November & December Catch Up!

Can you believe it’s been MONTHS since I’ve posted a real post? I’m talking meat & potatoes, not just some cute link or something? I have been a busy gal and time has flown by! I apologize for neglecting you, but I promise that this project has been in my mind. So, let’s catch up, shall we?

November

Chicken Challenge Shepherds Pie. SOOO yummy!

So remember when I began my Chicken Challenge? It was a month of planned meals that would happen based on cooking big on one day, then minimal prep throughout the week. Well, I made it two weeks. It was not the brightest idea to get excited about something like this during a month where eating is a national holiday. However, it was an awesome experience for the two weeks I did it, and I had many more leftovers than I planned. I think perhaps doing something like this every other week would be more suitable for our lifestyle, given that we go to dinner with friends and when we do follow the cooking plan, we are more apt to have leftovers because I eat like a fricken’ bird. Oh, and I also need to incorporate supplemental proteins. I love chicken, but it gets to be too much. After my surgery, I ate so much of it that I reached a point where, like a baby eating something it didn’t like, I found myself unconsciously spitting it out when it was in a mouthful of Lean Cuisine pasta or something. It was like an unintentional aversion. The addition of other meats will probably help the chicken go down a little easier.

We’re kind of a big deal….

So speaking of poultry, let’s talk Thanksgiving. I had it planned to the T, and it was great. The night before, we began the drive to Grandmother’s house, knowing that we’d stop near Allentown for a gig with my new band, Fake MacKenzie. I was actually really excited to start playing with a new Irish group, and what’s great is that we actually get booked (read: paid) often. We have 5 gigs lined up for St. Pat’s weekend, so come check us out. 🙂 Anyway, the traffic was nuts, the gig was awesome, and I got the Gram’s at 2:30 in the morning. The next day I was up and cooking, and it didn’t stop until we ate. But it was wonderful. I got to spend time with my niece and nephews, and even took her and my young cousin to see The Muppet Movie with M. It was amazing!

My cousin, niece and M at the movies

December

Me, in the big box our sofa was delivered in.

As soon as we got home from Thanksgiving, it was right into Christmas mode. First up was planning our annual Ugly Sweater Party! This year, there was a lot of sprucing up of the house because I’m just in super nesty mode, so we bought some new furniture. As you can see, the couch box was pretty huge. The party went off without a hitch, and we had a lot of fun. There were insane amounts of food, but it wasn’t too hard to keep things in check because we had a nice balance of healthy and totally bad-for-you food.

Most people eat cookies at Christmas. My nephew prefers his hand.

Christmas was spent with my family. It was great to see the babies again, because they are adorable. My youngest nephew, Keimani, is just about 6 months old, and he is changing every day. He’s a little flirt, and I love him to bits! M is still a little apprehensive to hold him, but we’ll get there soon. I cooked a lot over Christmas, but we had lasagna on Christmas Eve which is not a tradition, just something my grandmother always threatens after the big hoopla of Thanksgiving. This year, it actually came to fruition and it was really great. We had a lot of time to prepare, so I had extra time to build a gingerbread house with my sister and niece. On Christmas day we had Jewish Christmas with M, who was raised Jewish, and we went to a Chinese buffet for lunch. I got great presents, I gave stuff that people loved, and it was a wonderful occasion.

Rudolph noses with my girls 🙂

New Years was spent with a few friends at a bar in Old City. No drinks for this girl, since a charming perk of having this surgery is that alcohol is absorbed like 20 times faster than before. So basically in the course of sips I am way tipsy, but then because it took so little to get me there I sober up super fast. All this equates to not being worth trying to get drunk. But I’m always a reliable DD, so that works out. 🙂 We rang in the new year, and now it’s the year that we’re getting married! I can’t wait, and neither can M, as illustrated below:

"I'm marrying you this year, so that makes you MINE!" ❤

So now we are 4 months away from the wedding. FOUR MONTHS! How does that happen so quickly? We are putting together the invitations this weekend since my MOH will be in town. They have been a true labor of love, but I’ve also ended up with an invitation that looks like it costs much more than it really did, thanks to imagination, and a lot of man hours in MS Word. We are still battling out what to do with our wedding cupcakes, as the first vendor we considered thought 8 weeks was a reasonable time frame to wait on getting a quote to us. Our second vendor is still a little lax on the response time, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt since it was the holidays.

