Monday, February 28, 2011

I Have to Share a Closet?!

"I like my money right where I can see it... hanging in my closet."
~ Sarah Jessica Parker 

After you get engaged, all the imminent changes slowly begin to sink in. Exciting, positive changes--like moving in together, growing old together, and getting to wear a sparkly ring (more about that here). But also some that are a little scarier—like paying our own auto insurance and buying our own groceries (right now we eat at my parents’ house almost every night). 

However, the one that scares me the most (and the inspiration for the name of my blog) has been that after we get married… I’m going to have to share a closet. This may seem trivial to most, but to me it's absolutely petrifying.

Growing up as the only kid in my family, I've not only had my own room and closet, but also, for the past 10 years, my own floor of the house. The other two upstairs rooms are officially entitled “The Bunk Bed Room” and “The Guest Room,” but to me they mean “Extra Closet” and “Extra Floor Space.” The closets, available for storing rarely-worn outfits, formal dresses, coats, etc., and the carpets, available for sorting ungodly amounts of dirty laundry, have served as enablers for someone with an innate pack-rat addiction.

My shopping habit, in combination with my pack-rat tendencies, created a problem over the years--I owned too much crap. I've literally just scoured my photograph archives, trying to find proof of the astronomical amount of clothes that were stuffed into my closet, but couldn't find evidence. Really, that says something right there--I purposely closed my closet door in every single picture I ever took in my bedroom.

Because I'm a naturally-defensive person when it comes to my individual faults, I do have to point out that after losing a fairly substantial amount of weight, I was in desperate need of new clothes... (three years ago). However, I can no longer depend on this excuse. I've maintained my new size long enough that it's time to get rid of my old clothes, and put the brakes on the shopping frenzy.

It took me three full days and two van-loads of over-stuffed trash bags, but finally I've condensed my wardrobe enough that it at least fits in my walk-in closet. (Yeah, it was that bad.)

Here were my criteria for keeping or donating:

1. If I hadn't worn it in the past year, donate it.
2. If the last three times I'd put it on, I'd taken it off because a) I couldn't find anything to wear it with or b) I felt fat or frumpy, donate it.
3. If it was more than 5 years old, donate it.

By adhering to these "rules," I took my wardrobe down to one plastic crate of T-shirts (from four), six skirts, six dresses, one pair each of brown pants, black pants, pinstripes, and khakis, etc. I wrote these numbers down, and made another rule for myself:

When I buy something, it's a replacement.

For example, if I buy new skinny jeans, I have to donate my old skinny jeans. If I buy a new fancy dress, I have to donate one old fancy dress.

Having accomplished such a huge task, I feel much more under control of my closet. It may sound silly, but I also feel much more in control of my life. My closet is one of the first places I step each morning, and stepping into an organized, simplified space helps the rest of my day to feel organized and simplified.

In addition, I now feel prepared to put my wardrobe next to B's in our new closet (although he's already agreed that I'll be using 1.5 of the 2 closets available in our new apartment).

I'd like to think that my dedication to clearing out my wardrobe is analogous of my preparation for marriage. Everyone brings a certain amount of baggage, weaknesses, etc. to a relationship. A relationship takes work, and the first step is realizing that you are not perfect, and working to take the steps necessary to change. So far, I've managed to do that with my closet--let's see what else I can accomplish in the next three months to make my marriage a little easier and a lot happier :-)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shedding New Light on our Living Situation

May the roof above us never fall in
And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.
~Irish Blessing

Our strain of good luck continued yesterday, when we met with the leasing agent at our apartment complex of choice.

Remember our indecision over Floor Plan #1 and Floor Plan #2? Well, we've mulled over the options and come to an answer! 

And the winner is...

Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumrollllll, pleeeeeeease...

Floor Plan #2!!!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we opted for the separate laundry room, fireplace, and extra square-footage over the first-floor walkout with the cute little linen closet. 

So, after making this decision in light of the fabulous news about my job (my job! my job! my job! golly, I could say that all day), we made an appointment for Saturday--yesterday--to officially be put on the waiting list.

Good things come in threes, right? Well, if we had to number the past week, it would look something like this:

1. Katie gets a job.

2. B's apartment complex lets him move out early.

3. We sign a contract on our first choice apartment!

That's right. It just so happens that a guy living in our favorite floor plan on the upper level is moving out in April. AND the leasing agent worked a dealio with the manager to hold the space for us until our official move-in date of April 25.

