Engaged – Vegas Style

I know the title doesn’t sound quite right, as most people go to Vegas to get married, or end up getting married on a whim while they’re there.  Not us, nope, we just got engaged.  Here’s the story:

Kimberly and I have discussed getting married for a while.  That part is no surprise.  The timing of the engagement question and the traditional presenting of the ring was a complete surprise for her.  The real planning for this event started about 6 weeks ago.  I had very grandiose plans in mind for how to do this.  But, as is often the case reality sets in and you realize there is no way to get a King Kong Replica to climb Mt Everest with a banner that says, “Kimberly, will you marry me” as we fly by in a SR-71 Blackbird.  Soon, I hope to see this accomplished for some adoring couple, but in the meantime I used what I had to work with and made the best of it, I think.

Kimberly was going to be in Vegas anyway as the photographer for the always fabulous Flagship Financial Christmas Party thrown by Eric and Hailey Kandell.  So, Kimberly invited me to tag along and I decided to take advantage of the situation and plans went into motion.  My good friend Jen Coombs helped me find a ring that was sufficiently blingy without being too gaudy to provide to my future wife to represent our everlasting union together (note: hint of sarcasm, since I think rings are silly but wanted to get a nice one anyway ;-))  We were immediately successful, and I thought I got the right size – I didn’t – my stealth, spy skills were rusty and I saw the ring I used as measurement on the right finger on the wrong hand, so it turned out to be too big.  Nothing we can’t fix later.  I then proceeded to make sure MOST of the right people knew what was going on by showing them the ring and letting then know my intentions.  These people included my family, especially Griffin, all of Kimberly’s sisters, her brother, her parents, and her kids.  I missed some friends of hers that I really feel horrible about, and I don’t know how I could possibly have missed them.  All I can say is, my mind was occupied with the many details of this plan – forgive me, please.

Then, I had to find the appropriately romantic location in Vegas to pop the question.  I looked everywhere online, I asked everyone I knew with intimate Vegas knowledge and then I found Prime.  Seemingly the perfect location.  Great views of the Bellagio fountains, fancy, romantic setting, the whole 9-yards.  Then I got a solid recommendation from Chalyce Wilde and her brother Cam Wright, so I knew the food would be better than edible.  Now, about our location in the restaurant.  I was prepared to palm a $20 for the maître d to sit us in the best seat in the house, but happily and gratefully, I didn’t have to do that – I’m quite sure my suave, sophisticated, high-roller moves need a LOT of work, so I’m glad they didn’t have to be shown the light of day.  All I could think about was Ferris Bueller, as Abe Froman – sausage king of Chicago – trying to palm a $1 bill to the snooty maître d in “Ferris Bueller’s Day off” (link here)  And I didn’t have Sloane and Cameron to help me with any kind of clever rouse.  I didn’t have to employ my big spender skills because they gave us the most amazing seat in the house, bar none!  Seriously amazing, right on the water level with a full view of the fountains as they erupted into action choreographed to the Frank Sinatra songs we couldn’t hear in the restaurant (still amazing every time).  Best seat in the house for sure!  It was all very befitting our amazing clothes as well – we looked good.  We had to for a place like this – seriously amazing.  I convinced Kimberly that we needed to go to a really good restaurant and get really dressed up, you know for fun.  The girl is always trying to get me to wear a suit, and while this wasn’t a suit, it was about as close as I get.  So we were all decked out and ready to eat!

