Thursday, December 30, 2010

Love Story Part IIII

One cool summer night, Mr. Brown Eyes and I embraced outside his house. It was nearing my curfew (or past my curfew--sorry Mom), but we always stretched out our goodbyes as long as we could.

As Mr. Brown Eyes wrapped me in one of his wonderful hugs, I heard him murmur into my hair, "I love you."

Whoa. My whole body froze. Was he really using the l-word? We'd only been dating a couple months. What was he thinking?

I hugged him tighter, not sure what to do. I wanted to say it back. The natural thing would be to say it back. But...I couldn't. I liked him. A lot. He was my best friend. But love? I could say it, but would I mean it?

Several awkward minutes ticked by. Or at least it felt that long. Maybe it was only a few seconds. I finally pulled away from our hug and looked into Mr. Brown Eyes' face.

"I want to say it back. I do," I told him. "But I want to be sure I mean it when I say it. And right now...I'm just not sure."

He took it like a trooper. Apparently he loved me enough to patiently wait for me to know my mind. Looking back now, I'm so glad he did.

Weeks passed. We continued dating, but our relationship didn't progress much. I loved Mr. Brown Eyes' company, but a fear of committment grew inside of me, causing me to fluctuate back and forth between wanting no one but Mr. Brown Eyes, to feeling like maybe we should break up and date other people. He was my first boyfriend, for goodness sake, and you're not supposed to marry your first boyfriend? Right?

Toward the end of the summer Mr. Brown Eyes invited me to Oregon to visit his family. My instinctual response was a resounding, "Yes!" but then I thought harder about it. Meet his family? Wasn't that something engaged couples did? I didn't feel like our relationship was serious enough for the frightening step of meeting the family.

I voiced these concerns to Mr. Brown Eyes and he laughed.

"I go home to visit every summer," he said. "It's just a fun trip, nothing serious."

"But will your family think..."

"They just want to meet you. They don't think we're engaged or anything."

I breathed a sigh of relief. "Ok."

I don't know why I was so afraid of his family thinking we were engaged. I had a fear of committment, ok?

As the date of the trip approached, I became more and more uncertain about our relationship. I decided that once we got back from Oregon, I was going to break up with him. There was no specific reason why I decided that. I guess I was just convinced I needed to date other people. As if there was a long line of "other people" waiting to date me. As if there was any one else I wanted to date.

As soon as my mom dropped me and Mr. Brown Eyes off at the airport I forgot about my worries. Mr. Brown Eyes has a way of making even the most mundane activities--like waiting in the airport for your flight to board--fun and adventurous. We laughed and took pictures and kissed enough that the people around us were probably all rolling their eyes. We didn't notice though; we were enjoying each other too much. We arrived in Oregon on time, but our luggage didn't. Yet even having to borrow clothes and buy toothbrushes didn't spoil our fun.

His family accepted me warmly and I loved them from the start. We camped on a dazzling lake and spent our days sunbathing, jet skiing, and hiking through the cool green forest. I loved seeing Mr. Brown Eyes interact with his family. I could tell that he loved them and that they adored him. I found myself wondering what it would be like to be a part of this family. It felt natural, like I belonged with them.

Faithful Mr. Brown Eyes still told me he loved me on occasion, even though I never said it back. But suddenly--or maybe not so suddenly, as the feelings had been working on me for a while, I just didn't know it--watching him in the light of our campfire, I knew that I loved him and all I wanted was to be with him. It didn't matter how scared I was, it didn't matter that he was my first real boyfriend. I wanted him and no one else.

I didn't tell him about this revelation until my last night in Oregon. I was flying back to Arizona a week earlier than him, so while he watched TV in his mom's living room I was upstairs packing my bags. I must have taken a long time because by the time I crept downstairs Mr. Brown Eyes was asleep on the couch, his toothbrush in his mouth. I touched his cheek and he popped awake.

"Oh, hey," he said, blinking the sleep away from his eyes. "I thought you went to bed."

"Without saying goodnight to you? Why would I do that?"

