Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Domestic Expectations

Over the past six months, as I anticipated becoming a wife, and as we made big decisions about our future, I began making mental (and not so mental) lists about things I wanted to learn or perfect or dabble in. They included things like baking/cooking from scratch, finding more ways to save money, knitting, sewing, crocheting, and finding something that I can eventually make money off of when I'm staying home.

I was really intent on learning at least the basics to knitting, crocheting, and sewing this year. Then I took a two part knitting class, tried my hand at it for a while at home, and promptly lost all interest in things that include the words 'needles' and 'yarn'. I have been feeling sort of like I failed myself, and sort of like I'm no good at domestic-y stuff. And at first I thought it was everyone else's fault for being so darn crafty. And then I realized, it was my own fault for seeking out all these blogs of skills I don't have, and expecting myself to be like them overnight. It was my own problem and my own fault, and no one else's. Then I thought how disturbing it was that I could take all the gifts and talents I have, shove them in a closet somewhere, and then be angry that I have no gifts or talents. Yeah, I had a few pity party moments.

Buttercup clearly had more fun knitting than I did...

So then I thought about what I'm good at and what I enjoy. I'm really good at researching stuff. Anything I deem important (these days it's PCOS, fertility, things related to my faith, home buying, homeschooling, ways to be frugal, awesome things I want to have and do when we have a baby, etc.) I research within an inch of it's life. I thoroughly enjoy that process. I enjoy scrapbooking. Alot. It's my thing that makes me feel crafty and everyone loves the feeling of making something. That's what scrapbooking gives me. I'm good at nurturing, and that comes out in working on my health, loving on Steven and Buttercup within an inch of their lives (obviously that area will get more use when we have children), and certain aspects of my job. I enjoy baking and cooking, and researching new recipes, new ways of eating, and finding frugal ways to do it. Oh yes, I enjoy being frugal and finding a deal, and I think I'm pretty good at it.

Ok, time to reign in the humility. But it took some self reflection to realize that I don't have to be like everyone else, or even ANYone else to be happy with how I am and to feel domestic. Maybe I'm not a knitter or super fashionable or a dinner party thrower or crafty enough to set up an Etsy shop with something that would actually sell. But I'm domestic in that I like to clean, I like to cook, and I like to take care of people. And I kept thinking if I could just find that marketable, clever craft, it would make the financial burden on Steven so much easier when we have kids. And then I was like yeah... I like to nurture and I like to take care of people. I nannied for 3 summers, worked at a childcare for a couple years, and babysat more years than I can count. I super love children, and honestly miss them now that I work full time with adults. There's GOT to be a set of parents out there who are looking for someone to nurture and take care of their baby when I'm staying at home with mine. So instead of searching for talents I may never have, or wishing for skills I may never want to put the time into gaining, I decided to focus on what I am  good at and what I do enjoy and capitalize on that.

I know it's something we all suffer with to a degree.... seeing things in other people that you wish you had. Translating it to other areas of our lives, "I wish I had her figure" or "I wish I made as much as he does!". But it doesn't matter. What matters is what we have and what we do with it. So this isn't to say that I don't want to continue stretching my mind and learning knew things, because I want to do that for the rest of my life. But I want to quit making myself feel like I'm not as good as the next person if I don't have the same skill set as them. I'm domestic in my own way and I need to learn to appreciate that.

Did you have any expectations for yourself as you became a wife and/or mother? Were they realistic or were you wanting to be someone that you aren't? How have you reconciled that?

Friday, May 25, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
Before we get started, make sure you enter my giveaway!!! You can enter once until June 1st and then I'll announce the winner. Lucky for you, I don't have a crazy readership, so your chances of winning are probably better than some other giveaways!

--- 2 ---
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I want to blog about our house! This is more for the benefit of my "in real life" friends and family, but hopefully you'll enjoy it too! We live in Raleigh right now, and the house we are buying is in Garner. We settled on Garner because it seemed we had two choices. North Raleigh where we could afford a newer house, but in slightly undesirable, very congested areas with teensy yards OR Garner in more desirable areas with more normal sized yards but old ranch style houses. We were more drawn to Garner because it felt like a slice of small town, and we knew we wanted a yard big enough for kids to play in. Then we happened upon this house... in Garner, cute neighborhood, newer house, decent sized yard (.21 of an acre which for our area is actually pretty nice! Yards are generally postage stamps here.). We somehow found the only short sale in the world that doesn't take months just to get a response. In fact, it took them about 6 hours!

--- 3 ---
Though it took me a while to be ok with not living in Raleigh, Garner is sort of the best of both worlds for us. It's pretty much the closest 'burb of Raleigh (10-15 minutes to downtown Raleigh where we go to church) and doesn't feel detached from Raleigh by the beltline or the interstate like most of the other 'burbs here. But where we will live is on the edge of some idyllic country looking land, very close to multiple shopping centers, and and it feels like there is more room to spread out. We have everything we like in Raleigh just 15 minutes away, but less traffic and a slower paced area. I don't think we could have asked for more. Except maybe a way higher budget in which we could have opened up our Raleigh options. But I digress.

