Proposals, engagements and being real

It was just Valentines day… and it was my 17th wedding anniversary. I spent the day working on some custom wedding spinner rings and reminiscing about my own wedding.

Which took me back to the proposal.

Which took me back to the day we met.

Which took me back to… (it really goes on and on)

Which led me allll the way back to growing up with some UnfreakinSnowWhiteSleepingBeautybelievable fantasies I had about love, romance and marriage.

Let me guess… you’ve fantasized about the day some guy popped the question too huh?

I know I did.

I had it all figured out. It was going to be perfect.

We would be at the beach, staring at the sunset. He had been acting a little weird all day but I wrote it off. He had been so loving all day and I felt so loved and special. Something just felt “off” but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, as the sun set, he draws a heart in the sand and puts a box in the center of the heart and whispers… “please say yes…”

Oh the shivers I get.

I had have quite the imagination!

Every time I tell this story people roll their eyes…

It didn’t go down that way.

After years of kissing frogs and getting warts,  “taking one for the team” and hearing my friends “don’t cry,  there’s more fish in the sea” I swore off men. I thought I was a lesbian. Then I thought God hated me. Then I swore back on men. Then I kissed more frogs… I was lonely! I had needs!

(But GOD! I was so sick of fishing!)

Everywhere I went, frogs were sure to go. Not once did I look around to see what the common denominator was…or WHO she was.

Me.

See the pattern? It was self defeating and I was miserable. And I had nooo idea that part of it …no, most…no, ALL of it was my fault. My responsibility.

After one last frog (we’ll call him “Freddie the deadie with stinky feet and needed a pedi”) I wandered into a friends kitchen,  sick to my stomach with self pity and convinced I’d be alone for the rest of my days (rolls eyes) and she sat me in the chair and got a piece of paper.

She folded it in half and then smoothed it out, so there was an invisible line from top to bottom.

She told me to try taking a year off of dating and sex (gasp!) and just write down everything I wanted in a man, and everything I didn’t want in a man.

What I wanted …went on the left side of the fold. What I didn’t want..went on the right side of the fold.

So I did. No sex, no dating, no nothing. For over 365 days all I did was focus on my kids, housework, living life with no dating. Nothing. None. I’d look and peek and wish…but nothing. I peeked at men, I peeked at women, I peeked at convents and I peeked at spinsterhood.

I was in my 30’s and didn’t know who I was when it came to relationships.

And for over 365 days I wrote, sometimes daily and maybe once or twice a week…everything I wanted in a man. And to make a long story short… after a year or so…some friends introduced me to this guy.

I wasn’t interested. He needed a haircut, he didn’t have brown hair or blue eyes (refer to list) I heard he didn’t play guitar (there went my serenading below my freaking window!) He didn’t like John Denver <gasp> and he loved 80’s music and baseball.

Blech.

Even his shirt was ugly. (my list…”HE” had to be a good dresser)

So they set us up. They sent him over to “borrow” a shovel. I gave him a shovel that my dad had for 30+ years.

He broke my damned shovel. My DAD’s shovel for crying out loud.

No brownie points for you mister.

So they set me up some more. They had a huge birthday party at the rat party house (Schmucky Cheese ..shhh can I get sued for saying that?) and I get this phone call.

“Hey, Linda can you do me a favor?”

Me (sucker sucker sucker) “Sure, what’s that?”

“Can you pick up Rick and bring him to the party?”

I’m laughing at this point. It’s soooo transparent that they’re trying to set us up.

So I picked him up.

I was kind of mean to him. I cringe when I recall what I said to him while I drove us to the rat party house.

“Just so you know, I do NOT approve of this blind date shit and I’m not looking for a man and I’m probably a lesbian or a nun but I can’t go to a convent til the girls are 18 and and and” I just sort of …ranted.

I treated him like a frog 😦

Poor guy … my poor sweet guy.

At the rat party house there were my kids…Rick didn’t have much money but he gave them quarters upon quarters. And, not once did he slyly look my way to see if he was scoring points. He genuinely wanted to see them have a good time.

