Sunday, March 7, 2010

Friday Fun!

I woke up and spent Friday morning with all of my favorite kiddos. It was Bike Rodeo at the girls' elementary school...we did it at my school growing up, so it definitely took me down memory lane! Lainey's grade came out first. They watch a bike safety video, and then the policemen are outside on the bike course to remind the kids about safe bike riding. Here is Lainey:And here are Havana and David, being silly and waiting to see their sisters ride bikes. They did get to ride bikes and scooters in between the grades. They were wishing they were big school kids...
Here is Holli, chilling and enjoying things from her stroller...or is she enjoying things?! not sure...
Once the first graders headed out, Ruth grabbed Aimee's bike, and took it for a ride...the policemen got more of a kick out of it than Ruth and I did, I think.
Go, Ruth!
Here is Aimee, ready to ride at Bike Rodeo with all of her school friends and classmates.
After a day at Bike Rodeo, and some work on wedding invitations, I picked Brian up at work and we headed downtown for engagement photos. Besides all the traffic that we got in, we had tons of fun taking engagement photos. As we were all around the city, I got so excited! I miss Boston, but I realized there was lots to do, experience, and enjoy in will just be more work since I am not living right in the city. I don't know why I love my big cities, but I do, I love all the exploring and meandering, I love their individual cultures and appeal. We wandered around Rice Village. We decided to have dinner at Shiva, a really yummy Indian restaurant!

Here is Brian, with his dinner sampler plate-we each got one of the sampler plates, which means we got to have several dishes and sides. I love Indian food, and Brian, he loved it...he kept saying, "This is so good," "This is really good," "Oh man...I love this food, it is so good." Do you think he enjoyed it? I think so ;) I have now decided that it is my quest to learn to cook for Brian so that he says the same thing of my meals, "This is so good," "Oh wow, this is really good," over and over. I think it may be a lifelong quest, seeing that Brian is a better cook than me, and more of a food snob than me ;) But I will take the challenge!
After a delicious dinner of Indian food, we wandered around Rice Village, a very fun area of town, right around Rice University. There are lots of restaurants and shops. Here I am with the wart hog...he is supposed to be a replica of one in a plaza in Florence...did I miss the real thing back in 2002 when I visited Florence with my parents and little brother, Alex?! Bummer.
And Alex, here is for you...remember those red bikes all over Salt Lake City, and how we mounted one, the both of us, while Mom tried to snap a picture...well, they make them better in Houston...they are bigger, of course, and they have flat seats for you to sit on...this one was a tandem with 2 seats. Here I go for my ride!
And here is Brian getting a little carried away on his bike ride...
We had a fun night, and opted not to do any wedding plans...we had a real date night, just the two of us, and left wedding plans far behind in our memories. We really do deserve nights like that more often...I guess maybe we will get more of those after the wedding, once we are married and not planning a wedding!
Only 5 weeks until the wedding!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God Bless Texas!

There are many things that I am being reminded of all the time about Texas, what it means to live in Texas, and what it means to be a Texan. Even though I should claim being Texan, and was mostly born and raised here, it has been about 8 1/2 years since I lived here, and I am having to remember a lot about the great state of Texas.

Last night I went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the largest rodeo anywhere, and had a blast. James and Ruth invited us (Brian and I) to go to Alan Jackson with them, and Ruth's mom and sister came, along with another couple. We got there in time to get some good rodeo food, watch the rodeo events-buckin' broncos, barrel racing, and lots of other favorites. Our new favorite was mutton bustin' where 5 and 6 year olds ride sheep and see who can stay on the longest-it was hilarious. Then we enjoyed the Alan Jackson concert. I love the rodeo, it brings out the cowgirl in me, kinda.Here is the Reliant Stadium, where the Houston Texans play football, converted for rodeo time. The rodeo had just ended and the concert was getting set up.
I ordered a baked potato with chopped bar-b-q on it, and jalapenos, and was quite apprehensive, it weighed like 5 pounds and was the size of my head. Okay, not really, but seriously, everything really is bigger and better in Texas. But don't you fret, I ate the whole entire thing, and yeah, Brian did not even finish his ;) I really am the eater! There were deep fried twinkies, nutter butters, oreos, etc. on the menu. I don't really love any of those things, but maybe I will have to try them in the next couple of weeks...just to say I have. Brian and I have 2 more rodeo shows to go to-Tim McGraw next week, and then Keith Urban the next week with his family.
Brian and I at the rodeo (love this man!!!)

