Ring Them Bells

The first weekend that we’ve had zero obligations proved to be a very sparkly one indeed.

Yesterday, as Mark and I lay in the bed watching tv, chicken soup simmering on the stove, rain pouring down outside and all of the animals napping on the bed…the landline phone rang.

Yes. We have a landline. That’s a whole nuther post.

The voice on the answering machine told us that my ring was ready for pickup!

I think I gasped all of the air out of the room. We both grinned and got excited. After a bit he got up and got in the shower and went to “run some errands”

I too jumped in the shower and did the quickest hair/makeup cleanup known to man. One couldn’t be Saturday Stinky in front of The Ring for the first time. It just isn’t done.

When he returned we were both just grinning.

“Do you want to go out to a romantic dinner or do you want it here?”

I want it HERE. We have homemade soup on the stove. It’s raining. We’ve been laying on the bed with the animals all day watching tv and laughing and talking and being wholly relaxed. THIS is the life I love. This is where we should do it.

Ok. Hang on he says, then comes back in with champagne for the both of us and tells me some of the sweetest words and opened the box.

SWEETMOTHEROFPEARL!!!

There it sat in that little gorgeous box. Perfect. Timeless. Classic.

When I was little, and even not so little, in various stages of my life I dreamed of this. I dreamed of having a house like this, and a dog like that and a man like him and a ring like that. Mind you, I never thought I would get any of it. Ever. It was just a gorgeous, idyllic dream.

Our ring adventure has been a little bit of a rocky one, and yes we did get engaged October 17th. But when he slipped that ring on my finger at 6pm on November 22nd and said “Shit just got REALLY real”  I said a little prayer of thanks.

Not for this beautiful gorgeous gift I had just received, but for this life that I’m sharing and this family that I have.

I said thanks for the ring too. I mean come on. I’m not a hillbilly.

 

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Oh Happy Day

Friday!

I feel more thankful for this weekend, and I’m not even into it yet. Sitting here in my gym clothes and sipping my coffee and watching the news, I am overcome with relief and joy and anticipation at a weekend with ZERO OBLIGATIONS. I haven’t had, WE haven’t had a free weekend in the last 8-9 weeks. Seriously.

There’s no work, no wedding, no Depot shows, no reunions or college board meetings or trips to anywhere but for the grocery store. I’m happy for it.

Much has been accomplished this week. For myself and my tribe. A lot of changes, both immediate and on the precipice and I feel like they’re all really good. The wedding is coming along nicely, with decisions and choices and purchases and contracts signed sealed and delivered.

This weekend is for whatever we want. The weather isn’t going to be horrible, rainy and overcast, but no snow. HELLO BUFFALO!!! Holy crikey for those guys, yes? We’re going to do some more house cleaning, look into Christmas decorations and moving stuff into and out of the attic. There will be chicken soup per Mark’s request and there will be rest. Blessed, holy rest.

Happy Friday to you!

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Slow day Snow day

It snowed on my birthday when I turned 10 years old in 1980. That really is the last time I can remember snow, substantial snow, in November.

We got 3-4 inches this weekend, and it was glorious. Absolutely glorious. It slows everything down, and God knows, I need some slow down in my life. I feel like…dare I say…I feel like we are finally in the slow down part.

Which is crazy because Thanksgiving is next week and how can we be in a slow down right before the official Holiday Season starts?

I know. It seems ridiculous. But there aren’t any obligations at the Depot for a few weeks. I don’t have any other weekend obligations for the wedding or for work or any outside commitments on the calendar. It’s been crazy go-go-go for the last 8 weeks. Something every weekend.

The wedding is taking shape, coming along nicely.

This past Friday when I got off work I packed a bag and drove up the turnpike to meet Mom and Taryn in Tulsa. We had a room for the night, and had dinner and talked and laughed woke up the next morning and went wedding dress shopping. It was awesome. I miss having them close. I miss just getting to run across town and share a meal or see the boys or just spend some time talking and laughing. So getting some time to just have for ourselves was priceless.

YES we found The Dress.

NO I am not going to post a picture or describe it to anyone on social media. Not until February 28th. Because while I don’t buy into the bad luck superstitions, or some of the behaviors associated with weddings, I do have a love of tradition. SO. No. Don’t ask. It’s gorgeous and I love it and it will be seen soon enough. That’s fair, right? I think so too.

