Our Story

The now, shortened and condensed version…

First Meeting

Once upon a time… In a land called Luther Preparatory School… Our tale began in a class called “handbell”, otherwise known as “goof off time”. We were handbell partners playing C,D and E,F. We spent many long hours enjoying each others company and ringing each others’ bells. There was a fun bus ride to Illinois during our time in handbells. Paul tried to impress Michelle with his magic card tricks (as you could probably can tell, it didn’t work). He used her pillow as a table and tried to be smooth (key word is “tried”). We went to church and sat next to each other, which gave us the thrill of shivers down our spines. When Michelle proceeded to mess up, Paul started laughing and pretty soon we both gave way to hysterical laughs. (Of course our director didn’t think it was very funny…And so our year continued, UNTIL… Paul came running into handbell choir with the bloodiest hand that Michelle has ever seen! Paul had somehow cut his finger while OPENING a door. Yea, GO FIGURE!!! Eventually I went to the hospital after tutor Boggs thought I was going to die. (He said I needed stitches, well I got there and I guess it wasn’t “serious” enough to get stitches. Yea, my finger had a section of skin flapping around. Yea, I should have gotten stitches. Ask me to show you the scar and I will.FUN TIMES!!!!

At the end of the school year, Michelle did not play in the handbell choir for the last concert (skipper *Michelle’s Note* HEY NOW!!!!). Therefore, Paul thought it was ok to skip handbell practice the following week. Michelle knew then that he was in love (even though he had 2 other girlfriends before her. (*Paul’s Note* Hey! I had to weed out the bad ones before I hit the great one!).

E-mail Romance

So, over the summer she e-mailed him and he responded. They wrote e-mails and got to know each other over the internet. (Every day, at least a page, which Michelle has kept, unlike Paul) The next school year they were too embarrassed to talk to each other. Yea, we were dumb. Except during a track meet when Paul held Michelle’s blocks and told her, “Just run your heart out and you’ll be fine!” That race Michelle beat her personal best. (She still hasn’t beaten that time and probably wont, what power a man has on a woman’s heart)

The next summer we e-mailed each other again. Though this time he lied to try to impress Michelle. (It didn’t work, which didn’t earn him any brownie points later on, but I still love him. (and I lied too HEHEHE!)). But that didn’t stop us. We just kept on typing away. Spilling our hearts all over some digital paper. Then came “THE EMAIL”. This, of course, is the masterly written note that initiated our life together. Michelle hinted at a “sunset date”. Paul hinted that he wanted to go too. Then Michelle hinted more and set a date. Paul then hinted back and said “Sounds like fun!”

First Date

It was a wonderful September Day. The 8th of September, 1999 to be exact. We walked all the way to Riverside Park. The sun was about to set over Watertown when we sat down to watch it. Paul, of course, sat in some bird poop. (He was thankful that Michelle didn’t notice.) We talked. Paul complained how girls didn’t like him. (Michelle started feeling sorry for the poor sap.) She proclaimed that “Some girls liked him,” Which Paul took to mean “I like you!” Boy, was he wrong. They moved over to the swing set and played a bit. Then came the question… “Michelle, will you go out with me?” The response… “Sure, why not?” The next response… “As boyfriend and girlfriend?” *spoken in a surprised manner.* The final response… “Why not?” And so it began! We set up a second date, the following Wednesday so we didn’t have to go to chapel! So romantic huh?

Second Date

We went to see “For the love of the game.” A sweet baseball flick. During the movie Paul was too scared to put his arm around her, so when the movie was done he just quickly rubbed her back. On the way back to Prep he managed to hold her hand. He was so smooth…

First Dinner Date

You would not believe how scared Michelle was to eat in front of Paul. She was afraid I would dump her if she spilled all over herself! HAHAHA! We went to “The Forum” on the corner of Hwy 100 and Layton Ave. We started with chicken dumpling soup. (I guess this was the first time Michelle had some of that, sheltered child!) She had a sandwich and I had a Hamburger. Then we went to the Creed concert at the Milwaukee Arena with Devon Smith and some other girl. It was a blast! She ended up going home with John Baumgardt and ended up getting a flat tire in scary downtown Milwaukee. Yea, fun times.

First Kiss

On one of our many Wednesday night dates, we ended up on the forbidden Tivoli Island. We didn’t want to go into the island because it was so scary! So we just ended up hugging… Then it happened… We looked deep into each others eyes, and then moved ever so slowly close to each other; with only a few inches left to go we each closed our eyes and hoped we wouldn’t screw up. Good thing we didn’t, otherwise I’d have poked her eye out with my gigantic nose. It was one of the most romantic dates we’ve ever had.

