Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How Handsome Hero and I met - the first date

Ten years ago yesterday, Handsome Hero and I went out for our first date.

Now if you are not in "the know," let me fill you in.  When you are single and work in ministry, people just don't believe that you could possibly be happy that way.  By the time I met Handsome Hero, I had been set up with sons, brothers, cousins, friends, and fathers {no kidding}.  Sometimes I knew about it {Hey, I have this great guy I'd like you to meet} and sometimes I didn't {We'd love to have you come over for dinner, and when I got there, Oh, by the way, this is my son.  We thought you two might get along}.

Bill was the first date I'd been excited about in a little while, and the first date for which I'd ever been nervous.  I was a wreck.  I agreed to share a dish I don't care for and then I couldn't keep my food on the fork!  It just kept dropping back onto my plate.  I think the fork was faulty.

Side note:  Years later, we were eating out and Handsome Hero said, "Hey, you don't even like sweet and sour chicken!"

Though we were both nervous, the conversation came very easily.  As is often the case with relationships that are meant to be, we talked for hours.  It was wonderful.

Here are some observations I made about my future husband through the date.

Firstly, I was very impressed that he took the time and effort to research which Chinese restaurant was the best in the area, though I now know that he researches everything and this was no different.  It is a quality I have learned to greatly appreciate, and it all started on our first date.

Secondly,  he drove an old truck.  This may sound odd, but I was relieved when I saw that.  I am never impressed when people have really nice cars that they obviously can't afford.  I was raised to live within my means, and if he had driven a nice or new car I would have been concerned.  Handsome Hero was still in college, taking a year off to do an internship, so he didn't have a career yet.  If he had driven a nice vehicle, most likely he either didn't have good money management or his parents bought it for him, and neither scenario would have been impressive to me.

Thirdly, he was a true gentleman.  He made me feel very special.  I had been shocked when I moved out of the South to have so few men open doors for me, something I had always assumed was common courtesy. Handsome Hero was very chivalrous, and he still is.  He still opens the car door for me when he doesn't have a squirming kiddo that he's wrestling into a carseat.  :)

Back to the restaurant.  Here is how the critical part of our conversation went:

Beth:  So, what are you doing for Christmas?
Bill:  I'm spending it with my brother who's teaching at West Point.
Beth:  That sounds great!
Bill:  What are you doing for the holidays?
Beth:  I'm going home to my family in Tennessee.  What are you doing for New Year's?
Bill:  I don't have any plans yet.
Beth:  You want to come to Tennessee and meet my family?  {Cough, gulp}  Excuse me, I have to go to the restroom.

{Beth exits to the bathroom and hyperventilates over the realization of what she has done.  She composes herself and returns to the table, determined to pretend it didn't happen.  Her mantra: don't scare him away, don't scare him away....}

---the next day---

Bill:  Hi, Beth!
Beth:  Hi, Bill!  What's up?
Bill:  Hey, I just bought a ticket to come to TN for New Years.
Beth:  Wow!  That's great! {exhale.  Big sigh of relief}

I don't know if it was that he bought a ticket so quickly, or maybe that he asked me out for our second date before we even left for our first, but we both knew this was different.  This was very different.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jack Man!

Happy Birthday, Jackman, Jackster, Baby Jack, Jacky Wacky, Little Bundle of Cuteness!  I love you more than I would have thought possible.  You have brought a soaring joy to our lives.  Everyday is more fun {and more challenging} with you.  We pray that as you continue to grow {but not too fast} that you would hide God's Word in your heart and grow to love Him. 

I got my bags packed.  I'm two years old and I'm ready for the world, Mom.

Oh, not yet, Honey.  I need to keep you around for while.  Like forever.

Friday, December 16, 2011

How Handsome Hero and I met - the question

Don't you just love the titles?  So full of intrigue.

You can catch up on the story from this post and this one.  If you will remember, we did three Christmas concerts each year at this school.  I met Handsome Hero at the second one, for early elementary grades.  The third concert, for preschool and kindergarten, was on December 17, and I was the accompanist.   I knew Bill was probably coming, because the Parkers, who had introduced us, had a son in the concert.

