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2011 in Review and a Happy 2012!

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January: We came home from spending the Christmas holiday in Atlanta with Wes’s family and celebrated Christmas in Colorado after the first of the year. On the 9th, we took our good friend Greg to see Tutankamun at the Denver Art Museum. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, obviously, so I took a few afterwards of the guys attempting navigation with Wes’s iPad.

February: Wes and I traveled to San Francisco for his work. He attended a conference with his start-up company, and also saw a few other friends there. We stayed at a really neat little hotel called The Mosser and spent a good portion of our time in The Bean Tree and Tea Leaf. It rained nonstop while we were there, which put a literal damper on the week, but it was nice to see another new city. At the end of the week, Wes was offered a full time job at the start-up, which would incidentally make him their first and most important employee. I moved out of my parents’ house and back into my old stomping grounds near the intersection of Lemay and Drake in Fort Collins (loved the area).

March: I was in a car accident where I was smashed by a Dodge Ram. My poor Honda Civic barely survived but I was lucky to only have minor bruises. Another trip, back to Atlanta this time for a family reunion in Piedmont Park. We went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens with Wes’s two sisters, one brother-in-law, niece, nephew, and his mama and daddy. Another work-trip to NYC, where I saw the High Line and Chelsea Market. Wes met my college roommate Christi for the first time, and I met her boyfriend Derek. (This would be a fortuitous meeting).

April: Wes took me up to Horsetooth Reservoir on April 1st, and after talking about how he thought I was the best girl he had ever met… he asked me to marry him! I said yes, of course, and our forever began.

May: I ran my first half marathon: The Colorado Marathon. With a goal to run the whole thing and FINISH, I did. We did a lot of planning in May. Found a wedding planner: Something Blue Colorado, and then a venue: Red Rocks Parks and Amphitheater . I had asked my friend and college roommate Christi to be one of my bridesmaids, and when she got engaged this month she asked me to be her bridesmaid in turn — in two weeks! So I picked up one of the only two dresses in my size and her color at David’s Bridal, had my mom alter it, and changed our return flights from our RI vacation in June to go to NYC again instead of back to Denver.

June: Went to Rhode Island to spend a week with my Auntie and Uncle at their beach house. First stop was in Boston, where another Aunt and Uncle met us for lunch and put me and Wes on the train for RI. Perfect trip. We spent the week seeing all the places my parents grew up and talking nonstop with Auntie. At the end of the week we hopped on another train and went on our way to NYC for Christi and Derek’s wedding. When we got back we went and took our engagement photos in Golden with our amazing photographer, Mark Mortensen. And then my good friends Beth and Erik got married at the Spruce Mountain Ranch.

July: I feel like July was uneventful. We did pack up our two households. Wes drove all our stuff down to Atlanta in a U-Haul in August before spending another two weeks in NYC before our wedding. A lot of wedding stuff was finalized. We decided to have pie instead of cake. I did a lot of triathlon training. I moved in with my friends Beth and Erik, and took care of their dog, Maddie while they lived in Pueblo during the week. July was nice for downtime. Beth and Erik got to know Wes and it was really nice to spend a lot of time with another newlywed couple right before our wedding.

August: BUSY month! Wes took our buddy Greg and a U-Haul filled with his stuff and mine and drove it all cross-country to Atlanta. He had a week before he had to go to NYC for work (again!) and found us a little house in Grant Park during that time. He was gone again to NYC for a full two weeks and was only back one week again before our wedding in September. The day he left was also the day of my bridal shower, which was at the Lavender and Lace Teahouse in Eaton.

September: The weekend before our wedding my good friend and another roommate, Anna, married her now-husband, Richard in Fort Collins at Grace Presbyterian. They had an awesome wedding with a bicycle parade over to their cake and coffee reception at Everyday Joe’s. HOORAY! Then it was our turn. We were married on September 25, 2011 at Red Rocks Amphitheater with our nearest and dearest looking on. From Golden, we traveled to our honeymoon stay in Vail before our long road trip to Atlanta.

October: (September-October): Road trip included such sights as Mesa Verde National Park and the Cliff Palace dwellings. We stopped on the way there to meet with another college roommate of mine, Casie, and her husband, Cory and their now one year old daughter Hannah. Then we journeyed on to Albuquerque, NM and arrived in time for the Balloon Fiesta. We saw San Felipe de Neri Parish and all sorts of cool shops, and had a yummy Mocha Ole! Later on we rode the Sandia Peak Tramway up the mountain and hiked a good 3 miles because we wanted to make it to the top. Our next stop was Hale Center, Texas where we stayed a night with Wes’s grandfather and heard tales of the good old days as a rancher and a cowboy on the open range of Colorado. We stayed a weekend in Houston with Wes’s mother as a torrential downpour prevented us from repacking our gear in the back of the truck until it stopped. We finally arrived home in Atlanta on October 12, thank goodness. Husband had a birthday and the only reason we could celebrate it is because his sister lives in Atlanta, too, and made dinner for all of us.

