Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Why you should listen to Bohemian Rhapsody and also my wedding

We got married on the hottest day of the year.
I know I am prone to exaggeration but June 4, 2016 was indisputably the most blazing, hot muggy day that Oregon has ever seen since the creation of Earth. #notexaggerating
I will admit, I was worried a few weeks out that we would have rain interrupt our outdoor wedding, but it became very clear closer to the BIG DAY that the heat would be far more uncomfortable than standing outside getting rain-soaked while my makeup ran down my face, thus making me look like the fifth member of KISS, would have been.
But I digress.
Let me start from the beginning.
In mid-April, Mark called me at work and asked me to lunch.
It was a Monday (which he typically has off) and I thought nothing of it.
He frequently asked me to lunch because we were dating, needed to eat, and liked to do stuff at the same time in the same place.
He suggested we grab lunch and eat down by the river.
Again, no bells went off because it was a beautiful day, and what good is living in Eugene surrounded by so much splendor if you never go outside and enjoy it?
So I agreed and he picked me up early (he is always early), and we drove to the park totally normal, like regular people.
We sat down and whipped out our lunches and starting talking about houses.
We did this a lot because we knew that once we decided to get married we would need a bigger house for our blended family to live in.
We were currently looking very seriously at a few and he was about to put his house on the market.
As we were going over future plans, he became quite serious.
"You know I want to marry you, right?" he said with his eyes shining.
"Oh, I know," I replied nonchalantly, looking down at my sandwich.
"Will you?" he said. "Will you marry me?"
All of the sudden he was at my side, kneeling next the park bench holding open a ring box that encased the most delicate, glittering band of diamonds.
I looked up in surprise.
I had been feeling a little edgy for a few weeks prior — impatiently waiting for him to know what I had known all along: that we would be happy together, that we could make this complicated thing work, and that he should propose.
"Really? Are you serious?" I squeaked, my voice rising in pitch by several octaves.
His eyes were brimming with tears and they spilled over now as I threw my arms around his neck.
"Of course!" I screamed. "Of course I will marry you!" I was manic and a little too shaky.
He laughed and slipped the ring on my finger.
I knew that I had made the right decision.
I couldn't wait to marry him.
And it turns out, I didn't have to wait very long.
After I texted every single person that I knew or would ever know to share the good news, we buckled down to figure out our wedding.
In the next few weeks, we put an offer down on a house, started showing his house, found a buyer, and looked at our work and the kids' school schedule respectively.
We knew we didn't want a long engagement and we also knew moving, changing schools, and settling in should happen in the summer, THIS summer.
So we decided that because we wanted a small, intimate wedding that was un-fussy and fun, we would just pull it together and get married 6 weeks later, at the beginning of June.
I continued started looking for a dress and we discussed our budget and a venue.
We were both getting married for the second time so we knew that we didn't need a gift registry.
And we also knew we just wanted a low-key party.
My sister and friend Claudia started coming over once a week to help me organize everything.
I was also picking paint colors for the house that we had just purchased because we were doing some minor renovations.
I didn't feel like we were busy enough and/or making enough major life choices simultaneously so we also began planning a major medical mission/honeymoon for early fall.
Oh, and I got in a car accident for good measure.
However, the details quickly fell into place.
We nailed down a guest list, sent out Etsy invitations, begged our neighbors to let us use their beautiful backyard for the ceremony, and talked to my brother, who is a culinary master, about food.
We (read: me) decided on a woodsy, casual theme with lots of texture, plants, and candles.
My best friend Tracy flew into town two days before my nuptials and basically orchestrated the whole thing single-highhandedly with the help of my siblings.
Saturday morning dawned and I couldn't stop smiling.
I literally smiled the entire day.
My family
His family.
My wedding day.
An hour before the ceremony, my sister and I were squeezed into my parents' tiny bathroom as she precariously applied my fake lashes.
We had two fans going at full speed to keep the makeup and the skin from melting off my face.
A dozen family members and friends were running around between the kitchen, the neighbors' yard, and other various errands.
Mark arrived, unbuttoned his dress shirt and tented himself over the other rotating fan positioned in the kitchen.
My dear friend Christina arrived to take our pictures and anyone without a job was commissioned to help the kids get dressed and ready.
3/4 of the Beard children.
I walked out of the bathroom, lashes at the ready, hair braided, dress zipped up and feeling pretty; my eyes found Mark.
He let out a breath.
"Wow, you look beautiful."
I felt beautiful. Which is not always the case.
Most of the time I feel like an unwashed hobbit with crazy grow out and pimply legs.
We all wound our way over to the yard next door to find it transformed from its usual manicured beauty to manicured beauty with tables, chairs, food warmers, and twinkle lights.
My face the whole day.
The day went off without a hitch.
Or if there were any hitches, I certainly didn't notice them.
Mark's best friend married us in the shade while Mark cried and I stood grinning like a fool.
As soon as we kissed as husband and wife, applause erupted along with the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy.
In fact, type "Guardians of the Galaxy" into your Pandora station and listen to it all day every day. It's amazing and will change your life. Trust.
We ate and mingled and dripped sweat all afternoon.
Mark said that all he could think of when seeing this table was "Bowel Movement." Nice.
I was surrounded by the people I love the most, married to the man of my dreams.
I could have died right then a happy and content person.
But then I wouldn't have been able to enjoy our wedding night.
Which I did.
Very much.
Isn't this backyard dreamy?

