12 December 2014

Magnificent Micronesia

(Lance) 

Hafa Adai! 

Yes, we've been absent from the blog for a while--world travel will do that to you! But... We are finally getting settled into our new home here on the island of Guam.  As it turns out, Guam is nothing like we imagined it being. To our surprise, it is actually way better than we originally planned! We LOVE Guam! 

Now that we officially have a christmas tree, I believe it is time for an update. (If anyone knows the Buchandermann family, we are holiday fanatics!) Guam is truly breathtaking. We knew that it would be pretty, but we had no idea how the scenery truly looked. Rock cliffs dot the coast line, turquoise blue beaches, and even views hight atop mountains! If you would like to see daily pictures, check out my Instagram: LanceDotJpeg since I'm always taking photos with my phone...

Getting adjusted to the island will be a continual process.  The 16 hour + 1 day time difference is actually tougher than we expected. I will hopefully be starting school at the University of Guam in mid-January. Everything is in order; I'm just waiting to actually select my classes for the spring semester.  In case you're wondering, my major is actually Secondary Education - Social Studies, with an emphasis in Geography. I also plan on working or volunteering at the DoDEA schools here on the island to get adjusted to teaching life and score some bonus points on my résumé... Ha! 

Culturally, Guam is fascinating! The locals seem to be very proud about their island roots, while remaining very accepting of other cultures that seem to be everywhere on the island. Guam is not very well known in North America, but it is actually a hot vacation spot for Asia, Eastern Europe, and Oceania. While the tourism here is primarily Japanese, many Korean, Chinese, Russian, Filipino, and Australian tourists seem to find their way to this hidden treasure. To get a sense of the culture here, think Hawaii + Japan + Spain + the Philippines. That covers all the bases.

The history Guam is also very captivating.  The island has lots of monuments and various places of history. We also recently learned about Guam and their role in the day (after the day) known as  "Pearl Harbor Day", which is apparently scarce knowledge in the mainland classrooms. Since I plan on being a Social Studies major, I find new approaches to history lessons quite refreshing! Who doesn't love alternative history lessons? 

From Kyle's post on 08 DEC...

"A few short hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Empire of Japan carried out a similar raid on the Naval and Marine forces and the local Insular Force Guard protecting the U.S. Territory of Guam. 
The forces were annihilated and the Japanese stormed the island, occupying it for 31 months, mass-murdering and raping the locals and forcing the very few survivors to engage in slave labor. The Battle of Guam and the Empire's raid on the Pacific is remembered today, 08 DEC, due to the island's location past the International Date Line (07 DEC in the states/Hawaii)."

In other news, our car that we shipped from the main land finally arrived a couple days ago! We were getting concerned, since we have heard numerous horror stories of cars getting lost or stolen in transit. How can you lose a car?! Anyways, we should be getting the remainder of our belongings in a few short weeks. We have been graciously given rental furniture until our possessions actually arrive. We REALLY need our big bed back..

Until next time!

11 September 2014

Updates, updates, updates!

Hey everyone! First off, sorry that we have severely slacked on posting. We have been very busy trying to get all of our wedding essentials completed seeing as the date is fast approaching. Not to mention, moving 8000 miles away from DC takes quite a bit of preparation! 

Kyle and I have officially sold one of cars (Nissan Xterra) because we are only allowed to ship one car.  At the moment, we hope to find a Jeep Wrangler or Fiat 500 when we arrive on the island. Cars are limited on Guam, so we can't be too picky! From what we noticed, owning a car on Guam is quite a bit different than on the main land. The roads look damaged, and oil is way more expensive. (I already predict a few busted tires...) 

In other news, I am finally going back to school! I received my Associates Degree a couple of years ago but I have always wanted to continue my education when the time was right. I'll be attending The University of Guam to study Secondary Education - Social Studies with a focus in geography!  

Kyle is busy finishing things up at Walter Reed! With only 5 weeks left of his final rotation of internship, he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. He is also very dedicated to fitness at the moment. He goes to the gym 10 times a week, which is more than I have ever been in my entire life. Ha!  I am always speechless how dedicated he is to anything he sets his mind to. I am forever thankful for all that he does, because I know that I couldn't survive without him! (And putting up with me is probably the biggest task of all!) 




