All I Want For Christmas Is You

Something extremely exciting happened to me this Christmas.

Christmas is our anniversary, but since nothing is open on Christmas Day we decided to celebrate our anniversary on Christmas Eve Day instead. I had just gotten off work and was starving, so Josh and I met up at Red Robin for a late lunch. After our yummy food and great service (considering they were working on Christmas Eve), we headed to the movie theater across the street to see The Social Network. I was expecting the movie to be boring and matter-of-fact, but the acting was great and quirky, probably not too unlike the real Mark Zuckerberg. Great movie.

After enjoying the movie, we headed to Josh's parents' house to pick up a few last minute Christmas gifts. Then we visited our church's midnight Christmas Eve service. It was absolutely beautiful! Each person was holding a lit candle as we sang Christmas songs and hymns. Christmas is my favorite time of year for that reason; everything is beautiful.

We chatted with some friends after the service, and as we walked to the car, Josh suggested we see the lights in our local downtown. I love Christmas lights, so I happily agreed! We drove around downtown, pointing out spots we'd visited together, admiring the lights and the newly fallen snow. As I've said before, I love all things beautiful, so I was enjoying the scenery as Josh drove us through the
fresh snow.

Before I knew it, he'd pulled up to the intersection where we'd had our first, and scariest adventure. We sat in the warm car, talking about our history in this spot. I love reliving our memories and this was no exception. Snow was lightly falling and the streetlights glowed. As I sat looking out the window at this memorable intersection, Josh got out of the car, opened my door, and helped me through the snow to the sidewalk. We stood there, holding each other, 6 inches of snow covering our feet, and he said, "This is the spot where I first realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you." Then he got down on one knee, looked up at me, and continued, "Meagan...will you marry me?"

I have to say, when I imagined the day a man asked me to marry him, I assumed I would cry. But I didn't! In fact, I was so excited and nervous and surprised that I couldn't stop giggling! I obviously said yes in between giggles, but the rest of the night (morning?) I had a smile a mile wide and couldn't stop kissing Josh, so much so that at one point he had to stop me to say, "So do you want the ring or not?" Haha!

Anyway, this is the most memorable Christmas I've ever had and I don't think I'll ever forget it.
Merry Christmas, everyone!!!


Our Love Story, Part V

Click here if you'd like to read Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop thinking about him or talking about him. I didn't mean to do it, but I talked about my new friend so much that my boyfriend would snap at me any time I mentioned the other guy's name. And by the end of the summer, as I was packing up my room for the move to Michigan (for college), my boyfriend came out and said it, "I don't think this is going to work." It hurt, but I secretly agreed with him. We were in no place to continue a relationship from a distance and the fact that I had another man on my mind didn't really help the situation. So we broke up. 

About a month went by and over Labor Day weekend I traveled home to see a few friends. As I was hanging out at a friend's house, I got a text from my secret crush. He said he was in town and wanted to spend time with me. Less than 20 minutes later he showed up at my friend's house, I ran out to kiss him, he hugged me so tight I thought I'd suffocate, and he said he'd meet up with me the next day. Needless to say, I was on Cloud 9 the rest of the night. 

As he promised, we met up the next day with a friend of mine and her boyfriend (double date!). He got along so well with my friends, it was charming. We all had a great time and didn't want the night to end, but a few of us had work the next morning, so we decided to be responsible adults and head home. Once again, I fell asleep with a smile plastered on my face as I thought of this incredible new man in my life. But things would very soon change. 

After he went back to D.C. at the end of the weekend, he asked me if I'd like to be his girlfriend and make our relationship "official." I, as indecisive as I am, told him that I wanted to, but that long-distance freaked me out and that I wanted to get to know him better before I made any kind of commitment. He understood and we spent the next few months chatting on Skype, texting, and calling each other as we fell more and more in love. We had so much in common, but were also extremely different. He had this way of making me want to glue my cell phone to my ear so we would never have to hang up (and he still does). I'd never fallen for anyone as hard as I'd fallen for him and I couldn't wait to see him again, so when he told me he was coming home for Christmas, we agreed to spend as much time together as possible. 

That Christmas Day, after getting my wisdom teeth pulled the morning before, I met him at Potbelly's (best sandwiches ever). When I walked over to the booth where he was waiting, I noticed my Christmas present sitting next to him with a big, shiny, red bow. It was one of his dad's gorgeous paintings. One I'd been admiring for months since he first told me his dad was an artist. 

The painting Josh gave me for our first Christmas together. 
Original work by John Nixdorf.

