Thursday, March 31, 2011

Date Night (436 Days to Go)

The trip to the doctor's office went relatively well.  Surgery has now officially been scheduled for tomorrow.  So that's one less thing to worry about.  Instead of getting pins like the first orthopedic surgeon had thought, it's going to be one or two permanent titanium plates.  So, the boy who can't seem to remember to take his keys out of his pocket to go through a metal detector will forever be setting metal detectors off.  But the incredibly good news is that he should be back to almost full function in about two weeks after the surgery.  He'll have to wear a splint for a while, but it won't be locking up the movement of his hand and elbow as his temporary cast has been.  He's incredibly grateful because he'll be able to get back to work as usual all the sooner which is important since his busy season is close at hand.

In the meantime, I anxiously await the blow of the medical bills while constantly searching Monster for any hopeful job leads.  I think I'm to the point of giving up on finding anything that is career related and just finding something that I qualify for in general.  I can't really imagine that any science related job that I take can make my career much worse and it has to be better than falling off the bottom rung to take up waitressing instead.  I'm crossing my fingers that I can at least get a job interview somewhere.  It would be a slight boost to my self esteem rather than be completely ignored by everyone I've applied to so far.

Other than that, we've been trying to get back into our date night routine.  It used to be that we went out every Tuesday night for dinner and a movie.  But we're cutting back a little and trying to go only every other week.  But as of lately, I've been either getting home from work too late or too stressed out and tired to want to go out.  We already are pinching our pennies by going Tuesday night.  At least here in Pittsburgh, that's the night that movie theatres have discounted tickets or some kind of promotion.  The theatre we go to in Robinson has tickets for $5.25 and even if we want to see a movie in 3-d, then it's that rate plus the $3.00 premium.  So no matter what, we're paying less than the average movie ticket price as long as we stick to that night.  Dinner usually goes up and down as far as price and quality based on how tight money is that week.  Sometimes we eat at home or we hit up Steak n' Shake if we're feeling a little tight but other times we'll treat ourselves to the Hibachi place that's right near the theatre.  It doesn't happen very often considering how expensive it can be but still every once in a while is better than nothing.  This past Tuesday, we hit up Red Robin and saw Sucker Punch--which was incredible.  I haven't seen a fantasy film like that since...I dunno--never.  What was really amazing to me was the musical score.  Never in my life did I think that Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit could be turned into a fight theme, but they did it and it was good!  I suddenly have a strong desire to go buy some new costumes for cosplay.  Yes, I'm a total geek and I take dressing up at Halloween to new extremes.  Luckily my fiance totally goes along with it, including the occasional comi-con.  For instance, this past Halloween we were the Joker and Harley Quinn.  This coming year we're talking about Buzz Lightyear and Jesse from Toy Story.

Personally I can't wait for it to start being a little warmer so we can switch our date night to the weekend and go to the drive-in instead.  We typically go to the Dependable Drive-In which I have to laugh because nowadays it's marketed as a family place but way back in the day it used to show the skin flicks.  Personally I find this idea creepy.  Why would you want to watch a porno at a drive-in?  What happened to the privacy of your own living room people?  But as I said, nowadays, it's a family place.  They've got four screens so we can always find some pairing of movies that we want to watch.  So even though this particular drive-in is open year round, I prefer to go in the summer.  Then we can pack a picnic dinner, toss out a blanket behind the car and listen to the surround sound of everyone else's car radios.  Much easier than trying to cuddle over a gear shift, which in both of our vehicles is quite in the way.  Surprisingly, more so in my Mini than in his Dakota.  It almost makes me wish I had my gram's '91 Chevy with the bench seat.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Photo Update

Jeff's actual cat scan that we viewed this morning.
My new eyeglasses from Camille Bizien.  My something "Blue" for the wedding.

And so let the cat chewing on the eye glasses begin.
She actually dragged them down off the table when I had my back turned.  Brat.

