Check out this homage to game-day snacking and be sure pay particular attention to a) the bacon wall (built to contain the Cheetos and tortilla "fans"), b) the sassy commentary, and c) the gruesome use of 58 Twinkies.
Total Calories: 24, 375
Total Fat: 1,285 grams
Total Cost: $86.47
Building a Monument that Honors Your Love of Both Food and Football: Priceless
There are a lot of things in my life that I take for granted, not in the least of which include the love and support of my parents, the friends I have in my life, every last bit and detail of B, and the security of knowing I have a place to live, food to eat, and people to run to if either of those needs went unmet.
This week I've been so reminded of keeping perspective. I found out last week that my sister-in-law in pregnant again, which will bring her personal total of kids to three and our family total of monkeys to seven, come August 2009. It's a joy and a wonder and a miracle and everyone in my family is just as equally enthralled and excited for the new addition.
And then this week, I heard news from two separate friend circles about little babies in trouble. In one case, my friend H wrote on her blog about a neighbor losing her three-month-old baby girl in her sleep, from what I assume might be SIDS.
Not since turning 10 has hitting double digits had much meaning to me. But today, oh today, we're 99 days away from the wedding and I am READY. Bring it! Ninety-nine days translates roughly into three months and nine days.
Time is becoming more relative to me. Back in high school, I'd be already longing for summer by now and realizing how . very . much . longer . I . had . to . wait. In college, I wouldn't have even started the spring semester yet.
Post college, time started moving faster, with seasons more quickly folding into one another. And now I look and see May sitting just around the corner (furiously hiding while I swear at it to hurry along) and (woohoo!) I can't wait.
On a side note, I'm pretty sure I'm doomed to have "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" stuck in my head all day today. I promise not to sing it out loud to you.
Our wedding website has this nifty little counter built in at the bottom that tells me (and everyone else) how many days there are until my wedding to B. Before I made the site, I'd sometimes go online to a generic countdown calendar and type the information in, just so I could know. Devastatingly, it started out in the mid 200s. Imagine my surprise when, this weekend, I checked and noticed that we were nearing the two-digit mark!
So I got all clever and cheeky and planned a post about how B and I were nearing the state of a Disney movie, namely 101 Dalmatians then today, as I'm about to post it, I go check and see that I missed it! We're already at 100 days, meaning tonight (or today at 4 pm?) B and I will officially be in the two-digit club, at least in relation to our wedding countdown. The only thing left after that is the single-digit club, which I think the Moms would prefer we avoided for a little while...
So while 100 isn't quite as cute or clever, it is closer to the big day, so I guess I'll be thankful and try to remember back to grade school when 100 was, well, perfection.
I was tagged on Facebook to do this about 15 times, so I finally sat down and realized it would be fun to think of things about me that even my closest friends and *gasp* B might not even know...
1. Before falling asleep, I check my alarm clocks (both of them) at least three times. I think I finally broke one two nights ago. 2. If the shower curtain is closed when I walk into any bathroom, I have to push it back to make sure no one's hiding behind it. Have ever since 6th grade. 3. I once made my parents install blinds on my second-story bedroom because I was sure someone would climb our antiquated TV tower and peek to see what I was doing in my room. And now that I've told you, I'll always make sure they're closed. 4. I refuse to eat white foods, icing, or pretty much anything I haven't tried before, unless I'm at someone else's house. B's broken me of the last one by sheer force of will. 5. I drink orange juice (plus calcium!) every morning from an insulated cup, whether I'm at work or at home. 6. I always take a glass of water to bed with me, but never drink it, so by the end of the week, my nightstand looks the final scene from the movie Signs. 7. I'm engaged to a retired professional baseball player turned lawyer. And, no, I'm not making him up. 8. Scrabble is my favorite boardgame, mostly because it engaged my love of words and my hopes to one day finish a newspaper crossword puzzle. 9. I can recall the lyrics to any song I've ever heard, country, rap, gospel, or otherwise on command. 10. In high school, I set records with my relay team for the 4X100 and the 4X400. 11. In college, I hurt my knee in a freak sledding accident and running is not so much the same anymore. 12. If I had enough friends to feed and an unlimited supply of sugar, butter, and chocolate chips, I'd bake cookies, brownies, or cakes every night of the week. 13. I hate anything that feels tight across my waist and will avoid outfits and dresses that have that quality at all costs. If forced to wear it, give me an hour and I'll be lightheaded and queasy. 14. It takes me roughly four hours to finish a can of coke, and that's if I'm really focused about it. Give me a bottle and I'll keep it in the fridge overnight. 15. I can resist anything that's unopened. A whole, sealed bag of chips is perfectly safe in my pantry or at my desk, but once it's open, it has about three hours to live. 16. My sweet tooth never developed, but my salt tooth pretty much runs the show. 17. If I couldn't write for a living, I'd open a bakery, or maybe just take the early shift in one so I could smell fresh bread and bake cookies every morning. 18. I don't drink coffee, ever, but I do drink Starbucks. 19. When I like what I'm wearing, I do what B's dubbed "the dress dance" which is subtle, but definitely there if you know what to look for. 20. I keep everything that's personal--a habit I'm trying to break. I have all my passed notes from high school and middle school filed in folders under a system based on from which friend they came. They need to be burned. 21. Magazines are my vice, but only specific ones: People, Newsweek, Oprah, & Money. 22. I have 6 1/3 nieces and nephews ages four and under. Five of them will be in my wedding. 23. My worst habit is keeping piles of (clean or once-worn) clothing on my bed. 24. In 2009, I'm trying to pick up good habits one at a time. So far? Flossing every day (Jan 1), making the bed every day (Jan 24), eating breakfast every day (Jan 5), hanging up my work clothes every day (Jan 26), and eating one fruit and one vegetable every day (Jan 2). Think about the last one next time you review what you've eaten in a day; it's harder than you think! 25. I've loved planning every aspect of my upcoming wedding, but the best yet has been looking for readings. That, and thinking about the first dance, are the only things that have made me tear up.
Now that the guest list has been firmed up, I'm enjoying looking at "Wedding Guest Horror Stories" online. While "horror" might be overkill for some of the posts (Your Maid of Honor hated her shoes. Gasp!), in some cases, it seems quite appropriate...
So off we go to the hotel room; were earlier in the day we had dropped off our luggage. He kept saying he was going to be leaving early in the morning - so (DUMMY ME) assumed we were going on a surprise honeymoon. Well HE did leave -- to go Blue fishing for 3 days with his buddies and I got to go to an early breakfast with my new in-laws - minus the new husband!!!!
Other than some of my husbands family showing up in jeans, orange tshirts and construction boots yelling git 'r done during the ceremony, the missing people were my only hassle on my wedding day!
The fight started over wanting the DJ to play the song "who wants to be a stripper".... My husband and uncle chased my brother down the street, he almost hit my grandmother. When they arrived back at the hall he proceeded to knock things off the tables, hit his mother, when the paramedics arrived he had to be tied down to the gurney.
It's good to know where the bar is set when it comes to such things...
The author shall remain anonymous, but the spirit of the comment below is, in my opinion, the highest compliment I can think of:
saw the cake on the blog. you are an evil calorie pusher who needs to be locked in an apartment with nothing healthy.
Thank you, thank you. My work here is done. By the way, don't thinking I'm not "getting mine," as the saying goes. All I've been able to think about all damn day is that leftover cake/cookie/brownie/ganache madness sitting at my house. I had to mail the package an hour early just so I wouldn't eat B's!
