Saturday, August 27, 2011

I said "Si"

So I really wrote another blog post last Sunday. I was going to upload it as soon as I got home from church but then something more exciting happened that night that prevented me from posting it. So I really was trying to be better about updating my life on this thing.... Sigh. But don't worry.... when you are least expecting it, I will go ahead and upload what I wrote and it will seem like a nice little flashback. It will also give me time to find my camera chord and upload photos. Monte Carlo is beautiful (there is your sneak peek of what the post will be about).

But that isn't really what you are interested in, is it?

START HERE FOR LONG VERSION OF STORY (this may be more for my benefit than your entertainment):

August 21st. Ulises and I were up 'early' Sunday morning because he wanted to prepare some things for a big family dinner later that night. (we had to prepare it then because Ulises has had to work the last few Sundays. It's annoying) Earlier that week we had actually talked about going to a restaurant that he had already paid for. (he had paid for it previous to my arrival in Spain!) But different members of his family had conflicting schedules that prevented us from booking a time. It didn't look like it was going to going to work for us that whole week. The only free day everyone had was Sunday. So we decided to cook ourselves.

I had no idea what we were making but I was in charge of cutting the vegetables and potatoes. I did a fine job. I followed the pattern Ulises had shown me since he is quite particular about some of those things. I packed it away and had it set for cooking as soon as he got home that night.

The rest of the day was nice. I went to church where I talked to some members, slept a little in Relief Society, and read some scriptures. When we got home from church it was about 7:30 or 8:00. ( The church block is 3-6 and we stay later for Ulises dad because he has meetings as the Bishop)

When we all got home, Ulises walked in the door right behind us--within 15 minutes. He also had some bags full of things that his boss had given him. Pastires, strawberries and whipped cream, some cured meat, some fancy bleu cheese and some caviar and fish tapas. It was really kind of him!

When we started to cook I was a little frustrated cause Ulises was giving me directions but not telling me what the final product was supposed to be. Then after all the work I had done cutting up all the veggies and potatoes he said in an exasperated voice"why did you cut all the potatoes like this!!" ( even though it was modeled after the way he showed me). More frustration. Then he told me to arrange some of the olives with the cheese dip. He came and fixed it to his liking. It just seemed that I couldn't do anything the way he wanted it! At one point I told him not to use an old dish rag because I had gotten some raw fish on it and it wasn't clean. Once again I was scolded for doing something wrong when all I wanted to do was prevent him from using a dirty rag. It's not like I was rubbing fish carcasses all over clean surfaces. I should have been more careful with the dish towel. But that wasn't the point. The point was he shouldn't use it cause it had fish juice on it! ( maybe I'm still a little frustrated. I need to calm down)

After all of these things I was exasperated and went into my (his sisters) room and laid on the bed frustrated. It also was a little crazy cause his grandma, cousin, and cousin's daughter also showed up unexpectedly and Ulises had to cook for them too. Too many cooks in the kitchen and too many noses and too much going on. I had to retreat. Ulises came in and asked where I was and why I wasn't helping. At this point I even thought ' i sure hope he isn't planning on proposing tonight. ' ButWhen he saw I was upset he came over and apologized. He is very sweet and tried to make me feel better. That won me over enough to come help set the table.


can you see the joy on my face?

then we all sat down.


At this point I just wanted to eat. But...I also was a little frustrated because I couldn't eat some of the things on the menu because I have some dietary restrictions. so that was also bothersome. Ulises was mad when his sister put whipped cream on my strawberries. I told him it wasn't a big deal but he insisted I have something. I started to cut up a melon and put it in a plastic bowl. But he made me put it in a glass dessert dish like the others. I wondered why he was being so picky.....

Here Niza is trying to take a picture of me. I REALLY didn't want any photo taken of me. I was gross, sweaty and unhappy.


I'm usually a good sport taking pictures when I dont want to. But you can tell with this one that I wasn't up for it at all.

and then Ulises wanted me to pose. the smile on my face is incredibly insincere. It's like the sides of my mouth are pinned up and my eyes tell the real story. Ulises on the other hand, must have known something that I didn't. Look at how sincere his smile is! It's a mile wide!



So we ate dinner and it was pretty good. Although I don't speak Spanish... I could tell conversation at the dinner table was pretty boring. everyone kept commenting on how good the food tasted and really said nothing else.

