Monday, January 25, 2010

Best Geocache EVER!!!

Dear Susannah,

Here is the video that captures the moments around the tipping point in my life. After years of searching for you, you finally found me. I'm so glad...

I may have had more than a sliver of hope that you would say yes after I asked you to marry me and be sealed to me, but you can clearly see by my body language that I knew how important those few minutes were.

I kept telling people, "Saturday is either going to be the best day ever or the worst day ever". Thank you for making it the best day ever and saying yes to embarking on this journey with me.



Dear faithful and not-so-faithful blog followers,

Susannah has wanted me to post on this for some time now. I guess the one post a month isn't gonna fly.

Here is the video of the day that I proposed. I'm sure you've all read the previous posts that my fiancee so eloquently wrote about how it went down...but here is the video that our good friend Will put this together. The whole thing went smoothly thanks to Will, David and Ryan. Thanks guys!!

Quick recap of the back story of the proposal:
  • Suz didn't know I had the ring (all signs pointed to me being a slacker and not taking action on my desire to marry her because I didn't have the ring) .
  • We planned to go geocaching on Saturday morning.
  • Friday prep: picked up ring, picked up ammo canister, took to florist to prep
  • Saturday prep: picked up ring/flowerbox, met Ryan, David and Will at 8:30am, bought portable power supply for speakers, hours of camara/audio set up by R-D-W, prepare secret codes via text and phone to ensure timing.
  • She thought something was up the night before, but events on the morning of (allowing plans to change, making waffles before leaving and me not knowing exactly where to go) pointed to just another day having fun geocaching. it is. The best Geocache EVER! Went there with my girlfriend and left with my fiancee.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Annie are you ok... You've been hit by-- you've been struck by-- a SMOOTH CRIMINAL"

Story time....

Ben and my's date tonight was to meet at our local rock climbing gym when we each finished work. I like rock climbing, I like this gym, I haven't been in a few months, and I'm eager for Ben to teach me new moves, but for some reason I really didn't want to go tonight. My stomach started to ache and I was thinking of excuses for us to do something else the whole drive there. When I saw Ben he was so excited to climb and called me out for "being sick" that I decided to give in and climb with him instead of breaking his heart.

I left my purse on the floorboard of the front seat. Ben always pays... it's a nasty habit I've started.

When we got into the gym he and I were both tempted to go back to my car because I left my contacts case and his camera in my purse.

But we didn't.

Two hours later there was a conversation that went something like this...

"Hey babe... Look at my car..."
"Anything look different to you?"
" Oh hey... your window is broken. You're window is broken! Your purse is gone!"

Yes, indeed, my sparkly silver purse was gone.

Things I lost:
-- one of my favorite purses that a special professor friend gave me
-- the necklace I've worn every day for almost 4 years with a Japanese coin on it from SAS (took it off a couple days ago for the temple but put it in my purse to remember to put back on)
-- my last APX pen (you may laugh, but i LOVE how those pens write. Friends would send them to me on my mission)
-- 3 books: A marriage/ love book I'd bought from the temple bookstore on Tuesday, The Book Thief (oh the irony...), and Jane Eyre.
-- My temple recommend (4th rec in 18 months.)
-- debit card, license, cash, etc. that can all be replaced
-- my favorite wallet of all time: soft leather dyed pink from Bangkok
-- Ben's camera with some pix on it I hadn't downloaded
-- My notes book with plans, ideas, #s, etc. for our sealing celebration