Oh my goodness. Thank you Betty for making the recipe, and to Bakerella for putting it out there with a ganache topping. This two-in-one dessert, if you don't count the frosting, is to die for. Literally. Who knows how much sugar is in there? Besides that, it's a brilliant marketing scheme... I can just see the folks at Betty Crocker hanging around the board room asking, "How can we make them buy two of our dessert packages for a single dish?"
This is how.
J came over last night to break in the new stand mixer with a delicious cookie recipe and we just had to try this one too. I can only say that it is amazing. Mouthwateringly amazing. Stand up and cheer amazing.
So what did we do? Sampled, of course. Then I instantly packed up the rest to mail to B. He has people to share with; left to my own devices, I'd eat the whole pan, which might not sound like toooo much, but then you'd remember, "Right, it's not just a pan of brownies, but also a batch of cookie batter... topped with homemade ganache." And then you'd cry too.
This, I must say, is shaping up to be a fabulous weekend. Saturday was packed with getting some exercise, visiting with my Grandma, plate-picking, and a surprise dinner with two high school friends at my favorite Thai place in town.
But today, oh today, life is getting even better. I woke up at 7am and decided (I do that) that I was awake, so I got cooking on tonight's dinner, a spin-off on Gian Marco's Sunday Sauce that takes, get this, four hours to cook. That does count making the meatballs or sausages or prepping anything for the sauce. That's just simmer time. We're currently... 55 minutes into cook time... and my apartment already smells heavenly!
Today's off to a running start because Mom and Dad are driving down for lunch. Ok, really they're driving down to drop off my portion of the invitations to address, ceremony programs for me to look through, and a magazine on wedding flowers, but lunch is definitely included on the to-do list.
I love having something like that to look forward to. Like I said, it got me up and going this morning on the pasta sauce for tonight and, since I was up, I went ahead and wrote the letters of recommendation for the two Princeton hopefuls I met with a few weeks ago. Princeton has a great program where alumni meet with would-be students to answer their questions and gauge their interests (in Princeton and otherwise), then we sit down and fill out a form essay thing on behalf of the student. Maybe everyone feels like this, but I particularly like it because it gives someone else (me) a chance to explain Florence to people who might have never been. Let me tell you, it's different that the northeast.
From here, I'm resisting the urge to pop in Center Stage and veg out until I need to shower in... two hours. Instead, I'm going to stir the pasta sauce and move onto laundry. No Mass this week, unless I can find an evening service, but I think the day's going to work out just fine.
That's right, friends, I have arrived. I've never been great with technology, despite my job in an internet-based group. The milestones in my life have been marked by my faulty knowledge, and trust, of technology.
Take my first week at college. Mom and Dad mailed a check for me to deposit into my account, so I go up to the swanky-looking machine in the student center, put the check in a deposit envelope, and start trying to jab it into every silver slot on the ATM. A friend walked by and asked what I was doing...
Me: It doesn't want my money. It won't take my check.
Guy: Did you put your card in and log into your account?
Me: Well no, why would I do that?
Guy: Then what are you looking for?
Me: The night drop slot.
Guy: Exit stage left, laughing.
I eventually figured that one out, only to be at the supermarket later with a roommate, a Tennessee native, mind you. We decided to try the Self Checkout Lane. She went first, swiping an item then taking a fraction of a second too long to bag it. "PLEASE BAG YOUR ITEM." Panicked, we looked at each other, while the thing yelled again, louder, "PLEASE BAG YOUR ITEM." We rushed through the transaction only to be baffled at the end when the fembot voice started up again, "PLEASE REMOVE UNSCANNED ITEM FROM THE BAGGING AREA." Translation? Stop stealing stuff.
We looked at each other, very confused, as the thing yelled again and started to attract attention. Brilliant girl that she is, my roommate rustled the bags and, like magic, the thing quieted down.
So it's no shock to tell you that I've never toyed with online bill pay. I don't even online bank. Sure, I check my balance there, but I like getting my paper statements. And not just because I enjoy killing trees, but because it's tangible and somehow feels more real. I have a statement from you that I have this amount of money. What the screen has is useless if I can't print it (which I can't, because the two printers at my apartments don't have the cords to link them to my computer. They do have extra paper and cartridges, though.).
It reminds me of when my brother was traveling in rural India and the couple in front of him told the gate agent they had "e tickets," a new thing at the time. As they tried to explain what an e ticket was, the agent started laughing and called another one over to hear it. Check these two out. They say they have tickets, but that they don't actually have them. Sure we'll assign you a seat. I mean, you'll have a boarding pass, you just won't have it.
But, with the crazy schedule coming up of honeymoon, travels, and city shifting, it seems crazy to depend on getting a bill mailed to you when you can get a notification over email and then pay it through your bank. Plus, as the envelopes always like to remind me, save a stamp.
Well guess what, it's pretty darn easy. Granted, I've only set up one and I've already marked next month in my calendar when I think the next bill will arrive, but we're building trust, me and the ebills. First mail merge, then iMovie, now bill pay... I may just take over the world after all.
I'll start this off my saying I almost just had a heart attack when I thought that we'd spelling B's Dad's middle name (still with me?) wrong on the invitation. Seriously, a heart attack. I think it would've been easier (and more cost effective) to ask his dad to change the spelling of his middle name rather than reorder the invitations. Whew! Crisis averted.
On that note, B's last name is a little unusual. Not really. In fact, it's straightforward and phonetic. The problem is that people like to add letters to it, like there's a silent "h" we're not telling you about, or an accent mark over the second syllable. Even when you spell it, and the other person realizes how easy it is to spell and say, they still mess it up when, say, calling for a reservation.
It's been a long-running joke in both our families that the spelling of their last name is often messed up a little. With two sets of double letters, it's tough! You assume, well, I know there are two p's, but then certainly there wouldn't be two l's, right? And wrong you'd be. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Case in point, I know how to spell the name, but I just screwed it up. There aren't two sets of double letters. Only one! See, I could've just edited this out and acted like it never happened, but that wouldn't be any fun would for you guys, would it? Mock away!]
It reached a high point last weekend when Mom was typing up a mock label for the Save the Date before church. Bless her, Mom's computer is situated so that, in morning sun, you literally can't read the screen. The whole thing looks completely dark. So when she quickly wrote something out, I later caught her typo, which was so clearly unintentional as it totally changed the entire name. She made me throw it away anyway. I, for one, thought it would've been fun to send it to B and see if he had the nerve to tell me I'd messed up his name. Again. In bulk.
So it should be no surprise that, as I've been working on the wedding website over several months, I've had the opportunity to mess up his last name time and time again, which leads me to the email subject line I got this morning from B's Mom:
oops, M's name spelled wrong you really have to learn to spell your new name!!
I looked and, sure enough, there on the website (thank God it was the website... easy change!), on my very favorite page that lists the bridal party, on B's Dad's entry, was a misspelled last name. I changed it, so you'll never really be sure if it was wrong in the first place or if I just needed something to blog about, but I loved the little reminder about my new name.
When we first got engaged, I tried to write my name with B's last name, a task I'd shockingly avoided during the nearly six years we've been dating. I came to the double p's and commented that it was tough to get around for that second one. A slightly defensive B said, "I KNOW! Imagine being in third grade hand-writing class and having to make them both look exactly the same. You can't do it!" Picturing a little B, sitting in class with his fat pencil, definitely makes me happy.
Here's hoping (fingers crossed) that all my other spellings have gotten their acts together. Or, if they haven't, let them all be on the easily-fixed website, and not the programs...