The First “I love you”

It was a cold night sometime in the winter. Paul didn’t want to go because he had homework, but I dragged him along and said it wouldn’t take long. We went joy riding with Eric Hansen, the king of speed. (Or more like the king of romance! *Wink* *Wink*) After our little trip we were taking our evening walk around campus. We ended up at the Wartburg doors. Paul whispered “I love you.” to Michelle and then ran away into the building. (Was he scared?) (*Paul’s Note* Nope, just thought it was sweeter and more memorable!)

Almost Dumped

It was the night before Michelle’s graduation and Paul could sense something was wrong. He didn’t want to spend a whole summer away from his love but it was inevitable. But what was this? Michelle was on a mission. She thought that spending a summer away and never coming back to Prep would suck for her and for their relationship. So, she was going to dump Paul, now if only she knew what to say. They sat in the grass and he expressed his undying love to her and when she looked into his eyes she knew she could not hurt him. So she didn’t. Instead they vowed to e-mail and IM over the summer. Paul and Michelle also made arrangements for Michelle to come back to Wisconsin for the Fourth of July weekend.

Back in Wisconsin…Fourth of July Weekend

Paul welcomed Michelle in the Milwaukee airport with open arms, a hug, and a kiss. Paul had to work that night at County Stadium, so the plan was for Michelle and the Lemke family to go to the Brewer game. There, Paul gave Michelle a big foam finger. HE had to work the next day also, so Michelle spent the day with Paul’s little brother, Martin. That night we were supposed to go out to dinner with Paul’s best friend, Devon, but it was raining so hard that we could barely see. Therefore, we just stayed at Devon’s house, ate pizza, and watched a movie, then went back to Paul’s house. One day we also went to Summerfest and at night watched the fireworks on Lake Michigan. Michelle left mad because Paul worked and she had to spend a day with his little brother, Martin. However, looking back on it, she realizes that was dumb, however Paul was also wrong for not spending a lot of time with his girlfriend in the middle of the summer… especially if he missed her as much as he said he did. (*Paul’s Note* as you can probably tell, Michelle wrote this section. No comment.)

First Year Anniversary

September 8, 2000. The details are fuzzy but this is what we know happened. Michelle was spending the weekend at Paul’s house. Paul was showing Michelle pictures and in them he showed her pictures of the necklace he bought her without even realizing it. He took her to the Lake Michigan lakefront and gave her the most beautiful necklace. It was peridot with a small diamond on top and a gold heart encircled the stones. Michelle already knew it was coming because she saw pictures of it.

Houston Trip #1

Michelle surprised Paul by giving him a plane ticket to Houston for his graduation present. She presented him with the ticket at Denoon Park (near his house) and she made him work for it. Michelle had Paul running all around finding clues to his present. When he finally got it, he dropped on the ground out of surprise (not fatigue).

Paul spent a week at Michelle’s house. This was Paul’s first plane trip. He, of course, got sick when the plane was landing, so much for his “strong stomach.” (yeah right… never!) Michelle took him to see all the hot spots in Houston. Some of these included: NASA, Gulf of Mexico, Six Flags, Kema Boardwalk and the pool. We spent a lot of time outside enjoying the HOT (even though Paul swore it wasn’t as hot as Wisconsin, that’s a load of bull sh**) Paul worked on his tan and by the time he left was a golden red. Hahahaha

Second Year Anniversary

September 8, 2001. Paul told Michelle’s roommate, Rachel Sowatzke, what he was doing so she packed a bag for Michelle to bring for the day. Paul blindfolded Michelle and first they went golfing in Racine on the Lake Front of Lake Michigan. Then Paul took Michelle to the Chancery on Lake Michigan and then we walked on the Racine Marina to watch the sunset. It was beautiful. (Remind you of our first date?) Then Paul blindfolded Michelle once more and took her to Denoon Park, in Muskego. It was dark by this time and Paul was rummaging around in the back of the shagon wagon while the song DIE DIE DIE was playing by Metallica. Michelle was sure Paul was going to kill her and she would never see life again!!! (Bad Paul!!) However, Paul surprised her by setting up a table and they had desert. He had a rose, candles, and good dishes and he made her cherry chocolate cake. And of course, he brought his camera. (None of them turned out) So, Michelle is still alive!