 

28 July 2014

The Life and Times of a MILSO

(Lance)

I have recently acquired quite the to-do list. With our time here in DC dwindling down, I have finally been able to start the whole Medical Readiness process for our overseas move. After a lot of misinformation, confusion, and embarrassing "my husband--not my wife" and “I’m not active duty, I’m the spouse” I have finally been cleared to go to Guam (to the best of my knowledge)! Even more, I finally turned in all of my paperwork to study at the University of Guam. I couldn’t be more excited to go back to school, even though I know it is going to be hard work. I will be studying Secondary Education, with an emphasis in Social Studies, which completely blows my mind. I’ve always loved history and geography so I’m thrilled to share my knowledge with others!

Another project that I’ve taken on is vlogging on a new YouTube channel:
The reason behind the channel is to just interact with friends and family.  I want to be able to show them what I am doing in my life, along with making a few good laughs. Other than all of this madness, I am still working at a local Starbucks, serving up a friendly smile! I certainly am going to miss all of my friends at Starbucks, and all of the life lessons that come along with serving the people of DC (can you say, 'entitled?'). Being a barista has been one of the best experiences of my life, including giving excellent customer service. In fact interacting with customers is my favorite part of the job! You never know how much of an impact a simple “good morning” or “thank you” can have on a person’s everyday life.

We have lots of adventures coming in our last few months remaining in DC. We can't wait to share it all with you! Stay tuned!

13 July 2014

Keep Calm and Carrier On

(Kyle)

I've never been too shy about the fact that I think I have one of the coolest jobs in the world. I am blessed to meet such awesome individuals and lucky enough to have them share their psychological, emotional, and medical struggles with me. However, the specific setting in which I practice this delicate interpersonal science/art is almost as intriguing... and downright cool! You know what they say, "Join the Navy--see the world!"

Last week, my adventures as a US Navy Medical Service Corps Officer took me and my comrades aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) aircraft carrier out of Norfolk, Virginia. Our commander believes that this evolution is important to introducing new psychologists to the operational environment and where we may be serving in the future. 




Our job is quite different than most of  our civilian counterparts. Traditional therapy is about 40% of our work maximum, even in an outpatient behavioral health setting in a traditional military hospital. Other positions, such as the one available for a psychologist on each aircraft carrier, involve much less clinical work and much more interventions aimed at the organizations/systems. On an aircraft carrier (or in a Marine Battalion), the Psych-O (psychology officer) serves as a consultant to the Commanding Officer in regards to the active duty staff's general psychological health and how that contributes to mission objectives. Operational psychologists often serve as expert consultants in how to reward and punish service members for good/bad behavior, giving briefs on resiliency and leadership, aiding in organizational disposition (how service members are discharged out of the service), and observing general unit morale. Needless to say, this is a big job, but exciting nonetheless!

Enough of the boring stuff... Although we were technically "working" this week, it sure didn't feel like it, as we had no contact with patients. Instead, we toured the ship, received briefs from every department, and acclimated to ship-life. The ship went underway for a work-up and qualifications, where it meets certain mission objectives out-at-sea prior to being deployed. We met some really great people and they offered us some very cool opportunities to see some sweet stuff.



I learned a ton! Even before the Navy, I had an interest in nautical ships and aircraft, as I've taken way too many cruises (I think I compared the carrier to a Carnival ship about 100 times), and worked on my single-engine pilot's license a bit. Though an aircraft carrier is technically a naval ship, it's real mission is air warfare--to "forward deploy" (put into a really close fighting position before crap hits the fan) fighter jets and "project power" (basically, protect our national interests by leaving open the possibility that we could attack/retaliate at any time). Suffice it to say, the coolest thing we saw all week was the ship recovering (called "trapping") and launching (via the catapult) these jets.



