Monday, July 25, 2011

Engagement Photos! (319 Days to Go)

Just a quick little post.  Things have been so crazy lately.  But I had to share.  We just got our engagement photo proofs today!

Matthew Hovis Photography
Right behind us is the tree that Jeff's parents planted right before leaving for their honeymoon when they got married.  The pictures turned out great.  And hopefully I'll be able to post some more soon, but in the meantime, this is all I've got time for.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bridesmaids (344 Days to Go)

So I'm currently attempting to try and gather a majority of my bridesmaids together for a bridesmaid luncheon and to go shopping for dresses.  Yes, it's early.  But some of them are students, currently unemployed, etc. etc. such that I figure if we go now, then there's time to sit back, stash up the cash, wait for a sale, and all of that good stuff.  But by going and picking a dress now, I can end a few more annoying conversations and scratch one more thing off my list as far as stress inducers.

Sometimes I feel as much as I try to be cooperative and easy going on the girls, the harder things become on me because Jeff and I's mothers are old-fashioned about how the bridesmaids should be dressed.  Back in the 80s when they were getting wed, bridesmaids wore heinous, matchy-matchy dresses.  Now, today the trend is leaning much more towards the bridesmaids wearing whatever style best suits them in a general colorway.  But because we have a rainbow bridal party, I have more pressure being put on me to force them all into the same style dress.  Essentially, if I don't, I can look forward to a minimum of five years of complaining everytime the wedding pictures are looked at.  

Compound into that, both of our mothers feel that the Mothers' dresses are just too "matronly" and "old" for them.  Certainly at fifty they aren't so old that they can't wear something from the bridesmaid dress rack, right?  I guess they're trying to cope with the fact that they're old enough to have children getting married in their own way.  So, if I let the bridesmaids pick what they want, and being all different colors, I'm going to end up with the mothers and maids blending together with nothing but a few wrinkles to tell the difference.  And why yes, I've made a relatively obvious suggestion that the mothers wear a patterned dress and the maids were solids.  Nada in the cooperation department.  This is when I start wanting to bang my head on my desk, which is metal by the way.  And yes, they're insisting on wearing the same material too.  These are stubborn women, I tell you.  Nothing can ever persuade them to get off a subject until it's too late to have much more effect, but then you can still look forward to some disheartened griping that they were ignored in the decision making process.  Toss into the mix, the junior bridesmaid (aka mini bridezilla, aka MBZ) who wants to wear my wedding gown and have a date to walk her down the aisle and I've got one heck of a pot boiling over.  And seriously, it's all over what people are going to wear?  I suddenly understand the appeal of the nudist wedding.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to dictate the fashion choices of my mom and FMIL, however, I don't appreciate that they're dictating the fashion of my bridesmaids.  I mean seriously, when does that ever go well?  Because all it does is then complicate the issue of making them happy all the more.  And boy, do I get tired of hearing and phrase that starts with the word "Just".  "Just" is someone's way of making things sound easy.  As in "Just do it", "Just say no", etc., etc.  Or my personal favorite: "That just doesn't make sense."  Please, if the word "just" ever comes out of my mouth, slap me silly.  I deserve it.
But I did come up with a third option that will set my girls apart, let them be individuals, make them identical for the ceremony and pictures and silence the mothers.  Now, if I can only get the girls to go along with it.  It's convertible dresses.  I figure, they agree on one of fifty some styles for the ceremony and pictures, and when we duck away somewhere to bustle my train before entering the reception, they can reconfigure their dress into any style they want.  That way they get to feel like they got to completely change dresses between ceremony and reception.  It's a least for me.  I just hope the girls will see it that way too.

I ordered one of the dresses for myself to wear as a bridesmaid in Becca's wedding.  They're supposed to be one size fits most, so I figure the girls can play with mine and see if they like it when we get together later this month.  I'm crossing my fingers.  I really need to start nailing down details and therefore nailing problems to the wall.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Engagement Photos Today--Eep! (348 Days to Go)

The day of the engagement photos has arrived.  I even somehow managed to miraculously convince Jeff to pull together his clothes, hats, and shoes to wear for our pictures.  Well, I'm close on the shoes, at least.  He's told me he's wearing his Berks and red Chucks.  Will the miracles never cease?

So why do I feel like I'm about to toss my single cookie that I called breakfast this morning?

Could it be that I have three and a half hours from the time I get off work to get hair and make up done, pick up dinner, eat with my fiance, drag him out of his workplace an hour before the shop closes without having to commit patricide in the midst?  Oh, and the manicure I gave myself last night: well, I apparently managed to rub the french tips off in my sleep.  Go me.  So I think I'm now going to also try to squeeze a mani into the picture somehow too.

Or is it merely a delayed reaction to the realization that I'm going to have to hire a private detective to find my father and get him to my wedding next year?

I'd like to think that I'm not really nervous about getting pictures taken of myself.  I mean, I thought I was excited about it because I'm so often the one stuck behind the camera that there are so very few pictures of me, let alone of both Jeff and I together.  Actually, pictures of me are such a rarity, that baby picture are even hard to come by.  Childhood are actually near impossible.  Apparently photographic documentation was not my family's strong suit. 

Perhaps it's just an absurdly strong urge to make sure they're perfect.  I will admit I've been a mite OCD on that.  But his family's huge, and I haven't met even the smallest fraction that his parents insist on inviting.  Therefore, these pictures will quite literally be my first and only impression on these people before and if they come to the wedding.  As I told Jeff, I'd prefer that his family be under the impression that he scored a hot, city girl rather than a frumpy, country girl.  Why let it ever enter their minds that he might be settling (as opposed to settling down), right? 

And the same goes for my family.  The opportunities for Jeff to meet anyone on my side of the family has been few and far between.  I want him to look good too.  Growing up, I was the girl who never dated, so I'd hate for my family to think that I settled for the first guy that gave me a second look.  My family's bizarre and there's already been muffled discussion that I must have gotten knocked up or something.  I feel this might stem from the fact that I came from a small town with too little to talk about and that there was a mistaken rumor before I'd even met Jeff that I was having twins.  Long story, but the short version is, a friend of my mom's was knitting baby sweaters for twins.  I want them to be able to see him the way that I do--as the fun, incredible, handsome, funny guy that he is.  I want them to see how incredibly lucky I am to have found Mr. Right and My Best Friend after having gone through only one Mr. Oh-So-Very-Wrong.

But then I'm back to the whole missing father incident too.   My father is a nervous fella.  Probably why he ended up becoming an alcoholic.  He's always had problems with his parents and hasn't had very much luck with marriage either.  But, he has a bad habit of when he feels pressured of managing a disappearing act that would make the CIA jealous.  Now, for the past two or so years, he's been dry.  I've been proud.  Everyone else has been harassing him for money (ex-wife #1: my mom), to move his vehicles off their property (ex-wife #2), and to go to rehab (his parents).  The last time he disappeared, he turned up in California with my eldest ex-stepbrother.  Impressive considering he was under probation in the state of Maryland for DUI.  This time, nobody knows where he's gone to. 