Last week, I went with Ruth to get Havana from her cousins, and we had to head south. We stopped at one of those huge, great outdoor stores, and Ruth, Holli, David, and I had fun...being redneck or something.
Ruth and Holli; Holli is wearing some princess hunting hat that Ruth tried on her...nice.
Here is David holding a gun, he was so stoked to get to do something so BOY.
Here I am helping David with the gun, not that I am much better than he is; we paid 50 cents to shoot like 25 or 30 was not for real.
Here I am hugging my brown bear (Brian gives the best Brown bear hugs, and he even sent me my very own brown bear to have while I was far away from him in Boston). So while he was at work, I had to opt for a hug from this great big brown bear.
And here is David, being Davy Crockett or something, in his raccoon hat.

I love Texas...and I guess maybe I forgot ;)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Most Expensive Piece of Paper Ever!

So in the midst of dinner and Family Home Evening last night at James and Ruth's house, James came in with all of the mail. He handed me a really big envelope...and lo, and behold...the most expensive piece of paper that I have ever had in my possession. My diploma from Boston University had arrived, and so it appears that it is official, I have my Master's degree! And seriously, I spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on that diploma...but honestly, I can say, it was worth every dollar just about...completing my program and getting to have my Boston dreams come true!Now I just hope I can get a job that allows me to use some of my knowledge, education, and experience. I just keep praying for that!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Goodbyes in Boston

After spending time in Utah, my Mom and I flew back through Houston for a weekend to get some wedding plans organized with Brian and his mom. It was a fun weekend, and I always love seeing Brian, and then I always hate saying goodbye. I got a lot accomplished-picked a reception location, picked a florist and flowers, started looking at invitations, and the list goes on.

I flew back to Boston, and spent a couple of days saying quick goodbyes, packing up my room, and getting my car ready to drive across the country. I picked my brother, James, up from the airport on Wednesday, January 27, and we did a quick tour of Boston. Then Thursday morning we woke up, packed up my car, and started our drive. We left around 8 am and stopped at about 2:00 am that night in Chattanooga, TN. We left Massachusetts, and hit a snow storm in Connecticut, which slowed us down, but was really pretty.There was a lot of traffic in New Jersey, too. I ate more fast food than I had in months in just a couple of days. Thursday we had Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, Burger King for lunch, and Five Guys burgers for least my snacks were semi-healthy. We ate a little better on Friday-continental breakfast at Holiday Inn, subway for lunch, and back to Kingwood in time for pizzas that Ruth had made for dinner. Friday we left around 7:00 am and drove until 7:30 pm. Driving on Friday through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas meant good country music. It also meant tons of rain. I drove for 3 or 4 hours in a really intense rain storm, it was coming down in buckets, visibility was really bad, and I avoided hydro-planing for the most part.