Seated behind the piano before the show, I had a great view of the audience without being noticed myself.  I was able to watch Bill bring in extra chairs {he's so helpful} and open doors for people {oooh, what a gentleman}.  When he went for another armload of chairs, I suddenly realized that my throat was just parched and I needed to get a drink from the water fountain which just happened to be along the hallway through which he would be returning.  I stood at that blasted water fountain for at least five minutes until he finally came down the hall.  Then I casually looked up and said, "Oh, hi, Bill."  I may have twirled my hair.  I'm a master of subtelty.

After the concert, I was afraid to move from behind the piano.  If I left, he might not be able to find me, and he HAD to find me!  So I stood at that piano for ten minutes, straightening and fluffing the piano cover within an inch of its life until he finally made it over.  We talked for quite awhile.  I have no idea what we talked about, but I'm sure I was witty and endearing, because he asked me out for two days later {oh, yeah, baby}.

Here's what I didn't know. 

1.  Handsome Hero totally knew I was waiting for him at the water fountain.  I apparently couldn't have broadcast myself any more if I had been wearing flashing lights and a siren.  Fortunately, it gave him the confidence he needed after I had, um, forgotten his name earlier.

2.  While I thought I was being cagey and unobserved, there were two little birdies watching me while I watched Handsome Hero from the piano.  Karen, the lady who introduced us, and her mom were sitting in the perfect spot to see it all.  Handsome Hero stopped by their seats on one of his trips and asked if I was checking him out.  The cheekiness of him!  Of course they said I was, which was totally true, but still, the cheekiness!

3.  Handsome Hero already knew he wanted to marry me.  He knew the day we met.  He'd lost some hope after I didn't remember his name, but quickly got it back that night.  Cool, right?

4.  Our first date was set for December 19, 2001.  Eight years later on that same date, this happened.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

O, Christmas Tree

I love Christmas trees.  My favorite ones are not the well-thought-out beauties with a theme or color scheme. Those are gorgeous, but I really like when a tree is simply representative of the family.  Ours is full of ornaments that signify events or hobbies we had once upon a time.  They tell a history of sorts.  There's the typewriter ornament from the year I learned to type, the knitting basket ornament from the year I learned to crochet, and so on.  Handsome Hero has lots of skates from when he played hockey.  I have more musical ornanaments than I know what to do with.

We put the tree up on Sunday evening. Then it fell over on Monday, so I put it up then, too.  Grrrrrrr.

Jack was really excited to put on the lights!


And here is our beautiful, twice decorated tree.  I don't know if I'll put a topper on it.  I kind of like it without one.

A few of our ornaments for your viewing pleasure: 

Handsome Hero and his sister.  What cuties!

We found these for Jack's first Christmas.  A lion for Jack, an owl for Ella.

This Cinderella story book is as old as me. 

One of my favorites from my grandfather's tree.  It's very special to us to have heirloom ornaments.

My sister made this one for us for Ella's first Christmas.  Again, very special.

And this has to be my favorite Christmas ornament. My parents gave me this angel when I was in high school.  It used to be holding a trumpet, which broke off at some point. When it had the trumpet, it looked for all the world like an anteater angel. When I opened it, I mocked this ornament mercilessly. My mom had picked it because she thought it was beautiful, and I couldn't. stop. laughing. at it. 

You know what she did? She started laughing, too.  Instead of getting upset that I hadn't appreciated her choice, she made an awesome memory for me. Every year I look at this ornament and remember that moment.  And then I pray that I will be able to make great memories for my kids by being able to laugh at myself instead of taking offense.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Recipe - the best and weirdest grilled cheese you'll ever eat

I am not a huge sandwich person.  I like them, but if I'm scrounging through the fridge, a sandwich is not likely going to be on the menu.

