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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

# 564 - Will You Marry Me?

I have two daughters, Heather and Stefie. My oldest married her college sweetheart, Henry, and they now have two beautiful children. That makes me a Nana. A very blessed Nana.

And now my youngest daughter is engaged to be married to a wonderful young man...Brice.


I'm going to have two awesome son-in-laws. I don't know many other women who are this blessed!

Henry and Brice and Stefie

For years we've known Brice. He's a good-hearted guy we've watched grow from being a kid to a man. The love he has for our daughter is the best kind of love to give to another person you want to spend your life with. He wants to protect, love, care for and get old with Stefie.


Stefie and Brice went through their university studies together and have been focusing on their professional lives. It was a sacrifice, but Stefie stuck with her studies until she got her Master's Degree as Brice began working in law enforcement, and they lived a good distance from each other through a brief time, but it helped solidify their commitment to each other.


They knew they didn't want to go through life without each other.


Each year, our family celebrates our own holiday called "ThanksMasTine," which is Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's all rolled into one awesome event. Instead of us all running in different directions and being strained about coming together to celebrate all of these holidays within a short period of time, we elected to find an agreeable date to gather and have a Thanksgiving feast, to exchange Christmas presents and share the Valentine's sweetness. We love our unconventional way of sharing the holidays.

During our celebration, Brice asked Stefie to marry him. As the family had their first gathering in the unfinished Bootcreek Farmhouse, Brice asked his sweetheart to be his wife.


And Stefie was so thrown off by the surprise proposal...she didn't have warning to orchestrate anything. Brice had our help, but he completely decided how to handle this special moment, and he was loving and respectful enough to make it a family moment since he knows having a daughter makes this moment very serious and special.


Brice even went to see Sgt. David at his job to get a traditional blessing before he asked Stefie to marry him. Of course, we had previously discussed Brice being our son-in-law, and marriage is not something we take lightly, but we've been watching Brice for years and acknowledging that he'd be a more than suitable long-term marriage partner for Stefie.

The proposal was definitely unique. Since Stefie is an ultra-studious follower of all things Harry Potter, even with a Harry Potter room of collectibles, Brice catered his proposal to be romantically linked to Harry Potter with the "Always" mantra being used to describe the way he sees their love and future marriage.

Enlisting the help of Stefie's sister, Heather, they commissioned a drawing of the Patronus with the "Always" message, and of course, since I'm not as a rabid student of Harry Potter, as Stefie happens to be, I initially thought the deer with the cross-hair site/triangle symbolized hunting or shooting.


Silly me. But, I was actually grateful this proposal didn't involve killing a deer.

Stefie adores the incredibly talented J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. Rowling is an author truly gifted-by-God, an individual with beautiful creative imagination to write about an orphaned boy finding a Magical escape. However, if you didn't know about the books, then you might ALSO think the drawing reminds you of a hunting moment...which actually works for Stefie and Brice as well since they are great shots.

But still, no dead deer are part of this marriage proposal. Whew!

Brice wrote a beautiful hand-written message to Stefie on the back of his "Always" proposal.


So she opened the board while thinking it was yet another Christmas present for our ThanksMasTine celebration. This gift just happened to be the last one needing to be unwrapped, so we were all gathered and watching with ongoing joy.



Then it dawned upon her that this was not a gift from a family member, but it was instead a MARRIAGE PROPOSAL!

All of us can see the reverse side as she's reading his message.
A nail-biting moment for all of us.

Her moment of melting was evident. All of us melted with her. So romantic and pure.


She began crying tears of surprised joy as he stood up to get on a bended knee --- those she loved most in life shared the moment while being silent so she could soak in the surprise proposal.

If only she would say "Yes!"


She flipped over the board to read the "Will You Marry Me?" message, and Brice took his time to get down on one knee with a gorgeous ring in his hand...the sly devil...and he officially asked her those beautiful words.


He properly asked her to marry him.


Stefie's expression gave Brice the answer that only a heart filled with love can give. But, she still said "Yes!" outloud.

There's always a sigh of relief when the girl actually vocalizes the YES.


The best part about this surprise proposal was that the following weekend was actually Valentine's Day, so Stefie thought a proposal was coming, but she imagined it happening the NEXT weekend.

