Monday, April 29, 2013

Marriage Monday: Head over "To the Sea"

This week's Marriage Monday entry is a little different this week.  After winning a giveaway last month that was hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, Erica, she asked me to guest blog and I was super happy to oblige!

You can check out my guest blog (here).  It's a little about our life since we said "I do!" and more specifically, about dealing with postpartum depression after the birth of Miss Presley Rose.  And while you are there you can get to know Erica as well!

I hope you enjoy it and leave some feedback!  It's not the easiest subject to open up about but is certainly a topic that deserves a conversation or two.

If you'd like to contribute to a future Marriage Monday, shoot me an e-mail.

Friday, April 26, 2013

14 months

I have a 14-month-old!  That is bizarre.  Since I've stopped writing on her monthly development, I rarely ever think about her age in months anymore - unless I'm asked by a stranger, but then I still only use like half of a brain cell to come up with an answer while my mind is focused on 19847358759 other things - so when her age hit me today I felt a little taken aback.  {I guess she's still stuck as 12 months/one year in my mind.}

Taking her 14-month sticker off, looking at it, and then trying to stick it back on the wrong way ;)

Presley is so adorable and her personality is full-force these days... but she is also becoming more and more of a handful by the day!

  • She is very expressive!  If we are out in public and there are strangers who don't take notice to her right away, she will make sure and get their attention.  By talking excessively loud or yelling her version of "hey!" at them or just waving over and over and over...
  • She is still saying "hi" "dada" "mama" "baby" and that's about it (or at least all I can think of at the moment).  She signs for "more" "food/snack" "milk" and "all done."  She is very consistent with those few phrases she can speak or sign.  She's also found other ways to communicate with us... she will fake cough for her water (so funny!) and she will look and point at other things that she wants.  We are teaching her other signs, too, but they haven't stuck as much as these few have.
  • Her attention span is starting to get a little better.  While eating her morning snack she actually seems to watch Sesame Street now.  I turned on Blues Clues for the first time in a long time a few days ago and she just lit up and hung on every word!  Another time I caught her sitting on the floor very still with her ankles crossed staring at a puppy she has that sings and talks to her.  She RARELY ever sits still unless she is in her high chair so this was such a sight!  {It was just before naptime for her so maybe she was getting sleepy - but it was still awesome to see.} 
  • This past weekend she crawled around in the grass for the first time AND played on a swing set for the first time!  She didn't know what to think of the swing at first but then she started to light up.
  • Still only drinking water and breastmilk these days.  She's had cows milk once or twice and seemed to really like it {signing "more" over and over}.
  • Nothing is safe around the house anymore.  She notices every nook and cranny, especially if it's something that she hasn't explored yet.  Makes mama nervous!  We don't have a child-proofed house at all and since we hope to move sometime in the near-ish future, I don't see the point.  For now, we just have things gated off and it seems to do the trick.  Emphasis on the for now part of that.
  • She is still being such a picky eater!  This is something I am coming to terms with... it has taken a while for me to accept this because she has been such a fantastic eater.  She spits almost EVERYTHING out these days and doesn't eat a whole lot of anything at times.  Which can be frustrating!  But instead of fighting it, I have learned that not reacting at all is actually much better!  When she spits out her food I would say things like, "No no, Presley!  We eat our food, not spit them out!"  and I would coax her into eating the bite which would make her want it even LESS than before.  Now, I act like it doesn't bother me... she stares at me for a minute and then eventually gets bored and picks up the bite and eats it!
  • I was giving her baked ziti for lunch today and set a warm little piece on her tray next to the ones that had cooled off already from sitting there much longer.... she picked up the warm piece and started blowing on it before putting it in her mouth!!!!!  I wish I could have seen my face because I was utterly impressed!  Such a smart baby girl.
  • This morning while I was changing her diaper she grabbed my face with both of her hands and pulled my face down to hers so she could give me a kiss.  My heart was melting away at that!!!!!!
  • Pretty much hates her convertible car seat and that while facing backwards she cannot see us at all.  We put up a mirror so she could see us in it - and it seemed to help at first - but she is right back to hating it.  As soon as she starts walking I think we will switch the car seat to front facing.  Maybe.  I go back and forth!
  •  LOVES shower and bath time.  Such a huge difference from this time last year!  I can't wait to see what she's like in the water this summer.
  • She knows to point a remote at a TV and after she does that she'll look expectantly at the TV for it to come on.  Thankfully she doesn't know about the power button yet!
  • Just recently Presley will stand up and balance on her own!!!  Uhh oh!  {The standing part isn't new but the balancing while not hanging on to anything is DEFINITELY new!}

Refusing to keep that darn thing on!