When I was looking away Ulises took out a little ring box and set it on the table. I looked over and saw something sparkly and my eyes met his. he had the biggest smile on his face. Later he told me I didn't give him enough time. But when he sat the ring there i said, "well, are you going to say something?" and then he got on one knee and said

"Mary, will would you marry me?" *

I then responded with "Si!" with a big smile! It's kinda weird I didn't say yes... you'd think that would come more naturally.

we then kissed


And his family cheered and I hugged him and cried.



then he put on the ring


and his family documented it all for us!

and then cheered again!


and gave us kisses (something I really like about Spanish Culture. They are really affectionate)


and then i smiled a real authentic smile for the camera. I even have a little tear ( of joy) in my eye!


And isn't the ring lovely? I had told him I wanted a yellow gold ring and he had to look all over for one. In Spain they sell wedding bands and that is it. No one wears wedding rings with stones.There are some solitaire diamond rings out there but with only a very few simple designs. They are all white gold though. Its also interesting that they aren't designed or advertised as engagement rings either. Much different than America! So It actually is quite lucky that he found a gold ring with a diamond. I like how it is simple, delicate and thin. I think it is dainty and feminine. The stone sticks up quite a bit but it allows light to go through it and shine. The simplicity is beautiful I think.


and it is great that I painted my nails just the day prior, isn't it!


Now when we go looking for wedding bands I want to keep something smooth and delicate. I'm sure I will find something as lovely as the engagement ring. There's a place by my house in SLC that makes custom jewelry. Maybe Ulises and I can do something of our own there!

He is excited cause he wants our rings to match and he always wanted Yellow gold. Lucky for me I also prefer yellow gold.

So that night turned out quite well even though I was behaving like an immature brat that night because dinner preparations were 'bothering me." The whole purpose was to make me happy! Boy do I feel stupid. Ulises said he was worried about the decorations and the way the food was presented because he wanted it perfect for me. He said he was about proposing and that is why he might have been so particular about things in the kitchen. I'm glad he was nervous though-- makes me feel like even though we have been talking about getting married for the last two months that it was still scary and intimidating for him. It's cute.

We quickly called my parents and after struggling with them to get their web cam working we gave up and just told them. I feel bad I couldn't see their reactions :(. But they were really excited about it and incredibly supportive. I made Ulises quickly ask my dad for my hand in marriage cause he had forgotten to do so earlier. Dad said yes. He actually said " you could have asked me the first day I met you and I would have said yes, I could tell from the light in your eyes that you were a good man"

That made me smile

What made me smile even more was that Ulises got really emotional and told my Dad that he was grateful for him and that he had a beautiful daughter with his expressive big eyes. It was cute.

That night I asked Ulises if his whole family knew that he was going to propose to me that night. He said no, that just his mom, dad, sisters and brother in law knew... So yeah--pretty much everyone. But when he told me that that is how his parents became engaged--in front of their families, it became really sweet and sentimental that he wanted to do the same thing. AND I got a documentation of the event! (even my sourpuss attitude) I think it's a win win.

I hope Ulises can forgive me for being completely honest in this post about how I felt up to the point he proposed. I think it makes the story all the more sweet. I was moody and he was nervous. But it all ended well. I am so grateful for a patient and loving man who deals with me even in my worst state and tries to make me happy when I am inconsolable.

Ulises is the kindest and most patient man I know. He also wants to make sure I am the happiest girl in the world. He would sacrifice any thing for me. He puts my feelings and desires above his own. He tries to conform to make me comfortable in a foreign country. He supports my somewhat difficult dietary lifestyle because he knows it makes me happy. He makes me laugh like no one else. He can tease me in just the right way but is never condescending. He always makes heavy situations seem light. He is wise and thoughtful. He thinks things through thoroughly and makes good choices and tries to help others before himself. He loves Jesus Christ and His gospel and is dedicated to it. He knows the doctrine and follows it. He tries to help others follow it as well. He prays sincerely. He loves without limits. He really is full of so much light! He is clean, pure, bright, and gentle. He is also brilliant. He studies one of the most difficult masters programs here in europe and he works full time at the same time! He is doing what none of his classmates are doing by working and going to school and doing well--all at the same time. Not to mention making himself a spectacle by getting married before he graduates. He will be the only student in his school who is married. Crazy, no? I love him for making sacrifices to do what is right. I know we can be blessed if we follow the commandments even if it is unpopular or inconvenient. I love him! And have you seen his smile? I love seeing him smile and most of all hearing his laugh. His laugh is like music to me. I can't help but feel so much happiness when I see and hear him laugh and smile. I am so blessed to have him as my...Fiance!

