Engaged

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newly engaged
Greetings from sunny California!

Well, the biggest news is that Brenda and I are now engaged! I proposed on Monday, December 18 at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle and she said yes! We are very excited and look forward to figuring out the details of when & where we'll be getting married.

Since it's been quite a while since my last update I'll write about what we've been up to since we got back from Cambodia back in July, and then fill in some more details about our engagement day at the end of this update.

In August Brenda fixed me a nice meal on my birthday and then surprised me with lots of our friends and an ice cream cake after supper. I enjoyed the evening and got a new board game called Puerto Rico as one of my presents. Since we had a bunch of friends together for my birthday I got to play the game that same night too. Later in the month we enjoyed a Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game with friends and then spent a weekend with family at a lakefront cabin near Smoky Mountain National Park. We all chipped in to rent the cabin in celebration of my cousin Amber's graduation from Harvard Law School. We had a great time swimming in the lake, eating lots of good food and just visiting together with over 20 people.


family at the lake
In September we drove up to Richmond, Virginia to spend Labor Day weekend with Brenda's cousins Michael & Amelia. We enjoyed relaxing and visiting together and on Sabbath afternoon we took a walk at Belle Island. We also made a couple of trips to a local Gelato parlor. The mint chocolate chip was very good but still came in second to my favorite brand in Cyprus. Later in September we enjoyed a number of activities with our young adults group including a baby dedication, some hiking, hosting potluck, a birthday party and a weekend camping trip. On the camping trip we went up to the Ocoee area with over 20 other young adults. On Sabbath four of us spent the afternoon floating down the Hiwassee River on
richmond
inner tubes. It was fun to relax and watch the scenery pass by and we also enjoyed going through several small rapids along the way. Saturday night it rained pretty hard while we slept but we stayed dry and the rain stopped just when we were ready to get up in the morning. The last weekend of the month we visited my uncle Steve & aunt LeAnne in Birmingham, AL. While there we enjoyed a visit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Sabbath. We were surprised to find quite a few flowers in bloom and had a fun time exploring the various winding trails. We also stopped at a large statue of Vulcan that overlooks the city. The statue is symbolic of the Steel industry which has been strong in the Birmingham area in the past. Saturday night we played a board game called Carcassonne which is a bit like Settlers and quite fun. On Sunday we visited a civil rights memorial and museum. It was sobering to realize that just a few short years ago segregation
camping group
was in full effect and the memorial helped show what it was like for people back then. Finally we watched Jane Goodall's Chimpanzee film at the IMAX dome theater before heading back to Chattanooga.

In October we spent the first weekend in rural northeast Georgia celebrating a friend's birthday. We stayed with her good friends in their log cabin home bordering national forest. It was a fun weekend filled with visiting, games and some hiking. My dad came for a quick visit the second week in October on his way from Maryland to California. He was driving a truck loaded with our stuff which had been stored in Maryland and he dropped some boxes off at my house. Now for the first time in about 5 years I have all of my things in one place again. Later in the month we went to a Big Daddy Weave & Mark Schultz
tubing the hiwasee river
concert with friends. We also went down to Steve & LeAnne's house again but this time my grandparents, my great uncle Elvin and his wife Pat were also there for the weekend. While there we enjoyed another visit to the Botanical Gardens in addition to lots of good food and visiting.

The first weekend in November Brenda and I flew down to Orlando, Florida. I went to attend a week long computer security conference for work but Brenda came along just for the weekend as part of her birthday celebration this year. Sabbath afternoon we enjoyed a picnic with Mike, his wife Christine and our friend Kellie and then spent the rest of the afternoon visiting & hiking with them. In the evening we went out to eat at a little French restaurant with outdoor seating which was fun. Sunday Brenda and I went to
water lily in birmingham
Cape Canaveral and toured the Kennedy Space Center. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit but found there was so much to do and see that we couldn't make it to everything. We did get to see the launch pads, hangars, Apollo exhibit and the space station exhibit. It was fun to see some of the actual modules which will be taken up to the space station on future missions. From the visitors center we drove down to Cocoa Beach for a quick stop before heading to the airport so that Brenda could catch her flight back to TN. I then spent most of the week attending the conference, although I did have an afternoon off on Wednesday to visit the two Universal theme parks. I enjoyed going on pretty much all of the roller coaster and movie rides. The weekend after my conference we got to see Rich & Melissa briefly at the Acrofest event hosted by Southern. We enjoyed watching many different gymnastics teams perform and then went out to eat together afterwards. The gymnastics teams all came together for a several days of training and workshops leading up to the night of performances. We spent Thanksgiving at my grandparents house in McMinnville, TN along with several cousins, aunts & uncles. We had a very nice
each star in the flag is 6 feet across
time together with family for the holiday. To finish off the month and bring in the Christmas season we went on a gospel music river cruise aboard the Southern Belle riverboat. We had a nice evening of music and good food and it was fun to see the lights of Chattanooga from the river.