We're so excited to have a clearer picture of our life together. I spent part of yesterday afternoon making a to-scale model of the floor plan and cut-outs of our furniture (thanks Young House Love for the help!). I tagged along with my mom and aunt to Nebraska Furniture Mart, where I came to the conclusion that we'll be retired by the time we can actually afford to furnish an entire house--no, actually, I was surprised/impressed with their reasonable prices! 

Last night after dinner, I talked B into going to Target where we hemmed and hawed in the lamp aisle before finally choosing two lamp shades and posts (that's right, we know how to live it up on a Saturday night!). If you haven't seen their mix-and-match lamp collection, it's marvelous. Although, for someone who deliberates far too long over every little decision, it can get a little dangerous.

WARNING: I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures. My 6-year-old digital camera has begun to show it's age (we're registered for a new one, so I'm trying my darnedest to restrain myself from buying a new one), and these are taken with my iPod touch.

Last night I was haunted by dreams of furniture-arrangement dilemmas (thank goodness we don't actually have 10 armchairs to fit in our living room). But during my waking hours, I've been daydreaming of paint colors (muted green), giant mirrors (on the wall of our dining area), and bookshelves (how to cover the tape marks on my childhood furniture??).

We have a lot to do between now and April 25. But I can't complain, as the end result will be waking up next to, cooking dinner with, and grocery shopping with my one-and-only.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My A+ Day

All I really need to know... I learned in kindergarten.
~ Robert Fulghum 

I've officially marked Feb. 21, 2011 as an "A+" day in my record book.

I spent most of the morning worrying. And it all boiled down to this: Last year, about this time, B and I started talking about how we would really like to be all moved into an apartment before the wedding, so that when we came home from our honeymoon we could settle in, unwrap gifts, and enjoy married life. I nagged specifically asked that he be sure to talk with his current apartment complex before signing another lease. "It'd be great if you could sign a lease that was up by June, at the latest," I said, thinking of our June 11th wedding date.

A few weeks later, we had a conversation that went a little something like this:

B: "So, I signed my new lease!"
Me: "Okay, great, so what'd they say?"
B: "Um, that I could sign my lease."
Me: "But weren't you going to ask them something?"

B: "If I could sign my lease?"
Me: "About signing a shorter one?"
B: "Oh. Well, it's up in July."
Me: (pause) "Oh, okay."

For the past year, I tried to view this conversation as another glimpse into married life. But I was absolutely dreading laying on the beach in Hawaii--okay, I was never dreading laying on the beach in Hawaii--and knowing that three days after getting back, we'd be moving. I hate moving. Blech.

Okay, so fast forward to about last weekend, when we'd found a great apartment, and my stress level about all the things that surround a wedding had been growing steadily. Although B still said it didn't stress him out to think about moving after the honeymoon (I don't believe him), we kept talking about how it really would be nice to move earlier in the spring.

However, there were two obstacles:
1) He is (obviously) still under his lease until July. And, after talking to some people, and looking up info online, most apartment complexes charge astronomical fees if you even hint towards moving out before the end of your contract. Although we hadn't spoken with his complex yet, I was expecting the worst.
2) Um, money. We knew that we could afford an apartment, especially by later in the spring/summer when I'm subbing more, tutoring more, nannying... but it just felt risky to make such a financial commitment.

Alright, so, you've probably forgotten by now that I hooked you into reading this post by promising a story of an "A+" day. I didn't lie, I promise. Here it comes...

At about 4:40pm on Monday, I got a call from the Superintendent of HR at a local school district, offering me an interview for a teaching position starting immediately. That's right, immediately! I was over-the-moon excited, and said yes, of course, I'd interview the next day!

At about 4:50pm on Monday, B heard back from his apartment complex, and without going into the nitty-gritty, we are free-and-clear when it comes to moving early!


Needless to say, I was all smiles.

It got even better, though, when I went to my interview the next day...

... and they offered me the job on the spot!

So, that's right, ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at (er, reading the writing of) a brand-new...