Houston Trip #2

Paul actually got to plan this trip and came down when he wanted to. He ended up coming down the end of July. This time they went to: Sea World (San Antonio), a Houston Astros game (Houston won against the Brewers and Paul wore a Houston Astros T-shirt hehehe), we bummed out and went to the pool.

The most eventful part of this trip was when Paul and Michelle went to the Gulf of Mexico in the late afternoon. Michelle’s parents told them to take their car and so they drove down to the ocean. Michelle took the keys and told Paul to hang onto them, since she was carrying other stuff. Paul put them in his pocket and they rented an umbrella and set up their area for the evening. They had a wonderful time swimming and catching the rays. When it was time to go home, Michelle turns to Paul and says, “Ok, can you give me the keys?” Paul proceeds to say, “Oh, Sh**” He felt in his pockets and I said you didn’t, and he said I did! SO, they searched the beach and to no luck they didn’t find the key. (it wouldn’t have worked anyways, because the computer chip in the key can’t get wet and it was obviously VERY wet even if they did find it.) Michelle sucked up her pride and called home. Her dad was very understanding and laughed at them. He said you will pay for the key, but sent Michelle’s brother, Eric to retrieve them. Paul was so nice that he ended up paying for the key. (awwww, thanks Paul, it was $130 because of the computer chip)

Third Year Anniversary

September 8, 2002. Every year is a little different (but perfect) and this year was no exception. We went to a Brewers game and tailgated before-hand. This was the first time Michelle has ever tailgated. We grilled brats on the little grill. Then we went to the game and watched the Brewers lose. (JK, we have no clue if they won or lost, we were too interested in other things) After the Brewers game, we went to Tumbleweed. (Finally, got a chance to go there when it wasn’t raining (look at our first summer together))

Summer Trip to Delaware

Michelle stayed in Milwaukee during the summer of 2003 to work at Children’s World Day Care. Meanwhile, Michelle’s parents moved to Delaware. So, the first week in August, Paul and Michelle went to visit their new house and the lovely state of Delaware. Paul and Michelle spent a few days with Michelle’s parents then hit the road to Maryland to see Michelle’s aunt and uncle. They stayed 2 nights and 1 day. Paul and Michelle enjoyed the pool and saw the sights of Washington, D.C. It was the first time Paul went to the East Coast and traveled by subway. On their way back to Delaware, they saw the Naval Academy. Also, Michelle’s parents took Paul and Michelle out to eat to celebrate Michelle’s 21 st birthday at Woody’s Crab Shack. The next day, Paul and Michelle wanted to go to New York but late night on August 13, 2003 Michelle decided that she just wanted to spend some time with her mom. So, Paul and Michelle cancelled the trip to New York early morning on August 14, 2003. Later, after Michelle’s dad came home from work they watched the news and found out that New York suffered a black out. Boy, did Paul and Michelle sure thank God that He was watching out for them. The next day, Michelle’s parents had the family over for a get-together. Paul was able to meet one side of Michelle’s family. Paul and Michelle went to church on Sunday with Michelle’s parents and headed back to Wisconsin. It was nice to see the East Coast and travel to another place that Paul has never been! Paul sees the countryside when Michelle’s parents move so much!

Fourth Year Anniversary

Paul got used to dating Michelle and decided to stop wooing her. So, Paul took Michelle out to eat at the Rock Bottom on the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee. Paul could not eat all of his beef tips because they were too spicy. (poor baby, boo hoo (comes from an unsympathetic Michelle)) After dinner, Paul and Michelle took a walk on the river walk and Michelle thought he was going to propose. (She thought he would propose every time they did something romantic during 2003.)

Paul’s 21 st Birthday

Michelle decided to do something special for Paul’s 21 st birthday. So, she planned an entire day of activity for him. First, they went on a Miller Brewery tour. At the end of the tour they tried 3 different types of Miller beers. Then Michelle bought Paul a bucket of beer. After the Miller tour, Paul and Michelle went back to Michelle’s apartment to change and get ready for their evening. Michelle took Paul to That’s Amore for steak and wine. Then they went back to Paul’s house to drink the Miller beer and an assortment of Smirnoff (thanks to Michelle again!). Happy 21 st birthday, Paul!

