Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lotsa Love in 2011

On top of having a wonderful first Christmas with my Hubster, love was booming for some of my nearest and dearest friends. I'm so excited for the news of a wedding in the future for three people who mean so much to me. Congratulations to them and their Christmas surprise engagements!
Emma & Andy
 A long-time running buddy from Bellarmine (although she was more of a pole vaulter I suppose...), I'm so excited for Emma! I've only met Andy a couple of times but he must be a stellar feller to keep up with the likes of Emma. She's the busiest person I know but never seems to miss out on anything from her work to organizing and managing Louisville's Girls on the Run program to simply hanging out with friends. She's an incredible person.
Russell & Krista
 A dear friend since the glory days of high school, Roose (as I like to call him) is one of the best guy friends I've ever had--always bringing a smile to my face. I think we once had a "Friends" promise to marry by age 35 (or something) if we were both single. Looks like we both "lucked" out of that one! :) I've not met Krista but no doubt she's found a guy to treat and love her like a princess.
Becky & Sam
Yes! Yes! And more YES! After nearly six years they're making it happen! Becky is one of my best friends from BU--my snuggle buddy for track meets and a roommate for 5 years. Through their undergrad to her PT doctorate and his med school, they've not wavered and now he's off to an unknown location to begin his residency and, just like the rest of his life, he doesn't want to go it alone so he asked Becky to be by his side for anything and everything!

While I'm at it... I might as well shout out to two other big engagements this year that made me oh-so-happy...
Joe & Annamarie
 #2 in The Man Clan to get hitched: Joe and Annamarie got engaged Thanksgiving weekend after over four years together...!!
Jo & MJ
And, of course, my cousin, roommate, childhood playmate and best friend Holly Jo got engaged this summer so we actually got to be engaged at the same time for a period. What special times in our lives we are getting to share!

Congratulations to all others who were blessed with wonderful love-filled events in 2011! Engagements, marriages and even just finding love! All you need is love......!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Doesn't Require Money

I'm sure it has always been this way (well, not always) but I have felt overwhelmed and very turned-off by so much of the lingo dealing with "holiday shopping," "the perfect gift." Now, as long as I have the money to do so, I love to give gifts. I'm not coming down on that. (I do think media and consumerism makes us feel like we should be shopping from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 at midnight for every last deal and gift out there.) I just think it's important to remember all of the wonderful things to do during this time of year that don't require your checkbook and that this season has nothing to do with blowing your budget.

Here's my list of things to do to keep Christmas festive, yet simplified.

1. Decorate!
You don't have to buy extra fancy decorations, all new ones or any at all. There are plenty of ways to decorate or recycle old decorations in new ways. Just always keep your old decorations from year to year and over time you will get quite the collection!
I had extra blank stockings from a Christmas party in 2009
so I made stockings for all of our animals!
 2. Send Christmas cards!
Sure, there is some cost but send a few. It's an easy way to reach out to people and brighten their holiday. I'm still working on wedding thank yous so those are kind of my Christmas cards this year. (Luckily I did find some actual thank you cards that were holiday festive (at the Peddler's Mall of course!) but I definitely should have gotten more...

3. Enjoy FREE town events! 
Every town has Christmas events that are free. Bizaars, parades, Christmas tree lightings, plays, recitals...and so on! Even little old Liberty has a Christmas kick-off celebrations.

Windows in downtown Liberty were decorated on Dec. 1.
Tree lighting at the Court House.
Free popcorn from the Casey Bank!
4. Shop...for FUN.
Go on a shopping trip not because you NEED to, not because you're in a panic, but to just spend time with someone. I love being out in the hustle and bustle of the holidays because there is always music playing and everything is decorated so well! Often times you'll also get to enjoy wonderful smells, Christmas lights--maybe even see Santa out and about! For Jon and I, we have enjoyed time strolling about the Peddler's Malls together.
Jon and I got our angel at the Peddler's Mall for $7
this year and we plan to use it for the rest ofour lives!