Kindergarten teacher!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fit Bottomed Girls

I read this post (click on it, click on it!) on one of my favorite daily reads, and couldn't resist passing it along, as it's so in tune with the fitness posts I've been pounding out.

Those of you interested in all things diet and exercise should definitely add Fit Bottomed Girls to your list of surfable websites. I've just started reading them, and I'm hooked.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Value of Co-Exercising

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. 
~ John F. Kennedy

Last week, you (my blog readers) got your first glimpse into the fitness-induced coma that has become my life. I explained to you that my life has not always been this way. Although I played a multitude of sports growing up, the Squeeze-Its and orange slices at the end of the game were by far my favorite part. And you can bet I'd never come home from a game sweaty or dirty; I quit softball as soon as we were expected to slide and get mud on our shorts. Being active was just not something I valued.

However, in high school I started doing Yoga at my church twice a week. Then, my freshman year of college, I started elliptical-ing almost regularly. But it wasn't until my WeightWatchers revelation in 2007 that I really made exercise a priority.

An interesting tidbit about my past is that I started WW exactly 3 weeks before my first date with B. I like this fact for a few reasons: one, I like that B was attracted to be before my "thin" days, and two, I view WW as a new chapter of my life--one filled with confidence and health--and I love that B has been a part of it since the beginning.

When B started visiting over weekends in Kirksville, we started going to the campus rec center together. I think back to those times and laugh a little inside, simply because we really had no idea what we were doing. I remember specifically B saying to me, "Okay, I'm going to go run a mile," and then taking off around the track at break-neck speed, toes turned out wide, nearly horizontal to the floor. Needless to say, 100 yards later, he was gasping for breath. "See?" he complained, "I just don't see how people run that far."

Slowly, we learned better. I started taking classes at the Student Rec Center, and B took some boot camp classes at our gym at home. We started swapping fitness advice and exercise ideas. 

In June 2009, I completed my first half-marathon, with B there to cheer me on. (In case you're interested, here's the training plan I used.)

In June 2010, he completed his first half-marathon, where I met him at the finish line (I ran the 10K).

We have yet to run a half-marathon together, but that's coming up in our first year of married life.

All of this rambling leads me to my points (Finally! you're thinking). B and I have an awesome thing going here. We're one another's motivators, supporters, and accountability partners. When we agree to meet at the gym before work at 5am, you can bet we don't stand each other up (right B???). And when one of us is tempted to be a couch potato on a Saturday afternoon, the other gets their butt up for a run. I drag B to Yoga classes, and he sometimes convinces me to give CrossFit a try. On days when we haven't seen each other all day, we meet at the gym with a killer ab workout to try together. We've found the best running routes or free gyms at any vacation spot we've ever visited.
I'm so grateful to have fallen into a partnership in which health and fitness are a priority. As long as we have each other, I have no doubt that B and I will continue our healthful habits.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.  Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.  
~Katharine Hepburn

Sometimes (okay, often) I wonder how it is possible that two people who are supposedly the same species can have such a tremendous communication discrepancy.

Allow me to share one of the first B and I had, near the beginning of our relationship:

B: "I'm having dinner with my parents tonight. You can come if you want."
Me: "Well, do you want me to come?"
B: "Yeah, if you want."

Let's take a poll. Do you think I went? No, of course not. I didn't want to be a bother, tagging along because I wanted to. But, low and behold, the next time I saw his family, they questioned me about why I hadn't come to dinner the previous weekend. B chimed in with, "Yeah, I invited you!"  

"Invited me?" I asked him later in private. "You told me 'I could come if I wanted to.'"
"I know," B replied, "I invited you."
I tried, in vain, to explain to him that "You can come if you want" implies something completely different than "Would you like to come to dinner with my parents?" or "You're invited to dinner with my parents tonight." But, alas, he simply could not understand why I didn't feel adequately summoned.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing on B. As a matter of fact, I have him very well trained he's become much better. Now, instead of saying he'll "stop by in a little bit," he says he'll "stop by around 5:30." Instead of "I could eat," it's "I'm not really hungry now, want to wait half an hour?"

I spent the first couple years of our relationship frustrated every time a communication lapse occurred. Now, I do my best to practice my Yoga breaths and remind him, calmly, that I believe I had mentioned it before, or that whatever he said was a bit confusing. Sometimes, though, my calm answers come out, "How the heck was I supposed to know that?!" or "What do you mean, you didn't do it??