Our Engagement from Paul’s Point of View

After dating the most wonderful woman alive, I had it set in my mind that marrying her was the only way I could keep her in my life. In reality, I had wanted to marry her for almost 2 years before I actually did it. Even though Michelle wanted me to propose as soon as possible I knew that doing that would be a bad thing and we would be jumping the gun. It was very tempting to just ask her one day, but I had to fight it. Knowing that a 1 year engagement would be el primo. I waited till March of 2004 to purchase the ring Michelle and I had found a year earlier. It was the perfect ring for her. A marquee diamond in the prettiest setting I have ever seen. I knew right away that it was the ring for her. (link here to the gallery).

With the ring out of the way, I had to plan the second most important day in our relationship (the first day would be the day we get married). With all my nervous energy building up, and the ring burning a hole in my pocket, I decided that April 30 th would be the day. Two weeks before I really started planning the day, I asked Michelle’s boss if she could have the day off of work. She was reluctant to do it, and wouldn’t be able to let me know until the Wednesday before April 30 th (which would be a Friday). So with that kind of out of the way, I moved on to the events of the evening. I had it planned to the T!

Michelle’s boss came through and was able to give her the day off. Friday, April 30 th started out beautifully. It was bright and sunny at 8am. Soon followed the rain…. “Bah.” I thought. Good thing I had an umbrella. As I was ready to leave whitewater and drive to Milwaukee, God threw a monkey wrench in my plans. My car wouldn’t start because the fuel pump had died. With no mechanic in town that had an open schedule to fix my car, my friend Jenny Casper graciously gave me a ride to Muskego where I was able to pick up my parents’ van and use that for my travels. With all this monkeying around, we actually missed one of the planned events, a nice picnic on the lake front for lunch. It wasn’t a big loss considering it was cloudy and sprinkling.

After rushing to pick Michelle up, we headed over to Lake Park Bistro, a super fancy French restaurant that overlooks Lake Michigan. Dinner was awesome, the wine was all right (got to love cheap wine), and the atmosphere was amazing. About halfway through dinner, my brother Martin gave my cell phone a call. Normally I wouldn’t have picked this up when on a date with Michelle, but tonight I just had too. He gave a wonderful story of how he needed to be picked up in Watertown and that he needed to come home that night. Little did Michelle know, but all this was planned.It’s a good thing that she wanted to come with me, because I don’t know what I would have done if she said drop me off at home.

So we made our way to Watertown where our Alma Mater was. About 10 minutes away from Watertown, I gave Martin a call and told him that we’d be there soon. He gave another story about how he was at taco bell and that he wouldn’t be around Luther Prep for another 20 minutes or so. So me being the smooth guy, I suggested going over to Riverside Park where we had our first day, and where I asked her to be my girlfriend. Of course it was still raining, but I came prepared and brought out the umbrella. We took a stroll down one of the paths that eventually led to the playground. We reminisced of our first date there and I was starting to get nervous. I kept saying, “Ok, you ready to go yet?” and starting to walk back to the car, and then saying “Wait, let’s go here too.” We ended up walking over to the swings. I asked her if she wanted to swing, and I pushed her for a bit. It was such a romantic moment; I had to take advantage of it. With ring in hand, I took a knee right in front of her while she was on the swing. “Michelle, will you marry me?” Of course she got a huge mondo smile and in her soft voice said, “Yes!” With hugs and kisses, and laughing, and her big smile, I knew that I had picked the right woman. She is the one for me, the one I’ll love forever, the one that knows me best, and the one that I can always trust, the one that will stand by me no matter what, the one that loves me the most.

After a few minutes of us just hugging each other, my 2 late brothers walked over. They were supposed to be hiding and taping this but they really were at taco bell and couldn’t find us in the park when they came to video tape. It was all right, even though it would be cool to tape it, we now have one intimate moment together that we’ll remember for a lifetime. We did a quick re-enactment of it for the camera and headed over to the care. “Oh wait, there’s more.” I quickly ran over to the car and pulled out 14 red roses, one for each month we’ll be engaged, and a bottle of wine… “doh”, forgot the bottle opener. Oh well. With a call to her parents, and a call to mine, we were both very excited about our new life together. We stopped at home and popped the wine with the family. What a day.

Oh yea, just a funny thing her dad said; when I asked him if could marry his daughter, alls he said was: “Sure.” HAHA! Michelle prepared me for the grilling of a life time! Oh well, at least he made it easy for me!

Engagement from Michelle’s Point of View

The Thursday before Paul proposed I received a phone call from my boss, who explained that I had a rough week and needed Friday off of work. I was confused because I had Thursday off of work also due to an evening class. So I started talking to my friends and asking what Paul could be up to. I knew that my boss would never just give me a day off of work and it would be like Paul to ask off of work for me. In the back of my mind, I wanted him to propose but I did not want to verbalize it in case he wasn’t going to propose.

