Monday, July 16, 2012

Vacation Part 1

As mentioned in the Engagement Story post, J began the proposal by surprising me with a vacation.  I was so excited by the surprise and following proposal, it was a good half an hour afterwards that I even asked where we were going!

Given that we didn't have a full week, he opted for a place that I frequented as a child (mainly in the winter time) which was far enough away but not so far we would spend a ton of time traveling:  Northern Michigan.  Many of you may have heard the Pure Michigan tourism commercials, voiced by Tim Allen.  An ad campaign which has brought $1 billion in revenue to the state in 2011 and increased the number of tourists from 2 million in 2010 to 3.2 million in 2011.  Pretty impressive.

On July 4th, we headed to my mom's house where we were greeted by family members for an amazing meal of ribs, pasta salad, cheesy potato casserole, desserts--the perfect welcome for two folks who hadn't had  home cooked meal in quite a while and who hadn't slept in air conditioning for nearly a week.  The following morning, my sister took us to the airport and we headed north.

Greeting us at the Pellston airport:

That would be the ONE baggage claim they have in their two terminal airport.

The town we stayed in was named Petoskey and it sits on Little Traverse Bay.  It's about half an hour from the Mackinac Bridge and is the perfect tourist town.

We arrived around noon on Thursday and spent the day touring Petoskey, visiting the shops, eating whitefish sandwiches and gelato, and just relaxing with an amazing view of the bay:
We had a lovely dinner in town, visited the nearby Harbor Springs, and went back to the hotel for some much needed sleep in an air conditioned room.  It was glorious I tell you, absolutely glorious!

Friday we took our time in the morning and decided to head up to the Upper Peninsula (or UP for those of you familiar with it.)  
We crossed the Mackinac Bridge and stopped in St. Ignace for a lovely lunch of whitefish and chips.  We walked out on the pier and looked around and decided to hit the road and see how far East we could go on the southern portion of the UP.  
We made it as far as Drummond Island, the eastern most point.  Along the way were various stretches of beach and you could just pull off to the side of the road and go swimming if you were so inclined.  We were, so we did!
By the time we reached Drummon Island, it was getting later so we turned around and headed back to Petoskey.  About an hour and fifteen minute drive at this point.  We made a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and decided to hit the casino just 2 miles away:
We went in with a plan just to spend $50.  We started with $20 which ended up keeping both of us busy for about three hours and after being down to just $1.25, J won it all back (and then some) with one hand of poker:

We returned to the hotel exhausted, but ready for our big road trip the next morning!

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Great Power Outage of 2012

After J proposed, life was pretty amazing for about three days.  I would squeal every time I looked at my ring, I bought way too many bridal magazines just because I could, and I just couldn't wait to start planning.  

Then on June 29th, Ohio had one nasty thunderstorm, complete with 82 mph winds.  It was the strongest storm we'd had since 2008 when Hurricane Ike made his way up the East Coast and shared some of it's gusto with the midwest.  So when the power went out that night, we figured no big deal, it'll come back on the next day.  Oh what fools we were...

Over 600,000 people in Ohio alone were without power.  Franklin County, where we live, was the hardest hit with 200,000 in the dark.  Estimations came in that we wouldn't have power back for a week.  Temperatures were expected to be in the high 90s and it was setting up to be one miserable week.  Not to mention, work wise, I was about to have my largest event of the quarter that Sunday, all without any power at home to get ready.

The first night we managed.  It was cool enough after the storm to leave the windows open and sleep in the living room.  I kept telling myself, we are lucky the house is fine (there were downed trees all over the place) and that we are both safe and healthy.  That mentality lasted until 6:00 on Saturday night when I hit my limit.  

The house was BOILING.  We would drive around in the car just to be in air conditioning.  On one trip to Lowe's people were literally sitting on lawn chairs and buckets in the middle of the aisles just to stay in the AC.  That part was a bit unnerving.  Restaurants that we could normally walk right into had 2 hour waits.  So we drove.  And at 6:00 as we were on our way home with a new battery operated short wave radio, I started to cry.  I was exhausted, hot, too hot to eat but hungry, and overall whiny.  

The tears subsided until closer to 9 when it was dark enough in the house that J and I couldn't even see each other and as I was lying there trying to sleep, just sweating from not moving, the ugly cry came out.  Hysterical.  Face contorted, runny nose, you know the deal. At this point he was offering to go to a hotel, but I couldn't justify the expense not knowing how long we'd need to be there and knowing that we were leaving on vacation in four days.

So in an act of semi-desperation, we maneuvered the mattress from the guest room down two flights of stairs and into the basement.  Instant relief.  It was easily 20 degrees cooler down there.  We slept in the basement for four nights and while it was quite humid and damp feeling, it was far better than sleeping upstairs.