You might think that I'm making excuses for him.  I'm not really.  I'm peeved that he's pulled this disappearing act again.  All I wanted was to let him know when and where to be for our father-daughter dance.  But I also feel bad for him too.  I feel sorry that his instinct is to shut himself away from everyone instead of reaching out instead.  I guess he just doesn't know how or doesn't realize that anyone's willing to listen without asking for anything in return.  And I guess I have just enough daddy issues that I'm willing to be that one person.  But I really for sorry if I'm the only person who is willing.  For a bunch of people who consider themselves good Christians, it's a shame none of them know how to listen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Engagement Photo Scouting Trip (351 Days to Go)

The other night I took an opportunity to steal my fiance's truck to go scout out the park we're using for our engagement photos.  He didn't mind, he was underwater for a solid three hours or something.  Practically went unmissed. 

The park is pretty much entirely green.  It's not much in the way of floral growth (as in none) so much as it's a valley surrounded by forests that have had trails put in.  There is also a children's playground which is two-thirds wooden (rather than that cheap looking primary colored plastic stuff).  The lake that serves as the focal point of the park, not just in scenery but in attraction as it is stocked for fishing, has had some algae growth.  When I returned from scouting, I put my foot down that he will not be tossing me into the lake while I'm wearing silk.  There was a small, but understanding, pout at this.  I think he's disappointed too that the algae has taken over this summer.  So I'm not the only one making an ick face.

I'm still trying to get over the fact that the shoot is in three days.  I'm starting to get nervous.  Also wondering if my photog is a curse on me.  The first time we met at the bridal show I was recovering from the flu.  Now, I'm recovering from a massive airline induced head cold.  Dare I think what might happen before the wedding?  Of course I'm joking...slightly.  Okay, I'm trying to convince myself that it's an uncanny coincidence that he and I have only met under conditions that typically result in illness such as dead of winter and airtravel.  Luckily, neither will be happening before the wedding.  (Mental note: drive to Jersey for Kim's wedding the month before instead of fly)

So I just got a call from my garage that I will not be able to pick up my car until Monday or Tuesday. Well, they'll have to hold it until Tuesday because Monday's the engagement photos and my afternoon is booked solid between hair and make-up.  But I'm seriously disappointed that I won't be able to have my car available for the engagement photos.  I love my car!  It's my baby!  Clifford is my incredibly awesome Mini Coop, and is so ironically named because his big brother is a large red pick-up truck with cap.  Jeff's Dakota does vaguely look like a 3x version of my car and we were hoping to get a couple of cute pictures of the two of us with our respective vehichles.  Guess, he'll be stuck sharing his truck with me for a few days longer.  It just frustrates me because it's my insurance companies fault for taking nearly a week in the first place to get an adjuster to even come look at the car all over a couple of paint and glass chips.  *Shakes fist at road construction and injust insurance companies*  I guess there's really nothing that can be done, but it still irks me.  Granted, I'd already made the decision to drop my insurance before finding out that my car would need to stay even longer than first expected.  I have no more digs to make at them that they'll care about for adding frustration for my lost opportunity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jet-Lagged from Cali (354 Days to Go)

So the past two weeks have been crazy busy.  First my bridesmaid and college friend, Kim, came in from out of town.  She also brought with her news: she's finally picked a state for her wedding and a date: New Jersey and May 5th.  So, we're basically getting married a month apart.  It made me realize that in a nine month span, I will be in three weddings (one of which will be my own), and attending at the very minimum at least one more.  Every one of these four weddings is being held in a different state.  So, talk about your travel costs.  It'll certainly be an exciting year, that's for certain.

Layover in Phoenix, AZ at sunset
Then, this past weekend, Jeff and I were in California, the San Francisco Bay area for a working vacation.  We were invited by one of the manufacturers for scuba equipment to come out for seminars and workshops that would help to orient us better with all of their product lines but also get a behind the scenes look at the production plant and also upcoming products.  It was fantastic to get out of town, just the two of us, even if it was a semi-working vacation.  Granted, the company is probably regretting the fact that they covered every single bar tab the entire weekend.  I think Jeff and I only paid for food while we were in the airports.  I can tell you one thing about the group of people that we were with, we liked margaritas--a lot.

It was great though.  The other shop owners were all fantastic people.  Even though we were the youngest, we weren't outcast or looked down on at all.  In fact, we were pretty well respected in the discussions.  I was usually the bold one who'd try on the new equipment.  Trying on a new pair of fins is a lot like shopping for shoes.  Comfort, style/functionality, and color are the trifecta.  This pair of fins had everything and it was only the prototype.  I begged Jeff to get the next prototype on loan for our honeymoon.

Oceanic Factory Floor: Sewing Dept.
Long story short, our honeymoon will be in Puerto Rico and thus warm water.  My gear is set up for cold water dives.  So I have a pair of open heel fins that need ankle high boots to be worn.  But in warm water, a full foot fin that doesn't need any socks or boots is preferrable.  Lets face it ladies, it's like going to the beach wearing cowboy boots if I went with the gear I already have.  The prototype fin actually diminishes the need for having two different foot pockets on fins which would be awesome!  That and the fin itself looks very cool and sylish.  I wish I could say more, but I can't and I most certainly couldn't take pictures.
Enjoying some aged Port
While we were out there, we got to go to a wine tasting at Bent Creek winery.  It's actually a brand that's carried in the Pennsylvania state liquor stores, which surprised me a little bit when I found out where we were going.  The wine was amazing.  Especially when you start realizing that some of the wines had a relatively high percent of alcohol.  One of the other shop owners joked that we were essentially all sitting around doing shots--after swirling, sniffing, and observing the color carefully.

Bent Creek Winery
After the tasting, Jeff and I walked through some of the vineyard on our own taking in all of the terracota rooftops and European architecture in that valley.  Not to mention the gorgeous classic cars.  Because the weather is so moderate and relatively dry, classic cars keep in pristine conditions out there.  It seemed like everyone had driven up to the winery in their classic model convertible.

One of the winery's work trucks.  Yes, work truck.

Granted, some people make some major modifications to their classics.
Everett & Jones B-B-Q
Our last night there we went to a bar-b-que joint in Oakland, Everett & Jones.  It was really good food--authentic Southern food.  The shop owners from Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana all agreed.  To top off the evening, there was a live blues band that started to perform too.  So while we enjoyed our pecan pies for dessert after conquering huge stacks of ribs, we got to listen to some blues and take stock in some outrageous pimp suits that were in attendance.  The singer, was quite a character and was having a good time flirting it up with all of the women in our group.  Especially since one of them was from Louisiana and really getting into the music.

