Saturday, May 19, 2007

I only have eyes for you

Well, folks... Some of you may have known this was coming... but... (fanfare, please) Stephen and I are engaged! Crazy, I know... but good crazy. : )

So here's the story of how it went down:

I got to Jacksonville around 7:45 and Stephen had mentioned going to the beach. I was hungry but he said there were cute restaurants at the beach so we could go and get food there. I agreed and we headed out. We took this picture first because Stephen said I looked cute. : )

When we got to the beach, Stephen wanted to go to the beach first "before the daylight was gone" and I said okay... although I was thinking "but, what about dinner? I'm hungry?!" He took along a guitar and the djembe drum I gave him from Uganda because he said he wanted to have a singalong and I was okay... but I was thinking "but, what about dinner? I'M HUNGRY?!?" hehe.

So, when we got to the beach, it was pretty cold, but Stephen in his preparedness had sweaters. It was fun! Then as we were walking along, I was thinking "where are we going? why can't we just stop here???" but I kept going and then we happened along this lovely scene. I wasn't sure it was for us (cause Stephen didn't say anything and just stood there looking goofy!) until I saw the heart in the sand with the L and the S in it. Inside the picnic basket were a ton of foods that Stephen knew I liked, like a Green Goodness smoothie, pita and hummus, bruschetta, Gruyere cheese, etc... It was so fun and so tasty!

Towards the end of dinner, I decided to try and tie a Cherry stem in a knot in my mouth (I used to be able do it easily) and Stephen was cracking on me that it was taking me so long... I was so certain I could do it eventually, that I made him promise he would give me a present when I accomplished my silly feat. So after dinner, he got out his guitar and sang me a song and tried to pass that off as his present... and then he was like "no, no... I have another present for you" and he made this big production and took out a box. I was pretty keyed up, until he shook the box and it rattled. And in my head I was thinking, "WHAT?!?!?!?!" Then he made this big production of opening it to reveal: a pair of my earrings that I had left at my parent's house a few weeks ago. Needless to say I was a bit letdown. We make a lot of jokes about re-gifting (especially things like when Stephen leaves his toothpaste at my house and tells me it was a present) but this was too much! You can totally tell in the picture that I was less than impressed, but trying to be nice about it. Hahaha.

Then after a few minutes, he got kinda quiet and then told me he had one more present for me. At this point, I started to catch on. : ) He stood me up, and knelt down and told me he loved me and asked if I would be his wife. And I said yes. Actually, I think my words were "you know I will!" Hehehe. Hooray! I was relieved that my earrings were just a fake and that we were getting engaged. After I said yes, he put the ring on my finger and it fit just perfectly!

So, here are some pictures of the ring. It was hard to get ones that came out clear... I don't really know why, but these ones are the best of what we have right now. It's a beautiful ring, Stephen did a great job!

In addition to the center stone there are little diamonds in the top of the band as well as on the sides. I tell you what, for a low-key kinda girl, I am blinged OUT! : D
But more importantly, I am going to marry an awesome man. God is pretty good. I'll keep yall updated as we get more planning stuff decided. But I wanted to share the news with my dot.comrades. (as awesome as I think that term is, I can't take credit... I got it from TLC and she got it from one of her friends...) Anyways, thanks for celebrating with us!

Monday, May 14, 2007

the best day

Stephen came to visit me this past weekend and we had the most fun day on Saturday! After a awesomeness-trifecta of a morning filled with Frisbee, taco bell, and chillin by the pool, we headed on down to Tampa for an adventure! We decided it would be an adventure because we didn't really have plans, and let me tell you it was just about the most fun adventure I've had! Good times with a great man! : )

Here is our before shot, taken in the car as we head off to see what we can find. Yay!

Our final destination was Raymond James Stadium (for reasons that will be explained later) and we needed to get food. So, after a bit of searching, we ended up here. Now, for those of you who may not be aware, Sweet Bay supermarkets are the re-vamped, better-looking version of what was formerly Kash-n-Karry. Neither of us had ever been in a Sweet Bay, so it fit with our adventure-themed evening...

The supermarket was actually quite fun, and we enjoyed picking out all kinds of tasty treats. We meant to have a picnic somewhere en route to the stadium, but because of traffic, we went straight to the stadium and had an AWESOME tailgate party in the back of my car. CAR PICNIC!

Our adventure took a turn towards the crazy when we realized we forgot to get a corkscrew! good thing my boyfriend can open wine bottles with his teeth! Hahahaha. Actually, it was good that cork was one of those plastic ones or I'm sure we would've have a bottle full of cork pieces!

Stephen worked on the bottle with a car key, his teeth (see above) and the screw for the front tire of my bicycle that happened to be in my car. It took some time, and a bit of sticktoitiveness, but with only a few chips in the bottle...

Stephen did it!!! He opened a wine bottle without a corkscrew. I was impressed, and it was definitely an adventure! Woo hoo!

Then we partook of our feast. And we were very refined. OH yes.

More refined elegance, right here. Cleopatra-style. : )

Then we went into the stadium to enjoy the lovely sounds of the Florida Orchestra and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay (the choir I sing with). They were performing at a private event in the Stadium for the friends and family of the Raymond James financial group. Because of my affiliation with the choir, we were able to get in free!

We sat on the grass in the very front and it was fun! Although we have been having a lot of trouble with smoke these days (because of all the fires) it wasn't too smelly and the temperature actually cooled off really nicely. Here is a look at everyone behind us, so you won't think this is someone's backyard. With a really nice lawn.

