Saturday, December 5, 2009

Second Guessing

I must stop watching Say Yes to the Dress on TLC...because it's making me want to go try on every single different type of wedding dress that is out there. When I went shopping with my mom and my bridesmaid Jennifer, it didn't take more than three or four dresses for me to figure out which dress I even happened to be the first one that my mom put her hands on in the store. Now I'm starting to second guess myself - I went into dress shopping with such a definite idea of what I wanted: no poof, with straps, very simple. Maybe I should have tried on the big ball gowns and the mermaid silhouettes just to make sure they weren't what I wanted. Now I am feeling like I didn't really enjoy the dress shopping as much as I could have...or maybe should have.

Or maybe I just need to stop buying into the sentimental wedding crap that comes out of the Kleinfeld's salespeople on the show.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


There is currently a ton of press right now regarding the situation that Tiger Woods has gotten himself into and after perusing the comments made in regard to the most recent personal statement released by the athlete this morning, I'm pretty upset.

Tiger: you, like any other celebrity, gave up a certain amount of privacy when you became a billion dollar universally known athletic superstar. You are not immune to the same fascination and scrutiny that the likes of Lindsey, Paris and the Kardashian clan receive. Granted, you are not out every night flashing your public intoxication and other signs of poor decision making, but when rumors start to become substantial, the public will want to know. And the intense focus might be even greater considering the fact that this is in every way in direct contrast to the public persona that has been carefully crafted to reflect respect, dignity, morals and values. People feel a bit cheated out of one of the few athletic superstars they felt were actually good role models for their children.

What frustrates me even more is the fact that many of the comments on his webpage speak about Tiger being "human" and that "everybody makes mistakes." No! Not everybody cheats on their wives with multiple people for almost three years. That's not being "human" that's being a ass hole. I don't care who you are or what you do...cheating on your spouse for that amount of time combined with the obvious deception and's NEVER okay. Why should we, as a public, forgive him for this discretion? Because he has broken every golf record in the world? Still doesn't make you a good person.

Sorry Tiger...but I'm jumping off your bandwagon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Early Morning or Late Night Ramblings

It's 1:07 am on Wednesday, November 25th and I can't sleep. There were a few blissful hours when pain medication was able to dull my senses and my brain enough so that I could get some sleep, but unfortunately the medicine wore off at precisely 12:46 and my eyes snapped open.

Why might I be taking strong pain medication you ask? Same stuff, different right knee that I spoke of so long ago has not gotten any better but instead gotten progressively more and more painful since October. I have been in Physical Therapy for a month with a wonderful and highly knowledgeable knowledgeable in fact, that she knows when the pain and problem is outside her realm of help. She advised me last week that if my pain was still persisting and more importantly, intensifying that it might be a good idea to schedule another appointment with my doctor. Craig and I talked about it over dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant down the road from us last Tuesday night...his special treat since I was so frustrated...and we decided that we would both be more comfortable taking my knee to be seen by his long-time surgeon in Dallas. So tomorrow we are off to Dr. Moore, armed with my previous doctor's paperwork and the list of things I've been doing in Physical Therapy.

I 100% trust Craig's opinion and therefore I trust Dr. Moore...but I'm still nervous. But not nervous about what you THINK I'm nervous about. I'm nervous that he will look at the reports, take an MRI and tell me that nothing is wrong and that it must be all in my head. Because then I will feel stupid - like I've been faking it all along, or maybe that I'm a wimp who is just complaining over something small. But I know that my pain is real - I feel the grinding, the sharp pains, the dull ache and the throbbing down my shin. I am a healthy and active 26 year old woman - this is probably the healthiest I have been in my life since I was playing basketball in high school! I should be able to take my dog for walk/runs, ride my bike and play a little volleyball once a week with my adult league. I'm too young to fall apart and right now this knee is severely impacting my activity level, and therefore impacting my mood and the quality of my life.

Other than those thoughts, what else is running through my mind at now 1:17 am?
- I saw New Moon twice this weekend and I'm definitely a wolf...more importantly, an ALPHA wolf. I'm more inclined to snarl and growl when I'm mad than write intense poetry, or even speak eloquently for that matter.
- Craig and I started putting up Christmas lights on the house tonight at 8:00 in the dark. It was his idea and not really the time I would have liked to do it, but the childlike look of excitement on his face was too hard to turn down. So now we have lights.
- I've been reading Marley and Me by John Grogan lately in order to gain some perspective on my needy, emotional and stubborn dog. My favorite portion:
"In a dog's life, some plaster would fall, some cushions would open, some rugs would shred. Like any relationship, this one had its costs. They were costs we came to accept and balance against the joy and amusement and protection and companionship he gave us. We could have bought a small yacht with what we spent on our dog and all the things he destroyed. Then again, how many yacths wait by the door all day for your return? How many live for the moment they can clim in your lap or ride down the hill with you on a toboggan, licking your face? Marley had earned his place in our family. Like a quirky but beloved uncle, he was what he was. He would never be Lassie or Benji or Old Yeller; he would never reach Westminster or even the county fair. We knew that now. We accepted him for the dog he was, and loved him all the more for it." Angie isn't perfect and she'll always have her issues, but I know that she is appreciative of everything we've given her and she loves us more than anything. I couldn't imagine not coming home and opening the back door to have her come barreling in, jumping on my legs while whining impatiently about how much she missed me.
- The wedding nightmares are starting...first there was one about changing my hairstyle last minute and then it was the day of the wedding and I forgot my bridesmaids presents...and those were in the same night! I'm still feeling like I should be more stressed...maybe I'm forgetting something major, I'm not sure...but the OMG feeling definitely was ratcheted up a notch since we passed the "four months away" mark on November 13th...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wedding Update

A few months back, Craig and I were updating our calendar and kind of talking about what still needed to be done for the wedding and we chose an open Saturday to go take care of invitations, rings and was that day. I'm happy to announce that we accomplished all three of those things with little to no complications!

We started out by going to a little boutique by our house called Celebrations and Invitations which is owned by the mother of an ex-athlete of both of ours and a current athlete of Craig's. Although the mom wasn't there, we worked with a salesperson to decide on a "look" for our invitation. I brought in an example of what I wanted - the invitation for my friend Chelsea's wedding which gave the saleslady an idea of what we wanted and where to start in creating our own invitation. I think she was a little surprised at how quickly I was able to figure out what I wanted. She mentioned that some girls will come in four or five times to narrow down their choices for invitations. That's ridiculous. I think what we're going to end up with is green backed ivory invitations with brown lettering and some sort of brown and green floral design on the invitation. It's going to be a single sided invitation - none of this unfolding stuff with 17 different parts. Very simple and clean.

After we left the invitations place we had to stop and get some the form of Christina's mexican food. I knew that if I was going to keep Craig happy during our wedding adventure I had to keep his tummy full. We followed up lunch with a stop at Men's Wearhouse to look at tux rental but didn't stay long because they didn't have what I was looking for. On a side note...I really hate when I go into a store looking for something specific and when they don't have it they offer me something else. I'm a girl who knows what she wants and if I wanted that something else, I would have asked for it. For example, if I wanted a chocolate brown or ivory tux instead of tan...I would have asked for one. Grr.

After leaving Men's Wearhouse Craig and I went to the mall to get our wedding bands which we had already picked out but had not purchased. Lucky for me the band I wanted fit my finger perfectly so we were able to take it home today! Unfortunately, Craig has fat fingers and his had to be ordered and should come in some time before Christmas. Although I didn't want to, we dropped the ring off at his mom's house so that she can put it in the safe deposit box at the bank until the wedding...and so that I don't wear it around the house!!!

We headed to Al's Formal Wear in Southlake and almost immediately when I walked in the door they had the exact outfit that I want the boys to wear in the wedding. It's a tan suit (not a tux) with a little bit of texture and the guys will wear it with an ivory shirt and brown ties for the boys and a green one for Craig. We actually got a discount on the suit rentals for the guys because they won't be wearing the shoes that come with the rental...they will be wearing white Converse sneakers.

