Moving Forward

I am enormously blessed.

First, our wedding was incredible. We were touched by how many wonderful friends and family members chose to join us on our day. As we left the reception (with Danny, our "buddy", as a driver), we spoke of how overwhelmed we were by everyone's generosity, love, and support.

When we got to Disney on Monday around noon, it was a balmy 100 degrees. As it continued to reach high temperatures in the two weeks we spent there, we scheduled our days accordingly. In the mornings, we would sleep in or head to the parks. Then around midday we would spend time at the resort pool with iced beverages. When the sun began to set, we would again spend time in Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom. One day, we went to Discovery Cove to swim with dolphins. Other days were spent driving small boats, playing mini golf, going to movies, touring Celebration and shopping at Downtown Disney.

For my 21st birthday (Friday, June 18) Blake surprised me with gifts in the morning. We went to a semi-awkward character breakfast, drove the boats in Epcot's lake, spent time by the pool, and went to the Contemporary for dinner. The California Grille is a ritzy restaurant at the top of the Contemporary hotel, and boasts perhaps the best food in Disney World. It also has an incredible view of the Magic Kingdom - Blake planned our late dinner so that we could watch the MK fireworks from the restaurant. Afterwards, we played in Magic Kingdom until 3 AM.

Our return was filled with more fun and surprises. My sister and her husband, Aaron, set up our West Haven apartment with most of my bridal shower gifts. This was a huge blessing, as it took us two days to move the additional items into our new home. Not to mention that pesky air conditioner...

Which brings me to a recent discovery.

You can learn almost as much about your spouse (and yourself!) in 2 days of moving in as you can in six years of dating.

1. I have probably 10 times as much stuff as Blake.
2. Blake sweats A LOT while installing an air conditioner. As I came to help him lift it (for the 3rd time) into the window, he warned, "mind the sweat." I almost slipped in his drippage on the floor.
3. I am OCD. As we were organizing bathroom supplies, I moved our two toothpastes and our two deodorants from where they were to places next to each other at the bottom of the cabinet. Blake's eyes got big as he said under his breath, "craaazyy".
4. Blake can not sleep unless the room, sheets, temperature, moonlight penetration, and noise control are to his specifications.
5. We have different ideas of what "necessary" appliances are.
6. Blake has more towels than clothes.
7. Blake is very particular about the cleanliness of his clothes, but not so much about the cleanliness of the kitchen floor.
8. Apparently, we need three fans and an air conditioner in our small apartment.
9. We have been spoiled in the past with shower water that remains hot for the entirety of our shower experience.
10. We are incredibly efficient in the grocery checkout line.
11. Blake should probably do most of the cooking. I should probably do most of the cleaning.
12. I will cry about anything. Even the fact that we'll never have another first meal as a married couple again.
13. The only ice cream flavor that we can agree on is Vanilla Cherry.
14. Blake loves me enough to walk down the street to buy coffee filters with me at 9:30 PM.
15. I worry considerably more than Blake.

Blake and I need to go back to our respective jobs now (he with MDCapital and Applegate, me with Wall Street Exodus) but I'll add updates as time allows.

For now, check out this promo video for the business I'm doing PR for during the next two months. In August, I'll be going down to Honduras with my boss to shoot the pilot.


We're STILL in Disney!

After a beautiful wedding, a wonderful 21st birthday, and tons of fun in Disney...

I'm still here for another week! I'll have plenty to fill you in on when I return.


Godmothers of the Non-Fairy Variety

A week ago, Blake's aunt was telling me about an article in the New York Times about the modern prevalence of neglectful godparents. I can only assume that she spoke of this article by Bruce Feiler, posted on May 28th...


Our discussion called to mind a previous conversation that I had had with my mother about the role of godparents. After my last post, you're probably aware that I'd like to wait a while to have children; that doesn't stop me from considering the many people close to me who I hope will be actively involved in the lives of my and Blake's future children.

Feiler observes the trend of asking friends, qualified or unqualified, to be godparents. While honoring a friend in this right, I see it as a great disservice to the child if the godparent knows not what he or she has agreed to. Traditional godparents, dating back to pre-medieval times, are responsible not only for moral and emotional upbringing, but spiritual guidance and modeling as well. Choosing friends or family members who are aware of this great responsibility is imperative.

I haven't been brought up in the Catholic Church, nor do I hold heavy importance in the act of infant baptism (aside from the statement that the child will be brought up under God), but I do see great value in giving a child godparents. For my own children, I hope that their relationship with their godparent/s will be primarily spiritually-based. I hope, also, that the relationship will be one of trust, allowing the child an additional adult confidant with the same principles and priorities as Blake and me.

Ultimately, I hope my children have the kind of godparents that I had - my Uncle Mike, who was constantly a part of my life, and my Aunt Mary, who has been a support at every major event in the process of my growing up. She and her daughter, Jenna, recently drove up from New Jersey for one of my bridal showers. In front of the many women who surrounded me that day, she prayed a special blessing on my upcoming marriage. The sentimentalist in me was at the verge of tears.

