Saturday, November 14, 2009

Our Love Story

It is almost Joe and I's 3 year wedding anniversary. This year, there is a very good chance that we will be in the hospital. Celebrating Emma Grace's arrival. But I wanted to share our story with you.

My husband and I have dated since we were teenagers. Joe was a freshman in high school, I was in 8th grade. I noticed him one day waiting around for his brother. He was sitting with his cousin. On the half wall, that was just outside our school. My primas and I were on our way to our school bus. He and his cousin sat and waited. For weeks, I would hope to just catch a glance of him, on my way to the bus. But I was sure he never saw me.

Then we had a local concert in the "Big Park." It was the place where everything happened in our town. My primas and I were in line to buy a Coke and nachos. We were just enjoying the local music and having fun. Joe and I literally ran into each other. I turned around with my nachos and Coke, and Joe was instantly covered!!! Orange cheese and ice covered his white shirt.

He was a good sport about it. He laughed it off. I was mortified! So much so, that I could barely look at him. I managed to say sorry. And I went to sit with my parents. I was devastated!!! How in the world was I ever going to face him again? My parents wanted to know what was wrong with me. I just told them I wasn't feeling well. I made my primas promise to not say a word. So I moped around.

Unfortunately for me, it was still early in the evening. My parents had planned to stay a few more hours. They wanted to dance. Their favorite band was the last to play. So I moped about. Never moving from my place. Then I heard that familiar voice. At the time, I had only heard Joe talk once or twice. But I just knew it was him...

He asked my dad if it was OK if we went for a walk around the park. This was the moment in my life, that I was so happy my dad was strict. He cleared his throat in that, threatening kind of way. And my mom poked him in the side. She gave him that look, the one that meant business. And my dad caved. "Sure son." WHAT?!?!?!

Joe helped me up from my permanent seat in the grass. As we walked away, I could hear my dad grumbling. And my mom assuring him that they could see us at all times. Joe walked, and I walked slowly. I was shy and embarrassed. What was I supposed to do? Or say? He slowed his walking to match mine. Then I slowed mine again. It took us 15 minutes to get to the other side of the park. It was ridiculous!

Now that I think about it, it makes me laugh. But Joe was persistent. I have to give him that. When we were on the opposite end of the park, from my parents, Joe stopped. We crossed the street, and sat on the steps. You see, our park is in the middle of our town. All around it, are businesses and an old hotel. We sat there and he started talking. Trying desperately to get me to look at him. But I stared at the hem of my shorts instead. I played with this string that was on the bottom. Finally, he laughed. Just hysterically! And I looked at him. I was in shock! What was wrong with this guy?

Before I knew it, I was laughing too. He got me to relax. And we sat there talking. Eventually we were on the same step. Just watching the fiesta in front of us. He told me how he had to go buy the t-shirt he had on. Because his shirt was covered in nachos. Then he had to beg the store owner to let him use the restroom in the store. He had to try and rinse off the Coke and change. To this day, that t-shirt is in my drawer! After all, it was the start of "us." And he had spent all of his money to buy it! :)

When the sun started to go down, we watched the sunset. By that time, we were holding hands. My first time ever to hold a boy's hand. But we watched as the sky turned bright orange. The sunsets in our state, are a sight to be seen! And as the darkness took over, Joe asked me to dance. It was the first time I had ever danced with a man, that was not my dad or grandpa. We crossed the street back to the park. And we danced. To Flor de Las Flores.

Joe had a good eye on my parents and his. Making sure that we were always on the opposite side of the gazebo dancing. It happened to be the last song. And at the end of the song, he bent down and kissed me. One of those sweet, and innocent kisses. But I swear, I felt the electricity shoot through me. And I was glad it was dark. For 2 reasons. No one would have seen us. And Joe wouldn't know that I was blushing!

He walked me back to where my parents had been sitting earlier. And he helped me get our things together. My parents were talking to some friends. Eventually they made it back over. And Joe carried all of our things to the truck. He asked my dad if it would be OK if he could call me sometime.

My dad was not thrilled. But he knew Joe came from a good family. A family with very similar values to our family. We also lived in different towns. Joe and I grew up in small towns in the northern part of our state. I lived more in the "city," but it is still very much a small town. A college town to be exact! Joe lived in a smaller community, and would come to school in our town.

We talked a few times a week. Joe always talked to my dad first. ALWAYS! I think my dad was probably lecturing him. When Joe would see me at school, he would always bring me something. A wild flower, a candy, or something he had made. Because he carves things out of wood. Before long, we were sitting next to each other at church. Convincing our families, to go eat at the same places, on Sundays. Stealing looks from across the room.

We dated. And continued to date through high school. My dad realizing that Joe was the one for me. And when Joe graduated, he decided to move to my hometown. He started college, and lived in a small apartment. I would go visit him. Attempt to make dinner. Which I always managed to burn! I think my dad was really starting to stress out. Wondering if I would make it out of town. Or if we would end up getting married and having kids right away.

At the beginning of my senior year, to my dad's relief, I applied to college. And was accepted to our state university in the southern part of the state. Oh, 5-6 hours away! I failed to tell him that Joe was also going to transfer out there at the end of the year. We had made that decision right before Christmas of my senior year.