He stood up, gave me a light kiss on the cheek, and told me I looked beautiful (even though my cheeks were swollen and I was wearing no makeup). He bought me soup and we he talked about how much he missed me and how great it was that we were able to see each other again. I wish I could have smiled and said how much I missed him too, but I'm sure he felt it in the way I was holding his hand the whole time we sat in the quiet little sandwich shop. That day, we made our relationship "official" and I can't help but thank God for him when I remember the circumstances. 

From that day forward, we've spent thousands of dollars on plane tickets and hotels so that we can see each other. We even changed each of our phone plans so we can talk for free. And once a week we make it a point to have a Skype "date." Through our time together we've gotten to know each other, fallen in love, and deemed ourselves "best friends." I can't imagine my life without this man and I hope that someday, somehow I can be as wonderful to him as he is to me. 


Chrome For a Cause

A blogging friend of mine over at Relevant Notes recently posted about Google's creative way to spread Christmas cheer throughout the world this holiday season. I loved their "Chrome For a Cause" campaign's mission. All you have to do is download the Google Chrome web browser, download the Chrome For a Cause extension, and surf the web! For every tab you open in Chrome from now until the end of December 19th, Google will donate money to one of five charities listed on their website. Personally, I don't think anyone can give an excuse NOT to participate! It's probably the easiest way to spread joy (other than offering a hug or a smile) this Christmas season. So get surfin'!


Peace on Earth

Today was a rough day. Nothing terribly bad happened in my little Meagan-sphere, but many small things got on my nerves today and a few big things really got to me.

Let's start small and work our way up, shall we?
Last night, Josh and I both fell asleep while we were talking on Skype, so when Josh woke up at 0530, so did I from the sounds of him getting ready. It was great to get to see him in the morning and we even talked for about 5 minutes before he headed out the door and I fell back asleep. Because I got a good dose of love first thing and because today was the last day of the semester, I thought today would be easy-going. But when I walked into the bathroom (that I share with my younger brother) to get ready for the day, I realized the floor was flooded near the base of the shower. Someone had forgotten to keep the curtain inside the shower and water was everywhere. My brother has had this problem before and in the past, the water had leaked all the way through the floor and through the kitchen ceiling. So, just to be safe, I ran down to the kitchen and lo and behold...water. Dripping from the ceiling onto the kitchen table. Wonderful.

After mopping up the bathroom, dabbing off the ceiling, and getting ready for school I headed out the door. And since today was the last day of the semester our campus bookstore was hosting a "Book Buyback" where you can sell all your old textbooks back to the school for a little cash. I was really looking forward to getting about $100 for my old books, so as soon as I parked on campus I headed for the bookstore. I waited in line for 45 minutes behind everyone else selling books back, watching as each person received cash (in hand, mind you) as easy as 1, 2, 3. But as soon as I got up to the counter, the woman behind the counter said, "I'm sorry, but your books are a semester too old and we won't be using them next semester, so we can't take them." I was more than bummed. Almost pissed.

Then I headed to class, got my grade for the semester (not too shabby, but could have done better), and headed off to work to pick up my paycheck so I could do a little Christmas shopping before my laser appointment (more on that at later date) and work. I deposited my check, withdrew a few bucks for gas, and headed to my doctor's office. My appointment was supposed to be for 1130, but apparently everyone was on their lunch break while I sat in the waiting room for 20 minutes without hearing or seeing one person. Then, when they finally did bring me in for my appointment (which is supposed to take 30 minutes if they're thorough), the woman in charge of my appointment rushed to get my treatment finished, barely even doing anything,  and basically pushed me out the door. I'm sorry, but you are the one who was late for my appointment and my parents are paying you thousands of dollars to do my treatment correctly and thoroughly so that I get the results I was promised and you're slacking!

After my less than satisfactory appointment, I headed off to Nordstrom Rack to find a watch for Josh's Christmas present. He's the kind of person who likes to know what he's getting ahead of time, so I sent him pictures of watches I thought he would like. And of course, he didn't like them. So I drove over to the mall to see if I could find anything for Josh, my parents, and his parents there. I walked through almost every single store. No such luck. So I plopped down with some Panda Express and ate my feelings.

Then I ran home, got dressed for work, and headed out the door. Now, I know it's probably not right to dish about work on the internet (much less a personal blog), but tonight was kind of frustrating. I felt like I was the only one actively working; picking up toys, keeping an eye on the kids, greeting parents, etc. But that was only part of it.

