Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Housewarming Celebration

It has been holiday central around the Stafford house! From the last blog, you can see that I've been struggling with some things lately. Thankfully, I seemed to have stepped out of the fog just in time for our housewarming party!

With us closing and moving in the first of November, we decided that having a holiday housewarming would be most appropriate. And you know me, I jumped head first into planning. It felt good to feel good again! One of the hallmarks of clinical depression is losing interest in things you use to find enjoyment in. So, I was so thankful to find enjoyment in designing, crafting, and decorating for the party!

I'd found this picture on Better Homes and Gardens and loved the color scheme! So, I decided to let it be my inspiration.

Then I found this fabulousness created by Hyperlink to The Inspired Bride and Hyperlink to Bake it Pretty

So, I decided to try and combine the two and make it work for me. I started with the invitations, where all good party planning should start. ;-) I was so happy with the way the invitations came out! It took me a while to refine the design to where I was happy with it, but it finally got there.

Then it was time to decide what to serve. I figured with the color scheme being black, white, and apple green, white chocolate would be the only answer! At least once a year my mom would drag out her double boiler and dunk some stuff in chocolate. And continuing with tradition, I have come to do the same. Usually making chocolate covered pretzel rods, using my patended spoon and swirl technique, for co-workers or friends. This year I decided I would just go bigger and badder.

Wanting everything to be as fresh as possible, my friend Beth came over the night before the party to help me dunk. We made dunked oreos, pretzel rods, and my childhood tradition of ritz cracker/peanut butter sandwiches, all coated in scrumptious white chocolate (which I got on sale, by the way.)

After Beth left, I whipped up a batch of peppermint bark. Which by the way, is the easiest thing in the entire world, and something I'll probably make every year from now on, even though I'm not a fan of peppermint.

Being the awesome friends that they are... my bestests totally pitched in. My bestest April had offered to help however she could. With four kids I was counting myself lucky that she was going to make it at all, but then I remembered the amazing butter cream frosting that she made for her daughter's bithday party. I knew that one of the other things I wanted to make was cupcakes, and I couldn't think of anything better to top them with then her butter cream frosting!

My bestest Jessica, came up from Fayetteville (where she lived with her active duty army husband) early Saturday morning to help with the set up and final baking. I'd found, what looked like, a to-die-for chocolate cupcake recipe in my Cupcake book by Martha Stewart. Not being fortunate enough to have a KitchenAid mixer, Jess brought her's with her and was awesome enough to make the cupcakes while I was finishing up the cleaning and decorating.

Thanks to all my friends and my wonderful husband, who lets me be crazy controling over my projects and deals with my stressed out moments trying to get finished up, we were done with a couple of hours to spare! This has never happened to me before!! I'm always the one running right up to the minute.

Unfortunately with the blurr of activity and trying to take advantage of time with my friends, I completely forgot to take even one picture! Thankfully, my brother got a couple with his iPhone.

What do you think? I think it came pretty close to my inspiration. Oh and if you were wondering, Martha Stewart did not stear me wrong! The chocolate cupcakes were to-die-for, and totally worth the $10 I spent on the small box of fancy cocoa I bought to make them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I have an illness. I will have this illness for the rest of my life. I will be on medication for this illness for the rest of my life. I will not allow this illness to define my life.

I have been very lucky and healthy most of my life. Other than the occasional strep throat or cold, and what I thought to be a mild case of low seretonin, I never had to see a doctor on a very regular basis. I went on a low dose of anti-depression medication about 6 years ago but only saw a general practicioner once a year to have it refilled. Things were much better than they had been before I went on the anti-depressant, so I figured everything was good to go.

Well, after taking my current job, which drains every ounce of my strength, I started having more problems. I finally sought help from my general practicioner about a year and a half ago. They did a broad spectum blood test, and sent me to a sleep clinic, which after an overnight sleep study and months of different medication, produced nothing helpful other than the knowledge that there was no physical reason for me to be sleeping poorly. The blood test produced absolutely nothing out of the ordinary either.

Continuing to press the point, my general practicioner decided to shake up the meds a litte. He put me on a different anti-depressant. Well, this one was great. It gave me more energy. I had motivation coming out of my ears. In fact it bordered on obsession. Unfortunately, although I felt a little better, it didn't fix the problem, it actually made it worse.