...Or at least fame, anyway. About a year and a half ago, I snuggled up to B and begged him to come with me to the Smokies for a photoshoot I was doing. Lest you think I've taken up a part-time gig modeling, let me assure you that I was one of the contributors on this piece, but that guys ages 20-40 are hard-pressed to find unoccupied on a random Tuesday afternoon. So I like to bring my own.
Enter B. He was in baseball's off season, so he didn't have a real reason not to come. Plus, if I remember correctly, I got his gas bill reimbursed and fed him the whole weekend. It was a win win for everyone involved.
Funny thing about digital media. It often gets repurposed, which is how B ended up on the homepage of a very popular magazine's website under the heading of 6 Romantic Getaways. Which means it was perhaps a little more of a win for me than for B, though I did overhear him a few minutes ago asking a buddy to bring it up online at the library. I knew he was model material...
The best part? I had to hide my left hand in this photo, because otherwise we'd get letters at the magazine about the crazy unwed couple shacked up in the mountains.
Clearly, the countdown must be winding down, as now I'm starting to dream about the wedding again. Not only am I dreaming about it, but now my friends are dreaming about it, too. From H:
OMG, A, I totally dreamed ALL NIGHT LONG about your wedding. There were like 5,000 people there and you had told us that we would be surprised when you came down the aisle...and when you walked down, you had on a sweatshirt and pajama pants... and you were like, "I just didn't want a big wedding. I just wanted it to be really relaxed and low key." B had on jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt. But your hair was in a beautiful up-do and you had the 90's tendril ringlets framing your face. And we were all like, "Oh my gosh! What is she THINKING?" because of the way you were dressed. You had to be there, I guess. It was hysterical... one of those stressful dreams where you wake up and feel like you haven't slept at all... ughhh... please don't do that to us.
So last night, after spending several hours playing with iMovie and realizing how (fairly) simple it is to create a wedding slideshow, I went to be exhausted and had this crazy dream where, instead of marrying B, I got hitched to some guy from high school instead.
I saw the whole thing going down. Oddly, it wasn't a "I can't marry you" moment of crazy, but rather some behind-the-scenes mob-infused situation where I couldn't marry B, for either his safety or mine, only my brother-in-law knew for sure, and he couldn't say.
So I went through the whole wedding, staying until the end when my Mom dropped me off at my new husband's house. I profusely thanked her, saying I'd never been happier, blah blah blah, and as she drove away, I was crushed, knowing that I hadn't married B, and what's worse, I was bound to this other guy. Forever.
So I go inside and all his friends are hanging around. The guy (who shall remain nameless) was so sweet and kind. His buddies were in jeans and the house was a wreck, but he was still in a tux, trying to clean out the old pizza boxes from the kitchen table. I told him I needed a few minutes and went into his room, locked the door, and surveyed the mess in there. Bed unmade, clothes everywhere.
I put all his things away and cleaned the room, then went into the bathroom to change out of my dress and take my contacts out. I looked at myself in the mirror and just let my head rest against the glass and started thinking about how I couldn't ever be with B, and how I'd vowed to stay with this guy, for the sake of family safety, forever. Then, I remember actually praying, "God, help me learn to love him."
How scary is that?? I can't imagine. I've been thinking so much about the vows and the marriage sacrament, so dream me knew that I couldn't just reneg on the vows, but I had to go through with them, so now I was stuck and the only thing I could think to do was pray that God would help.
I woke up at 6 am in a panic and, honestly, almost got up and went to the gym. What else was I going to do? Instead, I calmed myself down for about 30 minutes, assuring myself that I, in fact, could marry B (who, just this morning after hearing all this, made me promise I would be marrying him in May, mob or no mob), then went back to sleep.
I know the overall dream is just a grim fairy tale, so it hasn't upset me, but I am bummed because I remember loving the flowers and the lighting and, well, all the little details. And now I don't remember what they were. I do remember that the lock on the bedroom door was an intricate wooden thing made from a laundry drying rack. But flowers? No dice.
Save the Dates have been mailed and, in some cases, already received! Biiiig thanks to Mom for helping to pull this one off.
And by "helping" I mean orchestrating, coordinating, purchasing paper goods, supplying labels, picking out and up stamps, stuffing, and packing the almost-completed goodies into boxes. But yeah, "helping" works, too.
I've heard of weddings at Taco Bells. Well, "of" weddings is definitely the right wording and I should probably add "former" in front of Taco Bells. In Gatlinburg, the county responsible for the 2nd highest number of marriage license applications (second only to Vegas), a former Taco Bell, now converted into a "Wedding Bell," offers quickie marriages, by walk-up service or the drive-through line. I kid you not.
B and I saw it during one of my work visits when I baited him to come along. We found it hilarious, but then I found this:
Each week, I receive approximately a barrage of email newsletters from various companies. Some I've willingly signed up for. Others I'm forced to fork over my information to before they allow me access I need for site browsing. Others still have obtained my information by purchasing it from bridal shows, magazine subscriptions, and, for all I know, my doctor.
I'm not sure how I got signed up for WeddingChannel.com, though I'm betting it's affiliated with my Macy's registry. Regardless, yesterday I got their newsletter, with this thought as the lead tout.
Subject: 50+ New Hairstyles Me: Why yes, I do need to think about that. *Click* Lead Story: Obama-rize Your Wedding Day
Now I'm all about hitting every holiday in search of newsletter clicks, but this was too much. Let's start with the theme... anyone planning a wedding for, say, last Saturday might have found those tips useful, but now they seem dated. And that's only if you ignore the fact that you'd be actively trying to bring politics into an already-charged day. I can only imagine. It definitely breaks one of the three rules I was given by B's uncles...
So, dear readers, if you are interested in Obama-rizing your wedding, do I have the tips for you.
1. Buy yourself the "Brides for Obama" wedding planner, ironically enough featured in a lovely, almost reddish, shade of rose, with the cheeky phrase, "Love, Honor, and Obama." Groan. The text encourages you to use it to "document the many changes in your life, as well as the your favorite recession-busting methods and high-priced bridal bailouts. "
2. Something Blue for the Obama-loving groom. The site encourages you and your husband to compete in the age-old "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" hunt that often leaves brides frazzled and convinced of their own impending doom because someone forgot the blue garter. (Seriously, how else are you getting blue in there?) Ah, but now, he can wear blue briefs featuring Obama's smiling face and the *08 across the tush. Come hither, indeed. The good news? Charity. For every purchase, $1 of the total cost ($29 per pair!) will support, you guessed it, the campaign.
3. Keepsake Idea: Invite the President to your wedding. Apparently, if you invite the President and First Lady to your wedding after January 20th, 2009, you'll get a hand-signed response (um, likely a negative one, I'd imagine). I'm not sure if this is funnier because of the outrageous comments it generated from soon-to-be brides or that someone would actually take the time to do this because, as the site says, "this is a cheap and easy keepsake idea that’s sure to make your wedding album or planning scrapbook pop."
Because when you pay the equivalent of several months rent for wedding photos, you definitely want people to stop and admire the "unable to attend" check mark from the Prez.
The first time I met B's extended family was when he invited me to his Grandparents' 50th anniversary celebration in South Carolina. It was a wonderful 24 hours (yes, 24 short hours) of golf, dinners, pool time, toasts, and family fun well worth its own entry another time, when I can stroll down memory lane for a little bit.
One fun part of the weekend was a photo shoot his family was doing as a gift to the anniversary duo. Coming from a big family, I know how rare it is to get everyone in one place, cleaned up, and smiling at the camera. B and I had officially been dating for four months, so I bowed out of the photo under the pretense of not wanting to be "that girl" that everyone resented now that she's out of the picture and we have all these expensive photos with her smack in the middle.