5. Create and keep tradition!
It is often the little things that MAKE each individual's Christmas season special. Sure, presents are fun but we get presents for our birthday yet we don't think of our entire birth month as a celebratory time. Little traditions can make more than just Dec. 25 special during Christmas time.

Dec. 6 is St. Nicholas Day! As kids we always left out our
letters to Santa and usually had a small surprise in the
morning. Jon gave me a small surprise this year which
made the day fun!

6. Presents under the tree... :)
For me, there is just something about seeing pretty packages with bows and ribbons under the tree. We have quite a few presents under the tree for just the two of us...but that's because I find a reason to wrap up anything and everything...even if it's something Jon and I need and we bought together. I am making everything a Christmas present!

7. Listen to music & watch movies!
We all know the music and we all know the movies... And as long as you have a radio and a TV you can enjoy them all! Listen to the music in the car and let the movies play in the background during your day-to-day chores. 
8. Make Cookies!
Sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, sprinkles, icing... And maybe your thing isn't cookies. There are so many holiday sweets and treats: puppy chow, reindeer food, peanut brittle, pound cakes, pies, fudge... Homemade goodies is what it boils down to. In my house we made and decorated sugar cookies. Getting to join the Sweeneys and do it with kids makes it that much better!
 9.  Do something for someone else.
The nature of the season is doing for others. It's why we give presents really: a kind something we can do for others. However, there is something even more special about doing for others that you don't even know and that have never done anything special for you specifically. I hear great stories about wonderful things people do for those in need at this time of year. I hope one day I can be one of those people. For now, though, our family always volunteers a day to ring the Red Kettle Bells for the Salvation Army, which Jon and I did together this year. 

10. Make yourself FEEL festive 100% of the time!
I wear my hat everywhere... As long as I have a clean pair I wear my candy cane striped socks... I play Christmas music til I've made everyone sick of it... I burn Christmassy smelling candles.... I keep all of our lights plugged in... It sounds silly but it keeps me in the spirit and while people sort of shake their head at me, a part of them enjoys seeing someone my age THIS excited about Christmas!
Jon laughed at me for feeling the need to put on my socks,
hat and red sweats before beginning our tree decorating!
Enjoyed a girls' day out at Equus Run Winery in Midway, Ky and, yes, I wore
my red and white and Santa hat!
 10 more days of joyous remembrance of this blessed time of year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive...!!!!

I love coffee, but maybe even more than coffee itself, I love coffee shops!

Some people will laugh and say this springs from my true love of the movie Meet Joe Black and the beloved "coffee shop scene". And maybe it does, but that's beside the point. To me, there is something so comforting about a coffee shop, thus the reason it was important for me to acknowledge their importance in my life. And lo and behold, what do I get out of that? A cozy little coffee shop opened up the week after Thanksgiving in the one and only Casey County!
I can't tell you how excited I was when I found out. Sweet Beans 'n' Things is located in downtown, just across from City Hall. Not only do they serve coffee drinks (as well as other hot drinks), but ice cream is on the menu too. So clever, as that will help them to not have a slow season! Burke's Bakery in Danville also delivers to them each morning around 7 or 7:30, so if you are a Burke's fan (and who isn't) you have double the reason to stop in and show your local support. Their prices are excellent as their coffee is only $1 and their specialty drinks rival the prices at McD's. So, honestly, why would you want to throw your money at the golden arches when you can support someone doing something great for our little community for the same price? (Sure there is no drive, through, but I like to think that one of the pleasures of a small town is that people are in less of a rush)
Packed with people on Day 2 during the Downtown Christmas kickoff.
It's always exciting to see something new come to the little land of Liberty. I have already tried several holiday drinks. I've heard the coffee is good as well. I haven't dipped into the ice cream--too chilly for that right now, but I'd imagine kiddos are up for ice cream despite that. (Or there is always hot chocolate!) They might as well add some tea options to the menu for those non-coffee drinkers, though.
Holiday window display.
Unfortunately, most of us know that it seems these little eateries have a hard time lasting too long. This place is definitely doing everything right and I plan to get all my hot drinks there this winter and maybe even more than I would typically... support local right??

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Behind the times, as usual

I'm always behind the times.

