Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Lived-In Living Room

I want to share with you a couple of updates we've made to our apartment over the past three months. For some before-before pictures, check out this old post.

This week, I accomplished something I'd been thinking about since before we even moved. Residing in our living room is my couch from college. It's actually a couch I inherited from an older roommate, and I'm pretty sure she had inherited it as well. I'm really not sure of this couch's origins, but let's just say that it is showing it's scars. As a matter of fact, I just looked through all of my pictures, and could not find a single picture of this couch in its original state. This means that never once did I find it at all suitable, even for a post-AYCD night picture in college.

However, it's a couch. And we need a couch. And would prefer not to buy one (yet). So, I gave it a makeover.

The first thing I did was buy this super-cute slipcover from Target's Simply Shabby Chic line. However, when I tried to stuff the back cushions under the slip cover, it looked like... well, I can't think of a PC description, so we'll just say I was not a fan. I knew I needed new cushions, and decided I could easily make them myself. You see, back in the day, I had a business. Yes, the year was 1995, and I spent the summer selling homemade Beanie Baby beds on the corner. Every afternoon, I would wheel my red wagon filled with little pillows and sleeping bags down the neighborhood street, and do business with the community Beanie Baby fans. And, because I know you were wondering, yes, they did come in sizes (regular and teenie).

Due to all of this pillow-stitching and -stuffing experience, I felt confident in my ability to make new couch cushions. All summer I've been planning this in my mind--looking at fabric, pricing European pillows, and playing with color combinations. Through the planning, it seemed as though the pillows themselves would run about $20 a piece (and I needed five of them), then it would take about 2 yards of fabric per pillow, not to mention the fact that I'd need to coerce my mom into helping me set up and thread her serger (which is a pain in the *&@). Plus, in all honesty, I had to admit that the likelihood of my actually creating five pillow shams successfully was slim-to-none, meaning I'd need to splurge on at least four extra yards of back-up fabric.

However, I was determined. Until I went to Bed Bath & Beyond, found the pillows on sale for $10, and shams on clearance for $5. I bought three of those, and splurged on two fancier accent pillows, thereby transforming our couch.

P.S. In the 1.5 months that I was out of the blogging world, Blogger changed their picture-uploader and i do not like it. I apologize for the super-blurry pictures that I worked really hard to create in Photoshop. I need to figure out this new system.

I am so excited about our "new couch" because it has really transformed our living room. Check out the difference between our living room in April, and our current room.

You will also notice the addition of the shelves and picture frame above the couch, and the new curtains. This isn't the greatest picture of the curtains, but I love that they tie the green and creamy-white of the couch with the blue of the arm chair. Oh, and then there are the candles in the fireplace, which I love. They're just there for the summertime; with these 100+ degree heat indices, we really have not been wanting any fires.

I need some advice on another aspect of this room, and this is where you come in.

We have this huge empty space above the fireplace. And while I fully intend to paint soon, which will diminish slightly the glaring-white effect, I need to put something there. I originally pictured a big, round, ornate mirror. Maybe with some rustic-looking swirly-ness around the outside. But, at the same time, that seems a little overdone. Anyone have a more creative idea?

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Wedding Whirlwind

Now that I'm back in the blogging world, let's rewind and recap the big event on June 11. You'll remember our long to-do list (that did all get done!), the vendors we worked with, the wedding nightmares, our DIY projects, banners, centerpieces, and favors, as well as the invitations, and the rings. Well, I'm happy to report that it all went according to plan. Literally. It all went perfectly. I'm not sure what percentage of that was my stellar planning skills, and how much was
just pure luck, but the day could not have been any better.

The weekend actually began on Thursday night, when out-of-town guests started to arrive. I remember being somewhat surprised when we walked into B's

parents' house for dinner that evening and a large group of his California relatives were there. Wow! I thought. This is it! This is actually happening! Somehow, seeing these relatives made me realize the reality of
the situation. And it only got better. I can honestly say that was the best part of the weekend--getting to see friends and family that we visit with so infrequently all there together to celebrate our big day.

I'm fairly certain that we had one of the biggest rehearsals ever to happen at GCPC. Since so much of our family was in town, they pretty much all showed up at the church, whether or not they actually had a role in the wedding.

The dinner was wonderful. Since we had originally wanted to have Spin! Pizza for our rehearsal dinner (long story...), the chef at the Doubletree agreed to go off their regular catering menu and whip up some flatbread pizzas for our party. Complemented with toasted rav, chicken fingers, fruit, and cookies, our "finger food" rehearsal dinner turned out fabulously.