Jeff's Broken Wrist (437 Days to Go)

That's similar to what Jeff did, except
he knocked both knobs off the radius.
Image Source

So this morning I'm taking Jeff for his second consultation with a second orthopedic surgeon.  Actually today should have been his surgery, but the surgeon's secretary, PA, nurse or whomever who did the scheduling really screwed up.  He broke his wrist last Saturday (the 19th), we took him to the emergency room for x-rays on Sunday when the swelling didn't go down (and because he didn't want to go in the middle of our vacation to Seven Springs), and saw the first orthopedic surgeon Monday.  That first surgeon gave us a recommendation to the second surgeon because he's a hand/wrist specialist and told us we needed to go get cat scans right away so we could get in for a consultation later in the week and get the surgery scheduled for either next Tuesday (yesterday) or Wednesday (today).  So, his secretary called the other surgeon's office and left a message telling them to book an OR and to schedule a consultation to see the cat scans.  Well, all they did was schedule a consultation and they booked it for today rather than a week ago.  So now, Jeff has been wearing a temporary cast on his arm for over a week and it's no longer the right size because the swelling has gone down significantly which is actually now causing it to rub his wrist raw--the broken wrist!  To say the least, I'm annoyed with the health care system.  So hopefully the surgeon will come to the same conclusion we have already for over a week, that he needs surgery asap, and schedule it for in the next few days.  The sooner the boy gets into a regular cast the happier I'll be.

But in the meantime, I'm sitting here waiting.  The upside to all of this is that after we get out of here, I'm dragging him to Sam's Club so we can pick up my new eyeglasses.  I'm not planning on wearing these new frames all the time because I got them specifically for our wedding.  They're rimless, silver, and pale blue.  My current frames are a relatively bold black pair and don't always photograph well, especially since I didn't get glare free lenses.  Essentially, I'm scared that if I start wearing them everyday now, I'll walk into a wall and break them before the wedding.  Don't laugh, I've done some serious bending to my current frames that way.  I really can't ever seem to remember door frames, especially the one around our pantry.  And the pair before these, my cat chewed off the end of one of the ear pieces.  Relatively impressive work actually.  It's not so noticeable to the observer but a real pain for me because they scratch the side of my head like crazy.  So, unless it's a special occasion, those frames will most likely spend a good deal of time hanging out in my top dresser drawer away from my clumsy self and from my kitten's gnawing habit.

Image Source

The other upside is that I have my Nook.  I'm completely addicted to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and just itching to get to the bottom of the mystery.  It's been a while since a book has managed to keep me in suspense for three hundred  plus pages.  However, if I was good, I'd actually be knitting on my cousin's baby's blanket instead.  The silly blanket was supposed to be incredibly easy, but it has so many stitches on it that every time I transport it somewhere, I spend at least a half hour picking stitches back up because nearly the entire thing has fallen off the needles.  Thus, why I'm reading instead.  A girl can only take so much frustration before even her knitting no longer feels like zen.  But I do need to find my zen again soon.  I have to teach knitting at Jo-Ann's on Saturday so it'd probably be best if the teacher wasn't stressed while trying to preach the calming effects of knitting.  Then again, I've always had the attitude of "do as I say, not as I do."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stress, Gah... (438 Days to Go)

This weekend was stressful in one of those overwhelming ways, you know when you feel as if the whole world is crumbling down on you but really it's only a few things.  For me it was two things.  The first is that I feel like everyone has some stress going on and it's getting directed at me.  Jeff's wrist is broken and he's in a near constant state of irritability, understandably.  His father is usually off and on stressed with the business and that usually gets directed at Jeff since they're business partners but this weekend it was on me because I had asked if Jeff and I could go visit my family for Easter weekend (so I can go visit my cousin's new baby!) but that would require Jeff taking a day or two away from the shop.  Plus, as spring approaches, we may need to take some time to look at venues as well.  Never mind the fact that he's been taking half days here and there to go to doctor's appointments and eventually for the surgery he needs on his wrist.  So essentially, I'm feeling kind of like a bad guy for wanting to have my fiance be a) involved in my life and b) involved in the wedding planning.