All in all, we got a lot done and it was relatively painless! Now time for catching up on DVR and napping with a puppy dog!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A response...

This post is in response to the comment a friend of mine from high school and basketball teammate, Leighann posted on a blog that I wrote a few days ago. She wrote:

"Im clapping!!! It's always bothered me that I could have gone somewhere with my basketball abilities, maybe not real far, but atleast college. I think it's funny I played AAU for 7 years in the most competative form you could find, yet I wasn't good enough for her high school team. I wish I could go back in time and do something about it, but I can't. It still bothers me to this day that I chose basketball over softball because I thought I could get somewhere better with that...then I hated it so bad, I quit! I have severe hatred towards that woman and I think I will always. Good blog...I love it!"

For a little backstory, Leighann and I were on the same basketball team when we were in sixth grade (the Lady Lakers!) and we played against each other throughout middle school but went to the same high school. My sophomore year I was put on the Varsity team because of the sole fact that I was six feet tall and they needed another post player. Leighann was on JV, but definitely the best player. On a regular district game night, the Varsity basketball team played first and the JV girls played second in the small gym. If I didn't play in the Varsity game (which happened most of the time) I would run down the hall to the small gym and play with JV. Although I understand the thought process, it put me in a tricky spot: neither team really accepted me as one of their teammates. Except Leighann - we were good friends on and off the court and sat the bench together throughout our Junior year, except when she was put into the game to drain some three's. At the end of our Junior year, she and I both approached our coach together and resigned from the team.

So, in response to Leighann's comment I wanted to let her know...that's why I love coaching middle school...because that's when it was still something fun to do with my friends. All my girls want to do is scrimmage in the gym and if I could, I would let them do that everyday because soon enough the sport they love will turn into a grueling job. I have found a lot of joy in the "old coaches" volleyball league that I play in every Wednesday night because it isn't about competition (well, maybe a LITTLE bit) but it's more about being active and playing a game that we truly love.

And to Leighann...I'm so excited for you and Bryan - both on the marriage and the new adventures in Spain!! I can't help but think back to all the movies that we used to watch over at Rohit's house and to the massive amounts of cruising we did in your T-top Firebird!

The name is Crocker...Betty Crocker

I'm not sure when the transition from frozen pizza to fully homemade dinner happened...but it did and I think Craig is grateful. Since volleyball season has been over (approximately a week) I have been obsessed with new recipes and cooking dinners. Wednesday was taco night which is was pretty easy and pretty standard but last night...oh was delicious.

Porkchops and pears sauteed in a vinegar-brown sugar mix
Garlic and lemon roasted broccoli spears
Onion baked potatoes

Oh. My. Goodness. It was soooo good.

On the menu for tomorrow's Cowboy game is...
Slow cooker BBQ chicken sandwiches
Homemade potato salad
*Maybe* black bean and corn salsa

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Words of Advice

While catching up on my DVR, I came across an episode of "18 Kids and Counting" and the mother, Michelle, was asked an interesting question:

"If you could meet the 21 year old version of yourself, what would you say or what differences would there be?"

That got me thinking...what would I tell younger versions of myself?

Age 5: What an amazing imagination you've given me the best memories of my childhood.
The response: Wanna play Barbies with me? My brother Mike always does.

Age 10: Don't get the perm!!!
The response: But I want wavy hair like everyone else!

Age 13: God gave you this height so you can be better than everyone else; quit complaining about it and start using it.
The response: Who cares about being the best at basketball when no boy likes me and there aren't any cool jeans that are long enough?

Age 15: Apply yourself...your good is great but your great is outstanding. And quit trying to compete with've got her beat in the humor and likability category.
The response: I'm not going to be as smart as those kids and why try harder when I'm already making straight A's?

Age 18: Really? Another shot? Do you really think that's a WISE decision?
The response: You sound like my Mom. Shut up.

Age 21: You're okay and everything will work out...just be patient.
The response: When? Because I'm ready now.

I guess the moral of the story is that hindsight is always 20/20 and there were already people along the way telling me the things that I would eventually want to tell my former self. So that puts me in an interesting spot - should I quit telling my students all the things that I needed to hear because they're going to have to learn it for themselves or should I not stop because I will never know the morsel of wisdom that will stick with them and help them in the future?

There are a few things that my teachers said growing up that really stuck with me...
- My choir teacher, Mr. Antinone telling me that I was an underachiever. I wasn't an underachiever...I was just taking your class to get my Art credit for high school graduation.
- My Senior PEAK English teacher, Mrs. Edgington leveling with me about the Senioritis I had= Retiree-itis that she had...and we both still had to do our work until the last day of school.
- A random Sophomore English teacher in college that allowed me to "prove" to her that the Beatles were in fact poets in an essay.
- My high school basketball coach, Coach DeBord telling me that if I spent as much time in the gym as my boyfriend (a fellow basketball player) that maybe I would be as good as him. Awesome Coach...and you wondered why I quit. It's okay...I'm sure you were relieved to get rid of me.

So maybe I shouldn't quit saying those things...and maybe I should make sure that they are only nice things because I would hate for them to remember me like I remember my high school coach.

Happy Halloween!

It's a little late for a Halloween post, but I love this picture that we were able to get of Angie in her lady bug costume. She started the night off sitting in my lap attached to her leash (which was attached to the chair) in the front yard as I handed out candy. Unfortunately after a close call with her almost biting a child as the child grabbed candy, she was sequestered to the backyard. Sigh. Someday my child will be socialized...I hope.

A Brand New Regime

By all normal standards, the weight that I am currently at (and considering my height) is not overweight or obese or even fat. To other people I am sure that I look fairly skinny with a more or less athletic build. Unfortunately though, I still don't always see the person that others see - in my mind I'm a little chubby and a lot flabby both of which are two things that I don't want to be on my wedding day. Furthermore, I finally entered physical therapy for the knee pain (called chondromalacia) I've been experiencing on and off since May and I know that although this pain is quite common in young and athletic women...I could probably keep other injuries at bay if I'm in great physical shape.

When I first arrived at my new school and witness the Physical Education class, I was a bit overwhelmed and confused. The coaches actually WORK OUT with their students!? Who knew!? At my old school, where my fiance is the head of the PE department, the coaches generally stay seated at a table in the front of the gym while running class. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but I'm sure that I wouldn't have hated running so much in Athletics if my coaches had joined in with me. For the past few months, I've had to cave into peer pressure and I've been jogging (or speed walking) with my kids on Fitness Days as well as doing crunches and LEARNING(!) to do push-ups again. Each of the coaches that I work with don't use their conference periods to surf the internet or run errands, but instead they go to the weight room and work out. Again...peer pressure has gotten to me and I found myself picking up my iPod during my lunch break and heading back to the school earlier than usual to get a work-out in. And that's in addition to the weight lifting I did with the 8th grade athletes this morning as well as the hour of volleyball that I will play tonight.

It's a bit much, I agree...but I don't want to be a fat bride with jiggly arms and the more I work out, the better I feel and the more I will do it and the better I will look on the beaches of Antigua on our honeymoon!

No work-out is really complete without an accompanying healthy diet and this is also in the process of changing. I was referred to this amazing website called where you can peruse many different recipes and then once you have chosen what you want to fix for the week - just print off the shopping list! Ta Da! All the hard work is done for me! Hurray! I'm not sure how excited Craig is about this new development, but quite frankly I'm instituting a new rule: I will cook healthy dinners and if he doesn't want to eat them than that's his perogative.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's Next?

The other night my friend Amy and I were having one of those great conversations that only the oldest of friends can do. I was cleaning up dinner and surfing the internet while she was changing a dirty diaper and getting her babies ready for bed. We had lots to catch up on and we somehow ended up on the subject of good parenting which led to a conversation about my coaching philosophy because it's really my only point of parenting reference. I was telling Amy a story about how my 7th grade volleyball athletes earned their spandex and new jerseys through hard work and showing their dedication and discipline. There was one day when my assistant coach and I were discussing my blow-up argument with the band director...