Brandon's mom did these centerpieces--don't they look great? And now we have a plethora of bud vases left over. Good thing they're en vogue.

We used some time at the dinner to thank our wedding party and our parents. These gorgeous flower arrangements were done by our florist in these gorgeous vases from Macy's.

Our flower girls (all four of them!) got T-shirts from that say "I'm in Charge of the Petals", and our ring bearer's says "I'm in Charge of the Rings". The shirts are personalized with their names and the date. We even customized the hair color of the little character on the shirt. They turned out super-cute.

I gifted my bridesmaids with monogrammed tote bags from L.L. Bean (no longer available, but similar to these), as well as bedazzled "bridesmaid" t-shirts. And Brandon gave his groomsmen each a nice bottle of sustenance for the weekend.

That night, a bunch of our friends and cousins hung out at The Other Place. We love this group picture of so many of our favorite people at one of our favorite bars.

As I already mentioned, everything came together for a perfect wedding day. I feel so blessed that I remembered my earrings, got my hair done on time, and actually showed up to the wedding--all nightmares I was scared would come true.

Mom was the best at lacing up my dress. I'd say "Pull tighter!" and she'd yank and pull until I could hardly breathe. (My MOH did have to loosen it after dinner.)

These next few pictures are from our Private Reveal.

And these next couple show proof--we did it! We're married!

Our one bad wedding decision? Birdseed. After being pelted with those hard little orbs, I had birdseed wedged in every crease and crevice of my dress, glued in the hairspray in my up-do, and even down my dress, staining the skin of my stomach. Oh, and I forgot to mention that somebody didn't even open the bag first. Yeah, really...

In the end, our centerpieces turned out great, the Dairy Queen ice cream cake was a huge hit, my DIY banners and place cards were bright and colorful.

So, there it is folks. Our wedding in a whirlwind of a blog post. Don't worry--it was that much of a whirlwind for me, too. Last night, we finished our last batch of thank-you notes (I know, we took a little too long. Sorry, Miss Manners.), and I completed making our 75-page wedding album on Shutterfly. Those were the last of our wedding-related tasks to be completed, so I guess it's officially over.

The good news is that now I'll be one of those women who, looking back over the years, will be able to say, "Our wedding was perfect. It was the happiest day of my life." And I'll really mean it.

P.S. We purchased the rights to all of our photographs from RVR Photography, but I'd still like to offer them kudos and a huge THANK YOU for the beautiful images. Not all of these in this post are theirs, but some are.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My First Lesson in Marriage

I'm happy to report that we've made it through 5 1/2 weeks of marriage. Life doesn't feel too different, except for the fact that I now introduce B as "my husband", which takes some getting used to. Not that I expected it to be any different, but I would liken getting married to celebrating a milestone birthday. There was no overnight change in our relationship, just as there's never any overnight aging realized the morning of a birthday. As a matter of fact, the morning after our wedding, we headed back to our apartment from the honeymoon suite at the Doubletree. We opened the door, dropped our bags, and looked at each other. "Well, I'm going to take a shower," I said. "I think I'll start a load of laundry," B said. And we went about our business.

However, even after dating for four years before getting married, I'm learning things about B that I didn't know before. I knew that B was a naturally cleaner person that I am. My first clue into this reality was once when I was helping him clean his old room, and he assigned me the task of dusting the power cords. Who does that?? So, although I had fair warning, I'm not sure I realized the extent of B's cleanliness.

Let me paint you a picture. I wake up in the morning, stumble out of bed, generally to the bathroom or to the kitchen for a glass of water. By the time I return, B has made the bed and placed his neatly-folded pajamas on top of his pillow. Then, we head into the kitchen where I make a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, and settle into the couch to watch GMA. B finishes eating his Cheerios and Bagelthin, jumps up, and washes his dish and my bowl before the first commercial break. "I'm happy to do my dishes, babe," I say. "I know, but I don't mind!" he answers. However, I'm beginning to realize that it's more his not being able to stand my dirty bowl sitting on the coffee table in front of me for the next half hour than anything else. After B leaves for work, I usually hit the gym and run some errands. When I return home, usually in the early afternoon, B has been home for lunch, emptied the dishwasher, started a load of laundry, and put away his clean clothes from the day before. Wow!