November: I started learning to cook real things and baked my first bread loafs! We also went to IKEA for the first time and bought a bazillion shelves and a counter height dining table and chairs. The house is finally starting to come together. I went to my first APW book club (A Practical Wedding) where I met four other girls from the area and we discussed a book by Caitlin Moran, and discussed lots of things about being newly married. The week of Thanksgiving I picked up a bug at the pool and was miserable and the day after Thanksgiving it hit Wes too. (Our first time passing an illness to each other as a married couple). Thanksgiving we spent with Wes’s sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, the brother-in-law’s family, and three Chinese students from Georgia Tech.

December: We got our first Christmas tree, which had to be a little 6 foot fake tree, and while it looks fake, it is really fun to just have a tree! (I’m allergic to Christmas trees, which is why it has to be fake). My family sent us all sorts of decorations so the tree was decorated, the crocheted stockings were hung, and the angel was placed on the mantle. The cat found the tree and wouldn’t leave it alone. I started swimming with The Atlanta Rainbow Trout, while Wes went to Philadelphia to work. Christmas came and we spent it with Wes’s sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew again. His mama and daddy drove all the way up from Houston in one day and spent the time with us as well, even going to the Christmas Eve service at both churches. So far, I have happy memories of the good parts of 2011 and 2012 has a lot to live up to!

“In Staten Island, You may only water your lawn if the hose is held in your hand.”

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Peculiar laws, probably outdated. Relative to our attendance at a wedding on Staten Island on June 12th!

Dear FH and I took the train again from Providence to New York. We arrived and met up with the FH’s boss, who was so kind to turn over his apartment to us for the trip. We sat with him in the Starbucks where the two of them talked business for a while. I followed what I could – and played around with my laptop when they lost me!

That evening, FH and I trekked to the middle of Union Square for the Rehearsal Dinner. (Without the rehearsal. Oy. Now I know the reason a rehearsal is so very important). There we met my dear friend, Christi, and her FH Derek, as well as the families for both. Christi is actually going to be in my wedding as well and had asked me to stand up for her as a bridesmaid in this wedding, which is part of why FH and I made such a serious effort to be here. That and the last time we were in New York, Christi introduced me and FH to Derek and I introduced them to my own FH for the first time.

Christi and her new husband Derek at the rehearsal dinner.

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Rhode Island, the biggest little state in the Union!

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“During the Civil War, Rhode Island was the first Union state to send troops in response to President Lincoln’s request for help from the states. Additionally, although Rhode Island has the smallest total area of all fifty states, it has the second highest population density of any state in the Union, second only to New Jersey.” (see Wickipedia).

At the beginning of June, my dear FH and I took another big trip. We continued our jet-setting lifestyle and hopped a plane to Rhode Island by way of Boston Logan International Airport to visit my Aunt and Godmother. Now, Auntie is actually the woman who was my mother’s college roommate at The University of Rhode Island and was in my mother’s wedding when she married my father. Auntie was also the person my parents had entrusted with the care of me and my brother should anything tragic happen to the both of them. It was always really nice for me to have that sort of security growing up.

So, first we hit up Boston Logan International Airport. After crashing at our hotel and sleeping from the time we arrived until fairly late the next morning, my mom’s older brother (ie: my uncle) and his wife picked us up in the lobby of our hotel and took us out to lunch. Hooray for the first of my ‘real’ family members to meet my FH.

Lunch with Uncle and Aunt

After lunch, Uncle and Aunt drove me and FH to the train station and put us on the train to Providence. Hoorah. I actually like travel by train. It is much less stressful for me than driving or flying is. We texted Auntie we were on our way and sat in the train playing around with our Macs and iPad.

We had arrived at the station and were waiting outside for Auntie to come pick us up when a lovely black lady came up signing. “Hello! Are you Deaf? I am an interpreter from … My parents are Deaf! Where are you from? Who are you?” FH and I chatted with this lady for a little bit, telling her we were waiting for my Aunt to come pick us up. Auntie pulls up across the street and comes to retrieve us, giving me a big hug. The lady goes ” oh! this is your Aunt? I see the resemblance!” We laughed and said our goodbyes and went on our way to do all the fun things I had heard about RI for so long.

Our first stop was very important! Caserta’s Pizzeria! This is one of my family’s and Auntie’s favorite places to get pizza in the area. So we got pizzas and Wimpy Skippys (which are spinach pies stuffed with cheese and pepperoni, kind of like calzones).

FH with the stack of boxes from Caserta's Pizzeria.

Then we all loaded up in Auntie’s Cadillac, taking a lovely drive to Island Park where Auntie and Uncle have a beautiful property right off the beach. Asti was quite happy to see us as well. I was saddened to see Asti at this advanced stage of age, however, as I had heard stories of the bubbly bouncy puppy as far back as my own childhood. Asti was the dog my Aunt and Uncle rescued as a puppy and was named after one of their favorite effervescent wines.