Just check out that red
pimp suit in the background!
It was a good trip.  We got on each other's nerves a little with traveling.  I'm a stickler for getting to the airport early while he's very "eh, it'll work out."  Also found out he's pretty claustrophobic when flying too.  It was a good experience for us as a couple.  It now makes more sense to me as to why he insists on driving 2,000 miles round trip to go to his cousin's wedding in Oklahoma.  I just wish that he weren't so road-ragey.  But apparently driving that far is less stressful than airports to him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pinterest Inspiring Photography (360 Days to Go)

I don't know where the time is going.  Seriously, if you know, let me know.  I blinked and a week has gone by just like that. 

But in the meantime, it's official.  I'm addicted.  There's a website called Pinterest which is still in its beta testing mode and therefore you have to ask to be invited.  Granted, that takes like maybe an hour tops.  But you sign in using your facebook or twitter account and set up "boards" in which to "pin" pictures to.  And you can pin them from anywhere.  It's fantastic.  No longer are you limited to what the knot has available to you when you make your inspiration board.  You can pool together images from The Knot, Get Married, Google Image searches, Amazon, wherever you found it during your random searches.  And because it works from a button on your favorites toolbar, you don't have to keep the site up at all times and it doesn't pull you out of your current browsing experience.  And your inspiration board can be of limitless size. 

I've probably wasted a good number of hours (spread out in five minute intervals over the past week) gathering together all of the random ideas I've had onto some of these boards.  Granted, I've been focusing most on engagement photos so that I have some idea of what I want for my own engagement photo session in a week and a half.  Eep!  I'm a bit nervous about it.

FolkArt 2517 8-Ounce Chalkboard Paint, BlackBut I'm starting to get myself together about it.  Last night I made a trip to the craft store and picked up supplies to make a few props.  Chalkboard paint is by far one of the coolest inventions ever.  I picked up some and a cute, rustic looking frame and went to work last night.  Currently, the glass is drying and waiting for its final coat.  Depending on how it turns out will determine whether or not I go chalkboard paint crazy for the wedding.  I also picked up a silk flower and feathers to make myself a hair pin to match the dress I'm going to be wearing so, that's one outfit I consider planned out.  The other outfit is still a little bit up in the air but I'm fairly certain I know what I'm doing with that one too. 

We were out shopping this weekend to get Jeff a summer suit since he roasted Saturday night at the wedding we'd attended.  During a trip, I found a cute fedora so I can be in sync with my fedora lovin' man.  But also on that trip, we found a white button down shirt for him that's pretty casual so I think we're going to do that for some of the pictures.  Especially since I want to spend some time playing in the playground which is one of those super brightly colored plastic sets.

So it's looking like we'll have some playful engagement photos as well as some more vintage, classy style ones as well.  Now, I just have to cross my fingers for beautiful weather so we don't have to cancel.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pre-versary (366 Days to Go)

I can't believe that tomorrow will be what Jeff has now dubbed our "Pre-versary": exactly one year before we say our "I do"s.  Yikes!  My blog title will officially be true as of midnight tonight.

Trust me, it's not wedding jitters or cold feet that make me slightly anxious about hitting the one year to go marker.  It's the fact that I feel like there are a billion small details to organize in that time.  And now I'm going to be not just a bridesmaid for my friend Becca this coming December, but a co-MOH for my BFF Sara in her Fall 2012 wedding, a mere three months after my own.  For someone who never played a bigger role in a wedding than guest, I certainly have a lot to do and learn over the next year (+3 months) in order to pull of my first "wedding season" without too many [more] fiascos.

We are celebrating our pre-versary--sort of.  We're acknowledging it to start with.  It won't be a big date night or anything like that.  We had one last night anyway.  (X-Men: First Class was amazing by the way and if you're a history buff, action fan, or comic book fan you have to go see it.)  Actually, one of my bridesmaids, Kim is going to be in town so we're going to have dinner out to catch up.  She too is also planning a wedding that is in theory within a few weeks of mine.  Add another yikes to the coming year of weddings.

I'm at a loss for a proper segue, partly due to taking some time off from writing, but on our way back from Memorial Day weekend, my FMIL's car broke down.  She had all of our bikes hooked up to her hitch and so, on the towed ride back, my bike which happend to be the backmost one, got crunched to say the least.  Nobody told me about it until two days later.

Now, while we'd been on the trip, Jeff and I talked about how it would be fun to conquer the Montour Trail/Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Towpath since it starts in our little town and goes all the way to D.C.  We acknowledged we'd need a ton of camping gear, but hey, isn't that part of why we want to register at REI?  However, in addition to needing gear, trailers, etc. for the trip, I'd also need a bike that wouldn't freak out when it had to run over old train tracks instead of pavement.

So, the way that I found out that my old bike got twisted like a modern art project is that I came home from work and found a new bike sitting in the scuba shop's back room.  Since we'd set the projected date for our 300+ mile bike ride for a little over a year from our wedding date, he figured I needed the trail bike sooner rather than later.  It was my pre-versary present from him.

So since then, I've been racking my brain as to what to get him for a gift.  Since I'm so far covering most of the expense of the wedding out of pocket, I don't have as much money on hand.  I was actually a teensy bit irked he spent so much on me but was also appreciative of the thought to replace my bike now so that we could ride together this summer.  However, I finally came up with the perfect idea.  Sorry for the teaser, but just in case, I don't want to say too much here and now.

Luckily though, considering that tomorrow marks the official start of my last 365 Days as Ms., I have a lot done.  I'm grateful.  I've got my caterer, my venue, my photographer and most importantly, my fantastic fiance.  I love you, babe.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ending the Reprieve (368 Days to Go)

It feels like it's been forever since I've blogged.  Oh, wait, it kind of has been.

Essentially I more or less had to completely remove myself from anything and everything wedding related for a little while or else I was going to turn Bride-zilla and never come back from the edge.

We finally found our venue, so I'm pretty ecstatic about that.  We're going to be having an outdoor ceremony lakeside at Penn Scenic View and then moving the reception indoors.  It even has a large balcony area overlooking the lake for cocktail hour.  Going to see the venue had been an experience all on it's own.  But that's what happens when you have three additional opinions and inane questions being asked.  Add to that major sleep deprivation and you have a cocktail so sour no one wants to take a sip.

To add to the hectic vibe of the day, I got a phone call two days earlier that my wedding dress had arrived more than four months earlier than expected.  I made arrangements to get to the shop just before closing the same day that we were looking at our wedding venue in order to try and save on gas.  Remember, three weeks ago, gas was at it's highest price ever.

Now since my fiance was going along to see the venue, we had to drive separately so that he could leave at that point of the day to go teach his class that also happened to be nearby.  But that still left me with two mothers and an 11-year-old niece in tow.  The moment we walked in the door, our niece started to whine about wanting to try on her bridesmaid dress.  When I explained that it hadn't been chosen yet, she insisted that she would choose.  I told her no.  Of course the two mothers insisted we might as well check some out.  Insert enormous eye roll here for getting unwanted opinions on something that doesn't directly pertain to these people.