Not very happy with the picture taking

Not very happy with the bow, either.

14 month Presley!

I love you so much, Presley!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Presley's FAVORITE things: The toddler edition!

*And for all you HIMYM fans, please imagine me saying "Presley's FAVORITE things" in my Barney Stinson voice while he impersonates Oprah!  Because that is most certainly how I say it.. okay, carry on!*  [clip here if you have no idea what I'm talking about]

I haven't talked about our favorite "stuff" for Presley lately and I think it is definitely due time!  I must say though, that at the stage she's at she is most happy with cardboard boxes and TV remote controllers - she loves taking off and then replacing the backing of the remotes!  Nevertheless, there are several things that have become favorites around here.

  • Piggy Paint:  Okay, maybe I am the one who likes this... but it is absolutely adorable on her little piggies!  And the fact that it is much safer for little ones makes me feel at ease!
  • Little Quack Loves Colors:  One of her favorite books to look at.  I'm not sure if it's the little characters, the colors, or the squishy feel of the book - but she really does like it.
  • Playskool Step Start Walk & Ride:  Our little peg-leg baby loves to walk with this toy.  She's still getting the mechanics of walking and looks like a zombie while pushing her walker around, but it's just precious.
  • Safety First Convertible Car Seat:  Okay, so maybe this isn't one of PRESLEY'S favorite things as of late, but my husband and I sure do love it.
  • Netflix Streaming:  Specifically, Sesame Street!  She just loves Abby's Flying Fairy School and Elmo's World!  Man oh man... when she hears those theme songs she is entranced!
  • Rice Chex Cereal:  Miss Presley is absolutely going through her "picky" stage and these are always a safe snack for her; she will eat them no matter her mood or the time of day.  (Though, they are usually part of her breakfast in the AM!) 
  • Avent Sippy Cups:  Absolutely still love love love these and highly recommend them!  We've tried other sippy cups and while she eventually gets the hang of them, she drinks a very small amount of water out of them throughout the day.  With her Avent cups she is guzzling water and I love it!  We will use these for as long as she likes.
  • Babies R Us Little Munchers:  These are normally $1.99, but we found a bunch priced at $.90 at our BRU, so I stocked us up.  They expire at the end of next month but I'm sure she will eat them all before then.  If not, I'm sure Tony and I will be able to help her out!  (They are seriously delicious.)
  • Fisher Price Activity Table:  She has been super obsessed with this ever since we brought it home after Christmas!  She's slowly playing with it less and less, but it is absolutely still one of her favorites.  She loves pressing the buttons and bobbing around to the music and sounds!
  • Fisher Price Apps:  AKA, her pacifier!  If Presley is upset in the car and we can't do much about it, we usually just ride it out.  In the event that things get worse or for some reason we need for her to be calm, we hand our phones over with these apps for her and she just LOVES them.  I think they will help her learn her colors and shapes as well as just being a source of entertainment for her!  
She's the cutest little thing ever... staring at the iPod so intently!  She loves those Fisher Price apps!
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Scout:  Our bedtime staple!  She loves her Scout and so do we!  I'm not sure if the batteries are fading or if one of the buttons is actually broken, but right now one of the buttons isn't working.  Seeing as I can't find this bedtime buddy anywhere, I am really hoping it is an easy fix!!!  To be completely honest, the thought of the staple of Presley's bedtime routine becoming ruined made me so paranoid that we would lose it and we don't have a backup.  I've scoured the internet time and time again but it has been discontinued.  Great.  Well, I got desperate and found Scout's female counterpart, Violet, on sale at the LeapFrog website... only that it is the Spanish version!  Hey, it's totally cool with me!  We will all learn to sing these bedtime songs in Spanish!!!!  Bought it and it will stay in the box until we need it.  Phew.