He drew me into his arms and kissed me. "I love you," he murmured, expecting me, like every other time, to respond with silence.

"I love you, too," I said, and you'd better believe I meant it.

He was so surprised he made me say it again. And I could literally see his eyes light up with joy as I said it. We laughed and kissed and hugged--I'll spare you the details. Let me just say I'm so glad I waited to say those three little words until I absolutely meant them.

It was a sad and lonely flight back to Arizona and I cried most of the way. A week without Mr. Brown Eyes seemed like an eternity when I was used to spending almost every day with him. But I could detect an extra bounce in my step as I walked down the terminal to meet my family. I was a girl in love.

And I still am,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, December 27, 2010

Eight Months

Merry Christmas! Sorry it's late! I hope your Christmas was as beautiful as mine. I love spending time with my family and recognizing just how much the Lord has blessed my life. It is full of peace and joy and love--all because of Him.

It's been a busy week and my blog has fallen to the wayside. I'm sure you've been dying for the fourth installment of my love story, but you're going to have to die a little longer because I will probably not continue it until tomorrow. Or later today. We'll see how I feel.

Today I want to wish Baby Brown Eyes a happy eight-month birthday. It feels like just yesterday and ages ago when the midwife put his slippery little body on my chest and I saw those beautiful eyes (blue-gray then) for the very first time. A friend of mine described motherhood perfectly when she said it's like having your heart outside of you. I love my son so much it breaks my heart.

He's changed a lot in eight months. Now he rolls over and gets up on his hands and knees in preparation for crawling. He laughs and smiles and picks up toys and chews on whatever he can get his hands on (including his father's nose). He even has two tiny teeth.

I've changed a lot in these eight months, too. When I think back to those first days having Baby home, it was like I was a teenage girl babysitting for someone else. It was so unreal. I was so clueless. Someone told me before Baby was born that mothering came naturally, instinctively. It didn't for me, though. It took a couple months for me to feel like a mother. There were moments when Baby was a newborn that I wondered what on earth I'd gotten myself into. He upset the balance of my perfectly-ordered life. I found myself constantly praying for help. And you know what? Help constantly came. If Baby was crying and I had no idea why, or if he wouldn't nurse, or if I was just exhausted to the point of losing my sanity, little nudges and impressions would come to my mind, telling me what to do. Simple things like rocking him or changing his onesie, or even just setting him down and taking a deep breath, but things that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. And as He guided me, Heavenly Father gradually turned me into a mother.

Not that I've got the whole motherhood thing down. Not hardly. But I've learned a whole lot in these last eight months. And I'm sure I'll learn a whole lot more in the next eight. And for the rest of my life.

Ok, so that ended up being a bit longer than I meant it to be. In short, Happy Eight Months, Baby Brown Eyes, even though you can't read yet and if you got a hold of this you'd probably slobber all over it.

Love Your Happy Mother,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love Story Part III

My first kiss took place in the romantic glow of the credits from "Goonies," on the floor of the living room of the house Mr. Brown Eyes was renting.

Not my first pick of locations. Trust me, as a ooshy, gushy, hopeless romantic (and because I had twenty-three years to think about it) I had given a lot of thought to how I wanted my first kiss to go down. Living in Idaho for three years convinced me I wanted it to take place in the snow, with fat, sparkling snowflakes floating down all around us. Then I moved back to Arizona and decided I could settle for a rainstorm, silver sheets of rain soaking through our clothes, lightning flickering in the distance.

I told Mr. Brown Eyes the snow daydream and told him he'd have to take me to Northern Arizona in the winter if he ever wanted to kiss me. He laughed. And so did I. But I was kind of serious. I was still hung up on this kissing in the snow idea, and I didn't want my first kiss to be anything less than perfect. I'd waited twenty-three years for it, after all.

Thankfully, once Mr. Brown Eyes and I started dating, my desire to kiss him overcame the need to pay attention to any silly details. I decided that a kiss from him would be perfect any old place, in any weather, under any conditions. Boat, train, truck, plane, rain, shine, snow...