But then I remember that I cherish my relationship too much to let something like this get in the way.

Bahahaha. I could hardly even type that without laughing. In truth, I view these instances as a glimpse into married life. As a wife/partner, it's my job to figure out how we can bridge this communication gap, learn from it, and still live happily ever after...

... any ideas?!?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Waiting Game

Where thou art - that - is Home.  
~Emily Dickinson 

Our most recent marriage-preparation task has been searching for our future home. We've decided to go the apartment route for the first few years while we save for a house. 

I know, I know. Right now, you want to ask: Do we realize that this is a great time to buy a house? Don't we want the extra space? Why are we willing to throw money away every month on rent, when we could be paying a mortgage? These are the questions we get nearly every day from concerned friends and family. What do I wish I could say to them? Mind your own business. What do I actually say to them? While we might have enough savings for a down-payment, since I don't have a teaching job yet we're not comfortable making that kind of commitment.

We began our apartment search with two-bedroom apartments. But after looking over our budget once again, we decided that in order to be able to pay rent, utilities, feed ourselves, and still put money away for a house, we should probably be looking at one-bedrooms. At first, I was a little disappointed. I had already mentally-decorated our guest room/home office, and didn't want to give up my purple-and-yellow themed space (we're MN Vikings fans!). And, although I'm still a little nervous about keeping our master bathroom clean enough for visitors, I've come around to the idea of snuggling up in a smaller space together and making it our own.

We've narrowed it down to two apartment complexes. For the sake of the Internet safety that I preach to my students at school, I won't tell you the name or location, but they are both in the KC area. B loves his job, and we forsee free baby-sitting from our parents, if we stay in the area.

Here are the floorplans for our two favorites:

As you can see, in this floor plan, we love the kitchen. The island in the center has a ton of storage underneath, and creates a nice, open space into the living and dining area. The cabinets are modern (and pretty!), and it's a flat-top stove. However, I really dislike having the washer/dryer in the kitchen. I know it's hard to find a one-bedroom apartment set up any differently (just wait!), but somehow dragging stinky gym clothes through the kitchen is not too appetizing.

I also really like the huge closet in this floor plan. As I told B, there's plenty of room for me to have one side, and half of his side :-) 

This floor plan (which was harder to edit in Photoshop), is actually the one we're leaning towards. We love the "L-shaped" patio, the huge living room, and the separate laundry room. The downsides are the smaller kitchen, a really ugly light fixture in the dining area, and gross folding closet doors. Luckily, the latter two are easily remedied, and the dining area is large enough for a hutch to create some extra storage.

The other interesting thing about this second floor plan is the difference a first floor or second floor apartment makes. We originally really wanted a first floor apartment. As a matter of fact, in floor plan #1 (above), we would definitely want a first floor apartment, since we could let Delilah out from our back door. However, in this floor plan, the bottom floor has low ceilings with a huge beam across the middle of the living room. Yuck. But the top floor has huge, vaulted ceilings, and incredible natural light. B and I have decided that it's worth the extra calorie-burn to take D down and up a flight of stairs every time she has to go potty.

Neither of these apartment complexes is willing to hold an apartment for us until July (how rude!), so we are in the process of waiting to go on their waiting list. I've never been good at waiting (what can I say, I'm Generation Instant Gratification), and it's killing me to not know for sure where we'll be creating our future home.

Friday, February 18, 2011


"My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can't decide whether to ruin our carpets or ruin our lives."
  ~ Rita Rudner

B and I became first-time parents on June 5, 2010. No, you won't see us featured on an episode of I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. It was actually a lot less complicated than that. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "It's a Saturday and we have nothing to do today, B."
B: "Yup."
Me: (referring to a previous conversation) "I know we don't actually want to get a dog until I move back to KC, but, you know, we could still go look at puppies today..."

And the rest is history.

Upon entering the door at Pet Land, I spotted the adorable little white-and-grey splotched furball who would soon become known as Delilah. 

Here's our little punkin' pie the first week we had her.
Unfortunately, it wasn't all smooth sailing with our baby. One week after adopting her, B and I woke up to a extremely sick puppy. After rushing her to the vet's office (a scary car ride during which she was unresponsive), we found out she was hypoglycemic (apparently very common in small dogs). I guess there's not much room for error when you're 1.3 pounds. A weekend on an IV and $1600 later, she was a healthy, excitable, energetic pup again--with an interesting haircut.