While at work, I found out 2 things.
1. Josh was driving a 20-pack (a 20 passenger bus) full of soldiers on post in the nasty, slippery, icy conditions and lost control of the vehicle. The bus hit an industrial dumpster and one window shattered, as well as his pride. As a driver, and as a man, he was responsible for the safety of the others on the bus as well as the vehicle itself. Thankfully, no one was hurt physically, but things like that really take a toll on a man when they're responsible for others.

and 2. One of the men in Josh's barracks committed suicide this morning. I can't give details, but this really brought to light how precious life is. When Josh told me the news I was dumbfounded that this had happened in such a close vicinity to him and I was heartbroken for this man's family. I cannot imagine spending the Christmas season mourning over a loved one.

Those 2 incidents really made all of the other "bad" things that had happened to me today seem miniscule, and they are. Realizing how quickly life passes, whether planned or unplanned, reminded me that my "bad" day wasn't really all that bad. I was reminded to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I am alive. I have a home. I have heat. I have food. I have a job. I have a loving family. I have a man that loves me. I am part of 70% of the richest population in the world. I have a fantastic education. I am alive.

And as I walked out of work tonight, I realized what inner-peace really is. It was eerily quiet, there was a gentle snow falling, and it glittered like the fake snow you see in movies. It was beautiful, and instead of being frustrated that it would take me longer to heat up my car, take me longer to scrape the windshield, and take me longer to get home, I just let the beauty of life sink in and I stood outside my car and let the snow fall. I let it fall in my hair. I let it cover my car. And I let it remind me that today was a good day.

 Glittery snow is the best kind.


Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

As time goes on and as our relationship grows deeper and stronger, it's become much harder for me to be separated from Josh. Loving and growing together from 800 miles is no easy feat and I am thankful that God gave me such a patient and understanding man to encourage me when waiting has me at wits end.
But no matter how encouraging and how supportive Josh may be, the time in between visits seems to drag on and on.
Lately, I've had an even tougher time surviving the days, weeks, and months in between visits. This fall, we were blessed enough to be able to see each other 5 times between August and November, but for some reason, I still was not satisfied. In the early months of our relationship, we often went 2 months without being together (in proximity) and it was hard. But as our love has grown, so has my impatience. I love Josh so much that even being away from him for a week has me crying into a pillow. How did this happen? When did I go from being strong and able to get through months without holding his hand to weak and falling apart as soon as we hit the "one week apart" mark?
I've realized that absence does, in fact, make the heart grow fonder. But it also makes the girlfriend go crazy! I mean, it's hard enough to do long-distance, but when your man is also in the military and working a backwards schedule and your free time never matches up for a phone call or a Skype date, it's hard to say that your heart is  growing fonder. Instead, I think I'm growing weaker. My love for him is so strong and I long to hear his voice so much, that when we have to go weeks at a time without Skyping (yes, I made that word up) I find myself in tears after getting home from a long day of school and work and not being able to call him because I know he has to be up by 0430 for PT.
I miss him terribly. But I've found something that helps me focus on the love we have instead of the time apart is sending Josh little "love texts" telling him how much I appreciate him or detailing all of the adventures we'll have when we see each other again. They look a little something like this, "Thank you for working so hard even though you're having a rough day," or "I'm so excited to see the lights in Chicago with you!" So simple, and yet, he always responds with something along the lines of "I can't wait to kiss you under those Chicago lights!" or "I do it all so I can take leave to see my beautiful girlfriend." It's incredible how much joy a simple text can bring when you choose to focus on the good and leave the bad at the door.

After my little rant, I'll leave you with what I believe to be the most romantic long-distance quote in the history of man.
John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, wrote a letter to his wife of 35 years while she was away visiting a sick relative. In the letter, he talked of how nothing had changed at home and how thankful he is that they are both alive and well. And in closing, he wrote,
"I am too fully employed to feel time hang heavy upon my hands in your absence; and, if I am permitted to come to you, the thoughts of the journey's end will make the journey pleasant."


Mother's Day!

Before you freak out and run to the nearest Hallmark to grab a Mother's Day card, think. Today can't possibly be Mother's Day! It's not sunny and warm (at least not here in Chicagoland!) and stores haven't started mailing out reminders. BUT, today is MY mother's day. Yep, that's right. Today is my mommy's birthday! And in her honor, I'll be posting a little about her today. {Hi mom!}

Where to start? Ok, so my mom is one of those moms who always attended every school activity my brother and I were involved in. She's one of those parents who calls from the grocery store multiple times to make sure you'll eat what she's buying. She's one of those people who is loud and obnoxious, but totally loveable. My mom is not only my mom, but she was also a stand-in mother for many of my friends during high school; "No food in the basement! Put on your coat, young man! Let me make you some brownies!" and so on. She's an amazing cook, photographer, mother, wife, and friend. She may get on my nerves sometimes, but she's my mother and I love her more than anyone in this world.