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I went over to Mr. Brown Eyes' house that night to go running, dressed in my scrubby workout clothes, my hair pulled up in a ponytail. But we decided we didn't want to go running that night, so we sprawled out on the couch to watch "Goonies," which Mr. Brown Eyes constantly quoted but I hadn't seen since I was a kid. When the movie was over I wasn't in any hurry to leave, so we talked for a while. Really what I wanted was a kiss from Mr. Brown Eyes' beautiful lips, but I was new at this. How do you give someone a hint that you want to kiss them? It's not like holding hands, where you just put your hand in some obvious, easily-accessible location. Did I just close my eyes and pucker my lips? What if he didn't get the hint? Or, worse, what if I did something wrong?

We started wrestling and ended up on the floor, which seemed to me a little more kiss-friendly than the confines of the couch. But I was so wound up with uncertainty that there was no way I was making the first move. After a few minutes of flirting and resigning myself to that fact that maybe I should go home and continue this another night, Mr. Brown Eyes sighed and shook his head.

"You're driving me crazy," he said.

I laughed and tried to be coy. "Me?"

"I want to kiss you so bad right now but every time I try you turn away."

I hadn't noticed him making any efforts. "I want to kiss you, too," I sighed. "But I'm scared."

"Of what?"
"That I won't do it right." I blushed. Of course Mr. Brown Eyes already knew that he was my first boyfriend and first kiss, and instead of being weirded out by it he considered it an honor. "If you want to kiss me, you're just going to have to grab me and lay one on me. So I can't back out."

He took my suggestion to heart. We talked and flirted some more, then, just when I was least expecting it, he pulled me to him and pressed his lips to mine.

I discovered that kissing was much easier than I had imagined it would be. And even more wonderful. With his hands on my waist, his lips on mine, and my heartbeat pounding in my ears, I would have been content to stay on his living room floor all night.

Until his roommate walked out.

In his underwear.

Then it was time to go.

The first kiss (and the many following after) was perfect, and even though it didn't take place in a glittering snow globe, I drove home that night in a cloud of bliss, practically floating as I walked upstairs to my room. I couldn't stop smiling at myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, my eyes two stars sparkling with happiness. I crawled into bed and lost myself in exquisite replays of Mr. Brown Eyes' kiss long before sleep ever claimed me.

Sweet dreams,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Love Story Part II

Somehow I made it through that first date with Mr. Brown Eyes without having a nervous breakdown. While the butterflies scrambling about in my stomach never totally subsided (and they wouldn't, not until weeks after we were officially dating), a few minutes chatting in his truck on our way to the mountains eased my nervousness tremendously.

And I had fun. For the first time in a long time, I was on a date and I wasn't trying to come up with ways to end it as soon as humanly possible. We hiked until the sun went down and talked the whole time. I discovered that Mr. Brown Eyes is a great story teller and he had me laughing out loud. And he was an EMT, which I found very attractive. And he has the cutest little Kansas accent that only shows up on certain words.

It was dark as we made our way back to the truck, and somehow we missed the trailhead and had to double back on the road. When the truck came into view, so did the tail lights of another vehicle, and the figure of a park ranger standing beside it.

"Park closes at sundown," he said abruptly as we approached.

We apologized profusely and told him we got lost.

"Gates are closed," was his only response.

"Um, well, couldn't you open them for us?" Would he really leave us locked in here all night? I wondered incredulously.

"You know, this constitutes a felony misdemeanor. I could slap you two with a hefty fine..."

Mr. Brown Eyes and I exchanged glances. Criminals on the first date. We could be a regular Bonnie and Clyde.

"...But I'll let you off with a warning. Follow me and I'll open the gates for you."

I sighed with relief and hopped into the truck as Mr. Brown Eyes held the door open for me (which he still does, I might add). We made it out of the park without incident, but getting kicked out of places became the theme of the night. The waitress at Applebees asked us if we wanted our check two minutes after bringing us our food. While swinging on the swingset at a local park, we were told that park also closed at sundown and we had better go.

