Countdown to Nuptials: EXACTLY 8 months!!

September 29, 2009

As mentioned previously, since becoming engaged in February we have put our money down and then changed our minds on two different venues for our wedding & reception next year.  Our second choice was actually “The Perfect Place”, but due to economic constraints it just wasn’t responsible for us to go through with all the costs.  Once I cancelled our reservation with Norlyn Manor, I went back to the drawing board completely on all wedding ideas conceived so far.

I decided to ask my aunt and uncle if we could have the festivities at their house.  They built their house in the mid-90’s with the entire theme being of a laid back entertainment atmosphere.  They’ve got several acres with a pond and a large house, plenty of parking, and they know how to do the whole “entertainment/wedding” thing in style.  My aunt has tres experience catering and planning weddings, and is an excellent resource for common sense tips.

It seemed to me that the best time to ask Aunt Donna for permission to invade upon her home for a weekend would be AFTER my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower that was held at (duh) my aunt’s house, of course.  Nervously, I hemmed and hawed while waiting for the guests to say their good-byes and head home.  Finally, when all that remained was my father and the City Boy, I threw out the request.

Instantly, we went into planning mode.  “What is your menu?” she wanted to know.  Then, the barrage of questions that followed; then, the suggestions including where we could rent tents & chairs, and she totally shot down my flower idea.  The conversation lasted quite a while but I was so glad to be finally talking about these things – out loud.  With someone who has a good idea how things typically go!  It was forcing us to make decisions (or at least begin thinking about some details).  I love my Aunt Donna.  She’s so generous, a hard worker, wonderful entertainer, and definitely has the attitude of “let’s get this shit done!”   

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So, by the time we left her house that day we had decided that the wedding & reception would be held at her house, with a cocktail hour before the ceremony to allow guests just a little longer to meet and mingle.  Aunt Donna and my father apparently have a good hook-up with regard to the table, chair & tent rental so that takes a load off as well.

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It feels so good to have some ideas out there.  Knowing that my aunt has experience dealing with weddings and vendors and what to expect just adds a whole level of confidence to my planning.  Not that I plan to lean on her for much – because I don’t.  But when I want to bounce some ideas she will definitely be on the list of people to call first.

So, our venue costs have gone from $2,000 to $13,000 down to $0 in a matter of 4 months.  It’s been stressful and exhausting, but definitely well worth the trouble.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Next on the wedding preparations list:

  • Send the DJ our deposit
  • Send the reverend our deposit
  • Setup hotel rooms in the area for traveling guests (there’s a whole boat load of them – well, not “literally” a boat load; they’ll probably travel by air or car)
  • Finalize brides maid dresses and groomsman attire
  • Create and send out Save The Date cards by Halloween
  • Start working on playlist for the reception.

Also, we intend on writing our own wedding vows.  If you have any tips on that experience, please share them.  I’m nervous.  Do they need to be of a specific theme?  Should we write them TOGETHER?  Or surprise each other with them (like they always do on television). 

Hell, I guess if you’ve got tips concerning ANYTHING at all, share.  Share Share Share!


Possessiveness

September 25, 2009

Calling all people who have “moved away” … please tell me if you ever do this.  Or, am I once again “the cheese that stands alone”?

I am from Northern Kentucky (the greater Cincinnati area) and live 910 miles away in Florida.  Since living so far away, whenever I overhear people talking about anything relating to Kentucky or Cincinnati I have the strongest urge to burst into their conversation just to say, “Hey!  I know THAT!” or “No, no, no.  You’ve got it all wrong”, or “Jerry Springer?!  Did you know he was the mayor of Cincinnati?  Did you know he got the boot for soliciting a prostitute? And that his show actually originated in Cincinnati and started out as a very calm, Oprah-esque experience?”  Of course, I usually just bite my tongue and squirm in my office seat instead.

Or, when I’m driving down the road and see a Kentucky license plate pass me, I always (if legally possible) speed up to get a look at which county the car is registered to.  Why do I do this?  Because, honestly, even when the car IS traveling from my home county what am I going to do?  Honk my horn like an idiot, knowing full well that the driver will have NO IDEA what I’m up to?  I’ve thought about putting a KY bumper sticker on my car just so KY passersby will understand why it looks like I’m stalking them on the road.  I do this also when anyone has a University of Kentucky sticker on their vehicle.