 My mommy and I a few days after my parents brought me home from foster care.

 You'll almost always find her either behind the camera or in front of the stove.

 My mom and her best friend, Lori, at Ed Debevick's for her birthday 2 years ago.

Always supportive, my mother helped me finish assignments and studying while
I had mono during the last 3 weeks of my senior year. Without her, I would not have graduated on time.


Love and Death

"Love of mine, someday you will die. But I'll be close behind. I'll follow you into the dark."
~ Death Cab for Cutie

Do you ever fear the day someone you love will die? When I was 16, my grandma passed away after years of battling the effects of numerous strokes. It was a long time coming and we all knew that even the slightest illness could take her from us. In the days leading up to her death, after the director of the nursing home called to tell us about her "unfortunate condition", I had this indescribable fear. Most people, when they hear they're about to lose someone they love, mourn. But I couldn't. I had lost many other people in the past, so death was a very real concept to me, I knew exactly how devastating it was. But for some reason, I couldn't mourn until my grandma had really passed away. My fear was the only thing I felt until the day she died. 
I don't know if my fear was for her or for myself. I knew she was in pain and I knew that the past few years had been terrible to her weak, little body. But I also knew that with her passing would come much change for our family. Without her, my brother and I would only have one grandparent left (who passed the following year). We would no longer have a reason to get together with my dad's distant sister's family for holidays. My grandma would never be able to give me her lipstick kisses again. Traveling to Michigan just wouldn't have the same purpose anymore. Everything would change. 
But when she did pass away in October of 2007, when my parents showed up in my 8th period chemistry class, the fear melted away and I cried right there in front of my entire class without explanation, because all that mattered was that my grandmother would never give me a lipstick kiss ever again. I cried for days even after her beautiful funeral. I cried because I missed her. I cried because I loved her and never told her enough. I cried because I would never get to hear any of her smart-ass comments when we would normally go to visit at Christmas or Thanksgiving or for her birthday. I cried because I knew she was an incredible woman and deserved my tears. 

Christmas 2006. My grandma's last Christmas.

Before my grandma passed away, death devastated me. When she passed, I was more devastated than ever before. And now, I have a new fear. I have nightmares about it, I think about it when he's driving long distances or practicing combatives or out in the field shooting military strength weapons, I pray more when one of us flies than I do in an entire year. I scare myself silly with my vivid imagination sometimes of all the possibilities. There's a new love in my life. And this time he's a man. And this time he's the Love of my Life. And this time I feel as if I would also die if his life was ended in any way. The fear is here, the love is here, and the tears are here anytime I hear a song about death on the radio or on my Pandora stations. They're here anytime I hear about anyone dying. They're here when I wake up crying from a nightmare. When any of these situations arise, I feel this indescribable need to call or text him immediately to tell him how much I love and appreciate him and can't wait to see him again. 
If I'm like this while he's still alive and healthy and in the prime of his life, what the hell will happen to me when he dies (if he dies before me, which is NOT preferable)? Ideally, we both live happily until we're about 75 and then I die. And then a few years later, he dies. But life is unpredictable and teenagers die in car accidents and buses roll over and trains fall off tracks and drunk drivers hit pedestrians and planes have mechanical errors and terrorists are constantly aiming at Washington D.C. and people die of pop-up diseases overnight and psychos shoot innocent people and THE WORLD IS SO UNSAFE! 

In short, I'm terrified of Josh dying before me. I honestly feel like my life would end. I would want to die too. And dying of a broken heart is the worst way to die. The movie P.S. I Love You breaks my heart in so many ways and sometimes, just once in a while, I feel like maybe I'd be able to heal. But movies are made in Hollywood, not in real life. Josh is a real person. No one else has ever had such an impact on my life and on my heart. And I know this post made me sound like a maniac, and no, I don't think about this ALL the time, but I just needed someone to know how scary this is to me. Does anyone else ever get these feelings? Has anyone ever experienced the death of a boyfriend or spouse?


Thanksgiving Update!

I know, I know. Bad me. I said I'd give an update on how my Thanksgiving break went and I haven't really had the time...until now! So here goes.

This year for Thanksgiving break, I flew to D.C. to spend an ENTIRE WEEK with The Boyfriend! Yes, I know I seem way to excited about this, but when you live 800 miles apart and your man's in the military and you're in college and working part-time...a week together is a HUGE deal. It was absolutely amazing. Incredible. Awesome. Indescribable. Here's the breakdown:

Monday: Arrive in D.C. and spend the night chilling with The Boyfriend at our friends' home in Fairfax.