Of course, she initially could have choked me and her sister because she certainly wasn't prepared for a proposal to take place. For this moment, she imagined her nails being perfect, her hair being straightened (since it's naturally curly) and that she'd be wearing an ultra-fab outfit. She imagined the proposal taking place AFTER she'd done all the foo-foo things a girl does for glorious pictures, but Brice was wise enough to know that those things are distracting and nerve-wracking.

Every day, Brice loves Stefie just the way she is, and I might be a bit partial, but Stefie didn't need to waste time or money because she's already perfect in her most natural state. And her curly hair is better than a mermaid's hair!

So, we had enjoyed our ThanksMasTine day while knowing this little gal would be engaged before nightfall.


Stefie was HER fabulous SELF during the "Will You?" and the "Yes!" exchange with her family gazing at them as closely as fluffy fur is on a bunny. You get my drift.

Brice did an amazing job.

That meant that the following weekend, on Valentine's Day, she'd get to do all the foo-foo girly things and show off an engagement ring on her newly manicured finger. On Valentine's Day, they were able to CELEBRATE their engagement with all their friends, to remember the ones who passed too soon and to show off engagement radiance with the rest of the family.


This proposal was PERFECTLY imperfect, making it even more lovely and authentic. These days, most gals know the proposal moment is around the corner and they are well-prepared, so Brice did a great job to make this a relaxing, loving proposal for her.

Through that entire day, before the proposal, all of us who knew it was coming did a fantastic job of  wrangling nervous energy; we were ready to BURST with excitement! But, we had to pretend to be chilled out; for me, I am NEVER chilled out --- I was born radiating high energy, so it was a "normal" day for me. But, Brice did a great job at leading the way, except when we'd share brief moments to exchange knowing glances of what was coming...at those moments, I could clearly see the whites of his eyes, all around. He makes me smile.

Of course, the Bride-To-Be was immediately happy to show off a beautiful engagement ring that has a vintage flair, as she loves. Brice deserved every glowing, fluttering eyelid moment that Stefie sent his way. He earned it.


We are thrilled to be gaining a son-in-law. Not just ANY son-in-law...Brice.


The wedding date is set for January 14, 2017.

Stefie and Brice went into high gear to immediately start planning their wedding and to take care of business required for a wedding to take place.


I admire these lovebirds. It will be super awesome once they are married and the triplets are on the way.

Okay. Too much at one time? I will stop putting in orders for more grandbabies. HaHa. I will negotiate, how about if I knock that down to JUST twins? Better?

So...once the twins are on the way...

January 14, 2017 cannot come soon enough, but no rushing anything! Double-trouble will come after the Honeymoon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

# 563 - RV Life is OVER!

Big news in our three-year adventure to build a country house...we have finally moved OUT of the RV and into the house!

No, the house is not finished. It is far from finished; it's a massive project that will take quite some time to get wrapped up, but we managed to get the kitchen workable, and the Master Bedroom is now sleepable.

Master Bedroom.

Other angle of Master Bedroom.

And folks, we now have a toilet and a BATHTUB!


The plumbing needed some tweaks.
This is the potty room.

My regular readers know that the RV accommodations were nice enough, but we never expected that this process would take three years. I did figure it would take one year to assess the acreage and decide where to build the house, then it would take a minimum of one year to build the house. All along, I've had a five-year plan. However, three years in an RV was a challenge, for sure.

Master bathroom.

It's been a tough road, but not one that I could feel justified in complaining too much about. However, I did miss my bathtub tremendously. As the weeks, months and years passed by in the RV, I became more disturbed about the lack of a bathtub. Sometimes my body hurts to the bones and the only remedy for that kind of aching is a serious soaking. I must say that the bathtub separation angst was just as bad for Sgt. Dave.

The bathroom requires a massive amount
of work to complete.

We don't yet have the tub-surround tile put up, but it appears we will start on that angle this weekend. Like everyone on the planet, we only have a limited amount of time in each day. Since Sgt. Dave does most of the heavy lifting, we cannot make leaps in progress unless he is home.

But, we got the bathtub connected about a week ago and Sgt. Dave was sweet to clean it out and then draw a hot, luxurious bath for me to go first. It was incredible to just lie there and not worry about rushing. I soaked and soaked and soaked. Even though we've had our RV shower, there's something deeply cleansing about having a bathtub at your disposal. I scrubbed every scrubbable body part, then made my poor country feet feel pampered as I worked on them. I ended up taking TWO baths in a row that night, first to soak and scrub, the next to relax.

I might have scrubbed off some wrinkles.