We were seated and once we got over the opulence of the scene, we started to peruse the menu.  First on the list – bacon-wrapped shrimp.  Yeah, it was as good as it sounds and the shrimp were huge, cold and fresh and the bacon was perfectly cooked – that’s all you need to know, really, until the end of the meal – the other food was as good as advertised and we were not disappointed with any of our choices.  As we finished our meal and started to contemplate dessert, I had it in my head that I would move over to sit right next to Kimberly as we waited for our treats and ask her to marry me while we waited, so the dessert would kind of be a mini-celebration for us.  Before I could move over, a very well-meaning server brought over a plate of their version of a molten chocolate cake with “Congratulations” written on the plate in chocolate.  Yep, BEFORE I had asked her to marry me.  Thus the #prematurecongratulations hash tag on Instagram, for those of you who follow me.  Anyway, I didn’t panic as Kimberly really didn’t think anything of it.  The lady at the table next to us decided to start guessing what it was for, VERY loudly!  “DID YOU GET ENGAGED?  MARRIED?  PREGNANT????” Looking at me, “DID YOU GRADUATE FROM MEDICAL SCHOOL???”  No, no, none of that – they must be congratulating us for eating all the food we ordered, I offered weakly.  Kimberly looked at me a bit confused and thought out loud that perhaps they sent the dessert to the wrong table.  I shrugged, and feigned agreement with her.  The crazy, loud lady tried to ask if I wanted her to take a picture of us.  I answered a bit abruptly, and she kind of took offense, but I needed her to zip it so the surprise didn’t get ruined!  She acted all indignant, but at this point I knew I had to make my move or someone was going to jack this up for me, so I couldn’t care just yet (I came back and was nice to her after all was said and done, and we’re fast friends now :-D)

I moved over to Kimberly’s side of the table with the ring in my napkin.  I pulled out my iPhone and showed her the picture of me and her kids I took a few weeks ago, when I asked them if it was OK for me to marry their mom (they gave me a unanimous YES – phew!) and told her what it was.  She went right into some kind of weird shock and started crying, to the point where when I showed her the ring, and asked her if she would marry me, she didn’t hear me.  This is where things kind of slowed way down and seemed to continue in stop-action animation!  My mind raced and she just stared at the picture trying to somehow understand what it was.  She looked at me and said, “wait, what?”  I laughed, asked her again and she got a huge (albeit nervous) smile on her face and said, “OF COURSE!” and we kissed, while the crazy woman next to us yelled congratulations at us, and some other lovely people chimed in too, it was kind of fun to be the center of attention, not gonna lie.  The waiter came up and shook our hands and congratulated us no fewer than 4 times each and we sat in the glow of our change of relationship status, all while this was live tweeted, and documented on Instagram and Facebook for all our friends an family to follow along.

We sat and enjoyed the occasion for a while; laughing and talking and kissing – a lot and smiling at each other and I’ve maybe only been this happy a few times in my life and it was wonderful.  As we basked in the moment the ladies two tables over asked to see Kimberly’s engagement ring – she proceed to whip the ring off her finger and hand it over for the ladies to inspect.  Yeah, she just handed over her ring.  Everyone thought it was pretty funny.  Ultimately, she got her ring back, we finished off the Crème Brûlée, and paid the bill.  we slowly left the restaurant, taking in one more long look to really burn the moment into our long-term memory, so we wouldn’t forget – that and the photos we paid for from the professional photographer will help too.  Those things are going on the mantle…someday.  Then we walked back to the hotel and rested the remainder of the evening.  Well, Kimberly had to call her friends immediately to let them know how scared silly she was, but that’s to be expected with this kind of a surprise, right?!? 😀

We enjoyed the rest of the evening, I think, as I passed out from the adrenalin drop.  Seriously, OUT cold.  The next morning we hit Hash House for some amazing breakfast AGAIN and just enjoyed the moments as they occurred as a newly engaged couple.  So nice, so fun, so full of awesome memories.  Then, as we headed out of town we took some pictures at a cute little wedding chapel and posted them to Facebook to play a quick trick on friends and family.  We also stopped in at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop to check it out from the show, and we took a few pictures with a gaudy men’s ring – total Elvis style – for a couple of pics to perpetuate the idea that we got married in Vegas over the weekend.  We didn’t, we thought about it, but there were actually people who threatened Kimberly’s life if she got married without them being there.  I take the very seriously.