Count me double stressed when everyone keeps telling me to just plan the wedding by myself because Jeff doesn't care.  I don't like making big decisions without consulting someone else first.  That in and of itself is stressful to me.  The last thing I want to do is plan our wedding without consulting the other person whom this day is supposed to be about.  Because if it's left up to me, I'll pick a tiny venue to save a lot of bucks and tell him to figure out who in his family's not invited.  I can see that going over incredibly well--not.  Don't worry, I'm kidding--sort of.  But if he doesn't go with me, there isn't someone to ask the questions I forget to ask.  And he's such a critic (food in particular) that I don't want to be stressing out from now until next year about whether or not he's going to hate our wedding, or more specifically the caterer.  It's one thing for him to criticize dinner and say it's bland and then the next month when I make it again, it's got more oregano.  It's another thing when it's a once in a lifetime event and the caterer falls short of everyone's expectations.  I don't get a re-do the next month.

Top that off with dinner at my in-laws house the other night and having my eleven year old niece think my entire life revolves around dress shopping and cake tasting.  I wish.  Wouldn't it be great if one year of our lives could be dedicated to such fun, frivolous activities?  And better yet, if it wouldn't cost a fortune to do that and only that for a year.  And for dessert, my FMIL decided to tell me where I'm going wrong in looking for a new job.  Such as apparently I'm not looking hard enough if I'm not applying to Bayer, Fisher, etc.  I wish it were the late seventies when jobs were handed out willy-nilly.  Unfortunately, I can't mail in a resume for jobs that just aren't available.  Yes, those companies are hiring; they're just not hiring scientists.  They're hiring business majors to work in sales and customer service.

Which brings me around to the real underlying stress I'm having in trying to locate a more stable job for myself.  There simply aren't any in the Pittsburgh area that have much or anything to do with forensic science.  The closest forensic labs are Allegheny County and Westmoreland County.  Neither of which are hiring.  Trying to find a job in the private sector is turning out to be very tricky as well.  I'm over qualified thanks to my masters degree and under qualified thanks to my current job not giving me much in the way of experience to back up my degree and knowledge of biology, biochemistry, and analytical chemistry.  So it's starting to look more and more like I have to widen my search to outside the area which could very possibly mean my moving away for several years.  And after a few years, there's no guarantee that I'd be able to find a job and move back to the area.  Making it even more difficult: my fiance would not be able to move with me and in some cases refuses to even consider moving.  For instance, I could apply to be a state trooper, spend six months in training, and more likely than not be positioned in Philadelphia where I have to fulfill a minimum of three years before I can request a transfer to a state forensic lab.  Even if Jeff were free of the business he runs with his father, he swears he would never move to Philadelphia.  Granted, if I can hold out for two to three more years before heading in a more career related direction, he's willing to go just about anywhere (as long as it's not Philadelphia).

So what's a girl to do?  On one hand, I have my career which is going absolutely nowhere, except for down, down, down.  My current job is about as stable as a seesaw and most of coworkers are actually trying to help me brainstorm places to look for a new job.  The trouble with working in academia is that your paycheck comes from grants.  So, when the grants stop coming, so does the paycheck.  My lab group is dwindling right now because a bunch of grad students are finishing up their thesis and moving on.  When they move on, they take their grants with them and money was already a bit tight before.  That doesn't build a whole lot of confidence in the fact that my job may still exist by the time I go from Ms. to Mrs.  On the other hand I have my personal life which is for the first time in my twenty some years on an upswing.  That's not exactly something I want to put on hold right in the middle of planning a wedding.  I'm kind of stubborn and I don't want to put off our wedding or anything else that comes with married life.  I'm ready to settle down and buy a house and get out of our little three room apartment.  At some point, *gasp!*, I even want to have kids.  I can't do any of the above on my current salary and definitely can't do it if I'm unemployed.  I certainly don't like feeling as though I'm stuck having to choose one aspect of my life over the other with very little compromise.  I even recognize that I am my own biggest obstacle to finding a better job because I'm placing to much priority on my personal life.  But isn't that a terrible thing to say?  That my personal life goals are such a huge hindrance to my career goals.  I wish it was as simple as me quitting my current job and taking up waitressing instead.  I'd certainly be better off financially (an pretty terrible statement on the scientific community).  However, it'd be the same as career suicide and then I can really start to regret that pile of student loans that seems to be growing.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pittsburgh Bride Shows (439 Days to Go)

