From the monthly archives: August 2012

My boyfriend Jason and I have been dating since freshman year of highschool (11 years). On December 15, 2010 we went out for our “date night”. We had dinner, went to the movies, and did some shopping. We were suppose to be headed home, but he kept driving. I asked him where we were going and he said “to another store”.  We ended up in front of our high school. He parked the car, got out and opened my door. He took my hand and led me to the front door of the school. At this point I had no clue what he was thinking!

He got down on one knee and said, “We met right here inside the school so I only thought it would be proper to bring you back here. I saw you for the very first time right here. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?!”  He pulled out the ring and slipped it on my finger! I was shocked!! I couldnt believe after all the years we have been together it was finally happening! I said YES! And this was one of the most amazing nights of my life!

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My history with my fiance, Caroline, begins back in my senior year of high school in 2006. She grew up having her teeth cleaned by my mother, her dental hygienist. About every six months, Caroline would come in for a check up, and my mom would come home from work and explain, “You really need to meet this girl named Caroline. She is beautiful, sweet, and pretty much perfect for you.”  As any high school boy would do, I would always reply, “Oh mom, leave the girl stuff alone.” However, in the fall of 2005, my mom finally got her wish.
I first met Caroline while attending a college visit day at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. We didn’t talk much, mostly because I was intimidated by her. She was there on an official visit to meet with the basketball and volleyball team, and I was looking to study pre-med. I spend the day mesmerized by her beauty and not knowing what to say to break the ice with this beautiful girl. At the end of the day, we parted ways, and I realized my mom was right: she was perfect, and I knew I wanted to get to know her.
A few months later, I found out that Caroline’s volleyball team was playing at a tournament at my high school. She immediately caught my eye again, bringing back all those feelings I felt at IWU, not because she was dominating and recording kill after kill, but because she was just as I remembered: beautiful.

I finally talked to her that day, and it was so effortless. I  got her number, and we began to talk. We dated for the entirety of my senior year. It was such a great relationship, and we became best of friends. 

When the day came to go to college, we went our separate ways: her to the University of Illinois and me to Illinois Wesleyan. We both became involved in the things that our respective colleges had to offer, and we decided it was too difficult to do distance. However, we remained close friends, and communicated occasionally to check in and see how everything was going. 

In my Junior year of college, I decided to transfer to the University of Illinois to pursue a physical therapy degree (which was what Caroline was studying). I began attending classes there, and had a few with Caroline. It was a slow process, but the more time we spent together, the closer we became. As all the romantic feelings returned, it was only a matter of time before we began dating again. A few days before graduation in 2010, we started dating again, and have been dating ever since. 

I knew from that point that Caroline was the one I wanted to spend my life with. We both went to physical therapy school, her to Duke and me to Belmont University in Nashville, TN. We began a distance relationship, and those feeling only became stronger. 

When Caroline was in college, she volunteered for several summers with United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) in Springfield, IL, where she worked at a summer camp for developmentally and physically challenged children. She was nominated volunteer of the year for the entire state of Illinois, and was offered a summer staff position for the next two summers. She loved all the children involved with UCP, and they loved her. 

A month ago, she called me and mentioned she was going to be home from school for a week and was planning on visiting UCP and the kids. As soon as she said that, I knew it would be a perfect way to propose. I emailed the camp coordinator, and she loved the idea. She had to gain final approval from her boss (the president of UCP), and she liked it so much she wanted to have it recorded to play as part of UCP’s annual telethon in Januray. 

Once I had approval, I began to plan all the logistics of the proposal. I had to work around several conflicts, including changes in plans, changes in dates, and the untimely broken foot and surgery I had to undergo from playing in a basketball tournament a few weeks before I planned to do it. Despite this, I planned it all out, and the day finally came. 

She went to visit UCP that day thinking she was going to be interviewed about school, her desire to become a PT, and her time spent at UCP. When she arrived, the camp coordinator took her into the back room and began to interview her. Meanwhile, I was ushered into another room and waited for her to be done. Caroline thought I was in Nashville attending an all-day class, and was completely oblivious to the fact that I was at UCP about to propose to her. While she was in the back room, all the children at the camp (around 16 total) were put in colored T-shirts that, when arranged in the right order, spelled the phrase, “Will you marry me?”  Each kid had a shirt with a different letter, and they were arranged in order and sat quietly in chairs to wait for Caroline to come back into the common room where the children usually played. 