I then listened to both mothers lecture on how bridesmaids have to be matchy-matchy and that it wouldn't be appropriate for half of my bridesmaids to wear their dresses with straps and the rest not to.  It didn't seem to matter to them that the bridesmaids (who like me) can't wear straps because of sloped shoulders would be a distraction every five minutes by adjusting their straps.  Or better yet, the busty ones forced to forego straps would be popping out mid ceremony.  I pretty much lost my cool and told them they both needed to shut up because it wasn't their decision and that bridesmaids dresses had moved on since either of them had last been married.  See the bride-zilla wanting to come out and snap?

Finally, my consultant was free to bring out my dress.  It was a perfect fit.  And I mean perfect.  My grandmother will only have to hem it by one inch and bustle it.  Talk about easy-peasy.  However, by the time I got my dress, my niece had been whining sufficiently long enough to convince my mother to go pick out some dresses for her.  Now keep in mind, she's eleven and just starting to wear juniors clothes and is approximately a size 5.  I am a size 10 and had to order a size 16 which turned out to be a perfect fit.

She tries on one dress and it doesn't quite zip up and she starts bawling about how fat she is.  And I mean bawling.  This kid has officially stolen the title of bride-zilla and she's only the junior bridesmaid.  I am now standing in my wedding dress and fielding glares from every other customer in the store.  And nothing can get her to stop crying!  She literally has a psychological problem in which she's convinced herself that she is so overweight to the point where she works out more than Richard Simmons.

When she finally does stop crying, she has adamantly decided that there is a dress she wants to wear for my wedding because it is literally a hot pink short skirted version of mine.  I glare at my mother for even pulling the dress off the rack and put my foot down.  Absolutely not.  First off because it's nearly three hundred dollars and I will not ask that of my bridesmaids.  Secondly, I am not going to have my bridesmaids look like me on my day.  Call me selfish, but I want to be a little unique aside from the fact that I'm the only one wearing white.  I certainly don't want my dress to be less awe inspiring just because the guests have already seen seven different colored versions of it walk down the aisle before me.  This puts her into another burst of tears.  And for once, I can't wait to get out of my wedding gown and out of the store.  I'm tired of getting glares that accuse me of being an evil wench just because my niece is psychotic and spoiled.

That day, Jeff and I also clarified with our mothers how the guest list would be split.  My mother was perfectly okay with the split.  His parents were very much not okay.  They felt as if we were shorting them.  Que extended pain and suffering due to guest list limitations for quite a while longer.  Eventually I learned that this stemmed from her feeling as though we'd be shorting ourselves on the available guest list for the bridal shower.  Insert large eyeroll here for a bunch of useless kitchen gadgets that would be triplicated with a bridal shower.  Jeff and I already have too many rolling pins and wooden spoons, thank you very much.

I spent the next week on the phone with everyone.  The venue manager (in order to obtain contracts for every cabin/lodge on the property), the caterer to finalize the date and location, the event planner, etc.  I signed away nearly every penny to my name in order to put down deposits and spread the joyful news to my bridesmaids and groomsmen that their lodging for the weekend would be all expenses paid.  I then put away everything wedding related and vowed to not give it a second thought for at least a few weeks.

Memorial Day weekend reopened a few of the wounds however.  Mostly due to the 11-year-old niece who spent a great deal of time again whining about her weight.  Combine that with the fact that she's missed her period for a couple of months and you have me greatly agitated that she won't listen when you tell her that she's working out too much and is now getting to be too thin.  Pretty soon, I'll be kidnapping her to put her in the hospital for eating disorder treatment.  But she was also complaining about how I'm not going to be including her in going to choose the bridesmaids dresses in a few months (in about August probably).  I explained as nicely as I could that I needed the time to be for big girls and that I could not be baby-sitting her.  I needed the freedom to be able to go out for dinner with my girlfriends who would be coming in from out of town and not feel like I have to say no because she can't go barhopping afterwards.  Also, she has too expensive of taste.  Top that off with eventually if she doesn't become anorexic, she'll outgrow her dress whereas the other girls will have their dressing hanging in their closets for a few years to come.  She doesn't seem to quite grasp that dresses cost money that the rest of us work hard for.  She merely sees it as grandma will be paying for it, so who cares about what those little numbers are following that weird "S" shaped symbol.

Once I finally got the wedding to be off topic for the weekend while we were camping, I still had to deal with her obsessive behavior on her weight.  And the multiple attempts on her 2-year-old sister's life due to stupidity.  And every time that you yell at the older girl to stop doing something, she turns it into, "Why do you hate me?!" and goes running off.  Personally, I don't think it's smart for a girl who can't tread water to be standing on the slick steps to a 30-foot quarry with her baby sister.  To complete that mental image, my fiance who uses those stairs almost as much as he does the ones we have at home, fell on them twice and neither girl had on a life jacket.  I about died when I saw them down there by themselves.  And when she ran off all upset that I hated her, she then tried to lie to her grandfather about why her baby sister was soaked up to her waist.  Adorable 2-year-old of course is telling her pappy all about standing in the water with the fishies.

I officially no longer want children.  For gosh sakes, they don't even wait to be teenagers anymore before they become pathological liars with eating disorders.  What the heck?!

Now you can understand why I haven't been writing for a while.  There's nothing like spending your time ranting on a kid.  I feel bad, but I don't know how to get through to her and it does nothing but stress me out to be around her all the time.  Jeff is actually the one who's dubbed her bride-zilla.  And when I really need some time away to get my head together and collected and calm, it really doesn't help when this girl insists on attaching herself to me all the time.  I appreciate that she wants to spend time with me, but I can't be her mother, especially when her mom wants to be her mom.  And I definitely cannot keep sacrificing time with my fiance in order to play happy family with her, especially if she's going to have more mood swings than I can manage in a month in the course of one evening.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Preparing to Go See More Venues (396 Days to Go)

So this weekend Jeff and I are going back out to the Laurel Highlands/Westmoreland County area in order to view two more venues.  This time we're going to go look at Scenic View (which has a lake and a relatively nice looking lodge) and we're actually hoping to get inside of the Falling Water venue this time instead of just peeking in through the windows and cracks.

However this time we'll be going with my FMIL and 11-year-old niece in tow.  This worries me.  They sort of invited themselves along on Mother's Day and both Jeff and I didn't have the heart to refuse.  I mean there's really no fantastic reason as to why we should refuse.  Is there?  Now I'm slightly worried that the nearly constant poo-poohing that's been going on will taint Jeff and I's initial feelings about one or another venue.  The other problem is that my FMIL has not seen the winery/resort that Jeff and I did and even if I drive her up to the location she will not get the full tour.  Therefore she might start to tell us that we should pick one location over another without having as much information as we do.  This is a point of concern for me.  Especially now when I found out that she's been to see two venues without either Jeff or I going with her.  Luckily she came to the conclusion on her own that they will not be suitable.  Still, isn't this a decision for Jeff and I to make?

It also brings up another problem.  My mother was not invited to go.  And I have now spent the last two days trying to get a hold of her to take care of this possible situation.  If I don't invite her, it will eventually come to her attention that my FMIL did go along without my mother also being given the opportunity.  Of course this will result in all kinds of hurt feelings and awkwardness.  So, therefore I'm trying to avoid that.  There is the chance that she'll understand that I'm stuck with the extra carpool guests and not come, however, if I do invite her, she may come along and be yet one more unwanted opinion. 