There are so many other little details I’ve probably missed but I want to post this right now for people to read, because I know there were a lot of people who wanted the whole scoop.  Thank you to all the great friends and family that helped out with the surprise, and didn’t spill the beans.  And thanks for all the well-wishes since the announcement of our engagement – it is all much appreciated. 🙂


Dating is like IKEA

I had an interesting conversation with a good friend the other day and it spawned an idea about a blog post.  It’s not new, it’s not rocket science, but it was interesting…to me anyway, so you get to read about it too.  It seems to me, and I’ve had this corroborated by a number of female friends, that dating for women is much harder than dating for men.  And by harder, I mean more emotional, more difficult to process.  Why?  Because the way our society has set up dating, men are in control of initiating things.  So, women get to wait and hope to be asked out while the men look though all their options on Facebook, dating sites and at activities.  Not to be crass, but it’s like a dating IKEA out there for single men – more choices than you could possibly ever get through, even though some of us try – because the options are there.  And it seems to me the women (some of them anyway) deserve better, or at least a chance to kick things off a little more effectively than trying to hint their way into a guy’s mind, with their secret codes and body language.

Anyway, the conversation with my friend came around to a question I asked, “Have you ever asked out a guy you were interested in?”  The answer was, “No”.  I wasn’t surprised.  Our culture doesn’t allow for that.  The guy is supposed to ask out the girl, that’s just how it is.  I think that’s stupid, and I think girls should be allowed to ask out guys, but there is at least one issue with that:

If a girl has to make the first move to ask out a guy, what does that say about the guy?  Women tend to be attracted to men that take initiative.  And this seems, on the surface, to be a guy not taking initiative to ask out a woman on a date – a potentially unattractive non-move to the woman.

Another issue could be that the guy may feel emasculated having a woman “take his role” and ask him out.  I personally think this is also very dumb, and really just ego or pride.  But, I’m sure there are some guys out there who still think it’s a hard and fast rule that the guy does the asking and a woman that tries to ask out a guy is being overly-aggressive, and thus becomes unattractive to the guy.

I’ve had women ask me out – it’s usually to group activities, not just the two of us (though, that happened once) – and I’ve gone.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I enjoyed the date/outing, I evaluated the woman as a potential girlfriend the same way I would have evaluated a girl I asked out, and essentially went through the same process.  The one thing that really stands out among these women was one who had strongly developed into the male role and wasn’t going to relinquish it, after asking me out – even after we went out a few times.  That was obviously going to be a bad match for us, so we didn’t continue to date.  Perhaps where the gender roles are concerned, the woman should be able to ask out a guy and plan the FIRST date, but any subsequent date is up to the guy?  At that point interest on the part of the woman has been established and it’s then up to the guy to step up and take the man’s role from there on out?  I think that would work.  I don’t know if it has to be that defined, but attraction is not something that is “re-wireable” (yep, made up word) so the woman constantly doing the date planning will wear out quickly and attraction will wane.

We discussed the idea further and it would take some pretty significant change in the way we operate in the dating world.  But, I think the place we bottomed out on with this conversation was this – a guy has to date with purpose.  If the purpose is to go through as many women as possible in as little time as possible, that scenario is easily available.  Again, not trying to be calloused or anything but there are SO many available women that a guy could date and date and date and never have to settle down. (Seriously, have you ever gotten lost in IKEA because there is SO much stuff to look at in there?  It’s not a rare occurrence)  There is really nothing women can do about this.  However, if a guy truly wants to be in a meaningful relationship he’ll date to that end (not going to dances, not going to group activities, not going to parties – REALLY DATING).  There are a million adages out there to this end, but it’s true – whatever you set your mind to is what will happen.  So, if a guy is open to truly dating to find a relationship, he shouldn’t be closed off to the idea of a woman asking him out.  It really shouldn’t make any difference, and then neither side has to sit home and wonder if someone is ever going to ask them out.  That has to be maddening, and very emotionally unhealthy to boot.