--- 4 ---
The house is moments from: a Catholic church (in case we decide to switch, but we do love us some Cathedral), two Chickfilas, two Targets, Michael's, 4 parks, a rec center with all kinds of free and super cheap classes for all ages, a performing arts center, sweet little downtown Garner, and a library. Obviously there is more stuff, but those are the things that are really close by that excite me the most. The rec center and two of the parks are less than a mile from the house!

--- 5 ---
I get a big fat "F" on pictures because between Steven and the appraisal person, hardly any of the pictures are what I consider blog worthy lol. I should have done them myself but I was too busy imagining living there to focus on picture taking! Steven took super random pictures like a close up of appliances (gotta love him), and the appraisal pictures were all sort of blurry. The house is about 1350 sq feet, split bedroom floor plan (two bedrooms and a bathroom on the left, living room in the middle with kitchen behind it, and master with bathroom on the right). Here are a few I scraped together:

--- 6 ---
We picked paint colors! I kid you not, that was possibly more stressful than most of the wedding decisions we made! I know it's paint and paint can be changed, but paint is also expensive and time consuming so we didn't want to regret any choices right away. The guest room/movie room will be a pale yellow. That way we can break Steven's projector back out of the box without the wall color affecting the picture too much, and it'll be neutral for when we need it as a kid's bedroom.The baby room (don't get any ideas, we just don't want to have to paint it again any time soon so it's officially been dubbed the baby room) will be sort of a light/sage type green because we don't want to find out the gender whenever we do start a family. The living room will have 3 beige walls and the wall with the fireplace will be sort of a clover green (why yes, I do like green), and the kitchen and bedroom will both be beige. I know it sounds like a lot of beige, but that way I can redecorate as often as I want without the walls no longer matching. Our apartment now is 100% beige and I actually kind of like it... it feels warm and cozy. Plus you can see the kitchen, bedroom, and living room all from each other so if they were colors they would have to be complementary... and that got stressful to think about! I had settled on a purple accent wall in the living room for a while but ended up going with the green instead. I reserve the right to change my mind before the paint is purchased.

--- 7 ---
The neighborhood is pretty cute. It's hard to explain but there's a neighborhood that has been around for quite a while, probably since the 60's, that flows into a newer neighborhood. Then our neighborhood is down a road off of that newer one, and is the newest (our house was built in 2006). It's clearly a different neighborhood from the middle one, which is good because that one isn't taken care of that well. It's not terrible, but there are few houses and yards that really need some love. Our neighborhood appears to be well maintained. It's only got 47 houses, has sidewalks, cute little street signs and lots of street lights. We are SO excited for June 11th to roll around so we can be homeowners! We will still have our apartment through the end of September, so we can take our time painting and moving... but I will be itching to move in! 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Efavors Giveaway!

I'm happy to announce that I'm partnering with Efavors to host a giveaway! I had the option of choosing to review a product OR giveaway a product or a $25 coupon code. Since I love my dear readers, and you all have been SO good to me and given me such an amazing community since I began blogging here just 6 short months ago, I decided to pass the love on in the form of the $25 coupon code. I know reading too many reviews can get old, and I do have some coming up, so I want to give you the chance to win something fun instead of reading another review!

So I'm going to go old school, because it's my blog and I can do that. Go check out Efavors and let me know in the comments what you would do with the $25 coupon code! I've been to the website and they have SO many products.... first communion, wedding, baptism, bar/bat mitvahs (hey sis, I've got you covered!), graduation, DIY, favors... seriously, you will have a hard time deciding! By way of you sharing an item you'd like to win, you will have entered yourself in the giveaway! Only one entry per person, and I will have my handy dandy husband pick a number. If he picks 10 and you were the 10th commenter you will win. Way easier than rafflecopter, and more fun in my opinion :). The giveaway will close on June 1st! Be sure that you include your email so I can let you know you've won and send you the code!

Note: tax and shipping are not included. The code is good until October!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Here comes the bride...

About 5 minutes before 2pm, the wedding committee came and got Rachel from out hideout room so she could line up. For a split second, I thought I might freak out, being by myself, but it's actually one of my more memorable moments because I prayed, and felt at complete peace. I just waited for a minute until the lady got me out of the room. We processed in as one procession, with sacristan, deacon, bmaid/groomsman, bmaid/groomsman, bmaid/groomsman, MOH/best man, Steven, then myself and my father. So they had told me at the rehearsal that as soon as they got Steven through the doors they would be grabbing me to go down the aisle, since my procession wasn't separate. They had told me the day before to walk slowly and enjoy my walk down the aisle, but my dad and I got a major 'F' in that! As soon as I got beside him, all I could think about was that I was supposed to be part of the procession, so we needed to get going! The walk down the aisle was pretty quick and was a total blur. Since hardly anyone at our wedding was Catholic, I was 2/3 down the aisle before people realized I was coming and stood up (they rang the bell at the beginning but, again, non-Catholics didn't know that meant to stand). Actually, I don't know if it would have been much different had there been a lot of Catholics, because most Catholic churches, from the weddings I've been to, have adopted the separate bridal procession that is normal in Protestant churches. So anyway, I know we walked a little fast than we should, but I do remember seeing the back of Steven's head in front of me and being so ready to be at the end of the aisle so I could see his face! I also remember thinking that 100 people didn't look like many all spread out in the church (not in a bad way- just making random observations as I walked down the aisle lol!).