One thing about the bathtub in the Master Suite is that I had the plumber install valve guts to allow for two knobs, one for hot water and one for cold. We have three bathrooms in the house and the other tub/showers have "mixer" valves that allow for the type of faucet that has a swivel system, one knob to turn for hot and cold water. But, I didn't want a mixer valve for my tub water since I have long loved soaking as hot water drizzles and I like to adjust the volume of the water with my toes.

It's a force of habit throughout my life. You can't adjust a mixer faucet very easily with monkey-moves, so I insisted on the dual knobs.

I now need to paint the overflow valve and drain so it won't be chrome.

However, I soon learned that the dual knobs is almost a thing of the past, and the valve guts we installed are only compatible with Pfister brand. Two big plumbing hurdles.


I searched many Home Depots, Lowe's, local plumbing shops and online options...it was a nightmare. I finally found the ONE AND ONLY Pfister package kit at a Home Depot in the Houston area that included a tub faucet, two knob faucets and a horrible shower head, for approximately $100. The package included knobs of the cheapest fake crystal kind you could imagine.

Worse, I had already purchased everything else for the bathroom, even the lights, and everything is Oil Rubbed Bronze, but that package deal had chrome fixtures. Unbelievably, Stefie and I kept looking at home improvement stores and we found a bronze Universal tub spout at Home Depot for $27. and then we found Universal dual tub knobs! They were chrome, but at least not fake crystal!


Compared to the local plumbing store's price for a bronze tub spout that I could special order at $129, taking 5-7 days to arrive and the knobs would be the same price, making two knobs and a spout to be about $300.

So, I purchased the Universal chrome knobs and spray-painted them with an Oil Rubbed Bronze metal paint.


I took my time with light, multiple coats and the finish is PERFECT. The knobs PERFECTLY match the tub spout. I'm very happy with my spray-painted tub knobs that are monkey-toe compatible!


Once the tile is around the tub, I'll be able to also attach these to dress up the faucet knobs. Everything was in bronze, except for the knobs. 


And I use the spray paint to update many things. Here is my bathroom trashcan, now matching everything else.


Yes, I love the spray-paint. Sometimes the bronze finish can cost a little more and a can of paint can end up saving a lot in the long run. The adhesive abilities of spray paint these days is remarkable.

I will do my best to catch-up with other posts. I have exciting news about Stefie, my youngest daughter, and I need to post pictures of the most adorable grandbaby boy I could imagine having...Little Hank. Well, okay, since you insisted, here he is with me last month...excuse my wild hair, it's part of my existence.


The hurdles in life are worth it for these incredible moments. I'm so thankful to be OUT of the RV and sleeping in the house. Every day is so jam-packed, but life passes anyway, so we might as well be working on the house...it seems to be what we do best in life...work on houses.

I'm glad you stopped by!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

# 562 - The Perfectly Imperfect Life

Living on our acreage for 2 1/2 years, in an RV, as we've gone through the complicated process of building a home in a rural area, has been unbelievable to me.


Time has passed by loudly, quietly, slowly, quickly, painfully, and blissfully. Lots of adverbs describe the way time has felt as it passed with us tucked into the Big Thicket forest.


Since we've lived here, so much has happened in our family. Our oldest daughter, Heather, gave birth to our first grandchild, Coraline.

Me kissing my firstborn as she kisses her own firstborn.
This photo was not planned, it was just captured.

Coraline and her natural "Mohawk."

Nana and Pappy at Coraline's private 2nd birthday party.

Our oldest daughter gave birth to our first grandson, Hank.

That belly held a baby that was over 9 lbs and delivered naturally at
a birthing center by Heather...my stress-inducing child.

Hank seemed to have been born with a smile.

Our son-in-law, Henry, is about 6'5" tall, and it
appears our grandson will be a carbon
copy of his father. They better prepare for
the grocery bills to come!

Yes, Heather and Henry have been busy growing their awesome family.

Our youngest daughter, Stefie, graduated with her bachelor's degree.


And then she graduated with her Master's degree just last month, with honors.

Heather, Coraline, Stefie, Hank and Henry.

Stefie in her Master's cap and gown with honors
displayed.

Since living out here, my dad wrecked his first Mustang by hitting a deer, then he got another Mustang to replace the first...not because of the wreck, but because he didn't want a standard transmission any longer.


My dad also kicked his latest round with cancer since we moved here...a very serious battle that surprised many, including his oncologist.

