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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wedding recap part 2: The Day Before

Since we had our rehearsal on a Thursday, we had an entire day before the wedding to relax and enjoy the upcoming festivities. Unfortunately, Sean had to work, but I was able to take the day off and spend it with my favorite girls!

We started the morning at the nail salon. Five of my 6 bridesmaids, along with my mom and Sean’s mom, spent the morning getting pampered. By the time we were done, our stomachs were definitely rumbling.
 We moved the party across the street to a great local diner, where we relished in delicious food and endless laughter. We made friends with the waitress, told funny stories, and ate our weight in sweet potato fries.

Nutella french toast. I didn't try it, but interesting concept!
After lunch, many people had to take care of some last minute errands, so 3 of my best friends and I decided to keep the fun going. We gathered our swimsuits, picked up my matron of honor’s daughter, and headed to my friend’s pool. The 5 of us swam the afternoon away (careful not to gain any strange tan lines before the next day).

When we were done, we met up with our other halves and headed to watch our softball game. We couldn’t, of course, play with our freshly painted nails and the risk of things like black eyes or injury, but we cheered them on to victory anyway.

Sean and I made our way home and whipped up a quick dinner—eggs—before packing our bag for the next day. I loaded up the car with all the wedding-day essentials, and Sean dropped me off at my mom’s.

It was getting late and I knew I had to be up early, so I took a cool shower and curled up in bed early. Sean and I exchanged texts—goodnights and I love yous—and fell asleep apart for the first time in months.

Next up—the big day!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekend update

They do say time flies when you’re having fun. I guess that’s why it’s so hard to believe I’m back at work already when I feel like I just left here on Friday!

We had a great weekend. We had a wedding on Friday. Two of Sean’s friends who started dating shortly after we did—so you know, a really long time ago—finally tied the knot. Everything was beautiful and we had a great time!

{Gotta love a photo booth!}

Saturday we were up bright and early to help Sean’s mom move. A couple of Sean’s friends came to help, along with a few other family members and friends, so things moved along pretty quickly. Aside from my car dying just after loading it up, everything went pretty smooth. When we were finished a few of us grabbed some lunch and headed home. Saturday night we went over to our friends’ house for an impromptu softball team party. I made the ever-popular pizza dip...mmmm, never disappoints! We kept the party in the garage (so not to wake the sleeping babies inside) and had way too much fun. Like, acting-like-we-were-in-college-all-over-again kind of fun. Honestly, I rarely drink, but I got wrapped up in a few games and before I knew it, was in my happy place. Thankfully, I had my wonderful husband to keep an eye on me so he made sure I was only drinking water by the end of the night. Hangover averted! Unfortunately not everyone was as lucky. We definitely realized we're getting too old for this kind of party, but it was fun while it lasted!
By Sunday morning Sean and I were both a bit exhausted, so we spent the better part of the morning with our butts firmly planted on the couch. Eventually I got up and ran errands while Sean studied for a test he has at work. Later, he helped me tie dye shirts for a bachelorette party I’m helping to throw next weekend. They still need to be washed one more time, but so far they look great! We had dinner with his mom and brother and finished the day off just the way we started—being lazy on the couch.

Don’t you just love weekends?!?!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to school shopping

I’ve been out of college for some time now, but I realized this past weekend that I’m still a bit traumatized by it.

I was at Target twice this weekend—because the $100+ I spent the first time just didn’t feel like enough—and each time I noticed the crowds of young adults and their parents shopping for college supplies. Whether it was someone preparing for an upcoming move, or another who had clearly just moved in and was stocking up on groceries, I got sick to my stomach every time.

See, college was a bit traumatic for me. Forget the independence and the new friends and the freedom—I just wanted home. Even though I was only 90 miles away from said home, it felt like we were an ocean apart. And that led to a horrible case of homesickness.