Do you have any unusual sandwich combinations you love?  One of my favorites is bacon and crunchy peanut butter on toast.  Mmmmmmm!  I know it's weird, but my brother's best friend when we were kids used to make it when he came over, and I have loved it ever since.  Anyway, now that you're disgusted, here's my other weird sandwich love - grilled cheese with bacon and Granny Smith apples.  I saw this version on television once {Real Simple, maybe?}, and was hooked.  It's delicious, and doesn't need to take the backseat to soup.  I love making this when we have leftover bacon {I know, I know, who actually has leftover bacon?}.

Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Granny Smith Apples

Cheddar cheese, your favorite sharpness {shredded is best, but we had some smoked cheddar slices {yum}, so I used those}
Bacon {two slices per sandwich}
Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly
Bread {I made Handsome Hero's with whole wheat, and mine as a wrap}

This is a grilled cheese sandwich.  Do you need directions?  The only helpful advice I have is to keep your heat at medium and put some of your cheese on the top and bottom, so that it sticks together better.  It's a bit tricky to turn otherwise.

It's a great blend of flavors, if a little strange.  Is anyone out there going to try this concoction?  What about bacon and peanut butter?  Anyone have a favorite oddball sandwich?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How Handsome Hero and I met - the conflict

If you read this post you'll find out how Handsome Hero and I met ten years ago.  Well, today, December 13, ten years ago, was another big event that almost ended this blessed romance before it started!  Dun, dun, dun!!!!!!!  Are you intrigued?

I was teaching my last class that Thursday when there was a knock at the door.  It was the guy from the concert!  He had been teaching an elementary class at the school how to make paper and stopped by to say hello.  I was ecstatic!  He had to be interested if he was making a trip to my classroom, right? 

But I had a problem.  I didn't know his name, remember?  So while we talked, I smiled my best smile, flipped my {then long} hair, fluttered my lashes, and at a point I thought was least obtrusive, said, "Oh, by the way, what was your name again?"

It was Bill.  Now, how was I supposed to remember that?  What guy of our generation is named Bill?  My grandfather was named Bill!

What I know now is that Bill had been planning on asking me out that day.  He didn't because, well, when you are going to ask a girl out, and then she asks what your name is, it's a bit of a blow to ye ole ego.  So he left my classroom, deflated, and I, clueless, daydreamed about this Bill guy.  And decided his name was pretty fantastic.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Pictures

Someday I'm going to wise up to the fact that if I want cute Christmas pictures, I'm going to have to get them done by a pro.

Here's my adorable little three-year-old, posing so sweetly in front of the tree.

And again.  What a doll!

She did a wonderful job last year.

Here are my attempts to get Jack, who had just learned how to crawl, to take a still shot.

Yikes!  Let's back away a bit.

A little too much.  Very cute,

but when I tried to zoom back in, he got away!

So I pulled him back by his feet...

And he took off again!  He's like those toy cars you rev backwards and then they take off.

Enough of this nonsense!  Let's put Ella in the picture.  She'll keep him still!


And I thought, "Oh, well.  It'll be better next year.  They'll be older and I'll get better pictures."

Fast forward a year.  We put up the tree Saturday night, too late to decorate, but with the kiddos wearing their Christmas best on Sunday, I had to take some pictures before church.  Ella was not in the mood.  She would only pose lying down.  I should tell you this shot was taken on pain of disciplinary action when she initially refused to smile.  I insist that you pretend to be happy and joyful!  Oh, don't tell me you haven't been there.

Jack, well, let's just say that a year hasn't helped his photogenic qualities.  He now realizes I have the camera he desperately wants.

Oh, look!  A sibling shot.  This will definitely go on the Christmas card that we always mean to but never actually do send out.  These pictures are especially heartwarming with no decorations on the tree and the vacuum in the back of each shot. 

Yeah.  I hope that with a couple more weeks, I'll be able to snag at least one good picture.  I'm keeping the camera at the ready right by the tree just in case.  Anyone want to share their tricks with a mom who seems to wear a perpetual dunce cap when it comes to anything photographic?