My body was grateful to be out of the car after 2 days of sitting. I have also now officially been in 41 of the 50 states (just being in airports does not count, or I would have more). Maybe I can get in all 50 before I am 30 years old. Anyone want to join me for Montana, North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, Kentucky...and there are a few others ;)
Here is James at Copley Square with the tortoise and the hare...notice the tortoise is winning.
Here I am on the tortoise, I have many pictures on this tortoise in Copley Square, and do you like his festive ribbon around his neck this time?! I love Boston so much, and saying goodbye was hard. It was a dream come true to live there. I am just grateful that I had my time there, and I know now that there are other things that I need to do in my life, and sadly, it was time to move on. Maybe I will get to go back and visit, and maybe someday I will get to live there again.
Here is James about to cross the Boston Marathon finish line which is right near Copley Square! Go, James, go!
No worries, I did not end up buying this lovely lobster hat, but I could not resist trying it on. I did buy a Boston Red Sox hat; I couldn't leave without one and still call myself a Bostonian ;)
I will actually miss the snow and cold of Boston (Texas is hot). I will miss running in the snow and avoiding turning it into ice skating as I avoid all the icy patches. I will miss seeing the duck and goose footprints in the snow.
I will miss my roommates. Here I am with Alison on one of my last days. We went out for a drive and got lunch at our absolute favorite sandwich shop, Al's State Street Cafe. Then we stopped off at Mt. Auburn cemetery.
Here I am with the cemetery behind me, and some of the city in the background.
There is the city, and Harvard Stadium is at the left-the one that looks like the Colosseum.

I can't believe that I actually have to leave Boston. If anyone is ever going, let me know. If anyone ever wants a tour guide, let me know, and I would gladly fly in and show you around. It is such an amazing place, filled with so many amazing people, places, and sites.

Goodbye Boston! Here I come Texas! I am going to be a Texan again, who would have ever thought!? I am just so ecstatic though to not have to keep saying hello and goodbye to Brian all the time...

January Trip to Utah-The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

My trip that my Mom and I had scheduled to Utah, quickly changed purposes when my Nana passed away just a few days before I was to leave Boston for Salt Lake City. I still needed to get a wedding dress, but I hoped and prayed that I would find one really quick since time needed to be spent with family and with funeral planning and funeral events. I guess you could say it was the best and worst of times, some happy and some sad times were all mixed into one week.

Thankfully, my prayers were answered. I flew into Salt Lake late Monday night, right after being proposed to (I could not stop staring at my sparkly new ring the whole flight), and was met by my Mom and Dad. Tuesday we went wedding dress shopping, and my prayers were answered. I tried on 7-8 dresses at a bridal shop in Salt Lake, and then we decided to go to Provo, where the second dress that I tried on...was it! I found the perfect dress. It was so me, it fit perfectly, it is the perfect length for my height, and no alterations are needed at all! Done. It meant the rest of my time, I got to enjoy with family. I got to go running with one of my favorite running partners again, my Dad. I got to see lots of family and relatives that I have not seen in a long time. I got to have a sleepover with Andrew and Leigh in their motel room. I laughed and smiled a lot, and I shed tears for my Nana and the void that filled my heart knowing she was gone from me. I am grateful to know she is no longer suffering and that she is happy and peaceful and with my Papa again. It was interesting to be at the viewings and the funeral, and yet have people so happy and excited for me and my engagement and upcoming wedding. I know my Nana would have been so excited for me if I could have seen her.
Here I am with my nieces, Aimee and Caitlyn
And here we are again, being less silly. I love being an auntie!
Here are my sisters-in-law, Leigh (married to Andrew) and Stacey (married to Alex). All of our birthdays are within a 13 month period, so we are quite close in age. I love you, ladies, and it is always so good to see you!
Here is Alex and baby Jan...and yes, I did tie my scarf around her so she looks like a little sumo baby. Hehe.
After the viewing on Tuesday night, my Dad, Mom, Leigh, Andrew, and I went out for some yummy frozen yogurt.
I first insisted on sitting at this little table, just me, and just my size! Haha. I did join everyone at the big kid table to eat frozen yogurt, I promise.
My fiancee, Brian, and his family sent some flowers for my Nana's funeral, which was so thoughtful. They had chosen birds of paradise; my Nana's favorite flowers were birds of paradise and similar tropical flowers. What a tender mercy. I will miss my Nana, but I know she is happy!