Maybe it’s the fact that I feel so unrepresented down here.  Or that I still feel so very “Kentuckian” despite that I’ve lived here most of my adult life.  For example, I hate wearing shoes!  Around the house, in my car especially.  When I go outside to check the mail, let the dogs in the backyard you better believe I won’t be wearing shoes.  So many people have issues with walking outside with nothing on their feet, but me?  I LOVE it! 

It seems that 95% of the Florida population are transplants from other places.  New York is a big contributor to our population, as well as Texas, New Jersey, Minnesota, Chicago, Connecticut, etc.  I’ve yet to come across someone from Cincinnati.  Sure, I’ve met some Louisville’ians and I know some people who have relatives in the Cincy area, but none that actually have taken the plunge to move HERE.  Why the heck is that?

And why does it make me feel so alone?  Share with me.  Am I alone in this?


Getting A Grip

September 23, 2009

I’ve always been a list maker.  My date book & purse and kitchen table, and cubicle surface is usually sporting at least 3 lists, whether they be grocery lists, daily to-do lists, or more specific lists, like, Wedding Tasks or Remodeling Projects.  And, because I can’t stand to see a list with a bunch of cross marks through it, and the inevitable doodling if left on the counter for too long, I usually update, revise and re-work my lists on a somewhat regular basis.  I also keep a perpetual financial spreadsheet on my flash drive that is updated daily.  I like to see NOW what disciplined spending can look like LATER.  It’s awesome when you have clarity of what is going on, you know?

Since life became so chaotic this year (financial changes, businesses started, succeeded, some failed, some stalled, and some are about to awaken) I found myself in a new ballgame.  On a field I always hoped I could avoid playing on; I suddenly was sporting a glove at short stop and anticipating the line drives.  I remember calling my mom on a Sunday afternoon a few months ago.  It was meant to be a typical “How are you” conversation, but something clicked in my head and I couldn’t contain my tears.  She understood, but told me that I needed to learn to just “roll with it”.  She told me that I can’t control everything.  That I needed to just leave my spreadsheets alone for awhile because it’s only going to further my frustration seeing in Black and White the startling reality that I can’t “plan” my way out of a recession.  It sounded like an OK idea, but I never thought for a moment that I could follow through with it.  And, I was right.  I haven’t given up on my spreadsheets … I’ve just found myself revising them on a daily basis because Life. Keeps.  Hitting. Me. In. The Face. 

But I have taken a severe detour on my lists.  And, if I were honest, I’d tell you that living without lists hasn’t been as bad as I expected.  I still manage to know what I need to do each day (even if I have repetitively forgotten some tasks), and the dogs have been fed each day, the laundry is still getting done.  The basics of life I can handle without the lists.  So, that’s the good news.  The bad news?  Is that every other category of life does NOT get done in the absence of lists.

I  just sat down to get some clarity on all I need to get done, and I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I am at the thought of it.  Business tasks, wedding tasks, travel tasks, my brother’s wedding tasks, Transformation Challenge tasks, etc.  However, I know that once I get this incredibly long and categorized list completed I will have a clear cut plan on getting things done, which will make things so much easier.  Shew.  It’s just a matter of doing it.

Basically, what I’ve learned here is that while I have tried (no, TRIED) to “roll with it” some more, I know that I just can’t (no, CAN’T).  It’s not who I am.  I have so much I want to get done, and I know that once I give in to the “life happens.  Just roll with it” mentality, I’ll end up nowhere, accomplishing nothing. 

So, tell me how you try to keep a handle on all that is going on?  Do you keep lists?  Let your Outlook calendar rule the agenda?  Go with the flow?  Let’s share, People!


My Beast of Burden

September 23, 2009

Lexi Girl has grown quite a bit since we brought her home August 2nd.  She is exactly 16 weeks old today.

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RELAXED ...

I found Lexi slumbering on her blanket yesterday.  She was in good spirits, and allowed a brief photo shoot.

CONFUSED ...

CONFUSED ...

Or, my personal favorite …

DIGNIFIED!

DIGNIFIED!

It’s so hard to accept that she is growing older and bigger … and louder, with sharper teeth and bass’ier barks.  With a massive attitude and big paws, and a mouth big enough to put Pieter’s head in — she’s tested that theory. 

This week has been a real challenge with her, but Stacy reminded me yesterday that she’s still just a puppy.  So, I’ll just need to KEEP reminding myself of that for the next 2 months.

Remember this?

DAY ONE.

DAY ONE.