So, a few months later when I come into my general practicioner's office at the end of my rope, insisting that I had walking pnumonia or mono, but with a list of symptoms that described a textbook case of clinical depression, he finally refered me to a psychiatrist. At my first appointment, a few short days before my 30th birthday, the psychiatrist listened to my symptoms, took my medical history, and diagnosed me with Type 2 Bi-Polar disorder. I was devistated! This is the same illness that my dad has. This is the same illness that allegedly caused the behaviors that still haunt me to this day. What if I treated people the same way? Happy 30th Birthday, you're a monster! Let's just say that I did not weather the milestone birthday with the grace I was hoping for.

This diagnosis was followed by a string of unfortunately timed coincidences, some good some bad, but all overwhelming. Just 3 weeks later, my grandmother passed away and the moment the funeral was over my extended family imploded. I anticipate that with the exception of two cousins, I will never see my mom's extended family again.

The day my grandmother passed away, we found our house and within 6 weeks we were closing. That meant a move which is stressful under the best of circumstances. All of this while going on and off different medications.

The first thing my psychiatrist did was put me on a mood stablizing medication. He warned me that I might be more depressed until we got the medication and dosing right, but I was not prepared for the crushing, overwhelming, sufficating, drowning experience that would follow. One of the biggest challenges with an illness like bi-polar is that I've never really experienced "normal", so I you have no ruler, no standard, by which to compare my moods. When I first went on the mood stabilizer I felt like I wasn't at home in my own skin... like I was consistenly trying to crawl out of my skin to be free of the sensation. That subsided thankfully, but it left behind the most sufficating experience of clinical depression that I've ever experienced. If I was not as stubborn as I am, I would not have gotten out of bed as often as I did.

It took my psychiatrist about three months to figure out that I would not call between visits. I didn't want to "bother" him and figured I could suffer through until my next visit. Once he figured this out, he moved me from coming in every four weeks to every two. And after listening to my complaints, he upped the dose of both my meds.

Just a few days later... I stepped out of the fog that had been the last three months of my life.

It's amazing how feeling so bad can make one so appreciative of feeling good. I still feel like I have an unsteady hold on my sanity at the moment. But hopefully as the days turn into week and the weeks turn into months, I'll be able to trust this new feeling of stability.

I have an illness that will effect me for the rest of my life. I will not let this illness define me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

been far too long...

I know it has been a very long time since I blogged. To say the least, life has been a little challenging. After deciding that I wanted to have my own wedding planning business, I dove headlong into making that a reality. Unfortunately, due to my obsessive personality, I did this to the detrement of myself, my marriage, my health, and my sanity. Between networking groups, obsessing over my logo, business cards, website, and coordinating 2 weddings in the same month, I burt out. I got to the point where I couldn't even look at my google reader or blog on the business' site. Just the thought was more than I could handle.

This stress was, of course, on top of the rest of the stress in my life. I had decided not to renew my committment to the domestic violence organization when my year was up, but unfortunately that wasn't until September. I was trying deserately to connect with a kid at the Alexander Youth Network who is hard to reach on a good day. Work got even more stressful than normal. But every time I think it can't possibly get more stressful, it does.

At the beginning of September I turned 30. I'd always hoped that I would handle that with grace and confidence. Well, whatever it was that I handled it with, it was NOT grace or confidence! My grandmother was getting very ill, so we decided to take my birthday weekend and go up to see her. I'd planned on having a big 30th birthday party and refusing to take it lying down (translation: drinking and clubbing like I was in my 20's). Well, that didn't happen since we were up in the mountains. The whole thing kind of hit me like a mack truck! I died my hair with my cousin and that was so much fun, but I spent the evening in tears and it took me weeks to recover.

Around the same time, I was finally able to get into the psychiatrist that my primary care physician had reffered me to. Well, after listening to me talk for a very short time, he diagnosed me with Type 2 Bi-Polar Disorder, which is a milder form of bi-polar. I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me. It took me a very long time to feel like I could breath. Why I felt like that is a much longer story then I want to go into right now, but it was tramatic to say the least. And of course, he started playing with my medication. Switching meds is no fun even on a good day, so at this point it just about put me under! Well, let's see, that was September and I just feel like I stepped out of the fog sometime last week.

Two weeks after my birthday, my grandmother died. We all knew it was going to happen, but it doesn't necessarily make it easier. The moment she passed the family imploded on itself! We got through the funeral by the skin of our teeth, but as soon as it was over all hell broke lose. I now no longer talk with 90% of my extended family and expect that I never will.