So when is the wedding date? 31st May 2012. Now I know that seems pretty far away..... but don't judge us. You go ahead and see how difficult it is to marry someone from overseas. Yeah--its not easy! If we could do it sooner we could, but alas! this is what we have to work with. But it will give us time to work out any kinks, save some money, and for me to come up with fantastic centerpiece decorations.

Now if that isn't a long blog post-- I don't know what is! Hopefully my posterity will thank me someday for all the details. If not--at least I have written it down myself so when the memory fades--I can read about it again :)

I love Ulises :)

* when he proposed, it sounded like he said "could you marry me" but to not ruin the moment I decided to correct him afterwards. When I told him he said it wrong he was confused. I said "you can say would or will you marry me, but you can't say could-- at least not in in this situation" It turns out he said neither could or would. He said GOULD. he has been saying the word 'Would' like GOULD all this time. He usually says it quickly so I haven't really noticed... but he was upset that after such a long time of studying English no one ever corrected him! I told him would sounds just like wood. And now he is clear on it.

Don't worry though. my mistakes in Spanish are a lot more embarrassing. I accidentally called his brother in law "pee."

Thursday, August 4, 2011


So I have no good reason as to why I haven't posted. I'm a little upset with myself cause this is supposed to be kind of a journal for me. I write for myself just as much as for my family and friends.

Anyway, I am writing from my sickbed. I'm not dying but I have an annoying ear ache. I haven't had one of these since I was a kid and I forgot how irritating and painful they can be. I woke up in the middle of the night, took some IB prophen and Ulises said he would take me to the doctor in the morning. I will let you know how socialized health care is--ok? And yeah-- I am one of those 'illegal immigrants' getting something out of the system when I haven't done anything to work to contribute to it. Please don't hate me.

So what have I been doing? Well let me first tell you what I haven't been doing. I haven't been playing the hymns in church like I said I would. Both Niza and I forget to get the song assignment to me in time to practice so it hasn't really come together.But it's still something I would like to do. I also haven't been progressing with Spanish as fast as I should. I communicate well but I am not using my free time as I should. I have made a goal to study 2 hours of Spanish daily for the month of August. You are now saying to yourself "you should have been doing that all along!" or "only 2 hours!?" And yes, you are right. But 2 hours is something I can demand of myself and be consistent with every day even when unexpected activities pop up that take me away from my evening hours of study while Ulises works.

What are these activities that could come up? Here is what has happened recently:
I've been to birthday parties, baptisms, fundraisers for EFY, the missionaries have come over, I've gone to bridal showers and baby showers and other random activities with Ulises family.

Birthdays here have been fun.
The WHOLE family gets together. Ulises cousin's child Sabrina had a birthday the other weekend and we all went as well as all her cousins and second cousins on the other side of her family. She was turning 2 and boy did she have a party. ( she had diarrhea the whole time, poor thing). At family functions I try and sit there and put a smile on my face even though I can't participate in much of the conversation. By doing this I am preventing everyone from coming up to me and saying " you boring? you no understand? you boring?" and me responding " no, I am not bored..."
But the parties are really great overall. I enjoy seeing the family interact and love each other. At Sabrina's party we made the cake out of fondant. ( I designed a little dog that sat on top) and we sang, ate cake and pizza and had a good time. I made myself into a subject of conversation by not eating the pizza and cake and soda. But I guess this is attention that I will have to live with for a while. Soon it will be old news to them that Mary has a weird diet. Uncle Juan also had a birthday the other day where Pizza and cake were served.
Did you know that here in Spain, it is the responsibility of the person with a birthday to provide food and drinks for those who come to his house to with him a happy birthday. I like it in the rest of the world where your friends bring take you out or bring you the treats. Oh well :)
This is a picture of Ulises cousin at her quincenera. I liked her party--it was a BBQ!