Yes, I'm already preparing myself for the very real possibility that my FMIL's opinion after this weekend will be unwanted.  Not because she will necessarily be wrong or without good taste, but just not fully informed or concerned with the same aspects that Jeff and I are.  Her goals for the venue are merely the number of chairs, air conditioning and bathrooms.  Each are very important, yes, but they are not the sole goals that Jeff and I seek.  At least we both semi agree on the all important dollar.  Well almost, I'm the biggest cheapskate of the bunch which is why we're looking all the way out where we are. 

I hate to say that in some ways my mother might actually be closer to being on my side for once.  I think for the most part though lately she's trying to sit on the fence so as to not offend anyone, but if she's forced to choose, she has been picking my side.  This is kind of a first for her and I.  Mom has been better about listening to me and accepting that there are certain things that are important to me, such as the scenery, the vibe, etc. of a place.  These are things that account for naught with my FILs.  They are very much in favor of a very utilitarian wedding.  Boo.  This is my one and only wedding and I want it to be special and I'm determined not to make my wedding to Jeff feel like a dress rehearsal for something else.  This is what happens when you're the daughter of someone who's been remarried as often as my mother.

I must sound terrible.  I sound terrible to me just reading this.  It's just that I'm really getting my heart set on something and it's important to me that people stop poo-poohing everything.  It's my wedding, gosh darn it, and most importantly it's my money and future debt.  It doesn't thrill me that everyone else wants their opinion counted twice while mine gets ignored or worse yet, trampled on.  I understand that no one is expecting a fancy, frilly wedding.  But did anyone consider that it's what I want?  I want for my wedding to be memorable.  I don't want my wedding to blend in with everyone else's that we know.  So what if they all had their receptions in some white-walled reception hall?  I want mine to have a connection with nature.  So what if every other wedding you've gone to served crappy, tiny slices of cake.  I don't plan to.  Does that mean I shouldn't bother tasting cakes at all before I order it?  I'd like to make sure that when it's smashed into my face it won't chip a tooth.  And I definitely want to make sure that there isn't an image immortalizing the moment that I gag and spit up some nasty flavored cake.  And just because you lack imagination and deem my idea of holding the wedding reception in a barn to be equivalent to your brother-in-law's body shop garage, doesn't actually make that true.  Oh yes, we have been down that road in the venue discussion.  So, poo-poohing has been a popular issue for me.  Is it too much to ask that the poo-poohing wait until after I've formed my opinion?  I'd like to have a decent head start on being able to defend myself.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

First Day at the New Job (397 Days to Go)

I survived my first day at my new job.  I didn't even have trouble getting to be on friendly terms with my new coworkers.  It was a little dull, but most first days usually are because it's all training and reading.  The work itself though doesn't sound like it'll be too overwhelming, which is good.  One can only hope they don't bite off more than they can chew.  But it will be a slight challenge since I'm completely changing the field of science that I'll be working in (biochemistry to analytical chemistry).

The biggest challenge is going to be restructuring my schedule.  I'll be working 6:30 am to 3 pm now instead of roughly 9 to 5 (which was nothing like I actually worked anyway).  I have a feeling it'll be tough for the first few weeks, but I'll end up really liking it because I'll have some free time to get stuff done in the afternoons after I get off work.  Which in the long run will be helpful when it comes to the wedding.  The worst part is that Jeff will keep working late and therefore I'll barely be up much longer after he gets done for the night.

What's funny is that Jeff tried to send me flowers for my last day of work.  Of course, the florist screwed up.  I found out from one of my old coworkers that apparently they did deliver them on my last day--to the first empty desk they could find on the wrong floor.  This happened to be an administrator's desk (and they typically take most of Friday off) and so on Monday morning she found them and delivered them to the address given on the flowers which led right to my old desk.   So, my old coworkers contacted me by phone and Facebook to let me know that I had a gorgeous flower arrangement waiting for me.  Luckily because my new job gets done at 3 pm so I was able to drive back up to the hospital and get let back in.  So I was also able to pick up the items that I'd forgotten on Friday.

So despite the fact that I went back to visit after not even being gone a full day, I don't miss it.  Not a bit.  I was in fact reminded how much I don't miss it when my old supervisor appeared out of thin air and started asking me a bunch of questions about this, that, and the other thing as if I still worked for him.  No, they weren't conversational things at all.  It was, what happened to this order you placed? And I didn't realize you were coming back (not at all joking).  I couldn't get back out of there fast enough.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Last Day at Work (399 Days to Go)

Yesterday seemed like a pretty big milestone in my life.  Not only was it the rollover point of 400 days left before the wedding, but it was also my last day at my old job.  It had a surreal feeling to it all day.  I went in and worked on the same things that I've been working on for the past two weeks--catching up on paperwork.  I took inventory and transferred files and put in a full day's work despite putting in overtime all week long.

So despite the fact that everyone was teasing me about working too hard on my last day and that they took me out to lunch, it never hit me, not even when I was exchanging hugs goodbye for the last two hours.  Even after I went to pick up my car so I could come back and collect my things, I didn't seem to come to a realization that I wouldn't be coming back.  Which really stinks because I was halfway home and locked out  of the hospital's research building when I realized that left behind two pairs of shoes.

I have to admit I'm going to seriously miss the girls I work with.  They are absolutely fantastic.  No one could ever ask for a more supportive group of people to spend five days a week with.  That's why I know it's going to feel weird on Monday morning when I go to my new job for the first time.  I can only hope for that my future coworkers are half as great.  If they are, then I'll be doing pretty good for myself.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Christian W. Klay Winery (401 Days to Go)

First off, I could totally kick myself for forgetting my camera in the car.  I mean seriously, all I had to do was say, "Oops, I'll be right back."  Less than two minutes.  But no, the camera remained in my bag, in the Mini, sitting in the parking lot.

I think it's partially because Jeff and I got to the winery a little early this past weekend and decided to get out of the car and stretch our legs after the early morning drive for nearly two hours.  Driving back into the Laurel Highlands from Pittsburgh involves some patience, the turnpike, and some back country highways that twist and wide up and down the mountains.  At first we weren't sure what to make of the place.  It had just finished raining, was gray and bleak, and we were situated at the bottom of a valley.  All we could really see was the barn from the outside, looking up at the ridges where the vineyards were, and a man-made pond with a fountain.

Christian W. Klay Winery is set into a valley in the Laurel Highlands less than ten minutes away from Ohiopyle  State Park and and about 20 minutes away from Falling Water.  When we finally got up with the vineyard's groundskeeper/manager, he gave us a driving tour of the property (since it was muddy and since it was a relatively large piece of property).  We got to see the main vineyard, the apple orchards, and a beautiful hill top grass field that feels as if the entire world is just dropping away from it.  There was even a valley field set further back on the property too.  Our favorite two spots on the property were the first two that we saw (probably lucky since we wouldn't want to be towing people back and forth much further than that).