Clearly, that's not how the story ended, but now it's even funnier to me that I didn't get in the picture.
Regardless, his dad got the photographer to take a few snaps of B and me and his dad kept getting tickled because I have this weird thing about flexing my hand. I'm betting his dad thought I was nervous, which is what I thought, too, when I saw the pictures, until I came home and found this gem.
The photo is of me and two of my best girlfriends, both of whom are bridesmaids in the wedding. It may be first grade? We're definitely rocking the Girl Scout outfits... and the hair bows (some of us, anyway). But that's not the point. The point is, check out the hand.
Aww yeah. That's not nervous. In fact, that may just be my "look at me" tell. Who knew?
I've been editing pictures from, well, the past 25 years, five months, and 12 days of my life and have decided that I'm going to be rich. Following the brilliance (true brilliance, I tell you) of the red-eye reducer tool, I plan to release the tool that removes double chins from photos.
Watch your baby boys, mamas of the world. Looks like I was picking them young back in the day. How freaking cute is B? I believe, in this pic, he's about to turn 20 six days later. I dug this picture up while gathering a bunch of my favorites. Stay tuned for more photos from the slush pile!
Thank God for parents. I called Mom and Dad last week and realized that we needed to get some fun things for the wedding knocked out before they headed off to Mexico with the kiddos in a month (lucky ducks). So I packed the car and headed home for 47 hours of alumni interviews, Save the Date stuffing, photo selecting and scanning, china browsing, and one fabulous brunch of fried chicken and mashed potatoes at the country club.
I got into town just in time to meet with U, one of the Princeton hopefuls from Florence this year. I took advantage of my visit into town and met her at Trowbridge's so I could grab a dish of their rainbow sherbet. I know it's the same thing I buy at the store, but somehow (maybe it's the bulk purchase), it just tastes better there. Besides, if I hadn't ordered that, I would have ordered a grilled cheese, a chicken salad on wheat, and a chili dog. Aka, my usual. Hey, the sandwiches are small, ok?
U and I talked for about an hour as we nursed our chocolate sundae and sherbet, respectively, and talked about her interests and addressed her questions on campus life and beyond. She was my first alumni interview, so I had a blast figuring out where to go with everything. I kept it casual, much like my alumni interview back in 2000, which took place at the Town Creek, Alabama BBQ pit. And, yes, I did wear an interview suit while I ate my stuffed spud.
The next day, I met another applicant, G, at one of the three coffee spots in town and, with one interview under my belt, felt confident that this one would go just as well. I think it may have been more fun for me to think back and relive my (cough glory days cough) time at Princeton. It's not often I sit and reflect on my four years there and the friends that I've come away with. It was the perfect amount of cozy on what was a cold winter day.
With snow (snow!) flurries fluttering around me, I spent the rest of the weekend browsing old images of myself as a baby through the time I started dating B, then mercilessly forcing my Mom to help me scan them in. All 245 of them. Don't worry, wedding attendees, these aren't all for the slideshow. But it seemed like if I was taking the time to go through them, I could at least pull the ones I wanted to have on my computer. Portable warm fuzzies, if you will.
The time not scanning or waxing poetic about my college years passed pretty uneventfully. Stuffing, stamping, labeling Save the Dates, cleaning out old contraband from my room (Cosmos... gasp! Note: Magazine, not Alcohol), and browsing china with Mom.
Now I'm back in Birmingham and last piece of the Save the Dates has arrived, so I'm off to put in some fabulous girly movie and stuff, stamp, and seal the night away. Best Monday in a while, I'd say.
I'd like to say that I've never once waited at home for a man, but here I am, curled up on my couch, soft music playing, candles flickering, and only the soft glow of the computer screen to draw my attention. Looking closely at the screen, I keep a close eye on the web page of choice... UPS tracking.
That's right. I'm home, waiting for the UPS man to bring me a package. Specifically, the Save the Dates I ordered a week go. The website assures me that they've been cruising around Birmingham since 5:46 this morning, so I'm sure they're cold and ready to get into my warm apartment.
The guest list(s) have been finalized and we have one out-of-the-country invitation that will be heading to France. We're multicultural, y'all!
Mom got the proofs of the invitations today and they look great. We're financially locked into 4pm at this point, though Mom and I have both agreed not to tell the priest performing the ceremony until the last minute possible. He's the one who told us weddings were not allowed after 1pm, but conceded a 3pm mini-Mass time for us. The new priest in residence ok'd 4pm. Mom and I did the cha-cha.
Some days are frustrating. I make my to-do list, organize my schedule, then spend the day doing things I've already done once, either because they need fixing or correcting or updating. For me, for the most girly reason of all, that day is today.
Mom just called and told me the china pattern B and I decided on had been discontinued. Now, I'm glad she called. I'm thankful to know this information, especially because Save the Dates are going out next week (fingers crossed), and it would've been a bigger deal if we'd had to change registry information after that point.
But still. I'm a girl and, swear on my Food Lover's Companion, this almost made me cry. No, I'm not the person that fell in love with plates, but I am the person that spent days running from store to store comparing, picking, emailing pictures, and setting up registries. I do like wasted effort, especially when it feels there isn't time to waste.
Now all this is super silly, because I actually have plenty of time to go shopping (oh twist my arm) and the odds are that now I can pick something knowing that the stores will definitely carry it, a fact that perhaps should have served as a tip off during the first registry go-round.
But for today, for just a few minutes, I am disappointed at wasted effort and, I'll be honest, pretty plates. R.I.P. Spode Sheffield.
I can now officially check the Save the Dates off my to-do list. That is, until they come in the mail and I have to stuff, address, stamp, emboss, and mail those bad boys. But for now, if only for the next seven business days, they're out of my hands!
B and I did some researching last fall and found a handful that we liked. Then we procrastinated and didn't order them until Monday, but, no matter, they're in now, meaning this ball really feels like it's getting rolling. I feel the compulsive need to make lists of all the things I need to do between now and the wedding. Hm. If only I had someplace to post it...
Over the holidays, B and I picked up the wedding bands we'd ordered. In time, we'll need to get them engraved, but for now we're just holding them in an undisclosed location. We went to get them so we could try them on.
B put his on, shook his hand around a little, pronounced it fitting, then put it back in its box. I put mine on. Put it on by itself. Put it on with my engagement ring. Put it on the other hand. Put it on fingers extended. Put it on fingers curled into a fist.
Finally I realized she'd packed B's back up and moved onto paperwork. She slid the box over to me and said, "I'm just going to let you take that off on your own time."
I did wear it out to lunch, but only because it felt wrong, nay, irresponsible even to leave it in the car while we dined on La Paz. But then I promise I took it off. Right after his Mom and Dad saw it, too.
I've literally been dancing in my chair at work (and at the gym, and while I brush my teeth, and...) to one of my Christmas presents from B...Hairspray! the soundtrack. And yes, you must use an exclamation point in the title, because calling it simply "Hairspray" would be, well, dumb.
Point is, I'm already thisclose to being too chipper to stand, and now I've just looked at my calendar and realized two wonderful things. One, the wedding is exactly four months away! (And yes, Moms, that is wonderful, I promise.) And two, this is my three-year anniversary at work. Go me!
One reason I love the business-side of my office is that the count the time that I worked as an intern or a temporary employee toward my "total time" in office. Why does this matter? In the small sense, not much. No cake or Champagne for me today. However (and this is how I know I'm getting older), it does mean that I'm 20% more vested today than I was yesterday with my retirement plan. Granted, I couldn't contribute for the first 18 months (intern, temp), but still I'll take what I can get. And today, that's 60%.