I've been to 2 baptisms so far and there have been probably 6 individuals baptised in the two month's that I've been here. It's really exciting to see it! Ulises ward has a lot of new converts and they still are so shiny when they talk about their testimonies. I think we could all do better to remember what a blessing it is to be a member of the church and to be excited about this work. At one of the baptisms the mission president came. He is Gordon B Hinckley's son and Lucia (Ulises mom) encouraged me to go up to him and relate my family tree and talk about how we are cousins (very distant cousins). And... I did it. It seemed slightly interesting to Pres. Hinckley. "oh so you come from Alonzo's line.. how interesting...." but it made Lucia's day. "you talked with your cousin?!?!?!?" She is sweet.

Fundraisers and Missionaries.
In addition to the baptisms, we have had fundraisers for the EFY activity for the youth. They need to raise a lot of money for the youth to go and they have worked really hard to make that happen. I feel like I spend a lot of my time at the church for all of these activities ( another location where I must slap on a smile to avoid being questioned if I am boring). We also spend a lot of time at church in general because we have to wait for Daniel (Ulises' dad) to finish with his bishopric meetings before we go home. Last fast Sunday we spent 6 hours in church. and church is from 3:00-6:00. That means we didn't get home till 9:00!! I almost died that day. But yeah-- I spend a lot of time at the church building. The missionaries are there often and it's good to talk to them in English a bit. Lucia noticed that I chat up a storm when the missionaries are there, so she has made it her goal to put me in contact with any English speaker she comes across. She is sweet and think's I suffer so much being unable to talk and communicate naturally. The other day at church there was an American tourist in church and Lucia rushed me over to meet her and talk to her. It was kind of awkward to be honest. Yeah we both speak english but that was all we really had in common. The conversation went like this:
"So, um, how are you?"
"I'm doing well. I'm here vacationing around Spain"
"that's great do you speak Spanish"
"yeah, do you?"
"No, I'm trying to learn. That lady who brought me over to talk to you--I'm dating her son"
"oh that's cool"
"so where are you from..."

it was a nice but forced conversation. It ended with me wishing her the best on the rest of her trip and me going back to reading my Ensign magazine. Lucia mentioned it to everyone though. "Mary spoke English with the American Chica!!" hehe
I tried to make it sound like it was the most exciting part of my day... ;)

Bridal Showers and Baby Showers.
I've been to a couple of these! The bridal shower was really fun. Aranxta is a friend of Ulises who recently went to America to marry her Fiance from Arizona. They will come back here to live. Before she left some of the girls from the church threw her a bridal shower. It's a lot different than what we have in the states. Here, they take the bride and dress her up in a crazy outfit--usually consisting of a toilet-paper dress and bows-- and drag her around the city making her do crazy games and talk to strangers and take pictures with certain people; kind of like those scavenger hunts. It was a lot of fun. People kept stopping us and saying congrats to the bride. Aranxta was so embarrassed.Photobucket

The baby shower was equally entertaining. It seems to me that Spaniards (but a lot of the members of the church who do these parties are immigrants from South America. So maybe it's more widespread than I thought) like to make each other do ridiculous things and look silly. One of the games was popping a balloon and doing whatever the piece of paper in the balloon said. one woman's paper said to make a face that a baby make when taking a poo. seriously! and she did it! can you picture your relief society president doing that? haha. It was funny. Other tasks were dancing like a monkey or feeding each other baby food blind folded etc. I was lucky and my piece of paper was "give a piece of advise to the mother-to-be" and I wished her that the baby would learn to sleep through the night quickly ( I am so sweet and thoughtful, no?).

Did I also mention that these parties and church functions last like 5 hours!? It's beatiful though becasue they all work together and sincerely enjoy being in company with each other as members of the church. relief society meetings (enrichment night/home making night) are not obligations but opportunities to get to know the sisters in your ward and do something nice for those who are in need. That is why the baby shower lasted 5 hours! It's something I admire and when I speak Spanish I am sure I will be able to participate and enjoy it even more.

So that should do it for now. I could tell you about the Uruguayan football victory too, but I will just let the pictures/video explain it Photobucket

Things are good here. I love Ulises and I love his family. I get homesick sometimes but that is normal and expected. It's a different kind of homesick than my mission was. I can't explain it really. Maybe it's because I have the realization that this new culture will be becoming a part of my life and I'm not just in it for 18 months. I miss my family, the A/C in the house and Mexican (perhaps Americanized Mexican) food. But I love how I can walk everywhere here, the beach is so close, the city is beautiful. I love the way Spaniards are so friendly express their love to their friends and loved ones so easily. I could go on. Life is good. Really good.