Don't misread my commentary. This is certainly not a fault of my hubby's. I LOVE that he helps around the house and is so organized. The "problem", if you can even call it that, is that this talent so does not come naturally to me. It never has. Growing up, the cleanliness and organization of my room was a constant battle between my parents and me. They tried to help, and tried to instill a sense of responsibility when it came to the subject--but it just didn't work. In this post I touched on the fact that my mom was never really into the stereotypical home-making or home-decorating. And, although I want to have a clean, inviting home, I truly just do not know how to make it that way.

Instead of feeling inadequate about this (which I totally do), I'm trying to view this as something I can learn from B. After all, there are many, many (MANY!) things he can learn from me :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Timing is Everything

You might remember back in February when I was really stressed out, and then we had a stroke of good luck, which resulted in a new apartment and a new job. I can now say with certainty that God has a sense of humor.

If you know me, you know I'm not naturally a sit-back-and-see-what-happens kind of person. I'm a go-getter; if I want something to happen, then I make it happen. However, you also know that I try to combat my tendency to take this personality trait to the extreme--and sometimes life (God) has a way of keeping me in check.

I've been totally on top of this whole wedding business. I mean, seriously, check out my to-do list, and tell me that you're not impressed. I've even had time this week to spend extra time at the gym, watch some Netflix, and take my baby D for plenty of walks. I can credit my organization to my need to feel in control. I love things (like my wedding) that I can control. I can stay relaxed, knowing that I've done everything I need to do in plenty of time, and I don't need to worry.

What bugs me is when there's something I can't control (i.e. an airplane, the weather, my immune system, and A JOB SEARCH). However, as all of us searching for employment in this crazy economy know, it's just not that simple.

Recently, I'd been feeling pretty down about the whole job situation. "Don't take it personally," a co-worker kept telling me. But it's hard not to take it personally. I knew it wasn't too late to be hired for next year, and I knew I had other opportunities to fall back on, but I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it--which was NOW. A good friend of mine signed a contract with an area school district a couple of weeks ago, and I immediately started kicking myself. Why didn't I apply with that district? What had I said in my interviews I'd had so far that had turned the interviewers off? Was it because I had stumbled over the reading instruction question? Dang it, I had a better answer to that.... Maybe I could email that interviewer and tell him what I meant to say...

Another co-worker kept reminding me, "You have so many wonderful things going on in your life right now. Concentrate on those things. You're living such a blessed life." Yeah, yeah, yeah. That wasn't working.

I finally came to a point where I had accepted reality--for the most part. This week, I've been focusing on the wedding and my upcoming marriage, packing for Hawaii, and looking forward to seeing all of my extended family come together this weekend. I had almost forgotten about the job search (almost). Then, on Monday, I got a call for an interview. Not another screening interview, but a real interview for a real teaching position with a real principal at a real school.

To be honest, my first thought was, This week??? Really??? But I quickly re-adjusted my priorities and spent my ample free time (haha) updating my portfolio, and formulating strong responses for those questions I knew they'd ask. I'd hardly even mentioned my interview to anyone because I didn't want to jinx myself.

And this is the part where God says, "I told you I'd take care of it." Yesterday, I aced my interview, and by the end of the work day, HR had called and offered me the position. I literally could hardly believe it. B was, of course, at the gym. After calling my mom, my aunt, and my best friend, I paced the apartment like Scrooge waiting for Bob Cratchit the day after Christmas. As soon as D whined at the window (my never-failing alarm that B has pulled into the parking lot), I flew down the stairs of our building.

I got the job, I got the job!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Staying in the Game

So, the week has finally arrived. I'm holding it together surprisingly well. Yesterday morning I was watching an episode of Bridezillas, and amidst those brides yells, screams, and demands, I began to wonder if possibly I just wasn't taking this seriously enough. Then, one of the brides blew a gasket because she ran out of money before she had her nails done, had no plan for the reception hall set-up, and went off on her MOH the morning of the wedding. I decided that, probably, I actually have the right idea this week...

Now, this doesn't mean I'm not running around with 52 million things on my to-do list. (Actually, the list is coming along quite nicely.) Plus there are all the little things that weren't on the original list--things I need to pick up for the honeymoon, baby-sitting jobs that I couldn't pass up, and a job interview. (That's all I'm saying about the interview. I refuse to jinx myself.)