That's all I can think of off of the top of my head.  Anything your little ones specifically like or would like to recommend?  I love hearing what works for other moms and their kids so don't be shy to share!  And if you decide to try one of Presley's favorite things based on our recommendation, come back and let us know how your family likes them.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Marriage Monday: Sarah T.'s Guest Blog - I said "Yes!"

Happy Marriage Monday, everybody!  I figured I'd keep today's Marriage Monday as light and airy as possible after the heavy week we all had last week - and how much better could it get to share one of the happiest days of someones life?

I am a sister, daughter, friend, runner, fiance, home owner, crocheter, pastor, reader, traveler, misplaced South Dakotan, golden retriever lover, lover of all things Disney, wanna be photographer, coffee lover, shutterfly addict, northern Minnesotan, swimming lessons instructor, and above all else a beloved child of God. I am engaged to Marc. We met while both living and working in a strange place that we both have now grown to love and call home. We both thought we'd get up to northern Minnesota, work for as long as we had to and then get out. However, we met each other, we have gotten some amazing friends who are now like family, love our jobs, and minus this nasty winter we even love our area of Minnesota.

It was an amazing August Saturday for me. I had gotten up early and driven north to run a 10k. I ran an amazing race - seriously - I hit a personal record despite what I thought was a lack in training. I was on cloud nine from slashing my previous best. I arrived back at my house to find Marc and Dakota playing in the yard when he asked about my race and my plans for the rest of the day [the race began around 7:00 am and I was back to my house by 10:00]. In the midst of my jello legs and desperate need for a shower I agreed to quick shower, grab a quick lunch, and head to one of our favorite parks to spend the afternoon.
After a good lunch and a twenty minute drive we arrived at Fritz Loven Park, armed with my Nikon D60, a dog ready to run and play, and some excitement to spend the afternoon outside we unloaded from my car. As we were getting out Marc took out his hiking pack [his big pack that he uses to go backpacking for a week or so], which I sort of found strange and he gave some some line about how he wanted to get used to the pack [I had just gotten him a new one for his birthday a couple months prior] and get his straps adjusted just right. [I know how great it is to have the pack fit perfectly and have the straps in all the right places, I thought why not get it adjusted before we are seriously hiking and hauling way more gear.]

We began winding our way through the park, it was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, there were only two other cars in the parking lot [and we never saw anyone else], the creek was flowing slow enough that I could let Dakota swim in it, I was floating on cloud nine from an amazing morning run, and it was a gorgeous day. 
 As we walked along the paths next to the creek we threw sticks for Dakota to chase and I was snapping away on the camera, the leaves were gorgeous, and the flowers were bright and full. Eventually we found ourselves in the back of the park, we stopped to let Dakota play for a bit and to take it all in. 
I was shooting away on my camera and loving life. I was turning this way and that way to get pictures of everything - I couldn't get enough of the day. Eventually I heard Marc cough a little and I looked down and saw he was on the ground but didn't really process what was happening, in my mind he was tying his shoe or looking at something on the ground.

I kept taking pictures above him and around him, eventually he really caught my attention and I looked and realized he was down on his knee. I can't actually tell you what he said in that moment, I don't think I actually remember, I remember thinking at one point that I couldn't believe that this was actually happening, Marc kept talking and eventually said something along the lines of "will you marry me" and of course I said "yes". He stood up and we hugged and kissed.

 After a couple moments Marc and I were both laughing at according to him "how long I left him on his knee" we continue to laugh about it from time to time. It was a glorious day.

We agreed to soak it all in and enjoy the afternoon before calling anyone. We went back to my place, fired up the grill, and began the process of calling many of our friends and family.

 We are getting married up here on June 8, 2013 at the church I serve alongside.

Sarah blogs over at "And So I Give Thanks: A Glimpse Into My Everyday Holy" about her life as a nearly-newlywed with under two months until she ties the knot to her hubby-to-be, Marc.  You can keep up with her exciting journey and send her some good wishes for her upcoming nuptials!

If you'd like to contribute to an upcoming post on a marriage-related topic, e-mail me at

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Currently {link up} x7

This weeks prompts are {watching, looking for, growing, riding, reading}

Watching:  The same movie over and over again.  That would be the Hunger Games.  I can't believe it's going to be a whole 7 months before Catching Fire is out in theaters.  The trailer looks so fantastic - I feel like this second movie is going to be much huger than the first.  Which is how it is with most movie series.  I hope they took their time and added more from the book than they did the first movie!  Besides that, we are always watching Sesame Street on Netflix streaming!
Elmo has her full attention!
 Looking for:  A nice bike trailer.  Or perhaps the recommendation of a brand to look into.  We have a bike seat that goes on the back of our bike for Presley that we got from a friend - but I am also interested at looking into a trailer.  They are pretty expensive though!  So if anyone in the area sees a decent used one - let me know!

Growing:  Impatient for the weather to clear up.  It's been unseasonably cool for Spring and now it's pouring buckets outside - so much so that their is major flooding here in the Quad Cities.  {I guess there is one downfall to living along the Mississippi River.  Even still, I am consider myself supremely lucky to live so close to something so magnificent.}  I can't wait to start the C25K program again!  Maybe I actually will submit to a gym membership again.

Riding:  In the lap of luxury every day!  If you didn't already know, we bought a family car back in October and decided to get the Honda Fit.  I still love my little Corolla, but it really is nice to have things like a radio, cruise control, and automatic windows.  Though none of those are necessities, they sure are nice.  My favorite part is feeling that Presley is safer in the car.

Reading:  Catching Fire.  Again.  The series is just that good.  Plus, I am one of those people who get so sucked into a book series that it's hard for me to put the books down!  I have to say though that this is the first time I've ever started the series again right after I finished them.  I read all three books so quickly that I wanted to pay closer attention to detail this time around and so far, so good.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Feeling so very grateful tonight for my life.  For the people who are in my life, for the people who have exited my life, and especially for my little family.

I am absolutely counting my blessings and thanking God for his timing.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Marriage Monday: Sharing Spirituality

I look around the pews in our beautiful church and I see fervent prayers.  I see women who appear to be very put together.  I watch some children who can sit still through the entire mass and not make a peep!

So I start to compare.  My clothes certainly aren't fancy.
I get intimidated.  Does Father realize I missed mass last week?  ...and the week before?
I feel self-conscious.  Oh man, why is Presley being so squirmy and loud today?
I know I'm imperfect.

I think to myself how I am constantly getting consumed in getting through each day and forget to talk to God... I don't remember how important it is to hand Him my anxiety on a daily basis.  Why is it so difficult to maintain a relationship with God?  And if I can't do that, what am I doing here in mass?  And sometimes in mass, I feel that surely there are people who can see my weakness and my struggles as a facade.  Can they tell I am nowhere near my ideal relationship with Christ?

You might know me, you might know my husband, you might be familiar with our marriage, but I realize you may not be familiar with our spiritual life, so let me explain.
I have a fantastic husband who was baptized during the Easter vigil three years ago {at the time he was my fiance}.  It was one of the most beautiful masses that I have ever attended.
And he's married to a lifetime Catholic lady who was baptized around Christmastime in 1987 {that's me}.

We're members of Christ the King Catholic Church in Moline, Illinois and cannot say enough wonderful things about our church family, the beautiful church, and most of all - our beloved priest, Father Levitt.  Father Levitt baptized Tony in 2010, married us in 2011, and then baptized Presley in 2012 and we feel very accepted and loved by him.

L: Husband & Wife - May 2011 and R: Presley's baptism - May 2012
We are Saturday evening church-goers rather than Sunday because mornings are not our thing.  I've found it's much easier to talk ourselves out of attending mass in the morning rather than the late afternoon!  We also relish our Sundays as a day for just us. 