Silver lining:
--Ben was with me
-- I didn't flip out and neither was Ben
--Only the window was smashed, nothing else was wrong with the car. Its still drivable, so I can still go to work and still drive to Greenville to meet Ben for Wicked next week (yes, one of my first thoughts)
-- Most likely someone homeless stole it, so they got some cash that will hopefully go to good use.
-- Ben had an extra fleece and gloves in his trunk so I didn't freeze driving home with the window out
-- my temple bag and scriptures were still in the car
-- We got to see the police do that cool fingerprint detection thingy
-- There is a chance the thief left the purse somewhere
-- The spirit worked and warned me not to go... I was the one who didn't listen.
-- I got insurance on my new car two days ago
-- I had an excuse to blast my stereo to hear it over the open window. I LOVE MY STEREO. I have twin 12-amp speakers that make the whole car vibrate and makes Michael Jackson sound AMAZING.
-- My life had been going too well... a fiance, a new amazing job and a new car all in one week. It really isn't fair for just one person. I was due.
-- I didn't like that window anyway
-- I would normally have put my jewelry in my zipped wallet for "safe keeping", but forgot to tonight OR MY ENGAGEMENT RING, COLLEGE RING, AND WATCH WOULD ALL HAVE BEEN STOLEN, TOO.

Have a good day!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Part-Y?? Because we're Engaged!!

Mom was excited to throw us a really fun engagement party. Ben was just as excited because it gave him a chance to reveal a surprise: 3 men from our single's ward had been hiding in the woods when we got engaged recording the event. One, Will, edited the video and we previewed it at our party with my family and our friends on Saturday night.

The video was INCREDIBLE (even though my name is spelled Susannah not Sussanah)! Thank you so much for your hard work, Will, and your foresight and effort, Ben. It's existence wasn't a complete surprise, but the video was so much more than I expected and a wonderful treat. Can't wait to have a copy to show EVERYONE!

The rest of the party was a smashing success, too. Mom went out of her way to have great food and an inviting atmosphere. Her toast welcoming Ben to our family was so sweet, and his to me was, too. And a TON of our friends were there-- I loved seeing how many people wanted to celebrate this occasion!

Everyone should have an engagement party. Once you're engaged, of course :)

I love you, Missy! You're amazing!

Mom had fun entertaining Bro. and Sis. Habel from our Branch Presidency

My sister, Brett, drove up with her fam for the occasion! Here she is with Benjamin the Great and Jack-Jack

Ben made balloon animals. David got bored and hid them.

Some of my favorite girls... Katie, my sister Megan, Becky, Jessica, and Ana Karen-- our personal cheerleader

More peeps

Scattered PIC-tures of the way we were.... Any one remember that from BIG?

SO.... Invitations are a nightmare. I can't explain why, but I have absolutely dreaded that process. Perhaps because it is a multi-function project, requires the cooperation of many people (if you want one, better get us your addresss), and involves a decision I'm not comfortable making by myself.

So I've put off doing it (is it even possible to already be "putting things off" when you've only been engaged a week? Am I actually "on time"?)

An aspect of invitations I was looking forward to, though, was getting engagement pictures taken!! I saw this as a necessary event prior to looking deeply into invitation selection, so it was the first thing we did. Saturday morning we met a friend of ours, Jacqueline, at the River Front (where Ben proposed, remember.)

It was 9:00 am, we were both pretty tired, and I was cold, but we had a lot of fun. It's weird having someone watch and photograph you, but at least I got to hug and kiss Ben! What better way to make an awkward situation fun?

Ben wants our invitation picture to be a surprise (as if we've even picked it out yet...) so I can't post our very favorites. But here are some good ones, anyway :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Here Comes the Bride's List...

It's 5:18 a.m. I'm awake after a few good hours of sleep for the third night this week (and it's only Friday). We haven't even been engaged a week, our sealing and celebration plans are pretty simple, and plenty of family and friends have sincerely offered to help, yet I keep getting startled awake with ideas and things to do in the short amount of time between now and April 2nd. I'm so glad that date works for everybody and so relieved and happy to be married to Ben as soon as possible, but 2 months sure isn't enough time for an event planner to organize something amazing! It's miracle intervention time :)

Part of my overwhelm-edness (I think I made that word up. It's 5:18 am. Did I mention that?) is that I have probably eight separate idea and to-do lists floating around my purse (where there is also a blank pad of paper for when inspiration strikes for another list) telling me how to plan this celebration. See, in the last five days we got engaged, went to Atlanta for 2 days, met my dad for the first time in years, I started a new job, Ben has been working, we've had a few nights of church activities, and looked at buying a car for me. All things that are not only time-consuming, but emotionally and physically draining, as well. There just hasn't been a lot of time to sit down and organize all the fun things I've thought about and we've talked about.

