Don’t Let the Budget Dictate the Day

It has been just over 9 months since my beau and I got engaged.  I remember how it felt when marriage finally dawned on me days after his proposal.  I was nervous, ecstatic, anxious, elated, and just simply happy.  I was purely happy!  We spent the next few days celebrating our engagement.  Maybe a few weeks.  It was like we fell in love with each other all over again.  Yeah.  It was great.

Shortly after we came back, I started to do some minor wedding planning.  Wedding colors were picked.  We decided we wanted to do a beach ceremony versus a church one.  We thought of possible locations and started a rough guest list.  I started browsing through Pinterest and created a board to help me visualize the wedding I wanted to have.

The planning excitement was short-lived, however.  Next thing I knew, I was planning my son’s first birthday party in May.  My father was diagnosed with his second bout of cancer in June.  He was hospitalized and cut open shortly after diagnosis.  I gained another year of wisdom.  We moved and relocated closer to my beau’s work.  Packed and unpacked and still unpacking.  October brought Halloween in a rush, and before I knew it, I was cooking a Thanksgiving feast for what seemed like a whole town (okay…roughly fifty people!).

Each day just went by so quickly; I had forgotten I had a wedding to plan.

With four months left before the big day, we were almost forced to start thinking about it, since family started asking questions.  And why not go ahead and ask me if we’d been saving for it?

Big fat no.

wedding-budget-planningI really believe that money shouldn’t be the driving force of a wedding.  I still acknowledge the symbolism of a wedding ceremony, and that simply is marriage.  We could easily keep it much more subtle than what it’s sometimes beginning to seem like, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting a “dream” wedding.  Each person’s dream wedding is different from the other.  Once I thought I wanted to have a cathedral wedding a la Lady Di, super long train and all, 500 guests on the pews.  But thank God that’s all changed now!  A wedding ceremony should be all about the marriage of two people, two souls, two separate groups of families and friends.  It’s easy to forget that with all the glamour of glitter and gold, so I try to remind myself constantly.

And this leads to our budget.  There’s no reason not to have your dream wedding with whatever budget you may have.  I’ve spoken to so many wedding vendors, and I’ve found that most of them genuinely want to give you what you deserve on your day.  If they can’t work with the number you’ve given, then the next steps are to simply hang up the phone and move on to the next.  These days, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t know someone that knows someone who can either DJ or take awesome photographs or do DIY decorations on the side.  This is ultimately what we’ve resorted to in order to really stretch our budget.  From doing the decor ourselves and resorting to minimal floral work to reaching out to our artistic and talented friends for people in their circles who might be willing to do our wedding for a lower cost, the savings are just everywhere.  We really just have to cut the coupons and use them.

Whatever your budget may be, your wedding will be fabulous.  You are having a celebration, and as long as you’re happy, your family and friends will be.  The most important thing is still what goes on inside and not what goes on the tables.

I’ll post some of our budget ideas here as we get closer to our spring wedding.  If one person can have a dream wedding on a budget, so can the rest of us!

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Toddlers on Heels

My two year old has been wearing my heels ever since she started walking.  Actually, she’s got her own one-inch heels collection, thanks to the many costumes and costume sets we’ve accumulated here at home.  Role-playing is a favorite activity in this household, especially since my daughter is now recognizing her ability to “pretend” she is someone else. The only problem is my son, who is now a year and a half, has caught on to the trend of wearing heels.  We have an abundance of girl-type costumes and yet no boy-types at all.  So, halloween was a great excuse for creating an outfit for my little boy.  He was Peter Pan and my daughter was Tinkerbell.

Every year, I try to think of something creative for my children to pretend as for their costumes.  This recent holiday inspired me to create again.  My fiancé asked me how come I don’t make clothes for our kids.  I guess the only excuse is really inexcusable, so I’m not even going to mention.  I should, and maybe I would from now on.

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2012 – Wonderwoman
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2013 – Flo the Progressive agent
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2013 – A last minute Ralph Macchio aka The Karate Kid
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2014 – Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and their Disney friends

 

Here are some other photos of the kids dressing up.

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Superheroes and princesses.  See what I mean about my boy?  Too funny and too cute.

(Also, I just realized I don’t actually have a photo of one of my toddlers on heels.  Oops.)