One of the few bright spots, has been my grandmother's dog. He's a 5 or 6 year old, 16 lb, Shiz Tsu who came home with us instead of being sent to the shelter. He's a buddle of joy, a crazy dog who runs in circles when he's excited, and the light of my life at the moment. Adjusting to having a dog has been a challenge for Jay and myself, though. Neither of us ever having had an indoor pet like Sammy. We are adjusting to the responsibility, as well as the additional costs associated with having a furry child! And trust me, he is my child substitute!

The day my grandmother passed, Jay and I found our new home. Within 8 weeks we were home owners! That scared the ever living daylights out of me. I don't know what it was but committing to a 30 year morgage, but it was scarier than getting married. I guess because the morgage is harder to get out of then the marriage. :-) We also had to deal with moving and breaking our lease, all of which was just tied up last week.

The week before Thanksgiving I was at my breaking point. I was hardly putting one foot in front of the other was was having a hard time doing simple tasks. During a counciling session, my therapist convenced me that it was imperative that I take some time off work. So, I took the entire week of Thanksgiving off. I focused on resting, on healing, on giving myself permission to think only of myself.

I learned one very important thing through it all... sometimes getting out of bed in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other all day long is something to celebrate! Hopefully, I can start putting my life back together. I've lost some friendships through this time as well as learned that I have limits. Now if I can only learn, next time, to find those limits and respect them before it's too late.

There are some fun things going on right now. I have become absolutely, 100% addicted to the Twilight Saga. I'm sure I'll be writing about that soon. And this weekend is our holiday housewarming party! I'm so excited for this, and will be working on preparations all week. I'll be taking lots of pictures and posting them as soon as I can.

To all my family and friends who have stood by me during this difficult time in my life, thank you... thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's Official!

My career as a wedding coordinator has officially begun. I mean... I have a logo, therefore I am, right? Well, it's a little more complicated then that. Does anyone know about getting a business lisence such and soforth?????


I "booked" my first official bride yesterday. It's a friend of a friend which I've been helping already, but we emailed yesterday and she is willing to let me use her as a trial run. I'm going to treat her wedding as if she were paying me a few thousand dollars to do a full-service wedding, and in return, she's going to let me use the photographs of her wedding in my portfolio. And if she likes my work, she'll allow me to use her as a reference.

I'm really excited. I've started creating templates for check list and budget trackers that I can use for different brides. I have three that I'm working with right now so this should help me figure out of I can really juggle more than one which is one of the big differences between planning your own wedding and planning others... well that and you don't get to make all the decisions. :-)

I launched a business page on facebook, and am hoping to go live with my official site by next week sometime. I'm planning to incorporate a blog in it since google loves blogs and ranks you higher if you have one you update regularly, and it'll help people see that even though I don't have 5 gazzilion weddings under my belt, I still know what I'm doing.

So, know I just have to figure out how to do the business side of it... invoicing, holding out taxes, drafting a contract, figuring out how much to charge... the not so fun part. But I've never met something I couldn't figure out! As my mom said the other day, I like to take things by the horns!

Hopefully this is the beginning of a wonderful adventure! And one day I'll look back on this blog and think, that's where it began!

If you do something wedding related... baking, photography (Jess), henna (shannon), or anything else, just let me know and I'll feature you on my blog! Also, if you just L.O.V.E. a vender you worked with during your wedding experience or learned something awesome about yourself or something else, then send me a link and I'll feature it on the blog too!

To infinity and beyond!!!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Grace Under Fire

I know, it's been a month since I blogged. To tell you the truth it's been kind of a strange time. My doctor has been changing my anxiety meds, trying to find one that will work better than the lexipro. Well, switching medications is never fun, at least not for someone who depends on them each and every day. I find myself having trouble focusing and also feel like I'm falling deeper and deeper into a rut. But no matter what, we are always going onward and upward, right!

Well, if you were by any chance feeling sorry for yourself, you won't be after you watch this video. Unfortunately, ABC disables the embed feature on youtube, but take a minute and watch the 2+ minute video. No really... we'll wait for you...