video

Trapping involves the jet pilots finding the perfect sweet spot on the moving aircraft carrier so the tale of their aircraft grabs the arresting gear (one of four really thick cables). They don't want to  come up too short, lest they smash into the aircraft carrier, causing millions of dollars in damage. They also don't want to overshoot the line, as they would have to power the jet back up and touch-and-go. They practice this latter skill hundreds of times so they are prepared.



video


Launching an aircraft is also specialized to the carrier. There's no way to build a carrier long enough to simultaneously launch and recover aircraft naturally (it would take several hundred yards to take-off and land). Instead, steam catapults get the jets moving at full speed instantly. Yes, zero to 350 in one second. This is a ton of power, and the whole ship shakes when the aircraft land and are launched. Needless to say, the carrier environment is a very large and loud industrial zone.



video

We were fortunate enough to be right on the deck for the launch of some! Not going to lie, I had to take a knee when the aircraft took off, because I was actually concerned the power would throw me overboard. Hey, it could happen! 

video




Finally, it was time to return back to land. The ship was staying out for a couple more weeks, but we needed to return to the hospital in DC for work. The only way to get us back to land from the middle of the ocean--aircraft, of course! I knew prior to the trip that we would be taking a C2/A Greyhound, the standard double-turbo-prop the Navy uses to carry personnel. What I didn't know was that this aircraft, too, is launched via the catapult. Also, the seats face backward, and there are no windows. This is one totally messed-up roller coaster, but it was actually fun!



Can't wait to do it again! Lance was probably happy to get rid of me for a week and live his never-before-lived bachelor life. But between you-and-me, he was probably sick of eating cereal for every meal. :)

01 July 2014

Our Wild and Wonderful White House Visit

(Lance)

Yesterday was one of the most epic days of our lives.  A couple of weeks ago, we received an invitation from the President (yes, really) to attend the LGBT Pride Month reception at the White House. We truly have no idea where this invite originated, but accepted nonetheless! Not only was this an opportunity to visit the President's home, but Barack and Michelle Obama both attended the event.

 One of the most beautiful views in DC



Upon arrival, we sweated our way through the doors (it was quite a hot summer day), and quickly found the food and drinks.  If there is one thing you should know about us, it is that we LOVE to eat! The scene was something out of The Hunger Games, when Peeta and Katniss are surprised by the opulent offerings of The Capitol--yes, we're those people. After scarfing down several cookies, cakes, quiches, and cocktails, we meandered to the East Room where we listened to a great story of an Illinois couple who just became legally wed after 53 years of being in a committed, monogamous relationship. How many others can say that?


YUMMM


That couple then introduced POTUS, who spoke about the progress our country has made in regards to LGBT rights. He also initiated an executive order banning discrimination based on gender identity among federal employees. History continues to be made!


Truly Speechless!

(Kyle)

The Obamas then shook a few hands--including ours! Mr. Obama said, "Hey--thank you two for being here. And thank you [Kyle] for serving us! Glad you boys could come." There's the plain 'ole 'thank you for your service' and then there's 'THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE' from your Commander-in-Chief... this was pretty cool!

Michelle (clearly the crowd favorite) took a little bit longer to get through her crowd of fan-girls. When we finally saw her, she looked at each of us and smirked. 

     "Are you two... [insert two index fingers pointed toward each other in a fifth-grade manner, complete with a kissy-face]?" 
     "Yes, ma'am," Kyle replied with a big smile [Lance is actually, genuinely speechless at this point. He is FLOTUS' biggest fan.]
     "Well... I didn't want to assume, but.... [another big smile]."
     "With this one [pulling Lance close], I'm proud for you to assume, ma'am!"
     "Well, welcome! So glad you could come to my crib," she finished. 
The last couple words might be an approximation, as we couldn't remember exactly what she said due to our starstruck status.