Past that, we are now entering crunch time to get everything settled, so my stress is amped. So to alleviate that stress, I’m trying to put some new year’s resolutions in place. Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. This year, I will run a 5k. I know I’ve said this before, but I regularly (read: pre-Fall) run 5 miles or so at a clip, so 3 shouldn’t be a problem. But I need to just sign up for one and do it. I’d really like to get this knocked off the list before the wedding, because I feel like the accomplishment would be a nice self esteem boost.
  2. I want to wear a size 8. I am currently a 10 that is getting a little loose. I can, most likely, wear some things in an 8 that would look just fine, but I’m talking size 8 boot cut jeans from the Gap. This is my goal, and should I begin working at #1, I believe this will be attainable.
  3. I will stop drinking soda at home. I am trying to phase soda out all together. I drink diet, so it’s non-caloric, but I just think it’s not good to have. Also, I’ve read studies that say the chemicals in diet drinks may be counterproductive to weight loss, so I’d like to nix it all together. By not allowing myself to drink it at home, I think I will hopefully wean myself from a 30-year habit.
  4. I will pay off my credit cards. This is a big one. I have been working pretty steadily toward paying off the balance I have on two of my cards. When I was unemployed in 2010, I relied on the cards a little more than I should have and I have been chipping away at that debt since. I’m pretty sure this will be paid of soon anyway, but I would love to have this done before the wedding.
  5. I will take care of myself more. I don’t make a lot of time for myself for stupid stuff, like painting my nails. I get a pedi like every other month, and that’s about it. And it’s not about the expense of having someone else do it, it’s just the time commitment of going and the upkeep. But I’ve decided, I will make time to do a face mask, or paint my nails, or do a hair conditioning treatment or teeth whitening – basically, non-essentials that I keep putting off. I will do these things not only for the outcome of having done them, but to just spend a little time with myself and to allow me to shut my mind off from work, wedding and stress, and just enjoy where I am.

    My attempt at festive nails for NYE. It's like champagne and fireworks had a baby.

I’ve thought a lot about where I am right now. I try not to mention it a lot, but the relationship I had before M was one that I wanted to go somewhere. When I realized it wouldn’t end where I’d wanted it to go I had to leave. In retrospect ending that relationship was sad, not so much because of the loss of the guy, but more because of the loss of the life I was so close to having: the house, the cars, the friends. Things vanished when it ended, and I just missed that life because it was one that I’d always wanted. But just the other day, I came home and sat on my new couch. I stared at my wood floors that we’ll refinish together after the wedding. I looked at the end table I’d rehabbed from Craigslist. And as my kitties jumped up next to me to snuggle, I realized that I had that life, the one that I mourned. The difference was that this time, it was all 100% real, complete with a man who wants the same things that I do. It was a really humbling experience to realize that, though the road didn’t look like I thought it might, it still got me to my destination.

We're getting married this year!

I’m really happy for everything that 2011 brought me. I got a new job. I planned an amazing wedding. I made a home with M. And now, in 2012, we will begin our life together. I couldn’t be more blessed, and I can’t wait to continue to share the blessings, both obvious and in disguise, with you this year.

Happy New Year! – A

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January 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

Where is the Line?

Sorry for the little hiatus. I’ve been really busy burning the candle at both ends lately between work, supplemental wedding $ work, wedding planning work, working on my weight loss and having a life. Ok, to be fair I haven’t had too much of a life lately either. Irregardless (Mean Girls, anyone?) I have been thinking about what to write about.

We recently showed Mama M the reception venue. This was, we thought, a necessity because although we would love to have tons of M’s Brazilian family come to the wedding, we are only able to accommodate 90 people in our space, a concept that just didn’t seem to sit well with her. As is, I am already terrified that it will be crowded and would feel much better if we could eliminate a table of 6 and keep it to 84. We thought if she saw it she would understand where we’re coming from and leave the guest list to us. What happened was a little less idyllic. Though her words were carefully selected and a transcript of the conversation would have read positively, her demeanor and tone of voice told a very different story. Instead of focusing on the guest list, she had views of the restaurant. As she was speaking to us about the space, I quickly recalled noticing the same mismatch in language and overtone when we went to her suggested flower vendor. The bottom line was that she didn’t like it.

I went to a wedding a few days after the venue incident. It was held at an event center, one of those places where they give you food on top of food with a side of food. My calorie count from that weekend was insane. Anyway, it was the first wedding I’ve attended since I have been engaged and I felt like I looked at everything with a really different view. Though there is NOTHING WRONG with that style of wedding, it just wasn’t the vibe that M and I have been working toward.

It occurred to me that I think this event center wedding was more of what Mama M wanted for us. I was really sad when I considered that she may not like our wedding at all. Her comments about the venue, about the atmosphere, about the very things we loved about our space hurt my feelings a lot.  I know we are not getting married for her, and pleasing her is not my responsibility, especially since she is not holding our purse strings. But I am still left with this feeling that our wedding, which I’ve spent countless hours putting blood, sweat and tears into so that it would be a beautiful reflection of our tastes and most importantly our relationship, is nothing more than a party that she will attend out of duty and when asked about will respond politely, but will not actually enjoy.