Seashells would be perfect
for our tropical theme!
Early on (as in January), I went to two bride shows.  It was early, but I wanted to get a feel for what I was about to dive into as far as planning.  The first was a small show and the second was much larger, however, it was the first that I felt like I'd accomplished anything at all.

Of course, even going to a bride show turned into an adventure.  For the first show, I was barely on the recovery from having the flu and had nothing but the smallest whisper left of a voice.  For anyone who knows me they'd know how much of a hardship this was seeing as I usually can't stop talking.  But I went
Can it be? An honest to
goodness "you really can
wear it again" brides-
maid dress?
prepared and I would suggest doing this for any other bride-showing brides-to-be.  I made up address labels that had my name and my fiance's name, our wedding date, our address, my cell number and e-mail address, and our wedding date.  That way, as I walked around the show, it took me mere seconds to fill out forms for vendors.  Usually I'd only
need to fill in a few other random things if anything at all.  So despite the fact that my voice was cracked and hard to hear, my right hand wasn't cramped from writing my address a hundred times. 
A dress for my
Steelers lovin' FMIL?

For both shows, I took my camera.  It was a fantastic idea because I got to take pictures (I always asked permission first) of things that really inspired me.  While I didn't find my dream wedding dress on the runway, I did get some ideas of what I'd like to see my bridesmaids and the mothers wearing on the big day.  You see, my fiance really wants a "rainbow" bridal party.  No, ocean blue just wasn't good enough.  He wanted the whole tropical color pallet and with six girls (plus one junior) and six guys, we'll certainly have the entire family of colors on display.  Thus started a
I loved the asymmetrical
waistline on this dress.
dilemma.  How to make the bridesmaids all like their dress and still look uniform if they are all wearing different colors?  It's taken me three months to figure it out.  I'm going to tempt fate and try and find two dresses that are incredibly similar except that one has straps, and the other doesn't.  

But this left another problem.  How to make sure the mothers don't start to blend in?  They'll all end up in the same material more than likely: chiffon.  So I figured the mothers should probably wear longer skirts.  At that first bride show, I started to plant the seed on my own mother.  I told her I wanted the
I loved this bridal bouquet
because of it's pop of color
from Reed & Petals Florist,
Wexford, PA
girls in short chiffon dresses and the mothers to be in long chiffon dresses.  That way everyone would stay cool in the June heat but my mother and FMIL wouldn't be mistaken as trying to copy the bridesmaids.  It didn't take.  In fact I think I saw a squirrel run away with the seeds before the fashion show had even ended.  But alas, a girl can try.

But possibly the best thing that I walked away from the first show was information for my photographer.  He was incredibly patient with my mother and I (considering my inability to really hold up a conversation well and how noisy it was around us) and his style was exactly what I had in mind.  He's an
My fiance and I are huge
Penguins fans and I've been
wondering what we might
do for a topper

ex-photojournalist but he also had a really good eye for putting together cute, creative group shots.  As an added bonus, his wife is a videographer and they come as a package deal.   And their show package was incredibly affordable.  At the second bride show I attended I could only find a photographer for the same price that I got both photography and videography.  For a touch over $1700, I'll have the copyrights, video, a 10"x10" photoalbum, and an engagement session.  I couldn't wait to get back home and sell my fiance on Matthew Hovis and his wife.  A little over a week later, we signed our contract and booked our first vendor.