Somehow on Friday all of my afternoon obligations were cancelled and I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon to myself. I hadn’t had an afternoon off of everything so I was completely thrilled. Later in the afternoon, I received a phone call from Paul explaining that his car broke down and he was getting a ride to his parents’ house then would take their van to my apartment and take me out to eat. Being the nice girlfriend that I was, I told him that I could drive to his house and pick him up. But he insisted that he drive, so taking my friends’ advice I backed down and let him drive. He picked me up and told me to change into nice clothes, in 15 minutes we were on our way downtown. Paul never told me where we were going; he said that it was a surprise. However, in the car he did tell me that he was not going to propose (something he had told me for the past year at every romantic date). But he didn’t fool me, I thought that maybe he was just saying that to throw me off. As we pulled into Lake Park Bistro my first impression was WOW! He never took me to places like this, what was the occasion? But he insisted that it was just a nice restaurant to the end of a hard week of classes. So I said okay and our dinner was delicious. What really threw me off was when Martin called and said he needed to be picked up at LPS. I said what about his parents, Paul said that they were busy planning his grandma’s birthday party. Then I said what about his other brother Erik, Paul said he was at his weekly Friday night Impact meeting.

So, I said, “Okay.”

Then Paul said, “You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.”

I said, “That’s okay, I have nothing else going on.”

I secretly just wanted to see LPS again because it had been 3 years since I visited. Then 10 minutes outside of Watertown, Paul calls Martin and Martin says he isn’t ready yet, then Paul yells at Martin. Then I thought he won’t propose tonight, not with Martin in the car, there is no way. Paul turns to me and says well we can go to Riverside, the spot where he first asked me out. I agreed and off we went to Riverside. By this time it was drizzling, but Paul made me walk out of the car and along the Rock River.

Then I thought, “This would be an awesome spot for Paul to propose.”

We walked back and forth and finally went to a bridge. While we were on the bridge Martin calls again and says that we can meet him back at LPS. So, Paul says okay and turns to leave. We walked off the bridge and to the playground, which was the quickest dry way back to the car.

We were just about to walk away from the swings when Paul turns and says, “How about if you swing and I push you.”

I reply, “It’s all wet.”

Then Paul proceeded to take off his coat and set it on the swing. So I sat down and he pushed me.

After a few minutes, he stopped me went around to the front of the swing and said, “Remember when I first asked you out?”

I said, “Yes.”

Then he wooed me by telling me wonderful things about me and we talked about our first years dating.

Finally he told me that he loved me and he asked, “Will you marry me?”

I replied with a sigh “Yes.” (I imagined crying or screaming, but not so, I just sighed and said yes) Then we hugged and I kept looking at the ring, not believing that it was real! After 30 seconds, off in the distance we see Martin and Erik walking towards us with the video camera. Then asked us to reenact the whole thing, so we do and I am just gushing!! Then Paul pulls out 14 red roses, one rose for every month until we are married (he was one month off, but I don’t mind an extra rose!) and two wine glasses with a bottle of wine. Paul forgot the corkscrew so we couldn’t drink the wine until we got back to his house. However, that was fine by me because I just stared at the ring some more. Paul told me that it was the same ring that we picked out a year ago! I did not recognize the ring! Then we got into the van to go back to my apartment and on the way, I called my parents and Paul’s parents to tell them the good news.

A funny line by Paul’s dad was, “It’s about the heck time!”

A special memory: Paul shaved the best he has ever shaved. I always am pestering him to shave really well, just like he did the day he proposed to me!

Michelle’s College Graduation

After four long years of toil, trouble, pain, sweat, late nights, early mornings, no sleep, trials of coffee, many teary eyed phone calls to Paul, and doubt about getting assignments done, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh all the assignments were turned in and Michelle graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood. Ah, but wait… What’s that I hear, it’s not over till the fat lady sings. The fat lady sings in January of 2005, when Michelle is done with her student teaching internship at Maple Grove Elementary School in first grade, till then, she just pretends she is a college graduate! However, Michelle walked across the stage with honors (Cum Laude, one hundredth of a point away from Magna Cum Laude, can you feel the sadness!!)

Thank you Mom and Dad, for financing my college education, packing up all of my stuff and driving it across the country to Wisconsin. Thank you Eric, for driving across the country and supporting me in my college endeavors. It really meant a lot to me for all of my family’s support and my fiancée support! I could not have graduated without your support!