I didn't want the night to end yet, and Mr. Brown Eyes must have felt the same way because he suggested we go to a local shopping center and walk around. I agreed. We wandered around until we came to these huge fountains shooting and spraying water in time to the music playing in the background. We joked that we should jump in and see how fast it took the security guard to throw us out, but instead we sneaked around to the side opposite the security guard, kicked off our shoes, and soaked our aching feet in the cool water. And talked. And laughed. I didn't know two people who hardly knew each other could have so much to talk about.

We were so deep in conversation we didn't notice the security guard coming our way. "You guys can't do that," he said. "You have to stay out of the fountain."

We sighed, dried off our feet, and decided that maybe we should call it a night.

Back then, enjoying a date was almost as bad as not enjoying one. A bad date I could just toss behind me and forget about, but if the date was good I would hope for a second one. And so the next week would find me sitting by the phone, certain he would call, but I'd never hear from him again. It happened a few times. And as Mr. Brown Eyes walked me to my door, I was terrified of it happening again. All I wanted was some kind of confirmation that he had as much fun as I did and a second date was definitely in the works. But I didn't want to ask. How desperate would that look?

We said our goodbyes and told each other how much fun we'd had.

"But we didn't get to finish the hike," he said, "so that means I automatically get a second date."

I must have beamed.

That was the first of many dates. We spent so much time together my family referred to him as my boyfriend, but we hadn't talked about it so I didn't feel like I could use that word. It was Mr. Brown Eyes' sister who encouraged him, a few weeks later, to ask me if I thought we were officially dating. We had just finished swimming at a friend's house and were standing outside my truck. The spring night was cool and I was shivering in my wet clothes.

"So, um, are we dating?" he asked me as we, as usual, stretched out our goodbye as long as possible.

"My family calls you  my boyfriend," I replied. "But I don't know. Are we?"

"I'd like to be," he said without hesitation.


Yes, it was really that simple.

That's when I had my first experience with my future husband's awesome hugs. He pulled me close to him and wrapped his arms tight around my waist. He was warm and strong and smelled good. It was the best hug ever.

After that, we decided we didn't want to say goodbye yet so we stretched out in the back of my truck, talking and gazing at the stars.

Here's something you should know about me. I was twenty-three when I met Mr. Brown Eyes. And he was my first boyfriend. I dated plenty throughout my high school and college years, but not one person specifically, and knowing myself as well as I do, I think that was Heavenly Father's way of looking out for me. But by the time Mr. Brown Eyes came into my life, I felt I was way past-due for the experience of having an exclusive boyfriend. And while I liked Mr. Brown Eyes--a lot--I figured other boyfriends would follow after him. It never crossed my mind that I would marry the first boyfriend I ever had. That was just ridiculous. Only stupid girls did that.


Well, while I'm making embarrassing confessions, here's another one: Mr. Brown Eyes was also the first man I ever kissed. Back in high school, my friends and I started what we called the Virgin Lips club, and you can bet that at twenty-three I was the last remaining member. Of course that wasn't a club I wanted to remain in forever, but as I mentioned in Part I of this love story, I had had other opportunities to kiss and be kissed. But to me a kiss had to mean something. I was not about to give away my virgin lips lightly. 

I was ready to give them away when I met Mr. Brown Eyes.

Does that sound bad?

I promise it's all G-rated.

Happily kissing Mr. Brown Eyes,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, December 6, 2010

Love Story Part I

If you ask Mr. Brown Eyes, you will probably hear a different version of the love story I am about to tell here. While his story may be more interesting, my version, however he may argue, is more true.

The first time I saw the man who would become my husband I was at a game night at the house he was renting. I'll be honest, I was mostly there because I had a crush on his roommate, but I had also just made a resolution to be more social so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get to know people from church. I had heard Mr. Brown Eyes' name before, so it was nice to finally meet him face-to-face, but I didn't feel any immediate sparks or gravitational pull toward him. If anyone had told me right then that he was the man I was going to marry, I wouldn't have believed them. I only had eyes for his roommate, who I was convinced was "meant for me."

