Not just a picture

For Christmas this year, Matt gave me a very special gift. A month later, I'm finally going to finish this post!

As most of you know, my Papaw Buster died last summer. At his visitation, my cousins had collected various photographs to display, and among them was a picture that I'd never seen before. It was an old, black and white photo of my Papaw and his brother, my Uncle Lovey. The special thing about this picture was that my Papaw was standing up! I'd only seen one other picture of him standing up before.

I remember how tall my Uncle Lovey was, and in the picture, it looks like Papaw is even slightly taller than him! I just loved the picture so much. He was tall, young, and strong. He was wearing a white suit with his hands in his pockets. We don't know what they were doing or where they were going. We think that Papaw must have been around 19 or 20. I don't know what it is about the picture, but I just love it. I framed it and put it on the shelf in our living room.

Fast forward to November-ish. Matt has a client who is an artist. His specialty is pointillism. While I was away on my Family Medicine rotation in Hattiesburg, Matt took my favorite picture out of its frame, copied it, and put it back. He gave the copy to his artist-friend who created the most incredible, special gift I've ever received.

The pictures don't do the artwork justice. The whole thing is made of tiny, tiny pen dots. The skill and talent that this artist has is absolutely mind-blowing to me (I mean, I can't draw stick people). It looks EXACTLY like the actual photograph. Every detail. Every wrinkle in their pants, the broken step on Grandpa Arnold's back porch, the shoelaces. Incredible. Papaw is the one in the white suit with the bow-tie. It makes me so happy.

When Matt gave me the picture, tears filled my eyes, but it was the sweet note that he had written in a card that made me cry so hard. He wrote, "Laura, I know how much your grandfather meant to you. This artwork was done by a gentleman named Glenn Sanford, and the form of art is called pointillism. I commissioned this artwork so that you will always remember what an inspiration he was to you, and the reason you want to be a doctor. I will always miss Buster and his stories, and I know you will too. I hope that every time you look at this artwork, you are inspired to always take one day at a time, to remember the strength that Buster had to overcome what was said to be impossible, and to become the doctor that always fights for her patients."

Wow. What a gift. It is hanging in our house now, but someday I want to hang it in my office, so that every single day I am reminded of why I do what I do. It makes me smile everyday. I like having the image of him standing up. It reminds me of the fact that that's what he's like now in Heaven--standing and walking in a perfect body.

Thank you, Matthew.


I'm getting MARRIED!!

I'm so excited!! Matt and I got engaged last night! I wanted to share the perfect night that my fiancĂ© (wow) planned for me. This story is so ridiculous.

So Matt tells me that his mom is getting an award at a special dinner for her 25 years of service with her job. Totally believable. She even texted me and told me that it really would mean a lot to her if we could both be there. So "coincidentally," my residents gave us Saturday off, and I didn't have to come in until noon on Sunday.

So we go to Huntsville. His mom also told me that the owner of the hotel gave her a massage and told her that she could bring someone else with her. So I enjoyed an hour long, deep tissue, full body massage to start what would turn out to be the best night of my life!

That night, we got all dressed up to go to this dinner. Matt begged me to wear this cocktail dress that he likes. I told him it was too formal for dinner. I told him I was not wearing it because I didn't want to be overdressed. I think my exact words were, "It's going to be old ladies in pant suits!" His mom guilt-tripped me into wearing the dress (she actually bought it for me last Christmas). I wasn't happy about it, but I wore it. (I absolutely love the dress, but I just thought I'd be way overdressed.) Later, I'd be glad I wore it!

So we get to the restaurant, called Cotton Row, in downtown Huntsville. He said we were there for "Debbie Newman." They took us down to a wine cellar, where there was a long table set for 8 and candlelit. The waitress filled our water glasses and left us alone. I just thought we were the first ones there. Suddenly, Matt stood up, said "Well, this is all a big surprise," and walked around to my side of the table. It took me a second to figure out what was going on. He pulled a little box out of his pocket, and I said, "OHHH...!" He got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. I said, "Of course!" I squealed a little, cried a little, and smiled a lot. I said, "So Cathy (the hotel owner) didn't get me that massage today, did she?" He laughed and said, "Nope."

The waitress came back with champagne, and Matt started telling me about all the lies he'd been telling me (and how I "ask too many damn questions!") He also informed me that I was actually off of work the next day (I was supposed to get up and leave Huntsville at 6am to be back at the hospital at noon for a night on call). Little did I know that my friends Morgan and Lyssa had worked it out with my resident to let me off on Sunday. So apparently half my medicine team knew all week that I was getting engaged! That "be here at noon" business was just enough to make me think I could go to Huntsville and get back in time. Lyssa didn't want me to get suspicious if he gave "us" the whole weekend off (because that never happens). Not to worry, Lyssa; I was clueless. I mean Matt thought of everything! So then I just think we are going to have a romantic dinner-for-two in this cozy little wine cellar. Wrong.

About 10 minutes later, I hear some footsteps coming down the wooden stairs. Then I see my mom! My family (minus my dad, who couldn't get out of his night on call :( the only downside to the whole evening) and his family were there! What a surprise! My family lives five hours away, so I was completely shocked to see them there! We sat down and had a wonderful dinner (Matt even had the restaurant make personalized menus for us that said "Congratulations, Laura and Matt!" and the date at the top. I was very impressed with his attention to detail. (He even made my family take the hotel shuttle to the restaurant because he didn't want to risk me seeing one of their cars downtown!) We drank champagne and they laughed about all of the things that they'd had to keep secret, and all of the things Matt had been doing and freaking out about.