My ONLY photo regret from the wedding is that the two pictures they got of me from the front coming down the aisle are un-usable because I had the most lame facial expressions!

My mom told me all through my engagement that I wouldn't even notice the people in the church, because I kept saying how nervous I was to have everyone staring at me. And of course she was completely right! I wasn't nervous at all and barely noticed the people. When we got up to the front, the deacon asked his question about who was giving me away (which I was a little surprised he did because it's not really normal, but I was fine with it) and my dad kissed me, and shook Steven's hand... or maybe hugged him; I can't quite remember. I didn't cry at all, the entire ceremony. Seeing as I got choked up in mass on random weekends anticipating our wedding, at the rehearsal, and cried multiple times on the wedding morning, I was really surprised I kept it together! I think part of it was because I couldn't even believe that our wedding day was upon us, part of it was because it went fast, and maybe another part was because I got my crying out of my system ahead of time! I have to say I was really relieved because I'm not a cuter crier! I would have been paranoid about my makeup, too, so I was really glad I held it together.

I took Steven's hands and the deacon did some prayers. There was a part at the beginning where he asked us a series of questions, which the wedding committee neglected to tell us about, so we were really awkward because we had no clue what to answer with. I think we went back and forth between "We will" and "Yes". That made me a bit nervous, not knowing what to say. The deacon made a little joke about not being able to hear us, which broke the tension and got me back to feeling confident. Then we sat down while the readings were read by my sister (MOH) and best man. I had a lot of time to think while we were sitting! I was looking out and seeing all the guests, making eye contact and smiling at some. Steven held my hand, and I refused to let go the rest of the time we were sitting, even though our hands got really sweaty. I thought about how surreal the entire thing was.... us sitting there at our WEDDING. It almost didn't feel real! I tried and was fairly successful at listening to the readings. We picked them out with a lot of thought, so I wanted to be sure I really heard them being read.

When the deacon gave his homily, I had a bit of trouble following. It was a pretty good homily, but for some reason I kept getting a little lost. He talked about marriage, sacrifice, and a lot about Adam and Eve. At one point, he mentioned that when we are having rough spots in our marriage, we needed to read back over the readings we chose for our wedding. I loved that he said that, and I really do want us to do that periodically. (Our readings were Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 128: 1-2,3,5; Colossians 3:12-17; and Matthew 6:25-31,33-34.) A lot of the homily, he actually turned toward us and spoke directly to us, which was really special. I wasn't just seeing the side/back of his head as he addressed everyone else... he was actually addressing us.

Towards the end of the homily, I got a bit antsy. I was so ready to marry my best friend! He motioned us over when he was done and we exchanged vows. It's funny because I thought my voice would waver or I would speak really quietly, but I spoke clearly, loud enough, and confidently. It just felt right and I wasn't nervous about being in front of so many people or anything. Steven did just as well. Next up was rings. I was SO EXCITED to put my wedding ring on. For weeks before the wedding, I would put it on for a few minutes just to see what it looked like and didn't want to take it off. The deacon blessed the rings with holy water, which I knew would happen since we wrote the programs, but never really dawned on me I guess. Seeing it was really powerful. We both were able to get the rings on each other's fingers (yay, no swelling!) which surprised me but I was really happy. I had visions of Steven not being able to wear his ring for a few hours lol.

We did the sign of peace and Steven tried to kiss me. I kept saying "don't kiss me!!!!" and I think it took him a second to figure out why I was so adamant. He settled for a hug, and we both went and shared the sign of peace with our bridal party and immediate family members. The deacon did a last blessing, and had to tell us to hold hands, haha! I guess I was over that "refusing to let go" thing because we were standing toward each other, both looking at the deacon, and for some reason didn't grab hands. The deacon said "you may want to hold hands at this part" and we did, and it was because there was something in the blessing about our hands being joined. Thanks for the heads up, Deacon Mike! :)

Sign of peace hug... I later realized I didn't give the sign of peace to the deacon. Oops!

He then pronounced us husband and wife, and we kissed! I felt like I was floating on our walk out of the church, holding hands with my husband. I'm pretty sure no one else existed for a few minutes. We were walking fast, I think because we were happy and excited, and our photographer was kneeled down at the end. She told us to stop so she could get a few pictures (she had to run down from the balcony), and those pictures she got are some of my favorite! We were so thrilled to be brand new husband and wife! We walked around the side of the church to a back/side door so people wouldn't talk to us, since we had a time limit in the church for pictures. We had to wait there while the church cleared out and my parents came over to welcome Steven in the family. My mom hugged us and then my dad hugged Steven- that picture has become one of my very favorite. I love the expression on my dad's face. Steven and I kissed and hugged some more, and checked out each other's rings. Then we got back in the church and did all our pictures, which again I had a lot of fun with. I especially loved when it was just us and the photographer in the church getting pictures. I felt so mushy and emotional getting pictures done together!