Next up is the honeymoon or the house? I am not sure which one will win but either will most likely have to be split into a few installments.
P.S. I am listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy station right now and the Bohemian Rhapsody just came on.
My life has reached its pinnacle.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dating ... and finding love

So, my love story.
It started out pretty pathetic.
About a year and a half after Scott died, I started to "date."
And by date, I mean my sister convinced me to sign up for several online dating sites.
Which were dreadful.
In fact, if someone were sitting around thinking of what they could do to feel more like a lonely, mediocre drain on society, they would sign up for match.com or some equivalent.
And then they would be one step closer to spiraling toward total self-hatred.
In truth, after pursuing the internet meat market, I plucked my eyes out and threw them down a well so I wouldn't have to look at another person that would not respond to any witty, adorable banter I had carefully composed, sent to someone way out of my league, and then sat around waiting for an answer to.
And then I retrieved said eyeballs so that I could stare into the mirror and cry about how hard it was to date when you cut your hair off into a ethereal pixie when you were married only to find it looks like a butch crew cut when you are single.
I cancelled any and all dating profiles my sister I had created and resigned myself to the life of a companionless old maid.
I had three small children, no job, and a myriad of personal quirks/issues, so there's that.
I figured I would just try to stop caring.
And then I got asked out.
Granted he pulled out a beard comb, from his murse (man+purse = murse) and groomed his beard 30 minutes into our first date, but at least it was a start.
I also went out with a man who didn't talk to me the entire duration of our double date until near the end when he told me he "really liked my toes" because he had a thing for feet.
It was not hopeless at all.
And I certainly did not think that there was perhaps something wrong with me because I was only attracting eccentrics.
Around the time I swore off dating, men, and pedicures my lawyer boss mentioned a guy, named Mark, that he knew and thought I would like.
I asked him if he had a glass eye because if not I had no chance.
He told me he was a single dad (Ally, his daughter, was 9), was a P.A./athletic trainer, loved to travel, was funny, and happened to be Mormon (like me).
He said that Mark had already been told I was also a single parent, played roller derby, and worked at his office.
He would be coming by on a Monday to meet me.
"Which Monday?" I asked.
"Hmmm, dunno. Maybe soon."
"Thanks. You are really good at this."
So for the next few Mondays, I made an extra effort to look cute in the off chance that Mark would stop by.
Now mind you, I had no idea what he looked like or when to expect him so when a few weeks later he came in bright and early, I was caught unaware.
In walks a tall, handsome guy with white hair and a sexy, scratchy voice.
"Is Scott here? I am a client and I wanted to talk to him for a second."
There were no introductions.
Only awkward, embarrassed silence.
Not knowing that I was looking at my future husband, I grabbed Scott from down the hall and ushered them into our conference room totally oblivious.
Unbeknownst to me, they just whispered in there like a pair of girls until it felt like the appropriate time to emerge.
He shot me a quick wave, jumped in his car, and practically pealed out of the parking lot.
It was magical.
"So that was Mark," my boss said.
"You are the worst. You didn't even introduce us."
"Sorry, I don't know how I got roped into this."
"Just give me his number and I will take care of it myself."
"Well, let me text him first and make sure he wants you to have his number."
And then I rolled my eyes so far into my head they resurfaced from the bottom as I muttered something about being in junior high school.
The next day I texted Mark and asked him out.
I figured we were both adults and if he thought I was a heifer he would say no and I would be no worse off.
Spoiler alert: He didn't say no.
He picked me up a few days later at my dad's for our first date.
It was not mortifying at all to have every single member of my family peeking from various perches around the front windows as I sprinted out the door and raced to his car just as he was getting out.
"Oh, Hi!" he said. "I guess you are ready to go?"
"Yep. Let's get outta here."
We went to dinner and talked until the restaurant closed.
He was funny ... and smart ... and had a sexy voice. Did I mention that?
Once we got kicked out of there, we went for dessert and closed that place down as well.
He finally took me home.
We pulled up and started to walk to the front door. All of a sudden, my dad, who was taking out the trash, dashed back inside with a full can of garbage, slammed the door, and turned all the lights in the house off, except for the porch.
Mark pretended not to notice, kissed me tentatively good-bye, and left.
That night was the best one I had had in a long time.
Mark took the reigns from there. He called me a day or two later and asked me out again.
I high-fived myself and accepted.
The second-date conversation came easily and we had a lot in common.
I was excited but tried not to get too excited.
It was fun to have someone to call and spend time with.
Someone that made you feel as if your heart was dropping to the bottom of your stomach because you are nervous and excited and turned on and it's new and you're slightly hysterical and eager.
Someone to bring up in conversation at random with every single person you encounter.
"Why yes! I was just talking to my boyfriend about that very thing the other day."
We dated for about six weeks before introducing each other to our kids.
We tried new restaurants, went bowling, visited a very steamy (in more ways than one) hot springs and watched movies.
And things just continued to progress at a good pace.
Until we went on a family trip together at the four-month mark.
That nearly marked the end of our relationship because it was a lot of time together with four kids, two different parenting styles, and ideas about money, and blah blah blah.
But we talked it out like adults, made-out, and moved forward.
We spent more and more time together and then eventually I told him I loved him.
To which he replied, "Thank you."
To be fair, he had been through a really messy divorce, been hurt very badly, and was a little gun-shy.
But I knew he was worth waiting for because he was a good man and a good dad.
I eventually wore him down and convinced him that I was worth the trouble too because a little over a year after we met he got down on one knee, cried, and asked me to be his wife.
I have never been as happy as I am with Mark.
And I remind him that he has never been as happy as when he is with me.
Marriage the second time around is still hard sometimes but I would like to think I do it a little better having had some practice.
He has embraced his role as the father of four, and the husband to a slightly broken girl who talks far too much about their house, her sad boobs, and her kids.
Thank you Mark, for taking all this on.
I bet that sometime you wish you were back in Saudi Arabia dodging enemy fire instead of dealing with my mood swings but you have made me the happiest.
My life is better than I could have imagined and it is because you are in it.