It should arrive the first of January. So cross fingers that happens.

Mark and I get to go to a tasting at the catering company on Thursday night and hopefully that will help guide us on the food/beverage piece of the reception. That part is stressing me out. But I was reminded by my dearest of soul sisters that maybe it’s really more important to be surrounded by those that you love and get the “cheaper chicken”–get the lower cost food and beverage than to provide some fancy food and drink and not invite who you want. So hopefully Thursday will provide some insight on that.

We had some ring issues last week. The custom design track didn’t work out. Horrible customer service, I cried, it was ugly. The fact that I was in my warm house, in a healthy body, crying over something that was such a first world problem only compounded my tears because…ugh. But it’s ok. It has all been worked out. More to come on that soon. It seems as if the details are getting lined up, and falling into place. Brad is working on some stuff for us and as the calendar draws closer to December I check more things off of my list.

Getting a snow day yesterday was nice. I worked from home. Finalized a lot of different pieces and researched more for the job, but I did it from home. When our school system is closed our building closes as well. And while I can go up there and work, it gets chilly. I ran up and worked for about an hour and gathered things to bring home and then worked here the rest of the day. I worked on work stuff and worked on cleaning the house. It’s not perfect yet, but I made good headway into being able to walk through each room and not step over a pile of stuff.

The day also gave us just one more day to sleep later, to slow down and do things on our own timeline. That was some much needed grace.

This morning I don’t have dread. No one here is grumbling about going to work. I have some things to do, I’m hitting the gym for some cardio, tonight is birthday sushi with friends. (yeah yeah, it’s still November, right?)

So, Happy Tuesday on this super cold morning. Coffee cheers to you!

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Date Night

A few days ago Mark started asking me about my weekend obligations and the timeline for that. I have to be at USAO on Saturday at noon for the alumni luncheon. I’ll be inducted onto the Alumni Board of Directors. I’ll go back home and get Mark afterwards and head back to USAO to spend time on campus supporting friends in their department projects. Layne has a few art openings and Katie’s theatre department opens their show. Layne and I will celebrate our birthdays with wine and laughter. So ok, that’s Saturday.

Turns out tonight we are going to motor up to Tulsa to catch Darlingside at the Woody Guthrie Center and spend the night at The Mayo, one of the historic hotels downtown. SQUEEEEE! We first heard Darlingside this summer in Colorado and just fell in love with them. This setting in Tulsa holds 65 people, so really intimate. I’m so excited for our fabulous get-away that I can’t stand it.

This week has been one of major highs and major lows and stress that has settled right between my shoulder blades. Work was a success, I started a new troop, as well as a major frustration, and then the roller coaster came to a stop yesterday and I feel as if I can breathe again. The week was just exhausting.

Mark’s home computer just melted down yesterday. That in itself is reason to get out of town and away from it all.

We are both looking forward to it.

My birthday is Monday, and while we don’t have any set plans…remember when there was ALWAYS a set plan for my birthday?…I have a great weekend ahead. Next weekend I get to meet my mom and sis and look for wedding dresses. My ring is getting close to being finished. Everything is coming together.

Happy Friday, ya’ll.

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Conscious Planning

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me to have found an entire section of the web focused solely on conscious wedding planning. Fair trade, all natural, eco-friendly…all of the buzz words are there.

My favorite thing was printing the save the date cards and wedding invites on seed paper. You know what that is, right? Seeds for wild flowers, or herbs or vegetables in the actual paper and once the event is over, you just put some dirt on it and water and watch things grow!

I really love that idea. Mark and I both love that idea.

Here’s my conundrum. The price of that paper is…pricer than just regular old paper. I’ll be printing everything myself and working to cut costs that way. I’m ok with maybe spending more money on this paper and or even having it all printed for me.

BUT…

Just how many people would *actually plant the invites? Would it be worth the expense?

One thing that I thought of weeks and weeks ago (likely before I was even engaged) was the idea of a wedding registry.

We do not *need anything.

Once again, I will repeat: WE DO NOT NEED ANYTHING.

We just had a garage sale where we practically gave away things so we could make room in this house and that garage for our lives to really merge and be functioning. I have my dishes, his dishes, my two full sets of china…ya’ll I don’t need anything else to find a place for.