When the interview was over, Caroline entered into the common room thinking she was going to be recorded interacting with the children as part of the interview. When she walked in, the first thing she saw was all the kids she had watched grow up sitting in order with the phrase, “will you marry me”  written on their shirts. When she saw this, I had already snuck in behind her and was kneeling. She turned around, and I had the ring out and asked for her hand in marriage. She said yes, and we spent a few hours celebrating with the kids and Caroline’s former co-workers.

The camera crew that recorded the whole thing turned out to be a News Channel 20 camera crew, and they liked the whole process so much, they decided to play it on the 10 o’clock news. It was a great experience, and my small and intimate proposal become much more grand than I could have ever expected. And most important, I am so excited for my future with Caroline.

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It wasn’t a dream; Although, I had never experienced a more surreal moment in my life. The beautiful man that I had met in a ceramics class just a few years earlier, became my best friend. And now, has given me the greatest gift of my life. Todd, my now fiancé, a painter and musician by trade, invited me to join him in Europe for a week, this past July. When we landed in Paris, little did I know that he had been keeping secrets from me. 

After we freshened up at our hotel, (which was just 500 meters from the Eiffel Tower) Todd and I walked hand in hand towards the tower, and were soon greeted by about 80 thousand other attendees. It was Bastille Day, Frances’ Independence Day. The cool night was complemented by music on loudspeakers. We pressed close to the tower. After just a short time, the most spectacular fireworks I have ever seen commenced, in tandem with the cheesiest funk songs on the radio. Just our style. To my utter shock, half way through the display, Todd spoke into my ear, “Ali, you are my best friend and I love you. Will you marry me?”

He bent down on his knee. I said yes, and he placed a 2 karat black diamond ring on my finger. The emerald cut white diamonds down each side were a wonderful tribute to the beaded mil grain white gold. I kissed him and cried. This was the most perfect moment I was ever given.



After the fireworks, we drank Bellini’s and had snails at a cafe that was just a short distance from the tower. We called our families and told them the wonderful news. The waiter wished a congratulations and a happy life; then gifted us a copy of the cafe menu. (In French, of course.)

Then we walked back to our hotel, where Todd opened another bottle of champagne. He had been keeping other secrets from me. Todd’s next surprise was that he had booked a photographer in London to shoot engagement photos for us. The following week, Todd and I posed in front of Westminster Abby and the London Eye. I can’t wait to show my fiancé off to the world. And I can’t wait to be his wife. He is everything I could have ever asked for.

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 SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503Travis (my fiance) told my son Zander that he had a special story to read to him, so he went upstairs to get the book.  Travis, Zander, and I sat around the coffed table as Travis began reading the story to us.

The story was title, “The Princess and Her Special Baby Lion”  and he started to read:

“The Princess went for a walk one day and found a special baby lion.  From the first time she laid her eyes on the lion she knew the lion belonged with her, so she brought the special baby lion home with her.
One day the baby lion wandered outside of the castle walls and got lost. 

Once the Princess realized the baby lion was gone she knew there was only one person who could help her get her baby back.  She went to find the Knight who could save her lion. She got to the Knight and explained what had happened and begged the Knight to help her find her special baby lion. 

169After some thought, the Knight agreed to help her.  He went all over the Kingdom looking for the baby lion.  He made it into the Troll Village where he knew the baby lion was being held captive.  He had to fight the Troll King and did so successfully. After he saved the baby lion he brought him back to the castle where he belonged with his Princess. 

The Princess thanked the Knight and told him that Her Kingdom would forever be in his debt.  The Knight began to ride away and as he rode away he felt a big hole in his heart.  He realized that something was missing.  He realized that the Princess was the most beautiful and loving thing that he had ever seen and that the baby lion and him had a very special connection.  He immediately turned around and rode back to the castle and said to the Princess…” 

174At this point Travis turned the page and there was a square hole cut in the book and our engagement ring was inside the hole and the page said, “I LOVE YOU WITH ALL OF MY HEART, WILL YOU SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WITH ME?”

Zander was so excited pointing at the ring saying, “LOOK MOMMY, LOOK!”   Travis and I were both tearing up and of course I said yes.  The best part is that Travis wrote the story himself and designed it to closely resemble our lives. Travis came into our life when Zander was 6 months old, and as he said in the story he filled  a part of our lives that was missing until we had him.  We are all perfect matches for each other in every way.

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Last updated February 5, 2017