Delilah, her grandpa, and her phenomenal haircut
Delilah now weighs in at a whopping 5.5 pounds (and we believe she's full-grown!), and has a healthy appetite (especially when it comes to Goldfish crackers!).

For more on Baby D, check out her page.

Google Your Wedding

Attention: All Wedding Planners

Ever-intuitive Google has come out with yet another tool to make your life easier! On Google for Weddings, a bride-to-be can launch a wedding website, mold save-the-dates, plan, plan, plan with the help of Google Docs, and share photos--all with customization options that allow you to spread your wedding vibe.

Register for your chance at $25,000 toward your dream wedding. And check out Style Me Pretty's succinct explanation and screenshots outlining the benefits of Google for Weddings. 

Yay, Google!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Missing Earrings, Disappearing Salons, and Bear Cubs in the Aisles

Dear God, let this be just a bad nightmare. 

~ Roy Horn

Soon after the engagement, the nightmares began. I'm not referring to the difficulties of finding a reasonably-priced photographer, or the frustrations of dealing with family members who think their part in the wedding trumps all. I mean literal nightmares.

Once, in college, an engaged friend told me she had dreamt the night before that she was walking down the aisle in a khaki wedding dress. She had woken up drenched in sweat.

It wasn't long until I found myself in a similar predicament. Although I was wearing a taffeta dress, I found myself standing at the beginning of the aisle... without earrings. My hair was up, my dress was on, and my lobes were empty. When I finally snapped out of the horrible nightmare, I ran to my closet and put a pair of earrings in the shoebox with my heels for the wedding.

In the next nightmare, my parents and I decided to go to Applebee's for lunch one day--my wedding day, to be exact. There was quite a wait. When we were finally seated, I looked down at my watch and realized it was 2:15pm. The ceremony is set to begin at two. This prompted me to add my wedding to my Google calendar upon awaking.

They got worse. In one, I overslept, forgot to schedule a hair appointment, couldn't pick up the horses we were supposed to ride down the aisles, and had misplaced the programs. In another, my maid of honor and I were running on foot around downtown Kansas City, searching desperately for a specific hair salon. One of the silliest so far was when B had arranged a "surprise" for me on the big day--bear cubs wrestling on the chancel during the ceremony. He thought it would be "cute."

I've decided these nightmares are a result of my subconscious helping me to remember the ins-and-outs of such a detail-oriented day. After all, they've prompted me to schedule my wedding, pick out earrings, confirm my hair appointment, and... well... B assures me he's not planning any "cute surprises."

I can think of infinite possibilities for things that could go wrong on June 11. At B's uncle's wedding, the entire wedding party came down with the flu and were dropping like flies during the ceremony. I try to push these thoughts out of my mind (though I'm clearly not too successful, hence the nightmares), but I know these are the things we'll look back on and laugh about in the future. It's not possible to plan every detail of a day--and who would want to?

Read more about my wedding philosophy here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the New

You've got to say, I think that if I keep working at this and want it badly enough I can have it. It's called perseverance.
~ Lee Iacocca

I laughed when I chose this quote, because I thought about how it also applies to how B and I met (read more about that here)...

One of my goals before the wedding is to be at my optimal weight and in tip-top shape. Don't worry--this blog is not going to turn into a woman's bitter diatribes on calorie-counting and weight loss. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty turned off to calorie-counting.

About four years ago, I joined WeightWatchers, and was very successful. I still highly suggest WW to anyone who is just getting started on a weight-loss journey, or who needs a little guidance about what, exactly, makes up a healthy diet. Pre-WW, I would literally eat a Chipotle burrito as an after-school snack. I honestly just didn't know any better; I wasn't raised in a family where calories were ever talked about, and I had no concept of what was enough and what was way too much. WW was an eye-opening experience for me, and I was able to completely overhaul my eating habits. I'm proud to say I made a lifestyle change, and will never go back.