The second bridal show, Cavanaugh's Brideshow, I went with an entourage in tow.  My mother, FMIL, my two maids of honor, and one of the bridesmaids were all in attendance as we walked around looking at over 150 vendors.  We got to taste so many sweets that by the end of the day everyone was begging to find a caterer with substantial food.  Never thought it'd happen, but I was tired of cake by the time we finished.  But luckily, in the last corner, we found who will hopefully be our caterer, Tommy's.  His pricing is incredible starting at around $14/person.  Yes, half of what most other caterers want.  The trouble is finding a venue where we can bring our own caterer in.

There was one hopeful venue that I found at this second show, pardon me if I don't give it away right now since I haven't booked them yet and want to keep the option open for myself.  But it was by total luck that I even found out about it.  It happened when I was talking to a photographer and mentioned that I had stopped because of  a photo of a bridal party next to a pond and dock.  The girl admitted that it was her wedding on her in-laws farm and that they were just starting to get into the wedding venue business.  I got the information and am now awaiting spring weather to go visit.  Please, please, please make it all green and sunny and warm soon!

Oh, and I managed to book the tuxedo rentals.  This is another reason to bride show it up early, ladies.  Even if it's over a year in advance, it doesn't hurt to sign a contract with a tux rental shop.  They usually want very little money for a hold on this year's prices (I paid only $10) and with that you can avoid a price jump the following year.  Plus, tuxedo rental shops don't care about firm dates.  They'll allow you to change the date later on if you end up having to change it.  But American Commodore impressed me with their charm, their matching Steelers colored tuxes, and the offer of both my fiance's and his father's tux for free.  We have no ring bearer so all the other shops offering a free ring bearer tux started to annoy me.  Oh, and the chance to win an additional $60 off for my fiance and his father to get their shoes or for us to pass on to the groomsmen.  Get playing Steelers "corn-hole".  Yes, Pittsburgh is sports obsessed.  We're even more so tailgating obsessed than is probably healthy.

*All cakes were from Mimi's Bake Shoppe
*All dresses were from Carlisle's of Pittsburgh

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Choosing the Ladies and Gents (440 Days to Go)

One of the first things that Jeff and I did in the wedding planning process was to pick the folks we wanted to stand beside us.  I didn't have a hard time coming up with my list of girls that I wanted to stand beside me and I knew that I couldn't settle for just one maid of honor.  But I had another problem, I had several male friends from college that I just couldn't imagine not being included.  Bridesmen perhaps?

That suggestion was shot down really fast.  Apparently my future family to be didn't like the idea of a slightly non-traditional lineup despite the fact that it is becoming increasingly more common.  My fiance and I decided that we would each get to pick four of our own gender and two of the opposite.  Therefore of the six bridesmaids, four are my choice and two are his and the opposite holds true of the groomsmen.  Of all the people that I wanted to ask, half of them weren't even close by and those that were, well, we're all incredibly busy and we're lucky to see each other every few months sometimes.  So phone calls it had to be for me.

I first called up my best friend from high school, Sara, who at the time was living in the northern part of the state.  She was thrilled to be a co-maid of honor and refused to be a balance to my other co-maid of honor, Kansas.  So unfortunately, my plan of having the to MOHs balance each other out fell through.  Luckily for all the craziness that I can count on them coming up with, I know that they're the most supportive girls I know.  Sara was always the person I could count on picking up the phone and calling, night or day and listening to me.  I have called her in near panic attacks at times and she's put up with it.  I only hope that I have done equal service to her though out the years.  I also hope that I can be as good a bridesmaid to her as I know she'll be a MOH to me.  Now that she's living in Arkansas with her wonderful beau, she's joined the list of my friends working on their wedding plans.  It's funny, I'd hoped someone would go first so I could watch and learn and instead we're all getting married within about a year and basically acting as a support group instead.