I felt those tears again today as I received a package in the mail from this godmother who took her job very seriously. Inside that package was a beautiful bracelet, and a note of congratulations and excitement at this new stage of my life. I am reminded of the tremendous blessings that comfort, shape, and inspire me. It appears that I am one of the fortunate few.

My Aunt Mary and I, circa 1991:


Precious Babes

I have a confession to make...

I'm not all that wild about babies.

Isn't that terrible? What kind of sick am I?

I've had people tell me that I'll love my own babies when I have them. I probably will, because there are a few rather pleasant things about infants. For instance, a clean baby smell is nice. Hearing a baby laugh is endearing. Having a baby fall asleep on your shoulder is downright precious. Babies are great in small doses.

But I've babysat enough to know the truth. I'm on to you, babies.

Generally, babies look like old men. I myself looked like a boy until I was around two years old. Babies also spit up. Everywhere. They fuss when they don't get what they want. They wiggle and cry and don't articulate what they want, knowing that you're a sucker and will try everything in your power to make them happy. They don't sleep much, and expect you to run on their schedule. They poop whenever they want, then when you begrudgingly go to clean it up, they giggle as if they've done something delightful. But it isn't delightful. Changing a diaper is never, ever delightful.

Clearly, I'm aware of my disinclination toward babies, and am seeking to change our relationship. At first I thought that I might be dealing with the most problematic infant population, so I continued to babysit for new families and help out in the nursery at my church. My experience was much the same.

I will say, however, that there are exceptions to my anti-baby sentiment. For one, I adore Blake's little cousins, Luke and Greyson. When I see those little peanuts in sweater vests and mini-suits, I melt. There is nothing cuter than a dumpling in argyle.

The second exceptions are the little ones that Blake and I took care of in church nursery today. Annabelle, my tiny one year old friend, spent fifteen minutes sitting silently on Blake's lap with her "nini" (blanket). So, so precious. Jack, another one year old, enjoyed building houses out of blocks on the floor. He's the one who, last week, asked my mom, "nap...now...please?" while she was changing his diaper.

Here he is, taking a nap after some intense house-building. This kid loves naps:

I'd say liking four babies is a pretty good start. I'll give it another 5-10 years...


Well, we're a week away, and I figured (if you're following this blog) you'd need an update right about now. Here's our list from the last week...

Dress for Mother of the Groom: Check.

This was one of the final three, but not the gorgeous dress that she ended up getting. I will say, my future Mother-in-Law has some interesting tastes in dresses. I saved her (and really, everyone else) from getting one sequined dress that strongly suggested "mermaid". She would kill me if I put up a picture of that one... Not to worry, she'll be stunning in the one she chose!

Father-Daughter Dance Song Chosen: Check.

2 Dance Lessons Completed: Check.
1 Break-Down Post Dance Lesson: Check.

Dress and Veil Picked Up: Check.

Blake's Ring Made By My Father: Check.
I wish I could put up a picture of the ring now - Daddy made it out of a nut from his shop, molding it to fit Blake's finger and buffing it to add shine. After he was done with this day-long project he confessed: "I love buffing!"

Seating Chart Created: Check.
Seating Chart Printed: Check.

Romantic Picnic in the Park to Celebrate Our Last Week of Engagement: Check.

I put together a dinner, complete with sparkling apple cider, brie, and cantaloupe, for us to eat at a park near the high school we both attended. It was nostalgic.

Wedding Earrings Purchased: Check.
Going-Away Dress Purchased: Check.
Tonight my mother and I made a trip to the mall to find earrings. I loved the opportunity to catch up with her on both wedding and non-wedding details. I can't show you, but we made some excellent purchases.

MC Notes Typed: Check.

Quilt Delivered: Check.
Now, this one deserves more than just a check. This is a HUGE blessing provided by my incredibly talented Grandmother. Over the years, both of my grandmothers have lent their sewing expertise through a number of mediums. For the wedding, my father's mother made the flower girl dresses. Yesterday, my mother's mother delivered this masterpiece to Blake and I. Let me tell you, I am in homemaker-love. This quilt will be a keepsake...

7 Days! We're getting there...


Pre-Marital Tanning

Yesterday, I tried an exercise that I would suggest for any and all women in relationships.

I took my fiance tanning.

Let me just start by saying that I'm not an avid tanner. I've read the articles, seen the statistics, and been warned by health teachers throughout my teen years. When I go out in the sun, I wear sunscreen. I wear hats. I visit the doctor fairly regularly, and check for abnormal spots. I know it's bad for you, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Our wedding is in a week and a half, with a sunny honeymoon right behind - and we are pale.

I say that all women should take their significant other tanning because my experience revealed a Blake (my fiance) that I had never seen before.

It went something like this...

Earlier in the day, I mentioned to Blake that we should have 4 or 5 tanning sessions before the wedding. He was surprised at this number, as he had thought we would go in once and - presto! - we would be a toasty shade of cappuccino. Not so. But he agreed, and promised that, later, we would.