{Adorable print, via Etsy}
It took me the majority of my first semester freshman year to finally feel comfortable. I made some great friends, and that helped. But it didn’t stop the homesickness from returning when I went back to school after winter break, or when I returned the fall of my sophomore year. I’m telling you, I was a mess.

Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of fun times and, like I said, made some incredible friends. But Lord have mercy, homesickness pretty much ruled my college experience (that is, until I finally transferred after my sophomore year to finish my degree just two—yes 2—glorious miles from home).

So you can see why a simple trip to Target anytime between August and September can throw me into a full on anxiety attack. I’m instantly reminded of that painful anticipation, the worry that sat in the pit of my stomach when it came time to move away. And don’t get me started on the experience of sending Sean away to school in the first year of our relationship. That’s a whole other story of its own, but probably another reason I find myself dreading back-to-school season these days.

So while I’m pushing my cart full of groceries through Target, I have to remind myself that I’m past that point in my life. I will never have to face it again (you know, until my kid goes away to college and I have a nervous breakdown at the thought of them leaving my nest. Oh joy!).

Some people long to go back to college (or, if you’re like my husband, even high school). I, however, find myself eternally grateful to be past it and thrilled for the stage of life I’m in right now.

What about you? Would you go back to high school or college if you could, or are you loving where you are right now? Or maybe both?!?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wedding recap part 1: The Rehearsal

We've been married for exactly 2 months today! But it's never too late to finally start recapping the wedding, right?

I had intended to start these quite a bit sooner, but was waiting to get some photos back from a friend who captured the rehearsal and morning-of shots. We haven't had a chance to connect, but I decided to make it work with the few that I do have. So here it goes...

The Rehearsal
The wedding festivities began with our rehearsal, which actually took place on Thursday evening. We all met at the church and honestly, it was a bit surreal to see everyone coming together at last. The group was made up of our wedding party (more details to come on them), our parents and grandparents, our Godparents, and our readers.

We all gathered in the first few pews while the church’s wedding coordinator and our priest gave us an overview of the day. The priest who married us was the Pastor at our church when Sean and I were both in grade school. He was also a friend of Sean's family, and had worked closely with Sean's dad on several parish activities. He even gave the eulogy at Sean's dad's funeral. It meant so much to us to have someone special to us, someone we knew would make it a truly personal experience, celebrate our marriage.

Anyway, we practiced the line-up and went through a very abbreviated run-through of the ceremony before finally calling it quits.
{Cell phone quality - my mom and I practicing our walk down the aisle}
{Cell phone again - all lined up!}
Before we knew it, we were on our way to dinner!

The dinner was held at Sean’s uncle’s condo, where we were able to reserve a great room with a full kitchen, lots of windows, and plenty of space for our 40+ guests. It was catered by one of our favorite local restaurants and the Italian dinner was delicious. Everything turned out wonderful, and it was all thanks to my mother-in-law.

Sean and I, being the introverted people that we are, gave a really quick speech thanking everyone for being there and being part of our lives. We took some photos, handed out gifts, and spent time visiting with our family and friends. Unfortunately, Sean had a big day at work the next day, so we ended the night just in time for everyone's bedtime.
{The bride- and groom-to-be with Baby C}
{With my girls (except for my sister, who left before we thought to grab this photo)}
{Sean and his boys}
For our wedding party gifts, the girls received these adorable tote bags (each in a different color), handmade necklaces (made by one of my aunts) to wear on the wedding day, a gift card toward the salon where we were having our hair done, and flip flops to dance the night away. For the guys, we got some wooden crates from Michael's and stocked them with a set of engraved beer mugs, Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy beer (and root beer for the 2 underage boys), a tie for the wedding day, and a Lake Life hat. Lake Life is an awesome company a friend of ours started with some other guys to celebrate summer life, particularly life on the lakes. Check them out - especially you local folks - they have some fun stuff!

