When Kenn Met Nicole…

How did it all happen?  How did Kenn meet Nicole?  Well, it all started in a galaxy far, far away…(wait, I think that’s been used before)

It actually all started around the year 2000-2001.  Nicole and I first met when we were in High School.  We attended the same youth group (St. John LIFE TEEN), had a similar group of friends within the youth group and went to many of the same church related functions.  I always thought she was one of those really pretty, popular girls.  Not that she was stuck up, but that she was so far out of my league it wasn’t even worth a try.

Meeting at St. John would prove to be what would eventually get us together. In the summer of 2004, St. John held a celebration to honor doing LIFE TEEN in the parish for 10 years.  The celebration lasted over a weekend with current youth group members and youth group alumni being invited to participate in the events.  On a Saturday evening, our parish had a large group adoration.  Afterwards, there was a coffee house set up in a parish courtyard for any youth group alumni.  After Adoration ended, we bumped into each other.  We kind of remembered each other and started talking.  It was fun reconnecting with old friends from LIFE TEEN.

The next part of this story is highly debated to this day by Nicole and myself.  But, since I’m the one writing this blog, you get to hear my version (ie the CORRECT version) of the story.  Nicole came up to me and told me to come over to the coffee house.  As a single guy, there was no way I was going to say no.  Over at the coffee house, they had a live dj playing music and Nicole said her favorite song was “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison.  I had never heard the song and Nicole couldn’t believe it.  Jokingly, she told me I had to hear the song and learn it.  I accepted.

What she didn’t know was that I was serious.  I asked several of my friends if they had ever heard the song and they couldn’t believe I had never heard it.  I went to Wal-Mart (oh the days before iTunes) and found it on CD.  I played it over and over in my car on my way to and from work.  The next week at Church, I surprised Nicole by telling I had learned the song.  She was impressed.  Later she told me what also had impressed her was at the coffee house I had told several of our mutual friends that I was interested in having a big family.  I guess God took us up on that offer.

From there, we continued to flirt on and off at Church every week.  I was too scared to ask her on a date or even for her phone number.  However, by this point, the summer was starting to wind down.  In a few short weeks, I would return to Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA for my junior year.  Nicole was about to start as a freshman at Carroll Community College. I had to do something.

Now, I have been known for being suave and romantic.  Unfortunately, the great moment I asked Nicole for her number went something like this:

Nicole: So, you’re leaving for college next week?

Me: Uh huh

Nicole:  Well, how will we stay in touch?

Me: Well, uh, I could get your phone number and AIM…

AIM was AOL Instant Messenger if you didn’t know.  After that night, we set up our first date:  we went to Eucharistic Adoration and to Denny’s afterwards.  When I went back to college, we stayed in touch by cell phone by talking every day, sometimes two or three times a day.  I had also taken my parent’s truck back with me to school and made frequent trips home on the weekend.  One of these trips I further impressed Nicole by singing her my version of “Brown Eyed Girl.”

It’s funny but, what I had always heard about love is true:  you don’t know what it is until you experience it.  In those first few months, I knew there was something very special about her.  I also had a very strong sense that I wanted to marry her.  Even my best friend in the whole world, Timmy, looking back would tell me how I talked about her was different from any girl I had ever dated.

I spent much time in prayer about marriage and finally, by the summer of 2007, I knew I was ready to ask her to marry me.  I asked her parents for their blessing and they gave it.  In the weeks leading up to when I asked her parents, I spent hours looking on the internet for a very unique ring.  I wanted a unique ring because of who Nicole is and our love is something very special and unique.   A friend of mine had suggested I check out antique engagement rings if I wanted something special.  I found a few rings I liked and I put the matter to prayer and found the ring I was looking for.  It was made by a jeweler named Sun Jewelers in California.  The whole process of buying the ring from them unnerved me slightly because I never got to see the ring until it arrived.  But, when it did, I knew I had found what I was looking for.

After I got the ring, I had to find a way to propose to her.  All I knew was that Nicole did not want it to be in front of people.  She also wanted it to be a total surprise.  The problem was she is to this day very good at detecting surprises. 

Pisa, Italy 2007

I was very blessed to be able to help lead a pilgrimage to Italy for my Church in late June of 2007. I was even more blessed to be able to take Nicole with me. I did consider proposing in Italy but opted against it since I didn't have a chance to talk to her parents yet.

Fortunately, she had it in her head I wasn’t proposing until November.  I also started carrying my Rosary in a bag after I bought the ring.  I never go anywhere without it and figured it would be a good place to store the ring without attracting suspicion (another tip I got from one of my married friends).