He was better than anything on my list.

He was like the Velveteen rabbit.

He was real.

This guy…He had a heart of gold, he was good with my kids, my kids loved him,  my dad loved him and my sister adored him. And, for the first time in years, I felt safe and ..he was just genuine and real. He had work ethics and he was honest. No flash, (no cash) no fake, no suits, no bullshit, no drama, no sob stories, no self pity.

So what if he didn’t serenade me with John Denver songs, whisk me off in a limousine  (Thanks Richard Gere and Julia Roberts!) and walk puppies on the beach? (disclosure, there were some things on my list that involved totally unrealistic mushy romantic scenes out of movies and books. But, you probably guessed that by now)

He was gold and I knew it. We started talking and 3 days later, no sleep, hardly eating or showering …we talked and laughed and I knew. I knew he was “the one.”

Why? Because all the things that really mattered. All those important things on my “want in a man” and “don’t want in a man” list got really narrow.

During that year, while making that list…my standards were raised. And, while my standards in my man list were being raised, I stopped acting like a fly. I stopped looking for the damned frogs. I could now spot a frog a mile away and knew he wasn’t for me. They smelled funny, had a weird grin and there was no “genuine” anywhere in their eyes.

I needed “real” I needed “safe” I needed …what I ended up getting.

Not only did I need it for me, but I had two little girls. And him being a good man, a safe man, a kind man, a loving man and a dependable man…was at the top of the list. Their position on that list never wavered…

He…he had “genuine” written everywhere, not just his eyes. No games, no lies, no bullshit.

We lived together for a year, with my dad who lived with us and my kids…and at Christmas time he stumbled as he came towards me (I swear, he did stumble,  because he was so nervous) and he knelt on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I remember it like it was yesterday. Of course I told him yes and the wedding planning started. There was no sunset, no beach, no music. Just me, my dad, my kids. All sitting on the floor with our gloriously messed up Christmas morning hair, opening presents.

Best proposal ever.

He asked me what day we should get married and I immediately said “Valentine’s Day.”

With a caveat. No flowers, no fancy dinners, no chocolates…. I wanted the DAY to be special.

Why Valentines day? Because for decades mine blew chunks. One Valentines day after another, starting with Johnny Johnson in kindergarten (okay, so that wasn’t his real name but pfff, whatever) my heart was broken.

Every year I’d get my hopes up and every year, just like Lucy pulling the damned football out of Charlie Brown’s way at the last minute…my heart shattered …

Every stupid Valentines day. Grade school, junior high school and especially high school. They. All. Blew. I hated Valentines day and those stupid little Valentines day cards you’re supposed to get everyone when you’re in grade school. Those were painful. I’d count mine up and have 8. All the other girls would have 15 or 20.

That’s 40+ years ago and I still think those little Valentines day cards suck. But I digress…

Since he was “the one” I was going to make sure Valentines day never sucked again.

A year or so later, with very little money, we had a small ceremony.

Valentines day 1998.

ElfreakingNino just happened to be blowing through and everyone said that was “good luck.”

pffft I don’t know if it was good luck or not but it was certainly WET!

My sister and brother in law graciously gifted us with a small wonderful wedding chapel gift. My dad donated money for the wedding cake. Most of the decorations were hand made, we saved up for a little mexican food style buffet…I found my wedding dress at an antique store. It needed a little cleaning but it made me feel like Cinderella. I scrounged up the money for bouquets, bridesmaids dresses for my girls and generous friends and relatives pitched in to make sure we got the rest.

A wedding that love built.

The wedding rings…well, our wedding rings were really inexpensive.

My engagement ring was also my wedding ring.

When Rick proposed, the same ring he placed on my finger for the engagement would later be my wedding band.

It cost around 35.00.

Yes. I said 35.00

I wanted so badly for his ring to match mine. I took my ring and showed it over and over  from jewelry store to jewelry store in town looking for a possible match and when  I found it.  I felt like I won the lottery.

