Friday, February 27, 2009

A Tom-Filled Weekend! (And An Honest Story.)

Last weekend I didn't get to see very much of Tom, which is why I am super excited for this weekend with him!

(My good-lookin' boy!)

Tonight we're going on a "we really don't like fighting the crowds and prices on Valentine's Day, so we're going to dinner two weeks later" date. We're going to Meson Sabika, hands down my favorite tapas restaurant, and a former venue choice for our wedding. I absolutely LOVE the food at this place, and Tom enjoys it, too, even though the portions are small. This is the place where I first discovered bacon-wrapped dates, which was probably one of the greatest days of my life! ;) I just cannot stress enough how delicious all of their food (and their sangria!) is. If you're in the Naperville, IL area, check it out!!

On Saturday, Tom is competing in the conference meet for indoor track. I believe he's ranked #1 in the weight throw and #2 in the shot...or maybe #1 in both? I lose track, sorry!

So, I'll be making the drive northward to Kenosha to cheer him on! This meet is definitely a long time in coming, and it should be amazing.
For those of you who don't know his background, 2 years ago, Tom dislocated his ankle at track practice. It was no regular dislocation, and I'll spare you all the gory details. I received a phone call at 8 am saying that he was in an ambulance on his way to the hospital, and that emergency surgery was imminent. It took me exactly 14 minutes to pack my stuff, load my car, and pick up a very brave friend before I could set out on the 3 hour drive to him. I arrived at the hospital just as he was coming out of recovery. His injury was so severe that for several days after, we still had no idea whether or not he would ever be able to play sports again. Tom was told to keep his weight off his ankle for two months. He was on bed rest for a week, which was a lifetime for him. He was diligent in doing therapy and exercises, and two months later, Tom was not only walking on his ankle, but running and throwing shot put again.
Watching Tom go from being a record-setting athlete to a hospital patient who couldn't stand up on his own was one of the hardest periods of our relationship. I wanted to help him, but didn't know how. He wanted help, but didn't know how much. It was a turning point in our relationship, too, though. The night of his surgery, I stayed with him at the hospital. It was that night that we decided that we both wanted more out of our relationship --- that we needed to be together, especially through the rough times.
You obviously all know how that part of our story turned out. And as for Tom, he continues physical therapy and a variety of other treatments on his ankle to this day. And after two years of recovery, Tom has begun reclaiming all the records he set that season, and has become a force to be reckoned with. He took the time to strengthen the parts of his body where he was weak, he optimized his technique, and learned to channel his emotions and control his mind. His future is bright; he has one more season in track, and the possibility of training professionally once he graduates.
Tomorrow marks a full circle for him---a day he has been training for for years. And I couldn't be prouder to sit and cheer him on!
Good luck Thomas!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Best of Both Worlds...

So I'm not sure why I've been so philosophical and thought-provoking lately. Sometimes I wonder if the "doom and gloom" of the economy really is hitting everyone, and every one's moods, more than people think.

For Tom and I, this has meant that we've really stopped to take inventory of our life, both current and future. Because of this, I've been trying to stay away from the wedding blogs and websites that only follow the "pretty" stuff, because we all know there is more to a wedding than that.

This morning, upon checking my Google Reader, I was greeted with the best of both worlds:

A gorgeous picture:

(via StyleMePretty)

I LOVE those blue shoes just peeking through...

And some sound advice from Rebecca, guest blogger @ A Practical Wedding:

"I knew, too, that I am the only person who can ruin my wedding -- by letting the small stuff get to me -- and as long as Thom and I were married at the end of the day, it was going to be the best day of my life (so far!). "

Good advice!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Study in Favors

I present to you all, exhibit A:

(Favor boxes by Brides; sold at Michael's)

I trust you remember when I confessed my weakness for these boxes. Now, with 200 of these beauties sitting in a box with my unused Gocco, I find myself still searching for "the ideal" filler.

I'm pretty nonchalant about the whole thing --- if we find something great; if not, we'll skip it.

So I present to you all, four options. Please leave your vote on the poll...

Yum. Homemade peanut butter cups. One of our favorite candies!!

Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwiches -- hands down, Tom's favorite.

Mmm....chocolate truffles. Simple, yet delicious.

How cute are these? No, you can't vote for these, because they're $3 a cookie.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Moral of the Story...

When I first started planning the wedding, you would have thought I was competing in a race. I was running, no, sprinting, to plan every detail. Little did I know that planning is more like a marathon --- you need to take it slow, make deliberate choices, and let yourself feel the effects.