And I really do love china and crystal and the pretty things that one would buy a bride.

So my thought and Mark agreed, was to register for charities. Find a way to do a wedding registration for a handful of our favorite non-profits and have that be an option.

We don’t need anything but to be surrounded by love and laughter. Truly. But I know, as I have been one of these people before, that when someone becomes engaged and married you want to DO something, to GIVE something in celebration of it.

So this giving registry seems to be just the right fit for us.

While I love the idea of everyone planting these fabulous little pots of fresh herbs or wildflowers and looking at them in full bloom and remembering our wedding…the reality of that situation looks more like mold spores blooming under the pile of mail that the cats spilled water on from the glass that never got into the dishwasher, when they were chasing around the kitchen and jumped up on the table and wrecked havoc on all things.

That’s what life looks like in this house anyway.

I like the charity registry idea.

So maybe I’m semi-consciously planning this gig. I likely won’t win any awards for saving the world, but hey…

Better than nothing, right?

 

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And Just Like That…

It’s November.

How can that possibly be?

My birthday month, Thanksgiving…some days off work. Countdown to the wedding begins, we all know this time of year flies by without a major life event to bookend the season but this year…I can already hear it.

SWOOSH.

I got home from work today in the mid-afternoon and lazed around watching Netflix. Then we all climbed into the bed and watched some Sleepless in Seattle while I in fact did sleep a bit. Mark and I went on a date tonight to see St. Vincent. It was charming. It was wonderful. The weekends have been so packed, and will continue to be so right up until Thanksgiving. But this afternoon, this evening, maybe even knowing we get an hour back tonight…all was right in the world.

Tomorrow is the Griffin House concert at the Depot, I get to see Audra and Joe. It’s been forever and I couldn’t be more excited.  Next weekend I get inducted onto the USAO Alumni Board of Directors (I got the election results this week!) and will get to spend time on my campus, with my friends, supporting the art and theatre departments. The following weekend I meet Mom and Taryn to shop for wedding dresses.

SWOOSH.

We are finishing up the design on the rings, and hopefully those will be ready in a few weeks, we’ll be signing the contract for our venue. February 28th is the date we’ve chosen and have started to work on the guest list. Budget and all things money keep me from going crazy and inviting everyone I’ve ever smiled at. But I’m enjoying the time, looking forward to all that lies ahead.

It’s chilly outside, making it perfect to curl up on the couch with a cup of hot tea, some soft pants and Pretty Woman on the telly. It’s November, we are on the downhill slide of 2014…I can hear the swoosh…

but I am content.

Just like that.

It’s so crazy how that happens.

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It Almost Got Me…And Then He Did

Yesterday almost got me. I’ve been working for weeks to put together a multi-school parent info night to attempt to a) finally touch all of the interest forms gathered back in August and b) attempt to form new troops as community troops and finally be able to put the Norman leads in the pile that says “done.”

It was a lot a lot of work. Busy work, dealing with each of the 11-12 schools that I hadn’t yet touched. There was no support from the volunteer base here, no communication, which they’re volunteers. I get it. Good lord, please I get it. But I see other people in my department actually getting to work with recruiting volunteers in their assigned area and Oh!! what I wouldn’t give to have some of that same communication. So much easier. Basic questions being answered, insight as to what schools would be a good fit together. So I was going blind on most all of this and the anxiety and pressure of doing it alone and it wasn’t impossible, but the whole “work harder not smarter” thing that it was forcing me to do was making me a bit crazy.

A lot crazy in fact.

Yesterday also brought a parent meeting that I’ve been trying for three weeks to make happen in Shawnee. So I quickly made some materials for the two schools to send home in folders today, and got approval for more materials and then frantically drove there to deliver yesterday before noon.

I squeezed in an appointment with our ring designer and made a few choices there, one step closer to pulling the trigger on that which feels good.

Back to my office in Norman to get info out to the parents for the night’s event, as well as to begin organizing for next week’s event and oh wait there’s another event I need to gather info for and email requests out, and this volunteer who has slipped through the cracks needs help and and and…hells bells it’s time to go look at the wedding venue before I go to the meeting.

By the time I was on my way to meet Mark, I was about to meltdown completely. Full blown hiccup tears and forming my resignation.