Ok, in case you are too pressed for time to actually watch the video, here is a short synopsus. So, Connie Culp has been in the news recently. She is the woman who had the cutting edge "face transplant" surgery after being shot in the face by her abusive husband. Well, this morning, Diane Sawyer interved Ms. Culp on GMA (that's Good Morning America for all you uncool people) ;-)

To say I was mesmerized doesn't even come close to identifying the emotions I experienced watching this amazing woman. In the domestic violence world, we prefer to use the term "survivor" instead of "victim" to describe those who have experienced abuse. If anyone embodies the victorius spirit of this word, it is Ms. Culp. Since I cannot embed the video, I would usually post a picture, but it would do her no justice. Because, see, in a picture you cannot hear her childlike laughter... you cannot see the twinkle that dances in her eyes... you cannot laugh at this remarkable woman's amazing since of humor, a sense of humor that would elicit a chuckle even from Uncle Scrooge... and you cannot see the enormous smile that flirts right under the surface, begging to be released as soon as the newly grafted skin and nerves grow back.

This woman who, by anyone's standards, deserves to be negative, depressed, critical, and sarcastic, instead spends her time being upbeat, positive, encouraging, THANKFUL(!!!), and an inspiration if I've ever seen one! So, what's my excuse? I wish I could bring her on all my DV on-call runs to the hospital. What a remarkable spokeswoman for the DV community!!! From now on, I will point to her and say, "See! She got through it! You will too! One way or another, you will get through this!" And hopefully, the next time I am feeling sorry for myself, I will remember that no matter what, life is precious... a time to spend celebrating the little joys and loving those around me.

Ms. Culp, if you ever read this... Thank you. Thank you for a new perspective on life. Thank you for a renewed sense of gratitude. Thank you for reminding me of how strong we each are. Thank you for inspiring me, in the (paraphrased) words of your favorite song, to love deeper, speak sweeter, give forgiveness I've been denying... to live like I was dying. (Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying)

You are in my thoughts. I would wish that you find strength and peace, but it looks like you are doing just fine with those things on your own. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring is officially here...

Well, spring has officially come to the Stafford household. After months of dealing with my pleadings to leave the pine wreath up on the porch door because I love it so much, Jay finally took it down...only make a wonderful discovery!

Yes that's right! We have baby birdies!!!!! So, obviously the wreath went right back up were it was and will stay there until the nest is no longer needed. Here's a pictures of the way they built the nest between the wreath and the door. We usually keep the blinds shut on the door, so that's probably why the were able to build there. Now they seem to be a little wigged out becaues we keep the blinds open a lot more, and we are constantly checking on them. Thankfully, we can do it from the other side of the glass and therefore we aren't getting out scent or anything on the little ones.

From our guesstimation, there are about three little beaks in there! I've never seen a birds nest with little ones in it so close up. It's amazing to see them wiggle around. They seem to be mostly asleep but if they get startled, they start to shiver and wiggle. (Sorry little ones, I totally forgot that I had the sound turned on on my phone when I took a picture of you!)

Our resident science expert, Shannon, who works at Discovery Place said that she thinks they are finches. I'm going to have to do some research into it to confirm and see what they eat so we can put plenty in the bird feeder for the mommie to bring them.

Jay has been laughing at me all weekend because I've been like a little girl with a new puppie. I'm always checking on them and oohing and gooing over them. I guess if I can't have a baby human right now, then having baby birdies to watch grow up will be enough.

The funny thing is I thought we had a bat sleeping on our back porch. We would go out there at night and more than once I felt something fly over my head as soon as I opened the door. I'd gotten rather freaked out a couple of times because I can deal with spiders, and I can deal with bugs, and in my first marriage I was the bug killer while my husband stood on things and shreeked liked a girl, but when it comes to snakes and bats, I'll run and hide with the best of 'em!

When Jay discovered the bird's next, he called me to come look and said, "I've found your flying thing!" It was at least nice to know I wasn't going crazy! And I much prefer a finch to a bat!

Don't worry, there will be plenty more pictures as they grow. And if any homeschool families (oir non-homeschool families at that) want to take a field trip to see them, just let me know!!!

Happy Monday everyone and bring on the spring!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Terriffic Tuesday

Hello y'all! This morning, I was emailed one of the coolest things I think I've ever seen! Anytime I get an email from Foot Petal, I know it's going to be good. They are always coming up with awesome products, half of which I own. But this morning I was totally floored! Look at these babies!!!!

How cute are those???? You know I'll be rocking that high heel sandle look! And now Jay won't be able to yell when I wear my flip flops all next winter. These have officially been added to my birthday wish list!