So, chime in folks – you ok with the ladies initiating the dating scenario?  If so, what should be the next steps be?  If not, how do we get more guys to step up and properly DATE?  Post here or in Facebook, either way.

The Single Habit (A follow up post)

No love for “The Brady Bunch vs The Manson Family” post, but it did spawn another thought in my mind.  And as I contemplate what needs to be done to get married again, I came to an interesting hypothesis – Being Single becomes a habit!  A habit that has to be broken in order to be married again.  So, yes I’d say a bad habit.  Listen, if you’re happy being single and choose to stay that way indefinitely, it’s not a bad habit, I get that.  However, this post is more for those of my friends and acquaintances who would like to be married.

When we’re single we get used to a number of things, not the least of which being, 1) having no other adult to be responsible to or for; 2) being able to control our own schedule with no interruptions, that we don’t allow; 3) living by only our own daily activities – this includes, but is not limited to, when we do laundry, wash dishes, grocery shop, eat at restaurants, shop for clothing, etc.  And, the longer we live by our own wants and needs, not having to factor in anyone else the harder it becomes to change and include a new adult and potentially new kids.  And, no, I’m not ignoring our kids in this, that is not a choice REALLY, that is just a part of being a parent, whether we’re single or married.  Although, we do only have to factor in our own kids and not anyone else’s, so it’s certainly a consideration in this hypothesis.

What do we do to eliminate a bad habit, we stop doing it and change our behavior.  Do/don’t do something for 21 days and the change will stick, supposedly, right?  Maybe not so easy with being single.  It’s not like you can instantly NOT be single for 21 days to break the habit – well you could I guess, but it is not my intention, and I’m sure not yours either, to just jump into another bad relationship – that’s a bad habit all in and of itself!

So, how do you break the habit?  Here are some ideas I’ve come up with, please feel free to add your own in comments here or in Facebook.

Only date people you’d actually consider marrying.  No “bad boys”, no, er…” ladies of disrepute”.  If you wouldn’t take the person home to your mom, don’t date them!!!

Actually go on real dates!  Stop hanging out with groups, stop filling in the missing relationship with “friends”, this may be the hardest piece of the habit to break.  Responses to this will be many, I think, but participating in all the constant events with friends so you can post how happy you are, on Facebook, traps you in the single habit as quick as any other faux-relationship replacement.

Talk about what you really want in a relationship with people you date.  Don’t fake it, don’t be someone you’re not, don’t wait around to talk about important things.  If you want more kids, if you want to work/not work when you’re married, if you want to be religiously active, if you want to be independent while married, whatever you need in your relationship so it works.  If you fake this or avoid it, you will fail in breaking the single habit.

Think about yourself as a person in a relationship – what does it look like, what do YOU look like, how do you act, etc.  BE that way.  Be who you want to be.  If you’re loving single life and trying to get into a relationship, it’s incongruous.  Envision yourself in a relationship, get into a relationship that works for you (and them).

Get advice from people in relationships that you trust.  Asking single people what to do to be married probably isn’t so effective (ironic that I’m writing this post, huh?!)

Be honest with yourself.  If you want to be single, BE single – and let people you date know that (best option here is to probably date people you’re not interested in marrying, easy way to ensure no long-term relationships).  If you want to be married/in a relationship – then move in that direction with purpose.  Don’t be desperate, don’t be crazy about it, don’t force it with the wrong people – not everyone who comes into your life is worthy of a relationship with you, be selective without using that as an excuse to stay single.

Again, post up your thoughts on breaking the single habit, here or on Facebook.  Thanks for reading!

The Brady Bunch vs The Manson Family

Is there anything more challenging, when considering marriage as a single person, than the task of creating a “blended family”?  The relationship with the new kids, the responsibility of being a positive influence in their lives with no direct authority, dealing with the ex on parenting issues, etc, etc, etc.  It seems quite daunting, right?