We started December off by attending a Christmas Parade in downtown Chattanooga. After the parade we went to a Christmas open house at my work. Our company just moved into a brand new downtown building which is very nice so we enjoyed looking around and eating the supper they provided. My department didn't move though so we're still in the same older building with all of our network and telecom equipment a few miles from the downtown area. The next weekend we attended a Christmas concert at Southern and then enjoyed a young adults Christmas party Saturday night. We had a gift swap at the party and Brenda got two tickets to see a performance of It's a Wonderful Life the next day. On our way to the play we went out to eat at a Middle Eastern restaurant with another couple and then desserts were provided at the theater before the play started. We enjoyed the performance
saturn rocket engines used in apollo missions
and had a good time. The next Friday afternoon we drove up to Brooke & Jeffrey's house in Nashville, had a quick house tour and then Brooke drove us to the airport where we discovered that our flight to Chicago had been cancelled. It turned out that the earlier Chicago flight was delayed until our scheduled departure time though and they just put us on that flight instead. So, in the end we flew out at the time we had been planning on and made our connection to Seattle just fine. Since the Seattle airport had been having trouble earlier in the day most of the other flights to Seattle were delayed but thankfully ours was on time. We got into Seattle at around 1am and by the time we got to sleep it was 3am. Needless to say, we were very ready for bed. On Sabbath we spent time with Brenda's extended family and then enjoyed her cousin's wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. We spent all day Sunday preparing for and attending the wedding and then went out to eat with Brenda's cousins in the evening. I enjoyed getting better acquainted with everyone over the weekend and the wedding went very well.

Now back to the engagement details. Monday morning we were up early again to take Braden, Johanna & Keenan to the Seattle airport. After dropping them off Brenda and I drove into Seattle and went to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at
thanksgiving meal
the Pacific Science Center. The exhibit was very well done and we spent over 2 hours going through it. They explained all kinds of background information about the discovery, dating and preservation of the scrolls. An audio tour was also included and several actual scroll fragments and their translations were on display at the end of the exhibit. It is truly amazing to know that some of the same verses we read in our Bibles today have been accurately preserved and passed down over the years. After we finished going through the exhibit we then got some lunch before checking out the rest of the museum. They had lots of fun exhibits including a hands on tide pool, a butterfly garden, animatronic dinosaurs, and a number of live snakes & bugs. Towards the end of the
posing after the wedding we attended
afternoon we watched the movie Happy Feet in one of the museum's IMAX theaters. I had only told Brenda that we would be going some place nice for supper but she didn't know where or what exactly we were doing. Brenda had commented earlier in the day that she had never eaten at the revolving Space Needle restaurant before and she thought it would be fun to do some day. I responded by talking about when I had eaten in a similar restaurant at the CN tower in Toronto which she says made her think that we probably weren't going to the Space Needle. After the movie let out we walked towards the Space Needle and when we turned into the entrance Brenda got really excited and got excited again when she heard that we had reservations for the restaurant. We had a very nice meal including grilled Portobello mushrooms, a spinach mushroom side dish, and a salad made with apples, leafy greens, blue cheese and huckleberry vinaigrette dressing. For dessert Brenda got blackberry, raspberry & mango sorbet which was served in a dish suspended over dry ice.
space needle
The waiter added water to the dry ice at our table which made for a very impressive smoking dessert dish. I enjoyed an apple cranberry crisp for my dessert. During our meal the restaurant revolved about 2 times and it was a clear night so we enjoyed an amazing view in all directions. After dinner we walked upstairs to the observation deck. We walked around outside some but it was pretty cold so we mostly stayed inside. After walking around for a while we stopped to admire the view and Brenda remarked that it was very romantic. I then said that I knew a way to make it more romantic, but then we walked around a bit more as I was hoping to find just the right moment without too many people around. Finally the time was right and I got down on one knee. Brenda got very excited and hurried to kneel down and join me (she says she wanted to be closer to me). After a minute she stood back up and I asked the question. She didn't say anything for a while (she says she forgot to answer) so I asked again and then she said yes. We don't have a date or place set yet but we're very excited!

