Saturday, April 25, 2015

Happily Ever Heckmann- The Proposal


Anyone who knows my now fiance, Jon, knows that he has a sense of humor and likes to tease me a little bit- it's a good thing I can handle it since I'll now be putting up with him for the rest of my life!
; )

We'd been talking about marriage for a few months and recently completed our church's premarital ministry class (which we cannot recommend enough- Merge), but I was not sure when Jon would propose. He liked to joke that it would be at least five years before he proposed, that he was going to buy his dream bass boat first, or, in all seriousness, that we wouldn't get engaged until he was close to finishing his MBA program in December.

We went on a weekend getaway to Fort Worth a few weeks ago and decided to come back when the weather was a little warmer, so I didn't think too much of it when Jon said we should go back the Saturday after Easter- April 11.

The day started out with a 1st birthday party for our friends' precious son. Our friends knew all along that the proposal was happening, but played along innocently asking about our plans for the rest of the day.

After the birthday party, we went to Grapevine and walked around the grounds of the Gaylord Texan Hotel and enjoyed lunch in downtown Grapevine, browsing through the shops and booths at a festival. We then headed to Fort Worth, which is such a special place for me because I went to college there, and explored the Stockyards before venturing to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.  We walked through the gardens enjoying the springtime blooms and watching the preparations for a wedding, as I took pictures of the flowers not knowing what was about to happen!

We walked to the Japanese Water Garden and fed the colorful coy fish. While I fed the fish, Jon "went to go get more fish food", getting the ring ready in his pocket. He'd been carrying it around in a satchel in his pocket all day and kept walking away from me (I noticed nothing) to make sure it hadn't fallen out.

As we continued walking through the garden, Jon gestured toward a concrete circle area that overlooked the water, so we went up the stairs to see the view, and then down a few steps to a hidden area, underneath a tree by the water.  As I'm looking for fish, Jon starts asking me if I had fun on our date that day, and I answered, of course! He later said he'd begun to feel nervous as we walked to the garden, but it wasn't until this moment that I noticed he seemed nervous.

He asked if I had enjoyed dating for the past year and a half, and I started thinking "why is he asking this? are we breaking up?!" (kidding), and proceeded to ask me if I loved him, if I wanted to keep him around forever, to all of which I said, "of course!"  Then he said he had a question to ask me, and I realized what was happening.  My heart was pounding as he got down on one knee.

I tried to focus on what he was saying because you always hear brides say they can't remember what their groom asked them, but all I can recall is him saying how much he loves me, how our relationship has been better than he ever thought possible, using my full name and then asking me to marry him! I made sure to give a loud and clear YES.  In his nervousness, he tried to put the ring on my right hand (in his defense, facing me it was his left), but fortunately I made sure it went on the correct finger!

It was just the two of us together for that moment, and I wouldn't have had it any other way as he stood back up and we excitedly, shaking, shared our first kiss as an ENGAGED couple.  And, obviously, we had to take a selfie.

We found other garden-goers to take a few pictures of us and explored a bit more before Jon said we had to head to my parents' house to go to dinner with our families.  The whole drive back I asked him a million questions about how long he'd been planning this, how long he'd had the ring, when he talked to my parents, who all knew this was happening, etc.

Jon designed the ring himself, and it was perfect.  I told him I wanted it to be simple, classic, and elegant, and it's exactly that. And yes, I've been the bride-to-be that can't stop staring at her left hand!

We arrived at my parents' house and headed inside for me to find that the surprises were not over- our families and many close friends were waiting inside for a surprise engagement party!!

I didn't cry when Jon proposed, but I teared up seeing all of the smiling familiar faces there to celebrate with us as we prepare for this adventure called marriage.  We are beyond blessed with incredible family and friends who have encouraged us, prayed for us, and loved us well both as individuals and as a couple.  The engagement party was perfect and a total blur, but it was without a doubt one of the best nights of my life.

Turns out that my fiance is quite the planner and secret keeper! Jon is so thoughtful and made our engagement day feel like a dream.  God has blessed us beyond what we deserve by bringing us together, and I pray that we glorify Him through our marriage.

