Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving in retrospect

We had a wonderful holiday long weekend filled with some of the best things in life - friends, family and shopping.

Wednesday I made some traditional pumpkin pies and then some rolls that were famously made by my Aunt Mary Jane who hasn't been with us for several years now. I don't make them often because they take SO much time and are never as good as when she made them. But they remind me of her every time as I had her describe to me how to make them and I wrote down every word she said. It cracks me up every time when I get to the line about when to turn your oven on because if you do it any earlier you will run up your electricity bill. Gotta love it.

Thursday, Thanksgiving day, was wonderful. Just Kandi and I cooking, watching the parade and house prepping until late afternoon. Going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is totally on our bucket list. We event talked at one point Thursday about making that our Honeymoon since the timing would be almost perfect but know it will likely have to wait for another year. We had a small group of family and friends that came over about 4 and were there until after 10pm. Late in the night we were able to get some wedding day opinions from them which proved to be very interesting. Got their thoughts on week day vs. weekend, start times, colors, indoor/outdoor etc. It was nice to run them by other folks but at the same time, we later discussed that it was also a reminder of why we are likely to do it on our own for most of the planning. While we like other folks input here and there, for some of the items we don't want to hear that someone else doesn't "love" something we love. It was really great to do at this point in the process.

Friday we'd planned to go to the stores nice and early to get some deals. When the alarm when off that morning we decided that we would actually rather just sleep and save the money. Later that day we went to Pie Party - our friends Kate & John's annual must attend event. Their house is amazing and I've loved it since I first met them 10 years ago and it just gets better. They have done such great things with it. (Though I still miss the 50's style booth in the eat in part of the kitchen - I will admit that their re-do of the kitchen is absolutely fantastic) One day when I was feeling frustrated with the the costs and obstacles in selecting a reception venue I'd joked to Kandi that we were just going to do it at Kate's house and that I'd let her know when we saw her for Pie Party. When I mentioned that to Kate she said that the people who lived there before them actually HAD hosted several weddings in their back yard. I think we'll keep her house off the official list for now, but if I don't get a job in the next few months - it goes on the list. :)

Saturday we decided to do just a little bit of shopping. Bought a few Christmas gifts AND bought a few wedding things. Two small things and one big thing. We bought a wax stamp to be able to put on the back of the invitations with a design we really liked, and we bought matching white hats with "BRIDE" in rhinestone on the front. Then our big thing was a treadmill. Doesn't seem very wedding-y I know, but it is. We've been working on getting healthy over the last few years but have never been great about working out. We know that we both want to be healthier (Not skinny - just healthier than our current weight) by the time of our ceremony so this was a huge step. It was a great sale and we've talked about getting one for years so we decided to take the plunge. We spent the evening with friends playing board games and eating pizza. Not super healthy - but not awful.

Sunday was all about being lazy, relaxing and then putting together the treadmill. Successful on all counts. We love lazy Sundays and it was great to have after a busy weekend. Gave us time to really think about our week, and talk about how thankful we were for everything we have and the great friends and family who are in our life. Hope you are still thankful to be in our lives after all the DIY adventures we're sure to have as we get closer and closer to the big day! You didn't know about that? Well, consider yourselves warned. :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving blessings

Ahh.... Thanksgiving. A time to be thankful, be with friends and family, and generally stuff yourself. It's also the beginning of the "season of traditions". You know - "my family does it like this..." or "When I was a kid we did this and I want it to be like that for our kids". For new families it is one of the times of greatest stress because each person wants exactly what they want which leaves very little room for their equal partner to have things just the way they want.

Our First Thanksgiving together we didn't really spend together. While we were largely inseparable, we didn't actually live together. She went to her aunt's house and I went with my family. We spoke on the phone a few times during the day of but didn't see each other until that evening.

For our second Thanksgiving we were living together and Kandi came to my family's Thanksgiving celebration. Though the idea of having all the family together was certainly right up her alley, almost none of the food felt like "Thanksgiving" to her. So, she called her family back in Ohio and got them to explain over the phone to her everything that she would need to make a Thanksgiving meal. The next day, when we should have been out enjoying the crush of fellow shoppers, we made Kandi's Thanksgiving. Rather than make a big turkey she did Cornish hens, cornbread dressing, baked macaroni and cheese, and greens. All from scratch. All amazing. Something I was just reminded of this year - she had never made any of these items before, but it was important to her to have them - so she did them. I was impressed.

By Thanksgiving #3 we had a house that we'd rented together and we decided to have family and friends over to our house. I remember we used our dining room table, 2 card tables and 2 TV Trays pushed together. They had already learned that when Kandi cooked - it was an event not to be missed. Kandi fried the turkey in the backyard, we did a coke and brown sugar ham, her Grandmother's cornbread dressing, baked macaroni and cheese, greens with a smokey ham hock, potato salad and her Grandmother's famous pound cake for dessert. And was it ever a hit!!! The turkey was gone so fast I didn't even get a serving. One of my brothers made his second plate almost completely macaroni and cheese and even though he doesn't eat pork, he ate the heck out of those greens. By the end of that meal our new family tradition was set. Kandi makes her "standards" and friends and family bring over their pot-luck sides.