(Lance)

Some of our impressions of the Obama family:

  • They are hilarious! They seemed to make joke after joke, including Barack responding to a furiously crying baby (at a time when he was talking about congress' inaction), saying "I know! It's terrible!" He also suggested his pastry chef put "crack" in the White House pies (because they are so addicting). Michelle wasn't a fan of his comment, and gave a clear look that said, 'Fox News will have you pegged as an addict within the hour.'
  • They are extremely down to Earth.  They speak with such humble voices and deep concern that I felt a million different emotions during their speeches. They're not perfect people, by any means. Just the same, we do have a huge amount of respect for them and were honored to be there.
  • They know how to throw a great party!  We met many people yesterday, including Sam Champion (GMA), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), and Amanda Simpson (first trans woman appointed to public office)... oh yeah, and POTUS/FLOTUS.

We are truly blessed and cannot thank the White House folks enough for their hospitality and graciousness.  It will be a moment that we never forget.


Perusing the Obama's library, I found TONS of this! Barack loves Missouri!



24 June 2014

Recep Prep

(Kyle)

It's been a while since we've blogged--wedding planning in no joke! Today, we went to "To Your Taste" Catering in Alexandria, VA so we could sample/finalize our menu for our big day. The crew there has been hard at work creating gourmet masterpieces for our celebration.

Chef Shana Steele is a bundle full of energy and she is so excited to bring our friends and family tastes from our worlds. She has designed a menu highlighting bites that speak to Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, DC/Maryland/Virginia, and even Guam!

This is just a small preview of what is to come on our big day. We have so much to do, but can't wait to have loved ones celebrate with us. hope everyone enjoys the food that represents the places we have lived and love.

The final menu looks something like this:

Southern Mashed Potato Bar
sweet potatoes or white potatoes with many toppings

North Carolina BBQ Sliders
miniatrure rolls topped with Carolina pulled pork, coleslaw, crispy onions, or jalapeno-pineapple relish

Tennessee Whiskey Glazed Chicken Lollipops
Marinated chicken drumsticks, glazed with Jack Daniels and black pepper

Guam's Houli Houli Spam Musubi
Spam, rice, jicama, seaweed, and wasabi, served with Houli Houli drizzle

Chesapeake-Pacific Polpettes
fried balls of shredded coconut and lump crab meat served with cilantro-lime sauce

Missouri Garden Crudité
fresh vegetables served with bleu cheese and casserole dip

DC Cupcakes
selections from Georgetown's television-famous bakery

Red, White, and Blue Candy Bar
M&Ms, Jelly Belly, Swedish Fish, and Twizzlers

The Perfect Storm
signature cocktail of Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum, ginger geer, and lime

Full Service Bar
Coke and Cheerwine sodas, juices, assorted Missouri wines, Boulevard and Budweiser beers, cocktails



06 June 2014

Do You Believe in Little Signs?

(Kyle)

Tonight we were in the mall. I know, so cool of us on a Friday night, right?! While walking around, thinking hard about spending money, I took a detour to hopefully introduce Lance to Ingrid, the jeweler who set me up with our beautiful set of rings from Germany.

As we approached her shop, I already knew--poof, she had vanished. No Ingrid, no shop, no rings for sale. (Before anyone gets too Negative Nancy, yes--the rings are still insured through the maker in Germany). Fairytale? Fairy Godmother? Doesn't matter--just one of the many cool stories that make our relationship so magical. :)

27 May 2014

Memories of Memorial Day

(Lance) 

For the Buchandermann family, Memorial Day weekend is a "Super Holiday."  Like many American families, we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation... but also a birthday! Kyle's birthday is 27 MAY, so we have made a tradition the past two years of a summer kick-off vacation.  


We wanted to celebrate the holiday in New York City,  so we quickly started searching for a place to spend the weekend. We also love visiting military bases around the country and are super fortunate to get to stay at the base hotels at an affordable cost (wayyyy lower than anything in NYC). We stayed at an Joint Army-Air Force base in Jersey, which was an awesome experience and just a train ride away to NYC.

On the first day of our Memorial Day / Birthday Extravaganza, we wanted to attend Fleet Week New York.  Fleet Week is the opportunity for the public to meet Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness the capabilities of the modern ships, land attack vehicles, and technology they use. With Kyle in his summer whites along with the other sailors, and tons of other Marines and Coasties around, it was a "saluting nightmare," as he calls it, for sure. And keeping those whites clean on the dirty NYC subway was a nightmare in itself! We toured several ships, including the USS Cole (the ship that got attacked near Yemen in 2000).  Aside from all of the awesome military gear, our favorite part of the Fleet Week was how they included the kids in the celebration of our country's naval forces. 