I grew up in a house where we attended mass on a semi-regular schedule.  Sometimes we were good about going every week, other times our busy family of 5 opted to sleep in on Sunday mornings (see where I got it?).  At certain points in high school, youth group was an absolute lifeline and such a joy in my life.  Further into high school programs like QUEST, SEARCH and TEC lit a fire inside of me for Christ that I never thought would flicker out.  But over time, it did.  Never completely out, but down to just embers at times.

Tony's family never really attended church growing up.  Yet, I honestly couldn't have married a more Christian-spirited man.  He is kind and forgiving and honest and faithful to all those who walk into his life as well as perfect strangers.  This spirit is something his parents instilled in him growing up - though God wasn't a topic of discussion, they taught him respect and equipped him with unbreakable morals and for that, I am most grateful.  I know God watched over Tony and helped to protect him until we found one another.  Even still, it's the faith part that is a little more difficult for my husband to decipher.  He is a science and fact lover, so the believing is difficult for him. (Though, I have never seen science and religion as being at odds with each other.  One exists BECAUSE of the other.)  In all honesty, it's hard for many Christians and it can be just as hard for me at times.  Though, I like to think of him as my "Doubting Thomas."  (Which is funny considering my husband's middle name is Thomas.)  Because if my husband were an apostle, that would absolutely be him.

Naively, I thought once we went through the RCIA {the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults} process that we would instantly be a changed couple that would be praying together often, attending bible studies and mass together.  But we weren't.  Then I thought surely being married in the church would have that affect on us.  But it didn't.  So what about once we had a child?  Nope, none of that has happened for us.  It's been a slow process for us to grow in faith as a couple.  Some days I feel that it will come with time and patience, that my husband will feel a stronger understanding of what this faith means to him... that I will become more motivated to get the ball rolling between us... and then there are other times that I'm just frustrated.  But recently I realized that before I worry about our mutual relationship with Christ that I need to mend all the holes in my relationship alone with Christ.  As it becomes a major staple in my daily life, it will spread into our home, marriage, and family life.

And you know what I am finally beginning to accept?  Being Christian doesn't mean you are perfect - it doesn't mean you will always say or do the right things - but it means you are trying.  You are doing.  You are moving forward.  Being Christian is all about the growth and the traveling and the getting there.  Really, it's about the journey of how we get there!

When I think of my faith in those terms, I know that I am really only beginning on the path towards where I want to be.  As Tony and I learn what it means to live in a marriage full of faith and love for each other and the Lord, we will move towards the Ecclesiastes 4:12 kind of marriage - And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.  I want nothing more than to meet my husband in heaven one day and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get us there!

While we're trying to figure out what being part of a spiritual marriage means to us, I'd love to hear what it means to you.  What has lined the path of spiritual growth for you and your spouse? 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happies & Crappies

It's the time of week again to reflect on both the good and the bad that have influenced life this week... so here we go!

  • Feeling stifled when it comes to sharing your opinion on touchy subjects in your own blog.  I hate that I care so much about possibly offending someone else; what I want to write about is NOT offensive, so why do I feel so unable to talk about it?
  • This. Weather.  How many weeks until Spring will actually arrive here in the Midwest?  {I'm thinking maybe we need to do something special for Mother Nature this weekend so that maybe she will bless us with some sunshine and warmer temperatures.  What to do, what to do...}
  • My "I'll eat anything" daughter has disappeared momentarily {I hope} and has been replaced with "I'll spit out anything" daughter!  Uh-oh!  Moms of picky-eaters, how in the world do you make this work?
  • Presley's still got cradle cap!  Though, from what I can tell, it's purely cosmetic and doesn't pose any threat to her well-being - I still wish it wasn't there.  Any other moms of kids who had cradle cap past the 12 month mark?  I think I'll finally have her doctor look at it if it's still there at her 15 month check-up.