That Tugging Feeling

I felt it that morning when I woke.  I had slept through the night.  That meant my toddlers dreamt of nice, silly things.  An uninterrupted night happens rarely as a cry or two usually gets me out of bed around 5 o’clock most days just before dawn.  Or at 3 o’clock.  Or both.  That morning when I awoke after a full night’s sleep, I ran to my kids’ room with that tugging feeling as if something was wrong.  And there they were, peaceful in slumber, motionless yet full of life.

There was a certain uneasiness in my gait that morning, as the thought kept drumming in my head: “You need to work out.  You need to work out.  You need to work out.”  I needed to work out.  I had set that unmotivated goal to burn off some of those lazy calories belting the six pack I’m hiding.  I decided to take it to the treadmill while the kids nap later on that afternoon.  I was trying to bide my time with my coffee when that tugging feeling again started to happen.

It was just a missed phone call.  I heard my phone’s vibrations amidst the noise of the kids and the fiancé and the television and the laundry.  Tug tug.  Two missed calls from my sister.  It’s not that she doesn’t call.  She does.  But most of the time, her phone calls were anticipated.  I almost always know when she’s going to call and for what reason.  And never back to back.  Never.  So, an unanticipated, back-to-back phone call from my sister was definitely interesting.  I automatically knew something was off.  It could’ve been a few things.  Help with their move via some babysitting.  Another typical argument with her husband that led to a getaway drive.  A quick break from the stress of her life, a venting of some sorts.  It could’ve been any of those.

It just wasn’t.  I called her back right away.  And as she said the words, I knew it just wasn’t.  “I have news.”  She said calmly.  I froze.

Later on that afternoon, I found myself staring at an image of a girl in the gym mirrors.  I had just finished running two miles, and I just had to sit down, regroup.  The run was unsuccessful in sorting out my thoughts.  I sat on one of the machine benches, staring at my reflection, seeing not a grown woman with two kids but rather a girl, lost in the confusion of life and its purpose and destination.  I saw a girl drowning in the same tears she cried upon hearing her sister’s voice on the phone.  “I have news.”  She said.  She was crying.  My sister was crying.  She never cried.  At least not in front of me.  I come from a family who spared no emotions to each other.  Unless…the moment was dire.

There was that tug again as I walked back home from the gym.  Thoughts were still racing.  Heart was still being pulled by the gravity of life and all that was beautifully tragic in it.  How fleeting was that moment? How sad was our cause?  How small are we really?  Because at the time this was all chaotically happening before me, I felt so tiny and helpless.

Days later, I finally decided to write again.  I thought of selfishly capitalizing on my newfound, grave emotions, but I had already forgotten the ramblings of my head when I first learned that a person in remission can suddenly, out of the bluest blue, be in the total opposite physical state.  And that is simply NOT in remission, my friends.  After being cancer-worry-free the last few years, my father’s lungs has again betrayed him just as he did them a lifetime ago.

Tug tug.  The tugging baffles me as my relationship with my dad is stoic at best.  Between us stands a whole lot of history and a whole lot of “no-history” at the same time, if that makes any sense.  It leaves oceans of stories for another time.  Maybe it’s the grandkids.  Maybe I’ve just gotten older, softer.  I don’t know what it is.  But this second time around that cancer’s decided to come visit my father, it’s just a tad more threatening.  More frightening.  More sinking.  More affecting.  More heartbreaking.

Definitely so much more heartbreaking.  “Papa’s cancer is back.”  She said.

Heartbreak pang.  Intermittent tugging.  Silent tears.

10 Best Relationship Types

Besides the small percentage of the world that practices common polygamy, people are really subject to be engaged in a couple-type relationship at some point in their lives.  Even religious ministers or those who devote themselves to some parochial standard see themselves as having a partner in God himself.  In your lifetime, you might’ve been involved in one, two, or even more out of this list.  It’s interesting to see how we categorize ourselves among our peers whether in comparison or not.  Here’s just a fun way to look at how we see ourselves as couples in a relationship.  Enjoy!