I didn't start school until I was 6.
I didn't have my first period until I was 14. (TMI...I know, sorry!)
I didn't have my first kiss until I was 15.
I didn't shave my legs until I was 17.
I didn't get my first haircut (something more than a "trim") until I was 19.
I didn't attempt dating until I was 20.
I didn't really learn how to put on makeup until I was 21.
I didn't pierce my ears until I was almost 25.

That's not to mention that I'm always behind the fashion trends by at least a year or two and I was in seven weddings (who's to say how many I attended) before I started planning my own. However, none of this ever bothers me. I have come to each of these things in my life just at the time I decided I was ready for them. (Well... I had no choice on the period thing but I'm pretty sure we'd all put that off if given the choice.) There was a time just after my Bellarmine graduation when it seemed it was wedding after wedding after wedding. Not me, though. I still couldn't find it in myself to even get into a serious relationship.

Over three years later I'm on the married bandwagon. (The right guy can turn things around quickly!) But of course that means all those "old married" folks are on to baby-makin'. Valerie, married in 2009, popped out little man #1 this past July: Samuel Jonathan and my closest high school friends (that are married) are ALL preggo right now. Beth is due for her first in only a matter of weeks. Meagan is brewing #2 and due in May. And, while she told me shortly after the wedding, Kelli has just gone public with the news of her first bun in the oven!
Brandon & Kelli with their pup Sophie in 2009.
I think Sophie will be playing second fiddle soon.

Me with Megs at my shower in Sept with her only little one,
Bella, for NOW. Bella will be a big sis soon!

Beth & Trey are due soon and very soon!
Tell me how CUTE is their little guy gonna be??

Jon & I with Brett, Valerie and Sam-Man for his Baptism!
I'm SO excited for them all, particular Kelli whom I know has had a baby on the brain for awhile. Does this make me feel behind the times? No.

Because no matter how, "behind the times" I am, I am happy and I know I'm never truly alone. Besides Jerusha (who celebrated her 10 year anniversary this year), none of my cousins have children. (Not that it couldn't happen at any moment!) And besides Valerie, none of my college-year friends have children or babes. What I think this really means is, just like the Wave of Weddings that began in 2008, the Baby Boom in my life is well underway. There are (hopefully) plenty of weddings to come and most definitely plenty of chitlins.

And if all goes as planned, the Mingus Man and I will have some solid time [years] to ourselves to figure out this marriage-in-the-middle-of-nowhere thing and save for a cozy cottage of our own design. What this Baby Boom does help with is that if our "plan" isn't on beat with the Big Man Upstairs' plan... it won't be all bad. How can babies ever be bad, right?

I really hope this post doesn't jinx me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wait a minute... How did this happen?

Black Friday Shopping? Us?
I know, I know...we expected better of ourselves too. It just kind of happened by accident. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Indiana with Jon's family. Thursday evening we were putzing about when we thought we'd drop in Wal-Mart again, because we've been talking about using our Wally World gift cards from the wedding towards a new TV. We don't care about anything fancy or a having a screen as big as our bed. We'd be fine with the GINORMOUS dinosaur, boulder of a TV, Gill, but in his old age he's begun to let out an obnoxious squeal at random when playing. It really makes movies quite intolerable.
My version of the Target Lady (and yes I sat in the cart while we waited...)
So, again we stopped by the dreaded Wal-Mart and were checking TVs that were in our price range... but then we started talking... It was 8:30... At midnight sales began... At midnight we could get the 32" we were looking at for $100 less. Was 3 1/2 hours really that bad? So we walked to McD's for a cup of coffee (LARGE cup) and discussed...and what the heck! We're both down for adventures. Besides, the store wasn't too out of control yet.....yet...
Jon's reaction to Wal-Mart Black Friday Shopping.
I've been Black Friday shopping before. It was always with Jerusha for her kids and our main stop was always Toys R Us. (of course!) We'd wake up at about 2 am and drive an hour and a half to Lexington to stand outside in the cold, cold, cold. It's right next to Best Buy...now TALK about ridiculous. I understand a good deal...but parking a tent 2+ days in front before hand...?! Really? Aren't you just announcing to the world: I don't have a job to be at and I don't have family I want to spend Thanksgiving with!