Kissing my husband!

Love all the smiles in this picture!
Switching my rings into the right order. Gotta say, Steven looks good holding those flowers!
My dad so loves his son in law!

We got some outside which I also loved... they came out so well! Then we got in the limo (and made the poor body builder type limo driver hold both my bridal emergency kit AND bouquet while I got in lol) for our ride to the reception. It was a fun ride, being so excited together. The only thing I didn't like is that the limo driver left the little partition open. I should have asked him to close it, but I didn't. I think the ride consisted of me squealing, us looking at our rings a bunch of times, kissing, and repeating the words "married" and "husband and wife" over and over!

Next up... arriving at the reception! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
First things first. We had our house inspection on Wednesday and.... IT WENT REALLY WELL! I have been holding my breath this whole time, not wanting to fall too  in love and then having an issue we have to walk away from. Well, I still totally fell in love, but tried to keep a little quiet. Now I don't have to! We are still set to close on June 11th, though that could possibly change. We hope not, because we are ready!

--- 2 ---
The only issues the inspector talked to us about were that we need to get the HVAC serviced (needs a little freon and the filter is horrifyingly filthy), we need to open the vents in the crawl space, and put down a moisture barrier. Everything else he noted was cosmetic. Namely, the entire house needs a coat of paint. No really. The entire house. Like doors, trim, walls, everything. I think her two children went crayon, pencil, and fingerprint happy the six years they lived there. But hey, we can handle paint and it will give the house some color (and take away the neon colors in the guest rooms).

--- 3 ---
If you are sick of hearing about the house, brace yourself. Next week's quick takes will have pictures of the inside and information about the area we're moving to. I neglected to take pictures during the inspection but we are going back in it this Saturday so I will take some then.

--- 4 ---
Cat update for my fellow crazy cat ladies: I learned an expensive lesson this week. Don't leave the refrigerated medicine out of the refrigerator overnight. That stuff is liquid gold. I thought it was no biggie and went to pick up a (tiny) replacement bottle... $30. That's almost a week's worth of groceries! Anyway, she seems to be completely back to normal and just finished her appetite stimulant, and has just a few days left on her antibiotic and probiotic. Let's hope she stays this way!

--- 5 ---
If you are feeling a bit morbid today, check out my post on eternity from earlier this week. I would love to hear your thoughts!

--- 6 ---
Right now I should be at the beach for a work conference. I wasn't excited to be away from Steven but, if I have to be, the beach is where I want to be! But I found out last week (after the agency already paid for my hotel and registration) that our ageny is undergoing CQL accreditation this week, and I couldn't go anywhere. It's a 5 day process, and I had to be there for half a day Wednesday, the whole day Thursday, and Friday morning, so it made no sense at all to go. My cousin and her family live near where I would have been, and originally Steven was going to drive down on Friday since the conference ends at lunch, and we were going to spend the day together and then have dinner with my cousin that night before driving back, so that's a bummer.

--- 7 ---
But instead, we talked my parents into visiting (after driving here multiple times this year for the wedding and wedding related stuff) and we have a weekend full of fun plans. Steven is off the entire time they are here, which has never happened before, so I'm really excited. Plans include: 
  • The Got to Be NC Festival (supporting local agriculture and other local goodies)
  •  Artsplosure (festival all about art, but our fave thing is going on s Sunday morning walk when it's quiet and seeing all the super artistic chalk drawings through downtown)
  • Taking them to our new, favorite local pizza place, Gino's, which will no longer be local once we move to the new house, to enjoy the daily deal, $4.63 for a drink and two slices of delicious pizza.
  • Making homemade ice cream for them to try.
  • Church!
  • Breakfast at Cafe Carolina (which is where Steven and I had breakfast together on our wedding day).
  • Taking my parents to see the new house! Our real estate agent is sweet enough to get us in there again so they can see it. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eternity is so.... eternal.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post January 27th and totally forgot about it. I thought it'd be nice to post something today, got completely lazy, and dug this happy,carefree gem up. You're welcome.

I've spent the last 15 years (at least) of my life being really unnaturally afraid of death. Well, let me clarify. I'm not actually afraid of the process of dying. I certainly hope it's not some long, drawn out, painful process, and of course I hope to be around 110 when death approaches, but dying doesn't freak me out. It's eternity that gets me. Most people (from what I've gathered in many obsessive conversations over the years) seem to be more afraid of dying, and the thought of Heaven is what calms them down. But I get so worked up about eternity, and there isn't much to calm me down. I don't know that I've ever had a real panic attack, but letting my mind spiral about the concept of eternity is about as close as it gets for me. I specifically remember thinking about it in church one time. It ended with me red in the face, requiring deep breaths, and feeling like I needed to run out of the church. Yeah, it ain't pretty.

