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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fateful Romance and a Trunk-or-Treat

According to ancient Roman sources, Marc Anthony and Cleopatra were the first true Romeo and Juliet-style fateful romance. To make an extremely long history lesson short, the Roman warrior and Egyptian queen found themselves on the outs with the Roman empire. Marc, thinking that Cleopatra had committed suicide, stabbed himself. He ended up dying in Cleopatra's arms and she soon enticed a cobra to bite her so she could join the afterlife with her lover. Of course, the story is debatable and other versions include an Egyptian priest murdering Marc and someone slipping poison to Cleopatra, but hey, those ancient Roman sources stick to the tragic love story so I do, too.

Thanks to my already owning a dress that could pass for the Egyptian queen and our being able to borrow a Marc Anthony costume, Matt and I found ourselves dressing up as the famous couple for Halloween this year. We celebrated the holiday a bit early with our church's Trunk-or-Treat party this week.
We arrived to the event early to set up our trunk, which I was rather excited about.
A closer look at the Pharoah, hieroglyphics (yes, I'm a nerd and it spells "Trunk or Treat"), and "Egyptian" foliage:
Once our trunk was ready to go, we moved inside to hang out with some of the cutest kids I know.
The party came complete with multiple Halloween-themed games, lots of yummy treats, a Thriller performance by the young women, a costume contest, and a little photo booth. Even the missionaries got in on the action!
Then it was time to move outside for some good old fashioned trunk-or-treating.
Matt and I were in charge of picking the winner for the best trunk award. He stayed in character and began his announcement with, "Hear ye! Hear ye!" I love that I married such a fun guy.
We might be a biased since we helped plan the event and all, but we thought it was a blast! It's crazy to think we're already hitting this time of year when it's just a fast slide to Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. Here's hoping time slows down a bit so we can enjoy every minute! For now, I hope you all have a happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Proposal Story

At last, the post you've been waiting for. I wanted to give Nicole a chance to blog about her proposal first, so I saved my version of the story for the last post about my family's Southern California visit. I'm warning you now that this is going to be a fairly long entry, but it's a love story so it's worth reading. :-) Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Once upon a time, a few years ago, Matt and I were staying at the Hendricks' home in Colorado Springs for the weekend as usual. And, as usual, we were staying up extra late talking with Steve and Jodie. That's when Jodie and I hatched a masterful plan--as soon as their other cadet, Jordan, came back from his LDS mission, we would set him up with my sister Nicole.

After all, I'd seen his picture so I knew he was cute, the fact that he was highly ranked in his class at the Air Force Academy told me that he was very smart, and Matt and the Hendrickses couldn't stop raving about what a great person he is. Plus, Matt and I had met his family in Los Angeles the previous summer and they were so amazing that I knew anyone coming from that family had to be pretty awesome themselves. Needless to say, it sounded like a great idea for my little sister. A solid year-plus after Jodie and I planned their little love match, Jordan was finally back at the Academy and on his way to Utah for the BYU vs. Air Force football game. Perfect! We arranged for them to meet for breakfast at Kneaders with me and Matt. Coley and I tend to talk a lot and really fast when we're together, so we were surprised that the breakfast didn't scare him away.

Nicole was dating another boy (non-exclusively) who wanted to marry her at the time, but we didn't let that discourage our Jordan plans. On New Year's Eve, Matt and I stopped by his family's house on our way to camp out for the Rose Bowl Parade, and as we were leaving I called Nicole. The fact that it was 10 o'clock on New Year's Eve and she was with this other boy at that very moment had no bearing in my mind. She answered the phone and after telling her whose house I was leaving, I said, "Nicole, if you have a chance to marry into this family and don't..." to which she responded, "Then you will?" And I'm like, "Well, that ship has sailed. But no, then you are a fool." It turns out that she's not a fool, because after she and Jordan had their first "real" date in January (Jordan flew Nicole out to Colorado for President Uchtdorf's visit) she ended things with the other boy for good and began falling in love with Jordan.