Check them out for yourself here!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Having a Budget Wedding Part 3 - The Guest List


Although far from the funnest and most creative part of the wedding planning, the guest list is really the first concrete thing that needs to be sketched out. I'm not going to lie to you though, this will be the thorn in your butt until the day of the wedding... then it will be the thank you cards, but that's another post. At this stage in the game, it doesn't have to be a complete list by any means, but a wedding with 30 guests and a wedding with 300 guests is going to be two completely different events!

If you are looking to stick to a strict budget, then smaller is always better. This goes for both the guest list and the wedding party. I don't mean hurt people's feelings, but keep in mind that smaller means more intimate which translates into you being able to talk to all your guests without feeling like the hostess of a NYC philanthropic gala. Additionally, a smaller guest list can be accomodated by a smaller facility, fewer tables and other rentals, less food, drinks, favors, etc. Sit down with your betrothed and start sketching out a list of those people who absolutely HAVE to be there and those you'd LIKE to have there. Additionally, get the same type of list from any parents involved as well. This will give you a great jump on things.

Sometimes having a small guest list is just not possible. It is possible to have a budget wedding with a large guest list, but it takes a little more creativity. If you can't go smaller with the guest list, then go smaller with other thing. For instance, have a dessert or brunch reception instead of a dinner reception. The wedding industry considers this to be perfectly acceptable as long as you plan it for an appropriate time and give everyone a heads up on the invitations. So, don't plan a dessert reception for 5pm when most people are going to be hungry from lunch, but not yet had dinner. Instead, plan it for 8pm and make a note on the invitation that there will be a dessert reception following the ceremony (or something to that effect). That way people can grab their own dinner before they get to the wedding and aren't surprised when they get there. None of these specific decisions have to be made right now, but just be mindful that with a budget wedding, something has to be smaller, either the guest list or the party.

When determining who to send out invites to, think about a few things: First of all, "do I anticipate this person to be in my life at my 25 year anniversary?" If the answer is no, then consider dropping them from the invite list. When it comes to co-workers the generally accepted rules says that if you hang out with them outside of work, then invite them. If you don't hang out with them outside of work, then don't feel obligated to invite them. Obviously, don't hand out invitations at work if you aren't inviting everyone though!

The MOMENT you start collecting names, figure out how you want to organize your guest list, whether it's in a computerized addressbook, an excel spreadsheet, or using theknot.com's guestlist organizer. Keeping this list organized so you know what info you have, and what info you need, will be one of your biggest frustrations. The more organized you can be at the beginning, the better it will be for you!

Next up: The Facility!

Having a Budget Wedding Part 2 - Priorities

All images curtesy of theknot.com.

Actually, I lied at the end of the last budget wedding post. There's one more thing before we get to the guest list.

So, now that you are beginning to see what your dream wedding would look like, it's time to come back down to reality. You have a budget. You want to stick to your budget. And trust me, on your first anniversary, you will be much more thankful for refusing to go into massive debt for the wedding, then you will be dissapointed that you didn't have a stretch hummer limo! But how do you make your dreams come true without sacrificing your budget and vis versa?!?!?! That is were the priorities come in!

With weddings, just like in life, priorities are key! If you don't know where your priorities are, then you may spend $1000 on the first beautiful dress that you see, and find out later that having nice, catered food is more important to you than the dress! Opps! Trust me, figuring out your priorities will save you big time, and make sure that your money goes to what is most important to you.

There are a few ways to do this. One is to list all the differnt elements you consider to be associated with the wedding, (i.e. flowers, food, alcohol, dress, tux, wedding cake, etc) and then you and your fiance rank them in order of importance. Another way is for you and your fiance to both make a "Top 3" list. This list would (rather obviously) be your top 3 priorities. For instance, having a a bag piper may be one of yours, and your fiance may be insistant on getting married outside.

This expercise is going to set the tone for everything to come, and make decisions much easier. For instance, if having catered high end asian food to celebrate one person's heritage is important to one participate, then it may be a requirement to keep the guest list to a minimum. If you have a large circle of friends and a large extended family, and having all of them at the wedding is important to you, then you may need to think about alternative types of receptions such as a brunch or dessert reception.

One of the important things when planning a wedding is that both people participate as much as possible. Usually one person takes the lead in planning, which is fine. But make sure that the other person's thoughts are heard as well. Just because one person may be a guy doesn't mean they don't know anything about flowers, and just because one person is a girl doesn't mean that she has dreamed of this since she was five. Planning a wedding is the first big thing that many couples do as a team. So, start your marriage off well with lots of communication, respect, and understanding.