I decided to propose on Labor Day in 2007.  Nicole suggested we go do something outdoors for labor day.  As she spoke, I started to remember Jefferson Rock in Harper’s Ferry, WV.  For those of you not familiar, Harper’s Ferry is a beautiful town overlooking the Potomac River.  The rock is a slight hike away from the town, but it over looks the river and the town.  I knew it would be the perfect place to propose.  Also conveniently, the C&O canal runs parallel to the town.  Having biked the entire canal many times myself, I knew their was a beautiful stretch from Harper’s Ferry up to Brunswick that was not too far to bike.  Plus, it would allow her to experience walking over the old railroad bridge into the town which is a beautiful sight.

View from Jefferson Rock

This is the view from Jefferson Rock in Haper's Ferry, WV where I proposed on Labor Day 2007

Yeah, I had a good plan.  But, unfortunately, nothing that day went according to plan.  Before I left the house, I told my parents and her parents I was going to propose.  Nicole and I also made dinner plans at my house.  So, I had to do it before we got home that day.  The day started off with our bikes getting three flat tires before we even got onto the tow path.  We drove to Brunswick and unloaded the bikes.  I made sure to carefully tuck my rosary bag (with the ring) into a biking bag and strap it to my bike.  We started biking and within a mile, I broke the chain on my bike. 

Harper’s Ferry was still a good 9 miles away.  So, we had no choice but to turn around and walk back to the small parking lot in Brunswick where you can jump on the tow path.  Nicole suggested we call it a day, but I was determined.  I told her we could just drive to Harper’s Ferry (I was insistent that she see the town).  I knew it was close, but I didn’t know 100% how to get there. And on the drive over, I almost had a heart attack because I thought I saw the bike bag holding my rosary and the ring fly out of the back of my truck.  I remembered there was a way you could literally drive onto the main street in Harper’s Ferry.  My plan was to then park and find Jefferson rock from there.

Again: problem.  There are two ways you can go into Harper’s Ferry.  As my luck was headed that day, we had to pick the one way in which was staffed by the National Park Service.  Not only did you have to pay to get in but we had to wait for a shuttle to take us to the town.

Once we got into the town, I began to look for where Jefferson Rock was.  Harper’s Ferry is a very hilly town so we went up and down many flights of steps.  It was hot.  Nicole was starting to get anxious.  And she wanted ice cream.  I was going to be in a lot of trouble if I didn’t find that blasted rock.  We finally found the path leading up to the rock.  We stopped on the way up and looked at a little Catholic Church which was at about the half way point. 

After looking at the Church, Nicole (who still wanted her ice cream) really wanted to head back down the hill.  I persuaded her to go just a bit further to the overlook.  As we were climbing up the hill, she turned around to me and said, “this had better be worth it!”

Our first picture as an egnaged couple1

Nicole took this right after I proposed. That is a look of complete relief on my face.

Finally, we were reached Jefferson Rock.  Despite all the obstacles I was quite pleased until I realized that this was a National Park.  There were at least 5-6 people hanging around the overlook.  I was perplexed.  There was no way I was going to propose in front of a bunch of random people.  I said a prayer to my guardian angel, who quickly answered and all the people left the overlook.

I then seized my chance and proposed.  Nicole scared me for a second because she didn’t answer me immediately, but it was only because she was in shock that I was proposing to her.  Of course she said yes. 

And, then I couldn’t figure out which finger to put the ring on because I was so excited.  So, I guess something did go right that day!  I got myself a beautiful fiance.  And, yes, we did get ice cream on the way out of Harper’s Ferry.

We opted for a long engagement so Nicole could finish college.  We also wanted to save up so we could buy a house in addition to affording a wedding (which we were very blessed to get help from our family).  In May 2009, we were able to buy a duplex in Westminster.  It also happened to be the same day Nicole graduated from college. It was quite a day!  We were happily married on August 1st, 2009 at St. John Catholic Church.  The priest who married us, Fr. Brian Nolan had been and still is instrumental in both of our lives.

The Kiss at our Wedding

The Kiss at our Wedding!

Nicole is a kindergarten teacher who works in Montgomery County and she was very lucky to not only get the grade she wanted but she was offered a job right out of college!  I became a youth minister and currently work with Middle School and High School students.  I recently just switched parishes (a very hard discernment process) but I felt like it was the move God was calling me to.

Kenn, Nicole and LIFE TEEN

Kenn, Nicole and a few of the teens at St. John on my last night as the YM there

In January 2010, we bought a cat named Willow who has added a whole new dimension to our lives.  Willow greatly enjoys participating in the “Wild Rumpus” (from “Where the Wild Things Are) which basically means running around the house like a manic.  She is our wonder cat and I’m sure she’s jealous on some level of the attention being diverted from her these past few weeks.

And, that brings us to where we are today, excitedly awaiting our three new arrivals!

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