We spent our nights driving night at the laundromat, another at Target, another at my office as I was working late to prep for 3 days out of the office.  We did have running water which was a life saver.  I could take a (VERY COLD) shower and then come into work to do my hair and makeup.  

After that Saturday evening sobfest, I pulled it together and was thankful for all of the blessings and how things ended up working out: the fact that we had a cool basement to sleep in, that I could come into an office to get ready, that the house was unscathed in the storm, and that we were healthy and happy together.

We made it through, despite losing all of the food we had in the freezer and refrigerator, and now we're back to planning the wedding.  Believe me, it's a lot easier to look at bridal magazines when you don't have to hold a flashlight.  

Oh and the electricity?  It flickered on Monday evening (three days after the storm) but something made the transformer blow for our side of the street so while our neighbors had power, the three houses on our side didn't get it back until Friday.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our Engagement Story

Um where have the last two weeks gone?  And for that matter, where have the last two months gone?  Things have gotten interesting at work, to say the least.  I'm busier than ever heading into what is sure to be an intense election year.  Throw in one engagement (with wedding planning underway) and the biggest storm to hit Ohio in the past four years (which left us without power for 7 days, in record temperatures) and it has been a whirlwind of a time.

But let's start with the happy stuff.  

Two weeks and two days ago, we were celebrating J's birthday.  The birthday week was winding to a close; I had successfully surprised him with a sailing trip that took months to coordinate and made his requested birthday dessert: marble cake with homemade buttercream frosting.  We had picked up ingredients for his birthday dinner: veal chops, broccolini, and rice pilaf (he's a foodie, remember?), and I was set to celebrate his 40th after I got off work.

Just like usual, I came home and he was in the kitchen prepping dinner.  Yes, on his own birthday.  And yes, I offered to cook but honestly if he wanted decent tasting veal chops, it was best if he chipped in.  While he was prepping I decided to take a quick shower and put on some comfy clothes which would be more....accommodating... for the feast we were about to have.  

I'm going about my business, get out of the shower and on the way to the bedroom I see this:

My first reaction? A gasp and a "What the hell is on my clean stairs?!" Simultaneously combined with "This is it, he's going to propose!"

But as I was getting dressed, I started thinking "What if this isn't it?  What if he's just being romantic on his birthday?"  So I proceeded with the plan of putting on some nice, but comfortable pajama pants and a t-shirt.

The trail of rose petals led me downstairs, through the kitchen, and into the living room, stopping at his computer sitting on the coffee table.  Instant confusion.

He said there was something on there for me to open so I looked and on the screen was a picture of a plane.  More confusion.  Then he explained that he knows how hard I've been working lately and we both could use a little getaway.  He'd already cleared my calendar by talking to my co-workers and the plane, car, and hotel had been booked for July 5th - 9th.

By this time I am SOBBING.  Happy tears but sobbing over having such a sweet boyfriend who went to all of this work to surprise me (all while I was planning his birthday surprise) and happy tears over getting to go on vacation!  I was so happy I didn't even ask where we were going and in the back of my head I was thinking, "Okay, maybe he'll propose on vacation."

Then he said there was "one more thing" and pulls out a square Bed Bath and Beyond box.  More confusion.  I open the lid and inside is a KitchenAid attachment that I had been wanting for the new stand mixer.  Even MORE confusion.  I said "thanks?" and put the box down.  To which he said, "No, look under that."  And under the attachment were more rose petals and what appeared to be a ring box.  Insert more sobbing and a "if these are earrings I'm not going to be happy..."

I pulled out the box and opened it with very shaky hands and found it to be empty.  Confused again.  And finally at this point, he got down on one knee and proposed, pulling the ring out of his pocket.  His reaction when it was all over?  "I expected tears, but this was a lot more than I anticipated, kinda threw me off my game a bit."  Poor guy.

It was an emotional roller coaster to say the least.  I had always told him I want "hearts and flowers" when he decided to pull the trigger, so rose petals it was.  I also told him he'd have to be creative because it's hard to pull over a surprise on me because I'm always thinking of potential situations.  Not once did I think he'd actually propose on his birthday!

We I then spent the next four hours on the phone with everyone, going over the when, the how, and the "Send me pictures of the ring!"  We are elated.  Ecstatic.  Thrilled!  And the wedding planning has officially begun.  Details to come because Lord knows this is going to require a LOT of decision making.

And that vacation?  A trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula where we had both gone as children on skiing vacations with our families.  And when you see the pictures, you'll understand just how beautiful it is up there!

Happy Thursday!

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