My crush on his roommate caused me to run into Mr. Brown Eyes on a weekly basis. We didn't really talk, but I saw through his interactions with the group that he was fun, outgoing, quick to laugh, and adventurous. I also saw that a couple of my friends were interested in him, so I unconsciously dubbed him off-limits and probably not my type anyway.

Then one Sunday my whole world came shattering down--Mr. Brown Eyes' "meant for me" roommate showed up at a party with the blonde girl rumored to be his girlfriend. Not that he'd ever given me much more than the time of day, but I was persistently hopeful. The sight of him with Blondie was enough to dash my hopes and bring me back to reality. I mourned for a night, realized how stupid I was being over a boy I hardly knew, picked myself up off the floor, and decided to date.

Not that I ever made the choice not to date; I just didn't do it all that regularly. I guess it would be more accurate to say that a sudden smattering of boys decided they wanted to date me. It was a fun time, creatively evading unwanted kisses and scripting out how to tactfully tell a prospective-suitor he wasn't really my type and he should stop spending so much money on me. During all this drama, when I was no longer mooning over Mr. Brown Eyes' roommate, I paused to look at Mr. Brown Eyes himself for the first time and thought that he would be a fun person to become friends with.

He wasn't in line to date me, however, and I didn't see my shy, introverted self as being his type. One night at a party, as a big group of us were talking and playing games, I felt like he was making more of an effort to be near me and become included in my conversations. I was distracted by thoughts of a date I had been on the night before when I had unintentionally led my date to believe I was more interested in him than I was, so I didn't think too much of Mr. Brown Eyes' attentiveness. In fact, I just brushed it off as being nothing more than a figment of my vanity.

Our story may have ended there had it not been for our mutual nosy-but-well-meaning friend who I will call Mouth. Mouth wanted to know if Mr. Brown Eyes was officially dating a girl we knew who was obviously into him, so she texted him one night while a few of us were hanging out. Mr. Brown Eyes texted back that no, they weren't dating but there was someone he wanted to ask out. Mouth asked who it was. Mr. Brown Eyes responded that he didn't know her name, but she had brown hair and frequently came to game night.

Mouth immediately turned to me. "It's you," she blurted.

I laughed, flattered but unconvinced. "How do you know?"

"Trust me, it's you," she repeated, thumbs flying as she furiously texted him back. "Would you go out with him?"

"Sure," I shrugged.

It's just a date, I told myself, but somehow I couldn't contain my excitement. For the next week I constantly caught myself daydreaming at my work computer, envisioning all kinds of perfect-date scenarios in my head. I decided that if Mr. Brown Eyes tried to kiss me, there would be no need for evasive manuevers. Of all the dates I had been on in the past couple months, this was the first one that I was genuinely looking forward to.

But weeks passed and he didn't ask me out, not even in the brief moments when we saw each other. I tried to push it to the back of my mind and forget about it, act like I didn't care, but I couldn't. So finally I swallowed my pride and asked Mouth if she'd heard anything more from Mr. Brown Eyes.

"No," she said, "but I can text him." Before I could protest, she whipped out her phone and asked him what was taking so long. I nervously wrung my hands as we waited for him to reply.

When he responded Mouth opened her phone and read it. "He said he still wants to, he's just nervous and not sure what to do," she said.

I sighed with relief. And thought the nervous bit was cute. "Tell him we can go hiking," I said. That was what most of my daydreams had entailed, at least.

She did. And the next Sunday I saw him walking toward me down the hallway after church. I'm not exactly a social butterfly, but in that moment suddenly it seemed like everyone wanted to talk to me. I managed to shake them off and allow him to make his way over to me. And finally ask me out on that blessed date. Of course I said yes. But I think I managed to restrain myself and not shout out, "Yes! I thought you'd never ask!"

Our date was on a Thursday. I was so nervous beforehand I made myself sick to my stomach. But that's a story for another day.

