Once Upon a Day Last Week...
...the wonderful man who loves and tolerates me so well, interrupted our crazy schedules and made an appointment for the two of us to play with a family of penguins up north at the Newport Aquarium on Wednesday January 16th. (A little tip about me: I LOVE PENGUINS and I have ALWAYS wanted to meet or play with them!) I was so excited that every time I would think about it for an entire week I would randomly squeal with delight.
On Wednesday morning through icy weather conditions, we headed north and had a nice lunch before our 12:30pm appointment. Upon arrival to the aquarium we were led through the back to a small room above the shark tank. I opened to door to see seven little African penguins waddling around appearing as excited to see me as a was to see them! I felt as though I was going to explode, or at least hyperventilate from pure excitement!
I immediately learned their names and was introduced to Blueberry, Freckles, Greenbean and Simon. I was shown their markings which help tell them apart and told about their personalities. They were so sweet and would get jealous if one got more attention that the other - like a puppy - and would chase whomever they would pick on. They untied Drew's shoelaces and loved to be petted. I had no idea they were so soft and loving! An interesting fact about these warm weather penguins, is that when they choose their ideal mate, they select and present a rock to her. If she accepts, then they are mates for life! (Awwwwwe)
Ally, our penguin handler brought over a huge container of paint colors and explained that this particular group of penguins had a hobby... they liked to PAINT! She put a canvas down on the floor and smeared several colors beside it for them to put their feet it. They covered their little feet in paint and left footprints all over the canvas for us. I felt like squealing toddler. That HAD to be the absolute most adorable thing that I have every encountered on this earth. Hands down.
After playing with them for a minute or two, Drew asked if we could do another painting. Ally found another canvas and radioed a colleague for permission to use it. Request approved! I immediately started digging for my phone to take more photos. I turned around... and to my shock, Drew was down on one knee surrounded by waddling cuteness and holding the new canvas. He turned it over, and "Will You Marry Me?" was painted on the other side.
There truly are no words to describe how deep my happiness and excitement runs now. Suddenly, the realization that so many of my mistakes, pains and triumphs have lead me to exactly where I am supposed to be. EXACTLY. With no doubts or questions. When you least expect it, God gives you the greatest of gifts.
Immediately, our wonderful friend Allie Filley - who had somehow been hiding somewhere around the shark tank - burst through the door taking a million photos that I will cherish forever!
I said "Of course!" but I was so shocked that the words hardly came out. He opened a little box and slid the most gorgeous ring in the world on my shaky finger
Afterwards while glowing and bouncing with enough excitement to light a whole city, we walked through the rest of the aquarium taking photos to commemorate the occasion and having so much fun. I will never forget this amazing day as long as I live.
Here is a video that was a surprise from our dear friend Allie: