Friday, February 20, 2015

So you're getting married.

I have struggled with what to post here about this whole "planning a wedding" thing. I don't want it to become a wedding planning blog. I don't want to post all the details here because I want there to be some element of surprise for my guests (who are pretty much 90% of my readership). It's not that there hasn't been activity. True to my Type A, organization-loving, planner-driven personality, basically the whole damn thing is already planned (and has been for weeks). In a few days I'll be sending out contracts for the caterer, dessert, hotels, photographer and rental company. There are a ton of details being worked out and yet I don't really want to talk about those (unless your my mom, in which case you get a call from me every day after work to give you an update on what I've planned over lunch that day).

So instead I'll talk about what the last 6 weeks (post-engagement) have been like. Here are my observations about the post-proposal, pre-wedding planning phase.

I cry A LOT. 
I mean, I always cry a lot but this is some weepy shit. This phase has totally reaffirmed my fear of being a hormone-filled pregnant woman because I will likely just float away on a river of my tears. Sometimes, when I'm driving to work in the morning, I start to think about the wedding day and marrying Tom and I just start crying. I become so freaking overwhelmed by the love and happiness I feel about that day and I cry. On the spot.

Related: There are things I cannot think about. 
We had most of the wedding planned within about a week of the proposal. My incredibly patient fiance would come home each day to a barrage of ideas I found, people I talked to, things we could get, etc. He would intently listen, offer his opinion and help me me make decisions. We have thought about a LOT of things. However, I have quickly learned my list of things I cannot think about for fear of crying myself to a state of dehydration. These things include, but are not limited to:

  • Almost anything to do with Tom and the day of (this includes first look, vows, first dance, seeing, speaking or touching him). 
  • Almost anything to do with my Dad (first look, father daughter dance and GOD FORBID THAT FREAKING TOAST).
  • Most things to do with "my people" (bridesmaids, bridal party, my mom, my friends, everyone being in the same room to celebrate the love I have for that man...oh god, I could cry right now just typing it and I'm not even really thinking about it).
I am terrified of a dress. 
I'm not much of a clothes shopper. For the longest time, thanks to my previously gigantic boobs, dresses were pretty much out of the question. (See: The time I skipped a formal entirely because I couldn't find a dress to fit over them and also fit the rest of my body in THE ENTIRE CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS.) Maybe I still have PTSD from that or something. Basically me trying to find anything other than a Maxi dress (because those are just sweatpants without legs) is like asking a dude to pick up a bra. What are these descriptions? People wear that? WHAT DOES THIS FLAP DO?! I have been super excited about every single part of wedding planning except for picking a damn dress. NBD, just a dress that EVERYONE IS WAITING TO SEE. Just a dress you're going to MARRY YOUR HUSBAND in. Every time I think of what kind of dress I want I basically just hear a little voice saying, "Don't screw this up, Nikolas." So no, thankyouverymuch, I do NOT have a dress yet. I'm going to need to be a little hammered for that part. 

You should marry a good man. 
I guess I kind of knew this one before I got engaged, but it's become very apparent in this post-proposal phase. Planning a day to commit your life to another person should be, and for the most part is, a very happy experience. However, there are undeniable logistics of a wedding that inevitably make things temporarily not as happy. Money, numbers, crazy family members, whether there is brisket on the menu, etc. (some of those may be more applicable to my wedding than yours). Tom has been amazing. He's interested, he's engaged, he's contributing. He was willing to visit an entire warehouse of vintage rentals and even held a pro/con session of his own between two different sets of table numbers. He's understanding with me when my Type A (which sometimes stands for "asshole") takes over and loses its shit about some stupid detail that doesn't matter at all. He's helpful when I get deep into an excel file and start to get an overwhelmed look on my face. He's patient when I ask the same question 100 times a week despite knowing there will be no change in answer. If you're going to plan a wedding and marry someone, make it someone good. I can't imagine doing this whole thing with someone who sucks. 

My people are awesome. 
I knew this. I've known this for a very long time. But nothing makes you get all gooey inside like thinking of all your favorite people being in one spot at the same time. And then, when you get to ask people to stand up with you when you marry that man that you weren't sure you'd ever find and then you did and they love him and he loves them and it's ONE BIG GIANT LOVE FEST. Oh man, that is some good stuff right there. One of my favorite parts of planning a wedding so far has been asking people to be a part of the big day. I still have a few asks left and I think I might be intentionally procrastinating. This has turned into my favorite drug. The excitement leading up to it, the thrill of asking, the burst of love when they respond. Ugh, it's GOOD STUFF. I don't want it to be over. So sorry to the "yet-to-be-asked" list...y'all might be waiting a little bit longer. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

That Time I Got Engaged.

(I'll be honest. I've put off this blog post for a while because I've known no matter what I decide to write, it's never going to fully capture what happened. That's a very stressful place to start a blog post at, but I'll do my best.)

I have said yes to a lot of stupid things in my life. Skipping most of Econ 101 my junior year. The Apple River Trip of '04. Almost every shot of whisky consumed. I have also said yes to a lot of really amazing things in my life. The University of Minnesota. Alpha Chi Omega. My house. My current job. In all my 31 years, not a single "yes" has ever been more confidently, emotionally, or excitedly uttered as the one I delivered (through sobs and laughter) on January 10, 2014.

This guy, my best friend, the one who makes me laugh until my sides hurt, swoon so hard I fear I may never recover and makes every single minute of my life better, asked me to marry him.

I should have been suspicious when a friend randomly called to celebrate my birthday. I should have questioned why she would be willing to come and pick me up AND drop me off. I could have gotten confused when she randomly called an audible and suggested drinks at the Iron Horse after dinner. But it wasn't until we got out of the car and she took off running inside. It wasn't until I saw my Tommy standing in the vestibule of the Iron Horse Hotel that I knew for sure something was happening. There he was, in my favorite flannel the man owns, looking nervous as hell.

Now let me tell you, this man has, on more than a handful of occasions, brought me to tears by just randomly telling me how he feels. He's got a way with words and he's not afraid to show it. (Even if he's showing it in a Farm & Fleet parking lot as we're about to go look at grills and it catches me so off guard I end up sobbing my way through the bird seed aisle. True story.) So when he started to talk and his voice quivered and I saw tears, I knew shit was going down.

He walked me over to a corner of the patio in the front of the hotel. I know there was screaming from inside. He took my hands. I don't remember everything he said. (It felt like maybe I blacked out from happy?) I know he told me he loved me. And I remember just before his voice cracked completely and he started to really cry he got down on one knee. Then, he asked me to marry him. And I remember a flood. Of memories. Of emotions. Of moments in my life that made me question if this moment would ever happen for me. (You don't spend a three year block in your late 20's/early 30's without that coming into question more frequently than you'd care to mention.) And once the flood passed, I remember feeling a relief that I can't find words for. An affirmation that I found him. My partner in crime, my best friend, my future husband. 

And then, I realized, right before he got down on that knee I had heard a noise I knew. See, my inability to contain tears is a direct inheritance from my mother. Except she tries to pretend she can lock it up. And she does ... until she can't anymore. And when that moment happens a little gasp comes out. I realized right as he took his knee I heard that all too familiar gasp. As we hugged and kissed I heard more screaming. Tom asked, "Do you want to go inside?" to which I responded, "Do I know those screams??" 

We walked inside the doors and just when I thought I couldn't possibly feel more love than I did in that very moment, I was hit by another flood. This time in the form of my family and my best friends and the people who loved me while I waited for him. The people who carried me when I couldn't anymore. The people who kept hope alive when I wanted to give up. The ones who assured me with each break-up or bad date that somewhere out there HE was waiting for me. And they were right. And I was so damn happy to be immediately surrounded by all those people with him. One by one, they threw their hugs around me and my (at this point VERY) ugly cry face. Friends from Milwaukee, my mom & dad, friends from Minnesota, my brother and sister-in-law, friends from Texas, friends from high school, my nephew, friends from the internet. All of them, right there champagne in hand, ready to toast me and my new fiance. 

It was, without a doubt, the most incredible night of my life. The next few hours surrounded by all those amazing people flew by. I have never felt such deliriously high amounts of happy and love in my whole entire life. 

I'm so thankful for Tom for planning such a special night for me. I'm thankful for my mom and Sukie and Holly for knowing when my Tom wouldn't be able to handle ALL the planning and stepping in to assist. I'm so thankful for the friends who made it to the occasion. I'm BEYOND thankful for Danielle bringing a camera and capturing what I couldn't possibly remember all of. I'm thankful for whatever I did in life to deserve these people and this man and the ability for it all to come together in one night of stupid levels of happy. 

Oh, and of course...I'm pretty happy to have this pretty lady adorn my left hand.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Adventures at Home - Meet Ralph.

Not to go all night before Christmas on you, but last night as I lay nestled all snug in my bed, there arose such a clatter. Instead of springing from my bed I just yelled "What the hell?!" (It was 2 a.m. I don't spring out of anything at 2:00 in the morning.)  Turns out, some creatures were stirring and one was a mouse.

For the last few weeks, Gracie has been completely entranced by the area near the stove. She's spent hours staring under the dishwasher. And for the last week, every morning when we wake up, she has opened the cupboard door under the sink. I've been saying it's a mouse but after we looked EVERYWHERE for a sign of one, we chalked it up to a friendly ghost and let the little monster do her thing.

Until last night, as I'm sleeping and I can hear furniture being moved down stairs. My "What the hell?!" was met with "I found the mouse." Tom had gotten up to get some water when our littlest and newest house mate went for a quick run across the kitchen.

Now my first thought was, we've got a cat. She'll take care of this. That's when we learned that Gracie is more interested in playing with a mouse than killing it. She'd chase it throughout the house but if she caught up to it, she'd slow down and just follow closely. Her favorite part about this game of cat and mouse was actually when the mouse would be hiding and she could just watch it. (Which I imagine made the last few weeks the most fun for her. We've actually began to wonder if she's been opening the cupboard door to let her little friend out to play while we're sleeping.)

I will be the first to admit I knew I was going to be possibly the least helpful component of this little battle. I immediately think of Ralph from the Mouse and the Motorcycle and how scared that little bugger must be and honestly he was probably just trying to keep warm, I mean it's REALLY cold outside. But at the exact same time I'm having and expressing those thoughts I'm also SCREAMING that I'd like the mouse removed from my house immediately because EW. (Helpful, no?) So I figured I'd just post up at the top of the stairs. I could watch for it from there and also conveniently bark orders about how I'd go about catching him, you know, if I had the guts to actually try.

This is also when we learn I won't be the LEAST helpful in this equation, that coveted position was (at no surprise to anyone) held by Bella. Having absolutely NOT A SINGLE CLUE as to what everyone was doing, she just wanted to be in on it. She'd chase Gracie around, which would freak her out enough that she didn't want to be near the mouse. She'd sniff around and paw at stuff (which was no where near the mouse but loud enough to make it run scared from whatever corner we had pinned it into) and she tried to get out of every door we had propped open for when we actually did catch it.

Gracie managed to get so freaked out by the combination of Bella and the weapon Tom had been carrying (a lacrosse stick) that she refused to go anywhere near the pile of shoes where Ralph had taken up residence. I found a shoebox upstairs we could use and threw it down to Tom (seriously, I'm not going anywhere near that adorable and disgusting little creature).

So here we are. I'm at the top of the stairs trying to convince Bella whatever is happening down there is not NEARLY as cool as what I've got going on upstairs. Tom's got a lacrosse stick in one hand and a box in the other. Gracie has decided she'll come back over because Tom has a box in his hand and that girl LOVES her some cardboard condos. She's trying to get in the box, Tom's trying to coerce the mouse into his lacrosse stick (because that man is a lover and desperately doesn't want to have to hurt the mouse), I'm screaming and cooing at the fact that it IS really cute and that's so adorable that you're giving him a chance to climb in the stick. Until it moves and I'm screaming bloody murder about how "IF THAT DAMN THING COMES UP THESE STAIRS..."

When Tom finally traps it in the box. I hold the door open with the lacrosse stick, the dog in the house with my foot and thankfully my screaming kept the cat terrified in a corner. After my heart rate returned to a tolerable pace, I said to Tom, "How did you manage to get it in the box?!" To which he responded "I mean, I'm pretty sure it was in there."

"Fuck it, I'm going to bed." I mean, it'll probably ride it's motorcycle straight outta dodge after this hoopla.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Checking in…

…mostly out of guilt. (Kidding! Thanks Rach & mom for the little nudging.)

I was going to start this post by saying that I haven't posted much because I didn't have much to say, but I guess that's not true at all. I just haven't had the mental gumption to string together a bunch of thoughts into a cohesive post. So I've got a list of things I can write about. Today we'll start with work.

I started a new job! I'm officially over one month in and I absolutely love it. It's a much better fit for my personality type (as in, they appreciate my personality type) and the overall vibe in the agency is much more what I hope for out of a workplace. I like fun and I like laughing and so do people here. So you know, that makes work far more tolerable.

Also, I'm back downtown. And while some days I might curse the traffic or the stupid people on the road causing my commute to go from 30 minutes to closer to an hour, I love being back in the hustle and bustle of downtown.

I get to drive over my favorite bridge in Milwaukee every day.

I get to see views like this from my parking spot.

There are views like this from my conference room. 

I get to go on walks through the city and find new buildings to look up at like this.

This job will challenge me in new ways, force me to perform at a more engaged and strategic level and the people here make doing that all the more worth it. Plus they say nice things like this about me. I'm thankful for the opportunities that got me here, but I am already in a much better place professionally and personally having taken this job and finding these people to work with. The mantra here is "We" and it's one that I personally believe strongly in and am happy to find a workplace with a leadership team who believes just as strongly in working together. 

Also they take pictures of me like this. I think I'll keep them. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Surviving the Weekend: Whole30 Edition

On a weekday, where I wake up at home, make a lunch to eat at work and return home for dinner I can essentially pretend there aren't any cheeses/grains/pizzas/beers to be consumed and I'm merely just eating what's available. I can convince myself that spaghetti squash with cheeseless, bread crumbless meatballs are basically the same thing. And when that doesn't work? There's bacon.

But low and behold, eventually a weekend came along and sweet baby Jesus that shit is real. And it is in your face. And basically, I'm sorry I'm not the least bit sorry that I spent most of the weekend sleeping or locked in my home because it's scary out there for a girl trying to avoid eating all things delicious.

Now we're not following strictly and we kind of knew that. September lent itself to being the perfect month to test this out, however we have known all along that September 13th we were having a once in a life time opportunity to go and see Garth Brooks with my parents. And before you go all "Angie, you can be sober for a concert" preachy on me, know this. I can be sober for a concert, in fact I'll do it this Thursday when I see Chase Rice. But I'll be damned if I'm finally going to see Garth Brooks and not raising my cold beer to cheers him as the thunder rolls or we talk about our friends in low places.

I have listened to Garth since I was a kid. I remember my dad playing it out on the garage as he tinkered around on Saturday mornings. The first time I ever performed karoake I was 12 years old, it was the Waukesha County Fair and I belted out "Friends in Low Places" in the best Garth impression I could. I remember my dad telling me, as I grew into the not-so-pleasant teenage years that no matter how angry you are or upset you think you might be with someone, you tell them you love them. Because some day "Tomorrow Never Comes" and you'll wish you had, just like he wishes he and his dad had done. To this day "The Thunder Rolls" can't start playing on a radio without my dad saying "Ooooh, good one!" and cranking it up.

The "Rules" of whole 30 clearly state, if you slip up, you start over. And I get all the science and explanations of why. And I support it. But I also support sane living. If my man needs to indulge in a sandwich to keep from losing his shit, indulge. If Garth comes calling, we're celebrating. We'll call it our own version of figuring out how the hell to eat. 

I have MANY good things to say about whole30 so far, and I look forward to feeling MANY more benefits from it. I have already felt a change in the way I approach food and why I need to change what needs changing. But I'll be damned if I'm not enjoying the hell out of a concert that I've been dying to see for the better part of three decades. We'll be back on the train come Sunday morning.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whole 30 - Day 4

Alternate title: Why does there have to be a 0 after the 3?

Today is day 4 of Whole30 eating and despite reading all the blogs, I was not truly prepared for day 4. It seems pretty consistent among those brave enough to try before me that day 3 gets a little rocky. The sugar cravings are real, the withdrawal symptoms are real, and dammit I just want pizza. I noticed myself becoming a little bit of a monster last night (WHY CAN'T THE FUCKING PROCESSOR JUST MAKE CAULIFLOWER RICE WITHOUT ME GETTING IT ALL OVER THE KITCHEN!?). And by "noticed" I mean, Tom, the nicest man in the whole entire world, finally said to me as we sat down for dinner, "Wow, you're a little on edge tonight." After multiple arm rubs and "honey, it's okay" as I prepped dinner. Mind you, I was prepping fajitas (made them a hundred times) and cauliflower rice (new recipe of the night). I wasn't preparing a formal dinner for 50.

When I thought about doing this, I knew a few things. First, I have never had a surprlus of willpower. Second, I become a BABY when I don't get what I want. So naturally, I figured at some point I'd hit a wall where I would be just a pill. I did not expect that to happen this soon.

So here we are day 4 and I am having a BIG OL' PITY PARTY. I tried to curb it by making something new for breakfast.  A stop at the organic grocery store led to some new apple chicken breakfast sausages so I figured I'd really spice it up. A hash of sweet potatoes, onions, mushrooms served with sausage and fried eggs. LOOK! New breakfast foods. Yeah, whatever it was fine and delicious and all.

I hallucinated my coworkers iced black coffee (she's doing it too) as diet coke. The avocado for my fajitas leftover salad was bad. I sat with friends at lunch and pouted through my leftovers while they had Jimmy John's. I actually felt myself drool over a diet coke. I think I've said "I just want pizza" more than anything else to anyone who'll listen. The thing is, 5 days ago, if you had asked me my favorite foods, pizza probably wouldn't have even made the top 3 list. I just want what I can't have.

But, naturally because the science is sound and these people do know what they're talking about, I checked out the Whole30 timeline and would you look at that? Days 4 & 5 are known as "KILL ALL THE THINGS". So I guess I'm right on track!

Up next? Our first weekend following Whole30. (Alternate title: What the hell do you do for 2 days where you can't eat out anywhere/drink all the booze?)

Mostly Whining with Minimal Information

It took me a while to come up with some god forsaken title that didn't include whining so then I just decided to call this blog post what it is, whining with some tid bits of information.

On Tuesday 9/2 I decided, along with the support and participation of Tom and a couple friends, to give this Whole30 thing a try. I had read about Elisa and her husband doing it, had heard of a couple other bloggers giving it a go, and after putting on some substantial new boyfriend weight mixed with a diet of "eat whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want" I decided it was time to do something drastic.

Basically, Whole30 is a 30 day cleanse of your body to rid it of processed foods, added sugars and any remnants from dairy, gluten, grains, booze, etc. Throughout the 30 days you can have meat, vegetables, some fruits and sauces made with whole ingredients not a part of the "no" list. The idea is that you get used to what your body feels like when it's fueled only with things actually fueling it. Then, you slowly reintroduce those non-approved food groups and observe the affect they have on you. The science is sound and the reasoning all makes sense. I "bought" into it.

So we set a date. We emptied the house of non-approved foods, made a trip to Costco (and Trader Joe's, and the grocery store and organic grocery store) and stocked up on the necessities to make it through. I read blogs, forums, and books. I learned all there was I could learn before officially starting to make it as easy a possible.

As of today I am 3 days into it and have already noticed some observations. Obviously, there's a long way to go...but I figured I'd document these while I'm at it. Mostly because I"m already kicking myself for not taking measurements/weight before I started. But I also said (repeatedly) this wasn't about losing weight or external changes, it was internal changes I needed to make for my healthy body. (blah, blah blah.)

Observations of a positive nature:
  • I am fuller, longer. I, as the suggestions instruct, eat a protein packed breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. Rarely am I noticeably hungry by lunch time. 
  • I eat a TON more vegetables than I was previously. 
  • The first two nights I had horrible sleep, but by last night I was out like a light, stayed asleep and woke up before my alarm this morning feeling rested and awake. 
  • I feel noticeably less bloated and "ick" after I eat. Admittedly, prior to this I was eating just terrible for you things but I constantly felt just uncomfortable after eating. It wasn't always a sick feeling, but I definitely felt uncomfortable.
  • You can cook real, whole foods in minimal time with minimal effort. Sure, it looks like a hurricane tore through your kitchen and you produce more garbage than you thought possible, but you CAN cook real food without spending hours preparing and cooking.
 Observations of a different nature:
  • Sugar cravings are real and you WILL feel the affects of not having any. Mostly in the form of headaches.
  • You will be constantly shocked at how many things have added sugar. Don't believe me? I dare you to find a pack of bacon without sugar listed in the ingredients.
  • You will probably start to feel disdain for people who get to eat whatever they want. Despite you choosing this and knowing you too could eat whatever you want, you will be angry at them. In these times, cling to the fact that you feel good! You're really doing it!
  • Football is hard to watch sober. 
So here we go, Whole30 (why can't it be 7 or 14 or even 21...)