Time to organize a little better. I've said I just need a solid amount of time, the internet, and an Excel spreadsheet to get a to-do list, projected budget, and timeline sorted out. I didn't necessarily expect that time to be 5:18 in the morning, but since I've complained I guess I'll take what I can get.

Here it goes.

  • Book photographer and take engagement pictures
  • Pick out invitations with Ben
  • Compile addresses and send invitations
  • Design celebration dress
  • Find tailor to make dress (how long?)
  • Check local florists for flower availability, cost
  • Make hotel arrangements for out-of-towners
  • Decide food menu
  • Arrange for certain menu items to be made/ delivered/ set-up
  • Rent food equipment if necessary
  • Interview possible artists and hire
  • Hire strings musicians
  • Make guest gifts
  • Buy decorations
  • Arrange as much help as necessary
ALREADY DONE (Isn't it such a good feeling to check things off a to-do list?)
  • Set date
  • Reserve temple
  • Inform family, friends
  • Family making travel plans
  • Sarah's hotel
Ok. I feel a little better. I'm going back to bed now. Wish me luck.

Monday, January 11, 2010


A few weeks ago my 4-year-old niece, Catherine, was visiting from Georgia. She had learned about temple marriage in church recently, and was approaching every member of the family and assigning them a spouse. I gave Ben a huge hug when he came over to my house that day, and Cat saw us and yells, "MARRIAGE!" while pointing at us. This settles it: 4-year-olds can predict the future. Or control it. Thanks, Kit Cat!

I am so incredibly happy. I don't want to speak for Ben, but I'm pretty sure he's satisfied with life right now, too :)

My Reaction

When I saw the amo can:
1. I guess this is the cache what we've been looking for!
2. Shouldn't caches be hidden?
3. There are yellow flowers inside. Who would hide yellow flowers?
4. Wait... I like yellow flowers.
5. Why is Ben kneeling next to me and not taking pictures?
6. Could this be for me?

When the song started playing:

7. Yep. This was planned.

When he pulled out the ring:
8. Oh my goodness... He has the ring!
9. When did he get the ring?!
10. It's gorgeous.

When he proposed:
11. UTTER SHOCK. Hands fly to my face.

I am so happy!

The Rings! (Yes, that's plural)

Ben covertly organized a lunch with my mom the Tuesday before he proposed. At the end of their conversation she gave him her engagement ring for me. Her ring is a beautiful pear-shaped diamond surrounded by 12 emeralds in flower petal fashion set in a thin, custom-made silver band. She and I have planned for a couple years now that I would use her ring when I was ready to get engaged. To keep it special for her and personal to me, we agreed to have her emeralds (which had been her favorite part) replaced with diamonds and made into their own new piece of jewelry.

Mom was so supportive she even dropped the ring off at a local jeweler for Ben while he was at work. He called them that afternoon and they said it would take 1.5-2 weeks to have the diamonds ordered and put in. Ben told them that was NOT ACCEPTABLE! He called 10 more jewelers and finally found one that had some time available to finish it by that Friday-- a short 4 days later! The new jeweler sent a runner to pick it up from the first Tuesday night. They ordered the stones Wednesday, they came in Thursday, and they spent all day Friday (literally until 5:30 pm) making it.


I have had two years to wonder what that sentimental, beautiful ring would look like with the adjustments made. The new ring (MY ring) hardly resembles the original at all! It is gorgeous, unique, and very personal and special to Ben and me.

A LOOOOOOOOOONG time ago I heard that after David Beckham proposed to Victoria she turned right around and pulled out a ring for him saying, "If I'm wearing a ring, so are you. Girl power." I've always thought that was awesome. The Sunday before a newly-engaged couple at our Single's Branch was joking about how the man didn't have to wear a ring but his fiance did. Hahaha... perfect.