“I could quit. I could quit this job and find another one. . . but I want to pay for this wedding, and I told Julie I would stay at least 2 years and I’m really close to being able to say that…and I really like the people I work with, I feel super close real life friends with several of my girls here…but I could quit this fucking job right now and not worry about waking up with a feverblister because I went to that level of stress.”

I tamped that down when we met at the venue and of course the place was perfect. PERFECT. We are still looking at the packages they have and will need to commit to a number of guests that we can afford. There’s no way I’ll be able to invite everyone. I mean, I do need to leave some room on the guest list for Mark’s people. We joke about that. But for all intents and purposes we found a venue and have settled on a date. Once it’s contract-signed official I will announce it here.

After that meeting it was time to go to the library and set up. Tables, chairs, recruitment kit, all of it. And it was just me and that task? That was about to be the straw that broke my back.

“I’ll help you,” he said.

I truly could have cried.

And so we went to the library and set up the room in record time and since I hadn’t eaten enough during the day my stress headache was getting worse by the minute so he left to get me some advil and a coke and while I was still just a bundle of anxiety that anyone would show, or that those who did show would be angry about not having a troop for their girl…

The room was PACKED. I was yelling, (because there were kids and babies crying too) and I know how to project to a room full of people. It was nuts. We walked away with *some paid memberships. MOST will join online because payday isn’t until Friday and or next week. But I got their info to do follow up. I got 6-8 adults that want to step up and form new troops. Ann came after her other meeting just in time to kind of help me wrap it up (we had to start a little early because the room was packed and people were antsy) anyways, I had help getting the room back to order and when I got home my little family was waiting on me and my favorite new tv shows were on and we had a wedding venue.

This job is rough right now. It’s been rough for almost two years. I’m not sure how long I want to live in such a high stress place in terms of employment, but nights events like last night make it worthwhile.

Days like yesterday are fierce, but good LORD it makes life easier to know that someone has my back, from big decisions about money and weddings and life to the simple things like setting up tables and chairs. That unconditional support is worth every bit of the crazy.

 

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Chipping Away

The weekend flew by. We had our all day gig on Saturday which was a fun day, learning experience and time spent with friends, and then I worked all day today at a GS event. In the unusual for this time of year heat and wind. I feel chapped.

But we made some progress on the wedding today. I feel like we are getting closer and closer to deciding on what we want for our day, how we want to celebrate. We made some initial contacts tonight, sent some texts and some emails. We have a venue to look at this week and I hope to hear from our jeweler tomorrow. I hope that we can set the date this week.

Lovely words from beautiful friends have filled my phone with texts, my mailbox with cards and just general lovely well wishes and offers to help support the day. I look at our calendar and get giddy and excited and look forward to celebrating.

But here we are and it’s 10:30 on Sunday night and Mark and Winnie are asleep on the couch and I’m about to fall asleep and would love to not have to work tomorrow since I worked today but I have deadline and pressing things to do so…alas. I’m turning off my brain.

No more wedding and no more Girl Scouts. Just going to snuggle down into this bed and…think about invitations probably…and maybe pinterest some things…but eventually sleep will come.

Our calendar slows way down in two more weekends.

I cannot freakin wait.

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There’s A Band!

So back sometime this summer, we decided to put a band together.

Likely it was one night of sitting around with the Raley’s, good food had been had, good beer was being had and likely the whisky bottle was out by the time someone said…

We should start a band.

Famous last words, right?

Well, we went ahead and decided to do some rehearsing, put some songs together, work on harmonies, and maybe we would just play at the 2nd Friday Artwalk once or twice. We performed our first time out for just our friends here at the house. We used the excuse of a Welcome Home party for Trish and Bruce and for Bill and Rita, but we just wanted an audience who would eat and drink and tell us we done good…no matter how we sounded.

When we got around to the 2nd Friday performance, it was a cold and rainy night so we sang to probably 10 people total for the whole gig. And that was actually fine and dandy. No pressure. We laughed, we sang, it was all good. But because there were some bits posted on social media that were seen by other friends…well we have a gig this weekend. We will be performing three sets starting at noon  (Noon/Two/Four) at the Canadian River Wine Festival down in Lexington. (just a few miles south of Norman)

So whaddya know!