The vineyard is at it's peak after the start of June.  Before that it's in the middle of needing pruned and the grass is about two feet high between all of the grapevines.  But by June, the grass is turned over and the vines are budding and turning green.  So for our wedding date, it would be in peak condition.  Essentially, we saw it at it's worse, and I think I could still work with it.  Except for maybe the two foot tall grass.  The vineyard itself is set on top of a ridge and the view looking out is exceptional.  The mountains are covered in trees and there's only a few houses and farms spotting the valley view below.

The field that was situated at the top of a ridge was a little more clean looking.  There were no orchards, grapevines, or any other agriculture.  Nothing but open air and a few trees on nearby ridges.  In all directions, it looked down into valleys much like the view from the vineyard.  And of course the mountains were gorgeous.  It was a perfect 360 panorama of Pennsylvania's nature at its finest.

The last possible location, and the furthest back, was a field set down into a valley.  We were informed it has lost its popularity over the years because it is no longer a field of wildflowers.  Both Jeff and I were a little disappointed that we are apparently getting married five years to late to enjoy this splendor.

Back at the barn, there was a fenced in field for event parking.  I'd imagine that there would be no trouble finding space for parking even with the large numbers that Jeff (not I) is expecting.  On the other side of the barn from the parking is the entrance with giant sliding doors.  Inside, the columns are wrapped in dried grapevines and twinklie lights and spot lights have been hung from some of the cross beams for the dance floor and additional lighting.  With only half of those lights on during the day, it was relatively well lit and provided the beginnings of a romantic setting.  The man who gave us the tour did not know all of the specifics (as he's not the actual event manager) about how many people could be seated in there, but he knew that there had been about 200 people in a banquet before.  In one corner of the barn was a walled off section for the catering prep which included stainless steel tables and a refrigerator--no oven/stove.  Also, a pair of wheeled bars were there as well and the floor was concrete.  The walls on two sides were newer than the other side.  This created a slightly discordant appearance, but Jeff and I talked about it and decided that with a little decorating, it wouldn't be noticed.

Back outside again, there was the pond that I mentioned earlier that even came with two geese.  Actually they were trying to give away this pair of lovebirds.  So if your interested, go pick them up.  But near the pond was a newly built pavilion.  Not a very large one, but after some chatter between Jeff and myself, we decided worst case scenario (that being rain of course) it would serve as an appropriate and still beautiful choice for a ceremony site.

And to sum up our tour of the winery, we got to do a wine tasting.  Jeff and I are anything but wine critics so our comments were pretty much limited to "amazing", "eh" and a scoring based on the 1-10 scale.  We're classy all the way.  This was important to us though that the let us taste the wine.  Especially since if we decide to go with the venue, we're required to buy at minimum two cases of wine.  We decided that only two wines weren't that good and that we would have no trouble selecting at least one white and one red wine to serve.  And we'd probably have to buy bottles of every desert wine to serve instead of a champagne toast.  As we drove away we were even talking about buying an entire case of their wine in order to open one bottle a year for our anniversary should we get married there.

Now, as we had been approaching the winery, we passed over the tippy top of a mountain and right past the Summit Inn Resort.  This place looked like it had dropped down on top of the mountain straight out of the 1940s (or even earlier).  No, I don't mean in a shabby run down way.  I mean in the elegance of the place.  It had character.  You could just tell by driving by.  On our way back, we decided to stop there and have lunch.  It seemed like a logical place to stay for the weekend if our wedding was at the winery so it would also be a logical place to have our rehearsal dinner too.

Before we could even get to the restaurant, we accidentally walked into a side door and right into their reception hall that was being set up for somebody else's wedding.  Oops.  I told you, we're all class.  So we glanced around, giggled a little at our mistake and ducked back out again.  But already, we were falling in love with the place.  The hall had been enormous.  The seating that was there for 100 barely even began to fill  a third of the space.  We finally found the main entrance which made me practically swoon at the huge patio deck.  It was gorgeous, absolutely picturesque.  I wanted to see me and my bridesmaids lined up against the rail looking radiant.  I wanted to get dressed for my wedding in this hotel.  

Once inside, I felt like I'd stepped back in time.  The lobby was enormous, a staircase leading up and to both sides like something out of the Sound of Music.  Actually, both of our first impressions was that of the Shining, but without the creepy girls in white dresses asking us to come play with them.  We got our lunch and Jeff went bonkers as his taste buds sang and danced.  He asked if we could instead have our wedding reception here.

After we ate, we talked to the women at the reception desk and found out that our date was already booked for another reception but that there were still plenty of rooms available for the weekend and that it wouldn't be a problem to have our rehearsal dinner the night before and our after party there the night of.  They even gave us the keys to a couple of different rooms and allowed us to give ourselves our own tour of the hotel.  The rooms were a tiny bit dated, but very clean looking.  And by dated, I simply mean the TVs were old.  But seriously, who's going to be watching TV that weekend?  There's going to be booze!

Everywhere we looked from the hotel, the view was gorgeous.  It was all valley views from the front.  And the back looked onto a slope of trees.  And in case our guests really are bummed by the old TVs, they could go play golf or jump into the enormous pool they had.  Or perhaps the heated out door hot tub?

We're still going to look at one other place in another week or so, but I have a feeling we're very quickly going to try and get everything booked and reserved to have our wedding between this resort and the winery.  All I know is that I'm definitely going to jump on the fact that Jeff is actually excited about planning our wedding.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mother's Day Gifts (403 Days to Go)

So Jeff and I went shopping for a mother's day gift for his mother this weekend.  I had already gotten and given my mother her gift at Easter: a gift card for the Pirates so that she and her boyfriend could go to a game of their choice sometime this month.

Jeff had in his mind a charm bracelet that could have all the birthstones for everyone in the family.  Since the family is grown exponentially fast recently and hardly anyone's birth months overlapped, it seemed excessive to try to buy a ring at this time.  When we got to the jewelry store we found out that there weren't any linked chains that could be used for charm bracelets.  Jeff was a little frustrated that the only options they had in that style cost a couple hundred dollars.  Apparently Pandora has quite literally knocked down the demand of the traditional charm bracelet such that you can't even find them anymore. 

So, there we were look at Pandora bracelets.The first step was picking out chain which Jeff went with a silver lobster claw.  We also decided to get at least one clip in order to make sure that the beads stay in place the way they're supposed to without the risk of them falling off.  We went with this one:
We next checked out the different options for birth stones.  Jeff wanted to start with just his own and his brother's and for the following holidays we would start to fill in the rest.  It sounded like a great idea until we started adding up the cost of the different charms and the add-ons that we hadn't expected, such as the clip.  The birthstone charms that the lady first showed us were definitely a) out of our price range and b) completely inappropriate to represent her two sons.
Our second option was a dangling charm for the birthstones but I told Jeff that on my "knock-off" bracelet that the dangling charms tended to press into my wrist awkwardly or get caught on things.  So we quickly decided against that particular style of charms.  Especially since we were informed that they were discontinued and we'd never have a chance to get a matched set by the time Christmas rolled around.
The third option was a more recent design that wasn't necessarily meant to be birthstones but just came in a wide variety of stone colors.  We liked these, but it was still out of our budget to afford both Jeff and his brother's stones and didn't seem right to buy only one of theirs.