In the afternoon, we went to pre-marital counseling. As we left, I suggested that we go tanning right then. At this suggestion, he became immediately agitated and decided that he'd like to go back to work instead.

An hour later, I got a phone call from Blake, saying that he was now ready to go tanning. I got in the car and hoped that he wouldn't change his mind before I got to the office. When I arrived, I waited at least 20 minutes before he was really ready to leave...

I had to drive. It's a rare thing for Blake to voluntarily get in the passenger seat, but this time he did. If I hadn't gotten behind the wheel, I'm not sure we would have ended up at the tanning salon. I assume we would have been side-tracked, probably by the Chinese food restaurant along the way.

This was Blake in the car:
"Dave said I shouldn't go tanning. He said he went once and never got any tanner. He said it's a waste of money. Are you paying for this? I don't want to pay for this. Why don't we just sit outside instead? How long do I have to be in there? 5 minutes! What are peepers? Do I have to take everything off? Should I wear sunscreen? The girl inside is going to think I'm whipped. She'll probably wonder why I'm here with you. What time does this place close?

Oh look, it's Ashley."

Running into one of our mutual high school friends at the salon didn't help with the embarrassment.

The woman behind the counter asked Blake if he had been there before, and handed him and newcomer's form to fill out. "Oh boy," he said.

"Do I have fair skin? I think I'm probably fair. Do I burn easily? Well, I don't burn every time I go out. Stevie, what should I say for this one? What if they don't let me in because I have fair skin? I'm not putting my email address. I don't want emails from this place. See, I told you. They put a warning here. You have to sign it. New bulbs? What does that mean? I should do 5 minutes. How do I know when 5 minutes are up?"

As I paid for our tanning sessions and eye pieces (pink for me, blue for Blake), Blake was trying out how those suckers fit on his face. An elastic band wrapped around his head, securing those little blue peepers in a goggle-esque fashion. The woman behind the counter laughed. As he checked himself out in the mirror all I could think was that this was the future father of my children... "Oh boy," I said.

At that point, the woman behind the counter was so sick of us that she let me show Blake how to use the machine. I told him how to turn it on, where the fans were, and that it would turn off when the time was up.

I went to my room across the hall, got in the bed and was about to turn the bulbs on when I heard Blake's voice...

"I forgot a towel!"

I told him he didn't need one.

When our time was up, I stood outside Blake's door waiting for him. Walking out, he surveyed his arms and legs.

"I don't look any tanner."


A Salute to Fragile Hours

Yes, it is 5 AM back in the States, and I feel like the jet lag may only be getting worse. Either that or it's the basket-case of nerves that I've become about life in general - disguised by inordinate amounts of caffeine and an attempt to keep endorphins coming.

But I am back on native soil, enjoying time with family and friends in my last two weeks as a single woman. Plans proceed. Things must be accomplished. But, at the end of the day, or in wee hours of the morning, I get a taste of the peace that I so desire during daylight hours. It's around this time that really delight in the prospect of marrying my best friend, sharing our dreams, passions, and faults, growing old together, and knowing that these most fragile hours will soon be shared with him.

As I was unpacking yesterday, and surveying the room that will only be mine for another twelve days, I thought about my life up to this point. I thought of the way Blake and I met, how young we were, and how we've grown. I thought of how much I love this home, this beautiful place that my parents have made for their children to grow up. I thought of how hard my parents have worked and the kind of example that they've set. I thought of how blessed I am to have both sets of grandparents watch me grow up and be there for my wedding. I thought of the girls who will be most prominently supporting me at my wedding - my sisters, Jillian and Christy; my best friend of 19 years, Rachel; my high-school rival who became a friend, Erica; my middle-school partner in crime, Jessi; my roommate who saw me through ins and outs of college, Rachel; and my twin pillars of support through the last two years, Melissa and Heather. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by these people. I can't recognize that enough.

A part of me is terrified to move on. It's the part of me that has never paid a mortgage, never found a potential-career job, and never shown a husband the constant love, respect, and support that he deserves. I want to do these things, and I know that I'll do them 100%. That doesn't stop me from the few times each day that I need to take a step back and live in these moments.

There's another, larger part of me that is wild with excitement. It's the part of me that checks www.stylemepretty.com regularly for pretty ideas like this:

It's the part of me that reads Real Simple and Better Homes & Gardens for recipes and decorating tips. A part of me that wants to decorate my home with this simple, classy style:

It's a part of me that went on a walk with Blake yesterday and talked about where we'd like to travel, the things we need to see, and how we're excited to do it together.

It's a part of me that bought my bathing suit for Disney weeks ago, plans months in advance what we'll be doing for my quad break, and consults Blake on where he thinks I should go in a career.

It's a part of me that cries in sentimentality when I think of my father making Blake's wedding ring.

I relish these hours of the morning. That's probably another reason why I can't sleep. Before the day gets busy with doctor appointments, fittings, seating charts and dance lessons, I bask in the glow of potential.

Because that's what it is - potential. Marriage is not just the end of my bachelorette-hood. It's the beginning of something better.