  • The fact that this work week zoomed by, is over, and the weekend is ahead of us!
  • Having delicious coffee all week!  And also trying an awesome new creamer and LOVING it - Italian Sweet Creme.
  • Getting caught up on General Hospital.  Yes... I love a soap opera and I am not afraid to admit that!
  • So thankful for Skype and FaceTime!  Lately we've done a lot of video-chatting with my in-laws and my big sister and it's been awesome.  It makes living far away so much more bearable.
  • Having a week FULL of great naps for Presley!  In addition to that, she's stopped the few minutes of crying before she falls asleep at bedtime, too.  Such a great, independent sleeper... couldn't be more happy with the choice to sleep train her a few months back.
  • Had not one, but two different play dates in the last week.  One with some familiar friends and one with some new friends.  I love giving Presley opportunities to learn and grow and try new things.
  • My mom coming over yesterday to hang out with me and Presley was another bright spot in the week.
  • We have a great library just blocks from our house.  Not only that, but the library loan system in our area ROCKS and you can get just about any CD or book sent to your library for free at the click of a button.  FABULOUS.
  • Our water at home being back to normal.  For a few weeks there it tasted and smelled awful.  The water company said it had something to do with the ice/snow melting from the Mississippi River and that it was safe to drink, but it sure didn't taste good.
  • Having nice weather for a few days earlier in the week - it allowed us the opportunity to grill out two nights in a row.  I forgot how much better food is off of the grill!  {Reason #4 I love my husband:  He is a grill master - he cooks up some delicious food out there AND enjoys it!}

The Vintage Modern Wife: Happies and Crappies Link Up

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Currently {link-up} x6

This weeks prompts are {entertaining, holding, building, smiling, and frowning}


Presley is...
Holding - out food for a giraffe in this next picture!  What a brave little one!

Smiling - so big each Tuesday just before we walk up to the Chick-fil-A counter!  It is so precious because she recognizes our usual Tuesday CFA favorites and she knows exactly who we are going to see!  It is absolutely the cutest.

Frowning - when mom & dad take something away she wants to play with, eat, etc!  Also, frowning at all foods this week... where in the world did this picky baby come from?  No grapes, no tomatoes, no beans, no berries, no avocados... what in the world do I feed this child now?!  If it were up to Presley, bread bread bread...
Stop trying to feed me anything but bread and Chex cereal, mom.  I will only spit it out.  All over the place.

Tony is...

Holding - onto his little girl whenever he can!  He is such an awesome dad and I always knew he would be but I still marvel at the bond they have together.
Presley waving to me while Tony's tossing her in the air!  Hi baby!

I am...

Entertaining - a big, smart girl these days.  I just feel like more and more of her baby-ness is slipping away each day!  Lately, her favorite thing to do is to play in the play area at the mall.  It's hilarious because when she sees kids her own age or younger she gets excited for a minute until she sees the rowdy older kids playing and she crawls at super speed over to them!  Oh and where does the sad factor into this?  When mommy tries to come play with her she acts like she is way too cool to play with me!!!!  Woah, I am not ready for this!
Day one of playing at the mall over the weekend

Playing again today!


Building - such happy memories with Presley each day.  On any given day I feel frazzled and tired and I rarely ever feel like I'm doing a good enough job as her mom, but I am always given so many reasons every single day to smile and laugh and enjoy my sweet family.

Smiling - over the fact that although Presley is currently going through some sort of picky phase/stage, she is still nursing like a champ!  When she finishes on the first side she'll pop off and then do the sign for "more" - which makes me so happy because not only is she retaining the few signs I've taught her, but she is communicating with me AND telling me she likes breastmilk!  Mommy win!

Frowning - over the amount of dirty laundry we have floating around and the lack of energy to get off my butt and do it!  Also, not enjoying the cold weather we had today after being in to 70s earlier this week!!!!  Such a tease!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Marriage Monday: A Little History

For the last few years in my blog's "about me" section I included the story of how Tony proposed to me.  When I first started blogging it was such a central part of my life - having just become engaged.  But now, as important as the experience is still to us, the farther we move away from that day in 2009, the less central it is in defining our family.  I figured I would write a blog about that special weekend so that the memories would be tucked away and safe inside this blog.

So let me just preface with a little about our dating history and our history as friends.

