

She’s also learning to be a really good big sister to Baby B. – whose case is being audited so we can get him into the adoption process quicker.

So when will we get to sign the official adoption papers? The worker said it could take up to ninety days for everything to be finalized, so we’re hoping sometime in September.

That feels like waiting for Christmas 2019. But in the meantime, we’re anxious to have her belong to us officially. Sarabeth and I cannot possibly be any happier to have her in our lives and in our home, as we couldn’t possibly imagine a better daughter.

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Enjoy This Mother’s Day Treat

Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy a hilarious Youtube video by my favorite video guys.

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Defeated

Man trapped in snowed-in car for two months now awake, says hospitalSo there I am, lying on my back on the kitchen floor, out of breath, hands frozen numb. My wife’s feelings are hurt, my dog’s locked up, and the baby’s crying. And I just kept thinking one word: Defeat. 

As I’m sure you’ve all heard on the news, Kentucky’s just been hit with a really bad snow storm. We woke up yesterday morning to almost a foot of snow, which was really quite awful because we just had a snowstorm and the rain just washed it all away the day before. I mean, I had my shorts picked out and everything.

So we woke up to about ten-inches of snow, and luckily it was already my day off, because I think I’ve used up all my personal time already (thanks, snow). And just like normal, I take the dogs out to go potty.

The dogs have been really good about not going potty inside on the carpet, which led me to stupidly trust that Pixie just might not have needed to go number 2 in the snow.

Big mistake.

We’re all back inside, the baby’s awake, Sarabeth’s in the bedroom and I’m in the kitchen putting away last night’s dishes. And then I hear Sarabeth yell from the living room, “Andy! Come here! Run!”

When I get to the living room, I saw (and smell) feces smeared everywhere. On the curtains, the carpet…the baby (I’m still learning that when it’s too quiet, that’s actually not a good thing).

Sarabeth quickly ran the baby to the bathroom for a bath while I pulled out all the cleaning supplies in our house and got to work. “I’m going to have to rent a carpet cleaner,” I told Sarabeth when she finished washing the baby. “I’ll just clean the living room.”

“If we’re going to spend $50 on a carpet cleaner, we might as well clean the whole house,” she said, logically.

Even though she was right, I was infuriated at the prospect of having my whole day shot to clean the entire house. If you’ve ever used a carpet cleaner before, you know how slow those things are!

And, like the gentle, loving husband I like to think I am, I yelled at her that I didn’t want to waste the whole day cleaning the carpet, and I stormed out of the house to rent the stupid thing from Home Depot.

But my feet were instantly stuck in the driveway. So I had to spend fifteen minutes shoveling the foot-thick snow from the door to my car. I dropped my keys in an effort to pry the frozen car door open and had to dig in the snow for them. (I’d been telling myself to get a pair of snow boots and gloves for so many years, but never took my own advice.)

When I finally found the keys and got the car door open, I realized I was utterly and completely out of breath and my hands were completely frozen to the point that they were so red they could have guided Santa’s sleigh.

Seeing stars, I dragged myself back to the front door and, not having the use of my hands, tapped the door with my elbow. Sarabeth was kind enough to let me back in so I could let my hands warm up under the kitchen sink. But my legs were giving out, so I had no choice but to lay down and catch my breath on the kitchen floor.

Turns out, Sarabeth had the brilliant idea of covering the living room with a giant blanket, as she knew I wouldn’t be able to drive all the way to Home Depot in that weather.

Moral of the story? Make your dogs go outside, no matter how cold it is. And don’t ever yell at your wife; she might not let you in from the cold.

I’m just lucky I married the right woman.

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Baby A’s First Steps

So she’s walking now.IMG_1864

Sarabeth and I were lucky enough to be together when “Baby A.” took her first step a few nights ago. And now it’s official. She’s a walker, and the days of crawling are behind her.

I came home from work last night and guess who just hobbled up to me all the way from the living room, through the dining room, and into the entryway to give me a big hug? Okay, it wasn’t a hug more than an attempt to snatch my glasses off my face, but you get the idea.

I’ve been wondering though, where are those feet going to take her? I thought of all the professions that she might take up, and then I stopped abruptly because then I thought about her feet carrying her down the wedding aisle… and I can’t quite go there yet. I’m still just trying to get her to say “Daddy,” because she’s got “Momma” pretty much down pat.

IMG_1858Oh, and more good news. We go to court in a couple of weeks to change her goal to be permanently adopted by us! Even as I write this, I’m getting real soppy and can hardly see the computer. I mean, I’ve always known that she’ll be ours the moment I saw her, but to actually make it official… our lives would be completely incomplete without her – temper tantrums and sleepless nights (for Sarabeth) and all!

At any rate, I hope her feet take her far and wide and to places that will bring her much happiness in this life. But I’m just so glad that her first couple of million steps will be made under our roof.

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Marriage: A Beginning, Not An End

funny-marriageIt seems marriage has become the topic of ridicule and mockery. The prestige and honor of marriage has been replaced by the glamor and dazzle of bachelorhood and promiscuity. Not that this is anything new.

But honestly, when is the last time you’ve heard a good word spoken about marriage? When is the last time you’ve spoken honorably about your spouse?

Think about it. We spend the whole first part of our lives searching for our significant other – someone to spend the rest of our lives with. And then, when we find that person, we grow tired, and spend our time wanting out.

(The Man in the Box is a great book for those who feel this way.)

I, myself, often forget that marriage takes work. I take for granted that I don’t have to stress over who I’m going to take out on Friday night (not that that was often), or figure out some clever way to score a girl’s phone number (I got numbers to Bill’s Plumbing and Domino’s quite often).

Then I met Sarabeth. I achieved the Big Yes. When I said “I do,” I was 25.

If I live to be a hundred, I’ve still got 75% of my life to live.

We get this idea in our heads that marriage is the end-all goal, when in fact, things are just beginning!

I love Disney movies. But they repeatedly got one thing wrong with their classic princess movies:

Marriage is once upon a time. Not happily ever after.

Happily ever after is years of commitment and devotion and love in the wake of an elderly couple still holding hands … not the first kiss after slaying the dragon.

The dragon invades our marriages in the form of finances, late oil checks, dirty diapers, dirty kitchens, morning breath, unseemly hair, burnt food, the Hallmark channel, etc.

So, a reminder to married people and to myself: let’s begin to treat marriage as the midst of a journey we’re trekking through, each bounding toward a certain goal, warding off the dragons together.IMG_1180

To those of you not yet married, start ingraining it into your heads that marriage is the start of a new life, not some early retirement.

I’m thankful to be married to my wife. Her corrections sometimes sting, and my attitude toward her often needs to be checked. But with her help, I am growing and learning, and without a doubt, I am a much better person today because of her than I was eight or ten years ago. (I dress better, too!)

And no matter what, I know she loves me, and I love her, and we never have to worry about who we’re going to spend Friday night with.

I only share the best on my new Author Facebook Page.

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