I Know Why The Caged Dog Poops

September 21, 2009

I didn’t go to work on Thursday or Friday.  I spent the largest portion of yesterday in bed, and I wouldn’t have come into the office today either if it weren’t for the fact my only other option would be to spend the entire day at home with the dogs.  It’s amazing to me that my aversion to them right now is that strong.  And, actually, let’s be fair.  It isn’t really the dogs (plural) that I want to hide away from.  It’s from the puppy.  Uno.  Singular.  It is she that drives me crazy and tests my patience (I fail every time).  It isn’t that she’s a perpetual terror.  She really isn’t.  She’s just so very trying and manipulative.  Diabolical, even.

Last Sunday started off as a great day.  It was the first Sunday of football and the City Boy and I were all geared up to watch a few games together.  I was sprawled out on the couch, with Lexi at my feet on the farthest cushion and Pieter was curled up next to my belly.  It was so comfortable!  A few times I sighed a sigh of contentment.  “Look Honey!”  I said to the City Boy.  “Isn’t it great that these two are laying on the couch together and no one is getting chewed on?”

Not too much later, I was playing tug of war with the dogs.  Then it was a game of chase, around and around the couch in the living room.  Lexi stole a chew toy from my hand, ran and jumped up on the couch cushion to get away from Pieter who was close on her heels.  I smiled and started in her direction to pull the chew toy out of her mouth.  It was at this very moment that time stood still.

I could see the laughter glinting in her eyes.  As if she were saying to Pieter, “Na Na Na Na Boo Boo!  You can’t get me or this slobbered on squirrel toy in my mouth!  HA!”

But, then suddenly.  I saw a light bulb go off over her head.  She suddenly squatted and pee’ed ALL OVER MY COUCH CUSHION!!!

“NNNNnnnOooooooo!”

I threw her outside and immediately tried to catch the run off from the couch.  Luckily, she only hit one cushion.  Also, double-luckily, my couch has Teflon micro-suede to counter the efforts of pissing animals trying to destruct my home. So, the cushion got a good spraying and thorough cleansing on Sunday.  Followed by drying in the sun and a dousing of Febreze.  You can’t tell anything ever happened.

Three days later, I was at work.  The City Boy was at home, getting ready to head to work.  I suddenly received a text message stating that she had pee’ed on the ottoman.  He was asking for instructions on cleaning it.

Once again, she tried to destruct but our quick reflexes and super sturdy upholstery were too strong and fast for her to beat us.  Instead, the City Boy did the best he could cleaning it (I followed up that night with a thorough scrubbing), let it dry for a day then took the Febreze to it.  Good as new.

However, there is a new rule in the house.  No Lexi on the furniture!  She had her one day of freedom to explore the couch territories but couldn’t handle the vast responsibility.  Therefore, she is to be banished to the floor from now on.  It was her choice and she made it loud & clear.

Fast forward again from last Wednesday to yesterday morning.  After a late night, the Lexi pup begins her usual cries to be released from her kennel around 6 am.  Groggily I sit up in bed and mumble something about hating the dog.  I reach for the bedroom door knob and once I turned the knob and stepped into the hallway, a stench so horrible and rancid smacked me upside the face.  “Oh no”, I thought. “I bet this is bad.”

Oh yes!  It was very bad.  There was poop everywhere in her kennel.  Her little kennel towel?  Was destroyed.  I refused to even wash it.  It went straight into the trash.  Twenty minutes later, the crate was clean, she was clean and all smelly remnants of her accident were now the Osceola County Waste Department’s problem. 

I don’t know about you, but starting my day cleaning up dog shit usually doesn’t set the right tone.  I was sick all day yesterday (not because of the feces, but it probably didn’t help my mood any).  I slept from 11 am to 7:30pm.  At 10pm last night I took a sleeping pill so I could continue my sleeping until this morning.  It was great!

Again, around 6:12 this morning, Lexi began her daily alarm duties.  I got up and walked into the hallway – no stench.  Sigh of relief.  Walk downstairs, already in a semi-decent mood.  Flip on the kitchen light to say hello to the puppy and …. Poop!  Again!  Another towel into the trash, another scrubbing of the crate, another morning sabotaged.   Only this time, she had finally broken me.  I cried as I cleaned up the crap.  I cried as I yelled about it to the City Boy.  I cried in the shower.  While getting dressed for work.  Before walking out the door, the City Boy told me he was going to bake me some chicken today so I would have something to eat for dinner tonight.  I cried some more.

To put it in a nutshell I’m nothing more than a crying cry-ball of a cry baby today.  I blame the dog.  When I get home tonight she is getting the longest walk of her life!!  She will be asleep and in bed by 9 o’clock, so help me God!  Why is she doing this?