What that means, so far as I can tell, is because my company matches each dollar, up to a certain percentage, with 66.66(6666R) cents of their own. I get all of that up front each time I contribute. However, if I leave before my 5th anniversary (the Big Day when you're fully vested), then I only get a certain percentage of that, scaled by year, so today, it's 60%. Got that? I knew I had this math stuff down.
Ready for some real fun with math? The money I have in my retirement fund has slowly declined, meaning that while I once had 100% of the money I put in there, the news tells me it's something more like 70% now. (I don't look myself. Can't. Too painful.) So assuming both trains left the station at the same time, how much of that 66.66(6666R) am I actually going to see if I were to check out, say, at year four?
The answer? Marry someone who has completed an entire tax on class, because that means he must be good enough with numbers to figure this bad boy out. Whew! Didn't even need scrap paper.
So that's my wonderful day in numbers. It's Friday (not a number). My three-year work anniversary. Four months until I marry B (um, the thought that kept me up from 6:22 this morning until 8:42 when I got out of bed to get ready for work). And already 2pm. Back to Hairspray!(.)
I write this knowing full well that it may make zero sense, but I'm sitting in my office now crying from laughter in my cube at work, literally shaking trying to hold it in... shaking so hard that I kicked my chair adjustment bar out of place. So, to recap, laughing, crying, shaking, and sitting under my desk. Even if it's not fully apprecaited, it must be shared.
One of my friends started dating a boy a few months ago and we've gotten a few updates now and then. She's turning in a paper (God bless her, she's working!) and we girls on the email chain decided to be sassy:
Me: If he wants to know us, we could just friend him. all of us. In the same 3 minute span. Very discreet. :)
C: oh RIGHT. he did say he wants to be our friend. eliminate the middleman. i like the way you think johnson.
Then C & I go ex parte and have this convo on gchat:
me: we should all act like we're doing it jsut to see how long we can keep her guessing. Then at the end say it didn't happen
C agrees and we start adding our "updates" on the email chain:
C: eeeeeee! yay for new friends....
Me: He's super fast with the friend confirmations... 2 points for Mr. K! I don't know about those new pics though. Hmmm..
C: love it. interesting music tastes, too.
Me: Did you see the college groups he joined? Hilarious! Love it. I can't wait to meet this guy. It seems like he has a great sense of humor. C, did you see the NYTimes article he posted a few weeks back? Right up your alley.
At about this time, it hits me that the other friend on the chain might not pick up on our sarcasm, so as I send this email, subject line: JOKE
It just occured to me that you might not realize that C and I are kidding. We did NOT friend him, but just rather decided to see if we could make her sweat when she read the thread. Then I had a moment when I realized you might be like, "these crazy people, but oh well, friend him it is!"
And as I wrote that, our friend, R, wrote on the real email chain:
shoooooot .... i was 5 minutes behind! ... blast for putting off my email checking in order to get some work done .... foolishness!!
Continue ex parte convo by C and myself:
C: hahaha. read R's email. AAAHAHAHAH
me: I LOVE it!
C: SHE FRIENDED HIM
C: i am dying
me: no, she's kidding, right? I emailed her!
Then R sees the JOKE chain...
R: NO WAY-- i just friended him ......HA! you better do it now too!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
R: oh my gosh .... can't believe i did that ...... so uncharacteristic ..... seriously though, you guys should friend him-- that'd be way less weird for me if you did :) ..... pleaaaaaase :) :) .......
Me: HAHAHAH. I can't breathe.
C: you're kidding. you are just trying to get us to do it.
R: is there a way to unfriend someone without them knowing? ..... oh boy .... i am concerned that neither of you have responded in the past three minutes .... please write back .......
C: i am dying
R: oh my gosh ..... totally NOT kidding!! .... pleeeeeaaaaase .......
C: we gotta get E to hack his account
Me: OMG I'm going to get fired.
R: hahahaha ...... guys, i don't think there's any way to undo it!!!!!
C: lets try and guess his password. whats his favorite number? birthday/year? pet's name?
Me: Street he grew up on? Pennsylvania Avenue, right?
C: oh yeah.... try 55.lee-harvey/oswald!sucks
Me: Ok, so now do we put something on the "real" email? I vote for silence. Renee, YOU FRIENDED HIM?? HAHAHAHA
R: AHHHHHHH .... you guys stink!!! .... i have found his duke email address-- what if i write and explain the whole thing ..... AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
R: ok, that would be worse, right?
Me: I can'twait until the wedding... "R, have you met C?" "Yeah, actually, we're facebook friends." BAHahaha
R: guys, he's got a blackberry, and i think he does more facebook than i do, judging from E's comments, so i bet he has email forwarding ...... i dunno about the mission impossible ..... thoughts??
Me: Ok, so this email chain has listed: Kennedy, Mission, Lee-Harvey, Oswald, Pennsylvania Avenue, lie. alerts, password, and dying... Think we're being monitored yet?
No seriously, get out the phone books. Dial up whitepages.com. I am ready to invite everyone to the wedding, or at least tell them to save the date. Why you ask? Because I have mastered Mail Merge.
Oh yes, this is me, the girl who left her printer jammed in college for four months, neglected to update her operating system oh, say ever while in school, and will usually go to great lengths to avoid all things electronic. Yes, I write a blog. Yes, I work for a website. Your point?
I've been keeping the master list on my computer and needed to convert it to an Excel sheet so I can make mailing labels for the Save the Dates. This I can do, I think. Ah, export. Easy enough. Step 2, Mail Merge.
Now this is new, so I did what I always do... Excel Help. Type in "Mailing Labels." Up pops a 11-step solution to merging all your important mailing label documents. I got through step nine, then printed an entire page of "First Name Last Name Address City State Zip Code" neatly arranged in lines. Hm.
Doing things I don't even really understand, I finally worked it out and got my mail merge list, or so I thought. The first name isn't one I recognize, so I'll have to ask Mom about it, but for now, I'm Queen of the World, or of the mailing list address labels, whichever sounds better to you.
Over Christmas, B initiated me into his holiday tradition of watching A Christmas Story at least once on the afternoon of the big day (post-presents, pre-meal). I kicked and fought a little. "Is that that super cheesy movie with the kid and the tongue and the leg lamp?" I asked. "If by super cheesy you mean super awesome, then yes." he replied, then pulled me down onto the couch.
I have to say, half the fun of the movie was watching how happy B was to see it, but it really was entertaining. Visiting Santa and blanking on your must-have list. Just knowing that the whole world was conspiring together against you. And what good is an old family movie without a decent "washing your mouth out with soup" scene or two?
My real joy came today, though, when my boss got a package delivered and I heard him call out, "Fra-GI-le, it must be Italian" and actually get the reference.
Thanks B! Does this make up for the time we watched Rambo with your friends and I asked why Rocky was running around in the woods and not in the ring? I may still be in the hole on that one.
My friend, H, had a very fun post on her blog reflecting on 2008 and, because I see this blog as my journal (kind of), I decided to blatantly steal it so I'd have some highlights to review in years to come.
If you're curious, I've been trying to do this post for days, but I kept leaving my 2008 calendar at work. Which basically means everything you're reading about I took the time to write down in my calendar. It's a little scary when you think about it. Everything goes in there, or it didn't happen.