We are called Harvest Reserve. (Mark voted for Sound Holes and got veto’d)

We laugh a lot and it’s fun. And it gives me something to focus on that has nothing in the world to do with Girl Scouts or volunteers or forming new troops or 3000 girls on a wait list who want to play but 0 adults volunteering so that they can.

I’ll let you know how Saturday goes! (Also checking out the winery as possible wedding venue. ;-)  )

 

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The Man, The Mountain and Those Two Dudes Under The Puppet

When we left for Harvest Fest last Wednesday, we were in that frenzy “getallthethingscrossedoffthelist” but we did. We got the car packed and all of the things in Tetris like fashion and off we went to meet Trish and her fam and then BOOM! We were on the road and the work phone was turned off and left at home and all things were possible and right!

Getting to Mulberry Mountain so early (We have never set up camp in daylight before at that place) meant that our campsite was SUPER close to the festival grounds and for one moment we were unsure about the noise and how that would work out but we rolled with it and proceeded to set up the three tents, one potty tent, two pop-ups which became our kitchen and living room, complete with hanging lanterns and floor heaters. We really don’t mess around.

I will tell you that camping is still one of the best things, in spite of the mattress with the slow leak that makes you feel like you’re sleeping on a sloshy waterbed by the morning, in spite of the cramped conditions and the hippy kids that you can hear talking from your tent at night, in spite of dude with the booming voice who clearly does not care about anyone else in the camp when he begins his stupid talking at the earliest possible hours of the morning.

I will tell you that the music was amazing. We saw the Jayhawks give a great show, The Oh Hello’s, Rose’s Pawn Shop, Trampled by Turtles all in one lineup on Thursday. We were all so exhausted that we were almost crying trying to stay up for TbT and when we stumbled back to camp and went to sleep and froze our bippies off on the coldest night ever, it really didn’t matter. We slept. We awoke. We had great camp coffee and breakfast and did it all over again!

Mark and I talked several times about being there two years ago and the magic of it all. About how things all started at that festival and about how this year is different but still awesome. We knew that it would be a different festival but we kept finding moments of magic and just laughing with each other about “remember last time…?”

I will tell you that the weather could not have been more perfect. Gorgeous temps, sunshine enough to need sunscreen during the day but breeze enough to keep things cool and enough shade to seek solace at times when we needed it. It was perfection.

Friday was a good day of music and I wish I could tell you who we listened to but I cannot. I know that we drank delicious beers, we napped, we listened to music, we ate amazing pulled pork sandwiches at camp and then suddenly it was the evening and Mark was just tweaky. Every time I would look up he would be gone somewhere. I couldn’t keep track of him.

The group had decided that we would just park our chairs at the main stage and sit and watch the lineup and have a chill night. The music was good, but no one made us lose our minds. The hula-hoop watching was pretty spectacular though. At one point, Mark reappeared and said come with me. We walked over to the giant octopus puppet–there are giant puppets that during the shows, people will either wear or take out into the madness of hippy stew that happens at the front of the stage and it’s pretty fun to watch–we danced under that puppet two years ago–the puppet wasn’t out in the madness yet so we walked over and under it and Mark turned to me and said:

“Will you marry me?”

I was shocked and crying and laughing and of course I said YES YES YES about a thousand times. We were both laughing and crying and kissing and hugging. And then at one point, he said, “Oh I’m supposed to be on my knees, right?” So he got down on his knees and asked me again and again I said YES YES YES and more laughing and more crying and more talking and hugging.

At one point I looked over and there were two dudes laying on the ground under the puppet clearly just tripping hard on something. They giggled at us, all glassy eyed and one turned to the other and said, “dude I am never going to forget this moment!” (at which point he likely forgot that moment completely)

And once again, our lives changed at that festival, on that mountain. Just like that. Forever.

We had no cell service on the mountain so it really was just us for another day, lots of laughing and hugging and well wishes. We decided that no internet broadcasting until our families were told and when we finally did the world just unleashed so much love and happiness our way that it felt like we got engaged all over again!

We are on the search for the perfect ring, we have just barely begun discussing what we want to do in terms of a wedding/ceremony/celebration/event. Life is trying it’s best to get back in front of us with work and the Depot and obligations and all things clogging up the calendar.

I will tell you though…that we are both so happy. We feel the love and the light from all around and can’t wait to see what’s next!

That mountain…it is magical.

Life is good.

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