Then this blog gave me something I had never imagined - real love!! :) Mr. H had found my blog a number of months before we actually met and we would occasionally comment on each others' blogs. He sent me an email when I wrote about my 1 year anniversary of deciding to stop drinking. And he wrote me another email supporting my decision to end a difficult relationship that was going nowhere. A couple months after that, I sent him an email when he wrote about a potential customer - it reminded me very much of the bad situations I saw in my then career. And then I introduced myself and told him my real name, and we shared photos and luckily Mr. H was interested!! :) And then we met when he drove to Chicago from Toronto when he was on vacation, and it was magic! I loved writing about that on my blog and I absolutely LOVE that Mr. H and I have those early blog posts to look back upon and read our feelings and excitement and be reminded of that exciting time of our new love!
Eventually I wasn't writing on my blog as much, and Mr. H stopped writing on his blog much earlier than I did. First, it was different because I didn't want to necessarily pour out every one of my feelings anymore because Mr. H read it and because if I was ever upset, he'd much rather have me talk to him directly instead of read about it along with everyone else. Very understandable. And second, Mr. H and I would chat every night on skype for a long time and that's the time when I used write on my blog, so writing just fell by the wayside. I did and still do sometimes miss being able to write my every thought, but for now I feel like it would take too much time. Maybe though. But it would be shared only with a few select people and not everyone.
Anyway though, this is an epilogue so I need to update everyone on what has happened since I last wrote! Mr. H and I continued our long distance relationship, him in Vancouver and me in Chicago, until a year ago. Last March, we moved together to Winnipeg. Yes I know, Winnipeg! At first when he brought up the idea I thought he was crazy, I mean, it's cold here!!! But then he wooed me by showing me the mls listings from Winnipeg - we'd spend hours looking at houses together on mls and it's so cheap here!!! We had decided that I would move to Canada first and get my residency here, and later we'd get Mr. H his green card in the US, so our initial options were buying a very very expensive 2-bedroom condo an hour from Vancouver, and trying to have my two cats and his two dogs in a small place like that, or moving to Winnipeg and buying a whole house for a third of the price. I started liking the idea of Winnipeg much more. And I also liked that we would be moving to a new city together, so it wouldn't me be moving to his city where I think I would always feel like it was his city and not OUR city. In January of 2008 we met in Winnipeg and went house hunting, and I met Mr. H's best friend and his wife (which is why Mr. H knew Winnipeg a little and the real estate situation), and we ended up finding and buying a house we both loved! I quit my job at the end of February, and in the middle of March Mr. H drove to Chicago and packed all my belonging in his trailer, we left most of it in a storage locker in Grand Forks, and we crossed the border with just us, James and Emma, and one suitcase for me. I was so so so so so so happy when we made it through (after they thoroughly searched the vehicle), I felt like I was free and a similar-type feeling to sitting on the seadoo and flying across flat water so fast!
So we're coming up on our 1 year anniversary of living together!!! Yay!!! And on September 2, 2008, Mr. H and I got married!!! We planned it in just a few days because we realized we needed to do it quickly for immigration and we'd procrastinated, so it was just the two of us, our two friends and their baby, my photographer friend, and the officiant. We married in the English Gardens of a local park surrounded by trees and flowers and lightly misting rain, it was seriously like out of a romance novel! It was such an amazing day and for about a month afterward I remember being amazed at how different it felt compared to just living together, there really was a feeling of so much more closeness, a deep deep closeness, it was so incredibly wonderful. I'm obviously more used to it now so I don't think about it as much, but I don't want to ever forget how much MORE it felt like once we were married.
And Mr. H is wonderful!!! I love being married to him and I still feel so lucky that we met each other through this wonderful blogger world. I'm so happy we live in this time and that everything seemed almost destined for us. He is so caring, and so thoughtful, and supportive and loving, and just by far the best person I know, and I love him so incredibly much. So so so so much!!!
Our dogs and cats still don't love each other, but we're always making slow progress. We have a dog gate at the bottom of the stairs so the cats get the upstairs so they can feel safe. James started coming downstairs early on and he can deal with the dogs - if they chase him he's okay and hisses if they get too close but he knows they aren't going to hurt him. Even right now as I type he's sitting under the dining room table and the dogs are both sleeping around him. One of the dogs growls at them and did a few minutes ago, but James knows he doesn't have to worry. Little Emma started coming down more just a couple months ago, and that makes me so happy! Sometimes I carry her down first, but sometimes she comes down on her own. She hisses at the dogs if they even get close to her and sometimes even when they're just laying down, but I know it's because she's scared so trying to show them she's big and mean. I'm just so happy that sometimes now all 4 of our babies are in the same room, and I hope at this time next year they can all really hang out together!!