 The kids are actually counting and responding with "Yes Sir!" 


 NYC Fleet Week


 USS COLE 

The next day in NYC, we wanted to go on our own schedule.  We did some research on the train to the city, and decided we really wanted to see Wicked on Broadway.  Kyle has seen it several times, but I haven't and have always wanted to! I'm obsessed with anything with an evil witch (YES, MALEFICENT!) and loved the Wizard of Oz as a kid, even though we weren't allowed to watch it because my twin brother, Coy, was TERRIFIED! We obviously hadn't bought tickets on such short notice, so we checked into same-day opportunities. We rushed to Manhattan to enter the "ticket lottery," a really neat system in which they sell $30 front-row tickets to 13 lucky people whose names are drawn out of a bin a la Hunger Games reaping! The odds were not ever in our favor for those seats, so we had to hurry and jump our way into the "cancellation line" and see if anyone wasn't going to show up for their seats. After waiting for nearly three hours in total... we got two tickets for the show! The seats were perfect--about 20 feet from the stage, dead center. It was truly a dream come true, and we will always cherish our Wicked memories together. 

Elphaba was my favorite, of course


Tickets!

After skipping lunch so we could wait in line all day for tickets, we stuffed our faces at the world famous Carnegie Deli! This place was crazy good, and we are super happy with our colossal Reuben sandwiches (and cheese cake that we got for our train ride back to NJ). 

This should be called the Reuben Studdard

Our last stop in NYC was my personal favorite place, China Town! We walked between China Town and Little Italy, scoring a super cute hat for Kyle (Which I will try not to claim for my own...).

On our last day in New England, we spent Memorial Day with Kyle's God-brother Aaron, his wife Marissa, and their kids Kate, Jacob, and Ruby.  Aaron's family put together a wonderful St. Louis Cardinals-themed Memorial Day backyard BBQ, with neighbors and "a billion" kids! Marissa even baked Kyle a cake for his birthday!  We are so thankful for many new friends, and the opportunity to celebrate with family. 

Ruby loves selfies... and her mother's lipstick


19 May 2014

A Formal Dinner with Cake and Spam

(Lance)

I am fully convinced that we are some of the busiest human beings on the planet. This weekend, we attended the American Military Partner Association 2014 Gala (our first military ball!). This was huge dining-in that I helped plan with the organization for which I volunteer. It was an incredible night, and I am super honored to have met my fAMPAily (minus my closest fellow communications assistant who lives in San Diego, of course).

Prior to the event, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to wear... However, I somehow convinced myself that I had a suit somewhere in my closet. HA! So, in typical Buchandermann fashion, we had to go purchase a suit the day of the big event. How does Kyle put up with me?

 Kyle and I almost forgot our selfie at the Gala


Kyle, Myself, and Stephen (President of AMPA)

The following day, we dragged ourselves out of bed to get to church on time. We have been busy with traveling, so we have barely gotten the chance to attend church this month. The officiant of our future wedding is actually the assistant pastor of our church in DC, so we hoped to chit-chat with her for a while... However, God had his own plans and she wasn't attending church that morning. Ha!

Once the church service was over, we hustled to a wedding cake tasting and open house in Maryland. One word: Over. Whelming. We are still waiting on several of our wedding plans to fall into place, so we decided we better get started on this wedding cake adventure. After tasting everything from pistachio to red velvet, we decided we wanted to do something a little more special at our wedding... Get excited! (No, no hints yet).

Confused. Worried. Overwhelmed. Full.

Once we got home, Kyle wanted to do a "CVS dinner." This is when we go to drug store under our apartment and just get cheap, random junk food to somehow make into a glorious gourmet dinner (we live a hard life, I know). Last night, we made a REAL Hawaiian pizza (or Chamorro in our case). This pizza might be a little bit different from what us mainlanders are use to seeing. No Canadian bacon here... only SPAM! (courtesy of my mom for Kyle's graduation gift--a whole cooler full of things for the island, including eight flavors of the stuff!) The pizza, well... it wasn't terrible.