I’m not going to say I’m crushed, but I think I’m disappointed because I have been working so hard to foster a good relationship with Mama M. My family is not close by and I genuinely hoped that she would have a relationship with me where we could do things like go to lunch or bake cakes together and not have a weird air of politeness between us. She certainly doesn’t have to love everything I do, but I can’t see us going very far if she doesn’t want to be close enough to be comfortable with telling me when she thinks a decision I may be making isn’t the right one. And for that matter, I would hope that after defending my choices she would appreciate and respect the decision. I wanted to have a genuine relationship with her, and now I fear that it may just an exercise in polite appearances.

I’m not sure how to proceed, but my experiences with M and his mom have thus far told me that they would prefer the “sweep it under the rug” approach, which is a bit contrary to what I’m used to. My family operates on a “let’s get this out in the open and clear the air” frequency, and I tend to gravitate more toward this resolution. Help me understand: where can I draw a line and let her know that I’m affected by her obvious disapproval on something I’ve dedicated so much to? Or should I at all? For now, I’m still trying to play by the rules instead of making them my own, but I remain leery of telling her about anything else as I fear that she won’t like it. Here’s hoping we can mend this tear in our family quilt.

Thanks for reading. – A

August 10, 2011. Tags: , , , , . 2011. 2 comments.

Sisterhood

My bridesmaids were an easy selection for me. It seemed to us that it was only fitting to have family and very close friends stand next to us on our big day. I have two biological sisters so as to not have either of them fight, my best friend, who is like a sister to me, will be my maid of honor and they will be bridesmaids. To round things out nicely M’s sister, my future sister-in-law, will also be one of my maids.

But I have lots of other sisters. In college I joined a sorority. Now I know you may be thinking all of the stereotypical things about “buying” friends and wild frat parties. Don’t get me wrong, there were frat parties. But there was also this unspeakable bond that I made with many girls who are wonderful women.

I saw several of these women recently. One of my sisters, L, tragically lost her infant son. He was just over two months old when he passed.  As we gathered at the wake, she held us with the strongest hugs I’ve ever had and told us how much it meant that we were there for her. She wore her sister pin of gold and pearls spelling out our greek letters, as we are to for every major life moment. It pained me to think that the last time she probably wore that pin was for our centennial celebration, or even possibly for her wedding 3 years ago.

At the funeral the next day a few other sisters joined us. I watched one run to L and they embraced and cried, one of the few times I saw L actually allow herself to feel the weight of the day. Her mother said to us that though there were lots of people around now that it would be when things calmed down that she would need us the most. Would we be there? I answered without hesitation that I would be there, day or night. We all did. As one of our songs lyrics state, “From Atlantic to Pacific, Sisters, we all stand.” Wherever we are, sisterhood binds us.

It pains my heart to imagine what L is experiencing. Several other sisters were very torn up at the services because they, as mothers, couldn’t bear the thought. It didn’t really hit me until this morning as I was putting on my makeup to go to work – work in a children’s hospital where parents are told every day that their child has become an angel. I broke down at the thought that my beautiful sister had to be told that. I wept for her because sisters share in each other’s joys and sorrows, but also because I wanted so desperately to help her. Then I cried because I couldn’t. The only thing I can do is continue to be a good sister, blood or not, and to show her how much love I have for her.

After I pulled myself together I started thinking about my sister pin. It had fallen off  of my sweater years ago during a ceremony, as they often did because they are so front heavy that the back clasp comes loose with the weight of the pearls and gold. I remember being so sad and searching the sorority house high and low for it. These letters, those pearls..I earned every one of them as I earned my membership into the sisterhood. What’s more, I earned the rights for my sisters, daughters and nieces to join me in sorority sisterhood as well, if they chose to accept the legacy. I’ve since decided to contact our national organization and request a replacement pin, specifically to wear at my wedding, but also to have when other life events come along. It’s so unfortunate that such a sad, sad event happened, but it made me realize that my sisters, all of my sisters, mean the world to me. And even if they can’t be there when I say I do, they will be in my heart, and pinned to my dress. 

If you would like to donate to help my sister L and her husband with the medical expenses incurred helping their poor sweet baby fight for his life, please click here. Every little bit helps so much, and any funds in excess of their bills will be donated to charity. LML to my beautiful sister and her husband. ❤

Thanks for reading. – A

In Memory of Mason Alexander Goff, May 5, 2011 - July 8, 2011

 

July 13, 2011. Tags: , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

What to Do When You’re Not Daddy’s Little Girl

I know this is a little late, but I have been thinking about this topic for a while, especially now since Father’s Day just passed. My story is long and sorted, so I’ll just say that I was estranged from my father for the majority of my life. Only in recent years have we reconnected, and the bulk of my reconnection is really with his sister who is only a few months older than I and his mother. There’s actually a cousin who I’m also friendly with on facebook who is an amazing photographer. Anyway, suffice it to say that he, my birth father, will not be walking me down the aisle.