What is it about eternity that freaks me out? Ok, I get that there's probably not a concept of time in Heaven. But I still think, what will we do for forever? I remember being at youth retreats in high school where we'd be in adoration or singing praise and worship songs and thinking "Ahhh, ok. If Heaven is like this, I can handle it." But forever is a really long time. I mean, really, really long. With no end. My human brain can't understand the concept of something that doesn't end. Everything on Earth ends. Everything. Our days end, our seasons end, our lives end. This may sound really silly, but the thoughts of reincarcation (which I totally don't believe, just for the record) is more comforting to me than the thought of eternity, if only because it is cyclical and has an end (well, I guess until you reach nirvana which I'm not super educated about, and then maybe it's just avoiding the inevitable). My human brain can't understand eternity, nor can it understand the concept of timelessness. So while I think, "what are we going to do for eternity?!?!?!" and begin dry heaving into a paper bag, I know that in heaven it won't feel like eternity... at least not in the bad way.

I've only recently begun to get a handle on my emotions regarding death. You can ask my poor mother- I came into their room MANY times when I was younger freaking out about death. And by younger I mean 17. Then, when I got older, I'd go to a friend I felt was very religious and could make me feel better. I quit doing that after one told me she was ready to die that day and another told me she didn't really believe anything would happen after she died. Yeah, neither particularly helpful. But after many, many years struggling with fears surround eternity, I've only noticed in the last 6 months or so that I've begun to think about it without feeling the need to swipe an Ativan from someone. And the last six months, I've been more into my faith than I ever have. Delving into my faith has brought me some peace on the issue, which was much needed. When my mind tries to jump on the fear train, I just tell myself "If you like Earth THIS much, and you wish life here would never end, and it is beyond flawed, imagine what you will feel about Heaven." Then I try to imagine what it might be like, and I imagine getting to see all kinds of natural wonders that I wasn't able to see in this life, and that helps, too. (I also imagine cats and flower fields and ice cream... come on God, make it happen.) This is not to say that the feelings don't creep in, but I'm able to use my faith and the knowledge I have to calm myself. I've seen a LOT of good things come from digging more deeply into my faith and incorporating it into my every day life, but this has been one of the best 'side effects'. I was so tired of living in fear of the concept of Eternity. My google search has many less hits for "promises about heaven", "scripture about heaven", "what does God say about heaven", and "what do we do for eternity?", so that's progress, right?

Do you get freaked out by death and/or eternity? What things make you feel better? Do you just avoid thinking about it all together? Did I just ruin your day by making you think about it?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Going to the Cathedral and we're going to get married!

After the photographer got her final shots in the room and we got the call that the limo was there, we were ready to go. When the front desk called to say the limo had arrived, I immediately got butterflies because it was TIME! When we walked down the hall towards the lobby, people saw me coming and stopped where they were so we could come down the hall and pass them. It was such a crazy feeling to have strangers see me leaving for my wedding. It made me feel shy and excited all at the same time!

When we got outside, my brother and his girlfriend (well fiance, but that is a story for a different day!) were hanging out at the front of the limo. I think I said hey to him, but I couldn't go near him because I felt emotional when I saw him and didn't want to cry! So I sort of ignored him (oops) and gathered with the girls beside the limo for a few pictures. People kept honking and a few yelled when they passed by and it was another one of those "oh my gosh, people I don't even know are excited about my wedding!!!!" moments.

The girls all got in the car and then I backed in lol. It was sort of hard getting in and out with the dress. When we were on the way to the church (about a 10 minute drive), I got really excited about being in the limo. I thought I wouldn't even be able to absorb it, but I actually really enjoyed being with my bridal party in a fancy limo. It made me feel like a million bucks. I'm glad I had never been in one for prom, because I think it would have made it less exciting. When we got to the church, I saw a few friends from high school outside the church and had a "oh my gosh, I see out of state guests arriving for our wedding!!!!" moment. We had to wait for a few minutes in the limo while the photographer went to see where my groom was. I saw him at one point and my bridesmaids sort of freaked out, but I actually really liked it. I just didn't want him to see me, but I loved seeing him. It was a feeling of  "there is the man I'm about to marry!" and it really made me feel calm. She came back out and got us, and we walked to the church. I got to smile at my high school friends, which was a sweet little moment. When we got inside, I was super calm. We did all the family pictures and bridesmaids pictures, and I actually really enjoyed the process. It was another moment that I was surprised I was able to absorb, and I had way more fun with it than I thought I would. One part that had me laughing was that my photographer asked me to sit down, and I was a little nervous about my white dress, so she swiped the floor with her butt before I sat down. Now that is dedication to the job!

I was really excited to see the altar flowers (though I never got to REALLY look at them, and there aren't any close up pictures of them which is a little sad), and saw that the Easter lilies were still out. We also had pew bows on the first two rows. The church was just so gorgeous. At some point, one of the wedding committee ladies came in and told us to finish up because guests were getting antsy, so we did a few last shots and then at around 1:30 (I think), they hid me in the little room that's a stairwell to the choir loft. It has a window in the door so I kept peeking out to see guests and family. They put Rachel in there with me because I didn't want to be alone!

I love this picture! I was to the right, hiding. I love Rachel's expression here, and there are my in-laws right outside the window, with my dad off to the far right.