Recently, however, the scale has slowly crept back up. As soon as I noticed an increase, I got right back in the door at WW--and gained four pounds. WHAT?! I was so frustrated. I was doing all the "right things"--sticking to my PointsPlus goal, working out, tracking all my food. But every time I'd step on the scale at a meeting, and the number was higher than the week before, the receptionist would give me a sympathetic look and whisper, "Rough week?" "NO!!!!" I wanted to scream, "I did everything perfectly."

Come January, after the holiday season, I decided I needed a new approach. So far, it's been working for me, so I'd like to pass it along.

Step One: Kick up my workouts
When I tell people I love to workout, they look at me like they know I'm lying. For the past four years, I've worked out five or six days a week without fail. Running, Yoga, Pilates, Spinning, Boot Camp, Zumba--you name it, I've done it, I've loved it. However, one thing I'm not so great at is pushing myself during a workout. I generally just make things up as I go along--a few bicep curls, a round of squats, run a few laps, 60 minutes on the elliptical... I lack direction. 

So, my first decision was to shell out the big bucks for a personal trainer. I was a little skeptical at first. What would she tell me that I didn't already know? I taught fitness classes in college, was certified in group exercise, and have devoured Shape magazine every month for three years. But what I gained from Lucy was a new mindset when it comes to working out: "If you're going to commit the time to working out, why not give it your all?" I know, I know. It's so obvious. But, honestly, it completely changed my attitude toward activity. I used to hop on the elliptical and move along at a moderate pace for an hour and call it a workout. Now, Lucy has me super-setting, running intervals on an incline, climbing the StairMaster, and more. She designs custom-made workouts that target my own personal needs (like toned arms for a wedding dress and a flat belly for Hawaii!). Let me tell you--it totally beats anything I ever did on my own or from a magazine. And, I'm seeing results already. It's been a month, and though the scale has only moved a couple of pounds, I've narrowed my waist and my hips by 1.5 inches.

Step Two: Consider my eating habits
I use the word "consider" here, because I don't believe in a complete overhaul of my diet, cutting all carbs, or follow some crazy "cleansing" fad. But I once read (don't ask me where) that maintaining a healthy weight is 20% exercise, 80% diet. Personally, I'd like to talk to whoever made that rule and see about reversing it.

My second decision was to stop counting points. Like I said before, I am not knocking WeightWatchers. It is a fabulous program that has taught me so much over the years. I just think I've outgrown it. I'd like to think of myself as a WeightWatchers graduate. Just like I wouldn't go back to high school and re-take all of my classes, it's time for me to go out into the world and put my knowledge to work.
So, what am I going to do now? I'm going to listen to my body. I'm going to eat when I'm hungry. I'm going to eat until I'm satisfied. I'm going to treat myself to that rum & Diet on a Friday night, and I'm going to go out for fro-yo with B--just not every night.

However, one key that I've learned from WW that I will continue to do is to track my food. For the past four years, every morsel I've put in my mouth, I've then written down, and I'm going to continue to do that. I'm not going to count calories, or points, or carbs, or grams of fat--I'm just going to write it down. For me, it's the accountability that is the key. My mantra will continue to be: "If you bite it, write it!" 

I put together a new tracking tool that I'd love to share with you. You can download it by clicking here (if this format doesn't work for you, shoot me an email and I'll get it to you). You'll notice that if you print the tracker front/back, each page is one week. You'll also notice that I choose to have my week start on Wednesdays. This is because I've found Wednesday mornings to be a good time for me to weigh in. I've given myself some time to "recover" from the weekend, and I can gear up with a healthy start before the next weekend. You might find that this doesn't work for you, so by all means, change it! Start your week on Monday, or Friday, or whenever you'd like.

I'd love to hear any questions, comments, suggestions you have on what's worked for YOU in the past!
Oh, and by the way, I totally believe in reward systems. So, what will my reward be when I get back to my feel-good weight?? An iPhone. Yay, Verizon, for finally jumping on the bandwagon!

Monday, February 14, 2011

V-Day at the B-Grill

About two years ago, B scoured the Internet for a list of restaurants with rave reviews in the KC area (will share the list soon!). Our plan was to knock them all out that summer. However, we quickly realized that with rave reviews comes a hefty price tag. To date, we've crossed off about three of the eight. The most recent was last night, when we ventured to Bonefish Grill for our Hallmark Day Valentine's Day celebration.