Guam is the world's largest consumer of SPAM

15 May 2014

Plan The Wedding? You Mean We Can't Just Show Up?!

(Lance) 


Now that things are starting to fall into place for our wedding, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed. However, I have never felt like this before.  Normally when one is overwhelmed, it is in a negative manner.  I am overwhelmed with love and opportunity.  We have been busy; we are attempting to get a couple of ideas in place for the big event.  I do not know how much I wish to uncover, but I just know everything is going to work out! Only 149* days until our wedding! 

*Results may vary... math isn't my strong point! 


On a different note, one of my favorite things about being a Navy family has to be the opportunity to travel the world! (Join the Navy.. see the world!) We purchased this little knickknack a while ago, but it is a new project of ours! Hopefully we run out of room to hang it up! 

13 May 2014

The Beginning of the Beginning...

(Kyle)

We've returned from Tennessee to the D-M-V. Let the wedding planning commence! 

...

That's it, I'm already overwhelmed.

Pinterest. The Knot. Registries? Colors. Music. Reception. Guests. Food? Saber arch. Dress whites? Photographer. Oh boy...

But we have a date! 

11 OCT 2014

Soon to be the happiest day of my life, to date.
I can't wait! <3

09 May 2014

Back on Good Ole Rockytop!

(Lance)

This has certainly been quite the week for the Buchandermann family! Currently, we are in Knoxville to  celebrate Kyle graduating from the University of Tennessee with his PhD in Psychology! 




I am very proud of all of his accomplishments, but this one has been one of Kyle's goals for a long time! I could not imagine getting a PhD. I believe that it takes a very special type of person to put forth the effort to obtain this level of acadimic achievement.  Not only did he obtain just any "plain ole' PhD," but one in psychology! It takes an even more special person to be a successful psychologist! 


Yay PhD!


We always get super excited when traveling to the south. Knoxville, in particular, holds three places we make sure to visit on every trip: Tupelo Honey Cafe (those biscuits, tho!), Dollywood (which we're visiting today), and Walmart! 

Yes, Walmart. In our observations, while "people of Walmart" (you've got to see that website) are probably more homogenous, the stores themselves are very different in the northeast. We will never forget our first trip to a Maryland Walmart, which was more like the 76th Annual Hunger Games, complete with tributes from at least 100 different countries. People were fighting over shampoo, because there wasn't enough on the shelves. The floors looked like people had walked on them barefoot and, while we wouldn't have ever purchased the "produce" on the market side of the store, this is a moot point since there was no such market side--it was a regular, non-24 hour, non-supercenter Walmart. Seriously? Is this 1992? Suffice to say, the South's Finest Walmart and Sam's Club are one of our favorite destinations to stock-up on $2.96 Old Spice Body Wash. My reaction: "Look at these prices! Everything's basically freeeee!!!"

More adventures in Dixie to come!

05 May 2014

Some Things Warrant a Composed Response

(Kyle)

Lance and I are humbled and encouraged by the outpouring of love and support this past weekend. Thank you to everyone who took part, however directly or indirectly. We appreciate having you in our lives! I can't, however, hastily conclude that we've "arrived" at a time where hatred is just a fringe stance. One look at the comments on the photo that went viral on AMPA, the organization with which Lance volunteers, shows that we still have a long way to go. 

While I wasn't ignorant that there would be some push-back from a select few, it's difficult to continue to read vehement opinions about your relationship, especially from those who profess to be of the same faith, creed, and national allegiance. While it's easy to say we should "ignore the haters," I can't help but feel these are the type of stances with which many people, even those very close to us, continue to associate. While it would be very short-sighted for us to take these comments personally, we do take them to heart as a call to reconcile faith, even with all its misguidedness, with the lives of God-fearing, country-serving, loving people such as ourselves. Still, those beliefs don't cause us to question the validity of our own faith, our relationship, our impending marriage, or our love for one second. 