A few minutes later I realized that we had never done the only picture I had requested- the one with us on either side of the door. So they had to get Steven and put us back to back around the door to the choir loft, because otherwise I would be out where all the guests were. It turned out to be one of the best pictures, in my opinion, and holding his hand for a few seconds was SO nice. We kept squeezing each other's hands, and I could feel us saying a million things to each other through those squeezes. It was a moment shared with a lot of people (bridal party and our parents), which was different than how I thought it would go, but I think they all really loved sharing it with us.

Buttercup was officially at my wedding in that scratch you see on my hand.

After I went back into hiding, I heard the cantor practicing Ave Maria and got a little emotional, because that song just does that to me, and because I really didn't know if I would get to have it sung at my wedding or not. (It got me choked up again when I heard her singing it for real later, during the seating of the family, because it was so beautiful and because I knew I was moments away from getting married!) Rachel and I talked a bit, and she stole a bulletin for the next day for me (thanks, MOH!) since it had our names in it for donating our altar flowers for the masses that weekend. Then it hit me... the videographer wasn't there! I would know, because he would have to pass me to get to the choir loft, where he had to shoot from. I sent Rachel out to ask about it and she came back saying that they were trying to get a hold of him.

Me hiding out and yapping to Rachel.

 I later found out that there was much panic and flurry because the coordinator called him and he had driven to Oxford, about an hour away from Raleigh, by accident. I mean... GPS, mapquest... REALLY? The coordinator and our photographer were calling everyone they could think of, but no one could get there in time. The coordinator talked to my dad and Steven and everyone agreed it was best not to share all the details with me. They did end up getting someone there for the reception, and my sweet photogpraher and coordinator took video with their cell phones from the loft so we would have something. Does it matter that he didn't show (and that he said he was heading home instead of coming to do the reception because he was tired from driving...)? No, it really doesn't. But we got the videographer in the first place for the wedding, and having him at the reception was just a bonus, and it's obviously something we can never get back. I took it like a champ, though. I knew we were getting married, videographer or not, and wasn't going to let ANYthing ruin the day. I just told them that if he arrived (they knew he wouldn't but smartly didn't tell me that) to make sure they mic'ed Steven who was out in the limo. Then Rachel and I went back to our waiting. At some point, Steven's mom peeked in and I made her come in and give me a hug. Then I did some more peeking out and fanned myself so I wouldn't be shiny before the wedding! Rachel did a good job of talking to me and keeping my mind busy, because I felt pretty calm.

The deacon also came in at one point to check on me, which was really cute. He was wearing this super fancy cope and told me Steven had picked it out. I laughed, thinking he was joking, because it is totally something Steven would have picked out. But he told me, no, he was being serious lol! He said he had taken Steven and the best man, Rob, back and given them a whole history lesson on what priests and deacons wear, and that he could either wear something really simple, or the cope, and Steven chose the cope. I thought it was super cute that he let Steven pick! Then he went out to introduce himself to my dad, since he hadn't been at the rehearsal, and by that point, I think, we just had a few minutes to go before show time!

Ok, this has gotten very long, so you will just have to wait to hear about the walk down the aisle :). On a side note, today we have been married one month, which I can't believe! How in the world has it been a month already???!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bridal party slumber party & Wedding morning!

When we got back to the hotel, I wanted to make an appearance at the bar where my parents were hanging out with some out of town relatives that I don't get to see much. So I went down from about 9-9:30 and got lots of hugs, kisses, and well wishes. I headed back up at 9:30 and Rachel had set up about every snack I love from Trader Joe's and a bunch of board games (I'm a huge fan of board games, if you didn't know!). The only problem was, I was SO full from the rehearsal dinner and a little antsy and couldn't eat much. Then we started to play board games, but my brain just couldn't think or focus! Then... I got really tired and wanted to cash in on that because I had feared I wouldn't be able to sleep at all. So, I was a bit of a party pooper but my girls were very understanding, which I appreciated.

 My expression is "Oh my God, please stop making me use my brain. It hurts!"

 I don't think I ever told my sister how amazing the set up was, but Rachel, it was AWESOME. Let's re-create it one day when I'm not a bundle of nerves, because it totally had that 12 year old sleepover feel that I love! Jill and Jessica were spending the night with me, so after Rachel and Jennifer left, we realized we had forgotten various items (me toothpaste, someone a razor, and I think something else, too), so we had to go to the front desk and get those. Then we got in bed and talked for probably an hour because, as sleepy as I was, my mind was having trouble turning off. I knew once I woke up, I would be up, so I just hoped I could get a good few hours in before that happened, and I did! I think we fell asleep around midnight, and I woke up about 5:30. Pretty good for the night before the wedding!

These are a few of my favorite things!