Off subject. My bad.

Anyway, my point is Toys R Us is very different from Wally World. Our Toys R Us Line got long, but not insanely. It was a rush when the doors opened. We never bothered with a cart because wheeling it through moms-on-a-mission just isn't worth it. We usually made pretty good time and then we'd head to the Fayette Mall (where most stores weren't open yet) and grab some grub and then relax and wait for the Disney Store to open. It was great to hit up all of the deals and steals and be out of there before 9 am--which is around the time most of the door-busters are over and it gets extremely crazy.
Toys R Us shopping in 2006.
By the time Jon & I returned to Wal-Mart the traffic was picking up incredibly. We are noobs at the Black Friday thing and didn't realize at first the GREAT deal TVs are so coveted that they are treated specially. First off, NOTHING is in it's normal department. You have to get a special map of the store if you hope to find any big sale items. TVs happen to be in the lawn & garden section...so to the plants and trees we went. The line wasn't too long...probably 50 people (not 50 groups/pairs) were in front of us so I was guess that was about 15-25 TVs so we were fine. From that point I only took on trip away from the cart. Jon took multiple. Every time he came back he'd report how much crazier the store itself was getting and that the main aisle were cart to cart non-movement. The side aisle were blocked with STUFF that the Wal-Mart employees had moved out of the way.

Here's a bit of the fun we took in...spun out of your typical Black Friday Shoppers:
The Crazies
This lady (not sure if "lady" is the proper term based on my experience), ended up in line behind us for the TVs but that's not why I took her picture. In my one trip out of the line I ran to the car to grab our gift cards we were using. I happened to notice a LONG line of headlights down one aisle and realized it was because the front car was waiting to turn into a spot where someone was packing up to leave. A second later I realized that one lady from this SUV in front was outside of the vehicle trying to direct her driving to backing up because the car behind them was bumper to bumper with them and REFUSING to back up (even though the 3rd card had given it a good 4-6 feet to back up). So the woman outside of her SUV was helping her driver while cursing the 2nd driver and calling her the most ridiculous names. Now, given I hadn't been there for the beginning of this little situation and maybe Driver #2 had good reason to be a jerk, but from my perspective...she was simply doing that: Being a jerk and not back up. However, SUV Lady was looking like the bigger fool with the show she was putting on with her profanities.

So I went to the car, got my cards... By the time I was back at the scene (and what a scene it was!) the SUV had made it into the spot it had been trying for, but NOW the spot next to the SUV was freeing up, but you better believe SUV Lady was not going to let Driver #2 into this convenient spot. So what does she do? SUV Lady stands in front of Driver #2's car and is shouting, helping this innocent bystander who was now trying to leave, back out. They are also directing Car #3 around Driver #2 so Car #3 can have the new spot instead. So this leaves Driver #2 trapped and unable to even leave the scene and continue her search for another parking spot. SUV Lady is yelling and at this point just laughing while booty-shaking on Driver #2's hood. Wow. 'Tis the season!
The Traditionalists
Here is crew in much more of a TRUE holiday spirit! This was their 9th year of Black Friday shopping together (first year with shirts, though, haha). They were all quite friendly and just happy to be out. Wal-Mart was their first stop but they had several more in lined up. This was taken just before midnight...only the start of their night.
The "I'm Just Here For The Deal" type
This lady was in front of us in line for the TVs. She had several of her kids with her (adults, mind you) who kept running off to find other "great deals" to throw in the cart, but for the most part, this lady held her post. She mad her nest on a lawn & garden cart with some towels that were on sale and kicked her feet up for the multi-hour long wait...accidentally throwing potting soil all over at one point, but hey, she was in good spirits. That's all that really mattered.