I have found, with the exception of the purchase of my wedding dress, that hasty decisions have left me unsatisfied or overspent. Take for instance the purchase of the flower girl dresses this weekend. One week of frustrated shopping, and I was ready to settle for something I didn't want. Then, by chance, I find the perfect choice where I least expected it, for 1/2 of what I wanted to pay. Ditto with the honeymoon. I was so desperate to choose something and have concrete plans, that I almost missed getting the deal of a lifetime on our top choice!

The same school of thought, then, should be applied to my shoes. Why waste $70 on a pair of shoes I will most likely wear once? All because I'm too anxious to wait for the summer shoes to arrive in stores?

When I think back to the original planning stages and compare that vision to the current one, I am absolutely amazed by how much has both changed and stayed the same. As all the pieces begin to fit together (venues, attire, decor), I find myself so unbelievably excited. I can absolutely picture the day in my head, from the moment I see all my nieces all dressed up and waving their wands to the first moment Thomas and I have alone. The more I picture these moments, the more I find the small details matter less and less.

So I guess all of our mothers have been right all along ---- patience really is a virtue.

Monday, February 23, 2009


So yesterday, I embarked upon an excursion to Target. These treks always seem to be an adventure, because I ALWAYS leave spending way more than intended, carrying way too many bags, and having spent way too much time wandering the aisles.

It has become quite a habit lately to wander through the kid's clothing section to browse through the selection of spring dresses. I usually find a few that I like, but none that are the appropriate color, style or size.

Until yesterday, that is.

I am pleased to report semi-success with finding flower girl dresses! This lovely, ethereal creation was pleading for me to take it home. And for $16.99, how could I refuse?

(via Target)

While they don't have this in a size even remotely close for the littler girls, my mother's fairly confident that she can figure something out. And don't let this picture deceive you --- it's the perfect color aqua in person. I actually held the invitation up to it yesterday, and they matched!

I love the "fluttery" feel of the dress. The ruffles, the fabric --- it all lends to a very summery, garden-chic look. And when I picture it on my sweet nieces, all armed with their flower wands with streaming ribbons, how can I not smile?

Now if only we'll be as successful with finding shoes...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Color Obsession

I can't help it. I know some people (that means you, Becca!), find this combination ugly, but I can't help but love it every time I see it.

Oh marigold & gray, how I love thee!

(via StyleMePretty)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Location, Location, Location.

So I've resumed talks with our lovely photographer, Kara, of Karatography. We're currently trying to find a date and location for our engagement photos. Here's the dilemma:

I want photos that are artsy, but reflect our personalities. I asked Kara for some location recs, but since she doesn't know us that well, she's not sure where would be best.

So dear readers, please sit with me while I try to figure this out. (And enjoy all her lovely photographs...)

Living in/near one of the grandest architectural cities in the world, should we head downtown for some lovely Chicago photographs?

The Bean!

The lakefront...

Lincoln Park, I believe...
Or, should we stick close to home at the Naperville Riverwalk (a site of many a Saturday night date for us!):

Or, should we head over to Cantigny for a range of photos?

Artsy, architectural...
Outdoorsy, garden shots...
Should we incorporate our interests, like sports?
Also taken at the Riverwalk.
Le sigh. Any help would be much appreciated.
PS - Just to reiterate, all photographs courtesy of Karatography...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ummm, No Thanks

So in the course of our planning, we've decided to nix a lot of traditional wedding elements. Some of this was simply because we didn't like them, others was based on money, and yet others were because we didn't feel it fit our needs.

So here's a quick run-down of what we're abstaining from:

A videographer:

This isn't to say that we don't appreciate the medium, but I simply cannot rationalize paying upwards of $2,000 for a tape we'll never watch. If I had all the money in the world, maybe...

The Garter:

We're also nixing the bouquet toss...

Fancy cake servers:

Nixed because we're not having...

...a wedding cake, either:

This is probably one of the most shocking decisions for others to understand. Neither one of us are drawn to a cake...?

a DJ:

We're hooking our iPod directly into the sound system at Maggiano's and hitting play...