Yeah, we're cute and we know it. Hehehehe. We had a really nice time!

Here is a look at the pretty jumbotron... ooooooh....

After it got dark, we looked up at the stars and saw... well, not much. Because of the smoke and smog, there weren't really any visible stars... except this one. Stephen was pretty sure it was a planet and not even a star, but I chose to call it a star so we could joke about our adventure as we traveled to the Symphony Under the StaR.

I don't know what got us started doing this, but on our way out of the stadium we decided to have a "see how long you can walk with your water bottle on your head" competition. Needless to say, I employed my African skillz and won easily. Hahaha. The fun part was that all the people walking and driving by thought it was really funny and were cheering us on and laughing and honking their horns trying to make us drop the bottles. Seriously funny.

All in all, it was a spectacular day. I am one lucky woman, fo sho!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

i'm not dead

So, the title for this post definitely refers to my little friend here. I saw this gator for the first time Sunday as he was floating near the shore of our lake as I walked to the pool. Then, this morning I noticed on my way to work that he had climbed on the old fountain base that the birds usually hang out on- and to my surprise he was still there when I came home! Good thing reptiles don't get sunburned! Special thanks goes to TLC for making me go and take a picture of him... he's about 4 feet long and I was actually kinda worried he might have died or something because he had been there all day, but about 90 minutes after I took this photo, I passed by again and he was gone. Since I took all the time to post this, I'm including some other fun pictures as well!

My sweet Stephen brought me flowers when he came to collect me at the airport upon my return from Uganda. They are the first flowers he has given me, and they are STILL alive more than one week later. Yay. : )

This past weekend, Stephen and I had dinner with my life-long friend Sam, and her husband Chris and daughter Emily. Good times. Seriously, this chick is the cutest. kid. ever. (Emily, not me! hehehe.)

And if I do say so... Seriously, this fella is the cutest. man. ever. (I think it's really funny that Emily, even at the tender age of two, is distracted by a good sale.) Hahahaha.

Okay, well I hope you are all well! And just in case you are wondering, Mr. Gator would like to let everyone know: "I'm not dead." (and I must add, he only says that to lure you over so he can bite your pinkie off later... so watch out!)

Friday, May 4, 2007

true colors

Okay, so these pictures aren't necessarily representative of everything we did, and they definitely aren't the last you'll see. But, these are the photos that I was especially proud of from a photographic standpoint... or at least I thought they were interesting... or I just liked to look at them- hey, there's a monkey! Now, I don't claim to be a photography genius- heck, I didn't even get to take the class in college like my sister did!- but I do like to take pictures. And occasionally I find few I really like. I think these are not only good photos, but also capture Uganda and our experiences in a true light. Enjoy!

TLC likes it when I put the captions on top, so here I go:

Cool dead tree. Pretty blue sky.

Our second night in town we lost power. Normally this is not so bad, except that we had lost water earlier that day. So this lovely picture is in tribute to my new best friend: the gas lantern. We used them (and a few candles) to provide light as we took bucket baths and washed each other's hair in said bucket. Good times.

Pretty sunrise. I took this picture out of our bedroom window. I think these colors lasted maybe 5 minutes. When I looked back again, it was like it had never been there at all. So, I was really glad to have capture it on film... er, microchip.

This is a jackfruit tree. Yes, it really grows like that. No, I don't think it knows how ridiculous it looks. It is too busy being chased by Ugandans everywhere who are seriously devoted to eating its supersweet fruit. PS- the jackfruit in this picture was at least as long as my forearm.

When we arrived in Jinja to visit Auntie Holly, we noticed immediately how quiet it was compared to Kampala and her suburbs. We did a lot of walking... mainly cause there was no one else around to transport us.

Except when we found boda-bodas (motorcycle or bicycle taxis). It was difficult to find enough boda-bodas for 5 of us though! Here Jamie is demonstrating how to ride- see how happy she looks! Can you imagine this was only her first time! By the look on her face, you can be sure it was not her last. : )

I think the best way to enjoy the wonderful day is on the back of a boda. Please keep in mind I took these pictures while riding on the back of one myself. I love riding on them because it is the only time you have air conditioning when you are in Uganda! Ugandan ladies (who almost always wear skirts) ride side-saddle (see Holly below for perfect Muganda imitation). Actually, Holly is probably now more Muganda than she is Muzungu (white person).

This is us (well, not me but everyone else) at Bujagali Falls. I know, I know... you want to see the falls. But I took this picture with my new incognito method (I turned off the sound and flash and I just hold it nonchalantly and take pictures while no one is paying attention!) and it came out cool! And yes, Jamie is from Canada.

Here are my toes and the blazing sun in the Nile.

Beautiful hibiscus. I so like flowers.

Okay, so this picture is nothing special to look at EXCEPT that it proves we saw a monkey. Do you see him???

Noah at the Amani baby cottage in Jinja (where Holly now works).

Viani is just the latest in a long line of victims of my new incognito picture-taking method!

Yes, but we all have red feet.

Okay, so her aim is not the best... but that's really not a bad throw for a little girl who has probably never thrown a Frisbee before. We enjoyed our playtime with the newest African Children's Choir- #30!!! They just began training the day before we came home.

I think this little girl's name is Enid. She was super cute and affectionate. I tell you what, the are few things better than a cute kid holding your hand.

The END! I hope you enjoyed my somewhat random and somewhat not photojournal. I will post more pictures later... but I hope this will hold you who have been waiting over until I get some more time. Now, I am off to Deland to hang with family and celebrate Stephen's graduation! Woo hoo!!!