Which brings me to now, almost a solid year into their relationship. They've been in love and talking about marriage for awhile now, but haven't been in much of a rush because Jordan is a junior at the Air Force Academy. For those of you who weren't around for mine and Matt's saga, we were engaged for 21 months to the day because cadets aren't allowed to get married until they graduate. Since Jordan's graduation is on May 30, 2012, Nicole was sort of convinced she wouldn't be getting a ring for a rather long time. But Jordan had other plans! When he surprised her by coming in a day early for her royalty dinner at the end of July, he actually flew in a few hours earlier than she thought so he could ask my parents for their daughter's hand in marriage and then go ring shopping with me and Heidi. (Hooray for timing my visit home right, eh?) Jordan ended up ordering a custom ring and it was so sweet to see him be so particular in making sure that every little detail would be just perfect for Nicole.

Jordan wanted both families to be able to celebrate their engagement together (smart boy), so he planned the proposal for my family's October trip to Southern California. His mom, Melissa, and I did a lot of the coordinating since we are the ones who live down here and we had such a blast brainstorming and picking the best spot for the big moment. The Sunday before my family came into town, Matt and I headed to Laguna Beach with Doug and Melissa to do a trial run of the proposal since we'd be the ones bringing Nicole to the beach that Friday. We picked places for a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C depending on Friday's tide and even practiced exactly where Jordan should stand and at what angle he should have Nicole so we could get a picture of him down on one knee. The sunset was beautiful that night and we were so excited that it was going to work so perfectly!
We always knew that the challenge would be getting Nicole to A) not suspect a thing and B) still be all done up and ready for her big moment. It turned out to be quite entertaining in the end, since as Coley said herself, she was a little bit ornery that day. She had secretly hoped that Jordan would surprise her by being there in California and when it didn't happen, she was bummed. Nicole even locked herself in her bedroom at the mission home about a half hour before we were supposed to leave because she wanted to do her homework instead of stopping at the beach for sunset pictures on our way to the temple. (That was the cover story for getting her all dressed up and looking beautiful.) So while my parents acted like it didn't matter if she came or not, I had fun throwing a fake fit about how it was her only time visiting me in California and it wouldn't kill her to just see my favorite beach and so on. It was a good thing she was behind a locked door because I was smiling the entire time. I'm a terrible actress, you know. That guilt and the desire to see the temple eventually smoked her out of the bedroom and we were on our way! For your viewing pleasure, though, here's a "before" picture of Nicole on Friday morning at the beach--not the happiest girl in the world... yet.
When we finally arrived at Laguna, Nicole was still not happy about being there. In fact, she told Christian exactly that less than a minute before seeing Jordan. Then, as we were approaching the corner of the cove where Jordan was waiting, a family dressed in white with a photographer suddenly passed us. They were headed for exactly that spot to take pictures! I panicked, because having them there in the way would have ruined everything. We were literally thirty yards away from the spot where Nicole would be able to see Jordan, so I had no choice but to sprint ahead and explain the situation as fast as I could and ask them not to go there. Nicole thought I was a crazy person looking for the right spot for a picture, but hey, it worked. I went back to Nicole, Heidi, Christian and Matt, and kept leading them over to the rocks. The others lagged behind a bit so Nicole was out in front.