Kansas I called next and she was equally excited.  She's always been a bridesmaid and never a MOH but always stuck filling in the duties of the MOH.  Kansas and I became really good friends in college partially through our major (we were one year apart and she'll graduate this May) and partially because I became an honorary commuter (via my ex) and eventually became a full fledged commuter when I moved off campus into my own apartment.  You have to understand that at Duquesne University being a commuter is a way of life and it takes a special kind of people to survive the lounge.  Kansas is incredibly special to me because she is the person who took me from being vanilla to being chocolate chip.  I have a feeling after the bachelorette party she may have me bumped up to cookies in cream.  But she has done so much to help bring me out of my shell and not be afraid of anything.  Which has been extraordinarily helpful when it came to trying on dresses.  I couldn't believe how much time I spent standing around in my skivvies!

It's the commuter lounge where the three of my other choices came from as well.  Kim, who was my ex's ex (gotta love it when the girls stick together like that), was also a commuter and from New Jersey originally but is now working in Maryland.  So she too had to be a phone call.  This one turned out to be a little tricky as she'd just gotten engaged about a month earlier than me and we both liked the same time of year for our weddings.  We'll see how it plays out but last I checked we were planning our weddings about two weeks apart. So I'm crossing my fingers that logistically it all works out so that she can be there fore me and I can be there for her too!  But she is my zen bridesmaid.  I know when everything else is starting to go crazy, she's the one who will keep the calm.

Next on my list was my buddy, Joe.  Joe is in a word: loud.  He pretty much sums up exactly what you'd expect of a Western PA kinda guy.  Don't get me wrong, he's an amazing guy and I can't count the number of times he's been a good shoulder to lean on.  His first reaction when I asked him was to congratulate me.  His second was to ask when the bachelor party would be.  There's a reason I couldn't possibly imagine celebrating my big day with him.

The last commuter was my friend Dom.  My masters year in college, we got dubbed as the mom and dad of the lounge because we were the final remnants of what had been a relatively tight knit group--of Blockus players.  But Blockus was just one aspect of that group's foundation.  We had everything from History channel marathons to video gaming to heated debates about anything and everything.  The group became known as the circle.  There were four arm chairs that sat in a circle around an end table where we would play Blockus.  And on any given day, the circle would grow by people sitting on the arms, pulling up other chairs or just standing on the edges.  The circle would flux by the hour as people came and went to class and as the years would pass and graduates would leave for good. I can't count the number of hours I sat in that circle with Dom and Joe and thus, Dom was the guy I called up and asked to give me away.  It felt right that my last friend in college would help me make that ceremonial parting with my old life.  When Jeff and I couldn't pick an extra guy to be a groomsman, we decided that Dom would just shift down to the end of the line and be a groomsman as well.

Last but certainly not least (she just didn't fit into the category of commuter) is my friend Becca who is now a med student in Erie.  We met through the fact that at one point we were both working for residence life and we shared one terrible class of immunology together.  We bonded over our hatred for one of the co-professors of the class and our love for the other professor.  And there were times where when she worked late night shifts, I'd stay up all night with her either working through her physics homework or watching comedy sketches on You Tube.  She's been engaged for almost as long as I've known her and I can't wait to stand beside her this coming December when she finally ties the knot.

Jeff's picks were all friends of his from high school and/or growing up in his neighborhood.  So far, I've fallen head over heels for at least two of his picks that we've been able to spend a decent amount of time hanging out with and am incredibly thankful for Nicole who is a multiple time bridesmaid.  Between her and Kansas, I think the rest of my friends who are all brides-to-be themselves and myself will learn a lot about how to get through this coming year without too many attacks of bride-zilla.  Nicole has also been a bit of a lifesaver for me too.  As I mentioned above, most of my bridesmaids are all out of town with the exception of Kansas.  So it'll be nice to have a second girl around to go do things with--such as pedis.

Aaron is one of the groomsmen he picked and I love his laid back attitude.  He's one of those guys that you can just go chill and hang out with or go beat some little kids at laser tag with.  And he's also joined the growing list of people bound for the alter that are in our wedding party.