We enjoyed dessert, and just when I thought my perfect night was over, I heard nothing short of a herd of people walking down the noisy wooden steps. I screamed when I saw that my very best friends, Sandidge and Emily, and several of our close friends from college all came walking through the door! Emily's boyfriend, John, was taking pictures, and I can't wait to see the look on my own face! I was shocked for the third time! They had been in on it the whole time, and Matt later showed me a long chain of facebook messages where they had planned and arranged what Ben (Matt's best friend) had dubbed "Operation About-Damn-Time." So funny. I think Ben missed his calling. Apparently he should've been an event coordinator!! Matt gave Ben instructions, and Ben called all of our friends, arranged a time and place to meet, arranged a carpool of sorts, and stuck to a tight schedule for them to make their grand entrance!

After their surprise appearance, we made our way down the street to a swanky little bar where the whole upstairs room was reserved just for us. We talked, laughed, and enjoyed each other's company until late into the night. It was so funny to hear how they'd all been involved. They had all eaten dinner together, so all of our friends that had never met already knew everything about each other!

It was an absolutely PERFECT night. I could not have asked for more! It was the coolest, most intimate setting, and I got to share it with my closest friends and family! There were a few people that Matt wanted to be there that couldn't make it, but it was still so perfect.  I still can't believe that SO many people knew about it, and no one slipped and gave it away! I'm really impressed! Matt thought of every little detail. We even had a breakfast this morning at his mom's hotel. The chef prepared a special, private breakfast for us, so we all got to visit together before everyone left town. Perfect. So absolutely perfect. (And my ring is pretty amazing if I do say so myself!!)

I just still can't believe it's real! We are so excited, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with my Matthew! He's so wonderful, and I feel so loved every single day. I can't wait to be Mrs. Newman! (For a little while... then it's Dr. Newman!! Ahhh!!)

Thank you, Matt, for such a perfect weekend. I love you more than anything, and I can't wait to be your WIFE!!!

This is when my family first got there, and my mom ran to me first. This picture is after she finally let go of me and quit crying. Haha.. typical. Love you, Mama :)

Reading a sweet card from my mom.

I hate this hand-on-the-lapel, cheesy, stereotypical engagement photo. My mama made me do it. Just so you know.

We managed to spend half the afternoon with Chris, Cecilia, and their sweet baby Savannah without my finding anything out. Cecilia told me last night that it was killing her not to just scream with excitement!

Maid of honor :)

Love. this. boy.

You cannot possibly imagine my excitement in this photo!

Matt's mom got me this charm for my Pandora bracelet that has our engagement date engraved on it.


Chrimmatime in review

I hope you had a MERRY CHRISTMAS! I did. I enjoyed my week and a half of freedom. Mostly I enjoyed not having a 4:30am alarm clock. I made my own set of wreaths for my front door. I'm extremely proud of this. I am not a crafty person. Creativity and craftiness is my sister's gift, not mine. I think they're ok, but I have big plans for better wreaths for next year. Our tree is a little Ethiopian, if you don't mind the absolutely not politically correctness of that statement. I am also not a PC kind of person... in case you haven't noticed. I decided it was pretty bare, as you could see the wall through the Charlie Brown branches of our fake Christmas tree, so I threw some tinsel on it. It helped. Historically, I haven't been a tinsel kind of gal, but I think I just became one. I like it. 

It was a very different Christmas this year without my Papaw Buster, but it helped me remember and focus on what Christmas is all about. Papaw spent this Christmas in Heaven! It was also the first time in more than 30 years that he celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ with his wife, and that really, truly does bring joy to my heart.

This was also the first Christmas I spent with Matt's family. He always comes to our big family Christmas get-togethers, but his family usually has theirs on Christmas day, so I haven't spent it with them before. This year they had it early, and it was such a fun, relaxing weekend at Lake Guntersville! Matt's gift to me was the most wonderful, perfect, special gift I think I've ever received. I am working on a post about it. It is a story of its own. You'll just have to wait :)

This is also the first time in a very long time that I have not watched A Christmas Story. Not one single time. I usually watch it no less than 5 times, but this year sleep was far more enticing than movies. I did a lot of sleeping on the couch. I guess that way I felt more like I was at least around my family, even if I was unconscious. I did watch It's a Wonderful Life. One of my favorites. And my dad and I watched about 5 episodes of Locked Up. There was a marathon on Christmas day. What a weird thing to watch on Christmas day...

So here are a few of my favorite pictures from Christmas break. 

 I bought this ornament last year for like 25 cents, and I think Katie named it Herbert.

Lake Guntersville

The new bridge at home! Fancy, huh?

My FAVORITE Christmas Eve dinner!

My father, of all people, taught me a little trick I've gone almost 25 years without knowing. It changed my life. Did you have any idea that if you just brush the end of your hairdryer with a toothbrush it gets all of the fuzz out?! It's so easy. And fast. How did my dad know that and I didn't?? That little gem was a Christmas present in itself!

Only in the MS Delta.

An original oil painting that I bought in Spain 3 years ago. I finally got it framed.

Love this one.

Not cute. Matt would not participate. But he feels left out when I do not include him in my blog! So there is our one and only Christmas picture, turd.

You know you're old when you ask for a tie organizer for Christmas.

Sandidge and Vegas came to visit!!!

Welcome, 2011. Welcome to my life.