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The Engagement

I wish I could tell you that the next few months brought nothing but joyful bliss and great times, but I can't. While we were very much in love and enjoying thinking about and planning our wedding, for me it was also extremely draining. It's not fair. I wanted to be giddy with excitement everyday. Unlikely though. There were far too many days of limited energy, cold or flu-like symptoms, fatigue, and outright pain. Life with mental illness was slowing me down, but I am a fighter.

The next two months were filled with spending time together while with our children, family and friends. It was nice seeing Robert interact in different settings, with different people. Through it all he remained consistently true, what you see is what you get with him. There were no hidden agendas, no putting on airs. He was the real deal. I was happy, we were happy.

"patience, consideration, stability"


As mentioned in a previous blog post, Robert and I were both married before. Still, we both believe that a successful marriage doesn't just start at "I do". It begins with a duration of time spent getting to know the other person, making a thorough examination that would help us as a couple determine how well we were suited for each other. This courtship would serve as a primer, a time for Robert and I both to search our heart and know exactly what our emotional needs are and how best we would be able to fulfill them. Certain qualities needed to be ascertained: patience, consideration, and stability. We also took time to communicate freely about our values and goals, as well as the needs of our children.

Everything was moving along quite well. Robert and I were definitely compatible and were looking forward to spending eternity together. Hey, I wonder when he's gonna Pop the Question? To my surprise I received a phone call telling me that our rings were payed off and ready to be picked up. Wow, and Yay! Because Robert was at work in Virginia, I went to pick up our rings. Robert gave me specific instructions: "Baby, do not put the ring on your finger, that's my job". I picked up the rings, they were glistening so brilliantly, and headed home. Robert asked me to bring my mother to D.C. with me. So Mom and I headed down I-95 on my way to see Robert. It was a cloudy day. I normally don't do well when the sun isn't shining.

Beautiful lake side facing mountains

"it was PERFECT"


Robert and I went to a special park that he had picked out. We both enjoy serenity in nature. We trekked through a short woody path until we came to the water's edge. It was there that Robert proposed to me. The specific moment he asked me to marry him, the misty rain stopped and the thick clouds gave way for a small ray of sunlight to shine on us. I said "Yes". It was PERFECT.

Our love was finally sealed with a vow to wed and this beautiful ring. I couldn't wait to show it off to family and friends. There was so much to do. We had a wedding to arrange, dresses to pick out and would Robert wear a tuxedo or suit? Where would we get married? Who would we invite? Big or small wedding? Oh my, there were a lot of questions to answer and decisions to be made. Would all our friends still support us now, now that it was official?...


⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: Where was your engagement? Who was there with you? Let us know in the comments.


The ring of truth

I wasn't sure where to look for rings. We went to the more well-known places, the fancy mall stores. While their selection was beautiful, we wanted the memory of this occasion to be unique, to fit our style. This was an important event for us. For certain I wanted the ring and the entire experience to be special and meaningful. Robert wanted me to have a significant ring. He said he wanted people to look at my ring and immediately understand how much he loves me. I concur.

"there was something splendid about this place"


We drove straight to Baltimore Street right in the heart of downtown Baltimore. There we stumbled on Samuelson's Diamonds & Estate Buyers. I was apprehensive until Robert said, "Let's go, we may just go in there and find a ring". He was right. As soon as we walked in I knew there was something splendid about this little place. They had a wonderful selection. Beautiful displays and perfectly positioned lighting had every piece of jewelry sparkling. Where to begin? I've always loved baguette diamonds. The brilliance of princess cut diamonds mesmerize me. Only white gold for me. If I could just find that combination. Imagine my surprise when I walked over to the counter and my ring jumped out at me and onto my finger!


Samuelson's Diamonds in Baltimore, MD




It was a 3-tiered baguette diamond ring. Next, we took our time selecting a loose diamond to compliment the ring setting. We looked, compared cut, color, clarity and carat and talked amongst ourselves. Finally we were brought a diamond from in the back. It was a knockout punch, GIA certified fabulous rock. Perfect!

"see you soon"


Next we found matching baguette diamond wedding bands. Robert's ring was already sized and a perfect fit for him. I couldn't believe how incredibly easy and pleasant the entire experience was. After putting a downpayment on our rings, I said "see you soon" knowing the next time I saw those rings would be when Robert proposes to me and on our wedding day. Hey, when is he going to propose to me?...


⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: What was your experience and where did you go to pick out your engagement ring or wedding bands? Let us know in the comments.


Moving too fast?

I remember waking up each day and taking a moment to reflect on the fact that I was actually in a real, grown up relationship with a mature, wonderful man. I would smile and almost want to pinch myself. Is this real? And then I would grab my cell phone and look at our text messages or look at how long our phone conversations were. Then reality set in. I was in love. 

The look of love was in our eyes
The look of love

This was going to be a great day, and I knew it - I could feel it in my bones. Things were progressing quite well with Robert and I. We were very communicative and would take the time to consult with each other before making decisions. The way that we interacted, how Robert treated me while listening to my concerns and feelings made it easy for me to want to trust him. And I did. 

"the next level"


We also shared a mutual respect that continued to grow with each day. Our core values were the same. We both had strong faith, and believed in maintaining our integrity. So it was natural for us to want to see our courtship through to the next level.

Perhaps some may feel we were moving too fast. Well, this was not our first rodeo. Robert and I were both married before. We each knew what we wanted, we were open and honest in our relationship thus far and we planned to keep it that way. So for us it was an easy decision to proceed in this direction.

"where would we end up"


It was Saturday, March 6, 2010. Of course I would remember the day. It was an unusually sunny, warm Spring day in Baltimore. I picked up my friend Brittany (who would remain instrumental in our lives) and the girls and I met Robert. As he drove I was listening to the girls talking to Brittany and I drifted away. I wondered about what the next steps would be. I thought about how Robert and I were doing and where would we end up... 


⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: What was it that made you know that you and your mate were headed to the next level? Let us know in the comments.

The mental complexity


I remember it was a Friday in March 2010. I got so used to seeing Robert everyday after work, that to not see him was torture. It had been 5 long days without seeing that smile. Since this beautiful love story began we were living on love, not eating properly and convinced our romance would sustain us through it all. When we weren't together it was awful. It drained me to where I was basically bedridden, completely exhausted. The worst part was that my mind would not shut off.

Puzzle with no picture and no instructions

"I wanted to forget all my health issues"

During this time period I really didn't take care of my depression like I should have. It was a guessing game, like a puzzle, but with no picture or diagram to direct you through. I literally felt like I was walking in the dark. There's that mental complexity of what you want to do versus what your body will allow you to do. Good stress, bad stress, it's all stress. That was disappointing to me, after all I was in love. I should be floating off euphoria, not pulling the covers over my head. My bed tried to replace Robert's warm and soothing ways. That was not good. That should not happen. I didn't know what to do since depression has no time frame. So I waited it out as usual. It eventually goes away and I can continue my life. But in the meantime, I wanted to forget all my health issues and just focus on Robert.

"it would prove to be the end of so many things" 

Those 5 long days felt like an eternity. But finally the wait was over. Robert came over for dinner and I was happy. When he came over that night, seeing I was exhausted, Robert helped me cook dinner. He's so sweet. We ate and he washed the dishes. I could get used to this. We decided to have the girls join us in putting a puzzle together and we ate ice cream afterwards. It was a lovely evening. I wish it didn't have to end. But all good things do, right? Well, no one could have prepared me for what was about to happen the next day. It would prove to be the end of so many things...


⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: What is your mental complexity and how does it affect you? Let us know in the comments.




He had a system

For a moment I forgot about everything else and just stood in the doorway watching Robert. I noticed that he had a system: He dug the shovel in the snow then swung the shovel backwards over his right shoulder. Then he dug the shovel in the snow and swung the shovel back over his shoulder. Over and over this continued. It was systematic and well thought out.

I thought to myself, 'he must know I'm watching, he won't be able to keep that momentum up'. Was I wrong! Robert was out there a good 35 mins and never broke his stride. I was impressed. That was the moment I said to myself, 'I'm gonna marry him'.

"Dad-approved"


Dinner was great. Our kids hit it off and my parents got the opportunity to meet Robert. Little did I know someone else was watching. Apparently Dad was upstairs looking out their bedroom window and observed Robert outside. He came downstairs, found me in the doorway and said, "Man, do you see how that guy is shoveling that snow?" The biggest smile spread across my face. Robert just became Dad-approved. I was proud.