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Second Beach - in Providence, RI

snapshot of an engagement shoot

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On Saturday in the early evening my dear FH and I met up with our photographer in Downtown Golden to get some engagement photos done. The location was the perfect blend of mountain, nature, river, and urban. It was exactly different enough both in scope and in lighting from our planned wedding that will take place in the fall.

Prior to the shoot, we actually arrived in Golden about an hour early so we stopped at a little riverside cafe for dinner. FH ordered cream of vegetable soup, escargot mushroom risotto raviolo thingies, and vegetables on the side. It came with the usual bread basket and the bread was really good. They mixed balsamic vinegar and olive oil on a plate for a dipping sauce.

After our little ‘snack’ we each took our respective bathroom breaks. FH went to use the men’s room while I waited in front of the restaurant and sat on a light post base. He came out and immediately signed ‘stay’ at me, whipping out his phone to take a photo.

We met up with our photographer, the talented Mark Mortensen of Mark Mortensen Photography. Mark spent a good bit of time walking down the riverside path and over the bridge with us. Fielding a lot of comments from passersby as both the FH and I are functionally Deaf. Mark also fielded various questions on photography and his particular tools and artifacts. He showed us 3 of the photos he took where he used tools for light balancing and the monopod and they looked fantastic. We are very excited to see the finished products!

sing sing

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I Won’t Let Go – Rascal Flatts

All Your Life – The Band Perry

this song goes ‘would you walk to the edge of the ocean/just to fill my jar with sand/ in case I should get the notion/ to let it run through my hands’

Glass – Thompson Square

Honey Bee- Blake Shelton

Makin’ Plans – Miranda Lambert

I’ve been waiting all my life to find you…

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I know, I’ve been really terrible about updating. I started a photo blog, though. I love photography and I don’t seem ot have quite as much time for writing anymore. In other exciting news, on April 2, my boyfriend took me up to Horsetooth Reservoir and asked me to marry him! I said yes, and what follows is our engagement story in his words… copied over from Facebook:

I had known that Jennifer was the girl that I was going to marry since about the third month of our courtship. But one pearl of wisdom that I have to share with my dear readers that happen to be male: Girls usually run away if you ask them right when you think you want to marry them. So I wisely held on to that and took her to Glenwood Springs instead towards the fall along with my Miniature Schnauzer, JJ.

I’m sometimes not sure if she loves the dog more than she loves me, but hey, JJ and I are a package deal — you can’t have one without the other, so it works either way. And it makes things much easier when the girl you’re courting loves dogs! JJ has Strong Opinions, and her expressed Opinion of Jennifer has been, “She gives me lots of attention and love and feeds me sometimes!”

So, that’s one big checkmark in Jennifer’s favor.

We had already more or less unofficially officially decided on marriage by the time the New Year rolled around. It wasn’t a sudden decision, but something that grew and evolved. While we were in Atlanta, she was having difficulty with the car accident that she was in the week before in Fort Collins, so I pulled her into my lap and offered her comfort and reassurance. It was unrehearsed and heartfelt, the words that I gave her.

“Was that your proposal speech?” she asked.

I blinked, and then laughed, “No, it wasn’t, but I guess it could make a good one.” Right then would have been a good time to whip out the ring. But I didn’t have this material and tangible object, as it was on order from the United Kingdom. It was not a typical ring, with black diamonds set in a groove, but it works far better for Jennifer’s active lifestyle.

So the actual proposal had to wait until I was back from New York City, as the ring had been delivered to my home while I was traveling. Great! Now I can finally ask her. So I asked her for some time alone with her on Saturday. We decided that we were going to Horsetooth Reservoir.

The big day came, and whoops! My back threw out from too much sleeping off a cold that I had picked up in New York City. I was rather irritated, but I really did not want to put off this moment that had been a long time in coming.

So, there I was, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, doped up on cold medicine. I guess that made Jennifer my Esmeralda. The sunlight and the view was lovely, but the wind kept whipping up our hair!

But as I told Jennifer later, if I waited for the perfect moment where every event aligned just so, it would never happen. A pretty apt metaphor for life in general, I thought.

“Will you marry me?” I finally asked.

“Was that a question?” she replied, as apparently I had signed it in the declarative mode in American Sign Language.

“Well, yes,” I countered after a moment.

“I’ve already said yes several times!” she retorted with a laugh in her eyes.

“This is part of the ritual!” But she was much pleased with the ring and quite glowed.

On the way back she asked, “How should we let my mother know? If I tell her, I will have to go to Windsor right then.” I thought for a moment, “Send a picture to her picture frame!” So we took her camera and tried to figure out how to take a picture of a ring on a hand. Turns out that the best angle is with the camera over her shoulder, with her back towards the sun.

And so, after almost a year of courtship, I am going to mary the love of my life in the fall. I am much pleased with this arrangement. So is JJ.