Professional hairstylists/makeup artists:

I've never had good luck with the professionals. Because my hair is so thin and fine, traditional hairsprays only weigh it down, they don't really help hold the style. I've had far more success by just doing it myself with a few bobby pins and hot rollers...
I'm sure there's far more I can add to this list like chair covers, an ice luge, matching bridesmaid dresses, save-the-dates, a five-course meal, photobooth, customized postage or a sweets table. It's not that I necessarily find anything wrong with these things -- I just find them too traditional or too expensive for our taste.
Many of these traditional elements are not necessary, but in an effort to make their weddings grander than previous weddings, many brides buy all of this stuff, and pay top dollar for it. We've said since the beginning that this day is supposed to reflect us as a couple, not the current trends of the wedding industry. This isn't a "stand up against the man" point of view-- we're simply trying to reign back in the emotions and meaning of the day. I would be lying if I said Tom and I were not materialistic. I find most people are these days anyway. But in good conscience, I could not find myself debating the merit of an ice luge when I would much rather focus on the fact that I am committing myself to a marriage that morning.
It's definitely easy to get caught up in the materialism of the day (everyone remembers my favor box debacle). It's a constant effort to keep myself in check and remind myself of the purpose of the day.
Who knew planning a wedding was so multi-faceted?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gee, Thanks Uncle Sam!

Most people, for good reason, don't enjoy doing their taxes. I for one, am a big fan.

Using my handy-dandy software, I can usually crank out my return and Tom's in less than a few hours, start to finish. So what does this have to do with weddings, you ask? Two words: the refund.

Because I'm not too interested in actually figuring out my correct withholdings, I usually end up with a fairly sizable refund. And because I don't know how much I owe every year, I just pretend like I don't have any money coming back, which makes it that much sweeter when it does. Last year, my refund came just in time to use during my fabulous trip to Ireland with my younger sister and maid of honor. Our travel recap is here.

This year, my refund came just as I was eyeing plane tickets for our honeymoon. As with every decision for the wedding thus far, the honeymoon choice was fraught with indecision. I asked Tom for a list of places he'd like to visit, and was greeted with this: Australia, Italy, Greece, or Scotland. I flatly told him Australia wasn't an option, as airfare is usually $2,000 a person, and you need to have plenty of time to travel across the globe. Thus began our inquisition into Europe. We entertained two main itineraries: Scotland, London, Paris or Rome, Venice, Florence. I even went so far as to purchase a Best of Italy guidebook.

And then my friend Kayak showed up. (Best airfare search engine EVER!) I wanted to assure myself that I hadn't cut down Tom's idea too quickly, so I did a rough search for airfare to Sydney, Australia. Imagine my surprise when I found that a 7-day trip was cheaper than a 7-day trip to Italy. In that instant, I knew there was no turning back. As a sucker for the unique, I knew that this would be the perfect honeymoon: exotic without being strange, touristy without being too busy, relaxing without having nothing to do, and the best part, fulfilling Tom's dream vacation.

All the pieces began falling into place. My boss said I could take my 10 days of vacation straight, the airfare price kept dropping, our hotel rewards card could get us 4 free nights at a 5 star resort, and the US dollar vs. the Australian dollar kept getting stronger.

So when my refund showed up in my bank account on Friday, and my Yapta account emailed me to let me know that airfare prices had dropped AGAIN, I bought the tickets.

We'll be leaving on Monday, the day after the wedding. I'm sure it will be crazy, but well worth it. We fly from Chicago to San Francisco, then board a 14-hour flight to the land of Oz. On arrival Wednesday morning, we'll find ourselves with this view:

Sydney Opera House @ Sydney Harbor

and this view:

Sydney Harbor Bridge

And we'll see a few of these guys:


We'll spend our time in Sydney visiting all the above, including a trip to a wildlife sanctuary to feed some kangaroos, a day trip to the Blue Mountains, and a trip to Hunter Valley, Australia's wine region. We'll also visit the Sydney Olympic Park (Tom's pick!), Darling Harbour, the Rocks, and Manly Beach.

After a few days, we'll fly to the north coast to the Great Barrier Reef for the rest of the trip. We'll be staying at this hotel:
Yep --- it's built on the water! It's actually a pool, but for some reason, they call them "lagoons." Apparently they want to sound more exotic.

We'll spend a day out on a boat in the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling, possibly scuba diving, and picnicking on a private island. Like this one:

I'm totally hoping to see some turtles and nemo fish. And hoping to not see any jellyfish or sharks. Or maybe to see them, just from afar.
Then, we'll take a hike through the Daintree Rainforest, and view these:
I am so unbelievably excited for this trip, and you can imagine how giddy Tom is! All in all, we'll be spending 9 days in Oz, and another 2 just flying. But with $1,000 airfare and everything else at roughly 60% (because of the exchange rate), it just seemed the perfect time to travel.
While I was totally in love with the thought of honeymooning in Italy (cliche, no?) or London/Paris, this trip just seems so much more fitting. So thanks again, IRS!

Friday, February 13, 2009

In Light of Valentine's Day...

...let's discuss our proposal.

