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.