"Wait. You got in a fight with the band director? That's a story I want to hear" Amy interrupted.

She's is a pretty interesting story. Forget about my volleyball players - let's hear about Laura's temper and stubborness!

One day the band director called down to the coaching office and asked for me to release my 7th grade volleyball players from afternoon practice without having to make it up so they could have ample time to go home and change and eat before their band concert that night. I told her that I would compromise and let them out at 4:45 because I wasn't going to give them up for one entire after school practice. A few more words were exchanged on the phone and my closing statement was "I'll just go speak with the principal." So there.

After frantically searching the school for my principal, he was nowhere to be found and I was forced to return to my coaching office, still fuming at the audacity of the band director to try and boss me around. I could practically feel my heels digging into the ground - there was no way I was going to let her push me around!

To my surprise when I walked in the office, she was casually standing against the file cabinet and looked at me sweetly (a sweetness that didn't quite reach her eyes, I might add) and said "Laura, I felt like I upset you on the phone."

With arms crossed I answered her "You did." Although to be quite honestly, I am sure it came out more of a growl than a polite reply.

To make a long story short, she and I are on opposite sides of the ideological fence which is perfectly fine...but that doesn't mean she gets to decide how I run my program. I had no problem with letting my athletes out of practice 45 minutes early but she was never going to tell me that I shouldn't make the band students make up practice when they miss an entire after school practice. Our conversation went round and round with each of us staunchly defending our point of view and with me at one point responding to her comments of a previously unsuccessful volleyball team with "Yeah...that's why I'm here." Ooh...that didn't go over real well with her...but quite frankly, I didn't care that much. Eventually our conversation ended with me suggesting that we take it to the principal since she and I couldn't come to a conclusion that both of us would be pleased with.

After she left I fumed and fussed about exactly WHY I was being so stubborn. Was it because I truly believed that I needed that 45 minutes with my kids after school? Yes...I did because on the typical day most "team" activities and drills are done directly after school because our classtime is spent warming up passing and serving. Was I being so stubborn because I really didn't like how she approached me and I just didn't want her to get her way? Well...maybe a little bit. Or did I truly believe that I was indeed compromising and doing what was best for those cream of the crop kids that are involved in several activities? Absolutely.

So I took my concerns to my principal and I began the conversation this way:

"I'll be totally honest with you Mr. Principal. My mom is half Italian and Cajun and sometimes when I'm caught off guard I won't be the nicest of people and unfortunately I wasn't."

I totally owned up to my less than courteous behavior, but I also defended my point of view and spelled out the bottom line for my principal: I am trying to compromise with her but I won't allow someone to dictate the philosophy that drives my program. And he agreed so that was that. It wasn't until I walked away that I realized I was shaking.

After relaying this story to Amy we started the "what's next" discussion. All through life our maturity and progression has been measured by learning certain lessons or reaching a new goal. Getting through adolescence meant knowing right from wrong, choosing the right friends and managing time well. Becoming a young adult meant paying bills on time, RSVPing when asked and knowing yourself. I can check all that what?

I think the story I just told is a good example of the next bit of wisdom or life lesson that is ready for me to tackle: not just knowing myself but standing up for what I believe in even when it's not "lady like" or "proper." There are certainly times when stomping your foot down and saying "NO" isn't socially acceptable, but necessary to defend what you deem is right. Did I make a new friend at work through this interaction? not. But did I stand up for what was best for my program and for my athletes and teams? Absolutely and that's what is important.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


These questions were stolen (with love) from the "Waiting for the Day" blog of my mother's friend Molly.

1) Your lifesaving food/beverage.
A Starbucks Grande Skinny Vanilla tastes so good...once it hits your lips. But if I can't get there, any regular coffee loaded up with Sweet N Low and creamer will do. If it weren't for coffee at 7:30 am, I don't think my 8th grade volleyball players would have like me as much.

2) Your lifesaving article of clothing.
As a strictly PE teacher this year, I have the luxury of dressing in athletic clothes everyday...all day. Not only are these clothes my personal preference because of the comfiness, they might literally save my life due to the fact that since I do teach PE, I virtually have no reason NOT to work out anymore. So...every Tuesday and Thursday during Fitness Day, I'm running, jumping, pushing up and crunching right along with my 6th graders.

3) Your lifesaving movie/book/tv show/music.
I have vivid childhood memories of sitting in the living room watching Rhett and Scarlet as my mother vacuumed the house around me, only pausing once in awhile to reflect on her favorite parts of the movie. Once grown, I would fall asleep alone in my apartment every night to the comforting bickering of Scarlett and her sisters. Finally I read the book and realized the reason I had so passionately loved the movie for all those years - Scarlett was a woman with vivaciousness and determination...she spoke her mind and did things HER way and not necessarily the way people expected her to do. She has such an incredibly flawed personality despite her physical beauty and I think that because she was so human was the reason I fell in love with her persona at such a young age.

4) Your lifesaving friend.He's my best friend and has loved me when I couldn't love myself.

5) Your lifesaving moment.My Europe trip without my parents was the most liberating experience and made me realize that I am independent and capable of doing things for myself and on my own.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thoughts on Coaching...

Being a head coach is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be - I mean, I figured I would be busy creating and running practices, managing paperwork and teaching a new coach the intricities of a volleyball court but I hd noidea the time I would spend running over practices in my head, trying to figure out the best way to make my team better.

Coaching is a selfless job. In Craig's words - if it's a win, it's because the girls played well and if you lose, it's because you did a poor job coaching. I don't really "get" anything out of coaching middle school volleyball - there's no extra stipend if I win or go to the play-offs and nor is my name in the paper for having an unbreakable winning streak.

Middle school volleyball is strictly about the kids and maybe that's why it's so difficult for me when my team loses....which, by the way, we've been doing a lot of lately. I am a big believer in setting kids up for success, whether it's by their parents or in the classroom. Kids can only be as successful as the opportunities placed before them because they really are such a clean slate and learn strictly through experiences. If I don't give my players the opportunity to learn a new task that is going to help them win, then they won't be successful on the court.

And oftentimes what makes the difference in middle school teams being successful on the court is the off-season opportunities to play volleyball. Unfortunately, I left a school where 7 out of 12 girls on the current Division I team played club ball in the spring last year...and it shows. I am now at a school where only a few girls played club ball in the spring last year...and it shows. One of my new girls asked me today as we watched my old school dominate at the tournament: "Coach, do you wish that you were still coaching there? Be honest...because they're really good." does one answer that? Do I love to win...of course...I wouldn't be a coach if I wasn't an ambitious and competitive person. Would it have been nice to have a chance at winning the tournament today...well, yeah...especially for a first year head coach. But I also watched all the silly dances and cheers that my old girls did in the middle of the floor and I got disgusted. Were we that cocky when Beri and I coached together? Did other schools look at us in a mixture of disgust at the confidence, and jealousy at the talent? Or do those other schools know the deeper importance of what we are doing as coaches...and know that it truly isn't about the wins at this age, but instead about the lessons about teamwork, dedication and hard work that are learned? I'm not sure how I responded to my freckly-faced setter, but it was something along the lines of "no...I know I made the best decision for my relationship with my fiance."

I think the bottom line is that girls will come and go, talent will rise and fall...but the positive impact that this move has made on Craig and I will remain forever.

I love volleyball and I love the fact that I get to know the girls on such a deeper and more personal level than many of their other teachers because of the time that we spend together. I couldn't really tell you who I had for 8th grade English or 7th grade Science...but I can recite the names of almost all of my coaches: Coach Daniels, Coach Johnson, Coach Adams, Coach Saye, Coach Durham, Coach Honc and Coach DeBord. I know the potential impact that I have on these young ladies by what I say, how I act and how I interact with them. But I also know that, despite my love for the game and for impacting girls' lives...there will someday be a beautiful baby (or babies) that will come into my life that will wipe away every desire to spend long hours in a gym. Coaching is Craig's gift in this is his passion and his challenge. It stimulates his mind - trying to figure out the other teams offense or defense and exactly how he is going to exploit every single ounce of it. I love watching him coach the young girls on his club team because he is so gentle with them...and I can always picture a little curly headed brunette with a ribbon in her hair standing in the huddle, ready to play for her daddy. Having said that, Craig comes to every one of my volleyball games and I think he gets a kick out of watching me get so animatedly excited when my girls do well. In a way, he has watched me grow from a wild child, fresh out of college with no "real world" experience into a (mostly) poised and mature woman capable of both running a volleyball program and hosting a delicious dinner party. I know he is proud of me and I know that he is supportive of this step that I have taken in my life, but I know that it's not forever...and I'm okay with that because I have faith that the next step, whenever it happens, will be much greater and more joy filled.

I coached with one woman named Beri for three years. Over the course of those three years of sitting the bench together, sharing Starbucks on Friday mornings and guarding the 1200 hallway of our middle school together during passing periods, we've shared many things and I think learned many life lessons together as well. She has taught me to choose my battles when dealing with students and how to set appropriate goals for different teams and to rejoice when those goals are met. The most recent lesson however, has been on a much deeper level. As teachers, we generally tend to be selfless and giving people who put other people first before asking anything for ourselves. During the hours of 7:30 and 5:30, Monday through's not about me - it's about what the kids need and what do I have to do to make sure those needs are met. Therefore, as a single or married without children women, it is very easy to forget about ourselves or our families because there really isn't anyone who is being burdened or traumatized by our long hours. Once Beri found out that she was pregnant last December, I witnessed a remarkable change in her - immediately her first and foremost concern became her child, her health and her family. If she needed to take time off to take care of herself, she did. If there was a scheduling conflict between her family and school, school came second. Now that Craig, Angie and I are a family...she really inspired me to put the Cook-Nelson household first. Because at the end of the day, lessons...students...paperwork, it will all come and go but you only have one family in your life and if you neglect it, not only will you be miserable...but you could lose it. I'm not saying that now everything is about ME, but I certainly have learned where to draw the line. A few weeks ago I was running a 99.7 (and rapidly climbing) fever during the middle of the school day. Despite my tears that welled up in my eyes at the thought of missing that night's 8th grade volleyball game, once I left the building my only thought was taking care of myself. I think I've just realized that all the wins in the world will never be able to replace the joy I have when spending an evening sitting at the dinner table recounting the day's events with Craig followed by cuddle time with Angie.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quick Bits

I am entering the third full week of the 09-10 school and so far, so good...except that I haven't had a whole lot of time to sit around and surf the internet, thus the slow blog posts. So here are some quick bits about what has been going on and what is coming up:

- We took our engagement pictures a week ago and it was a very interesting time. We started off at our school gym in capris/shorts and Aggie/UT shirts with volleyballs and basketballs...just kind of hanging out. I think we got some good shots in the bleachers and stuff, but I was so nervous the whole time - it's weird to not be able to check the picture immediately afterwards and then decide whether a "redo" is necessary. Angie behaved very well with Craig's mom and sister (who came along to baby-sit) and she even got in the bleachers and sat patiently to have her picture made. After that we moved onto the Riverwalk at Los Colinas where we wore nicer stuff and shot the more lovey-dovey pictures which were REALLY awkward. I don't think I've ever been that close to Craig's face...ever. All I did was giggle. I'm not sure how they'll turn out and we should be getting the pictures by the end of the week. Fingers crossed.

- My volleyball teams had their first games last week with 7th grade DII and DIII winning but my DI lost due to the other teams great serving and our terrible passing. Both 8th grade teams won in two games each which is exciting...until I talked to another coach and he said that the team we played wasn't that good. Oh. Well. Next week's game is against a much more solid team so that should give us a better picture of where we are at skill wise. I have been doing lots of boring passing drills with the 8th graders, which they HATE, but totally paid off last week because their passing looked stupendous. I promised them that this week we would start working on all the fun stuff - the net play, the hitting and the blocking. I have to pump myself up everyday to work with the 7th graders though. I have some great talent and potential on my team, but the girls tend to refuse to work hard or correct anything I tell them. Maybe it's just me, but after two weeks of telling someone to step with their left foot when serving...they shouldn't be surprised when I tell them again to step with their left foot. As well as battling their stubborness to change their form, we are also battling the attitude issue - when the buzzer sounds or you hear my voice, all talking should stop. I'm not being a Nazi in the gym...but that's the way it goes. We don't have much time to practice during the week and if we're wasting time transitition from drill to drill because we can't get quiet...there will be many push-ups done until the point is made. Good thing is...they're making the connection between sore arms and closing their mouth so that's good.

- Angie is doing okay with the change from summertime to the school year. Craig and I have gotten in a routine where he takes care of feeding her and putting her outside in the morning and letting her inside in the afternoon. She does stay outside all day with her water bowl and the gate to the pool closed. I think she's happier this way because she can potty when she needs to, she has space to stretch out and she can play along the fence with the neighbor dog. The only bad thing is that she gets upset when Craig is about to put her outside and she is still "leaking" out of defiance. Unfortunately, we can't make her do push-ups for that.

- We have a couple big thigs coming up that I'm looking forward to...the Kings of Leon concert on October 7th with Jennifer and Zach and then the big U2 concert the following Monday, October 12th. I loved U2 way before I started dating Craig, and I am totally excited about seeing them in concert (I can cross it off my bucket list) but I'm even more excited about watching CRAIG watch the concert. Craig is to U2 like I am to the Beatles. He isn't a guy that really "emotes" very often, but you can tell when he is singing along in the car to a U2 song that it means something to him...something more than just a great song.

- I will be taking my bridals on Septemer 27th in Deep Ellum. An odd choice for pictures of me in a stunningly beautiful dress, but there are some great bright walls and fantastically unique architecture out there that I think will make for great pieces of artwork. I have scheduled my hair and make-up with my old hairdresser out of Euless and if I like it, I might commission her to do my wedding hair and make-up as well as my bridal party stuff. The rest of the wedding planning is coming along. Right now it's just making sure we're paying stuff off every month (mainly the photographer and the honeymoon). I'm trying to get the Save-the-Date cards sent out but I had a hitch in my plans when my computer completely DIED the first week of school! Now that Craig has finished his list we are back on track and my goal is to have them sent out by Saturday, September 19th.

I think that's everything that's been going on lately. Craig and I have really enjoyed NOT working together - it's amazing the stuff we have to talk about at the dinner table each night!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Freedom at a Price

Drinking in college was what I considered "fun" at the time. Sunday through Wednesday was spent in recovery from the debauchery of the previous weekend and in anticipation of the surprises that the upcoming weekend held. It was carefree and careless. I can remember feeling so free at the time - like I could do anything at a moments notice or be whoever I chose for a particular night. From spontaneous road trips to Austin to four inch hot pink stilettos with a denim mini skirt...I thought I was living the ultimate life.

But little did I know that the freedom I felt during college was due to being chained to one thing. Alcohol was everyone's best friend and the ultimate party planner. No Alcohol? No party. He was a man of many names (Jose, Jack and McCormick were my favorites) and never let you down on a Friday night. He talked you into trying new things and becoming a new person. Alcohol convinced you he needed him to have a good time. And for most of the time with Alcohol as a classmate in college, nights with no memories just felt like innocent fun.

I'm not sure where or why my old friend turned on me or when our friendship went wrong, but shortly after college I realized that he no longer gave me the same feelings of freedom that he did during my four years on campus. Instead of relishing in the endless possibilities that life after college offered, I began focusing on the life that I didn't have but desperately wanted. Alcohol began convincing me that I needed him in my life even more because I was so incredibly unlovable that he was the only one who would always be there. He made me lie to my friends and put on a happy face while crumbling on the inside at the sight of their contentment with their own lives. No one knew how dangerous our relationship had become because we were still in the age of innocent fun. Twenty-three was still young, fresh and free! What worries were there to have on a Friday night with new friends and the ever present college buddy?

About a year and a half ago, I woke up and found myself looking at a person I didn't recognize. What had my old buddy done to the girl I once was? That confident, determined and vivacious girl my parent's had so lovingly raised had been swallowed whole by the false promises and deceptive lies told by Alcohol. For the first time in my life, my old friend wasn't looking so cool, so fun or so enticing.

My life has changed because of ending that friendship or maybe because I ended that friendship my life has changed. Either way it's really not a part of my life anymore because I have found contentment in myself. I don't have to rely on Alcohol to make me feel better about myself or to fill the void that was at one time so painfully present.

The break in our friendship hasn't always been easy. Although it has allowed me to form new friendships I think it might be creating divisions in old. I understand that Alcohol might not have this same relationship with everyone, but unfortunately this is the relationship that I had and regardless of any situation...I'm going to protect what I've built. Because from what I personally know of Alcohol, he likes to destroy who I am and anything good I believe about myself. I'm not willing to allow him into my life in that capacity ever again.

Because for the first time in many years...

I am content. I am happy. I am finally and truly free.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Making Progress

Last Sunday I woke up with the stark realization that my summer vacation was quickly coming to a close. In addition to being sad that my days out by the pool with various friends were numbered, I was freaking out that my Summer Wedding To-Do list was wildly incomplete. So last week was devoted to getting things done so that I could fully enjoy this upcoming week doing everything I loved about summer which just means sleeping in, going to afternoon movies and lying by the pool with a good book (currently it is The Time Traveler's Wife).

I have...
- taken my dress to the tailor and it will be ready for pick up on August 22nd.
- picked up and stored my hair piece at my mother's house.
- found and bought turquoise Steve Madden flats to wear under my dress and stored them at my mother's house so that I will not be tempted to wear them!
- tentatively picked out bridesmaid dresses.
- scheduled bridal and engagement photos as well as the locations.
- dropped off our Save the Date cards to be printed.
- ALMOST finalized the guest list (c'mon Craig!!!)

Next up is...
- picking up the Save the Dates, addressing envelopes and putting them in the mail by the end of the month.
- finding hair and make-up for my bridal portraits.
- updating our vendor and cost list for Craig to review and then make money saving and payment plans.

I think that's all I can accomplish for this summer...if I do much more I'll be wiped out before volleyball season even starts. Having said that, I'm very excited to get the school year rolling, although I will miss my lazy summer days. I know that the sooner school starts, the closer we are to the wedding.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Crossing Things Off

This wedding and the acquisition of Angie into our house has really brought out a different side of Craig. He is more open with his affection and love and also more in tune to making sure that both the ladies in his home are well taken care of. Case in point - last night Angie and I were cuddling in bed while I caught up on DVR and played The Sims on my computer. I was a bit down and Craig could tell that immediately when he came into the bedroom. After unloading on him about my looming To-Do list his first response was "What can I do?" and not in a whiny manner but instead in a way that truly meant "what can I do to relieve this stress of your shoulders and help you get a few things accomplished on your list?" So I set him upon contacting his Uncle Tim and finalizing our Save-The-Date cards. A little while later I was called into his Man Cave and presented with this:

His Uncle Tim had taken photos at our engagement party at the beginning of the summer and done a few artsy pictures with the prints. We asked him to put the necessary Save-The-Date info on there and voila! This is what he came up with! It is definitely even more amazing than I expected and I can't wait to send them out at the end of August. We're going to get them printed at a professional print shop (hopefully on stronger paper than just picture paper) and then stick magnets on the back. I'm going to buy some envelopes and clear labels and we will just print addresses onto labels and then stick them on the envelopes. It sounds like a lot of work, but I do tend to watch lots of DVR television and this is probably more productive than surfing Facebook or playing Flowerz through MSN games.
But before we can send them out we have to have addresses for people so we are in the process of finalizing that as well. I've send out emails begging for any of the remaining addresses I need and Craig has stepped up and filled out a bit of his list as well. Next thing that is up is getting lists from our mothers and then counting and proofing the lists before we start sending things out.
I also called my mom last night and I'm meeting up with her tomorrow to take my dress to be altered, to pick up my hair band for the wedding as well as look at and possibly try on and choose bridesmaid dresses. If I'm able to get all that stuff done tomorrow that will be another big weight off my shoulders.
I spoke with Craig last night about my frustration and worry about scheduling and picking places for the engagement photos and after some discussion, we came up with some great ideas.
- 1st Location: The duck pond by our house. There are some great landscapes for pictures by the pond with the fountain and the grass and maybe even some on the playground! We're also going to take Angie with us for some pictures because she is such a vital member of our family.
- 2nd Location: The school gym. If it wasn't for coaching and our school, we wouldn't have ever met and fallen in love. Sigh. So it seems fitting to take some pictures in there. I know it sounds strange, but I figured we could pull out the bleachers and get out some basketball and volleyballs.
- 3rd Location: Downtown Main St. Grapevine. This will probably be the majority of our pictures because there are so many great spots to take some really creative photos.
Now all I have to do is contact our photographer and make sure we can make it happen!
As for the other items on my To-Do list, Craig and I are moving me out of my classroom sometime today after I take Ms. Angie to the vet. Speaking of Angie, she has been doing extremely well since we got back from vacation. Whatever my parent's did with her during her stay with Grandaddy, Nonna and the cousins...worked. She hasn't peed or pooped inside, she lets us know when she has to go potty, she will get in her kennel on her own (if you plop her down right in front of it) and she completely understands SIT, STAY and NO. I think Angie has taught Craig and I a lot about "parenting" because we had all these plans for rules with our new dog but when we got her home we realized that she has her own ideas and needs which didn't necessarily jibe with our original plans for raising this dog. So we had to adjust our thinking on some things (the dog sleeps on our bed) but be more strict/vigilant on other things we hadn't originally thought would be a problem (outdoor potty training and submissive wetter). All in all, we've been able to create a dog that is obedient to what we expect in our house but at the same time still has the freedom to be her own person...or dog I suppose.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The End is Near

Holy crap.
Summer vacation has only a mere two weeks left.
Please someone - tell me what I did with almost two months off because now that I'm seeing the end of the summer I feel completely behind in the wedding planning that I thought I would get done. I truly anticipated having so much more accomplished but lying in the sun for days on end has the magical ability to warp your brain of any inspiration to move and be ambitious in any sort of way.
So here I am on the heels of a magnificant vacation in the Bahamas...almost feeling like I should already be married, but yet with still so much to get done. So I'm closing down the pool (at least for a few hours) and putting my nose to the grindstone to cross off a few more things on my list.
Here we go:
- Find the engagement picture CD and create our Save the Dates as well as print them off and stick magnets to the back.
- Gather guest list from our mothers and compile them with mine in an Excel spreadsheet. Stick a fire hot rod on Craig's butt to get him moving and completing his section of the guest list.
- Call Elizabeth's Bridal and check on the status of my hair *bling.*
- Take dress to get altered in shoulders (too big) and bodice (can't lose weight in ribcage).
- Pick a date to definitively go look at bridesmaid dresses and email bridesmaids about this event. Print off pictures from Amy to take with me when shopping.
- Call wedding photographer and set up dates to take engagement and bridal pictures. Must consult volleyball and basketball tournament schedules as well as my mother's calendar.
- Talk with Craig's mom about the flowers and confirm with florist as well as make a payment.
- On a completely different note...I need a haircut desperately! The ends of my hair are totally fried between my severe addiction to my straightener, the continuous sunbathing and swimming in salt and chlorine.
- Sometime I need to officially move out of my classroom as well as return my keys and work shirt.
That's everything I'm going to try to get taken care of next week and then the week after that I'm going to focus on making sure that I have everything prepared for my new job as the head volleyball coach.
Ugh...I just realized that summer really is over if I'm making To-Do lists...bummer.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bahamian Vacation

Craig and I returned last night from our six days and five nights in the Bahamas at the Sandals resort just outside of downtown Nassau. On the day we arrived the island was in the midst of a torrential downpour which slightly dampened our spirits but provided a soothing background for a much needed four hour nap. The rest of our trip was filled with lots of sun and time spent relaxing by the pool or on the beach. I was able to finish the seventh Harry Potter, read an entire Jane Green novel and get three-quarters of the way through The Time Traveler's Wife, loaned to me by my friend Emily. Our time wasn't spent entirely in the sun though - there were daily naps which were a necessity after the sun drained our energy in the morning, two days full of sand volleyball for me and one afternoon of pool volleyball with both of us against a nice couple from Long Island, as well as three nights spent at one of the two casinos located on the island. The resort was nice and although there were a few frustrations (late luggage delivery, no beach towels available and slow drink service at meals) all in all we had a fantastic time. Here are just a few pictures of our vacation with the complete collection located here:
A view of the shoreline of the Sandals resort's private island located 1/4 mile from the mainland.

Craig and I headed out to the Crystal Palace Casino (where I met my adopted Jewish grandmother Annabelle) after dinner one night.

Another view of the private island - this was probably my favorite day because there was really no one around to bother us and I could sit on the rocks with the waves rolling in and read my book in peace and quiet.

The view from our hotel room out to the ocean.

After dinner our first day out in the sun.
Although we had a great vacation and really enjoyed just spending time with each other, we were both ready to get home. My biggest reason for wanting to come home has four legs, a white stripe down the middle of her nose and happens to be curled up next to me on the bed in a deep nap.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Guilt Stricken

Angie woke me up at 1:30, 3:30, 4-something, a little after 5:00...the times get a little blurry after that...this morning to use the potty outside. After a few trips I was worried about what was wrong with her digestive system so I carried my LED flashlight downstairs with me and spotlighted her butt while she used the bathroom in the darkness of the night.

You should have seen the glare I got from my dog.

Unfortunately, my worst fears were confirmed...Angie had diarrhea...again. Sigh. I waited until this morning to make sure that it wasn't a one-off thing and sure enough around 9:30 she had another...experience. I called the vet and made an appointment for 4:00 this afternoon. I felt like I was overreacting a bit so hastily making an appointment for her, but after she had been so sick a couple weeks ago, I wasn't going to take any chances.

Sure enough, I was correct when she tested "faintly positive" for Giardia, which is kind of like a tummy virus for dogs and cats. I feel absolutely TERRIBLE because this disease is passed through the infected stools of other animals or through infected water. I know that it's just something that happens - animals and humans get sick. I know that my house is clean and so is the yard...but I just feel so guilty. Like I didn't take good enough care of her the first time so now she's sick again.

In my defense, the vet did say that Giardia in the area that I live has the tendency (for whatever reason) to be a little stronger and more resistant to medication. It's not surprising that she has another bout with the illness and now requires stronger doses of the medicine. I'm just hoping that she gets better quick because she is due to stay at my parent's house with the cousins starting a week from tomorrow while we are out of town vacationing in the Bahamas. I would really like to leave town knowing that my darling dog is okay...and not going to get Andy and Annabelle sick.

As we were leaving the store, I felt terrible for little Angie because she had lots of awful tests run on a particularly...sensitive area of her body so I stopped by the toy aisle. Yes, I know that indulging children is bad, but she has chewed through most of her toys and I have had several people tell me that Nylabones are the strongest toys to buy for such skilled chewers like Angie. I bought two different ones and right now she is thoroughly enjoying one...we'll see how long they last. The good news is that the Penicillin shot that she received has already worked as she is much perkier than she was a few hours ago.

But I still feel guilty.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Worry List

I've been a blogging fool lately and I think it's because blogging gives me a chance to get thoughts out of my head and somewhat organized onto "paper" or at least where I can sort them out visually. I think I'm just a little overwhelmed with...everything...right now. I know what you're thinking: "How stressful is summer vacation?" For those of you who know and love me dearly, know that I can make a day at the spa a stressful situation. So here is my current list of worries and hopefully by putting them out on this blog, I'll be able to see things more clearly and therefore ward off any impending anxiety attacks.

She has been VERY stubborn lately and absolutely does not follow instructions when being told to go outside to potty. Today it all came to a head when I tried to pick her off a bare and not blanket covered couch (my mistake) and she released her entire bladder on the couch cushions. I yelled at her...with obsenities...and she got really scared of me. And then I felt bad, but I was still pissed about her pissing all over the couch. Luckily the couches are Scotchguarded or whatever and for those of you who visit my house...they are safe to sit on. But regardless, I'm still frustrated with her stubborness and my own reaction to her stubborness. I think it might be time to institute some doggie training classes.

There are a few things that are really stressing me out about this whole wedding thing: bridesmaid dresses, bridal portraits and engagement photos. I don't like picking out clothes for other people that they will only wear once which I am making them pay for. I know that they are all my friends and love me dearly and are thrilled to be part of my wedding...I think that makes me feel guiltier about having them buy a dress! As for the photo sessions, I'm just really confused about how, when and where to schedule them as well as what we're going to wear and how I have to do my hair and do I need flowers?! And unfortunately, Craig is no help for any of these problems.

I'm changing schools this year because of the fact that I am marrying Craig. I won't be too far from my former school and I'll actually be closer to our house. I'll be the head volleyball coach and I'll also teach 6th grade PE classes which is pretty much my dream job because I'll get to wear work out clothes everyday of the year. But on the other hand, I'm extremely nervous because now I have to be in charge and do everything that I promised the principal I could do. I'm not going to try to go into this year with lofty aspirations of turning the entire athletic program around...after all, Rome wasn't built in a day...but I do want to be successful and have everything run relatively smoothly. I'm leaving my comfort zone and I never do well with that. Unfortunately, right now there isn't too much I can do to quell this anxiety and I'm anticipating that it will only grow from now until August. Also...I haven't even packed up and moved out of my old classroom and so I have to do that sometime at the beginning of August as well.

Next week will be an incredibly busy and chaotic week for our little household. Craig has his big NCAA certified basketball tournament starting on Wednesday and ending Friday but in the meantime he is frantically trying to wrap up any loose ends as well as putting together the brackets and coaches packets. He has been spending a lot of time in the Man Cave working on stuff and it is generally staying out of the rest of the house, but his stress definitely has spread and I'm nervous for him that everything will get accomplished and in the way that he wants it to be done. Unfortunately I won't be much help to him next week in preparing for the tourney because I will be at the high school volleyball camp all week from early in the morning until the late afternoon. Volleyball camp is always fun - but I'm nervous about having to leave Angie in her kennel for the first time for a full day. And to top off a busy week, we are leaving for the Bahamas on the Saturday directly after all this craziness and that means packing, shipping Angie to my parents, and making sure I have the proper clothes and plenty of books to read.

I guess those are all my big worries but I still have a few little ones:
- I have two friends coming over to swim in the morning and I have to pick up the house. They both have never seen the house and I want to make sure that it looks pretty for them. Granted, I probably could have avoided this stress by getting off the blogosphere and actually picking up and maybe that's why I'm frustrated with myself.
- My calendar is not updated right now and there are a lot of things that we have to do that are coming up. I feel all out of sorts with my schedule and I...again...should probably get off the bed and the computer and actually write my stuff on the calendar.
- Harry Potter VI: The Half Blood Prince comes out in theaters tonight at midnight and it's the first time since HP III that I'm not going to be in line at midnight with my college roomie Lauren to watch the movie. I feel guilty. Isn't that ridiculous?!