Most years we have had 12-18 people but somehow this year we have a tiny group. Just 9 folks are expected here. We haven't had "single digits" ever before. Ever. But while our numbers are fewer, our food is still big. :) Sure, she cut back on making quite so many pans of dressing and mac and cheese (though she still knew to make 2 pans with my brothers coming...) we still have a ton of options. Everyone can be stuffed and we'll still have a gob of leftovers. Our guest list may be small but our food and thanks are plenty. We've had many blessings this year.

While I may be unemployed now - we are ever so thankful for the temporary job I had last year. Not only did that keep us going as a household it also helped bring a full time job to Aunt Patti and a part time job to Kandi. Little did I know that many of the dollars earned at that part time job were going to the beautiful diamond ring on my hand right now. While we have family that is still struggling to embrace that "the greatest of these is love", we are so thankful for the friends and family and neighbors and practical strangers who have shared love and tears of joy when hearing of our engagement. Those special moments and conversations have filled our hearts in ways you might never have realized.

We are thankful to have almost accidentally found an amazing church filled with history, stained glass, traditions and so much love it's just about bursting from the seams. We've been going about 4 years now and since most of the congregation are senior citizens we've seen our numbers drop more and more each year. That said, they give us hope every Sunday. When celebrating a congregant's 90th birthday last month and seeing pictures of he and his wife when they were barely in their 20's - we saw what we hope to be. Each person is so special to us, and knowing that even in this traditional congregation our love is so embraced and celebrated by folks who came from a generation or two ahead of us is something we never could have imagined - and yet now can't imagine being without.

We are thankful for Pastor Barb who asked us to be the first Holy Union for the church. It touched us more than you will know. Your sermons both inspire us and make us think. We couldn't have any one else lead us on our special day.

And of course - we are thankful for each other. No one else deserves us and no one else would put up with us. I say it regularly and it's always true - I love you more every day. Every. Single. Day. More.

Happy Thanksgiving to my baby and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Something ugly?

The more I look at wedding dresses the uglier they are. Seriously. How in the world does someone create this and think "This will make a bride feel beautiful"?


Lace and ribbon and bows and poofy-ness. That dress is almost everything I don't want to be. I also don't want to be uber uptight where my dress must be without wrinkle or flaw and my train must lay just so at all times and a if a hair were to fall out of place I'd positively break down. That is just SO not me.

Then again, Kandi doesn't have it much better.

She really wants a bridal pantsuit. She's never really been a dress kind of person - which likely goes back to being forced to wear skirts for Catholic school when she didn't want to go there in the first place. Between the nuns with their rulers and being forced to go to Mass when you aren't even Catholic, I suppose I can understand. I think a nice suit is great in theory and I know she could rock it, but it's been amazingly hard to find. So far they've either looked like a) A male white suit - which is SO not what she wants, b) The kind of suit one would see at a black southern baptist church with matching hat and shoes worn by someone 2-2x her age, c) Just ugly. If we could find something like this in white, we could be on to something...

I did find a few dresses that were "ok" and I found a few that I super love - but of course those are through online only venues and since the dresses are custom made for you there is no trying it on first which makes the prospect a bit scary. I'm telling myself that for right now I'm looking at ideas and I won't worry too much about it all until February or March. That gives me tons of time to find new ideas, new dress designers, new dress stores, and maybe a seamstress.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A million little decisions

It's tough for an hour to go by without my mind drifting to some topic related to "the big day". It's exciting and I hear that's fairly normal. I want to start planning things and setting dates and reserving spaces and picking caterers and trying on dresses and a million other things. But as much as I want to do them and feel like I NEED to do them there is one more important thing that I need to do first.

I need to find a job.

Yes, I am happily engaged, but unhappily unemployed. I just finished a temporary job working for the Census that was just amazing. It was such a historic opportunity - and paid well enough that I was able to both save up and work on paying off debt. I was so happy to have even that temporary position as I had been unemployed for 6 months after a layoff earlier in the year. But now.... now I'm back to looking for work. So while all this Ceremony ADD is kind of cute to some folks - it isn't helping me at all in getting a job.

When we talk with folks they ask innocent little questions about what we're planning and I just keep thinking about how I can't even give them a date yet because until we can put down some cash to save a venue, I can't be sure which date we'll secure. And until we have a venue I can't decide on about a hundred other things so no decisions have been made.

It can get a bit frustrating but I'm trying to keep that as motivation and not a distraction. It's helped me keep more focused as I worked on a recent proposal and send out a few resumes. I can't be distracted by something shiny anymore - well, I at least need to cut it down. Maybe next week I can get it down to thinking about it only once every 2 hours? It would be progress, right?

Another thing that we think might help is if we start making SOME decisions. We've started doing things with the guest list so we can get an initial feeling of who will be invited and who will likely be there so we get an estimate. We've toured several venues and have several others we're planning to go to shortly. We are going to look to see what flowers are in season this time of year so we can both start planning flowers and maybe use that to decide what our colors are going to be. They are all little things, but we both think it would be great to have some decisions made.