What else?  Discipline, new schedules, monetary needs, how they do things compared to what you’re used to (e.g., cleaning the house), sharing your possessions, and on and on.

I’ve spoken with people who have done this merger successfully and some who “hate” their new step-children.  And no, I have no idea how they manage that.  I’m 100% certain I’d have a big problem with a relationship where I hated the step-children.  That’s a no-go for me,  But, maybe I’m looking at this too critically.  Most kids have their 2 parents to some degree or another, so there’s no need to “replace” the other parent – expecting to do so probably sets us up for failure in this endeavor as much as anything.  Those new step-parents with no ex to deal with, in my humble opinion, have it a lot easier – that difficult co-parenting piece isn’t a consideration and you can actually be the parent to those step-kids.  Maybe you even have the opportunity to adopt the kids, which I think is pretty cool.  For me, the responsibility is huge to be a good example – as good as I try to be with my own son.  The responsibility to treat all the kids equitably with no favoritism.  Let’s be realistic, I’ll always favor my biological son.  He’s my ACTUAL responsibility.  How he turns out is largely on my shoulders at this point of his life, and I take that seriously. At the same time, I feel like I have to treat any step-kids with as close to as much love and respect as I do with my son.  That is not immediately easy to do.  Anyone who says it is, is probably fooling themselves.  And finally for me, with my son not living with me all the time, but any step-kids probably living with me more raises the whole possibility of my son getting jealous, or feeling slighted somehow.  Honestly, with my son being so mellow, I highly doubt this will come up; at least not any time soon.  But I still worry about it.  Maybe the bottom line is, the level of responsibility is out-stripping the level of preparation right now and that creates some internal strife.  For me, I need to remove that strife and be comfortable with my responsibility and my ability to deliver.  As I mentioned, not being comfortable with the kids is a total no-go for me.  Finally, for me, not wanting to step on the biological dad’s toes with regards to his kids (because I know how I felt when my ex tried to replace me in my son’s life) cause some concern.  I certainly will assist my wife with her responsibilities with the kids, but I’m not their dad, so I have to be careful with how much I interject myself into their lives.  Seems like a very delicate balancing act, that I have no experience with.  And this isn’t like Crossfit where I can just scale something I don’t know how to do, while I learn it better.  Or, maybe I can…

Now my friends, your turn:  How do you put together the Brady Bunch instead of the Manson Family?  And, let’s be honest, Greg and Marsha – not thinking about hooking up, really?  Come on.  But, I digress.  Anyway, you folks with successful blended families (and I understand that successful is relative) throw out some ideas here to help your fellow single parents looking to become step-parents!  And you guys that hate your step-kids, let us know how you deal with it.  If you need to post anonymously, post to the blog here, and not on Facebook and I’ll approve your comment without adding your name.  Or, I can cut and paste your comment into the Facebook thread without your name on it.

Do you really want to be married?

I can’t believe it’s been since Nov of 11 since I wrote anything here.  I guess I need to figure out a way to make money off my writing so I really care about it 😉

This it not a reflective moment for my married friends and family, so move along folks, nothing to see here.

This is for my single friends.  I’ve been single again for over 5 years.  Seems like this is how my life has been forever.  It has become part of my personal definition.  Maybe not by choice, but it is.  I’m a divorced guy.  I Crossfit.  I go to church.  I am the best dad I can possibly be when Griff is with me.  I run (kind of, not by choice).  I ride my bike.  I work hard.  I try to spend time with extended family.  And I’ve done this all for 5+ years – single.

I’ve dated nice girls.  I’ve had some heartbreak.  I’m dating a truly great girl.  I THINK I want to get married.  She thinks she wants to get married. But, in all honesty, it will take a complete change in the way I see myself again, and that isn’t easy.