B and I started the year off in Birmingham with his interviews with various law firms, proving that he is a) unintimidated in interviews and b) more capable of getting himself around my town that I am. The Birmingham girls and I started our "Eat Around the World" dinner series with calzones (Italy, mostly), and then I was off to Pennsylvania to be a bridesmaid for a dear college friend's very fun wedding. J & I broke in the Wii I got for Christmas (and didn't break anything else. Solid.).
Baby Sienna is born (on Valentine's Day!) and I suddenly have a total of four nieces. I flew up to meet her and got to spend some quality time with Mom, Dad, and B (fresh off the plane from a bachelor party in Las Vegas). B comes into town to visit, leaving on Sunday night at 6:20, which means he misses the entire Super Bowl. I survive my first annual review as a full-time employee and keep working on a freelance basis with the News.
I head out of town for a week-long beach vacation with B and, after Delta loses my luggage for three days with my phone charger, I find out that my Grandma passed away. The rest of the month feels a little empty and a little wrong, so I bake. A lot.
A good high school friend of B's gets married, giving us all a great excuse to jet to New Orleans for a weekend of merriment and marriage. Once I get home, planning kicks into high gear for my good high school friend's bachelorette weekend, held at B's lake house in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Two-and-a-half days of sunning, seafood, and quality girl time.
The month of the frequent flyer miles, I head to Las Vegas for a week for a work conference, bringing back awesome memories of the time B and I spent 36 crazy hours seeing the strip. From Vegas, I head home for Mother's Day weekend (hereafter known as my anniversary weekend. Forever.) then off to D.C. soon after for B's little brother's college graduation where I got to see some good college friends and have some very great meals with B's family. The month ends with another trip to Florence for bridesmaid duties in K&B's wedding weekend. Best of all, B starts work in Birmingham, putting us in the same city for the first time since 2005. Dinner together! Walks after work! Grocery shopping! Everything is new.
Cousin Camp! I head home for five days of snack traps, sidewalk chalk, and floaties in Florence with all five of the monkeys on hand. B comes up for the weekend, the time he picked to ask Dad for permission to propose... two months later. I sign my new lease grumpily wondering if B is even thinking about marriage and my moving to Durham.
Ask B if he's even thought about us getting to the same city. His response? "I haven't really thought about it since I started law school." Enter crying self to sleep in self-pity during our Fourth of July weekend at his lake house with his parents. My friend H has a baby (Welcome Mary Ella!), and B and I continue to love the summer associate lifestyle, attending fun wine tastings, meeting other associates, and tagging along on progressive dinner events with the firms. B's parents come into town to see Birmingham for the first time and we show them around (in the rain, all weekend) by introducing them to every restaurant we can fit in.
Note: My calendar is suddenly covered with stickies, including one with my first attempts at what will be my new name and another with details on Marriage Prep courses. On the third, B proposes at Vulcan and I am utterly overwhelmed with happiness. After a little while to ourselves and Champagne, we call the families and the ball starts rolling. Soon we have a date, two churches, two bands, and more. B finishes his clerkships and I fly up with him to move back into his apartment complex and then we round the month out with another trip to Durham, just for a visit. K, former roommate, moves out and buys a house!
My 25th birthday. Car insurance rates drop and I can rent vehicles. My life is complete. B begins his month of back-and-forth to Atlanta for summer interviews. We meet in Atlanta for fun dinners, then in Florence as his parents come to visit for the first time. The last weekend brings the great dress hunt of 2008, which leaves me with a dress than I love and fond memories of times with some of my favorite ladies.
L&R get married! B can't make it, so I take on bridesmaid-ness on my own and have a blast with the girls. I meet B after work Atlanta for the first part of his fall break, then he comes here for the latter half, which I mercilessly pack with cake tasting, engagement pictures, and football. The last weekend, I took a girls' getaway weekend to Chicago to see my good friend C and explore her big city, and deep-dish pizza options. For Halloween? Miley Cirus. Start walking outside more: Amazing.
PreCana in Atlanta (eek!), then a weekend visit in North Carolina followed by two straight days of registering, just me and the scanning guns. My car dies; I cry. They fix my car; I head to Atlanta for my first Thanksgiving away from home. A little odd feeling but, as B's mom says, "How great is it to have people that love you both in both places?" True. Launch inaugural post-Thanksgiving flag football game then head to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl.
Welcome baby Ethan! Six nieces and nephews total now. Head to Atlanta with Mom and Dad for a little shopping and a little football, then (gasp!) home for one weekend before heading out to Atlanta to start the Christmas season. A weekend in Atlanta (parties! shopping!) before heading to Florence for the holiday (definitely a highlight). Round out the year with back-to-back engagement parties and a week of relaxation in Atlanta, plus a top-notch New Year's Eve party at B's friends' home.
On Christmas Eve, the whole family got together at my brother and his wife's home in Florence for a shrimp and cod stew, cornbread muffins, and a smorgasbord of delicious desserts. Since I did zero in helping with prep or serving, I rolled up my sleeves and helped with the dishes for a while until I noticed that B had wandered away.
I found him watching Man vs Wild or whatever that crazy show is with the guy named Bear or something with two monkeys snuggled up right next to him. Apparently, when Nana left, Alex told B that he could have her seat, but only until Nana came back, and then he had to go. Well, Nana saw her opening and departed, leaving B with two sleepy, snuggly kiddos.
When I found them, Alex was a little propped over on him but Lily was all into his shoulder. I came down and sat on a chair opposite the trio and Lily caught my attention.
She took her tiny hand and, like a little old lady at church, patted B's arm affectionately while looking at me. "B's going to stay here tonight," she told me, rather directly.
I teased B that he definitely had a way with younger women, but it totally melted my heart to see that sweet little rugrat utterly willing to throw me under the bus in order to keep B around to celebrate Christmas morning.
Two blessings are better than one, right? Keep telling yourself that. B nailed down the former Florence priest and he's definitely doing our wedding, unless he gets assigned somewhere between now and them. So definitely maybe. Saint that he is, B called the new Florence priest and asked him to please mark us down on his calendar to ensure he'd be in town just in case we found out in April that our priest had been assigned elsewhere.
Anticlimactic really, as it seems now we have a priest and a collared insurance policy, but it's true. We have a priest... or two.
Woohoo! We got one on the church. Mom worked her magic and got us a 4pm wedding time. We have to be out by 5pm, which shouldn't be a problem because the priest who will do the ceremony wanted us out by 4, so I can't imagine that he'll keep us too long. That's one perk (?) about not having someone we're close to do the ceremony--we're looking for a traditional, classic service, not something super customized, so that should be more than enough time!
Again, for the protestant-minded out there, Catholic weddings, especially if you're having a full mass, can go for upwards of 90 minutes. We aren't doing a full mass, so ours should round out around 30-40 minutes. Still long by most non-Catholic standards!
I couldn't be happier. Despite some hiccups and stress over the past 24 hours with planning, today has felt utterly charmed and blessed. Maybe I should tell Dad to head for the state line and grab a lottery ticket. We may get a free wedding to boot!
As we draw (slightly) nearer to the wedding date, I'm trying to nail down all the must-not-miss details, like the marriage license. Turns out that in Alabama, the marriage license is good for marriages state-wide, but is only valid for 30 days. Not wanting to be last-minute (and trying to sneak in another excuse to see B before the wedding), we're going to have him fly in for a weekend in April to take care of the license and any other last-minute stuff that might pop up.
So I've been calling around to get the info and just spoke with the Jefferson County Courthouse, where they have a line devoted solely to marriage license inquiries. So you'd think that would mean they'd have all the answers instead of, oh, say, reading them to you from the website.