Next up: The Guest List

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I couldn't say it better myself!

This video is so good, I can't even think of anything to add! Just watch!

Having a Budget Wedding Part 1 - The Vision

Is it even possible to have a wedding on a budget these days? Sometimes it feels like a daunting task! According to the Bridal Association of America, the estimated average cost of a wedding in 2009 is going to be over $30K! Whether you are the parent of a bride or groom or a couple paying for the shindig yourself, that can be a daunting number, in this economy or any other!

So, do limited finances mean a bride and groom have to pout, morning the loss of their dream wedding? Well it depends on what your idea of a wedding is. If you are insistant on a white stretch hummer limo and a five course plated dinner, then you might be disappointed. But if you understand that a wedding is a celebration of the bride and groom and the love that they will share for the rest of their lives, and a time for their community to come together and celebrate with them, then it really helps you put things in perspective.

Ok, so you've just gotten engaged... congratulations! Now what?????? For most people the task seems nothing short of overwhelming. Even if you've had a subscription to Brides or Martha Stewart Wedding since you were five, pulling together the biggest party you will ever throw while trying to keep in mind that it's supposed to be about more than just a party can make you want to rethink your fiance's suggestion of being married by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas!

But don't worry, there are some things that you can do at the beginning and through the process that will really help you along the way!

First though, a tip: DO NOT buy anything until you have a clear idea of what you want the tone, style, and theme of the wedding to be! You will most likely only be wasting your money on random things that you won't be able to use in the end!

1) Make yourself a cup of tea, grab a blanket, sit back in a cumfy chair, close your eyes, and envision what you want your event to look and feel like. What words come to mind when you think of the wedding? casual, modern, elegant, rustic, glamorous? On a scale of 1 to 10, how formal do you want it to be? Does a theme come to mind? And when I say "theme" I don't mean cowboys and indians or luau! But have you always loved the look of an elegant monogram, what about a cool line drawing of a cool sea shell for a beach wedding. Before settling on anything though, seriously consider putting together what is called an inspiration board. This is basically a collage of different things that, when you look at it, gives you the same feeling that you want your wedding to have.

*click to see sources*

And while we're on sources, you might as well just go ahead and bookmark Snippet & Ink and Style Me Pretty's websites because trust me, you will want to check them out every day if not every few days! In addition, when putting together you board, try to keep track of where your images came from (wish I'd known this when I was putting mine together). It's just good web ettiquet that if you are going to borrow an image that you acknowledge were you got it from so that if another bride likes it she can go to the original source.

Don't feel like you can only make one inspiration board. I've known girls who made one for every element of their wedding, who made one at each major development, and anything else. The first one or two you make might not follow a certain color scheme. Just pull pictures that give you the feel without worrying about it all matching color wise. I suspect though that a color scheme will emerge as you look over your board(s).

Next up: Guess Whose Coming to Dinner... the guest list.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sorry for the delay...

Sorry for the delay in posts everyone. I was planning on taking a little break after the blitzcrig of wedding wrap up post last week, but didn't plan on it being this long! I'm working on a herculean wedding tips and tricks blog, which I'm thinking may need to be turned into a bunch of smaller blogs because it's seriously turning into a book, either that or I need to actually write my own wedding how-to book ('cause there certainly aren't enough of those at Barnes and Noble!).

On top of the slight burn out, I missed a dose of my happy medication last week which turns normally tired but mostly upbeat, positive, go-getting Bonnie into why-do-the-dumbest-people-in-a-50-mile-radius-somehow-flock-to-me-bonnie. My annoyance fuse gets really short, my bull shit tollerance falls dangerously low, and I lose the majority of my compassion and empathy for my fellow human beings. Let's just say, it's not a good scene!

Thankfully, I got caught back up and that passed, just in time to come down with strep throat. Which is a funny story. I figure I got it from one of the kids Alexander Youth Network, or from Shannon who works with kids all day and might have just been carrying it, but the only person I know to have had it is one of my good friends, April... who I haven't seen in 3 weeks! I keep teasing her and telling her that I think she gave it to me over facebook! ;-) The only additional thing I can say about this is that antibiotics are a wonderful thing when used appropriately!

