Thursday, February 14, 2008

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Just in time for Valentine's Day, I'm taking Shannon up on her challenge to tell the story of how I met Lansing & got engaged. Let me preface this by saying we never actually got engaged, officially- we skipped right over it and just got married. But I'll get to that later.

I first met Lansing in September 1993, when we both entered the MTC, destined for Bulgaria (Lansing) and the Czech Republic (me). Neither one of us made any lasting impression on the other at first sight; it wasn't until a few days later that I took a good look at his name tag and realized his sister Clorinda had been in my dorm during our freshman year (my freshman year, that is, and Clorinda's- Lansing was but an innocent high-school child at the time.) Aside from that, we probably had a few conversations but the first one I remember was over lunch one day; I was joking around with someone else in his group and said something that made him laugh. I am always flattered when anyone finds me funny- I take it as a sign of a discerning mind- so this immediately bumped him up several notches in my personal esteem.

This is a picture we took for his sister. Notice he's doing the "I'm-not-touching-you" thing, though not entirely in accordance with the arm's-length rule.

There were only a couple of other missionaries in his group, so they were in with us for most of the non-language-based activities and we had lots of opportunities to chat and get to know each other better. I couldn't tell you anything specific we discussed, just that we had an immediate comfort level with each other that was unusual for me. As I look back over the pictures of our whole group together it strikes me that he is always sitting next to me, which he informs me was not at all coincidental, but at the time I just wasn't in the "Meet Your Romantic Destiny" mindset and I didn't pick up on it.

Actually in this one he's not next to me- he's at the top, I'm 2nd from the right, standing.

We wrote to each other during our missions, and traded a few tapes (tapes! can you imagine? it was like the Stone Age of communications) recorded over the audio guide to the missionary study program, and we were both guilty of some incredibly bad poetry. (Yes, this is how nerds go about trying to impress one another. Look away, it's hideous.) Anyway, I came home in February and went back to school. He finished his mission in August and called me on my birthday, the first time we'd talked in almost 2 years. A couple of weeks later he was back in Provo, and we went on our first date- a 3-day camping trip to Zion National Park. We met friends at the canyon but drove down together, and by the time we got there I was completely in love. We both had this incredibly strong sense of recognition and being 100 percent at home with each other, which neither of us had ever experienced before. We spent every possible minute together that fall, and went camping a lot, and if you look at our transcripts there is a corresponding huge dip in both of our GPA's.

Here we are on a mountain-biking trip to Moab.

By Christmas, we had started making wedding plans, but due to errors of strategy on my part we made it all the way to the altar without Lansing ever actually proposing. He wanted it to be perfect, and I seemed to have a knack for derailing things at the critical moment, and one way or another it just never happened. So he owes me one!!

We got married on June 25, 1996. It was the best decision I ever made. We are just alike enough to understand each other perfectly, and just different enough to keep it interesting. And just lucky enough to have found each other.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Christmas, otherwise known as Ancient History

Here's how our Christmas trip to PA began:
(Dark, silent house. Everyone is sound asleep. Lansing's mobile begins to ring from somewhere under the bed.)

"Hi, this is your airport car service...we're out front for your 7 am pick-up but just checking we have the right house since there aren't any lights on..."

There are a couple of morals to this story:

1) Don't let Lansing be in charge of waking you up for your next overseas flight.
2) Don't leave critical items such as, say, THE CAMERA, to be packed in the morning before a 7-a.m. departure for the airport.
3) Don't book yourself and your (adorable but absent-minded) husband and your 2 (adorable but hyper) small children on an early-morning flight from the busiest airport in the city.
4) If you disregard #3, be sure NOT to also disregard #'s 1 & 2, because your children will rapidly drop any pretense of adorability when they discover that you have not packed them any breakfast and that furthermore you will not be able to obtain any breakfast until you are safely through security and within sprinting distance of your departure gate, time permitting.

But despite the shaky start, we had a terrific time catching up with Lansing's family- all 8 siblings were there, with their families, plus grandparents and his mom's sister & her husband. I think the grand total was 33 people, including 13 kids. Lansing's dad came to our rescue, photo-wise, and the pictures below are all courtesy of him.

His parents were fantastic, patient, perfect hosts (no doubt raising 8 children makes you somewhat impervious to chaos.) They let the kids set up a Geo-Trax set in the study:

Ethan was obsessed with these trains, enjoying the role of Omnipotent Railway Controller. A couple of times I had to speak with him about Bossiness Issues, as he really couldn't understand why his fellow train-drivers would not bend to his will like good little puppets. I know, Ethan, it's really the hardest life lesson, that you can't force everyone to do what you'd like them to do (at least not all the time.) I'm still coming to terms with that myself.

One day all the kids made candy trees. I love this picture, it gives you a good sense of what it's like with 30-plus people in the house:

Here's Ethan with his finished product:

On Christmas Eve we went to Hershey Park to take the kids on the Chocolate World ride (quick tour of the chocolate-making process, followed by free samples and lots of whining when you disembark in a huge candy shop and the kids demand to buy everything in sight.) Here's a shot of Ethan at Chocolate World with his cousins Kathryn and Bethany, all 6 years old:

Cuties! Here's another of them, at home by the tree...

And some of all the kids together, on the stairs:

And in their pj's, below. If some of them look at little traumatized in this second one, that's because there was some threatening going on. I'm not sure it's possible to get 13 children 10 and under in a picture together without a little arm-twisting (metaphorical, of course. At least I didn't observe any actual arm-twisting.)

It had been ages since we'd seen everyone and there were at least a couple of babies we'd never met, so it was great to see everyone. Afterwards we headed east to the Poconos and met my sister and her daughter for a couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge. Ethan and Taylor (his cousin) have spent lots of time together over the past several years and he's always thrilled to see her. Naturally I have no pictures of my own from the waterpark either. Kristin? Anything?

Coming soon: my friend Shannon has tagged me to tell the story of Lansing & I Getting Engaged. Which I'm happy to do. Just, you know, bring a bucket, because the tackiness and sappiness of our story is gag-inducing even to me.