Lady: Marriage License Office, how can I help you?
Me: I have a question about obtaining a marriage license for my upcoming marriage.
Me: Um, Is it true that I can obtain my license from Jefferson County but still marry in a different county of Alabama?
Lady: (pause) The marriage license must be obtained no more than 30 days in advance of the marriage ceremony, but may be obtained in any county of the state of Alabama for use in any country of the state of Alabama. You must then return the signed license to the same county courthouse from which the license originated.
Me: Oh, so that means that, after the priest signs it, instead of letting him process it, we'll have to get it from him and bring it back down to Birmingham?
Lady: I didn't say that ma'am. I said, "You must then return the signed license to the same county courthouse from which the license originated."
Me: Oh. Ok. Um, can you verify that the cost is $43.50, cash only?
Lady: Yes, I can verify that.
Me: I know many government offices are closed on Good Friday, which is when my fiance will be flying in to help take care of this. Will your office be closed on Good Friday?
Lady: I can only tell you that I do not see it on my vacation calendar that we will be closed on that day.
Me: So you can't say you'll for sure be open.
Lady: I can say that my vacation calendar does not list that date.
Me: (silence) Well you've been really helpful. Thank you for your time!
I still have catching up to do from the holidays, but had to break from reflections and just say Holy Crap, it's 2009! Not only that, but it's almost B's birthday (tomorrow), which means it's a full week into 2009. Our wedding is officially four months and three days away. Eep!
After taking most of the holidays off (despite picking invitations, registering at the final store, selecting tuxes, and booking the band, plus one more thing I'm not allowed to blog about yet under threat of no hugs for a month), we hit the ground running starting Sunday night at 9pm when I got in the car on the way home from Atlanta. Since then, save the dates have been ordered, guests list numbers finalized, hotel prices negotiated, hair appointments booked, florist appointments coordinated, and addresses gathered. But, dear readers, keep the prayer hotline open this afternoon. In about 15 minutes, Mom goes to meet with the Florence priest about the time of the wedding. We have 3pm locked down but are gunning for 4. If anyone can do it, Mom can. We figure we may as well ask...
For the protestant or agnostic-minded of you out there, here's the deal. Catholics are fabulous and super accommodating (in most cases, unless you want them to perform your wedding ceremony. Another story.); they have church roughly six times on Sunday, which is great if a) you can't get up early, b) you have an afternoon football game to watch, or c) you enjoy heading to dinner right after church. So fabulous, in fact, that they also offer Saturday night mass. And what do you do during mass? Take communion. And what does that require? Attending confession beforehand. And what does that mean to you? No afternoon weddings in a Catholic church.
The parish in Florence told me 1pm was the latest possible, but I assured them that they'd had my sister's wedding at 2:30 and all 5 of the Florence Catholics still had time to confess before the 6pm service. They let me set the time at 3, but 4 would be better. Now that we have a new priest, why not ask again? I wanted to just print the invitations with 4pm and go from there, but B says that's passive aggressive. He's right.
Eleven minutes left to send up good vibes and prayers. We'll know in a bit. Then, it's off to order the invitations...
At the Christmas Eve service at my church in Florence, they pass out candles and, following the service of readings and songs, we sing Silent Night while the congregation passes the flame to each other in total darkness. It's a beautiful moment of seeing light in darkness and tuning out everything else around you and just focusing on the heart of the season.
So, not thinking, when my nephew (almost 4 years old now) asked me who the baby was that was crying, I responded, "That's baby Jesus!" Bad move, Aunt A.
Whenever the baby cried again, he'd fidget around and when his Mom asked what the problem was, he'd say, "I was to go see Jesus!"
He was a hoot the whole time though. Having just learned Christmas songs at school, he was super excited for the singing part, though very disappointed at our church's selections. "I DON'T KNOW THIS ONE," he'd say, when my Grandma asked why he wasn't singing. Then, when he did know one (Away in a Manger), he'd proudly proclaim, "WE LEARNED THIS AT SCHOOL! I KNOW THE WORDS!"
But you know, if you can't be a kid at Christmas, when can you? It definitely kept us awake during the service.
Following our late night of Florence festivities, B and I got up and out around 7am on the road for Atlanta. Mom was heading over for the Atlanta engagement party too, but she would leave after teaching Sunday School (2 year olds. Seriously, a Saint, that lady!).
The morning got off to a rough start. The start of strep or a seriously bad sore throat had hit me full force the night before and that morning it about leveled me. B found me crying over the kitchen sink and was so great. When I asked what time it was, knowing we needed to leave by 7, he just called out, "It doesn't matter." Dad got me some good drugs (thank God for Daddy) while B got the car packed and us on the road. He drove while I wallowed in the seat next to him. A quick stop in Birmingham to grab my mail and we were on the road.
In Atlanta, we unpacked and had our own Christmas with his parents, who gave us great gifts that were really for the both of us. B got the TV he'd been eyeing and I got the classic Kitchen Aid standing mixer I'd been eyeing for years. I know the Moms were both in on pulling this one off and I was so happy. They've been so great at getting our "home" started with great little useful and yet wonderful items. I can't wait to crank up the radio and bake 8 dozen cookies, which is what my mixer says is capacity. We'll see about that!
B shooed me off to the shower then let me nap for an hour or so while his family did some prep (lots of Saints in my life these days!) and then we all got ready. B's Mom and Dad throw quite a party--they set up a bar and had a caterer come in with the best finely-carved beef tenderloin I've ever had. Crab dip, stuffed potato bites, delicate chocolate desserts... yum. (Un)fortunately, I didn't see a bite of it starting when the party did at 7 until we winded down around 12:30. Luckily, B noticed I was spinning and made us a big plate of snacks that he hid away in the kitchen. My good friend A pulled me aside and said, "Let this be a lesson... if you can't eat at a party, how do you think you'll eat at your wedding? Make time!" Brilliant.
The party was a hit. It was so fun having Mom there, along with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. Normally I'm a little shy about being the center of attention but it was fantastic. Everyone knew who I was so they just kept coming up and saying, "Are you the bride?" Why yes, I am! Nice to meet you. I met old neighbors, family friends, former coaches of B's, and so many dear people to his family. I kept looking around to see if Mom was doing ok and, whenever I could find her, she'd say, "Oh I'm having a great time, just trying to meet everyone!" B's mom said that at one point, a friend of hers came up and said, "Have you met J?" Love it!
The night was perfect. During both parties, the temperature was just right to leave the doors open and let the breeze run through. Whenever I was out of wine, a glass would magically appear (thanks to my uncle and B's Dad!). The only complaint was that I didn't get to see B as much as I would've liked, but it sure was wonderful to look at him across the room holding court with a group of moms or old baseball buddies. It prompted several of those, "Wow, I get to marry him." moments.
Most striking, at least to me, was the overwhelming feeling at both parties that all these people took time out of their lives to come celebrate a moment in ours. I'm sure I'll feel that times 100 at the wedding, but for those two nights, it sure felt wonderful to feel nothing but love and happiness in a room packed with our families' closest friends. How blessed are we?
B's friends headed out that night, but by the time I got something to eat and we finished visiting with his Grandparents and brothers, we were both at pass-out mode, or at least pajama mode, so we passed, and slept very well that night. It felt like we'd been celebrating for weeks already, and here we were still a few days shy of New Year's Eve.
Over the holidays, Mom and Dad decided to throw an engagement party welcoming B to town and our family which was so fantastic of them. The day after Christmas, the family (including Grandma) piled in a viewing of Marley and Me, then we got working on the party. Mom's a champ--she can pull together a party in an hour's notice and not break a sweat. She assures me there's more planning than I see, it's just that she's up at 6am and, despite what I might think, things do happen before 10am. I'm still on the fence.