We finally reached the spot where Jordan suddenly came into view. He looked like he walked straight out of a fairytale for her--all dressed up and standing there on a beautiful beach with a romantic picnic to his side, a bouquet of her favorite flowers in his hand and a huge smile on his face.
Nicole was so shocked that she stopped dead in her tracks. Her hands immediately came up to cover her mouth in surprise, and her eyes started welling with tears. She just stood there in disbelief that her Jordan was really standing ten yards in front of her. She was so shocked, in fact, that she forgot her legs worked for a few seconds. Finally, I gave her a little push on the back to remind her of that fact, and she walked to Jordan in a blissful daze (as I walked far backwards to capture the moment without actually being part of it).
I have literally hundreds of pictures of the exchange and the after party, but here are just a few. They hugged and smiled and kissed as he professed his undying love for awhile and then finally, the big moment came when he reached for the ring.
The pictures of him on his knee are the sweetest things you've ever seen. But it's their special moment and their sweetest thing and, well, I just don't think it's right to share on a public blog. So use your imagination in that beautiful setting, and then enjoy these pictures after she nodded yes (since she forgot that her voice worked, too, that cute girl!):
And in true Nicole fashion, a celebratory fist pump. Yes!
Meanwhile, my family and Jordan's family were having a big party much further down the beach where Jordan's family had been hiding. We were all so excited for the two of them! The Rozsa's brought footballs and snacks to keep everyone entertained while Jordan and Nicole had their private, romantic picnic celebration. (You can see part of the picnic set-up in the picture where she's walking to him--there were also a lot of hurricane candles in the sand around the blanket on the cove side.)
About 45-minutes later, the love birds finally texted that they were ready to party with the rest of us so we made our way back across the beach to where they were (on the other side of that big cliff you see ahead on the left).
Everyone hugged and smiled and cried and laughed with the little love birds. Both families are just so, so happy for them. Our family loves Jordan and his family to pieces, and Nicole is very lucky to be marrying into a family that loves her so much already!
Our families are BFFs. Seriously.
(Jordan's family is Matt and my "California family" that we stay with all the time on weekends.)
As the families celebrated a bit more, I took dozens more pictures of the happy couple.
They're so cute together!
I also made sure to capture a picture of Coley's gorgeous flowers and even more gorgeous ring. Feel free to click on the picture below so you can properly swoon! Jordan did such a great job.
Jordan's mom and I made sure to high-five ourselves for a coordinating job well done, too. Melissa really went above and beyond in getting things ready for Jordan since he was in Colorado and flew in just a couple hours before the proposal. She ordered the flowers, got everything together for the romantic celebration picnic, texted me in code throughout the day to get times and places right, and even hired a photographer to stand behind Jordan and get Nicole's reaction on film (well, digital). Future mother-in-law of the year, right? And on a totally unrelated note, since Matt and I are in love too, we took a quick picture of the two of us before leaving the beach. I just think he's cute so I couldn't help but add the picture into the post.
Anyway, the party continued at dinner that night where Nicole made a few important announcement phone calls and we recorded them telling their proposal story. Christian also recorded the proposal itself from a distance, per Jordan's request. He really made sure every little thing was planned perfectly!
Then we really had a party the next night with a big sleepover at the Rozsa's which included the kids staying up until nearly 5 a.m.--laughing, mostly. It was such a great weekend, and such a fantastic proposal! Coley and Jordan will end up being engaged for just 10 days shy of 20 months as they wait for him to graduate. Here's to the second-longest Mormon engagement ever, kids! Enjoy it, because it flies by faster than you could ever imagine.

Monday, October 25, 2010


It felt so good to be at a Falcon football game again when we were in San Diego. We had such a great time seeing:

*An NFL Stadium
*Our Falcons on the field:
*The one and only Bird:
*Old friends from the team:
The only thing that could have made it better would have been seeing the right team win.
Despite losing to San Diego State, though, Air Force is still having an excellent season. Two of their three losses were to highly ranked teams (then-No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 4 TCU) so we really don't feel all that badly about it. We're hoping to see them win out the rest of the season. Feel free to cheer them on with us :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saints and Soldiers

One of the highlights of our San Diego trip was touring the new Mormon Battalion Historic Site in Old San Diego. The story of the Mormon Battalion is a remarkable one that is told far too infrequently. It's a tale of courage, patriotism, service, sacrifice and, most of all, faith. This article provides an excellent summary of the tiny battalion that left their families on the prairie, completed one of the longest infantry marches in United States history, helped build San Diego, struck gold, went on to establish parts of Utah, overcame major trials, and relied on the Lord throughout it all. Of course, the best way to make those stories come to life is to visit the beautiful Mormon Battalion Historic Site itself.
And when I say that the site makes the story come to life, I mean it quite literally. It's the most technologically advanced and interactive visitors' center I've ever been to. From pictures in frames that come to life to hands-on activities to real artifacts to perfectly themed rooms showing videos of that portion of the journey (the camp, the Army fort, the prairie, old San Diego, etc.), the battalion's story is told in the most entertaining way possible. The tour kept everyone's interest piqued, from the 70-year-old grandpa in our group to my littlest brother. Along the way, we were able to...
Be outfitted for war:
Admire a very old cannon and other artifacts:
Search the battalion's roster for our ancestor and follow their path on an interactive map:
Go back in time for a family photo:
Build with fired bricks like the ones that members of the battalion introduced to San Diego:
Drive a wagon through the streets (okay, not really--but we did get to climb in it):
And, everyone's favorite: pan for gold.
It was such a fun way to learn about the saints and soldiers who trusted in the Lord, served their country, and set great examples for us all.
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