I didn't take a picture, but of course we did have an encounter with the most common Black Friday Shopper: The Mom. Actually it was parents. The lady behind us had a fuller-than-full cart (her husband was there as well). To her credit, though, she said she buys many of the gifts each year after adopting an "Angel" and giving it gifts. They had a miscarriage at some point and said that she knows if that child had lived she'd spend lots of money on it all year so to spend extra money on another child whom she can bring some extra holiday cheer is the least she can do. Wonderful Christmas spirit.

The lines were at a standstill at about 20 til midnight. Everyone at this point had items that would not be on sale in the registers until the stroke of midnight...we waited anxiously.

I have to hand it to Wal-Mart, though... They have done this enough that things were pretty together. (Given I wasn't out in the madness of the store the 2 hours leading up to midnight.) Having you WAIT in a separate line (not grabbing your TV and wait at a register line) until 11:30 to even get your TV is smart. Some people were upset that they couldn't be doing other shopping, but I think the genius of Wal-Mart has learned a thing or 2 over the years and knows this works best. It was about 11:30 when we put our game faces on and decided to ditch the cart. Mike and Jenny had stopped by and grabbed these Elmo backpacks that Cassie had her friend had been in search of, but a neighboring Wal-Mart was out of, so on with the packs we went and goodbye to our cart.
Game Faces ON.
I headed out into the main-store-madness to snag us a place in line while Jon moved through the now moving TV line and carried the 32-incher to find me. Without the cart he was able to finagle his way to me no problem. We'd also snagged a small Eureka vaccuum for $25 bucks in the process (something else we'd planned to purchase post-wedding) and our only "impulse buy" was a dvd/blu-ray player someone decided not to get in the line. (Our dvd player is pretty worthless.) I'm proud to say we were out of Wal-Mart and in the car by 12:12 a.m. and in bed asleep shortly thereafter. Success.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Show 'em some grAtitude!

I don't want to seem UNgrateful, but I'm not going to call out the important people in my life for this post. I don't need a special season, time of year or holiday to tell those people in my life that they are important to me. I hope my actions and words send that message to them on a daily basis. Instead, I think this season of appreciation is a good time to remember the things we don't always take time to show the gratitude deserved...so let me begin...

Eye Doctors
- I don't know this for a fact, but I'm 99% sure I'm legally blind without my glasses or contacts. I probably wouldn't be able to hold a job and would have had many, many obstacles in school if I didn't have contacts/glasses. Thanks GOODNESS!

Kentucky Weather
- People complain all of the time and I probably have too at some point. But wow do I love ALL seasons. Sure I get tired of the freezing cold and snow by mid-February but I still love the beauty of snow. I love the arrival of spring days and the coming to life of the world. Everyone loves a hot day at the pool or lake during the summer and nothing tops the radiance of colors along with the perfect weather of the fall. So grateful I can live in one place and experience ALL of that.

- I've gotten to see some pretty cool places and visit some great friends thanks to this speedy form of travel. The food may be crap but wow is the ability cool! We can FLY!

Coffee Shops
- I love the smell and the coziness. I've spent many a hour catching up with friends, reading (lame) text books and zoning in on school work and sometimes just for the comfort. In 2009 when the ice storm hit Louisville and my home was out of power (ie, WARMTH) I enjoyed a hot cup of coffee at good ol' Heine Brothers and used my laptop waiting for a friend to get off work who was supplying me with a hot supper. That coffee shop never felt more like home!

Adult-sized onesies
: Yes, the sell them. Yes, I have TWO. A purple one (of course) and a glow in the dark dinosaur one. Keeping the kid alive in all of us.

Valerie, Myself & Becky all sporting our trendy onesies!
Sweats & Slippers: I can't understand who wouldn't want to wear them all of the time. Sure it's fun to dress up here and there but man-oh-man, nothing tops my "simple pleasures" in life like wearing cozy clothes all day long.

: Some people don't find the appreciation in them. Amazing how if you embrace them, though, that they become an active part of you and/or your family. Someone to talk to when no one else is around. You never have to feel alone.

: I have a lot. I'd like more. I really don't think I could have enough. They're so warm.