So Saturday, B and I Dad headed out to play golf while the ladies picked up some wedding gifts then grabbed lunch at a local cafe. Turns out the gift place also sells invitations, so we talked the sweet owner out of her massive Crane book and took it home to pour over the tiny details out of earshot. B got home and, after he looked, I told him my pick. Turns out, we blindly picked the same invite and font. Fabulous. We stopped just before getting totally overwhelmed. B put it best, "You can pick out type shading??"
We scooted out before the party to enjoy a glass of wine at the country club where the reception will be held so we could hear the band we're going to hire. It was perfect. We sat on the back porch in the darkness with Christmas lights sparkling around us as we sipped wine and peeked in on a wedding, starting with the first dance and going through the opening of the dance floor. Sure, you could twist that paragraph and read it as us being peeping toms or spies, but I prefer the romantic version.
We got home in time to get ready for the party and soon guests began arriving. B and I hung at the door for about an hour, greeting everyone as they came in. It turned out to be super fun, especially because it let me say, "Have you met my fiance, B?" about 100 times over.
I got to introduce him to old family friends, my friends' parents, and even use him to solicit a few names that I'd forgotten. He's pretty fabulous. We got to sample all Mom's Birmingham bakery goodies as well as tons of bite-sized appetizers, punch, and eggnog with just a hint of brandy. I think one of my favorite parts was seeing friends reconnecting, plus watching a Alex and Lily hold court during the party. A classic Lily line? Going up to her Nana and saying, "I'm hungry, and Mommy won't feed me," which got her a cheese sandwich and a muffled outcry from her Mom, who cried out, "That's not true! She has chocolate on her face right now!" So proud of my niece. Sneaky little thing.
As the night wore on, the guests began to thin and we spent some time with my good friends that had come to celebrate with us. "Over at 9" turned into "Over at 10" turned into "Leave sometime around 11," which was hilarious and fabulous all at once.
When everyone left, B and I collapsed on the couch. The agreement was that we weren't going to clean up that night, but before we knew it, Mom was breezing (I kid you not, she was effortlessly breezing) through the living room with industrial-sized trash bags stuffed with bottles, food, plates, and boxes. It was killing B. Mom would come through like she was carrying pillows (up since 6am, mind you) and say something like, "Did you realize we drank 16 bottles of sparkling cider?" She'd give the bag a little shake to make it jingle then off she'd be to the trash outside. Repeat with food containers, "Oh no," she said with the bag held above her head, "these are just the boxes, no big deal." She's seriously my Super Woman.
B and I soon headed off to sleep. The next night, in Atlanta, we had a repeat performance with his family friends!
Christmas was fabulous this year. Usually I have the split-heart duality thing going on, as I'm so happy to be home with family celebrating our traditions, and yet I know that B is someplace very different that, well, I'm not. This year, I combined both my loves and had B come to Florence for a week of what can only be described as wonderful merriment (how's that for an over-sell?).
I took a solid two weeks off work this year, so we got started early with me spending a weekend in Atlanta to welcome B home. He slept a lot and we hung out doing real-people things like putting up lights, buying gifts for our families, and decorating the tree before we headed out for Birmingham on Monday.
We drove straight to the mall, where B and I split up for a little last-minute shopping for each other (tough to do when you're sharing a car and a life for a few weeks!) before crawling our way home through holiday Wal-Mart traffic. Seriously... two hours from Atlanta to Birmingham and one hour from the Summit to my apartment. Seriously? We broke out the snacks and had a car picnic while we waited the lights out. You'd be surprised how unmessy chicken salad, hummus, and fruit can be when you're really hungry.
Monday night was fabulous-- a few friends B met this summer during his clerkship took us out for a fun dinner at Botega Cafe. We had to wait for about an hour but, for some reason, waiting around a bar with good drinks and happy people is way easier than creeping along in my Murano. We didn't get home until hours later and it was worth every minute. I can't wait to hang out with those guys again this summer when we're back for a month.
We got up early the next day and picked up my Grandma for the trip up to Florence. B was the super champ and packed the car while she and I avoided the rain ("I'd hate to have your mother have to set my hair!" she warned me.). He even managed to get the (roughly) 42 dozen cookies she and my mom ordered from a local bakery in without crumbling a one. Brilliant, that one.
We set off for the trip home, arriving just in time for lunch before I headed out to my dentist office. I dread going to the dentist for lots of reasons, but for one, they've been asking me when I might get engaged. Ah ha! Take that. I brought B with me and, as I suspected, while they had me trapped back in the chair, the ladies and my dentist all went out to meet him! I think B enjoyed the unexpected attention, especially because he was just reading ESPN and waiting for me. Oy.
Christmas itself was fabulous. We did limited gifts this year, which was definitely the way to go. Less fuss over shopping and wrapping, more time to enjoy breakfast, make Grandma J's rolls, and just snuggle and look at the tree while Christmas music plays. At least that's what normal people would do. Me? I danced happily to the new soundtrack (Hairspray!) B got me. He tolerates my love of musicals. He must love me. Who else would be ok being woken up on Christmas morning (or almost any morning) with the mostly-sung first verse of "Good Morning Baltimore!"?
Having B at the house on Christmas morning was amazing. Really no words. We went over and saw some of the kiddos the night before and of course they came over for Christmas dinner, and it was just wonderful. While they played with their dolls and Wall-E robots, we read up on our new Bose radio (thanks Mom and Dad!) and recovered from food coma.
Plus I got notes for next year, or at least for the future... Watching A Christmas Story (at least once) is critical, so it's a good thing it loops for 24 hours on TBS starting on Christmas Eve at 7. Seriously. We got that one, but missed out on a favorite of B's. Mom and I had asked what he liked and thought we had it covered (both Moms do beef tenderloins, for example), but Christmas morning he mentioned how much he loved the chocolate croissants his family always had. Mom and I both threw our hands up and laughed and B laughed along with us. I don't know that he even knew that was a tradition to him, just that he'd always had them.
We had fun talking about what our own traditions might be. He kept up a favorite of his family's, which is getting an ornament each year, so he got us one of gingerbread cookies packed up in a box and ready to ship, symbolic of our last long-distance year! He was a champ--I know it has to be hard to be away for Christmas and I know I'll find out for myself soon enough, but he was there and happy and wonderful the whole time. Christmas has always been wonderful, but this year it felt so full I thought I might just burst. What could be better?
Me: So I was watching this show about a paralyzed pregnant woman giving birth.
B: Um, ok.
Me: And the baby wasn't coming out.
B: Um, ok.
Me: And they told the lady they had to either use forceps or this weird thing that looked like a macbook power cord. They attached it to the baby's head then used suction to pull it out. The lady kept saying to be careful with the baby's head, but when the baby came out, it looked like it had a beanie on, but it was its head!
B: Um, ok.
Me: So I'm just saying that if I'm ever in that position...
Me: No, in labor.
Me: Then I want you to be on suction watch. No suction things that pull the baby out by the head.
B: At that point you may just want the baby out.
Me: True. In which case we'd just tie dental floss to it and slam the door.
B: If you say that in a delivery room, I will laugh my ass off.
No sense in apologizing, it's back to blogging after an extended (and unintentional!) holiday break... I tried to blog, really I did. And we had tons to blog about. It's just that when the option is eating yummy food or blogging... watching another Christmas movie with B or blogging... baking a birthday cake or blogging... you get the picture.