{All the gifts loaded in the car}
Up next...the day before the big day!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happier at home

If you’ve been reading this blog for at least a week you know things have been, well, stressful lately. So imagine my delight when I discovered an article that offered 10 pieces of advice for being happier at home. (And just so I can clarify, things are good at home. Sean and I are well, our marriage is strong, and we’re very blessed. But sometimes stress creeps in from all sorts of angles and you just need a little reminder of how to be happier, especially at home, because home is your sanctuary.)

And I have to say, I loved nearly every single idea. They’re manageable. Realistic. Intriguing.

Let’s start with the full list, in abbreviated form:
1.       Make the bed
2.       Bring every room back to “ready”
3.       Display sentimental items around the house
4.       Start a 1-line-a-day gratitude journal
5.       If you can’t get out of it, get into it
6.       Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day
7.       Do small favors for whomever you live with (expecting nothing in return)
8.       Call at least one friend of family member a day
9.       Spend money on things that cultivate experiences at home
10.   Spend a few minutes each day connecting with something greater than yourself

If you’re curious, like I was, I encourage you to read the full article for more details. But here’s my take on a few I’m definitely going to start trying (I’d like to think there are a few I’m already doing an OK job with, like 3, 7, 8, and 10).

Making the bed. I love crawling into a freshly made bed. Unfortunately, it happens about once a week for us—the day we do laundry. I think it could be a great, very easy way to make me happy.

Bringing every room back to “ready.” I’m terrible at this. We clean the house, get everything in order, and then instantly return to leaving clutter wherever we want. I can’t tell you how many times I leave a pan sitting on the stove after dinner because I just don’t want to deal with it. But then it turns into forever, and instantly things are cluttered—and stressful—again. Taking just a few minutes to tidy everything up isn’t a lot to ask, and could certainly make home feel a lot more inviting and calming. Plus, I have to say, we did a smaller version of this with my car this past weekend, and I’m telling you, it works! We got it washed and cleaned out (much overdue!) and it seriously makes me happier every time I’m in it. And by spending just a little extra time (like seconds!) each day to make sure it stays that way keeps the happiness going even longer!

Setting an intent for the day. When I get into bed each night, I’m usually pretty good about saying my prayers and reflecting on all I have to be thankful for. But, getting out of bed is a whole other story. I hit snooze a time or two and grumble a bit before eventually dragging myself out of bed. So, since I lay in bed half asleep for a few minutes anyway, I think it could be a great idea to use that time to think about my hopes or goals for the day. That sounds a little lofty, but I’m not talking major stuff here. Put in extra 15 minutes at the gym. Try and have a positive attitude about a challenging project at work. Just be thankful for today. Sounds like a pretty good way to start each day out on a positive foot.

Spend money on things that cultivate experience at home. I love getting things for our house, whether it’s a new blanket or a pretty piece of art for the wall, I love making it our own. Sometimes I think it’s easy to talk yourself out of “nice-to-haves” for the house, but I do think it’s important to make your home a place you feel comfortable, at ease, invited. I’m very happy with our house, but some days I focus so much on the things I don’t love about it, that it makes it hard to realize the parts that make me so happy to be there. So this is a priority for me—making our home a place we’re proud of. Plus, like the article said, it will also make you more likely to invite others over, and that’s definitely something we need to do more of!

All of these are great ideas, and I’m looking forward to trying a few. I’m sure there are lots of other ways to be happier at home, too. Thoughts—on these or any other fun new ideas?  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend review

Our weekend was wonderful and productive, a great combination if you ask me.

Friday night we went out with Sean’s co-workers. I think our waitress was slightly overwhelmed (and can’t blame her) as people kept flooding in and we added table after table until we eventually spanned the width of the room. I guess it’s bound to happen with 30+ people, and considering 90% of them were guys, I’m not surprised no one thought to call ahead. It worked out fine though and I have to say the waitress did a great job, all things considered. More importantly, we had a great time. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, and it was great to get to know these people my husband spends most of his time with these days.
 