I can't remember when exactly Tony and I first met since we played soccer at the same church and had a lot of the same friends, but my first memory of Tony takes place in 2000.  Fall soccer was just beginning and when I was walking towards the fields with a friend, I remember seeing him riding his yellow bike.  It wasn't the first time I saw him, but it was the first time I got the courage to say something to him.  I just remember thinking he was heartbreakingly cute and that he was way out of my league with his good looks paired with the fact that he was just over two years older than me.  (Plus, I was dating one of his friends at the time.)  None of this mattered at the time and I waved to him and we exchanged hellos.  I'd say that since then we slowly got to the point where we spoke when we saw each other and eventually we became friends.  At that point, Tony and I did a lot of hanging out within our group of friends which mostly included my little sister (Ashley), his little brother (Sean), my best friend (Christine), his best friend/my boyfriend at the time (Peyton), and Peyton's older brother (Damen).
Here is one of my soccer teams, not sure which year this was, though.
Me (pink) & Christine (purple) are on the back row and Sean (green), Ashley (yellow), and Peyton (blue) are in the front.

Next up came my 13th birthday party that November.  I invited my closest friends at the time - we listened to music and danced in my garage, ate pizza (I think?) and had a scavenger hunt in my neighborhood.  If I didn't already have a crush on Tony, I realized the night of my birthday party how much I was genuinely interested in him and how different he was than any other boy I'd met.

This is just a portion of the original photo from my 13th birthday party.

After that was the ski trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Brookside Baptist (the church we played soccer at) over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in January 2001.  My big sister (Amanda) was going on the ski trip and so was Christine, Peyton, Damen, Tony, and a bunch of other guys and girls that either played soccer or basketball at Brookside.  The majority of people going were Amanda, Damen, and Tony's age and honestly, I felt very threatened of some of the older girls.  They were older, prettier, and funnier than me and more comfortable openly flirting with Tony!  I picked a van and when the older girls went to the other van and asked Tony if he was coming to their van, my heart sank.  I don't know what prompted Tony to decline their offer and come into the van I was in... whether it was me or Peyton or whatever reason... I am so thankful for the choice he made!  (I think when I asked him about this years later he said he thought the girls his age were too pushy!  So the tortoise really does win the race, huh?)  The whole weekend of the ski trip was such a blast - we mostly just goofed off and laughed at everything - but we really did get to know each other over the weekend.  We were either talking in the van on the way home or we were writing notes back and forth... either way, I remember Tony and I told each other then that we really liked each other.  And there was no looking back from that point between us!

So serious.

Why he chose my van... I have no idea! Look at that greasy hair!
The cutest boy I'd ever seen!

For whatever reason, I really didn't think I should have a boyfriend in middle school (or maybe was playing hard to get?) so I didn't accept Tony's request to be his girlfriend until my freshman year of high school.  At this point he was a senior!  We went to prom together and I had no idea what I was doing or getting myself into!  The first song we ever danced to was "Only God Knows Why" by Kid Rock - how unromantic!!!  But it really was so much fun... even if we only danced to a few slow songs because we were both still pretty shy.
Me and Tony with Damen and his date

May 2003

We were pretty off-and-on throughout my time in high school - but he was always such a staple in my life whether we were dating or just friends at the time.

Fast forward to January 2007, after a few years of not really being exclusive while we were long distance, we made the decision to become exclusive again!  I remember saying that if we broke up again then it was going to be for good - I didn't want to be that dysfunctional couple anymore and I was ready to be with him.  We lived together in Tennessee with some friends for a year and then moved into an apartment of our own in Illinois in 2008.  2009 came around and I remember feeling anxious to start the next chapter of our life.  I was always thinking about when or how he would propose and towards the end of the year I started to feel like he was never going to pop the question!
Us in our first place!

My birthday was coming up (November 2009) and he told me he was planning something special for my birthday but that it was a surprise.  After a few days/weeks he gave me a few hints: 1) That we could leave whenever we wanted to on the 13th and  2) Tony had bought something that was nonrefundable.  3) I needed to ask off work from November 13-16.  I had tons of ideas but the first plausable idea that I came up with was that Tony must have bought tickets to the Dallas Cowboys/Green Bay Packers game in Wisconsin for that weekend.  I was 100% certain that's what we were doing because we were both Cowboys fans, but somehow I was a bit disappointed at that.  Didn't that seem like something we would do for HIS birthday?

Little did I know what he was ACTUALLY planning.