  1. The Book Lovers.  They quote Vonnegut when they’re pissed.  They shower each other with Shakespearean compliments on a good day.  When they cuddle, it’s with a book and not each other.  They don’t talk much.  But when they do, they talk about the latest novel they’ve read.  A good date for these lovers consists of sitting on the floor at Barnes and Noble, surrounded by their favorites, sipping a macchiato, and perusing titles they’ve missed.couple-reading-books
  2. The Ones Who Love To Eat.  The main question these lovers ask is, “What’sfor dinner?”  They know all the best places to eat in town, and whenthey take trips, they go on “food trips.”  They take photos of everything they’re about to consume and make sure that the social world knows about it.  They have member cards to their favorite restaurants and know all the specials from Monday to Friday.  A good date is nothing but a nice meal at a restaurant they haven’t been to…..in a while.1058915.large
  3. The Risky Types.  When you’re risky, you’re risky with everything.  They’re the adventurous type; the ones who like to go 90 on a 45 mph street.  They constantly compete with each other as to who can do the more dangerous thing.  They’ll eat frog legs.  They’ll jump out of planes.  They’ll go hiking on an unmarked trail with nothing but a compass and some jerky.  A good date for this couple is a neck-to-neck speedway race around the track.  Maybe with no helmets on.Jumping Into the Sea
  4. The Theatricals.  They just suddenly burst into song.  For no apparentreason.  Actually, they speak in songs.  Overly dramatic, their clothes mostly often match.  They’re sponsors at the local opera house, and they would pay their membership fees first before they pay their student loan amassed from the theater degree they got from Yale.  Yes.  They went to Yale and got degrees in theater.  A good date for the theatrical couple is a trip to see an off-Broadway show, in which one of them is actually acting in.valentines-18c648d5415d75f1b9c3abc3d26487acf426146e-s6-c30
  5. The Smarty Pants.  They like playing trivial board games because theybeat everyone else.  They have the latest technological gadgets and know when the next upgrade’s coming in.  These smarty pants go to school “just cause” even though they already have three PhDs and two MBAs between the two of them.  They constantly correct each other and hold political debate night for their equally smarty friends.  A good date is staying in and working together on their Coursera classes that are, just ’cause, on track for unnecessary certification.couple
  6. The Nightlife-ers.  They party hard.  All night.  Tuesdays to Sundays.  The social butterflies that they are, they’re in every VIP list they can get in to.  They like the occasional switch up.  So instead of going to a regular bar or club, they go to someone’s party.  They don’t even really like to dance; they just like to mingle.  At night.  A good date for the nightlife couple is a good day spent shopping for what they would wear that night.red-flush-vip-couple
  7. The Nomads.  They’re neither here nor there.  They’re everywhere.  One day you’ll just see a random Facebook post from Aruba, and then next day, you see them posting photos from Jamaica.  Then all of a sudden, they’re in Bermuda.  Traveling literally makes their world go ’round, and they hate to travel without the other.  A good date for these two is a dinner on top of the Eiffel tower, on top of a mountain somewhere, or just anywhere…on top of the world.0-cover-640x410
  8. The Couch Potatoes.  They love to lounge.  The television is their third wheel.  They’re also known as homebodies.  They don’t go out much.  They have three, maybe even four, external hard drives amounting to a terabyte each full of movies and shows they don’t even get to watch.  Our couch potatoes have watched “Lost” several times and still gets shocked every time Juliet dies.  A good date for this couple is nothing but a nice On Demand rental with a bowl of popcorn to devour while sharing a double Snuggie.lau022_blue_double_slanket
  9. The Emos.  They write each other songs and not the “lucky I’m in love with my best friend” types.  They tend to get unreasonably jealous over silly things.  Say, for example, the girl somehow found a new pet cat; guy becomes way too miserable because he isn’t getting the affection he used to get.  So he writes a song about it.  The emos wear their emotions on their sleeves and also think that the world is really against the two of them.  A good date for this couple is nice picnic by the beach during sunset where they each have their own guitars, and they take turns belting out sad tunes for each other.cute-couple-guitar-play-boy-girl
  10. The Workaholics.  These guys are crazy.  It’s hard to imagine how they even keep up with a relationship.  They literally have to pencil each other in.  They make up for it by buying each other stuff with all the money they each make on their own.  They’re powerhouses, and neither of them take no for an answer.  So it’s either they are super compatible that they agree on absolutely everything, or it’s never going to work.  A good date for our workaholics involve some type of lavishness…like a yacht and an extremely expensive bottle of wine, cruising over the Pacific while they both answer emails on their Blackberries.bigstock_Couple_Working_On_Laptop_3989992

Stay tuned for the next installment of relationship types!

Photo sources:
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2.bp.blogspot.com
telecommutenews.com

It Could Happen To Whom?

What could happen?  2014 could.  Let me tell you how it happened.