I ordered this ring for Ben a couple weeks earlier (come on... was anyone surprised we were getting engaged?) and gave it to him Saturday night at dinner.

It's a funny picture, but I promise he was really excited!

Awwww aren't we so cute?

The Song

When I opened the can and Ben pulled out the ring box the song Love Story started playing from the woods. I was SO IMPRESSED. It was the perfect extra touch, and I had no idea how he pulled it off. That wasn't really on my mind, though :)

Taylor Swift's Love Story is one of my favorite modern songs. I think it's fun to sing along to, I think it is really cleverly written, I can sympathize with the "narrator" (what girl can't). It makes me happy.

Ben had it queued up to a part at the end that goes like this:
"I said, 'Romeo, save me. I've been feeling so alone. I keep waiting for you but you never come. Is this in my head I don't know what to think.' He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said, 'MARRY ME, JULIET, YOU NEVER HAVE TO BE ALONE. I LOVE YOU AND THAT'S ALL I REALLY KNOW.' "

That part of the song has always made me smile and helped me look forward to getting engaged while I was in less-happy relationships in the past, and here Ben was making that daydream a reality.

The Flowers

Ben called around to find an amo can on Friday, picked it up, waited for my ring to be finished at the jewelers, and took them both to a local florist to have the can filled with yellow flowers and the ring hidden inside. He told me he'd be at my house at 5:45 that Friday, and didn't get there until 6:30 because all those errands took so much time. I really look forward to seeing him after work and that night had even been waiting by the window. I thought he'd been in an accident or something! I had no idea he was late because it took longer than he thought organizing my proposal :)

I am the LUCKIEST girl.

I LOVE yellow.

How perfect is this??

The Plan

Ben and I both like geocaching, but we've never been together. He bought a special iPhone app which downloads caches in your area, and we made a date to test it out Saturday morning. At the last minute I had an idea to do something else, but Ben would NOT budge! He never acts like that. A couple other little things were out of the ordinary. Something was up....

We got out of the house at 11:30 am, and in the car Ben told me we were heading to the RiverWalk to search for caches. He pretended like he'd never been there before; checking his GPS, almost missing the turn-off, etc. We finally got there and he pulls out the geocaching app and shows me how it checks the coordinates and gives you a compass to follow. (He had even gone through the trouble to submit a fake cache to the general website so the app would look more real, but the site administrator wouldn't approve it even after he said he needed it for a proposal!)

He said we were looking for an amo can hidden in the large rocks which seperate the walking path from the Congaree River. He'd convinced me that he had never been here and nothing was planned, so I went ahead and really focused on finding that cache. I was looking under rocks, towards the woods, everywhere!

He finally turned me back toward the rocks and I noticed a large, green, lunchbox-looking thing out in the open at the end of a large rock jutting into the water (I guess I didn't really know what I was supposed to be looking for all along).

I handed him the camera we brought along and said, "Maybe that box is what we are looking for! Here-- take a picture of me opening it just in case and we can blog it later." I walked out, sat down, opened the lid, and found it filled with yellow flowers.

I asked him to pose for these pictures...

Little did I know he was pretending to pretend!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Christmas box from my dad with one of my old journals dredged up this funny memory...

When I was a kid I yearned for two things: a pony, and a laptop. I'm not sure what about a laptop appealed to me so strongly, but the desire came and remained. I remember buying my first from a colleague of my dad's who was getting a new one. I payed all my savings --$300-- to buy it myself.

I remember that it was BIG. Do you remember the seperate docking stations laptops would slide into to charge? It had one of those and a broken power cord so the two were ALWAYS connected. Even if it wasn't as portable as I'd expected and though I wasn't tech-savvy enough to use it properl
y, I still loved that thing.


May 27, 1998

My laptop broke today. I kind of jumped on it. Maybe that's what broke it. But it was only my feet... and only because a lot of clothes as well as the case were on top of it. But HOWEVER it happened, the screen broke and ink is smeared all inside the screen. I might have to buy a new one. It might be $1000. But I'm not working anymore and I only get $3 a week allowance.