It’s Not Ideal, but I Have to Say “It’s OK”

September 17, 2009

When I hear words like “recession” or “falling economy” or “tough times” I think of sacrifices.  People who have taken up a second or third job to continue paying their bills.  People who have had to re-route their entire career objective in order to overcome the hurdles currently obstructing their way.  Buying generic peanut butter instead of JIF (we all know that generic peanut butter just plain sucks.  I don’t know why, but it does), adjusting our thermostats to bear just a little MORE discomfort during our waking hours at home, cutting back on impulse buys, holding on a little tighter to our cash as it’s deposited into the offering plate each Sunday (I’m speaking hypothetically on this one.  I don’t attend a church, so therefore am not tithing … maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that?)

Anyway, you get the drift.

I’m not going to list of the injustices and sacrifices we’ve made over the past year, but I will tell you that due to the current economic climate, the City Boy has just started a new job which will have him at work from 3pm to midnight 5 days a week (including Saturday).  I’m a pretty independent chick, so I’m not overly concerned about being lonely or scared in the house by myself at night.  I just worry about not getting to hang out with my best friend.  And I’ll worry about him driving after midnight on the highway.  I’m certainly not going to beg him to quit or give him a hard time about it.  We need the money, and it’s only temporary, and I know we can survive a tough schedule for crying out loud.  I’m just sad now for the “future me” who will be spending countless nights alone with the dogs watching reruns of Law & Order.

However, there is an upside to this!  I told myself months ago that I was on a “working-out/dieting/caring-about-fitness-period” freeze until the CB started a decent job.  With all the stress of weddings & moving & finances, I wasn’t going to let myself stress about how many calories I had burned that day as well.  Besides, we couldn’t really afford to EAT right, so why bother on the other stuff?  All or nothing … that’s my philosophy.  Anyway, due to him starting this job on Monday, I’ve been actually thinking and planning and getting back into the old frame of mind, and I must say.  I like it.

I joined a networking group called Fit & Social Orlando.  They have meet-ups all over Orlando throughout the week … different things like Pilates, or Yoga, or Running or boot camps.  They are participating in all the local 5K runs (there are a ba-zillion in the area throughout the year) and bike rides, etc.  I think this will be good for me while the City Boy is working.  It will allow me to get back into moving my ass, and who knows?  It may even help me meet a friend or two?!  So, the first event I’m participating in is a 5K on the 26th.  CB is going to run it with me, although I’m sure he will kick my ass.  On Monday, I ran about 1.5 miles, and the same yesterday.  Today I’m going to the gym at our neighborhood recreation center to take care of some leg workouts.  I’ll run with the puppy in the evenings (she NEEDS it) and hit the gym 4 days per week.  I can’t wait to see some muscle again.  I want my body back from last year!!

In addition to keeping fit, not having the City Boy home in the evenings means I have no excuse not to get Lexi in tip top shape, training wise.  All I need is some peace & quiet and her attention.  So, I think that after a run each night she will be more receptive to learning how we want her to behave.  Any tips or advise will be much appreciated by the way.

I plan to use some of this time to plan our wedding and do more writing.  And there should be no reason why my house isn’t clean everyday.  Actually, this little lifestyle sounds really great.  And all of this would all be so wonderful … but there’ll still be a gaping hole in daily life without the City Boy to flash me that smile when I’m frustrated, or put the moves on me when I least expect it.  No more coming home in the evenings to a bubble bath already ran and candles twinkling in the bathroom to the musical stylings of the Cranberries or Mariah Carey or Luther Vandross. 

I am now the single parent … with shared custody of two spoiled rotten “kids”.  Thank God for text messaging!!

So, the sacrificing will continue as long as the news continues to report 500K new unemployment claims each week.  The City Boy will work whatever hours he is asked to, our thermostat will continue to be knocked down just a little more and a little more, and I don’t see name brand peanut butter being a staple in the house for a long time to come.  But the important things we will not sacrifice … our health, our happiness, our love for each other … and my new bottles of Tousle Me Softly hair products.  That’s where I draw the line.


… With What God Gave You

September 16, 2009

Let’s talk about wedding stuff, shall we?  As you know, we spent our Labor Day weekend in Kentucky earlier this month.  It was an obligatory trip in order to attend my future sister-in-law’s bachelorette party and bridal shower.  Plus, we wanted to see the new baby and we wanted to get our Engagement Photos shot.  So, we crammed in a bunch of visiting and the above mentioned tasks into 2 days.  It was a blast!