Okay...I'm getting the hint and getting off the computer...must detach self and actually get work accomplished. Might feel better afterwards perhaps? Will let you know.

Vendor List

We've gotten quite a few things done for the wedding so far...

The Marriott at Champions Circle in Ft. Worth -

Elizabeth's Bridal in Hurst - they don't have a website, but they are the most wonderful ladies in the world. Made the dress shopping experience much less painful than I thought it would be.

Mobile Music PBP -
This husband and wife team came highly recommended by two close friends of ours and I was blown away by how organized and personable they were.

Static Sixx Photography -
Another husband and wife team who became wedding photographers because of their love of taking pictures. The husband is really talented with photoshop and I'm looking forward to having really artistic pictures of our wedding.

Hot Chocolates -
The daughter of a very good family friend is the co-owner of the bakery and they produce not only beautiful works of art, but cakes that taste good as well!

Flowers on the Mound -
A friend of Craig's mom who has recently gotten her own flower shop. She was very organized and had great ideas that built on the vision that I had for our wedding.

BIG Things left to do:
- Bridesmaid dresses
- Tuxes
- Save the Date and Invitations

This fall I'm going to take my bridal portraits in Deep Ellum (during the day) because there are a ton of bright buildings and funky places to take pictures. But don't worry Mom, I'll get plenty of pretty photos on the day of the wedding. We're also going to take our engagement photos and I'm totally lost on where to take those or what to wear. I know that we need to incorporate sports and school somehow, but I also want some funky pictures as well...and yes, I want to have Angie in a few pictures too. Hmm...any ideas?

Not at My Wedding...

A long time ago when my friend Jennifer was beginning to plan her wedding, our mutual friend and my fellow bridesmaid Meggie and I accompanied Jennifer to a bridal show in Plano. It was this experience alone that made me realize a very important lesson that I would like to share with you...

Everyone gets married. No matter the size, the shape, the social status, the likes or dislikes, the quirks, the trashiness...everyone in the world seems to find their counterpart and then plans a wedding to celebrate their love.

Which means that there has to be a multitude of wedding products available in the world to accommodate the different wedding desires of each person. I don't mean to be a wedding snob or anything because I'm sure there are people out there that totally disagree with my particular choices for the wedding but...just check out these sites.

- I originally googled "tacky wddings" hoping to score a few pictures that I could put up on my blog of things that I definitely DON'T want to have at my wedding but there are just too many pictures to cut and paste! If you scroll down to the Star Wars weddings...I have a feeling my reluctant Ring Bearer might be a little more enthusiastic if I promised him a Yoda costume for walking down the aisle...complete with light saber.,0,2402436.photogallery

- My main goal for the wedding? Not to end up with our pictures in this line up.

- I have total faith in our cake makers...but I'm a little concerned about Craig's grandious idea of the UT stadium cake ending up on this website.

I keep googling different things about "ugly," "tacky," "disaster" weddings but I seem to be getting the same pictures over and over...

100th Post!

It's been about 2 and a 1/2 years since I started posting and I have now reached my 100th post! Hurray for me sticking with something for this long. It's amazing how much things in my life have changed since my very first post.
Today Craig and I went and got another thing accomplished for the wedding: our wedding bands. Although we didn't buy them, we know exactly what we want and how much they cost.
This is my engagement ring - it's a traditional diamond solitaire but with a more modern twist with the thicker band and squared edges.

Here is what I have picked out for my wedding band - the diamonds are set into the band and don't go all the way around. Initially I will get just one, but would like to acquire another one in the future for the other side of my ring. After all, I like things to be symmetrical!

Here is the wedding band that Craig chose for himself - it's made out of tungsten metal which doesn't scratch and it also has a more charcoal gray sheen to it instead of the bright white gold of the traditional mens wedding band.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Soccer Mom"

This past weekend was the first weekend that I had to be separated from my baby, Angie. Craig and I packed up our stuff and loaded her up into the car and dropped her off early Friday morning at my parent's house before we drove down to a basketball tournament in San Antonio. Although she knows my parents and the cousins, Andy and Annabelle, it was hard to see the look of abandonment and fear in her eyes as we walked out the door and left her in my mother's arms.

Sigh. Being a mother is tough...even if it is only to a 20 lb. bundle of shedding fur and flying tongue.

During our trip, I got a glimpse into our future together as a family as I watched other families with players unload out of their SUVs. In the backs of every Tahoe or Suburban sat stacked numerous gym bags, coolers and grocery sacks full of "road trip snacks." Every mom seemed to come equipped with Gatorade and bags of chips for refueling in between games.

I sat away from the main group of parents, seeing as how I didn't really know any of them and I'm typically a little shy when approaching large groups of people, but also because I love the coach of their children's team. And frankly...I didn't want to hear any negative comments about the coaching, the players or the refs. As coaches, Craig and I tend to believe that while a player is on the field or the court, there is only one person she or he should be listening to - and that's their coach. There parents in the stands, although very educated or very well meaning, don't always understand the greater idea that is running through the coaches mind during the game. Believe me, we always have a gameplan and unfortunately, it doesn't always involve your daughter, or the actions you keep shouting at your daughter! Will I want my children to perform their best during whichever sport they decide to play? Of course! But at the same time, I want them to be a team player and pay attention to their coach, because that's the person who is in charge - I'm just there for support.

Well, that's the plan anyways.

Upon seeing our future as a family, I'm okay with it. Our mutual love for kids and sports brought us together and that's where we will find joy in our lives as a family.

"But wait," you might say, "what if your kids aren't (gasp) ATHLETES? What if they enjoy...marching band?" Well, Craig and I have discussed that possibility and his comment was that he's going to be the loudest parent cheering for their kid during the marching band presentation at half time. BUT...he also added that our kids will have a basketball put in their hands at a very young age.

All in all, we definitely had a good time in San Antonio, but we were also very happy to pick up our pup and then get into our own bed on Sunday night! The next three weeks are going to be pretty hectic with Craig having two big three day tournaments, me at volleyball camp next week and then we're off to the Bahamas for a week!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Catching Up

It's officially been two weeks since Angie has joined our home and her overall performance has earned her a B. Here is the breakdown:

Advanced cuddling: A
- Angie excels at snuggling up and quickly falling asleep. She is always up for any cuddling no matter where she is or what is going on around her.

Bathroom Differential: D
- Although this week has been better, she still struggles letting us know when she needs to go outside. We are also working on her "submissive wetting" issues.

Social Skills: B
- She initially earned a C, but improved her grade by bonding with Craig. She could improve in her interactions with new people by not being so scared and shy.

Physical Education: B
- Angie is a good walker but needs to improve by not stopping at every new smell. She has definitely learned how to play with her toys, but could raise her grade by not destroying every toy given to her.

Following Directions: B
- Angie loves praise but is quite stubborn when it comes to initially following directions. She will do what you ask, but it takes a lot of cajoling on our part sometimes.

Peer Assessment: A
- Except for a few run-ins with Andy over sharing a ball (understandable) Andy and Annabelle very much enjoyed their time with Angie at our house. She snuggled very well with Annabelle and also played well with Andy, for the most part.

Other news from our house includes:
- Angie did have to go into the vet on Thursday because of a bug that she picked up which made her tummy not feel so well. She was put on antibiotics and a bland food diet and is feeling much better today (Saturday) but she isn't allowed to go to the 4th of July party because we don't want to get the cousins sick.

- We have our flowers, cakes and party favors done for the wedding! Hurray! That is a big load off our shoulders and next on my list is bridesmaid dresses, save the dates and invitations. I just need Craig to get me his list completed of invites and then I think we'll be ready to go!

