Monday, May 21, 2012

engagement encounter

Being Catholic, one of the first steps of getting married in the Catholic Church is meeting with the priest and discussing our plans of our sacrament of marriage and going through a bit of what I would call 'pre-marrital counseling'. We then had to sign up for an 'engagement encounter' course or retreat - we decided to go with the retreat.

After having to reschedule the date several times, we were 'finally' able to make it - this past weekend! Tanner and I went into this EE weekend with low expectations - we always 'think' we've got everything down pat - but we hadn't any idea of how in depth and personal this retreat actually was going to be. I would highly recommend it - even if you aren't Catholic (I promise it isn't a recruitment retreat)!

We started the weekend out after work, grabbed a quick bite to eat at Subway and went to the Marywood Pastoral & Retreat Center in Orange, CA. The campus is set on a hill, overlooking the city lights and streets. Our Engagement Encounter started out with introductions from our guide Father Joe, a couple Lori and Keenan, and another couple Roxanne and Dennis. You can tell that these couples are so in love (both married over 20-25 years). We were given workbooks (that only our fiancé's were allowed to see) - our whole weekend was mainly based around these books (notes, questionnaires, worksheets, blank sheets, etc.). 

We discussed everything from love, marriage, family, finances, faith and stewardship. Although you don't have to be Catholic to go through the EE retreat (there were many fiancé's that weren't Catholic) - we still went to Mass both mornings. Each early morning Tanner and I would wake up earlier to go for walks and runs around the campus, we couldn't really leave because the gated were locked from 11 p.m - 7 a.m. Mass on Saturday started at 7:3o a.m. and class began at 8 a.m. so I did see quite a bit of people leave early to grab Starbucks or Coffee Bean in the a.m. (although the gates would not let you back in until 7 a.m. you can leave whenever you wanted).

The majority of the weekend consisted of each couple writing down feelings and views on certain aspects of marriage and life after marriage. We then came together with our fiancés and read each other's answers and discussed what we had written. Although I totally understand how this can be really effective for some couples, most of the topics Tanner and I have already discussed. It was however - very refreshing to spend a whole weekend discussing these details of our lives and how we plan to unite and become one. It's definitely a different approach then just learning about each other through dating for almost 5 years. 

When we came into this weekend, I was expecting to make new friends, share stories and feelings with these other couples, but honestly - it was more about spending the whole weekend with each other, loving each other, appreciating each other. I wouldn't trade this weekend for anything. Aside from writing vows for each other, my favorite moment was near the end of Saturday night (over candle lights) - we did a hand ceremony and it made almost everybody in the room 'teary eyed', how could it not. It was like the first glimpse to our Sacrament of marriage. If you've never seen or done the hand ceremony: (I hope you can appreciate this as much as we did)

Hands of the Bride and Groom
[Bride's name], please face [Groom's name], and hold his hands,
palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to love you all the days of his life.
These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams.
These are the hands you will place with expectant joy against your stomach, until he too, feels his child stir within you.
These are the hands that look so large and strong, yet will be so gentle as he holds your baby for the first time.
These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family
These are that hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy
These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief wrack your mind.
These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes: eyes that are filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.

[Groom's name], please hold [Bride's name]’s hands, palms up, where you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she pledges her love and commitment to you all the days of her life.

These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and encouraging them along the way, and knowing when it is time to let go
These are the hands that will massage tension from you neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard day.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times
These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.
They are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will hold you in joy and excitement and hope, each time she tells you that you are to have another child, that together you have created a new life.
These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams. Together as a team, everything you wish for can be realized.

God, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship founded in your grace, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for your perfection. May [Groom's name] and [Bride's name] see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide. We ask this in your name, Amen.


Thursday, May 17, 2012


So we've sent out a lot of save-the-dates a few months ago, and luckily I had ordered extras, because we definitely needed them with our ever-growing guest list! We were still missing a few addresses, so can you believe this - we're actually still sending a few STD's out tomorrow. Eeeks!

A little over three more months until the wedding! We'll be sending out the formal invitations next week - thankfully we got the addressing and assembling done last month so they're all ready to go! 


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the crossfit bride

Have you ever heard of CrossFit or Pure Barre, Paleo and Whole30 - or have you ever jumped on any other diet or workout trend?

I'm horrible with diets, as I have no willpower when it comes to food restraint. However, I've really been enjoying my new workouts with CrossFit. Of course the actual workouts, I probably couldn't do on my own, but with the motivation and encouragement of my fellow 'tribe' members - I have found that I'm able to push myself a lot more than if I worked out by myself at 24HourFitness.

I really enjoy spending time with Tanner at CF. CF really is a big part of his life, he even eats Paleo (basically the 'cave-man diet'), and I consider myself secondhand Paleo. The reason I joined was to lose weight, get lean and toned, and spend time doing something we can love together. Everything has been going well, except that I haven't lost weight and I haven't become lean. However, I can't say that CF hasn't helped me - I've definitely gained muscle weight and have become very strong! I'm still working on the 'lean' part and will have to take on some kind of diet. I will keep you posted!


Monday, May 14, 2012

mother's day

We had a wonderful Mother's Day full of food and fun! We spent Sunday lunch at home - as my mom had insisted that we let her cook a family meal for everyone. She and my grandmother enjoyed time in the kitchen as my younger brother and I set the table with chopsticks, candles and wine.

Tanner and I treated her and the family to a nice lunch the day before and bought her a tropical waterfall of orchids for Sunday morning. My sister and brother-in-law came to the house for lunch, bringing two purple orchids as well for our mother and grandmother (I guess we think alike), so our family room was full of orchids.