I really don’t know much about photographers.  I know that I truly appreciate good quality photography, but have tried to create it myself and fail miserably every time.  Also, when we first got engaged and I started frugally completing our wedding budget, I was so naïve about the costs of photographers.  I thought we could secure a good package for $400.  I know!  Talk about embarrassing.  When I mentioned this, I thought my sister was going to slap me clear across the face.  “Of all the things in your wedding, you HAVE to spend money on your pictures!”  Then my mom chimed in, “When it’s all said & done, all you’ll have is those pictures.  Nothing else about the day will matter.  Spend the money!”

So, I determined that the going rate in Cincinnati was about $3,000 – $3,500.  Gulp.

My brother went to school with a girl who is a photographer, and an amazing one at that!  Check her out here.  She actually just relocated to Phoenix, but will travel anywhere.  I started talking to her about shooting our wedding, but she was in the middle of the move so I told her to just catch back up with me when she can.  After all, I thought we had plenty of time to discuss the details.  Little did I know that as soon as I would tell her “we’ll get to it when we get to it”, I found an amazing deal!  God bless Craigslist!

Leroux Visual.  It’s a husband & wife team.  I did a little perusing around their sight, their gallery, checked out what Google had to say about them.  All signs pointed to “go!” but their pricing was SO reasonable.  Almost TOO reasonable, if you know what I mean.  But, I had confidence based on what I had seen of their work, so we went in for the best packages for both photography AND videography, and you know what?  It’s STILL cheaper than the going rate of $3,500 for photography!  I know!  I’m so glad I found them. And, because they are handling both aspects of the “capture”, they can incorporate our photos into the video footage and disk extras.

Our photo package included an Engagement Session.  So, we scheduled it for our Labor Day trip. 

I received the CD of photos in the mail yesterday.  Very anxiously, I opened the envelope and saw a cute graphic with one of our pictures on the label.  I held my breath as I inserted the CD into my laptop.  The first photo?  UGLY!  The second photo? More UGLY!  By the third photo I was starting to wonder if it’s possible to BECOME a person with Down Syndrome through the aging process because, if you ask me, that is exactly how I looked.  I had never felt so ugly in my entire life!  This wasn’t an issue of bad photography.  In fact, I truly liked the way the pictures looked … it was just that ugly chick in them that I despised!  The City Boy was at work, so I sent him a text: “U r marrying a very ugly chick u know.  I’m looking at our engagement pics.  U r hot (of course) but I’m hideous!”  He responded with, “Whatever.  You’re gorgeous!”  Then, I called my sister sobbing into the phone, “I’m getting uglier and uglier!!  My eyes are drooping off the side of my face!  I look like I have Down Syndrome!”  She laughed at me, but then suggested maybe we get more pictures taken.  She obviously didn’t understand. 

“You don’t understand”, I said.  “The problem is not the lighting, the photography, the colors!  It’s the subject!  No matter who takes my picture, they still will be working with an UGLY subject!” More crying.  Honestly, I don’t know what came over me.  I’m not usually very emotional … especially over things like this.  But, damn it.  I was very upset last night.  She suggested that I email a few of the pictures to her to review, and I agreed.  By the end of our conversation, I was already approaching the second loop of pictures.

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Maybe it was the wonders of being calmed down by a sister from 910 miles away, or maybe my vision was blurred by all the tears, but when I saw the pictures for the second time, they really weren’t that bad.  Sure, there were a few that made me want to stab myself in the crooked face, but I just quickly moved past those to the ones that weren’t so bad. 

EDITED TO ADD: In the event that someone may have stumbled upon my site in effort to research references for LeRoux Visual, please don’t let my whining about my pictures let you think for one second that I’m not pleased with the work that was done.  I think he did an amazing job with the lighting (which was a challenge due to all the direct sunlight), colors, poses, etc.  He was very good to work with – he and his wife, and I’m looking forward to the wedding & reception shots as well!  So far, I highly recommend them!

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So, I’ve come to accept these pictures as what they are.  Moments of happiness caught in time for us to remember forever.  It’s not a beauty contest, it’s the looks of anticipation of our wedding, marriage and life together.  It’s these pictures that mark our spot in time as we are planning, and dreaming, and talking about what we want to happen in the coming years.  Where we want to travel.  What our children’s names will be.  Where will we move?  What sort of businesses will we run?  How will we balance fitness with family.  Will we spend Christmas in Kentucky & Thanksgiving in Chicago?  Some of these, we have the answers to.  Others we’ll figure out together along the way, but can’t you see how excited we are?  Can you FEEL it?!?

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