All that to say that there are more blogs coming soon! Tomorrow is the NC Equality Day of Action in Raleigh. I'll be heading up V.E.R.Y early tomorrow morning in time to be there by 9am. They will give us a crash course on how to lobby from 9:30 to 10:30 and then send us over to the capital building for our appointments with our senator and representatives. Once we are done there, we come back for lunch and debriefing and strategy sessions. I am truthfully so excited I can hardly stand it! I've got to put together my note cards with my talking points on them and make a few personal calling cards to leave with those I meet with.

I've been doing research on grassroots lobbying, and have been learning lots of fun stuff, like... always dress professionally, always have something to leave behind that has your best points on it, and leave a business or personal calling card so they have your name. Also, I need to make sure that I write thank you notes when I get back on Wednesday. Although I've written my representatives before, I have never visited them in Raleigh or really knew that was possible. I got a twitter message this morning saying that they had over 230 people pre-registered to be at the event tomorrow and how that's double what they have ever had before. I'm so glad that I took the time off of work to really stand up for what I believe in.

The ex-pastor of a church my family use to attend (yeah, one of those who ran off with the church's money and the secretary) use to always say, "You do what you want to do." Sounds simplistic but it's true. The bottom line is, we make time for the things we really want to do. As much as I bitch and complain about how much my weight and being so out of shape bothers me, obviously it doesn't bother me that much because I don't take time to do anything about it. People can talk all they want about what they are in to and what they believe in, but in my opinion the lipmus test is when you look at how they spend their time. That's why I really started getting inolved in the LGBTQ fight in the last 6 months or so. I realized that I talked alot about fighting for equal rights, but my life showed nothing to that end. Well, now it does!

Well, anyway, expect some new post in the next few days! Hopefully, I'll be back to feeling 100% here soon! Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day After Brunch

I promise I won't go into too much detail of the wedding night. ;-) But there are a few things I want to tell you about happenings after we left the reception and then tell you about the Day After Brunch.

Since we were on a budget and didn't have a lot of available time off due to having both just started new jobs, we were unable to have a full honeymoon. But that was ok with us, so we decided to book a really nice high end room at the Hampton Inn at Phillips Place. The major advantage to this hotel was that it is in a lifestyle center that also includes one of our favorite restaurants, P.F. Changs! The original plan was to wear my wedding dress and Jay's tux to dinner, but after our sprint through the rain we were feeling a little like drowned rats by the time we got to the hotel and got checked in. So, we decided to change into our jeans before dinner. It made it a little less dramatic but MUCH more comfortable. After a wonderful dinner we headed back over to our hotel room, and were warmly greated by one of the bell hops in one of those lovely but unexpected ways. When we got up to our room we realized that it had been raided by little wedding fairies! Flowers from the wedding were everywhere, on the night stands, by the jetted tub, on the bathroom counter. There were cookies from the wedding and cake as well. It was wonderful and made us feel so special and loved by our friends. And we had a wonderful evening.

Meanwhile, after we left the reception, my wonderful friends pack up everything and cleaned up. Dan got back from dropping us off, just as the girls were finishing up packing the cars (perfect timing!) ;-) Like I said before, amazingly the rain stopped when it was time to carry everything out. At this point, Shannon and Dan took a bunch of the stuff from the wedding over to the hotel. They knew we had dinner reservations at a certain time and convenced the front desk to let them raid our room. :-) The bell hop who greated us so warmly was the one who had escorted them to the room and was slightly surprised when he saw us because he knew how close we had come to catching them all in the act. Hehe. After everything was dropped off at the house, almost all my girls went out for dinner, exchanging emails and phone numbers in order to stay in touch. It was amazing to see all these women who are so important in my life getting along and creating new friendships!

So, Shifra headed off after dinner. My mom stayed at our apartment with the Cali girls so that she could have them back at the airport by some ungodly hour like 6am. And then she was gracious enough to host our Day After Brunch.

This is a tradition that has cropped up in the wedding culture due mostly to the fact that most couples live together before marriage (or have at least done the deed before the wedding night) and are often not in a rush to get off to their honeymoon. With people all spread out over the country and world now, weddings are often times the only time that you have to spend with such a large concentration of your friends which is how the concept of the Wedding Weekend came to be in our western culture.

I had asked mom to simply grab a couple dozen bagels and some cream cheese for the brunch because I certainly didn't want to burden her any more then she already was that weekend! Well, when we got to the house we were greated not only by My mom and brother, dan and shannon, and jessica, but by the smell of fresh baking biscuits, eggs, sausage, gravy, and grits. A true southern style breakfast! It was amazing!