Then again, we have the important decisions made. I have her. She has me. We have an awesome church and an amazing Pastor ready to perform the ceremony. Everything else is just a bonus.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Facebook official

I didn't even know it was an option, but thanks to Kandi we are now "Facebook official" and have changed our "status" to engaged. Officially moved from "in a relationship with ___" to "Engaged to ____". As often happens several folks commented or "Liked" the status update and every one makes us smile and feel that extra bit of excitement and warmth that we're supposed to feel at this time.

Because we aren't your average John and Jane getting hitched, while those "Like's" are appreciated, we also have to steady ourselves for the Un-likes. Of course we expect to get that from individuals of some circles of society who feel that this is somehow "wrong" and those are certainly easy to take. They can have their opinion and we have ours. We have a strong relationship with our church and our patriotism and no criticism from the outside world will change that.

That's not to say that it doesn't hurt a bit when it comes from your family.

My coming out process went something like this.
Me: Mom, I'm dating a girl.
Mom: That's nice. Did I tell you what happened at work the other day?

For Kandi it wasn't quite that simple. I'll always remember having to hide in her room when an old friend of her's dropped by or needing to be extra quiet when she was on the phone with family. We were together about 9 months before she told her mom. And it took almost an extra year before she told the rest of the family. I was "her friend" for quite a while but over the years as they've gotten to know me better I became their daughter, their cousin, their granddaughter their niece - their family. It was a slow process - but one we knew would be worth the wait. For those that are on Facebook I was added to their Family Tree. We were Facebook Official family.

Kandi and I imagined that the engagement excitement would pick up on where we are now, but have found that for some members of our family it's the coming out process all over again. I anticipated that quite a bit of my extended family would fall into the "polite but unaccepting" category when it came to our announcement. My side of the family isn't exceptionally close and in our 10 years together they many have seen Kandi, and me for that matter, only a few times. This distance allows me to not be too upset when those "polite unlike" opinions come, but to be happy when true congratulations are given.

Kandi's family is very close. They have the kind of relationship I'd heard of in movies but didn't really think existed until I met her. Aunts, uncles, cousins - they all talk on the phone at least once a week. They call just to say hello. They call to talk about something they saw on TV. They call to talk about things that happened in their home town - as most of the group still live there in a 15 minute range of each other. And of course, they call to talk about each other. It's awesome.

It's been 4 months since she bought the ring and several weeks since I had it on my finger and only two members of her family have really said congratulations. Some have changed the topic. Several others have shared their conflicted disapproval. This is of course difficult. And unfortunate.

I firmly believe that just as the initial acceptance took some time, so will the acceptance that we are having this ceremony and making this commitment. I believe that God works in amazing ways and will help them to see past fears, insecurities and really unfortunate bible passages that some religions pluck out of a group, hold as unbending and then ignore or explain away all others that were part of the same group as if they didn't mean those quite as much. I believe that the greatest of all things is love and with it one can accomplish amazing things.

But -

We are only doing this once. You can only come to this once. I need that warm and loving light to shine on them in the next 6-8 months to ensure that my sweetie has her whole loving family around her on her special day. It may not be easy, but I have to believe it can happen.

Lots of hope. Lots of prayer. Lots of love.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ceremony ADD

Talk about whirlwind!

At the beginning of last week I had put all ceremony thoughts on the back burner and was focused on making our house positively ooze Halloween as we were doing a Saturday night Halloween Party. We've never done one before, but this year my partner couldn't have been more excited about it. Seemed natural enough as we had just done our first "big" Halloween the year before so it seemed normal that she'd take this one to the next level.

The party was going well and everything seemed to be running as planned until she took me outside and I saw this.

She then pulls out a ring and pops the big question right in front of our family and friends, who had all walked outside before me while I was in the other room oblivious to it all. It was the ring I'd fallen in love with when we'd looked long ago. Of course I said yes. Neither of us remember exactly what we said. We remember she said she loved me and wanted to be with me for the rest of her life. She said that we make each other be better people. There were lots of I love you's shared. While the words may not be so clear, I will forever remember that she proposed to me in a banana suit.

I found out afterward that the majority of the crowd knew this was happening. She had also called my mother weeks earlier to officially ask for her permission. My mom, being the mom she is was apparently all tears of joy and told her how she already thought of her as a daughter and of course she had her blessings. I also found out that my partner had the ring IN THE HOUSE since August 4th! I'd been SO close to it so many times and had never known...

So now, my brain is on nothing but ceremony planning. I'm calling it Ceremony ADD. Because no matter how hard I've tried to work on something else - I have no attention span for anything except planning, planning and more planning. It doesn't help that I have the most beautiful ring on my finger shining at me wherever I go.

Not that I'm complaining. :)

I need to be focused on my job searching. I need to be focused for a certification exam. And I'd like to read the last Harry Potter before the movie comes out in a few weeks. But all I want to do is look at my ring and plan our big day. I think I'll let myself be this way for maybe a few more days but then I really have to get back in the swing of things! I really do. I do. I do. I do...

And I'm right back to thinking about the ceremony. Ceremony ADD. Dang it!

It's kinda awesome.