From Seattle we drove down to Olympia where we spent the night with friends. On the way we missed several turns and finally just had to stop for a few minutes as we were so distracted with calling our family to share our big news. In the morning we visited for a while and then drove up to Snoqualmie Pass for some snow skiing. Since we had already had such a busy weekend we decided
sorbet over dry ice
to just ski a half day, which was fun. Unfortunately we had some freezing rain for the first part of the afternoon but we still had some good runs and enjoyed spending time in the mountains. After skiing we drove back down to the Seattle area where we spent the night with friends before flying to California early Wednesday morning. Our flight was into LAX with a commuter hop over to the Ontario airport which is closer to my parents new house in Redlands. While we were waiting for our Ontario flight they asked for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for free tickets anywhere in the US and we were first in line to get the free tickets. Instead of putting us on another flight though, they just gave us a voucher for a shuttle van which drove us the 45 minutes to the Ontario airport. We ended up getting there about 10 minutes after our original flight arrived and even saw some of the passengers who were on the flight in the baggage claim area. It definitely was the easiest time I've ever had volunteering to get bumped for free tickets.


view from the space needle
Now we are enjoying a more relaxing week at my parents house along with my sister, my mom's two sisters and my grandma. My grandma recently moved from Portland, Oregon to a home about 10 minutes away from my parents. After this week we'll fly back to Seattle to spend nearly a week in Wenatchee with Brenda's family before heading back to TN. Well, that's what we've been up to for the last several months. Brenda is still enjoying her job as a middle school counselor and I'm still enjoying my work as well. In the next few months we're looking forward to several visits from friends and a couple of trips too.

Merry Christmas!

Andrew

More pictures are in the gallery.

14 Comments

Congratulations! We are so happy for both of you. When you told me you itenerary, I had wondered if 'other things planned' in Seattle after the wedding would include a proposal. I so glad that it did! Welcome to the family Brenda! - Brooke, Jeffrey, and Elise

Hey there Andrew and Brenda,
Excellent news! Congratulations! A proposal done in real style, I have to say. The dessert on ice looks and sounds fabulous. You two are really making me jelous of all your gallivanting. You could really write a book about all the traveling you've done. Look forward to when you can visit us in England and make a trip to Wales - at least one place you haven't been to ( I think...?) Lots of love from all three of us xxx

Dear Andrew & Brenda,

Congratulations! Thanks for keeping us up to date with your latest adventures.
We happen to be in Southern California right now as well and would love to see you and your family. Please send me an email with your contact information.

All the best,
Gina, Clint, Daniel & Heather Wahlen

Brenda and Andrew,

I'm so excited for you guys! Thanks for letting us know your big news! Keep me posted on all the particulars.

Love,
Kelly

Congratulation Brenda and Andrew

Thank you for keeping us up to date.

Here is our website: www.houseofunion.org

Somchart Porlung

Hey..Congrats guys! You two seem to alway be traveling somewhere and it sounds like you're having a wonderful time. We look forward to hearing about your wedding details. If you get a chance, check out our new website... http://therawsonfamily.phanfare.com/ It's brand new so it's still in the works, but there's a few pics of Tyler.

CONGRATULATIONS!!

I'm really excited to hear that you're doing well and that you've found someone to share your life with. Excellent indeed.

Joel

Congrats!! And welcome to the family Brenda!

Summer

I knew it was a matter of time. Cute couple and enjoyed the website. God bless you in your journey.

I am so excited for you both...and that you will start your married life together with such a meaningful and beautiful proposal! You deserve all of God's blessings and joy!

Love you,
Pam Pewitt

Dearest Brenda and Andrew,
Andrew if we have not ever met hello and maybe we can meet someday. Congratulations, I am so happy for the two of you. I know that you will remember me from Southern Brenda, although I haven't heard from you in so long I am very grateful that your message made it to me. I just got married in June to the love of my life Joey Amann. He went to Pisgah Academy and we met after I graduated and moved to NC we dated three years. Are you going to live in TN? Where do you live now? I live in NC.
Love and Hugs
Heather Smith Amannn

Couldn't be happier. We're thrilled to have Brenda be part of our family!

Greg and Mary Kay

Congratulations and best wishes to you both! It's sounding like 2007 will be a busy year for the Porter family with two weddings and a new baby. So glad we had the chance to be with you in October.

Love,

Patbear

Congratulations! Its been so long since I'd visited your page, but I'm glad things have been going so well with you. God Bless.

Alicia