Modern Communication
: I have friends all over the country and world. Jon's family lives 4 hours away. I live 1-2 hours from most of my friends. I am in touch with them all constantly. When my parents moved to middle-of-nowhere-Kentucky there was only the option of snail-mail or long-distance phone calls. Now we have cell phones, email, Facebook, text messages, Skype...the only people we fall out of touch with are those we choose to do so.

Hand-written letters
: I don't get many and I know i just thanked the opposite, but nothing excites me like REAL mail. Perhaps one of the best things that came out of Jon and I living apart for a year were the wonderful letters he sent in the mail.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hunting Season

I'm job hunting. I wouldn't describe it as "fun," but in my particular circumstances it is a bit exciting. I love my current job and the idea of not working for Todd after 3 years is sad. I have a feeling that throughout the duration of my career, none will compare to that of working through the evolution of Infominded to Member Minded to Try It Local with Todd. I was a bit spoiled with the type of "job"I've had for a three year period as someone in her mid-twenties!

Nonetheless, with the end of any good thing, is the start of a new adventure and only time will tell what is in store next. Perhaps the crappiest of crappy jobs. Maybe it'll take my six months to find one in this middle-of-nowhere Central Kentucky land. Maybe I'll have to take something that barely covers the gas to make it there everyday. Good or bad, I think we can all agree that sometimes it's the bad, ugly and unfortunate situations that are the most memorable and bring the best end results.

I don't want to give too much detail about my job hunt. I'll just say I'm looking constantly and doing my best to connect with those whom I believe know me well and can put in a good word or help network me if they happen to hear of any opportunities. There are some potential situations out there right now. One of which would seem almost too convenient and desired to work in my favor. (I figure Jon and I got our lucky break with his Tarter job this past spring.) But either way, these hit and miss hopeful opportunities do provide me with one thing: peace.

Whether I find a "dream job" or not...whether I find something tomorrow or in three months... Here in the middle of nowhere there are still opportunities and one will come about that is for me when the time is right.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Wedding on a Budget: 1 Day to Go!

And so it begins...
No, I didn't have to work today...but did that mean I slept in AT ALL? Heck no... I probably rolled out of bed quicker and earlier! It's the same way Christmas Eve is almost better than Christmas itself--or that they are one in the same. That's how today is!

I packed my bags for everything through to getting back to the Loft tomorrow once we're running on the WEDDING DAY MASTER PLAN (drawn up by yours truly). That means, massage, nails, rehearsal, salon...all packed for... I set out all of the homemade salsa that needs to be at the reception site for tables. I pulled together last minute items like the smaller bushel baskets for the can coozies and the champagne glasses. Pa took the day off work as well, so when I got to Greystone he was working on his many remaining duties including creating the Knob End sign he promised to help me with. We brought to the site most of the remaining items including the flicker lights, ribbons, flip flops, etc. And at about 11 a.m. Rachel and I loaded up Toad and headed for Danville. Even our drive was purpose-filled. We set out all of the HARRIS/DIXON WEDDING signs going towards Danville/HWY-127.
My massage was at Noon and while I was relaxing like never before Rachel took care of some bank business for me and picked up the final signage projects from Uncle John. We then headed to Nails Express where we met Jo and Kelli for some mani/pedi fun. We actually just missed Mom and Aunt Anne being there. KK actually met us there about the time we were wrapping up and Uncle Kelly stopped in with Aunt Anne about that time as well just to give me a squench and hello!