The man at the jewelry store told me how Rick came in, looking a little lost (he had never been ring shopping before and wanted to surprise me) And, as he looked through the rings and seeing the prices and styles, sort of shuffled his feet and kept asking what was more affordable.

My heart broke when I heard this. My sweet humble man…and that’s when I found out how much my ring cost. His was around 45.00.

I had to put his on layaway.

Yes, a 45.00 ring. On layaway.

We saved up money and were finally able to buy real wedding bands not too many years later. I cherish my first ring though… it was a symbol for so much we had gone through. And that what we had was much more than a fancy and expensive ring. Even when we did have the money for fancy gold and diamonds, we kept it simple.

So, when people started asking if I could make them spinner rings in place of a traditional wedding ring I was flattered and honored. I jumped at the chance to be part of a small but growing movement of people who weren’t keeping up with the Jones and who weren’t afraid of being true to what their budgets really were. There’s also a small but growing movement of people who are blazing their own trail with wedding jewelry…and the whole wedding itself.

I’m tickled pink when people ask me to make the “Marry me” rings. And, I really LOVE helping the guys figure out creative ways to surprise propose. I get pictures of the whole thing and it just … wow. I just love being part of that. What a treasure, to be part of THAT moment. Pretty cool.

My oldest daughter gave me the idea for a proposal/engagement ring so that’s where this ring came from marrymenewmainpic

Then, later…some more people asked me for more affordable and custom rings… that’s where these came from.

silver ring 2

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Simple, affordable and custom.

I really,  really enjoy the wedding jewelry. I expanded a little bit and designed some higher priced, but still affordable jewelry.

Chris ring

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Not too long ago, I got an Etsy convo from an LDS mom who wanted to order a special ring for her daughter. In LDS circles, and in Christian circles there’s a “TLW” ~ True love waits ~ It’s a chastity pledge. So I made this ring based on that…

The thank you letter and the family photo I received after they got the ring really touched me.

I was soooo happy she didn’t have to kiss a lot of frogs 😉

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I hope that if you are a guy, wandering around the web looking for a romantic way of proposing that you remember a few things. Don’t be afraid to ask your sisters, your moms or your aunts for help.  I bet they’re just dying to help out and would be thrilled to be part of THAT moment!

It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be dramatic and it doesn’t have to be at sunset at the beach.

I promise you…if it comes from the heart, and you put some thought into it…it will create a kodak memory that will be cherished forever.

Genuine, humble and real trumps fake every time.  You can dazzle a girl with diamonds but at the end of the day if you hurt her… those diamonds are worthless. She’ll never look at diamonds, or men the same. Ever.

For those of you that are tired of kissing frogs…make that list. Take that year and just work on yourself and look at why you attract the frogs.  I promise, if you make the list, and take care of yourself…you’ll see the men you’re attracted to change…it’s kind of weird how it happens.

I guess 365 days of looking at my choices in the pond really made me look at what I had to offer too. What if some guy was out there making HIS list. That was a reality check…and that just made me want to be a better woman 😉

I’m glad I made my list. He’s perfect for me. He grounds me and says I’m the one for him. We still don’t buy or do anything expensive on Valentines day. There’s no need.

And, what a kick in the pants to have my husband of 17 years ask me..to make him a custom spinner ring.

 

IMG_8650 🙂

And, imagine the tears that ran down my face when my little girl (okay okay, she was 25 years old) asked me to make HER wedding bracelet and make a bracelet for each girl in her party.

Every moms dream. Well…my dream anyway. To make something for their daughters special day. What a honor and a joy that was!

Each girl was given a word that she chose for them.

Trust, love, hope, faith…

Her wedding colors were yellow and blue.

These are her inspiration P1000261

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Which led me to creating this set for another bride to be 🙂

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And they lived happily ever after..

Well, I did anyway 😉

for 6,935 glorious sunsets (that’s all the days Rick and I have been together)

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Peace 🙂

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