Jeff's other picks include his cousin, Shayna, who from the few times we've met I'm getting a good feeling for her.  As with the other groomsmen, I just wish I could hang out with them more often so I could get to know them better.  I've still got a little bit of that anxious feeling that I might do or say something wrong at some point.  The guys are Rich, Will, and James (Nicole's brother) but I have met Rich and James only a very few times and not really had a chance to hang out at all; and I haven't had the chance to meet Will at all yet.

But there is plenty of time to meet all of them in the future and I cannot wait to have all these fantastic people standing up for us on our big day.  They've all had such important influences over Jeff and I's lives and helped to make us who we are that I know even those I haven't gotten to really meet yet that I will love them in the long run because of how amazing Jeff is.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pre-Engagement Dating (441 Days to Go)

As I mentioned in my last post, our engagement was relatively traditional if you will.  We had been dating for exactly ten and a half months which to some might seem a little early, but right from the beginning we had hit it off.  I think that's partially thanks to the fact that we met through online dating.  We skipped over some of that awkward "so who exactly are you?" conversation and could on the very first date get a little more in depth.  I can't remember everything that we talked about on our first date.  But I know that we went from hot chocolate at the diner, to watching the Superbowl over a few drinks, to just relaxing and talking before we even realized how incredibly late it was.  We talked about the business he ran with his father--a scuba diving shop.  We talked about my schooling--a masters in forensic science and how someday I wanted to work for the FBI.  He was probably the first guy to not go running screaming from the room when I told him I wanted to carry a badge and a gun some day.  In fact, he thought it was incredibly cool.  Granted, I thought his job was awesome.  But what's not awesome about getting to do what you love and when you love to swim in the ocean, it really doesn't get a whole lot better than that.  

It was as if that fateful night a little over a year ago, we started a conversation that still hasn't ended.  I'm not saying that every night we sit down to dinner we have stimulating conversations.  We're perfectly content to just smile and eat and since he's part Italian, he particularly likes the eating part.  Speaking of which, I'm still trying to learn how to go from relatively bland German/Irish cooking to Italian spices.  But what I was trying to get at is that we still aren't tired of each other.  We still want each other around nearly constantly.  Early on in our relationship, I went to Seattle for the AAFS conference and we exchanged a couple hundred texts in the span of time that I was gone.  That's when I knew he was a total keeper because despite the fact that I was 3,000+ miles away, crazy busy sightseeing, preparing for my own presentation to give, and going out nearly every night, I couldn't keep this red headed Scotch/Italian boy off my mind.

A week after I got back, he introduced me to his parents and told me that he loved me.  No, not in front of them, but in the truck on our way out to dinner.  It was so sweet and simple.  And every time that I drive past that spot, I can still picture it plain as day.  That's just the way my guy is.  He makes being romantic look ridiculously easy and I'm jealous because I try very hard and usually fall kinda flat.  Since then we've survived countless fire hall bingos (hey, those old ladies are crazy!), a gas camping stove that is determined to blow itself up, teaching me to scuba dive, and even an underwater panic attack I experienced around Halloween this past year.  Long story short, I have pretty bad allergies that created too much sinus pressure once I hit a certain depth.  Migraines are bad above water, try having them below water when you can't properly scream or explain the pain to anyone.

After I graduated we started to talk about moving in together.  I'd been living on my own for about a year at that point so the logistics of taking a fully furnished bachelorette pad and moving it into a fully furnished bachelor pad proved interesting to say the least.  We had two of everything.  Two dining room tables, two beds, two couches, two microwaves, two of everything.  Most of the duplicates went into a dumpster after a failed attempt to Craigslist and yard sale.  It was very difficult for me for a while because it felt like I was giving up most of my possessions and my freedom all at once.  It was made more difficult when we were having to discuss what to do with my cat who was just shy of turning two at the time.  One of my good college friends had given me the cat when I'd gotten my own pad and it was breaking my heart that Diana was having a hard time adjusting to the move.