Check-in time at the hotel, where we also saw some familiar faces who came a day early for tomorrow's festivities. We got checked in to our 2 rooms--one of which was the King Size bed with a pullout--quite roomie! It pays, literally, in such instances, to be the Bride! We had some decent down time. Ate some food...Jo helped me write out the lyrics to "One For The Road' (Jolly Rogers) for the reception. Then it was time to get ready to head to Liberty for the rehearsal. We left a wee-tad early so I could swing by the Casey County Library and pick up the fancy-pants cameras that Kathy Goode left for me to borrow.
Rehearsal went just fine and dandy. Father Pat was more relaxed about most everything than I thought he might be. A few people weren't there like Gohmann and Uncle David and Jon's cousin Jessica but nobody has anything too tough to do. As long as Father knows his job and the people who have to speak have their lines at the podium, we're good! Oh and Anne-Tyler couldn't make it to practice her singing, but I trust her to be awesome. The best part of the night for me was Jon's little surprise. As most know, it's a tradition to use the bows from your showers to make a bow-quet to practice the handoffs during the ceremony between bride and maid of honor. Well, I guess Jon decided he too needed a prop or practice tonight. So when it got the ring practice...should have known... Jon says, "Wait, wait!" and pulls and RING POP out of his pocket! Everyone of course laughed. What most don't know, though is Jon buys me Ring Pops here and there and asks me to marry him quite often. :)
Frank's for dinner! I realize it's pretty casual and non-traditional for a rehearsal but it's Jon's absolute favorite and everyone loves it! Jenny and Mike picked it up on their way through Louisville today and everyone was able to just relax and hang out in the church basement. It's kind of crazy how all of these people get here tonight for the rehearsal--all of these people whom you've asked to play a particular role in the big day--and for them the festivities are just beginning. They have not had this crazy, wedding-filled week and have no idea everything that has ALREADY had to happen just to have us at this point! But now here they all are--in one place together. And once we split for the night...we won't be all together until it's truly SHOW TIME!

Father exposed the Blessed Sacrament a bit after dinner for anyone who wanted to return to the church and pray. Jon and I wanted this especially for ourselves but it was more meaningful than I even expected to see others join us. I was especially touched to have Gress and Sara come up--the only two non-family members who joined us. They were there with us on the engaged encounter so it felt like their prayers held that much more meaning. We are so very blessed to have them as our close, dear friends.
Rachel and Michelle were patient with me leaving the church--my last chance to see so many people and give final instruction on morning duties. I'd gone over itineraries with so many people making sure things were squared away. In the end, I know things will get done and what doesn't happen, won't ruin the day. I think I said goodnight to Jon at least four times. And then, at last, with one final, "Goodnight Miss Dixon" (for the last time!) we parted ways!

While I was exhausted arriving back at the hotel... I wasn't. All of my girls were there hanging out in our "big room": Jo, Rachel, Michelle, KK, Valerie, Dani, Becky, KelKel..and even Bethie drove down to join me on my last night as a single lady! Rachel had picked up a bottle of wine for us to sip but silly us forgot the need for a corkscrew! Ha..but what am I saying... the need? Not quite... a screw and a screwdriver and Michelle's muscles and we popped that cork right out!
I was the last to go to bed, as I stayed up a little later finishing a final note to Jon that I could have passed to him tomorrow. The day has truly arrived and while it feels magic it also feels as real as ever. Every piece of what will go on tomorrow has a piece of Jon or I in it. Every detail and moment--even those that no one will even notice. I hope every person who joins us enjoys the day and has a blessed memory and sees even a glimpse of what a special bond Jon and I hold and how real this love is.

I'm so excited...but I know it'll be gone in a flash. But just like the day itself cannot last forever, neither can Alamo. So time to snuggle to sleep one last time before life as Mrs. Harris will begin.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Wedding on a Budget: 2 Days to Go!

Okay, not really because it's only Oct. 6 and the wedding isn't until Oct.8, but honestly... today is the last day of real "wedding prep". Tomorrow I'll do a little in the morning but once Rachel and I leave for Danville for my oh-so-relaxing massage (thanks to Kara & Dani) wedding-ness will be well underway and no looking back!

I still worked today but my goodness was it tough to stay focused! I cannot imagine if Rachel and Aunt Anne hadn't been here to help with so much set up. Rachel actually came down to the Loft this morning to get a TON of MY cleaning done. This place has been a wreck and I know there will be a lot of people in and out of here during the festivities so it had to be cleaned. Rach knocked it out like it was nothing, though.

Around lunch time we made a trip to Knob End because Karen's team was setting up the rest of the tables and so forth. LOVE IT. Oh I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it looks! It's such a relief to have Karen taking care of this because she truly cares--and part of that is because she knows the family, but I've worked events with her enough to know that no matter the event she put her extra touches to make it look great. She had some purple table toppers she put on all of the tables and decorated the tall chairs on the cocktail table she set up for Jon and I. The buffet line table looks fabulous. The bar, cake table, gift table, champagne buckets and beer/soda bins are set up. I love it.

