So, the day after they began officially courting, Julie found this on her desk where she worked. Guess what and from whom. ;-)
Things kept moving along and Brian & Julie enjoyed many good talks and fun activities...including lots of ping pong (of all sorts of variations) with the family, one-on-one, and even a few lessons (guess who taught whom).
On one occasion, they went to a bonfire at a friend's house out in Iowa.
Yeah, they were kinda in their own little world.... :-)
But I just put food in my mouth! Oh, well! :-)
Kitchen time, both cooking and doing dishes, is a great relationship-building opportunity. Brian & Julie helped prepare the meal Valerie requested for her birthday: homemade pizza!
I don't remember what was happening in this picture...but it sure looks exciting! :-)
I won't say exactly what did happen here, but I will tell you that what you see in this picture is typically (at least at our house) how the situation looks very shortly after somebody tries to sit between a courting couple, whether it be by attempting to squeeze in between them or by stealing a seat when one gets up for a moment. It's not fair either - It's always two against one and the two always beat the one! ;-)
Flowers again - Roses this time, and very pretty ones too, if I might add. :-)
Important part of courtship: relaxing opportunities to just plain talk.
Doing a Bible study together.
Working together - Here they are working on a painting project for Becca.
Yeah, I just painted his forehead! It was fun! :-)
Brian took Julie, Kimberly, HollyBeth, and Lisa to the American Girl Place downtown.
It's always good to earn brownie points with your future in-laws. ;-)
Hey, it wasn't so bad! It was another opportunity to be together! ;-)
Yeah, it was worth it! :-)
No mischief now, this is serious work!
Yeah, right!!! :-)
So, I'm a piano technician, and know all about how pianos work and come apart and such. Show me how your harp and pedals work.
On the cold and windy Thanksgiving Day of 2011, our family (plus Brian and the Barta Family) headed to my aunt and uncles place very close to the lake in Michigan to spend a bit of time with Dad's side of the family.
Most went out for a while and enjoyed watching the water (too cold to enjoy in other ways) and playing on the beach.
Brian helped Willie build something in the sand.
Then they headed over to a more rocky section to climb and watch the beautiful sunset over the lake!
(Pictures don't really do sunsets justice....)
After the sun had set, everybody headed back to my aunt and uncle's house.
Rocking chairs by the fireplace - How cozy! :-)
Since we're on to rocking chairs at the moment, here are a couple more rocking chair photos from a time they went out to eat at Cracker Barrel.
Another beautiful bouquet of roses :-)
They took a couple more pictures together on New Year's Day, January 1st, 2012
Mischief?! Who, me?!
I don't seem to have very many pictures from January or most of February. That could be for either or both of two reasons: (1) Maybe Brian wasn't able to make very many trips to our house during that time. I didn't keep record of when his visits were, but it seems like maybe he was unable to be very frequent at that time. (2) We must remember that the Mueller family may have had other things on their minds than taking pictures as we were now well into wedding preparation season at the Mueller household with Joe being engaged since August and Valerie being engaged since November and both of their weddings coming up in the beginning of March.
So now we arrive to the chilly Saturday, February 25th, 2012.
It was a bit of a difficult time for Julie as she helped plan and prepare for Valerie's wedding and longed to be working on her own. Dad and Mom decided Julie and I (Heidi) were needing some special attention (I was having my own struggles with all these changes taking place in our family at once...but I'm telling Julie's story here.), so they got tickets to a play done by a small Christian group (We've enjoyed a number of their things in the past.) and we left all the wedding plans, preparations, and pressures behind us for a few hours as we headed out to enjoy this...exactly one week before Valerie's wedding!
We were there early, so we got out and walked around the park across the street for a while.
While we were discussing the steeple of the church where the play was held and how we really should get one put on our church as it so clearly distinguishes a building as a church...
...Brian walked up behind us carrying some hot chocolate for Julie.
Daddy, what are you looking at? What are you up to? Why that funny smile?....
:-) She would be very hard to surprise with the question, he knew, so instead he surprised her with his presence. He had done that successfully and now she knew it was coming today!
Dad, Mom, and I went and sat down on a bench a little ways away to give them some space. Very soon they were coming toward us. Wow! That was fast! No, it hasn't happened yet. Wait? What?
Turns out we had accidentally picked exactly the wrong spot as that was the very bench he was planning to use. (Brian and Dad had discussed this all in advance, but the pictures they were looking at online didn't exactly match how things looked in the middle of the winter, so Brian had changed locations a little bit when he had arrived early to set things up.) We eventually got the idea and relocated elsewhere, but we had been so confused that it took quite the hinting to get through to us! :-)
Brian led Julie on a very short walk...
...and would you believe what they discovered hiding behind those trees?!
They came back to that bench to read the card...
They chose not to reenact this moment for the camera to keep it more special for themselves. (Yes, while we're on the topic, all of the pictures up to this point on their engagement day are posed pictures, reenactments, so we could remember and document the special moments for years to come and to share with others. For those who get concerned about such things, they can be reassured that we did not "spoil" the moment with a camera in their faces. The camera didn't come out until afterwards.)
After a few more minutes, it was time to head in for the play.
After the play, we headed to Chili's for some dinner, during which I plagued Becca who knew about the plans for the day. :-)
Heidi: Having a good day?
Becca: Yeah - and...? Are you? Or Julie rather?
Heidi: I think so. I'm eating dinner w/Mom & Dad.
Becca: Wherever did Julie go? Whatcha having for dinner?
Heidi: Had quesadillas at Chili's.
Becca: Chili's huh? Sounds yummy :) Play good?
Heidi: It was - very good - food and play. It was about this girl who was lonely and wanted to get married but there was nobody interested in her.
Becca: Funny! Julie have fun?
Heidi: Seems to have had fun. Then I went on to tell her all sorts of unrelated information about some of the actors we knew. I had my fun egging her on up to this point, but then, not at all to my surprise, I lost her and didn't get anymore responses - I'm pretty sure she decided it would be easier to ask Julie herself!!! :-D
So Brian & Julie savored a few special hours of being the only ones who knew their new status (well...them and their chaperones) during the play and dinner. Then, after dinner, we all headed home to share the news and excitement with the family (as well as some ice cream to celebrate the occasion!)!
After sharing the news with the family to be sure they were the first to know, out came the phones and the text messages and the announcement was soon flying across unlimited miles!
Engaged and ready to celebrate by dishing out the ice cream!
One of the roses - I think this rose was particularly stunning!
I am going to stop here for now and we'll resume with Brian & Julie's official engagement photos in the next post.