So we started contemplating what single charm we could buy that would be appropriate for Mother's Day.  Of course considering the occasion we looked at the newest "MOM" charm but decided to not go quite that obvious or cheesy. 
We instead got her this:
Can't go wrong with something tropical for this scuba diving family.  So now we've got to make sure she knows that we'll fill it in over time and to not rush out and buy all the charms herself.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ex's (404 Days to Go)

The other day I was on Facebook and I realized that someone I went to college with was planning her wedding--for the second time.  When I had known her, she had dated a common acquaintance and right after graduation they were engaged.  Now, I had known there was some rough spots in their relationship and thus was not entirely surprised to find out a few months later (again through Facebook) that the engagement had been broken off.  But before the engagement had been broken, she had published a ton of professional engagement photos on the social networking site.

Out of curiosity, I went to see if I knew who her new fiance was.  I didn't.  But what really surprised me was that pictures of her ex-fiance were still shown in the top banner as being some of her most recently tagged photos.  When I clicked to see all the photos of her I saw that nearly all of them were from her engagement photo session with her ex (or from sorority life during college) and there wasn't even a single shot of her with her new husband-to-be.  Now, this was the exact opposite on his page (oops, his security settings weren't up to speed and I can be a stalker when curiosity gets the better of me), for his profile picture was a couples shot of them.

Both members of the couple have their entire walls covered in statuses and comments having to do with their upcoming nuptials but it really surprised me that she had never edited her Facebook to diminish her ex-fiance's presence especially with her wedding coming up in the fall.  So my question isn't really about whether or not she's wrong or right, but what is the proper etiquette in the situation?  Do you erase your past life and pretend it never happened?  Or do you at least more thoroughly establish that you have a new life that doesn't include that other guy you had a professional shoot with?

I'll admit, I never went through my account and deleted everything that went between my ex and myself.   The pictures, comments, even the connection as "friends" remains.  In fact, I hadn't even realized we were still FB friends until I saw his comment a week after I announced my engagement to Jeff about how he'd dodged two bullets in one month in reference to myself and another of his exes (and one of my bridesmaids).  I contemplated removing him, but didn't.  I have an attitude about removing FB friends that essentially dictates that I have to wish them dead before I remove them, thus no one ever has been.  

However, I feel as though I had been active enough on FB while I was single and while I was dating Jeff to establish very thoroughly which guy I plan to spend the rest of my life with.  It wasn't as if I was completely inactive during the two year span between wedding planning periods as this girl I once knew had been.  It was just slightly jarring to me.

I'm curious to know how others have handled their exes on social networking sites like Facebook.  Did you erase your pictures of your ex?  Did you remove them as a friend?  Or did you let the past be just as it was no matter how prominently it was displayed?

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding Fashion (407 Days to Go)

Because let's face it--this is all that really matters today when it comes to the topic of weddings.  
Already 2 billion people have watched footage.  Yes, 1/3 of the world population.

Kate's dress was of course amazing.  I've been hearing the word "understated" tossed around quite a bit but I'd like to think that the Duchess is merely sensible, classy, and my favorite: timeless.  The simplicity will never cause no one to ever look back and think "What was she thinking?!"  Because if we're all honest with ourselves, that's what we'd say about Princess Diana's poofy shoulders.  But that's something we'd never say of Princess Grace Kelly.  I feel like after half a century we'll have a truely classy princess once again.

As customary, she had a long train, but not so long that it required a troop of girl scouts to carry it--only her sister Pippa.  And of course Pippa looked absolutely lovely too in her thematically matching Alexander McQueen dress. 

I loved the lace bodice that Kate wore in order to meet the Abbey's requirements.  It was subtle and beautiful. Sigh.  And can we talk about the hair?  Half-up, half-down in an effort to exhibit her own style as well as appease her new royal fam.  I don't envy her the sacrifices she has to make for the sake of appearances and tradition.  But she is certainly doing a fantastic job of making the best of it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Budget (408 Days to Go)

So with the Royal wedding less than 24 hours away and trying to work out my own wedding budget, it made me wonder what exactly went into the royal budget and how much different it was from the average American wedding cost.  Someone else put together a very, very basic breakdown of cost by comparing the royal wedding, to Chelsea Clinton's wedding, to the average American wedding. 

So for the overview budget, Kate Middleton and Prince William will have spent a whopping $32 million.  To put this into some more perspective, the Clintons dropped only a tenth of that amount on their own "princess" and in America, the typical "Daddy's girl princess" spends approximately $27,000--less than one hundredth of the British royal wedding's cost.  Already, I'm starting to feel like I'm not prepared to spend enough on my own wedding.

Going a little more in depth, next we'll look at the cost of the cake.  Around Pittsburgh, prices tend to run from $1.50 to $3.00 a slice for some really impressive looking and tasting cakes.  So, going with the highest price, and my relatively large guest list (250 people), I'd be looking at paying around $750.  Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor.  This is actually considered over the average price for a wedding cake in the U.S.  So I'll definitely keep looking to find a cake a little cheaper.  The Royals will be dropping somewhere around $80,000.  Divide that amongst the 300 guests and you're looking at $266 slices of cake.  Yikes!  That better be the most incredibly moist and delicious cake ever.

Kate Middleton's dress will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $434,000.  The average American "princess" will spend just a little over $1000.  I personally spent just under $700 on mine (after taxes) and I'm darn proud of that because I managed to get a designer gown.  I can only imagine what the average price will be of the royal wedding knock-off dresses that we can expect to start seeing in troves next month.

An astounding $800,000 will be spent on just the flowers for the big day.  This is just shy of half of what was spent for Chelsea Clinton's wedding.  But the average American bride will spend a little less than $2000 for her flowers.  It makes me wonder what the exact price of Kate's bouquet (which will be left on the tomb of the unknown soldier) will be.  I'm planning to try and spend not a penny more than $100 for my own bouquet if at all possible.

The engagement ring actually falls significantly less than an American celebrity's ring.  Chelsea Clinton's engagement ring cost a whopping $1 million dollars whereas Diana's ring which was passed on to Kate is valued at $136,000.  Still, this is a lot more than the average American's engagement ring which clocks in somewhere around $5000.  Out of respect for Jeff, I won't reveal how much mine is worth.  But for most of us girls, we care more about the thought our men put into the ring than how much it cost.  It means so much to me that Jeff had mine specially designed and kept in mind that I wanted a flat ring.