- Michael Jackson's death is incredibly sad and tragic, but more sad and tragic is the way his life ended up and how he will be remembered - probably not for his music, but instead for his eccentricities and sketchy judgment with children. Having said that, Michael Jackson reminds me of the old phrase "which came first - the chicken or the egg?" By that I mean: was MJ created by God as the eccentric and seemingly emotionally unstable person that he was, or did circumstances (abusive father and intense media scrutiny) create his troubles? I'm inclined to think that the fame at such a young age combined with a rather unstable homelife leads to disaster for people...look at Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan compared to Justin Timberlake. All three had loads of fame at a young age, but JT has a supportive and strong family background, where Brit and Lindsay don't. Okay, I know that it sounds a bit presumptuous to assume that I know all about all these people's lives and backgrounds but I do read a lot of Perez Hilton as well as I believe myself to be pretty intuitive. Regardless...the whole situation is very sad for several reasons and I just hope that the media lets this story rest pretty soon so that the children and the family members can move on with their grief and their lives in the best way possible.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wedding Flowers

Yesterday evening, Craig and I went with his mom to a florist who is a good friend of his mother's to discuss the flowers for our wedding. I really liked the florist - she was straightforward and honest about what would look good and be the most cost efficient as well. I am finding that my little folder of wedding inspiration pictures I've gotten off the web is the best idea I have had yet. When we went to the florist, I had all the following pictures printed off on two sheets of paper, as well as grouped together according to topic. I also had a list of the flowers that we would need for people and the contact information of the florist on there as well.

When we sat down to initially discuss what I wanted, I just handed her the stapled sheets of paper and she was pleased and a little taken aback at how prepared I was. What can I say? I am approaching planning this wedding the same way I approach everything else...I over prepare for everything so that I am in control of the situation and I make sure I get what I want. I just know that if I didn't have these pictures, the whole wedding planning process would be an absolute nightmare for me and I do want to enjoy the next eight months.

Ceremony Flowers:
Our wedding site is outdoors and will look something similar to the above picture. It is on a golf course and so the natural scenery is pretty beautiful. There is an white metal arch (smaller than this one) and I think we're just going to wind some silk ivy around the front just to soften it a bit. Behind the arch is a small landscaped flower bed that has rocks, bushes and should have some flowers come next March. This will save us on flowers for the actual ceremony. Along the aisle, the hotel does provide a runner which will have petals strewn down it by my beautiful little flower girl, Emma. I'm just going to be saying continual prayer for wonderful weather on our wedding day, March 13, 2010 and I encourage you to do the same.

Along the aisle chairs of the first two rows, we are going to have the exact same flower decoration as the one above. This is just going to designate the family and close friends chairs as well as make the front of the wedding site pop a little bit. Every other aisle for the rest of the chairs we are going to have a toned down version of this with just white roses and greenery.

This is probably my most favorite thing about the flowers so far. I am in love with my centerpieces. I am expecting about 200 people at the wedding and that means with 10 people per table about 20 tables with centerpieces. I definitely knew that I didn't want to do the same thing at every table and I also wanted varying heights at each table. So this is what we have come up with: half the tables will be "high" tables with tall vases filled with Granny Smith green apples and brown stick looking things. Around the base of the vases will be a round mirror provided by the hotel and plain vanilla votive candles. The "low" tables are going to have small square vases filled with water and three green hydrangea flowers, again on the mirrors with candles. I think for the table decoration we are going with cream or ivory linens and then a "T" formation of alternating brown and green sheer material. I am super excited to have this part of the planning out of the way because I was very stressed about making sure that the reception looked good.
Below are several different examples of bouquets that I found. I don't really remember all the flowers that we chose, but I can tell you that my bouquet will be mostly white with green accents and my bridesmaid's bouquets will be the opposite with mostly green and then a little bit of white accents. My bouquet will have a little more loose feeling - almost as if I picked wildflowers from the ground while the bridesmaids will be a little more tightly packed together.

The boutonniere for Craig will reflect my bouquet with a mini Calla Lilly and the groomsmen's boutonnieres will reflect the bridesmaid's bouquets with green and white orchids.

Overall, picking out and discussing flowers made me very excited - partly because we're getting closer to being married, but also because I just want to see my vision come to life. On a separate note, I was reading in one of my bridal magazines and it recommended that a bride meet with at least THREE different vendors for each aspect of the wedding (cake, flowers, DJ, etc.). That absolutely floored me! I don't have that much time to devote to researching and meeting with all those people. is summer vacation, so I COULD have that much time if I wanted to, but frankly...I don't want to devote my entire summer vacation to meeting with people and discussing the same thing over...and over...and over. That statement just seemed a bit ridiculous and I feel very lucky that between the two of our families we have been able to find quality vendors either through family connections or high recommendations.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wedding Favors

One thing that Craig and I really have in common and bonded over in the beginning of our friendship and then relationship is sports. We both love coaching our respective specialties; basketball for him and volleyball for me. We have season tickets to the Stars but also try to hit up a few Mavericks and Cowboys games during the year as well.

We probably could have had an entire sports themed wedding...but I thought that might be a little over the top, as well as something I might regret later in life. :) But I still want to do something that shows our mutual love for sports so I'm thinking about giving out volleyball and basketball cookies as the favors for our wedding like the ones below, but with our monogram (LNC or CNL) on them.

I was also thinking about putting them into little plastic bags (not the ziploc kind) with stickers on them that say "We hope you had a ball! Love, Craig and Laura." Is that cheesy?!

Wedding Cake Inspirations

This Thursday Craig, my mother and I are all going to the Hot Chocolates bakery in my hometown to take cakes and discuss designs for the wedding and groom cakes. We aren't really looking at any other bakeries because this particular place is co-owned by a very good and longtime friend of the family. They know me and know my personality - they aren't "frou-frou" but yet create beautiful and interesting (and yummy!) cakes. Craig already knows what he wants - red velvet with some sort of Dallas Stars theme. I am going to taste classic white, amaretto, italian creme and butter rum to see what I want for the bridal cake.

The tasting part will be easy, but it's the design that will be the difficult part. In preparation for discussing the design, I'm going to bring the following pictures in to show so that they have some sort of idea of what I want.
I chose this cake because of the hexagonal shape. I think that it is unique and a little bit different from the traditional circular or the square cakes. As for the design on this cake, I like the more modern look as well as the interchanging designs from level to level.
I love this design - almost the damask style pattern but I have a feeling that it has fondant icing on it and I absolutely HATE fondant icing. It looks all rubbery and sugary and just grosses me out. If I were to have something like this, I would probably have some curly-q's green and the other ones brown. I probably need to run up to the fabric store and grab a few swatches of the colors I want in my wedding so that Lori (the cake lady) has a better idea of the colors to use on the cake. Note to self...

I'm not sure why I chose this cake, but I like the idea that it's chocolate icing and not the traditional shade of white that you find on the bridal cakes. Our wedding is definitely going to have a "nature" theme (which is kind of funny because we are not outdoorsy people) and I would kind of like for my cake to reflect that theme.

This was another idea that I had - writing the key phrase from "our song" (All I Want Is You by U2) somewhere on the cake. I wouldn't have it as the MAIN look on the cake like this one, but instead I would work it into the overall nature theme. It's another thought...

This cake is pretty similar to the other damask-like pattern cake that I featured above except for one thing: the flowers. I absolutely do NOT want real flowers on my cake. It's a little too traditional and "bridal" for me. I definitely want a more modern and simplistic look to my cake. And plus - it kind of grosses me out that the flowers are going to be touching things that people are going to be eating.

I like this cake for the damask patterns again, as well as the green and brown colors (except for the bright green). The only part that I don't like is the stripes because it's not part of my "chic forest modern hippie" wedding motif.

I've shown this cake before and I really like the simplicity and I can tell that it's NOT fondant which is refreshing because it seems like most cakes nowadays are fondant. I like the delicate branches and little flowers because I think that it reflects what I will have on my wedding invitations. Obviously I would have my own colors...maybe a light green icing with white flowers.
I think that I'm going to bring these pictures, along with the swatches of fabric and a couple of invitations that I have found that I like to the meeting with the cake ladies so that I can really show them what I want. We shall see!!!