To all our family and friends- THANK YOU for being there for us in this season! We love you and cannot wait to spend our wedding day with you!

Here's to Happily Ever Heckmann!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fort Worth Weekend

Dating Jon for the past year and a half has been anything but boring. He keeps me on my toes with his quick wit and we always have fun together. As cliche as it sounds, he is my best friend.

With our jobs and activities during the week and his MBA program eating up much of his "free time," being intentional with quality time for each other has been crucial since the beginning of our relationship. We established Saturday night as "date night" from our early days of dating and have worked hard to protect that time.

In the premarital class we recently took through our church, one of the lessons was focused on relational intimacy and pursuing your significant other. (Side note- we loved the class, Merge, and can't recommend it enough for every couple before they get married! If you're engaged or seriously dating, check it out!)

In Merge and from many married couples, I've heard over and over the concept of dating your spouse.  Marriage is supposed to be FUN, not boring! : )

Both being creatures of habit, Jon and I can see how easy it is for us to fall into the simple "dinner date" routine. While we love this, we know we need to mix it up with new activities and creative dates together, and want to avoid getting stuck in a rut as we continue dating and prepare for marriage- and (someday) introduce kids into the mix!

Our Merge leaders suggested writing down as many date ideas as we could think of onto little pieces of paper and putting them in a water bottle.  Then, when planning a date (or being spontaneous!), pull out a piece of paper, and BOOM, date activity done!

We've decided to get started on this concept and have a sort of "bucket list" of date activities that we are adding to, and kicked off the first one with a trip to the other side of the Metroplex- Fort Worth!

Fort Worth, also known as Cowtown/Funkytown, has a special place in my heart because I went to TCU. I showed Jon all of my old stomping grounds- the empty lot where the little yellow house I lived in during senior year stood, the church I used to work at, favorite restaurants, and of course, all around the TCU campus.

Somehow the stadium was unlocked, so we waltzed on in and walked around the field. And while my Baylor Bear was a good sport for his full campus tour (I made him see all of my favorite places, including pushing me on the Jarvis swing), he insisted on doing the Baylor bear claw on MY field.

At least he made up for it by buying a TCU hat in the bookstore.  I have a feeling a Waco trip is in our near future...

We met up with friends for dinner at Joe T. Garcia's, a Fort Worth staple, for Tex-Mex and really good margaritas. A word to the wise- get there early, as it is always crazy crowded.  Worth it for the atmosphere though.

Following dinner, we headed downtown to Four Day Weekend, a comedy club, to see a late show.  It was improv comedy, really funny- especially because we were in the front row and sort of got involved in the show, and something we had not done together before!

The next day, before making our way back to Dallas, we went to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and walked around the Japanese Garden. It was so peaceful and pretty, and Jon especially enjoyed feeding the coy.  We want to go back in a couple of weeks and explore the Botanic Gardens- it was a little chilly and cloudy the day we were there.

We also didn't have a chance to explore the West 7th area or visit one of my favorite wine bars, Times Ten Cellars. All the more reason for a return trip soon!

What memorable date activities have you and your significant other enjoyed together? Help us fill up our water bottle!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

LA Getaway Girls' Weekend

Caroline, one of my best friends from high school who was also my roommate all throughout our time at TCU, moved out to Los Angeles 3.5 years ago, and we miss her terribly! I was long overdue to visit her, so when Jenna (our other roomie BFF from college) told me she booked a flight out to LA for a long weekend, I checked my calendar and booked one as well! And thus, an epic girls weekend filled with reunions was born.

Jenna and I arrived in LA Friday afternoon, checked out Caroline's super cute apartment (which has an incredible patio and view, by the way), and then headed out for a comedy show.  David, one of Jenna's closest friends from high school, had also flown out for the weekend to visit Michael, another childhood friend of theirs who lives in LA. We had bites and beverages with them before we were finally reunited with Care after she finished with work! The comedy show was hilarious (so inappropriate, but hilarious). It's incredible the amount of talent there is out in LA, and pretty neat that you can find many forms of entertainment daily.