I went ahead and got showered, because I had early morning breakfast plans with my groom. I knew seeing each other that morning and having a quiet moment together would be an awesome start to our wedding day. Thankfully, I texted him at some point because my ever attentive groom had fallen asleep after his alarm went off. It would have been the worst bridezilla moment ever had he not shown up to breakfast lol! He picked me up I think around 7ish because I had to be back to the hotel for hair and makeup around 8:30. We went to Cafe Carolina, which is a local place that we go a lot for dinner when we go to 5pm mass, so it felt fitting to go before our wedding. I was a bundle of nerves- not about getting married but about everything going right, and all the details involved in the day. Steven, much to my surprise, was as cool as a cucumber! I barely got two spoonfuls of yogurt down and he was throwing back ham and cheese biscuits left and right. It definitely helped me that he was so normal! We sat side by side in the booth, enjoying each other and the mostly empty restaurant. We took a not so flattering "last unmarried picture" too :). When he dropped me off, we exchanged letters. We had decided to do this instead of gifts, because we knew it would mean more to us in the long run, and we simply didn't have it in the budget for gifts. I read mine before the rest of the girls came to the room and of course sobbed. I actually did really good until I got to the end of this letter and there was a sentence that just made me lose it!

After that, the rest of the bridesmaids and my mom came to the room. Shortly after, Maisha, the coordinators assistant whose job was to take care of me, and the hair and makeup ladies arrived. Maisha talked up a storm the entire morning, which I'm sure thoroughly annoyed everyone else, but was exactly what I didn't know I needed. It kept me calm and kept my mind busy. We all got pampered and a little while later, Steven dropped off breakfast trays so we would have stuff to snack on throughout the morning, which my amazing sister in law carted up to the room so Steven wouldn't see my makeup, veil, dress laying out, etc. She also hung my dress up on the window, moved it to the other window, took it back down, hung it back up... you get the idea. We had to keep moving it due to hairspray, pictures, needing to put it on, etc. and she was crazy helpful all morning. People took turns encouraging me to eat a bite here or there, and we all talked while everyone was getting ready. Hair and makeup were there from about 8:45 until 11:30 or so and then headed out after putting my veil in.

Whole Foods breakfast tray= amazingness

A few minutes later, I got a call from the front desk that the photographer was there. I got so excited and stood at the door with it open waiting on her to walk in. I love, love, love our photographers and knew once she was there, I could get my dress on! Maisha, in the mean time, was packing everything up and seriously made the room spotless. She hid all our luggage, threw away all the trash, got the hotel to put a fridge in the room (!) for our leftovers so we would have something to snack on that night .... she was amazing. Melissa, the photographer, came in and took pictures of the dress, jewelry, and shoes, and then told me I could start getting ready. I got dressed by stepping in because I was paranoid about my hair, and the girls did such an amazing job getting me dressed! I just stood there and let it all happen because I couldn't totally function to help lol. Mom started telling me how pretty I was, and I cried (for about the fourth time that morning... I seemed to cry about once an hour, and then didn't cry a single time during the wedding!).

When I was dressed, I stepped back into the main room and showed my dad. Then Rachel started putting my jewelry on me, which has become such a sweet memory. I was jittery and overwhelmed, so she took my earrings and started putting them in for me. The girls finished getting my jewelry on and then put on my garter. Melissa took a few pictures and then announced it was time to go. My mind was like "IT'S TIME TO GO TO MY WEDDING!!!! MY WEDDING!!!!" It was pure awesomeness.

Friday, May 11, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
I'm happy to announce that life has FINALLY calmed down, almost a month after the wedding. This week has seemed much more like the 'normal' life that we haven't experienced in a long time. We have had a lot more of that newlywed bliss, just by being together and enjoying the evenings together, rather than running around like crazy getting a million things done. Steven has been off every night this week, which has been awesome. We did a half cleaning Monday (bathrooms, kitchens, floors only) just to allow us some extra time to just be! We have read, laid around watching tv, spent time just talking, gone for a walk in the nice weather, and spent time cuddling with the kitty (who has been SUPER cuddly lately).

--- 2 ---
Speaking of the kitty, they have no clue what was wrong with her, but spending the night in the hospital with an IV, appetite stimulant, and critical care food seemed to do the trick. She came home with 12 days of three medicines, which we have become pros at giving, after a few tragic drooling-out-the-med experiences. She is only about 5.5 lb to start with and got down to 5lbs just by not eating for a few days, so I'm hoping the appetite stimulant gets her up to at least 6. She is eating like a horse. I don't ever want her to get that sick again. Now that she's 10, I think every symptom scares me a little more... she's not a young kitty anymore. The only current problem is that when she was sick, she had a potty accident (or 4) on the guest bed. Well, once a cat can smell their pee somewhere, they keep peeing there because the smell is comforting to them (I know, gross, right?). So... now we have to keep her out of that room and no matter how much I douse the mattress with enzyme stuff, we can't smell it but apparently SHE can. Looks like we might just have to get a new guest bed mattress because I hate having to keep the door closed all the time.

--- 3 ---
Did I share with you that we are under contract for a house?! I'm not sharing it on facebook yet, but all the real life people who read my blog already know (as do my Cathsorority sisters who have prayed like crazy for us during this process). We need to get the inspection done, but the house was built in 2006 so we are really hoping and praying that nothing is wrong with it. It's a short sale, which we have avoided like the plague, but she took us to see this one because they promised to get back with us for negotiations within 72 hours. We put the offer in on Friday and they had countered by Friday night. We accepted on Saturday, and got our signed contract on Monday. Closing is planned for June 11th so it will go fast! We are hoping there are no catches or snags, because we love this house. We wouldn't be able to afford the neighborhood otherwise, and we love the area. When we get closer to closing, and more confident that it's a done deal, I'll do a quick takes post dedicated to the house and the area we'll be in. Let me just say that I almost peed my pants when I saw how many parks are close by (4 within a mile and that was without looking hard). Inspection is Wednesday so prayers are appreciated!