After that Robert and I truly spent every available time together talking and laughing, shopping and running errands.

Couple grocery shopping together


"everything was good...or so I thought"


Our kids gelled. Everything was good. I had a few days where I was completely exhausted, my depression sticks to me like glue. But I was in love and love conquers all. Besides, all I needed was a little rest and to see Robert's smile and I would be fine, or so I thought...


⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: What was it that impressed you about your mate? Let us know in the comments.

Our first date


Knocking on the door



Talk about intimidating! Like I said, of course I was grown and could decide who I wanted to be in a relationship with. But still, telling my parents this bit of news was a little uncomfortable. Would they be supportive? Would they like him? I hope so. It would be nice to have their approval.


As usual, Dad was taking care of Mom. There was no time for small talk, really. It basically went like this:

Me 
Hey Dad, ... so I'm about to go cook dinner and will be having a few people over.

Dad 
Ok, sound good, no problem. Don't worry about us.

Me
Well, I will need you to come down so I can introduce you to someone. His name is Robert. He's on his way with his 2 kids and should be here in about an hour and ...

Dad
(To my surprise): Oh, that's the person you been talking to all hours of the night. Every time I wake up to use the bathroom I hear you laughing and talking on the phone.

Well, alrighty then. Now the race began: What was I gonna cook? What are the girls gonna wear? I had to do my hair. What was I gonna wear? He's actually coming! Our first date!




"the important thing was to show him who I am,
who he was in a relationship with" 

I took a step back and thought about it. The important thing was to show him who I am, who he was in a relationship with. No frills, just me. I did a simple hairstyle, dressed comfortably and started dinner. Since four teenagers were involved dinner needed to be simple yet tasty. I planned to cook a huge pan of pasta with meat sauce, corn with broccoli, and biscuits.

"I wondered if he really knew how much work he was in for"

The doorbell rang and I froze for a second. Robert got here faster than I planned. Dinner wasn't ready, Oh no! I opened the door and there they were. His smile immediately calmed me. I could not believe he came. Our kids entertained themselves in the basement while I finished cooking. Robert immediately got the shovel and went back outside. I stood behind the screen door and watched him. I wondered if he really knew how much work he was in for...

⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: Where was your first date? Let us know in the comments.

Snowmageddon 2010 Part 2

The parents are relaxing, the girls are watching their movies, and I am on the phone with Robert. So far this has been a wonderful snow event. White fluffs falling on a quiet city is so calming that even the dogs and birds are silent. There are minimal sirens responding to emergencies. It's just a perfect winter storm.

"I...didn't give it another thought"

In conversation I casually mentioned to Robert that my car was completely buried under snow. Only a thin antenna identified the white mound as an automobile. I figured once the snow subsides the girls and I would take our time and eventually unveil my Camry. Before I could say that, Robert said he would come to shovel out my car. That is so sweet for him to offer. Honestly, I didn't believe he would actually drive all the way from Washington, D.C. just to shovel thick heavy snow off my car. So I told him, "well, if you come I will cook you a nice dinner". We hung up the phone and I went to bed and didn't give it another thought.

Sweet Potato Starch Noodles in Vegetables and Meat Sauce








It was Friday, February 12, 2010, and people were starting to clean off their porches and sidewalks. Main roads and highways were clearing nicely.  Road crews were working hard to clear side streets. Somewhere around 3pm Robert calls and tells me that he and his kids were on I-95 and should be to my house in about one and a half hours depending on the road conditions. I was giddy with excitement and then asked, "why?". He said, "I'm coming to shovel the snow from your car". My eyes opened so big. What? He's really coming. Oh, no. I gotta cook and tidy up. Instant minor panic attack ensued but I managed to compose myself. This won't be as difficult as I think. After all, I love to cook and entertain.


"so I knocked on my parent's door"

It's not just the cooking and tidying up, I failed to mention one small minute detail: I had not told my parents that I was seeing someone. Of course, I was grown, but out of respect for them and their home I felt this was the proper thing to do. So I knocked on my parent's door...


⇒Hello Reader, we're curious: What's your go-to menu item? Let us know in the comments.

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