Saturday was a busy day. I went for a quick bike ride in the morning, and then headed over to help Sean’s mom with some stuff at her new condo (she’s in the process of moving). From there, I went to my friend’s house to help put wedding programs together—her big day is less than 4 weeks away! Sean even joined us later, mostly because I bribed him with baby-duty while the rest of us finished the programs. We grabbed dinner with Sean’s mom and headed home for a quite night. I wasn’t feeling great, so Sean made a fire and we just sat outside and talked. It was a great evening for it! Even Oliver enjoyed it, although he was a little leery and decided to stay on my lap the whole time. 
Sean reading Baby C a book


Oliver enjoying the fire
I still wasn’t feeling wonderful on Sunday, but I managed to get up relatively early. I made it to mass and then set out to tackle our long to-do list. We got my car washed (much overdue), stopped at Sean’s mom’s condo, and went grocery shopping. Later I returned things to a few different stores, found shoes for the wedding I’m in next month, and picked up a few other things. I even mustered the energy to make a decent dinner.

Beautiful view

It was definitely a great weekend—our last weekend without scheduled activities for at least 8 weeks! I'm tired just thinking about it. Whew!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hope

{via}
When life gets tough, when you’re feeling beaten down and worn out, it’s not easy to find confidence or hope.

After so many times of thinking you’ve seen the worst only to be blindsided by more, it starts to just feel inevitable. And it’s not easy to let others see into your pain. But today I discovered the beauty that can come from that vulnerability. People rally around you, finding big and small ways to show you that it’s ok. They can bring the hope to the table, you just have to invite them to take a seat.

Confidence, of course, isn’t something you can ask others for. It’s something you have to find within yourself, even if it feels forced or faked or frustrating. But knowing what others see in you, and realizing their love and support, can help you start to find it. At least that’s my hope.  

In the end it’s all easier said than done. Words that sound great on paper don’t always have the same power within a broken spirit. But you can try. You can believe. You can lean on each other. And you can pray. And someday, it will all feel right again.   
{via}

Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy thoughts

Seriously, how can two days go by so fast? Weekends just are not long enough!

After my near breakdown last week, a couple days of relaxation were much needed. Of course, the stress tends to come back with each hour that puts us closer to Monday, but it was fun while it lasted.

But, instead of focusing on all the reasons we could be stressed this week, I’ve decided to focus on the good. Let’s give in to the power of positive thinking!

Reasons to be happy today:

Planning ahead. My outfits are selected—and set out—for the entire week! I usually dread having to pack my gym bag every night. I’m typically worn out from a long day and not in the mood to find anything cute to wear. Yesterday I decided I’d do myself a favor and plan ahead. I’m so excited to already have that chore crossed off my list for every night this week!
This weather. Yesterday was in the 60s! The first half of this week is a little warmer, but then we cool back down to a perfect mid-70! It makes my heart happy. Since fall is my favorite season, I’m totally ok with the sneak peek (so long as it doesn’t mean we’re going to skip the actual fall and dive right into disgusting winter, because we know that’s known to happen around these parts).

Unexpected treats. They served cake pops (and delicious ones at that) in our team meeting today. It may not have fallen within the “getting-back-on-track-with-eating-healthier” goal I had for this week, but damn it was good. And worth it. So there.  

My husband. What can I say, he always makes me happy!

Updated wardrobe—for free. Sean’s mom was cleaning out her closet and had a bunch of practically brand new clothes for me to look through. I stocked my fall wardrobe with adorable stuff, and it didn’t cost me a penny. Double win! I’m a lucky girl!


And let’s be honest, while we can all find lots of reasons to be happy this Monday, it’s ok to also be happy that it’s almost over!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

S-T-R-E-S-S

Stress levels hath runneth over. If it's not one thing, it's another...and another, and another. Catch my drift?

So pardon me while I take a little break (as though that's something new for me around here). In the meantime, you may or may not find me doing any or all of the below:
{Credit: Jill Greenberg, via}

{via}

{Credit: Silvia Bukovac, via}
  It's true, I sure know how to cope!