Surprisingly, we were not the only couple with this idea. Luckily, we had reservations, so we only waited about 10 minutes, as opposed to those without, who were forced to crowd near the door in their fancy pink and red shoes for over an hour. Finally seated, I glanced at the table next to us and happened to notice that it was standing on collapsible legs. Now I understand why it's necessary to have a reservation on Valentine's Day; we were seated in an extra-large booth, while our non-reservation-holding counterparts squatted at an employee's card table.

Whenever we go out to dinner, we have a game we like to play; basically, we glance at a couple seated nearby, and try to imagine the story of their relationship. Is this their first date, or are they married? What do they do for a living? Who wears the pants in the relationship? Is this a stable relationship, or are they doomed for a nasty break-up by dessert? We end up concocting intricate storylines, with equal parts observation and imagination. 

Last night's crowd was mostly full of married or, at least, committed couples. Some had brought kids, others seemed relieved to have left the house alone. Some polished off a bottle of wine (or two!), while the couple seated next to us had hot tea. The only couple I declared "doomed" was the young couple waiting for a table (no reservations). She was dressed up in a red sweater, nice jeans, and heels. He was wearing (drumroll, please...) an over-sized white t-shirt and baggy jeans. Really?! To Bonefish on Valentine's Day?

Overall, our dinner was delicious. I especially liked their house salad--sunflower seeds, olives, tomatoes, heart of palm. Delicious. We shared a bottle of wine (for our review, click here), and I had the grilled tilapia with a big pile of steamed veggies on the side. Of course, we also had to stop for ice cream on the way home (Edy's Slow Churn Cookies 'n Cream--our favorite!).

B surprised me with some gorgeous earrings last night. They're Swarovski crystals/diamonds. I'm planning to wear them for the wedding.

Look at that sparkle.

B showing off his new clothes. He wanted some new dressy clothes, so I got him two pairs of pants from the Gap (very stylish!), a blazer and a belt from Old Navy, and two pairs of shoes from Piperlime. Gotta love Gap, Inc.! (Did I mention I worked for them for 3+ years??)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Life at the End of the Tunnel

What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow.  
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Yesterday marked the official four-month mark of the countdown to the wedding. While I'm beyond excited to rally our 250 closest family and friends for a weekend of celebrating our future life together, I must admit that for me, the four-month mark is really a milestone on the countdown to living together.

At this point, I'm just so ready to be married. We've spent the last 14 months planning our life together--down to the bedspread we see in our future bedroom and the silverware from which we'll eat our oatmeal--and I'm ready to put it into play.

Currently, I'm living at my parents' house while B lives in a small one-bedroom about 10 minutes away. The situation is not bad, by any means. It makes sense financially, I have a great relationship with my parents, and we survived three years of living 3.5 hours apart, so 10 minutes is nothin'.

But now, we're at that point where we're ready to be married; we feel married. But eating dinner at my parents' table and watching TV in their living room doesn't.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Blockbuster Boy

One should never know too precisely whom one has married.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

It was January 2007. I, and the two best friends a girl could ask for (more about them later), stumbled into Blockbuster one evening, prepared to rent a season of Sex and the City and spend the night devouring our weight in cookie dough. That afternoon, I'd had yet another frustrating conversation with yet another insignificant boyfriend. As we meandered through the store, I complained, "I just can't find the right guy. I need a guy that's friendly and personable, that's down-to-earth. He needs to be good-looking, but not act like he knows he's good-looking (we all know the type)." At that moment, I looked up and saw a guy standing behind the cash register in a sexy blue Blockbuster polo shirt. "Like," I said, "that guy."  

Now, I'm not a believer in love at first sight. And I'm not saying that I believe this was love at first sight. To be honest, I was half-joking at the time. The thing is, everyone knew Blockbuster Boy. He'd been working at Blockbuster, like, forever, and he was always outgoing and helpful. For instance, when Kelly and I had a hankering to hijack her brother's video game system, Blockbuster Boy had helped us pick out a game that was "kinda like a racing game, but not really hard and not, like, bloody or anything..." (we're not really gamers). Or when I came up to the counter with Dirty Dancing and confessed to never having seen it before, he acted appropriately shocked. It just wasn't until this night that I began to think of him as anything but Blockbuster Boy.