We enjoyed a leisure Saturday morning on the patio (I would be out there everyday if I had such a patio and warm weather almost year-round) before walking to THE BEACH. Also known as my happy place. And with two of my best friends! It was gorgeous, refreshing, and so peaceful.

I also decided it was a good idea to go swimming in the freezing cold Pacific Ocean. Cold as it was, it's almost impossible for miss an opportunity to get in the water when I'm by it. The beach (and waves!) are good for my soul.

Saturday night we got all dolled up and went out to the 3rd Street Promenade before meeting up with our long-lost friend, Alyssa.  She was Jenna's roommate our freshman year before moving back to California, and we had not seen her in eight years! Even after a long time, it was crazy how we were able to just catch right back up, and suddenly it felt like we were back in our dorm and 18 years old again. So glad we got to see you, Alyssa!

We enjoyed delicious brunch and mimosas on Sunday morning and took another leisurely stroll along the beach and in Caroline's neighborhood before picking up another long-lost friend, Sarah, from the airport.  Sarah went to TCU with us and moved out to LA for grad school, and we hadn't seen her in something ridiculous like three years! It was so special getting to catch up with her.  If only everyone lived closer!

Caroline had to go back to work Monday morning, so Jenna and I grabbed coffee and took a last stroll on the beach and decided to walk to the 3rd Street Promenade again... a little longer than we anticipated, but the weather was perfect and there was plenty to see! We had lunch with David and Michael before heading back home to Dallas.

We couldn't have asked for better weather or better company for the weekend. My favorite part was just sitting down with Care and Jenna and catching up on everything.  Living together throughout college, we truly saw each other's best and worst moments and have cheered each other on through achievements and disappointments as we've found our places in this "real world." With them, I feel fully known and fully loved, and I am so grateful for their friendship.

Thank you for a fabulous visit to the City of Angels, Caroline! Now come back to Texas soon, please!

Monday, February 23, 2015

San Fran with My Man

Jon and I traveled to San Francisco, California, last weekend to celebrate his aunt's life. 
Even though I never had the opportunity to meet Aunt Phyllis, hearing anecdotes from her family about her sense of humor, passions for cooking, gardening, and reading, and always providing a "safe haven" in her home for her daughters' many friends gave me a great understanding of the special lady she was, and I'm grateful to have been there. 

Her family put together such a sweet tribute and the whole day was very meaningful. It was great to spend time with Jon's extended family that I had heard so much about, too, and I hope I get to see them again very soon.

Aunt Phyllis' husband and daughters brought many of her favorite books to her memorial and encouraged everyone to choose a book to take with them. Having a love for books myself, I chose a mystery to begin reading on the plane ride home- such a unique way for her memory to live on.  

We made the most of our free time in San Fran, working our way from Sausalito all the way down to Carmel! San Francisco is very crowded and there was so.much.traffic everywhere we went, but the weather was perfect and I loved sightseeing and exploring a new city with my man.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is now checked off my bucket list, and we enjoyed a delicious and romantic Valentine's Day sushi dinner in Sausalito. 

Everyone else took advantage of the gorgeous weather the day we drove to Monterey and explored the aquarium... children everywhere! But we loved the sea otters and sea lions. : )

We had forgotten about the Pebble Beach golf tournament and 17 Mile Drive was closed to tourist traffic, but fortunately Jon is good with navigation and managed to get us to a beach in Carmel anyway. 

Driving along the coast with the sun shining over the beach, windows down with cool sea breeze and the sound of waves crashing holding hands with my favorite person... perfection.

You already know the beach is my happy place, and Carmel's views did not disappoint. I'd like to go back already. 

They aren't kidding about the hills in San Francisco, and Jon and I found ourselves giggling as we drove up steep grade hills near downtown, not really being able to see if there was more road in front of us- very different than being in flat Texas in his truck!

At lunch on our last day, Jon ordered queso, and when they brought this out, Jon had no idea what it was.  I couldn't stop laughing and finally explained to him that this was the California version of queso, or "fundido," to which he said, "I'm ready to go home now."

So, back to the land of "real" queso and frozen margaritas we went. There really is no place like home. Though if someone can figure out how to bring a beach to Dallas, I'd love you forever... seriously.