One of the most exciting things next to getting married and being so happy is my new career!!! First, I am so so so happy to not be working in law anymore! I will never go back to that! Last spring I met up with a photographer (I'll call him C) who had just started out, and he was pretty new to Winnipeg as well but already had a lot of weddings scheduled for last summer. I second shot with him at 9 weddings over the summer, and another one a couple weekends ago, and he was so instrumental in encouraging me to just get started. I got a new camera last June (Canon 40D) (and a new computer - MacBook Pro - yay finally I'm a mac user!), and took some photos of my friend's baby and then started getting referral work, and I've done dozens of newborn, baby, child and family shoots, and a few couples shoots. And I'm booking my own weddings now for this summer! So far I have 6 - they're all referrals from C, he's been so wonderful in helping me build my business and giving me so many tips and teaching me and giving me confidence. I'm going to have Mr. H register a business name so I can start doing some advertising, because I'd love to have at least 10 weddings, hopefully more like 15. Both so I can make some money but also so I can get the experience and then be able to raise my rates for the next summer. I LOVE IT!!! I love photography, I love the art of it, the creativity of it, capturing love and laughter and personalities, and I love meeting people through it. I have so much fun getting to know my wedding couples and also getting to know the parents during my baby and child shoots. Since June I've been getting more lenses so now I'm almost completely set for wedding season - I have the 50mm, f1.4, the 24-70mm, f/2.8, the 70-200mm, f/2.8 IS, and one external flash unit. And a couple weeks ago I bought the new Canon 5D Mark II camera!!! I do need to get one more external flash so I can learn more off-camera flash for receptions. And I'm eyeing more lenses as well - the 85mm, f1.8 (good for portraits) and the 135mm, f2.0 (because the 70-200 is SO HEAVY and this is supposed to be lighter, plus the wonderful 2.0 aperture). But so anyway, that's my passion right now!!! I still have a lot of work to do on all sides, from continuing to improve my photography skills, to setting up my website (I update my photo blog all the time but haven't finished my website that I started months ago), to learning to design albums and ordering some samples, to setting up an online store, to creating a formal price list, to working on ways to make more money for the family, child and baby shoots (because I spend so much time on those photos and charge not nearly enough for my time and product). And I also need to get faster at editing, that's a big thing. And so much more.
So it will be a process but I dream of eventually having a cute meeting studio in our home (right now I have potential brides and grooms come to our house and have a slideshow on our big TV but it's just in our family room and I'd like my own studio room with large prints and such). And I dream of offering lots of products and packages for my baby, child, and family shoots. And I dream of charging more for my weddings and being able to book 15-20 weddings and year and make a good living. And then also when Mr. H and I start a family this will be a good career for me because I'll have a lot of free time! And I'd love to start trying for our first baby next winter so it would hopefully come sometime between November 2010 and February 2011 - that way I'd be fine with having health coverage by then and it would be during the off-season for weddings. That's my plan!!!
Hmmm, what else?! We're just pretty happy!! We live in a wonderful old house (built in 1893), and we're planning to add a second bathroom and do some other stuff. Mr. H just built a garage out back so he has a workshop for the first time in years and is so excited about that! We're both so excited for warmer weather to come - I've pretty much hibernated inside our house for most of the winter so I'm really excited about getting outside again, and Mr. H dealt really well with his first Winnipeg winter - he even loved snowblowing, but there have been days when it's been really, really cold outside. I don't know if we'll stay in Winnipeg for forever. The winters here really do suck. The summers are good though, not nearly as humid as down in Michigan and Chicago which I like. But we talk about maybe moving to the southwest of the US sometime. Of course, I know that the longer we stay here the harder it will be to leave cause we'll make friends and especially because we'll both have built up our respective businesses and reputations. So we'll see. But we're really happy right now, and I love that this city is so affordable and a good size - a big-ish city but easy to get around in and sometimes feels like a small town. And the people here are really nice, too.
If there's anything I forgot, anyone can comment and I'll try to check now and then to see if there are any comments! And anyone can email me if you want my photo blog address - it's mostly client photoshoots but I also post some photos of Mr. H and I and our doings.