Next up are the wedding favors.  There's no exact price that's been listed, but the customized scarves that will be given out to the guests are made by a company, Centrex of Ludhiana, India, that at the high end makes scarves valued at 300 pounds (~$500).  Since these are custom scarves which will be offered in three different color schemes, I feel like this is probably a safe bet on the pricing.  Considering that most American brides aim to spend as little as possible on their favors, I'd say that this is at least a hundred times more than the average favor price.  In fact, I'm having my mom crochet small seashells as favors for minimal cost (before the manual labor of course) and having a photobooth with the money saved on favors.

But all of these costs broken down don't even come close to the cost on the British economy.  The royal wedding will more or less shut down the country for a day.  Estimates have been made that the national holiday could cost the economy $10 billion (which is the low estimate; the high estimate being $50 billion). Impressive considering that the average American wedding does nothing but boost local economies by putting vendors and their employees to work.  That and our guests are so wide spread throughout the region and businesses that even if they need to take a day or two off to attend the wedding (or merely recover from their hangover) it would do no great harm to the economy.  Granted, they have also calculated how much the wedding will help the economy with a surplus of around $1.5 billion from the sales of memorabilia.

So the next time that you and your family or fiance get into a fight over the wedding budget, try and keep in mind that it could be worse--or better depending on how you want to think about it. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Starting a New Career (409 Days to Go)

So I can officially announce that I've gotten a new job.  I received the offer by phone last Thursday and the offer packet in the mail this afternoon.  I gave my two weeks notice to my supervisors yesterday with a resignation letter and to the best of my ability, an in-person chat as well.  My middle supervisor was more or less a little shocked (that I spoke to him first) and wished me the best and gave me some words of warning about ever wanting to move up into management type positions.  All I could do was arch an eyebrow and say that I'd keep it in mind.  Personally I find my ambitions to have the option to move up into management to be healthy.

My direct supervisor didn't get to work until late (this is actually a norm for him and part of the reason I'm moving on) so therefore I didn't get to tell him until later.  When I did speak to him, he hadn't even noticed the e-mail dangling at the top of his inbox titled "Resignation" but instead talked to me for over an hour about the results I'd e-mailed him late last Friday and then about what work was ahead for the next several months.  I sort of just "uh-huh"-ed my way through the conversation without ever getting a word in edgewise to mention I was quitting.  When I did finally tell him, it was sort of like a little "oh" and that was about all.  Then a few questions about where I was going to be working now.

I still haven't told my head supervisor.  That'll be later this morning.  That's when all of the shit hits the fan if you will.  I'll be informing him of exactly why I sought out new employment elsewhere because of my direct supervisor being a jerk to put it mildly.  All of my coworkers have begged and made me promise that I will do this today.  That in itself should tell you that his "management skills" are a concern.  The past two days I've been at work very late because when I gave my two weeks notice it was apparently waving the flag that said give me two months worth of work to do and don't give me time to catch up on paperwork that has to be done.

Apparently in the sciences, it's not often that they have a technician who actually leaves with things in order (let alone wanting to leave things in order).  So I guess my supervisor better get used to the idea that he's going to owe me some major overtime in order to insure that everything that I used to do is in order and ready to be handed over to one of my coworkers.  I'm crossing my fingers that this week will be the last for experiments and they'll leave me an entire week for just paperwork and bureaucracy.  I'm sure I'm being way to optimistic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Visiting Succop Conservancy (410 Days to Go)

On Saturday my FMIL and I headed to Butler County Community College's Succop Concervancy.  If I actually book this as my venue I'm going to have to shorten this somehow for the invitations.  That is a mouthful!  But it's looking relatively unlikely because they're already booked for the date that Jeff and I chose and we would have to postpone the wedding by at least a few months.

Succop is a beautiful location that would be appropriate for ~150 guests.  Their outdoor event pavillion has ceiling fans, space heaters, and drop sides available in order to stay off the weather should it decide to be unwilling to behave.  (See below for photos of these amenities) I can just imagine how pretty it would be as the sun began to set and it was completely covered in twinkly lights.  The only downside is that there is no built in dance floor--you would have to rent one.  The pavilion is located extraordinarily conveniently between two of the possible ceremony sites and the house.  A path leads from the kitchen door of the house to the pavilion for the catering staff's ease.  Which by the way there is only one available caterer for this venue, however their food is actually very good.  Also very near by is a pond which has a small peninsula.

As I mentioned before, there are two locations that are ideal for the actual wedding ceremony.  The first is the brick path right in front of the house.  The bridal party would all enter the aisle through the front door and walk straight out along the brick path which would serve as the aisle.  The chairs would be set up along the blacktop.  They have an awning that they can set up in the middle of the path to serve as the altar and be decorated.  It's a very scenic location and allows an outdoor ceremony that is very classy and elegant--just in case you're not into the down-to-earth setting of an herb garden.

The herb garden was the other setting that was very nice.  They have an awning that is permanently affixed there and is set at the end of an aisle that goes between the garden sections.  If I were to get married here, this is the setting I'd choose.  I even scoped it out that you could move from the house (kitchen door) around back through a back parking lot and around a structure.  Sounds silly, but if you're like me, you don't want everyone to be watching you slowly approach the ceremony from what feels like a million miles away.  I'd rather go a little out of my way in order to achieve a grand entrance.

But directly behind herb garden is the restrooms.  Don't panic.  They are not blatantly labeled as bathrooms.  That sign above the door simply says "Herb Garden".  But the reason I'm showing you this is because as I was saying earlier, the way you would probably make your entrance is by coming from behind this building.  And it's also very conveniently located to the pavilion.  There are only two bathrooms, but they're at least of a somewhat decent size (meaning there's room in there for both you and the MOH who needs to hold your dress up.

Going back to the house from the reception pavilion, there's a cute little patio behind the house.  There's only room for two tables, but depending on the number of people you have, it'd be a cute little place to hav brunch or tea before you start getting ready and dressed.  But it is one of the many places in and around the house that would make for beautiful photo opportunities.  The house is just as pretty inside as the grounds surrounding.  In fact, that was one of my favorite parts about the venue.  They had a really nice set up upstairs for dressing.  The bride and groom each had their own side which included two rooms.  The bride's side was a little more done up and had a much larger bathroom, but let's face it, what do the men care?  Also, there was a door that insured no peeking.  I liked the close proximity though because for us, we'll only have one photographer.  So it's nice to know they'd be able to easily move back and forth to take photos in both "camps."

I included all the other photos that I took that day so that you can get a better feel for how the Succop looks.  Like I said, there are many beautiful places around the grounds in order to take advantage of for photos and for your guests to wander during the cocktail hour.
Ceiling fans in the pavilion

Drop cloth walls to protect you and your guests from inclimate weather.

The path from the kitchen to the pavilion.

Standing in front of the bathrooms, and looking from the herb garden to the pavilion.
Walking out onto the peninsula in the middle of the pond.

Nearby walking paths

The park bench out on the peninsula

From the park bench looking back at the herb garden.

The barn located behind the house and pavilion.

From the pavilion path looking at the kitchen end of the house.

The bridal bathroom

The groom's changing rooms