I did have a minor crisis on my way to checkout the setup. I called (using Rachel's phone since mine is acting bizzarro this week) Shade's salon to find out how early we could come in to get going on hair Saturday morning. Well, as soon as the girl answered the phone and I told her who I was I could tell something wasn't right. Her delayed, "Ummm....," told me she had bad news. Apparently they did not have the right phone number for me and said they'd been trying for the last couple of weeks to call and confirm the appointment and since no one had responded they cancelled it! First of all, I thought it WAS confirmed after Holly made the initial call and I followed up. I think the confusion spurred from my inquiry about make-up application when I did follow up. I asked if they did make up and said I'd let them know how many girls wanted that done. I guess in their mind that meant I was still calling back to confirm everything. In my mind that meant I'd confirmed the hair but I'd call back about makeup. Given I never called back but I wasn't too concerned about make up.
Good news is, the owner, Brian, is awesome. The girl got him on the phone and he talked with the girls there. (Luckily it was just yesterday that he'd cancelled it in the books.) They are still able to be there Saturday morning so we are set for 8 a.m.!

I left work just a tad early, 4 p.m. so Rachel and I could get up to Danville to do some final shopping. I had a list and she had Mom's list. Our stops included: WalMart, liquor store, HalMark, Peddler's Mall, Lowes, Dixon Design Studio (Uncle John & Aunt Dana's) and the smoke shop. We did a good job of keeping each other moving and we got everything we came for. The list of "to-do's" is not nearly done yet, but I'm so grateful Rachel go the house cleaned for me--a huge relief! Now I don't have to stay up all night working on it!

Jon brought home the printed itineraries for everyone. I cut the foam board we bought at WalMart and hand-wrote the directional signs we're going to put up to direct people into The Valley. I connected with Kathy Goode finally and will be able to pick up her video cameras tomorrow at the library. The programs are ready.... It's really, really, really just about time!

Tomorrow Rachel and I will leave for Danville at about 11 a.m. to get me to my massage and at that point my "wedding prep" duties have ended. I'll do my best to simply forget about everything that is or isn't getting done and just let the schedule begin to roll. In some moments I feel there is so much to do still and others I feel like it's all set! Either way, tomorrow Alamo ends and the ride is in full swing, so there will be nothing to do but breathe it in and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Wedding on a Budget: 3 Days to Go!

Signs, Flowers and Setup--oh my!
Jerusha started on the flowers today and I haven't seen any of them myself, but from her pictures and what Rachel told me they are wonderful! She's doing great!! Who'd know she isn't a trained/learned florist! I love the wildflower look being created. So perfect! I LOVE my purple bouquet! It makes me happy just to look at the picture. She did so, so many in mason jars and more for the church, reception and anywhere we could possibly use flowers.
Went down to Greystone early this morning before work so I could meet with Mom, Rachel and Aunt Anne and here there to-do list for the day and weigh-in. (I'm still working...) Mom had the 30-whatever mums still (from Uncle Jerome & Aunt Janet) that still needed to be planted or placed. She also needed certain flower gardens cleaned up. They got all of that done and they started placing the walkway/path lights around the grounds.
The program is ready to go and being printed. I saw a sample tonight. I made one of the directional signs and started on the "Welcome to Knob End" sign that I was going to wood burn onto one of the log pieces that Jon cut, but then Pa kind of "volunteered" himself to take over for me--and I did not object!
Rachel and Aunt Anne also picked up some more stuff to use from Karen. Somehow Mom and I missed that the table toppers were not extra and had gone with just the white linens. We knew the colored linens were extra so I guess we assumed the toppers were as well, but, no! And guess what? She has some PERFECT purple ones that are just sheer enough to not be to overwhelmingly purple! She also has the perfect green colored cloth napkins to cover the chip bowls for snacking. It's all coming together and so soon will it all be over!