The weekend before my birthday (November 6-9) I was part of a church retreat and was gone the entire weekend.  While I was away, Tony was out at the jewelry store picking out an engagement ring!

Tuesday, November 10th was my actual birthday and he promised to tell my the big secret today!  On our way to my birthday dinner at Red Robin, Tony gave me my birthday card and it was a SPANISH birthday card.  (He had been giving his friend's Spanish birthday cards that year and would use Google translator to write the messages in Spanish to be a pain!)  Immediately, I freaked out thinking he had written the inside message in a language that I did not speak!  Thank goodness, that part was in English!  Part of it read:

...I really hope you enjoy your present and I hope you are glad we are flying rather than driving LOL. It will be our first time flying together... I get window seat!! Ok, so we can do rock, paper, scissors for that later.  I can't believe it's been 9 years since our scavenger hunt at the Peppermill house. You were just becoming a teenager! It's been awesome the whole way babe...

Tony then told me we were going to Bradenton, Florida to visit my Grandmother, who I rarely get to see.  (I had just opened a card from my Gramma Myers and had just gotten done telling TOny how sad I was that we hadn't seen each other in a year and a half.  AND I HAD NO IDEA of the surprise!!!)  Now, since we had been together a long while, Tony knew I'd get some ideas in my head for this super special trip.  To throw me off the trail a bit, he told my cousin, Breanne, that he wouldn't be proposing on this trip because he couldn't afford the ring I deserved.  Tony also told Breanne that he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, but just wasn't financially ready to purchase a ring and was hoping I wouldn't get my hopes up.  He knew Breanne and I would talk about this and that I would put any idea of an engagement out of my head during out trip.  What a smart guy because that is exactly how it happened.  I was so touched at what he said to Breanne that the thought of him proposing to me in Florida had been wiped out of my expectations.

Tony & I spent 3 awesome days in Florida.  

On our 4th & final day (Monday, November 16) in paradise we went to the beach one last time.  We collected shells, got a bite to eat at the Sandbar alongside the beach, and started walking back to the car when I started to get really sad we were leaving.  
Getting to the beach on our last day
Searching for shells

Getting a quick snack at "The Sandbar" before leaving the beach
I had no idea that this would be our last picture as boyfriend and girlfriend

Tony suggested we sit by the water and enjoy the beach another minute before we leave.  (I thought that was SO sweet!)  That's when Tony said he had a poem to read me that he wrote for my birthday (he'd never written me a poem EVER) and began to read...
I love you more than Dallas vs. Green Bay, and a football game for your birthday.
I love you more than Madden and my PS3, and hopefully more than you love Daughtry.
I love you more than all my buddies at Honda and Electro Freeze; plus those yummy things you made with ham, pickles, and cream cheese.
I love you more than buffalo chicken pizza from Bad Boys; and hacky sacks, frisbees, and all those other toys.
I love you more than spaghetti and facebook, & while we're on the subject, that trip to St. Louis in Granny's car we took.
I love you more than Brookside Soccer and our Shelby Farm hike... I'm not sure if you remember, but also this cool yellow bike.
I love you more than the blue sky, the sandy beach, and the sea...
Allison Michelle Myers, will you marry me?

I really could not believe it!  I said OF COURSE, we hugged, I cried... and then I stood up and told Tony he had to get on his knee!!!  The entire trip had been so amazing with him beside me and to have such a grand finale like that was so special.  Sometimes I still have a hard time believing that actually happened!

That is quite a long history there!  If you made it this far after reading the entire thing - you are probably family, a close friend, or just really awesome... either way - I hope this wasn't too boring to you.  These are some of my favorite memories that I hope I will never forget!

So it makes me wonder, what is the story between you and your significant other?  How did you meet or how did he propose? 

I'd love to hear your story and possibly feature it on an upcoming Marriage Monday!  If you're interested in contributing, e-mail me your story.  Otherwise, if you write about it in your own blog, come back here and leave a comment so I can link it up here at the bottom.

Hope you had an great "marriage" Monday!  Hopefully next week I can ACTUALLY get Tony to write something, especially now that March Madness is over...