So, to those who support us fully--thank you. We love you and, pray for your continued blessings, and hope truth continues to reveal itself to you. To those who do not--the exact same goes for you.


04 May 2014

Speaking of Little Signs...

(Lance) 

In the middle of cleaning up our home, look what we just found under the sofa! This was the Cracker-Jack-like ring Kyle used to steal my ring size! (See post from 16 MAR)


Another Little Sign

Proposal Recap

So... here are the details from our big day yesterday!

(Kyle)


The rings FINALLY came in from Germany... just four weeks late. Ingrid (the jeweler) called me on Monday and said she they had been shipped from the artisan and she would track them daily. She was certain they would be here by the end of the week. I took this as a sign that it's "go time" and made plans for everyone involved. 




I told Lance that my coworker, another Navy LT at Walter Reed, was getting engaged to his girlfriend and asked Lance to take photos of the proposal.


(Lance)


Looking back, I cannot believe I did not catch on.  At this point of the journey, I was super  excited to take engagement pictures! (Which I'm still wanting to take... *hint-hint*) I immediately wanted to know details, but Kyle said this was a surprise photo shoot, so there wasn't much to plan.

(Kyle)


The only plan was to meet up near the Capitol Building. The cover story was that this is where Joseph was going to propose because... he's into government stuff? I don't know... But the real story for us was that this is one of the first places we took a picture on our first visit to DC when I was interviewing with the Navy at Walter Reed. Also, in designing our Christmas Card for 2013, Lance and I couldn't decide between a greeting of "Barack-in' Around the Christmas Tree" (which was ultimately the decision) and "Happy Holidays with a 'Capitol' H!" Not being one who can let go of anything... I decided this was an opportunity to say, "I love you with a 'Capitol' L!" :)



January 2013

I told all my colleagues at work, friends in DC, and Lance's friends/coworkers from Starbucks about the location and meet-up time. I asked them all to be there to support us, and document our day like a scrapbook via social media, with the hashtag #Buchandermanns (a portmanteau of our last names; also, portmanteau is one of the Navy psychologists' favorite words...).

The majority of the events happened Friday evening into Saturday. Lance had to work all day on Saturday, so I made final arrangements for "Joseph's proposal photo shoot" and then told Lance that everyone was gathering at our place after the event to celebrate. Somehow, I had to explain the mass amounts of food, drinks, and ESPECIALLY the Georgetown Cupcakes.




(Lance)

Okay, I know what you're thinking... REALLY?! How could I have possibly not known?! Kyle told me that the celebration was going to be held at our apartment, and that people brought food while I was away at work. I would never question cupcakes...


(Kyle)


Saturday morning was really a blur. I forced myself into working out and yoga to cool the nerves, then ran errands all over town to get things set. It was really hard not to eat the cupcakes when I picked them up... but I resisted! Lance finally got off work at 17:00.


(Lance)


After fighting off an abundance of entitled middle schoolers for "Frappuccino Happy Hour," I was ready to get home so that I could get ready for the surprise photo shoot! I normally call my parents when I'm driving home, so that I can keep them updated on how everything is going. However, since I was running late, covered in an array of Starbuck's syrups, and hitting every red light imaginable, I did not call them. (Lucky me. My mom CANNOT keep a secret!) 


(Kyle)


While Lance was finishing his hair (looking that good barely takes any time... but it's still an art!), I stowed away a small Bluetooth speaker in his camera bag and hid his phone (making him think he lost it... again) so he couldn't follow the barrage of social media events that would have spoiled the surprise. The speaker was so I could play our song, "A Thousand Years," as we started to approach our group of friends and hopefully he started understanding that Joseph's proposal pictures were actually Lance's proposal pictures.



Sneaky, sneaky!

(Kyle)

Finally, we were packed up and headed toward the Capitol building. As the official proposal events was set into motion, a series of small, yet hilarious, mishaps unfolded. First, right when we left the apartment, the speaker started to play our song! I was so nervous he was going to start connecting the dots. When I talked to Lance's mom to tell her that I was planning on asking him to marry me, she said I had better be careful with secrets. Lance could always shake a Christmas present and throw it down, saying, "It's a shirt. With a necklace." Needless to say, I thought my surprise was ruined.