It soon became my mission in life to go on a date with Blockbuster Boy. Now, don't think I'm a stalker or anything, but... well, it might have been borderline. Truthfully, I really enjoyed spending the next semester finding out little tidbits about him. One day over a long weekend when we were all, again, at home, Kelly said to me, "You know that's Kevin's brother, right?" She was referring to a guy we'd graduated high school with--a guy who had quite the reputation of a being a loud, obnoxious, somewhat-troublesome fellow. Not a bad guy, exactly, but not exactly a teacher's pet, either. "Nah," I said, "He can't be." My Blockbuster Boy was nothing like Kevin. "Sure, it is," Kelly insisted. "Look at him. They stand the same." Glancing over to the aisle where Boy was meticulously restocking DVDs, I could no longer deny it. There was no doubt; the two brothers did stand the same.

By the end of the spring semester, even my friends at Truman knew about Blockbuster Boy. When asked what I was doing over the summer, I would (somewhat) jokingly say, "Dating Blockbuster Boy." Every weekend trip home, I would find an excuse to make it into Blockbuster at least once. If he wasn't working, I'd turn around and walk back out, but as my mom jokes, "We never had a problem getting Katie to return movies."

Fortunately, I wasn't forced to be a creeper for too long. One night at the beginning of summer--May 18, 2007, to be exact--Blockbuster Boy asked for my number. Two days later he called me, and we set up a movie date for that week... more about that later. I will tell you I didn't mention the whole stalking thing that night.

Focused on the Prize

In the opinion of the world, marriage ends all, as it does in a comedy.  The truth is precisely the opposite:  it begins all.
~Anne Sophie Swetchine

Fourteen months ago I was jumping up and down in front of a guy on bended knee. Luckily, I knew the guy. And even more luckily, he was holding out in front of him a sparkly piece of jewelry and asking me to wear it for the rest of my life. You never really know how you're going to get engaged, and if you're anything like I was as B and I neared the two-year anniversary of our first date, you spend an awful lot of time thinking about it. But allow me to let you in on a little secret, for those of you who haven't experienced it yet: it doesn't matter how it happens. What does matter, is that however he does it (or she does it), it's a moment that the two of you share and will remember for the rest of your lives. 

After breaking the big news to every contact in my cell phone and every friend on Facebook, I spent the next few days extremely distracted by the gem I now sported on my left hand. I found myself using an exceptional amount of hand gestures, and deemed it necessary to start wearing driving gloves--not because I was channeling my inner Audrey, but because I was blinded by the sparkle on the steering wheel. It wasn't long, though, before reality set in and I realized that planning a wedding was more than just flipping through bridal magazines, sipping champagne while scrutinizing white gowns, and booking a luxurious honeymoon. I began to feel bogged down by the details; although the 200+ to-do list provided by theknot is extremely helpful (and the website is where I found the majority of my vendors!), it's also incredibly daunting.

One thing you'll quickly learn, though, when planning a wedding, is that everyone has a piece of advice. (I hear it's a lot like having kids.) Everyone has fond memories of their own wedding, and so assumes that's how everyone should do it. (On a side note, can you imagine how mind-numbingly boring it would be if everyone had a perfectly traditional wedding??) Anyway, I was fortunate to come across a friend who had a piece of legitly wise advice. She said to me: "You know, everyone spends all this time preparing for one wedding day, and forgets to make time to prepare for a lifetime of marriage."

I was flabbergasted (okay, maybe not flabbergasted, but how cool is it to use that word?). And it was at that moment that I changed my outlook on this stage of my life. Since then, B and I have been focusing on the marriage as opposed to the wedding. We're still having a wedding--one that I like to say is "medium-sized", but in reality is sliding towards the "large" end of the spectrum--so we obviously have a lot of the mundane details to dredge through. But along the way, we strive to stay connected to our goal. Because, after all, no matter how the wedding day turns out (whether there's rain, forgotten hair appointments, bear cubs wrestling in the aisles...) we'll still be married at the end of it, and that was the goal.
This blog, then, will become my journal for what has been the most eye-opening time of my life, to date. Expect to read of lessons learned, decisions made, and funny anecdotes. My hope is that someone in the whole, wide blogosphere will learn from, feel connected to, or at least get a good laugh from my records.