Thus ends Part I,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, December 2, 2010

If I Don't Laugh I'll Go Crazy

There is something wonderful about being a mother. When Baby Brown Eyes giggles at me, when he wiggles with excitement at seeing me when I come home from work, when he snuggles next to me in sleep, my heart feels near to bursting at how blessed I am to have him in my life. All I want to do is kiss his adorable cheeks and squeeze his chubby thighs and breathe in his beautiful baby smell.

That being said, although I love being a mother, there are plenty of moments when I don't like it, if you catch my drift. Like the night Mr. Brown Eyes installed our new water heater. While he was working hard and cursing at his tools, I entertained the baby, who was crabby for some reason only his little baby self will ever know. Mr. Brown Eyes shut the power off while he worked, so the house was dark, Baby was crying, and dinner was sitting cold on the stove. I wasn't in the best mood. But after an hour or so, Mr. Brown Eyes finished installing the water heater, we turned the power back on, ate dinner, and Baby slept.

Five minutes later. Baby's awake and crying. We rocked him back to sleep, but five minutes later...It seems getting him to sleep for any decent amount of time was out of the question. Mr. Brown Eyes saw how tired I was and offered to watch TV with Baby while I got some sleep.

"Yes, thank you, that would be wonderful," I gushed.

It didn't feel like I was sleeping very long when Mr. Brown Eyes came back into the room and slipped a sleeping Baby into the bassinet. Success! I thought happily, my eyes drooping back into blessed sleep. But before my eyes completely closed, I heard the all-too-familiar sounds of squirming and fussing coming from the bassinet. A minute later Baby was wailing. Mr. Brown Eyes was in the shower, so I dragged myself out of bed and picked him up.

Usually at this time of night a little rocking and soothing is all it takes to get Baby to sleep. But that night he was angry and he wanted the world to know it. None of my usual tricks could quiet his screaming. Nursing quieted him for a few minutes but then he unlatched and started wailing again. Thinking that maybe he was teething, I put some Orajel on his gums. He stopped crying and smacked his gums together, screwing his face up at the weird taste. I tried nursing him again, and miraculously, wonderfully, he fell asleep.

Whispering a prayer of gratitude, I started to lay him down in the bassinet. This is a task that requires great skill. Baby loves to sleep snuggled up to the warmth of another human body. If you put him down too soon, he will wake up. If you put him down too late, he will wake up. If you put him down too fast, too slow, too awkwardly, too smoothly, too casually, too delightedly, he will wake up. And make you regret you ever tried to put him down in the first place. Mr. Brown Eyes is much better at it than I am, but I figured after getting so little sleep all day, Baby was surely so deeply asleep that he wouldn't notice me put him down.

Maybe in a perfect little world where mothering always goes the way you want it to.

Right when I leaned over the bassinet I felt Baby squirm. I tried to put him down quickly. His eyes popped open and he immediately started crying.

"I give up!" I fumed, throwing the burp cloth on the floor and storming into the bathroom, so stressed out and tired and frustrated that all I wanted to do was cry. As I stood there feeling sorry for myself, staring into the mirror at the dark circles under my eyes, I heard Mr. Brown Eyes get out of bed and pick up Baby. He didn't immediately come into the bathroom to see if I was ok, so I put my dramatics aside and returned to the bedroom. Baby was crying as Mr. Brown Eyes bounced him in his arms.

"Silly baby," he said, laughing.


I thought to myself, How can you be laughing when it's pitch dark outside and every creature on God's green earth is sleeping but us and at this rate we'll have to take turns sleeping while the other person just tries to quiet our child's screaming enough that he doesn't wake up the entire neighborhood?

Then I thought, Maybe he's on to something.

I'm sure Mr. Brown Eyes felt just as frustrated as I did. But he's mastered the lesson that I think I will take my entire life to learn: Sometimes you just have to laugh at life or you will go crazy.

So I tried it. I laughed. And you know what? I felt so much better.

Baby didn't laugh. He kept crying. But we finally got him to sleep and he slept for almost eight hours straight for the first time ever. And we settled into bed exhausted, but smiling.

Laughter is the best medicine,
The Brown-Eyed Girl