There are two stories to tell.  The first one happened over the course of four years.  It’s a love story quite like most.  Girl meets boy.  Boy likes girl.  The plot quickly thickens, though, as we find out that boy was at the time taken by a different girl.  Separated yet still tied.  Girl was taken too.  In a technical way.  But not quite by heart.  So girl meets boy, and boy likes girl.  As naturally as the tide comes in, they became great friends.  And as friends sometimes do, girl and boy fell in love.

It was two against the ruling world.  As they automatically changed each other to be his or her better counterpart, their little bubble slowly began to disintegrate, attracting more and more people towards their growing love.  Two years.  And a little bundle of joy became the byproduct of it all.  It wasn’t all painted in tints of colors as they knew life needs a little bit of shading to highlight some type of depth.  The highs were accompanied by lows.  The lows were overcome with love itself.  Love prevailed, and another year given, another bun came out of the oven.  It’s a wondrous thing as the world eventually revolved around two little people.  Two little sets of hands.  Four round eyes looking to discover the world.

And what of our star-crossed lovers then?

It becomes of our second story to tell.  The one which happened over the course of a weekend.  Girl and boy felt a vacation was appropriate.  So they had planned on a weekend to spend in the first city they visited as a couple.  New York City.  Grandpa agreed to watch the kids.  Everything was as set as it could’ve been.  They had left in the early hours of morning that Friday to fly to Charlotte, where they were supposed to get on a connecting flight to their destination.  That never happened as the weather made a Rubik’s cube out of the air transit system.  Several tries to get to New York ended in the same fate – cancelled.  A shot in the dark to fly to Washington D.C. became the last draw.  Next thing they knew, girl and boy were on the phone changing hotel reservations as the doors of their plane closed finally to take them to their new destination.

It was a magical weekend.  The weather was beautiful.  The setting was serene as the snow fell that Saturday morning, while they watched the world turn slowly over breakfast.  They walked hand in hand with a twinkle in each of their steps, maybe as they did when they first met.  They thought of their kids and how they would flourish in a city as such.  They talked of the future with a new sense of wonder that even though they didn’t end up where they had planned, they ended up somewhere even better.

It was a magical weekend indeed, you see, because that was the first weekend they spent together no longer as girl and boy but as fiancée and fiancé.  He couldn’t wait until that weekend, so he proposed to marry her in the quiet of their home with their first-born holding the ring, innocent of what was transpiring but maybe not quite.  If there was a time when simplicity was just utterly underrated, it would’ve been that.

And that’s how my year began.  And this year seems to promise much anticipation as we look towards the day we finally can call each other husband and wife.  The future looks bright with a slate as white as snow.  And with an even brighter optimism, I wish you something just as magical.  Anything could happen.  It could happen to you, too.

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How To Be Romantic On A Budget

Chances are if you have to spend so much money to make your special someone feel extra special, you might have a Daisy Buchanan in your hands.  Don’t fret.  There are many ways to be amorous without buying her or him a mansion on an island.  After all, we aren’t all so fortunate (or unfortunate for that matter) as Jay Gatsby.  Here are a few obvious acts of simple romanticism that aren’t so tongue-in-cheek for the average romantic.  If you find yourself absolutely mushed the heck out, then maybe you aren’t so romantic after all.  Enjoy!

1.  Water: the universal solvent

Take a walk on the pier at sunset.  Kiss her by the moonlight on the beach.  Skip stones together at the lake.  Bathe by the candlelight.  They almost sound so ancient and lame, really.  Try going snorkeling together and find a sea turtle to chase.  Or make her a thoughtful jar of strawberry and mint-infused water.  Go skinny-dipping together wherever you may please…do it in the winter; just don’t get hypothermia.  Then warm each other up.  How you would do that is something I will leave up to your imagination.

2.  Write it by hand

Email is not romantic.  Neither is a Facebook post.  Go out of your short way to write a note by hand.  Props to you if you are a poet.  If you don’t know anything about poetry, google it.  Pretend you are Shakespeare and only a couple of lines can woo the un-woo-able.  Here’s a good one from Hamlet:

Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.

If poetry isn’t your cup of tea, try your true honest words.  The plain fact is nobody reads hand-written letters anymore.  The noble effort will be much noticed.