We spent lunch talking and sharing stories around the dining room table and then moved to the back patio. The guys smoked their cigars and drank their beers, while the girls enjoyed coffee and tea as we all chatted for hours. By the time we finished chatting it was dinner time.

We had a very nice dinner at a Chinese seafood restaurant, which my sister and brother-in-law had treated everyone to. I cannot tell you how much we love our mom, but she truly is an amazing lady and we all love her very much.

This morning we all received a letter from our mother: (she doesn't really write letters let alone in English, so it's kind of a big deal)

"Dear Children,
I was so enjoyable this mother's day, that you did for me and thank you for your presents and mother's day greeting cards. I am so happy my kids are very family orient. I hope you will keep it forever (pretty sure she meant, 'stay family-oriented forever'). I'm proud of you.

P.S. Daddy is very jealous. Ha! ha!"

Hope you all celebrated and had a Happy Mother's Day as well!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

loose diamonds

I've been wearing my engagement ring for about eight-months now and just realized that the center stone seems to be loose. Apparently your suppose to have your ring checked every six-months or so, especially if there are multiple diamonds and long set prongs (mine has 176 little diamonds and low set prongs for the center stone). We haven't insured it yet and really need to. I know that putting some kind of policy on the ring might not seem romantic, but I really do feel that it's necessary no matter the ring's cost - it could be a $500-$20k ring. There are a few ways to insure your ring - and we're planning on purchasing 'ring insurance' through a homeowner's 'rider' policy extension.

My prongs could've gotten loose after wearing my ring to workout (we do CrossFit, that's a whole another story). I try to leave it at home, however, sometimes I forget - and then when I do remember to leave it at home, I tend to forget to put it back on. Today's one of those days, when I have forgot to put it back on and I came to work without my ring (I hate when I forget my ring).

On another note: We'll be traveling for our honeymoon (I'll have to write a separate post about our honeymoon plans), and I don't feel comfortable wearing my ring. The silly part is - I don't want to wear it traveling because I feel we'll get ripped off a lot (my ring - does have a lot of 'bling'). So I'm in the process of finding a CZ/gem on silver kind of traveling ring. An inconspicuous kind of ring, something not at all like my real one. While at Nordstrom I was able to find this really neat antique style ring - not sure what kind of stone is in the center, but I do think it's a real gem not just cz - it's got a yellowy tone to it and specs, kind of like a raw diamond with the metal being real silver made in Thailand. I was actually really proud of finding it and then a matching silver band - thinking wow, this is a perfect travel ring!

And then I bought it and put it on: (Although the band fit size 5, the ring didn't... it's a size 7, which is way too big - oops, I didn't look at sizes and when I tried it on at the store, it fit with the plastic piece that held it to the tag). Hopefully I can exchange this one and find another one same or somewhat similar...

I will keep you posted on the rings!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

spending less & loving more


(I started a new blog, apart from my old one.)

I know, I've been MIA for months at a time. I admit - I'm not a good blogger. It may be because of my lack of wanting to communicate my happiness in fear of bragging and struggles in fear of weakness to anyone other than my fiancé. All I've got to say is - it's been working out for us! Our form of communication, the willingness to open up to each other and listen - is one of the basis of our relationship that we both cherish and take pride of. Maybe it's the lack of communication between my parents that has made my desire to form a 'healthy' relationship with my future spouse as an underlying foundation for us. Not to say this was all my doing - for the most part, he did most of the work (always trying to get me to open up, even when I really didn't want to) staying honest and compassionate while listening to every detail of my life. I truly value my fiancé's input.  And although we may not agree on everything, I know that through all the messes in my life he's my main supporter, my biggest fån (Chinese for rice, a little inside joke we have) and I could only hope that he feels the same way about me.

So, this brings me to another topic - 'finances',... fun right? Not! I'm terrible with finances. I'm the type of girl that doesn't pack a lunch for work, purchases multiple 'venti soy lattes' a day from Starbucks, and spends a lot of time and money at HomeGoods, thrift/consignment stores, and Target. And not to mention - I was recently laid off due to large corporation transitional changes (yep, laid off at only 24). My fiancé moved out here for me, taking a significant pay cut in salary to be here with me so that I could keep working at the company I 'had' enjoyed working at (don't get me wrong, he actually really enjoys this job - but I still feel super-guilty). Our discussion on finances was probably one of the larger key life-changing aspects, learning about how he manages his finances and my telling him about how I managed mine, we weren't exactly on the same page... to give you an idea: We're both Catholic (me, being a recent converted Catholic), but none-the-less we're marrying in a Catholic church, and if you know anything about marrying in the Church - you meet with the priest and go through a little pre-marriage counseling. Our lowest score we had received was in the criteria for "cultural viewpoints" (which was to be expected, as we do come from different 'cultural backgrounds' him being Irish/Mexican/Italian/etc., and me being Chinese/Taiwanese), but then there was the "finances" our second lowest score. It wasn't bad or anything, but is definitely one of our main concerns and something we're still working on and we'll need to keep working on. We've been living with my parents for the past 6 months together (me, over a year), and now we are looking forward to moving into our new/old home - therefore gaining yet another mortgage on top of the one we already have. My goals for us in the area of 'finances' for this year: spend less, love more. And what I mean by love more, is exactly how it's written - I really hope that the 'positive' aspects of our relationship will grow 'stronger' and that through all our struggles we'll be able to maintain our 'healthy' communication efforts (after all, we did score 100% in this area).

Warm Wishes!