Tuesday: Spend the day at our friends' home doing homework, while everyone else is on post or working. When My Man gets back for the night, head out to our other friends' apartment to watch The Hangover and eat delicious pumpkin cheesecake with them. Head back to Fairfax (where we stayed the entire week) to hit the hay.

Our friends' dog, Mack. He looks little here, but he's about the size of a miniature pony!

Wednesday: Head to post with The Boyfriend (at 0430, mind you) so that we can do some grocery shopping after he finishes PT. Then back to our friends' home in Fairfax to cuddle on the couch and watch movies all day. For dinner, hittin' up Carlyle in Shirlington for The Boyfriend's birthday! Scrumptious!

 Enjoying lobster bisque, caesar salad, jambalaya, and pecan crusted trout at Carlyle!

 About to indulge in a delicious banana pudding (his favorite) in honor of The Boyfriend's birthday.

Thursday: Thanksgiving dinner at My Soldier's platoon sergeant's home in Woodbridge. A few other guys from their platoon were also there. Ate a delicious meal and watched football until we were too anxious to get back to Fairfax and cuddle (yes, we love cuddling).

Friday: Chill on the couch watching movies and awesome TV shows (like Ice Road Truckers) all day.

Saturday: Rinse and repeat Friday's agenda.

Sunday: Clean up the house, do some laundry, eat up the rest of the food, pack up, cuddle until the cows come home.

Monday: Sneak into The Boyfriend's barracks while he works, finish up some homework until he can take me to the airport. Head to the airport, fly through security (good job BWI!), and cry. Cry a LOT. Almost all the way back to Chicago.

In short, we cuddled a lot, ate great food, spent time with good friends, and may or may not have enjoyed house/dog-sitting for our friends (the doggies/horses drool EVERYWHERE and bark all night long, but they're cute). It might seem like a boring, everyday experience for most, but for couples who are long-distance, those little moments mean the most. Lounging around in our PJs together isn't something we get to do often, so we took advantage and loved every last second of our lazy week. It's incredibly hard to leave after such an amazing week. But I can't wait to seem him again in only 2 weeks! We've truly been blessed with the amount of time we've been able to spend together in the past few months. Last second work trips, extra leave, and time off of work = 4 visits in 3 months! How lucky can one girl get?


Inside the Mind of Man

So you know how last week I told you I'd give you a peek inside the mind of a dude when it comes to marriage? Well, I'm just now getting around to it. Haha! Needless to say, this past week and a half has been insane around here with traveling for Thanksgiving (more on that in the next post), working, and getting back to school.
You know how I had to write that reflection about marriage from a woman's point of view last week, well I had to re-write it from the opposite perspective for another assignment. So here's my little hypothetical reflection on marriage, from a man's perspective.

Monotonous Sex and the End of Guy’s Night?
            So we’re getting married in less than five months and all I can think about is how my life is going to go straight down the can (or so they say). Don’t get me wrong, I love my fiancé to death. But just about every guy I know tells me that as soon as the ink is dry on the marriage license, so is the sex. And the thought of having to watch chick flicks for the rest of my life without getting laid afterward, now that just makes me want to punch a wall. Is marriage really that unsatisfying? I mean, you marry the “love of your life”, your best friend, and then spend the rest of your days eating pot roast and mashed potatoes and staring at each other? What is that?!
            Last time I checked, being married to your wife was supposed to be awesome. Sex a few times a day, dinner on the table when you get home from work, watching football with the guys on Sundays while she’s out with her girlfriends…Marriage is supposed to be fun! Right? I watched my parents’ marriage while I was growing up and I see it now and I realize just how much love and fun there is in their relationship. Granted, they’ve had a hell of a lot longer to fix their issues than my fiancé and I have, but hopefully one day we’ll reach that point where life is life and we enjoy it together because it’s all we’ve got.  I really hope we end up my like my parents. Happy and still lovin’ the sex! Oh yeah!
            I know it’s not going to be easy to get there though. Like, I know it’ll be hard to be a good husband and still have my independence, but you do what you gotta do. I know she’ll want my help around the apartment and that she’ll want to spend more time together (which drains my guy time). And I know that I’ll probably come home stressed and tired after work when she’ll want to talk my ear off, but I guess those are just little things, right? No big deal. What I’m really worried about though is the money. We don’t have to live a life of luxury or whatever, but I still want to be able to give my wife nice things and have a sick car and live in a good neighborhood, you know? Hopefully my teaching job can help with that.
            I guess you just never know how things will work out. You just have to do your best and work with what you’ve got. And plus, I love her, so I’m pretty sure marriage won’t be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. 

What do you think men fear about tying the knot? Any thoughts from husbands or boyfriends (aka potential husbands)?