There is something to be said for only having yourself to be responsible for.  Yes, I’m responsible for Griffin, but that is never in question, so I don’t see it as a variable.  Being responsible for someone else, another adult is a daunting thought!  And by responsible for, I mean having to give up selfish cares for partnering on things I don’t have to partner on right now.  I FULLY REALIZE it’s a level of selfishness.  I FULLY REALIZE I have to change those things to successfully be married, and I want to do that.  My point is, it’s actually work.  It takes thought, planning, action, goals, progress, challenges, failures, trying again and again and again!  So think we can just “re-marry” and everything will be hunky-dory is silly.  I’m not even referring to “baggage”.  I’m simply referring to our own personal view of ourselves and what we really, really want.

So, back to the question – Do you REALLY want to be married, or do you actually like being single?  I hear a lot of people SAYING they want to be married and being single sucks, but I don’t see a lot of action in the direction of being married again (relatively speaking, based on all the single people I know).  I’m not saying either is right or wrong, just curious if we fall into a trap of portraying ourselves as disliking single life while we really don’t want to change back to married life.

Chime in here, or on Facebook!  What do you think?

The rhythm is gonna get you!

Patience is not fatalistic shoulder-shrugging resignation – it is the acceptance of the divine rhythm to life. – Neal A. Maxwell

Follow the Yellow Brick Road…

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere”- Frank A. Clark

I’ve followed a fairly consistent theme on this blog I think – life isn’t a sprint – it’s an endurance multi-sport race and there are lots of stumbling blocks along the way.  We may not like them, but they help us grow and improve.  If the race was always flat and sunny, it would be BORING.  There’s just so much going on, and you have to possess significant perseverance and endurance to maintain your direction in life.  It’s just like a triathlon – you stop, you fall behind.  You have to be prepared for things to seemingly drag.  We want things now but they don’t always occur that way, so we’re patient and we keep going.  I’d love to be 10 minutes faster on my swim in a sprint triathlon.  Well, that isn’t going to happen today, it’ll happen as I put in the time to make it happen.  That’s life – no one is going to walk up to you and GIVE you a phenomenal life, you have to go out an make it.  We hear the platitudes daily.  Might seem trite, but they’re true.

Well, something happened today that made me really question this whole idea of patience and perseverance – a friend of mine is a nurse at the UCLA medical center.  She got called into work early last night to help a set of twins that was born at 26 weeks – yeah, that’s way early.  Even my niece Kaja made it to 29 weeks before she was born (I hope that’s right, I think it is) and she had to stay in NICU for the time from when she was born to when she SHOULD have been born and it was touch and go a lot for her.  She made it and is now a beautiful young lady of 7.  Nothing short of a miracle.  (Yeah, I know all birth is a miracle – it’s definitely a case of some more than others).  So, when I heard about the twins last night, I didn’t even sweat it, I figured they’d be fine after some time like Kaja is.  Yes, she has her challenges, but she’s a great little girl and just adored by her family and friends.  We love having her around.

Well, this morning my friend texted me and informed me one of the twins died.  I don’t even know the family or anything and I was just crushed.  And worse, the other twin may not make it, I haven’t heard as of the writing of this post – I almost don’t want to know.  All I can do is pray for the family that they can find some kind of comfort.  I know if my son died, I would be WRECKED.  I’d just be destroyed, despite my religious beliefs, it would be devastating.

Anyway, it made me think all day long – what am I waiting for?  Life is so short, it’s so fragile, it’s SO important RIGHT NOW.  It’s vital that we’re with the ones we love, taking care of each other, making priceless memories, LIVING life.  If we’re waiting for something to happen, how much are we missing.  If you don’t take the time to pay attention to the scenery, have you really taken full advantage of the race?  Is it enough to train and run and finish?  I just can’t think it is.  There is a lot more to it.

If you’re wasting ANY time in your life, you are wasting a resource that can not be recouped.  Get going on whatever it is you want to do.  Do not wait.  Do not fear.  LIFE IS TOO SHORT.  Live…now.