3.  The classic picnic

Gingham blanket.  Cheap wine and expensive cheese.  Tell her to put a dress on and you can put a flower in her hair.  Get surrounded by old trees.  They carry knowledge you might just hear a whisper of with the wind.  Don’t forget to put dessert in that picnic basket.  Talk about the world and your dreams in it.

4.  If you have to spend, buy meaningful things

Meaningful doesn’t equate expensive.  All extravagant things have humble roots.  If she’s a world class book collector, rummage through book fairs for an unnoticed first edition priced fairly.  If he’s into pricey gadgets, look into accessories instead.  One-of-a-kind or personalized items add a special sentiment to any gifts.  Creativity is the currency of the frugal.

5.  On a whim

Take an unplanned road trip to the closest national monument.  Surprise him with breakfast for dinner in bed.  Take her out for an all-nighter in your pjs instead of staying in.  Steal a kiss when it’s least expected.  Take simplicity on a whim and it becomes something a little bit more magical.

Well, after you’ve read all of that, here’s the short of it: Go bold with effort.  Hard work goes a long way.  If you’re feeling romantic today, make sure you make someone else feel the same!  Have a magically romantic weekend everyone! Share the love!

When A Friend ‘Unfriends’ You

Technology does it again.  Technology has made quick work of something most people will have a difficult time doing.  In one click of a button, it is now possible to eliminate someone from your apparent life.  Problem solved?  Not quite.

Confrontation.  The enemy of the meek.  The initial step to resolution.  The dreaded place in any human relation.  Confrontation.  O how I yearn for thee now.

How does it feel to be unfriended by a friend?  I’ll tell you.

In the beginning was convenience.  The friend of all.  Convenience all the way.  It didn’t matter what transpired, what’s been lost, or what’s going to happen afterwards.  A quick cutoff is always less painful.  I believe it’s the shock factor that desensitizes the brain.  However, pain nags.  And the memory of pain nags even longer.  It’s easy to say short words like, “I’m done” or “let’s not talk anymore.”  Better yet, some people just leave silence hanging in the space between, hoping that the space will stretch to infinity until the silence dissipates and the awkwardness no longer exists.  It happens, true.  And along with the non existing awkwardness also is borne a nonexistent friendship.

Something is much easier than words said or silence combats.  It’s called the unfriend button, so readily available to those so eager to lose a friend.  It’s the simplest message anyone could ever give.  “I’m unfriending you because I no longer want to be your friend.”  No brainer.  Definitely a heart sinker.  Social networking sites make it such a natural thing.

I’m horrible at confrontations.  Three years ago, I very much welcomed such wicked gesture towards me.  After an unexpected and immature and more than likely misread texting war about roommate-type situations, I exploited the silence route to emotional freedom while she, on the other hand, decided to unfriend me.  I didn’t care then.  But worst yet, she packed up her bags and left with two months still on the lease.  Personally, I didn’t think it was that serious.  Really?  But it must’ve been enough for her to take it to that sad, empty level of being strangers to each other again.  You see, we weren’t just roommates then.  We had been wonderfully close friends for about 10  years before that disaster.  10 years of precious fun times and sisterly emotions spent.  10 minutes of careless and tactless texting on both sides.  One click of a finger and voila!  We have become strangers.  We have become two random souls who never talk to each other, let alone apologize for our shortcomings.  It was the quick getaway, the perfect resolution.  However, we didn’t account for the aftershocks of such a high, solid drop.  At least, I didn’t.  And now I feel the effects full on.

It is strange now looking back at it.  So much has changed in my life since then.  I’ve thought about her as a person.  I’ve seen her a couple of times at parties of our common friends.  There’s no more hurt.  The guilt of letting our friendship slip away is what’s haunting me.  There’s only sadness there.  And frankly, I’m afraid to reach out.  I’ve been unfriended once, can I possibly take it again?  And this is coming from someone who will circle around chasing my own tail just to avoid confrontation.  In matters as such, I admit I’m not so brave.  And as much as I strive to be better, it humbles me to think of my many lacks and flaws as a person and how long and narrow that road is to perfection.  Whatever distance we have put between us, it’s still awkward after all this time and even more so now.  And after all this time, I just feel like a closure of some sorts is optimal for my conscientious health.  It bothers me that it bothers me.  It’s a door that needs to be closed, whether we become acquaintances again or not.  Friendship is a long shot, unfortunately.

So when a friend, lover, sister, brother, or someone close ‘unfriends’ you, how do you try to ‘friend’ them back?