Ben LOVES technology. (And he's training to become a cage fighter.)

Some pictures to prove it....

He made my Christmas card with microchips.
When I said, "Pretty, glitter!" he pulled out a lighted microscope to show me.

Talking on a cell phone, looking at his iPhone, and using the
computer all at the same time. What a pro.

Because one computer screen just isn't enough sometimes...

Ben has no idea what he's getting into.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rebecca made this happen to us...

It's A Party in the C-O-L-A

"Do you want to come to Ben's? We're gonna have a fire and maybe watch a movie... He has a bunch of old letters he needs to burn." --Suz
"Hey! Who is going to Ben and Susannah's?!" -- Melissa
"She meant Ben's! Only Ben's!" --Suz
"Then why are you inviting people over?" -- Matt
"Uh... Well... Ben wants... Hmm..." -- Suz

So some friends came over last night after FHE (I hate BUNKO).

Will, Melissa, Christy, Leila, Matt, Rebecca, Baxter, Jeremy, Ben (before Will and Dave got there)

The famous Will and Melissa

A nod to the wonderful Eagle Scouts of the world... thank you for your sacrifice, service, and ability to start a fire :)

Who knew Mom's Christmas gift to Ben would come in so handy? Baxter was the first to spend time trying to build something with these things.

He tried for so long to get that darn Santa up! It's amazing what concentration he can
have sometimes...

Don't look so humble, Baxter!

Matt fashioned a gangsta 'cklace from Ben's magic magnets

Christy got in on the action. Christmas Present definitely put to good use...

"Who has gas?" --Will
"Why do I feel like my soul is slowly being sucked out?" --Suz
"I'm an Eagle Scout and I'm from Fireland!" --Matt
"Vitas!" -- Rebecca

Sunday, January 3, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End... Or Beginning :)

Dear Ben,
Thank you so much for this unforgettable trip. I am so lucky to be with someone spontaneous enough to pack all his snow gear and go on a trip with one night's notice. I love that you support me in my crazy ideas and that you inspire me to try new things. Thank you for listening to a lot of Jason Mraz, not forcing me to drive in the snow, literally taking the "road less traveled", teaching me to snowboard, letting me pick out your new clothes, sharing meals with me, and finding antique stores for me to peruse.
I am so relieved to know that you are just as passionate about our planet, helping others, and traveling as I am. Talking to Steve, the third-world handmade wares shop owner, with you was one of the highlights of my trip. Let's support others the way he does! I feel so inspired, and know that you are, too. Steve was right-- we are a "good fit."
You made this New Year's so special for me. What better way to start a new year than with someone you love? I plan on sticking to my New Year's Resolution. You can count on that.
I'm looking forward to all the fun and adventure we'll have in the future!


They call them the Blue Ridge Mountains for a reason!

We saw a pack (is that the right word? Pack?) of these deer crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway at night when we weren't supposed to be there. It was amazing to see the snow that had only been touched by these wild animals! How special :)

We celebrated by going to an impromptu fireworks show at t
he ski mountain. We had no idea there would be such a good show! Ben was in awe... They had SIX grand finales! We were worried that we wouldn't be able to even see the fireworks (firesparkles) because of really thick fog, but it turned out even cooler-- the lights reflected off the fog for a very cool effect.

Ben hasn't been anywhere
until he's done a handstand there... Including slippery rocks beside a rushing river in 20 degree weather beyond a "Stay Behind Wall" sign. That's my boy!

We drove to Linville Falls and had to hike .4 mi through the snow to get to them. That meant it was deserted, though, and BEAUTIFUL!

Told ya there were lighted crosses on a hill...

Ben taught me to snowboard! Thanks to Emily's board, boots and pants, Ben's old jacket and goggles, and Melissa's hat, 1/2 price mtn. pass, and 3 hours together, and a potato chip :)