There's always a lot of proposal discussion around Valentine's Day, even though I think it's all a bit cliche (but I'm not here to judge...). But, our story is both sweet and funny, so I thought I'd share:

Tom proposed in April 2007. While I knew it was coming, I was not exactly sure where or when it was going to happen. We were having a lazy Saturday, just bumming about and watching movies. When Tom asked me if I wanted to take a walk outside, I looked at him like he was crazy. I promptly told him no, I really didn't want to go anywhere. (Little did I know I was botching his entire plan). He left to go to the bathroom, where I could have SWORE I heard him talking on his phone. I thought it was strange, but I ignored it. When he came back, he asked again to go on a walk. I again gave him the side-eye. I saw him start to fumble through his stuff, but again, thought nothing of it. He then said to me, "I bought you something." This was the first time that I knew something was up --- he never buys me things without a reason. Ever. As he started to walk over, I noticed a book in his hands. Still not really putting two and two together, I continued to look at him quizzically. At that point, he bent on one knee, and I finally realized what was happening. I opened up the book, and he had written a poem (which I promptly memorized but won't repeat for fear of tarnishing his "manliness"). I flipped the page and found my ring (my beautiful, glorious ring), sitting perfectly in the book, like it would in a ring box. In pure storybook form, he then asked me to marry him, I said yes, and he slipped the ring on my finger.

Have any of you gotten ill yet? I'm sorry. I know it's sappy. But what did you expect?

What my dear boy had done for me, I still cannot wrap my mind around. He purchased a book (Just Like Heaven), which had two hands creating a heart on the cover, several days previous. He then sat for several hours, gluing each page together to create "the box." On top of that, he glued cardstock, then carved through 300 glued pages to create the slit for the ring to sit in. The proposal he planned (that I botched) was to take place outside at one of the most picturesque spots on my campus. He had even contacted one of my friends to hide out and take pictures, because he knew how much I love pictures. (That's who he was on the phone with in the bathroom, by the way. He was explaining to her that I would not cooperate). Like I said, he is such a sweet boy.

Coincidentally, I had received flowers that week from a friend, so I was able to use those for some pictures. Below is my absolute favorite!!

It would have looked so good, if it wasn't for the money in the background. Hahaha.

Oh well. So there you have it --- our sweet, funny, botched proposal!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wait, What?

Everyone who reads this on a semi-regular basis probably has picked up on my love of photography, specifically of the fine-art category. I love photos that tell a story, rather than just capturing a moment. Like this, for example:

(via StyleMePretty)

or this:

(via A Practical Wedding)

And because I love this style of photography, I never even hesitated when booking our photographer. Until now. (Cue the terror music: Dum dum dummmm).

Until yesterday, it had never really occurred to me that all eyes would be on us. All of 'em. And a few dozen cameras. And a really expensive camera. A really expensive camera that is going to focus on us ALL day and take pictures for posterity. Pictures that our posterity will gawk at and coax remarks like "I can't believe you wore THAT!"from them. Lots of pictures. Pictures of us standing. Pictures of us hugging. Pictures of us kissing (eww. Please don't take any of those pictures).

It's not that I'm shy (because God knows I outgrew that years ago). It just skeeves me out that we'll have 200 people staring at us. It's almost panic attack-inducing. Okay, it is panic attack-inducing (which is probably why my boss is giving me the side-eye right now!).

I know this sounds completely irrational, and let me assure you, I know it is. And I'm sure it's nothing that a good ol' cocktail the morning of the wedding can't fix. I don't think I even want to start thinking about our engagement photographs...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One Trend I'm Not Ashamed to Love

The latest trend in wedding shoes is to wear cute shoes that match your color. While nobody really sees them, they do make for some cute photographs! :)

(Tina @ With This Ring, I Thee Obsess)

While I've been keeping my eye out for a pair of cute aqua/teal/blue stilettos, you can imagine that I've found few options.

Dyeable shoes to the rescue!!

While the word "dyeable" may conjure up images of square toe pumps dyed magenta to match the taffeta bridesmaid creations of the '80's, the line has really come a long way. Behold my potential choices:




I'm leaning towards Flash, the middle pair, because I like the simplicity. I also think they'll be a much more "wearable" option after the wedding, while the other two pairs look like "wedding shoes." Opinions?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Guest Book, of Sorts...

For those of you who don't know, Tom and I collect wine. Truthfully, we don't know much about it, but that doesn't really stop us...

We try to gather a bottle or two from the places we visit. So far, our collection includes German Riesling (from my trip to Heidelberg), a bottle of Irish Mead (honey wine from my trip to Ireland), a tropical fruit Riesling (from our New Year's trip to Tampa last year), a few bottles from a winery in Michigan (from our summer trip this year), and then a few random bottles we've collected from various wine tastings and other functions.