So I spent about 2 weeks back in Boston, being Relief Society president, and wrapping things up with school and my Master's degree. I did lots of errands, I got my apartment contract sold, and tried to work out moving to Houston details. I also started wedding plans. My mom and I decided that I needed a wedding dress shopping trip to Utah, since that is the only place to really find modest wedding gowns these days. I left Boston on Monday, January 18th, with a bad winter storm delaying things a bit, headed to Salt Lake. I was supposed to have a several hour layover in Houston before going on to Salt Lake that night. Of course, Brian and I had decided to meet up and do dinner or something. After talking to Brian the night before I left, I thought something was up...and I was right! He proposed during the time for my layover in Houston and I am officially engaged with the ring to show it!!! I am excited to be getting married, and to get to be Mrs. Brown soon!Here is the ring! It is just what I like, Brian did well! He met me at the airport, all dressed up, and waiting for me with a rose. Then he walked me outside and we got in a limo...what a romantic-love him! Then on the limo ride, he got down on one knee, said some really wonderful, adorable things, and asked me to marry him...I said, "Of course! Yes!" It was perfect...the proposal, the ring, being with him. He hadn't told me where we were going, but he took me to a yummy restaurant in Kingwood called Raffa's.
Here is the happy engaged couple! Dinner was perfect, and then we had just enough time for Brian to drive me back to the airport for my connection to Salt Lake. I love you, Brian!

One Amazing Week in Houston, TX

Oh, man...where do I even start?!?!? Amidst finishing a Master's degree, being called as Relief Society President in my single's ward in Boston, and spending time with my family all over the place, things continued to go well with Brian. Let's be honest, they continued to go really well, really quickly. I just couldn't get enough of him, and I took his time however I could-emailing, phone calls, texting, and visiting him. After spending a week with my whole family in St. George, Utah, I flew back to Houston with James and Ruth and their kids. I got to spend a whole week in Houston, which meant time with the nieces and nephew, time with Brian's family, and time for just Brian and I. We basically spent most of everyday together. There was lots of fun to be had-games, movies, great food, date nights, a temple outing, and wonderful conversations. Basically, my time in Houston went from just wanting to spend all of my time with Brian and getting to know him realizing that we wanted to get married! It was one of the best weeks of my life! Here are Brian and I on my last day in Houston before heading home to Boston.
My husband to be and me!
We did a date night with James and Ruth, we did dinner at Red Robin and then played games and bowled at Dave and Buster's. We played 2 games...but you should really check out the score board for the first game's results...yep, Teena Weena (me) totally won! It was amazing, I kept getting strikes and spares, so not like me. I decided it must have been my lucky night. I guess Brian and I had talked about getting married earlier that day, and I must have been floating on Cloud 9 and been the happiest girl around!!! The second game, I am pretty sure I lost...which is more like me for bowling.
Ruth and I at Dave and Buster's
James and Ruth at Dave and Buster's-I felt so grown-up being on a double date with my big brother and my sister-in-law. I know I am 26, but I just think of myself as a kid most of the time and as the little sister.
Brian watching me do some driving game-that I was horrible at...and I think he is slowly learning in real life that I am definitely a woman, which might just mean a not so good driver ;)
I found this virtual jump roping game, and loved it. I think Ruth was more addicted than I was...and then James won the most tickets at this one-go James!
James and Brian being manly men and playing some shooting/killing game.
Here I am with all of my favorite Texas nieces and nephew, we are all in the picture, look closely. We went to see the Princess and the Frog with my family, and the kids all wanted to hold my hand or Brian's-it was cute. We also saw another movie out with Brian's family-Sherlock Holmes.

The week was lots of fun. We went to the temple together for the first time in Houston, and it was an awesome experience. Then we got to go out to lunch after the session with Brian's parents, who work at the temple. We had a fun date night in the Woodlands.

I am not going to give you all the details...but I had an awesome week, I knew I wanted to marry Brian, and all of our conversations were so timely. We went and looked at engagement rings on Saturday before Brian put me on the plane back to Boston.

Brian and I seem to say goodbyes too often...hello and goodbye, hello and goodbye, over and over. The goal was that I would go get things done and wrapped up in Boston, as quickly as possible, and get back to Houston as soon as I could.


Still wishing my Mom was closer with all of the wedding preparation...