It seems fitting at this point in the game to look back at my first blog entry. (Being the adoring, dedicated readers that you are, I'm sure you didn't even have to click back on that link, as you have it completely memorized from all the re-reading you've done over the past three months.) Even amidst all this craziness that comes with having less than five days (FIVE DAYS!) left until the wedding, I am still trying to keep my focus on the most important part of the day--my relationship with B.

A few weeks ago, when we were looking over the schedule of the wedding day, we decided to forego the tradition of not seeing each other until the Big Moment when I walk towards him down the aisle. After talking with some friends who recently got married, we decided to do what I believe they call a Private Reveal instead. How it'll work is that about 1.5 hours before the wedding, B will stand, in his tux, at the altar, and on the count of three (okay, I don't know if anyone's actually going to count), we'll turn around and he'll see me walking down the aisle toward him. Then, we get to take about half an hour to just talk and be excited together about our big day. This will be the only time we get to spend alone all day, and in making this decision, I realized it was important in keeping the focus in the right place that day.

Until that half hour, we'll be rushing to and fro amongst our vendors, packing for Hawaii, and trying to squeeze in as much family time as possible. (Well, okay, and after that half hour too!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dousing Old Flames

As we get closer and closer to the wedding date, I find myself pondering the commitment we're about to make. Every time I thought I had it figured out before then, I turned out to be completely wrong. (Cue Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road".)

I started out with the right idea in middle school, when I went for the nice guy. However, he was a little too nice--I quickly got tired of holding hands timidly during movies, and was soon swept up into a whirlwind romance with an older man (yes, he was in high school). However, this Spring Break romance didn't last long past my first kiss on the cruise ship. That summer, there was the guy from camp. But, we lived half an hour apart and had to depend on our parents to cart us to and from dates, so that didn't last too long. As sophomore year began, so did my far-too-long tumultuous romance with the debater. Late-night phone calls, controlling parents, and sneaking around satisfied the drama I craved at this point in my life, and lasted through most of my high school career. During our off-seasons, there was the airplane guy, the band geek, and the co-worker. Freshman year of college I repeated the cycle; again, we had the nice guy and the older man (part 2), and then there was the fling (x3), and the mistake.

With the risk of sounding completely cliché, I'll admit that I learned something from every episode of my dating life. After hitting rock bottom with the mistake, I knew that things were bound to change. I'd experienced a lot during my freshman year of college, and this time around, I knew what I was looking for. I had my eye on a certain Blockbuster Boy, and although our relationship felt like it was off to a rocky start, I soon realized that all those bits and pieces I'd been drawn to in those other guys throughout the years had culminated in my Blockbuster Boy. 

When I hear other people reminisce about old relationships, or talk about re-kindling an old flame, I feel so grateful that I'm no longer in that position. It reminds me of the movie He's Just Not That Into You--if it didn't work out the first time, 98% of the time, it's not going to work out subsequent times, either. And those 2% of old relationships that somehow become successful? Those are the exceptions. Instead of holding onto those memories as false hope, I wish more women would use them as learning tools. I know it's easier said than done, but I also think it's a matter of self-respect.

And, suddenly, I didn't miss any of those past relationships. I spent too much time missing these guys, wondering how I'd messed up, wishing for things that would never happen. Now, I find myself rolling my eyes at the political Facebook statuses from the debater. I applaud the airplane guy, who serves our country overseas. I occasionally catch up with the guy from camp for lunch or a cup of coffee. The fling and the mistake? Yeah, I un-friended them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Warm Feet

A few nights ago, just as we were falling asleep, I looked over at B and-- Omigosh! I thought. Did I even think this through? This is a huge decision. Am I too young for this? Do I really want to be with him for the rest of my life? Or do I just want to get married? Will I miss out on something else--something better?

While these thoughts poured into my head, I have no doubt that the look on my face was anything but picture-worthy. Hold on, Katie, calm down. I took a deep breath. And, luckily, it all came back to me. The way B had cleaned up my skinned knees and palms after I fell running recently; our hysterical laughter throughout the aisles of Target that afternoon over absolutely nothing; the dinners we've shared together in our new home over the past month; relaxing on the couch together after a long day of tornado sirens with kindergartners at work. Not to mention the support I had in B when I went through a really tough time last summer; the beautiful roses he brought home this week; how I've only had to run/empty the dishwasher once since we moved into our apartment; coming home to clean laundry on a day when I was absolutely exhausted. Remembering these things, I rolled over, kissed B's cheek, and fell asleep--absolutely assured.

We're down to just 13 days!