Naturally, when I heard a fabulous wine-related guestbook idea, I was pretty excited. I was formerly anti-guestbook, only because Tom and I are not the people who would ever look at that after our wedding. But this idea combines the idea of a wishing tree along with wine, so I quickly jumped on the bandwagon.

On the "guestbook" table, we're going to have 4 or 5 bottles of good wine, each with a label. The labels will be "1 Year," "5 Years," "10 Years," "15 Years," and "25 Years." In front of each bottle will also be a card (or several small cards with one envelope) and the following instructions:

"Please write a sweet note to the bride and groom. Each bottle and card will be opened on the designated anniversary, so they can continue to share in the love from this day." (or something similar).

As you can imagine, I already have visions of gocco'd cards dancing in my head...

PS - I plan on attempting to Gocco this weekend. Maybe. If I'm not a scaredy-pants.
PPS - I've only logged onto my registry once since we registered. Okay, fine, it was twice. But I'm vowing to stay off it until May. Okay, maybe April...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Registry Success!

Well, we did it. We survived the challenge of registering!

I'm pretty proud of both of us and our compromising skills, as we both have a tendency to be stubborn. But, we didn't get into any arguments or squabbles, and we didn't find it to be all that difficult. Tiring, absolutely. Difficult, not really.

It was a bit overwhelming, to say the least, but I was armed with our checklist and Tom was armed with a scan gun, and we slowly conquered every single aisle of Bed, Bath and Beyond. At one point, Tom even told me that he was, gasp!, having fun.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Okay, well this is actually Tom's pick. Surprise, surprise. He was so tired once we got to the end that he took a seat in this while I picked out the towels. He then proceeded to put this on the list because he enjoyed it so much.

Oh yeah, this has Tom written all over it, too. He picked the toothbrush holder as a gag of sorts, and told me I couldn't delete it. It's a good thing BB&B has a great return policy...

Our shower curtain. I love it. And then I just realized that I picked out both blue and green towels. Ugh. Now I have to switch the green to the chocolate. It never ends, does it?

A vegetable peeler. Tom picked this one, too. I told him if I don't like it, he's going to be responsible for all the peeling...

The potato masher. We couldn't get the normal one to scan right, so we picked the "smooth" masher. It scanned on the first try, so we went with it.

One set of our dish towels/potholders. The color is wasabi. You better believe we walked around the store repeating "wasabi" like Mushu from Mulan. Wasabi!

Le sigh. My "nice" tablecloth. Turns out it's now on clearance and I have to delete it. Ugh. I really liked it.

My teapot. It's simple, but I really like it. I also picked out the matching sugar, creamer and gravy boat. I love that stupid gravy boat.

Our dishes. They're a really pretty color in person...
Our "formal" flatware. It's hard to see, but the outline is actually gold. Rather than registering for china, I'm actually lucky enough to inherit my grandmother's wedding china, which has a gold rim. In the meantime, I'm free to borrow my mother's china, which is silver. I figured this was a happy medium.
Ahhh, yum. My mixer. Tom picked out the color --- "apple green." I'm afraid the color will look outdated in a few years, similar to the avocado greens and harvest golds of the '70's, but Tom didn't care. He liked it.
So there you have it. A quick peek into our registry. If you'd like to look at our other poor choices, feel free to peruse BB&B...

Monday, February 2, 2009

More Congratulations to Thomas!

This weekend, Tom unexpectedly qualified for Nationals in the shot put!

As you may recall, two weeks ago, I posted about his qualification for the weight throw. As that is where he has been focusing much of his energy, he was pleasantly surprised on Saturday when he reclaimed the school record (it had previously been his before his injury) and became a double-qualifier. It is just so satisfying to watch his years of hard work come to fruition!!

Thankfully he has this weekend off (so we're going to register!!), so his body will be able to slightly rest and next weekend, he'll be throwing even stronger! Maybe I'll even be a diligent fiance and take some pictures and report back to you...

In terms of wedding-ness, my recent lack of posts has probably alerted you to the fact that I'm taking it easy on that front. Our contracts are officially signed for the ceremony and reception sites, as well as for the photographer. Ditto with the florist and the linen specialist. I've pretty much finalized the wording for the invitations, and should start figuring out the formatting soon. Eventually, we'll finalize the menu, but that's not much of a priority right now. Our next big task will be finding the right apartment (which has proven to be pretty difficult, actually) and coordinating the big Spring move with Tom's trips in May to outdoor Nationals (19-23) and Colorado (24-31)...