But we survived the ordeal of moving in together with relatively few fights, but none of which did any lasting damage.  And usually when we do fight, we manage to get it resolved before we go to bed at night.  I remember one particular fight that happened during the moving period.  I went to bed alone that night because he was out late and when I woke up in the morning, a daisy was stuck in the foot of the bed and a trail of petals going to the dining room.  There was a huge bouquet of flowers and a card.  The card was your typical "I love you" Hallmark card but written on the blank side was an apology for not being there to help me move furniture as he'd promised to do and promising to not let it happen again.  The rest of the move went smoothly from that moment on.  It was the sweetest thing anybody had ever done for me and as upset and hurt as I'd been the night before, it was all erased.  I know I've made my mistakes too, but I've never been as good at coming up with romantic apologies.

Ever since we've made it our mission to never go to bed angry with one another, and if possible not even angry at the world in general.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Beginning (442 Days to Go)

So I'm starting the blog a little early...but already there is so much to do that I couldn't wait until June to start.

One year, one month, and two weeks, and four days ago I met the man who would be the love of my life and fell hard and fast.  We met through which had been suggested to me by one of my successfully married coworkers in the middle of the record breaking 2010 blizzard that hit the north east.  By Summer, we were spending so much time together that we practically lived together and so we decided to just make it official and I moved in with him in September.  Exactly Ten and a half months after we'd met, he came home to me on a red eye flight from a work trip in Vegas, ate breakfast with me in our little apartment's kitchen and while I was cleaning up, he went down on one knee and proposed.

I made a promise to myself that afternoon (after I'd recovered my senses and could form coherent phrases aside from "Yes, Yes!!!" and "Of Course!!!") that I would not allow myself to become a bride-zilla.  I planned to be organized and systematic...and read everything wedding related that the internet could dish out to me.  I signed up for such sites as The Knot, Fashionable Bride and Get Married and began staring at hundreds of photos of wedding dresses, reception decor, and beautiful outdoor settings.

It wasn't long before my scuba diving instructor fiance and I decided that we somehow wanted to create a tropical feeling wedding in western Pennsylvania which is a little short on sun and sand.  We set our date for June 9th, 2012.

As of now, all we have are a photographer booked, a date set, and my dress has been ordered.  The venue still vexes me and I'm begging for the weather to turn nice so that we can go look at places and get one booked soon.  The downside to wanting your wedding outdoors is finding an outdoor venue that's affordable.  The biggest problem has not been so much the price of the venue itself but the caterers that they force upon you.  When you have a probable attendance somewhere between 200 and 300 guests, the caterer's price turns into the most important part of your budgeting.  Of course another complication is appeasing everyone's parents as well.  But what's a bride-to-be to do?

Adding another level of complexity, just last weekend, my fiance broke his wrist snowboarding.  So despite the fact that spring is around the bend and he's about to go into the busy season for his work, he's going to be in a cast for a while.  So right now we're juggling appointments and trying to set up a surgery date to get pins put in.  Yep, he broke it good.  And on a wedding related note, it will set back when we'd hoped (ok, I'd hoped) to get our engagement photo session done.  However, it seems to be good practice for me to go into "House Wife" mode, eh.  Normally we're pretty good about splitting the house chores, but his wrist is severely limiting his ability to help out.  Which is pretty trying on me considering how much I hate to do two chores that he can't do at all: washing dishes and folding clothes.  I's terrible of me to say...but I really do hate those chores.  But plus side, my supervisor who normally gives me a hard time is suddenly very understanding of the fact I need to make sure I leave work on time or take a day off in order to take care of my fiance.  He's a very "old school" type of man.

But on the upside of everything that's going on right now...we've been finding a little more time to spend at home lately.  Sometimes it's just nice to make dinner at home, pop in the Netflix and curl up on the couch.  Perhaps someday I'll find enough couch time to finish knitting the baby blanket for my cousin's baby who was just born yesterday.  A little prematurely in my defense.