All right, blog land, Mandy asked me to write “our love story” in honor of our 11 year anniversary. Since Mandy’s mom is one of her blog followers, I’ll have to skip the more exciting parts of our courtship though I can assure you it was entirely PG-rated.
I first met Mandy on a blind date our freshman year in college. A friend of mine said his new girlfriend had a “cute” friend and he wanted to set me up. I was a little hesitant but said yes. We picked up our dates at his girlfriends house and I remember seeing Mandy for the first time and thinking “she is cute, and seems normal enough.” She was quiet but fun on our first date (Nov. 15) – bowling, ice cream and a movie with several other couples – not a lot of time to really get to know her but enough to know that I knew I wanted to go out with her again.
For our next date I invited her and her friend to double with me and my friend; the guys cooked a “fancy” dinner. At least, it was supposed to be fancy. I cooked some nice pasta in a white cream sauce and my friend said, “your mac and cheese looks a little pale” and dumped in a huge handful of grated cheddar. Then we learned that food forgotten in the oven on broil produces a lot of smoke. Mandy was a good sport through it all. I’m sure I made a good impression on her with my domestic skills, as she said “yes” to the next date invite.
We started dating each other “exclusively” after about a month, which was a first for me (I know its hard to believe that this handsome hunk of handsomeness managed to stay single for so long). Being the ladies man that I am, I mustered up the courage to hold her hand on the third date. My attempt at our first kiss a couple dates later didn’t go so well – I was aiming for the gentlemanly goodnight kiss on the forehead while Mandy was going for the whole enchilada, so my lips ended up on her nose/eyebrows. I tried again at our next date with a little better luck, and managed to hone the skill with a little more practice.
I was first attracted to Mandy because she was beautiful and fun, and I liked her more and more as I found out that she was incredibly smart and strong. She was also a natural leader.
We continued dating for another 10 months or so. At the same time I was preparing to serve a two-year mission for our church and started to think a little longer term. I realized that I could see myself marrying this attractive young lady when the time was right. We talked about marriage in generic terms, about our likes, dislikes, and expectations, but not specifically about us.
I was called to serve my mission in the Philippines. Mandy saw me off at the airport with an affectionate handshake. For the next two years her letter-writing to me was rivaled in its constancy only by my mother. She would send me packages with fun gizmos and trinkets – she once sent me a “Bop-it” electronic game for Christmas that was an absolute hit among the native Filipinos. There were a couple of times in her letters where she mentioned seeing other guys while I was away, but I was OK with it as I figured I’d rather have her be sure of “us”.
About a month before I got home in her letter she mentioned that she had gone on a few dates with one of my friends but that it was no big deal. She met me at the airport with another affectionate handshake and I planned on seeing her as soon as possible. Before I saw her again, I visited with my friend with whom she had been on a few dates and he indicated that they were pretty serious and looking toward marriage. I was surprised and tried not to be upset, figuring that if it was meant to be it would turn out. After our first date, romantically watching Star Wars at my brother’s house with his new wife, I gave her a good night hug and told her I’d been informed about her “serious” relationship and that I’d support her in it if that was what she wanted. I guess she was a little surprised and really hadn’t thought it was as serious as my friend had thought. We cleared that up over the next few dates and were soon dating again.
It took me less than two more months to know for sure (again) that she was the one for me and then it was all about getting a ring and timing. I subtly found out her ring size by having her get it sized at a jewelry store in the mall “out of curiosity”. I’m sure she had no clue what it was really about – I’m sneaky that way. I picked up the ring a couple weeks later, set up a nice dinner followed by a walk by some waterfalls in the area and popped the question (Feb. 3). We were married three months later on May 18.
Eleven years and four kids later, here we are, living the dream. Being married to a fabulous craft blogger has its perks, like getting free fabric samples, being one of the first guys to have a Pinterest account, getting to try my hand at Mod Podge, and getting to write manly posts about our love story. There’s plenty more to write and plenty more to come, but I’ll spare you all the details. Just know that the Mandy you know and love is the same Mandy that I know and love, but I get to see her in a lot of different lights (fortunately some of them candlelight…). She’s still amazing, fun, smart and beautiful!