After gorging on her wonderful breakfast, we decided we should open all the wedding presents. Apparently we opened the one from my mom's mom before the pictures started being taken because that's what is drapped over our laps. I always love when she gives gifts of things she's made. She is an accomplished crochetter and also makes these yarn crafts. It's amazing what she can do and I only hope I can become as accomplished as she is.

And yes, that would be another GIGANTIC Madori Mamosa in my hands! Jessica is a very bad influence on me. Hehe!
That hand gester is either, "I think my dad got us drinking glasses" or "someone bring me some more alcohol right now!"
Wow that's a big bag from Bed Bath and Beyond! And a word of caution! Native American dream catchers are to be hung by the WINDOW and not over your BED no matter how pretty they look there! Trust me, I learned the hard way! If hung over they bed, they attract every bad dream in the county! Not good!
Yay! The sheets we've been wanting! And the hostess set for our dishes! And the beautiful Asian trivit we registered for!
My gorgeous Irish husband!
I need to say a big, huge, very late, first anniversary THANK YOU to everyone who was involved in making our wedding so special! We could not have done it without you all, and even if we did, it wouldn't have been the same! You guys rock!
Next Up: How to have a wedding on a budget!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Wedding Day - Reception

The weather is one of the things that I have only touched on. To say the least, it was a challenge. Thursday and Friday were beautiful! Sunny, warm, just beautiful spring days. But Saturday was a different story. We knew that rain was being forcast, which made me even more thankful that I had opted for an indoor facility, but I really had my heart set on taking pictures down by the water and the arbor. I knew that there were always back up plans, and when I woke up the morning of the wedding I was too excited about marrying the love of my life to worry about minor details like the back ground of pictures. I can tell you we were so lucky! The rain held off until we got everything carried in, all the prewedding pictures taken, the ceremony finished, and the formal pictures taken. Then the flood gates opened up! It rained, it poured, it stormed... thunder and lightening..., and even produced a tornado warning for the area. It was actually kind of cool because my friends from Southern California hardly ever seen storms like that, and they really enjoyed experiencing a good southern spring storm. Plus, it was one of those storms where it just makes you want to curl up with a warm cup of something and a good conversation. This worked out perfectly because of the type of reception we decided to have. Due to our limited budget, we decided to have a cookie buffet made by my wonderful friend who has a bakery on the side. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we decided to have the same friend make a cookie cake pie and a pecan pie. We also bought a red velvet cake (which is what we cut) and a cheesecake. And what goes better with cookies and cakes than coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and milk. So, even though it was raining and storming, we had plenty of warm drinks and good conversation. After having a moment to ourselves, our wonderful Best Man, Dan did us the honors of introducing us for the first time as Mr. and Ms. Bonnie and Jeremy Stafford as we reentered the facility. We then went right into our first dance, which was to One Boy, One Girl by Colin Raye.

Then my dad and I had our father-daughter dance to I Loved Her First.

Then it was time to get the party started.

Sometime in the middle of the reception, our officiant's adorable son Gabe was playing in a water puddle during a break in the rain. At some point he decided that it would be totally cool to sit down in a puddle. Which he immediately realized was not as fun as he thought it would be.

Then it was time to cut the cake! Yay!

And to take some pictures with my girls!

Then it was time for the last dance. Steady as We Go by Dave Matthews Band was a song that I clung to for comfort during Jay's deployment. I felt like a song with the chorus of "So when the road gets rocky girl, just steady as we go" was perfect to end such a special day.

And then it was time to say goodbye to everyone and leave.

Hiring a limo or anything was out of our budget, but our best man offered to drive us to the hotel in his dad's crown vic. It was still raining but had lightened up a little. We had no idea when or if it was going to stop, so in true Bonnie style I put on the white flip flops I'd brought for when my high heals started to hurt my feet, hiked up my dress, grabbed my new husband and made a run for it!!! It was wonderful and is probably one of my most treasured memories from the evening. Unfortunately, we didn't give our photographer a heads up before we left so it didn't get on film, but still.

The really amazing thing is that after everything was packed back into the boxes and the facility was cleaned up, the rain stopped! Just in time for everyone to pack up the cars. Then when they got back to our apartment to unload everything, it stopped raining there too! It was truly amazing how it all worked out.