Up next ... our wedding.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The plan ...

Eating gelato on our honeymoon.
We ate this every. single. day because: Italy.
Last night I was taking a shower and talking to myself about my day, as a normal person would do, and I got to thinking about the blog.
I have a lot of things backlogged that I want to share.
I really want to talk about my guy (...let's first stop and delight in the fact that I HAVE A GUY!), the wedding, and the new family sitch.
I want to explain the trip to Africa (why the eff Africa ... for starters) and our lovermoon to Italy.
And I want to show off the house and basically document every single detail about it: the changes we made, the way we I am decorating it, and why I will be marrying my counter top as soon as it is legal to wed a work surface.
But the thought of writing until my fingers bleed for sake of documentation purposes gives me a bit of an eye twitch.
I discussed with me three options:
1) I could get a boob job. As I was contemplating my future writing endeavors, I happened to look down at my sad, limp chest. Picture, if you will, a knot of silly putty; you know how when you remove the silly putty from its plastic egg and manipulate it with your hands, and then perhaps stretch it in half and hold one end up and let the other slowly elongate until you have two small lumps connected by a thin membrane of pliable clay? Imagine that puddling in the bottom of a bra and you will have a vision of my femininity. So there's that.
2) I could be my regular self and write until I no longer have individual fingers but instead two bloody stumps because I am long-winded and my natural inclination is to include every. element. of. my. life. that. ever. happened. This option could then in turn set me even farther back unless I stop doing things until I catch up.  
3) I could dedicate one, succinct post to each fantastical, life-changing event and call it a wrap.
It is decided.
Number 3 is probably the direction I am going to drive this mother in.
That was really the only good option anyway, but I like to give myself several choices so that I feel like I make decisions. 
I think I will start in chronological order and just lay it out there while trying not to be too wordy.
And now to leave you with a few photos of this year.
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be ... sun more.
Ezra loves animals. But this one did not
love him. Look at his face. #wth

My beautiful freckle ballerina. 
The Fourth of July with all four
of our kids. That sounds weird. Four kids. 

Micah is 5! And wearing glasses.
He's so cute I literally cannot even
look at him. It is blinding.

A back shot of the 'ole tat. This shot was made
even classier by my twisted bra strap.