So who should? My grandfather who, for all intents and purposes, served as my dad passed away in 2008. He was a character, and he gave me a great sense of direction and the ability to joke with anyone, but he was definitely a grandfather and not my daddy. My great-uncle was more like my dad than anything. As a child, he’d take me to breakfast at the diner with his business associates and to the Shriner circus, since he himself was a fez-wearing member. We went camping at the local country club campgrounds and he’d spoil me with little treats when he came home from his business trips. He often told my mother “not to come over without that baby!” and told me things that I didn’t like to eat, like cottage cheese, were foods that I should try because they were good for my “globicles”. He is a father. Sadly, he is also a very sick man who will not be able to make the trip to my wedding. Frankly, even if it were in his very backyard I’m not sure he’d be well enough to attend.

Though there is a part of me that is really sad that my pseudo-dad can’t be the one giving me away, there is an amazing silver lining. Nobody ever said it has to be your father who gives you away. And what is being given anyway? I’m almost 30, the jig is up – I don’t belong to anyone other than myself. But I do like tradition. Some traditions, like those of a Jewish wedding, have the bride escorted by both her parents because it is they who shaped her and made her the person she is. Because of this, I’ve decided to have those who have shaped me walk me to my man: both my mother and grandmother will escort me down the aisle.

My mother is important to me, though I can admit that our bond is not as strong as I would hope. I think now that I’m an adult I’m able to see her for who she is and love her for her qualities instead of having ill feelings because of her faults – and that gives us the room that we need to grow closer. Regardless of what we’ve gone through, she is a big part of me and I see that more and more each day. She is my ability to whip up a meal out of nothing more than leftovers and a spice rack. She is my steady hand that allows me to decorate cupcakes in cute and intricate ways. She is my creative eye that affords me the ability to contribute tons of cute crafty ideas to my big day. And I love her for all of that.

But she didn’t raise me, not completely anyway. She had a hand in it, but my grandmother was there at dance recitals and band concerts. Grama, as I call her, is kind-hearted and gentle in her soul. She has suffered more pain than most should ever have, but I am her joy, her greatest accomplishment as she’ll tell anyone who asks. Her unofficial 6th child, I had every opportunity she worked for me to have and I barely appreciated them at the time. Looking back, I can see how her sacrifices afforded me the ability to make something of myself. Not having her by my side would feel incomplete. I am so grateful for the love that she has always shown me, and knowing that I’m “the love of her life” has always pushed me to reach for the brass ring to do her proud.

I may not be a daddy’s girl, but I have been so lucky to have wonderful people, be them birth parents, surrogate fathers or ancillary mothers, who have raised me to be a proud and self-sufficient woman. When I walk with them on my arm, or present in my heart, on my wedding day, I’ll know that everything I am and everything that I’m offering to my husband came about because of them.

Thanks for reading. – A

June 21, 2011. Tags: , , . 2011. Leave a comment.

Time to Catch Up – December

Almost caught up!! December was a great month. Things FINALLY got settled for my new job, including allllllllllllllll the vaccinations necessary for working in a hospital. (There were a LOT!) This was a huge relief because the wedding no longer felt like it was some sort of fantasy that I was dreaming about. Now, financially, it really is a possibility to have the things I have been dreaming of. Please don’t think this has gotten me out of my DIY duties! December was EXTRA crafty. Our reception venue is a great mix of classic and modern Philadelphia, something we are shooting for as an overall theme, and we are trying to let the venue’s inherent beauty shine through and not compete too much with décor. However, we do want to class the joint up a bit. One way is to include these wonderful place cards I found online that save space on the table and also end up looking like part of the décor. Granted, mine will look a little different, but keep an eye out for the DIY tutorial coming soon!

Our DIY Holiday Sweaters

In addition to crafting, there was a lot of holiday decorating to get festive. We also had an ugly holiday sweater party that turned my DIY skills to illuminated sweatermaking. I’m pretty sure the ugly in these sweaters can only be trumped by ACTUAL ugly holiday sweaters that weren’t made for such an occasion.

M holding our new nephew Kaiden.

The party was great, as were other holiday events. M and I celebrated my first Hanukkah with his mother, who gifted me Judaism for Dummies which I found funny (the gesture, not the book). We also enjoyed time with my family over Christmas, and they weren’t too crazy!

New Year’s found us traveling 12 hours, round trip, to Boston to visit with my maid of honor. We ate a lot, and I had the world’s biggest macaroon that I just finished off yesterday.

Now when we tell people that we’re getting married in 2012, it doesn’t seem so far ahead. I can’t wait to be able to tell people it’s 11 months, 6 months, 3 months away! This year is going to FLY by, but my resolution is to make sure I enjoy every second of it.  🙂

Thanks for reading. – A

January 4, 2011. Tags: , , , . 2010. Leave a comment.