My mom knew everything and didn't say a word. She is the one that went with me to orientation the summer before I started school. She helped me and Joe find a place to live. Joe had it all covered. His family is in the cattle business. So he was set. We had a budget and a plan. Joe decided that he would pay for all of our bills. My only job was to go to school. To grow into an adult.

The week before we were going to move, Joe came to my house. He and my dad went out and had a "man to man" talk. I still don't know what they talked about. But I do know, that my dad gave us his blessing. A week later, he was helping us move.

Joe and I lived together in a small house for a long while. In the middle of this large piece of property that Joe had bought. Again, in a small town. Near the larger town. Another college town. It is actually the 2nd largest city in our state. But it is still small. And we loved our little house. We added to our family, buying 2 dogs shortly after we had moved. But we loved our home. Soon Joe had built a barn. And we had animals. A nice yard. Our own home.

For years, we lived together. My dad always knew that Joe loved and respected me. Our families would come visit us. And we would go home when we could. It wasn't as often as we would have liked, but we would go. People always wanted to ask if we were engaged. Or ever planned to get married. But they would never ask us. Instead, they would ask my mom.

Then, on one trip home, my dad and Joe went out riding horses. Not out of the ordinary for them. Joe actually would help my dad out on a lot of projects. I was not worried when they were gone for hours. But when Joe and I went home the next day, I was shocked!

Lola had helped him out. But Joe had planned it. The entire house was lit with candles. Rose petals were everywhere too! That is the night Joe asked me to marry him. He got down on one knee and asked me, "to be his wife, the mother of his children, and his partner for life." I still remember it like it was yesterday. That was in 2003. And after I said yes, he told me that my dad had given us his blessing. I cried. Because I knew in that instant, he was my Prince Charming.

Our entire family rallied behind Joe and I. My primas were in love with my ring. And our entire hometown was excited about the wedding. We planned our wedding for nearly 3 years. Our entire family worked for all those years, on every detail. Nothing was left undone.

In the end, because of a family tragedy, we got married during a rather difficult time. But still on our original wedding date. It wasn't a big wedding. I actually wore a dress that I bought at Dillard's. It was supposed to have been what I would wear to our rehearsal. My original wedding dress just didn't seem appropriate. None of this seemed appropriate. But we got married in our church, in our hometown. With just our parents, siblings, grandparents and a handful of friends.

Then we planned. On our first anniversary, we would have the big wedding. It seemed more appropriate to wait. Our family would have healed somewhat. Emotions wouldn't be so raw. We had been married by the church already. But we hadn't had the big wedding, the huge dress, and the big party. The big celebration that a wedding was supposed to be. That time to celebrate. It just hadn't happened that way for us.

That Christmas, my dad asked if we were ever going to have kids. He was ready to be a grandpa. We had been married for a few weeks. But he thought we should start a family. After all, by this time, Joe and I had been together for about 13 years. Joe and I just laughed. But we knew we wanted to start a family soon. We figured sometime after our first anniversary. After the big wedding, we would start trying.

Joe and I have always wanted kids. We have wanted kids since we could remember. When we were in high school, we would sit and talk about kids. What we would name them. How many we wanted. Who they would look like. Family has always been important to us. But we had just wanted to have a completely solid marriage before we had kids. We wanted to have a solid foundation for our family. With a solid income and careers. I knew that I wanted to stay home when I became a mom. And Joe knew he wanted to help expand his family's ranching business. That's what we focused on.

And a little over 6 months, after my dad telling us he was ready for grandkids, we made the trip up north. To tell our parents the great news! They were going to be grandparents! It wasn't planned. But we were excited! Joe and I had been married for about 7 months. We were just back from our honeymoon. No big wedding after all. My dress, is still in my Hope Chest. I actually got it professionally cleaned and stored after Eva was born. Something tells me, we will never have that big wedding. Instead, we welcomed Eva into our family in early 2008.

Joe and I were so excited! I always knew I wanted a little girl. I wanted to dress her up in ruffles and lace. To play dolls, and bake cookies with. But I never realized just how much my husband wanted a little girl. Eva just made us into a family. Life just blossomed around her. The smallest of things, would make me so excited! Because I was seeing them through her eyes. Experiencing life for the first time through her experiences.

All of a sudden, it didn't matter if I couldn't cook. If I burned dinner 5 nights a week. Or if the house wasn't perfectly clean. It didn't matter if I missed out on a MAC collection. Or if I wore 2 different socks. Joe, Eva, and I were a family. The same family that Joe and I had talked about on his prom night.

Then just 2 months after Eva's first birthday, we found out about Emma. I was a little worried. How would Eva adjust? Heck, I am still slightly worried. But we were so excited to be expanding our family. I am positive the Eva is going to be a great big sister. She is so gentle. And is always talking to my belly.

Joe and I want 3-4 kids. If it were up to Joe, we would have nothing but girls! That was a little surprising to me. But we are just so happy. Our story started with a chance. That school yard crush. And the nacho and Coke accident. We have had bumps along the way. And I am sure we will endure more hard times. But it is the love that is between Joe and I, that will get us through it all. As long as we love and respect each other, we will be a happy couple. A happy family. ♥Anna Marie♥

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