--- 4 ---
Oh, you want to see a picture? I was sold at "front porch". For some reason, having a front porch isn't in our price range. I never knew! And I have always dreamed of having one, so you can imagine my excitement when we pulled up to the house!

--- 5 ---
This weekend we are going to see The Avengers. Save me? We super rarely go see movies in the 'real' theater, but Steven is dying to see it. I want popcorn, so seeing the movie is the price I must pay. We are also meeting with our NFP instructor for the first time in like two months. I'm excited because I've seen the doctor so many times since the last time I saw her and I want to fill her in on the progesterone injections, etc. And I want to graduate to new post peak rules. YAY.

--- 6 ---
Is there anything you do nightly with your spouse like rosary, devotional, etc? Our thing has been the daily readings, meditation, and saint of the day but... we've both felt lately like we are just going through the motions with it. I feel a bit guilty saying/thinking that we need to mix it up, but that's what we decided to do. We're going to print out the 'read the bible in one year' schedule and rotate what we do... like two nights a week read a section from that list (so obviously we won't finish it in a year but we will know that we've read it all once we are done), do a devotional two other nights, rosary one night, saint bio one night, etc. I think mixing it up will be fun.

--- 7 ---
I'm sort of out of things to say (shocking, I know) sooo.... a bridal portrait! I completely forgot about them after the wedding, since I had them hidden before the wedding!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rehearsal & Rehearsal Dinner

After our bachelorette spa day, Jill, Jessica, and I headed back to my apartment (where they had stayed with me the night before) and got all our stuff in the car. It was CRAZY trying to make sure I had everything I would need for more than a week! I knew Steven could bring me anything I forgot, but he had a wedding day to-do list so I wanted to make sure I remembered everything. The car was packed to the gills, but I had it all! We headed to the church, and I was really nervous! It was awkward when we first got there because everyone was there but Steven and his groomsmen. I didn't know if I should be talking to my family, his family, or my bridesmaids and of course they were sort of all in separate groups. Luckily the boys showed up about 10 minutes later and everyone chit chatted a little as we waited for the rehearsal before us to end.

 When it was our turn to go in, I was nervous that I would forget a lot of things and be clueless on the wedding day, but I absorbed it pretty well. The wedding committee wasn't super helpful, which is weird since they do 1-2 weddings a week all year except Lent! She kept saying the deacon might do this or might do that... he might say this or might say that.... and I wanted to scream and tell her that if these are my cues, I would like a little more specific information! The groomsmen were chatty and making way more jokes than I liked. I felt like the girls were the only ones listening. I was a stressed out bride! It did go pretty well though, and I was relieved when it was over because it didn't sound like anything I couldn't handle  (walk down the aisle, stand, sit, stand, walk back down the aisle). I did have a bit of a freak out moment because after the wedding committee said they were done, Steven went and talked to his guys. But then the committee members came to me asking me questions and giving me more information and I really wanted Steven there with me! He was in the entry way and I was all the way up by the altar. I was begging in my head for him to turn around so I could motion him over. When we got outside and were walking to the cars (the girls were riding together and the boys riding separately) I started crying. I think I was just overwhelmed and didn't like not having Steven right there with me during wedding related stuff. Luckily my girls got me back and track, and I sent Steven a quick text to let him know I needed him to be extra attentive to me, which he completely was the rest of the evening. It's a hard balance when you have SO many people there all for you.

When we got to the restaurant, Tir Na Nog, we were seated in the Cottage Room, which on the outside looks just like an Irish cottage. The inside is all dark, mismatched wood chairs and tables, deep red walls, a fireplace, and art work. It's funky, which we liked. Neither of us are Irish (ok I have like a drop), but we liked the feel of the room, the food was good, the price was right, AND they use all local produce which made us really happy. It was a bit weird at the beginning because the restaurant was quiet and our hodge podge group had a hard time getting going. But about 10-15 minutes in the music started (which wasn't any of our 'styles' but was really fun), and everyone started loosening up and having a good time.

Steven and I enjoyed ourselves more than I thought we would, and my dad schmoozed with the groomsmen which I thought was hilarious. The food was cottage pie, roast chicken, mixed vegetables, and um... some other stuff I forgot. Attendees, help a girl out. Anyway, it was really good! The lady who owns the place decorated and did the groom's cake. She did an NC State themed cake since that's where Steven went, so all the flowers were red and white themed and she even had State napkins. She did SUCH a good job!

I liked that it felt like Steven since, let's face it, a lot of the wedding felt like me. We practiced cake cutting with the groom's cake, and then ate like crazy because it was super delicious. We called it a night kind of early because Steven's parents had to drive back to Oxford and we were going to see some out of town family at the hotel bar. Next up.... bridesmaid slumber party post- possibly combined with the morning of the wedding :).