There was a time of devastation shortly after moving to our acreage. My husband's nephew, our daughters' cousin they grew up with, so closely, was murdered in San Antonio.

Stefie, Chris and Heather - sharing their childhood days.

Chris's murderer was finally coming up for his murder trial that had been delayed far too many times and his ploys were up...the case against him was solid as there was a witness to the stabbing and the crazy creep also confessed, but the criminal system in any "big city" is complicated and slow. The murderer committed suicide the week of trial, and he was buried on Christmas Day. His suicide offered no comfort for all of us who adored Chris. The confusion was powerful. Focusing on our blessings has been the only thing to pull us through this tragedy.

Babbette - Chris's mom as we enjoyed lunch
this week in Livingston.

This past week I had lunch in town with Chris's mom. Even though she has long been divorced from my brother-in-law for many years, she always played a huge part in our lives and in that of our children because she went the extra mile, literally, for us to spend more time with Chris as he was growing up. She never made excuses to prevent him from being with us because she knew Chris was very close to his cousins. I'll always love her for loving her son so much that she never tried to prevent him from being with us simply because of an unfortunate divorce. To this day, Chris would be so happy to know we're loving his mom and that she loves us, as he loved her. We are all a much needed comfort to each other.

Chris had just turned 22 years old when he was murdered. Every time I hear "Only the Good Die Young" by Billy Joel, I have another young one to ponder.

Babbette and Chris

Chris spent much of his childhood on our acreage, running through the woods, having a blast being a child. On some days, it seems I can almost see him weaving in between the trees, laughing as if a riot of fun resided inside of him. There was no doubt that, for us, being on the acreage was a comfort during the hard times of raw mourning. We'll never stop missing him.

So much has happened since we've moved to the country.

Sgt. Dave has now spent over 25 years in law enforcement. He's actually spent nearly 30 years of service between the military and Sheriff's Office, but he's now got his eye set on retirement. Over the past 2 1/2 years, he's been driving nearly 90 miles one-way, every day, to commute to his job, just so he can savor his country address.


To him, the commute is worth it because he gets out of the chaos that belongs to Houston, but we still LOVE Houston...it's a unique, wonderful city full of awesome people.


Every time he drives up to his acreage, he feels as if he's on vacation. Retirement will definitely be another new phase of life for us. We have to prepare so we don't starve! I'll be writing about that journey as well.

Another beautiful part of this time in life has been the rather recent day that Brice received his badge. Brice is the love of Stefie's life, and we know he will be our future son-in-law. Sgt. Dave was selected by Brice to be his mentor and to pin his badge on him.


I cannot express how proud we are of Brice...and of Sgt. Dave.




Before Brice set out for his first night on patrol, our family ambushed him with a circle of prayers for that night and for his entire career. He's a wonderful man; we're proud to call him one of our own. Brice and Stefie are enjoying the results of their hard work, dedication and support of each other.

Stefie with Brice on the first day he wore a full uniform
with a badge.
 
During our time here in the country, I spent nearly an entire year thinking I was 47, but I was actually 46. Now I am really 47 or am I now 48? No, I am 47, again, for the second year in a row.

Other than a BB gun, I went from never having shot a gun, outside of a simulator, to shooting live targets with a .22 rifle and discovering that I'm a natural. No kidding.



Before moving to the country, I couldn't imagine the true power and strength of a tractor, but now we own a John Deere and I can operate it!


We moved here after selling our house in the Greater Houston area and set up life on our acreage with an RV so we could determine where we wanted to build our country home. We went from the city-suburbs lifestyle of concrete and landscaped yards...



We started with two dogs with us here in the country and after our Australian Shepherd found two tiny puppies in the forest, we ended up providing one of them a permanent home. That means, we have a wonderful "Gracie" to join Howdy and Liyla...in the RV with us.

 

Maybe the RV is more of a glorified kennel than a temporary home for us two crazy country-loving weirdos. Regardless, Gracie has grown to be a wonderful dog who guards the chickens and doesn't let anyone drive up onto our land without her making a big deal about it. We love her.

Sgt. Dave and I will be celebrating our next anniversary this coming summer. It will be our 30th wedding anniversary.



Somehow, it doesn't seem possible that I've been married this long. It seems logical that Sgt. Dave has been married that long, but not mmmwwwaahhh.

Time can be brutal and kind. However, it is up to us to focus as much as we can upon the blessings of life and to enjoy the joy filled days that are a gift. We are savoring, indeed.