As he seemingly knew nothing, we started heading for the Metro train to take us into the city. If you've never ridden the DC subway system, just know that it's great and fairly efficient... during the week. On the weekends, trains run about every 15 minutes and there are often outages to repair the tracks. As we approached the station, a train pulled in. We would likely just miss it. Not wanting to be late, Lance and I sprinted and just made it in the doors! Right behind us were three people who got caught in the doors and never made it on the the train. Those three people... Lance's coworkers from Starbucks who were supposed to be at the Capitol waiting for us! I freaked, thinking FOR SURE the surprise was ruined.


When we finally got off the train, the third and final, but probably funniest mishap occurred. Kim, the ever-so-important holder-of-the-rings, had been texting me trying to figure out what train we were on because she figured she had boarded the same one and didn't want to run into us, which might have given away the surprise. Sure enough, as soon as Lance and I hopped off the train, there was Kim, Sarah, and her husband, 10 feet in front of us. Both groups did swift about-faces. Lance and I headed for the escalator. Kim and the other two headed for... a dead end. Oh well, I would leave that for them to figure out. I looked at Lance for an expression to tell me he had put it all together, but nope! Nothing. He didn't even see them. Thank God for blindness!


(Lance)


In the words of one of my coworkers, my big eyes are useless! I STILL didn't piece it all together, I thought my coworkers were just hanging out and enjoying a festival that was happening in the Rockville Town Square.

When we finally got off the ever-so-lovely metro, it was pouring rain! No umbrella, no hat for my hair, and we both were wearing white! (We've all been in that situation before, ha!) Luckily, the rain quickly passed and the weather instantly became perfect! The haze from the city was gone, the light was almost golden, and even a rainbow made an appearance at the location of the proposal! The "camera crew" was thoroughly surprised by the rainbow. We, on the other hand, chalked it up to just one of the many "signs" we have seen in the past years that we believe have been God revealing to us His will for us to be together.



Yay for Little Signs :)

Since our friends apparently got on the same train as us, Kyle stalled by taking a quick detour through the city. I kept telling him, "let's hurry and go to the meet-up spot so that I can scout out the location!" (Accompanied by me telling Kyle how perfect the lighting was for photos for about the 1000th time!)


(Kyle)

FINALLY, Kim-Sarah-and-crew texted me and told me everyone was ready and waiting at the Capitol. The weather was beautiful, Lance was excited to practice his art, and I was excited to get engaged. It was time!




As Lance made eye contact with my coworkers... and then his coworkers... I think it began to sink in. I started playing the music from his backpack, and grabbed his hand, and we walked up to the monument. I started to tear up, and it's all I could do to turn and hug the man I love, who I look to for strength and security.




(Lance)


When approaching the capital building, I thought that I saw a couple Navy folk, but since Kyle assured me that everyone was going to wear their whites, I did not make the connection. Then, I noticed Kyle had turned on a speaker that he hid in my photography bag.  This was the "Ah-ha!" moment that made me realize what was really happening to me and I wouldn't be taking anyone's pictures! (But seriously, if anyone wants some engagement photos done...)


I was so shocked, the only thing I could keep saying was "Aww. You little snake!" Over. And over. And over...




FINALLY the deed was being done, and I couldn't even move. Despite the barrage of flashes, it seemed like the world had stopped turning and it was just Kyle and me. Teary eyes locked, smiling from ear to ear, WE WERE ENGAGED! 







 

(Kyle)


Afterwards, we gathered back at our apartment in Rockville to celebrate. Food from our two favorite places on our square, Lebanese Taverna and Bonchon Korean Chicken (we're really multicultural!) fed our hunger, and North Carolina moonshine, Tennessee whiskey, and sailor rum gladdened our hearts. We had a great time with all of our friends, and couldn't imagine being more blessed.


Thank you, everyone, for the love and support. We feel so encouraged.





I love you this much!