But seriously, I'm fine. Just need some time to get through this craziness. I'll be back, and I'll bring a better attitude with me!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Like riding a bike

This weekend, Sean and I went to (finally) buy bikes. It was a wedding present from his uncle and I’d been looking forward to getting them for weeks. 

After I’d picked out what was sure to be the one, the nice man helping us so kindly suggested I actually try it out. Who knew you shouldn’t pick it based on price and appearance alone?

So I hesitantly wheeled the bike to the parking lot. Relief flooded over me when I realized the salesman was going to stay inside. I certainly didn’t need an audience for what I was sure was going to be a disaster. I hadn’t ridden a bike in 2 years, and before that, it was probably at least 6 more. I was sure I was going to need training wheels or, at a minimum, refresher instructions on how to go from standing to moving forward on two wheels.

But just like they say, you never forget how to ride a bike. I may be a little unsteady—I’m certainly not jumping curbs or letting go of the handlebars like Sean—but it came naturally to me.

Now of course I can’t wait to cruise all over town. I took it out for a quick spin Sunday night—only to my mom’s house half a mile away—but being the Mr. Responsible that he is, Sean says we can’t go any farther until we get our bike locks and helmets. (Related: He’s going to make a great dad someday, wouldn’t you say?)

I’m very excited for what will hopefully become a fun new hobby for us. Of course, it’s just in time for fall to be around the corner, but I intend to get as much riding time in as possible before the streets are covered in slush (ugh, winter, I loathe thee).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Road rage

My little sister just got her driver’s permit. In addition to making me feel a little old, it also got me thinking about my own learning-to-drive experience.

Like most teenagers, I was very eager to get my license. But unlike most teenagers, I didn’t really like to drive. When I had my permit I rarely drove, save for the required behind-the-wheel lessons and a few mandatory hours with my mom. When the day to take my test arrived (just a few weeks after my 16th birthday), I was even afraid to drive on the freeway to the test. It’s a wonder, really, how I even passed on the first try.

But somewhere along the way I started gaining confidence and eventually became very comfortable behind the wheel. I’d say I’m a pretty decent driver (though Sean might beg to differ, but he has very high standards and it’s hard for anyone to measure up in his book). But I’d also be the first to admit I have my own driving faults, too. I’m a bit of a lead foot. I’m a terrible parker. And the road rage. Goodness gracious, the road rage!

I’m totally one of those people who thinks everyone else on the road should drive exactly how I want them to. Obviously they should know when I’m in a hurry or when I need them to make way for me. Sure it’s a little completely and ridiculously irrational, but it doesn’t change the fact that I can be quite a bear to drive with. It’s one of Sean’s biggest pet peeves, but thankfully, he pretty much drives everywhere we go together!

But today, while muttering under my breath at the woman in front of me at a stoplight, I realized there are a few particular things that just really drive me crazy on the road. I instantly started compiling a list of a few of my biggest driving pet peeves:
  • People who don’t put their turn signal on until the last minute, thus leaving you stuck behind them until traffic passes.
  • Going significantly under the speed limit. I’m all for safety and obeying the law (hey, my husband is in law enforcement, so I better be), but can we please at least go a reasonable speed?
  • When someone doesn’t pull into the intersection when waiting to make a left turn. If there is a long line of people waiting to turn, at least move up a bit to increase the chances of others getting through the light, too, mmkay?
  • And maybe the worst of all - when a lane is closed and their are signs for miles, and people still speed up and try and cut in at the last minute, as though those of us who waited patiently and followed the rules are sitting there for our health!
{via}
I can be such a snot sometimes. Who knows why these things bother me, but somewhere in learning to enjoy driving, I also learned to despise the littlest things that happen on the road. Do you have any driving pet peeves? (It’s ok to say your pet peeve is people like me, hah!)