The Journey to Forever

For as long as I can remember, fostering and fostering to adopt has been on my heart. It’s been something as clear to me as breathing. Showing love to precious children who otherwise might not be shown love. Giving them a chance to blossom into the best version of themselves. Supporting and hugging them when they otherwise might not have the chance to feel what it means to be encouraged.

My husband, Adam, and I discussed my desire for fostering to adopt early in our dating years and he felt the same way I did. We knew eventually this would be how we chose to grow our family.

A little over two years ago, we began the journey having no idea how it would pan out or how long it might take, but we had faith that everything would happen when the time was right.

We submitted for different broadcasts, sent to us from our agency, which we felt we could take on, and waited. Then waited some more. Then everything started happening pretty quickly. We were picked as one of the final three families for 2 sisters.

2 sisters whose pictures I fell in love with the first time I saw them because they reminded me so much of my sister and me as kids.

They looked like us. It was uncanny.

Adam and I prayed, wished, hoped, and dreamed as we waited to hear the final decision. We dreamed of the life we could have with these girls in our home. The places we would take them, the music we would introduce them to, the activities we thought they’d enjoy.

Then we got the call.

We were picked!

We were overwhelmed with happiness, but also fully aware that we still had hurdles to jump as the journey was only beginning. We got to meet the girls at a McDonald’s playground for a few hours to introduce ourselves and get comfortable with one another. I’m not going to lie, this was forced and awkward. It’s an indescribably foreign (and supervised) situation that you’re never prepared for. We took little goodie bags for the girls with some coloring books and activities we thought they’d enjoy and, slowly but surely, they began to open up to us. By the end of the meeting, they were singing “Hello” by Adele to us and calling Adam goofy. Our hearts were invested. These were going to be our daughters.

A court date came and went and we got to have a few private weekend visits with them. We booked hotel suites and got to have time with them to play, laugh, sleep, and learn more about each other. We quickly learned that laughing was one of their favorite things and that they had a fiercely protective love for each other. They fell asleep cuddled up and hugging on the pull out sofa.

They told us they loved us.

Our hearts melted.

We couldn’t wait for them to be with us.

Weeks passed at a snail’s pace and eventually, we were given a placement date where they would get to move into our house. We visited the elementary school administrators where we’d enroll the oldest and got the youngest enrolled in a preschool.

We got their room ready.

And their closet.

Then our doorbell rang and they were here.

Cautious.

Scared.

Confused.

We gave them hugs. We showed them their room. We introduced them to our dog. They began to warm up.

The next 7 months have passed in a blur. Some days we wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but those are few and far between. Mostly, we just laugh, love and watch in awe at how resilient these girls are.

We cannot fathom what their life was like up until this point, but we try every day to meet them where they are and show them that they are safe, loved, wanted, and cherished in our home. By us. By our families. By our friends.

They’ve flourished since arriving in our home and just in the past few weeks (roughly 8 months post placement) we’ve had pinch me moments and met milestones with them we weren’t sure would ever come.

We’ve seen them dress our dog, Senna, up as a princess. We’ve taught them to ride bikes. We’ve watched them learn to swim. We’ve watched their complete and total excitement to see the ocean for the first time and learn to jump waves. We’ve heard them tell secrets to our parents. We’ve built hundreds of Lego projects and put together countless puzzles. We’ve taught them to jump into a pile of leaves without a care in the world and pushed them thousands of times in swings.

Crayons have taken over our coffee table and toys have taken over our house. Their beds are covered in a mix of my old stuffed animals and their new ones. Front rolls and cartwheels are daily occurrences. Pony rides, picking strawberries, calling the Hogs, and singing karaoke have all happened with glee.

Is the hardest part behind us? Who knows. Nothing in life is ever promised, but we’re so incredibly lucky that we were picked for these girls and are happy that forever has finally come for them.

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And then there were three…

Meet Senna.

Senna likes to be lazy.

Senna likes to go on hikes.

Senna can shake.

Senna loves toys.

He carries them through the house.

Then settles down in the den.

Within 5 minutes…

The toys will end up like this.

Thank goodness he’s a cutie.

Mölkky

Several years ago, I visited Finland with my mother and sister. We had a wonderful time staying with a past exchange student’s mother in the quaint countryside, eating traditional home-cooked meals, braving windy days, and strolling cobblestone streets.

In our downtime, we were introduced to a traditional Finnish game called Mölkky (or, as I like to call it, The Finnish Log Game). The game is simple to play and we quickly became addicted to playing it every night of our stay. Towards the end of our trip, I made it my mission to purchase a version of it to bring back to the states. This game has followed me to every picnic, team outing, beach vacation, retreat, and BBQ I have attended in the last 3 years. It brings out the competitive streak in my most mild-mannered of friends and sometimes leaves us scratching our heads as to how a stick of wood can bounce around a pin mere centimeters away.

This weekend I took my Finnish Log Game to a women’s retreat with the church Adam and I have been attending in Austin, and once again I found lots of people enjoying the game and wanting to play many times over. It reminded me to bring it out hibernation when I’m at home, because I love playing it so much.

As with many games, I’m sure the rules I learned to play by are quite different that the original rules, but who cares when you’re having fun?

And yes, I’m aware that video was filmed in France – not Finland – but it was the most fun representation I could find 🙂

Vinyasa YoMG

I’ve never understood how yoga could be a workout – I’ve tried a couple of at home DVDs and got bored within 5 minutes, maybe 10, because the pace was so slow and I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of the stretches. I’ve often called it a “pansy” workout – stretching for an hour? How does that qualify as legit exercise?

Never. Again.

Last night, Adam and I took our first ever Yoga class at Black Swan Yoga. Since we were both newbies to Yoga, we opted to take the Vinyasa class as it was one of 2 classes recommended for beginners – the other was Hatha. I’m not gonna lie and say I wasn’t nervous, I was, but more than that I was less than optimistic that yoga would be a workout equivalent to my Jazzercise or Adam’s cycling. I wasn’t expecting to sweat, I wasn’t expecting to be sore. In fact, it’s safe to say I didn’t really have a lot of positive expectations going into the class.

We arrived about 20 minutes before class began, took off our shoes, and staked out a place in the back corner of the L shaped studio. Adam confirms with the teacher that this class will be good for beginners and we wait. We watch as people begin to stroll in and before we know it the class is full and there’s less than 6 inches between the mats. I hope we don’t lose our balance and fall over.

I was expecting an instructor front and center going through the poses with us, but instead she vocalized the commands as she walked around the room while her partner helped to correct technique and posture as we went through the poses. Adam and I relied on those around us to figure out what pose to do next. As the class progressed, the sweatier I got. There were also a few un-zen like moments where I mouthed to Adam very unloving statements, because HOLY HELL I WAS HOT and this wasn’t even labeled as a “sweaty” or “hot” class. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever sweat that much in my life. I’m talking dripping off my nose, pooling on my back, and hands slipping on my mat.

Once the class finished, THANK GOD, we gathered our stuff and headed to the car. The first thing Adam said to me was “that was harder than a 4-hour bike ride”. I’ve never done a 4-hour bike ride, so I can’t attest to the validity of that statement; however, I can say that it was without a doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Who’d have thought stretching could work you that hard? My muscles didn’t seem that much looser after class like I expected them to feel and my shins hurt like whoa, but I did feel pretty relaxed and like I could go to bed immediately.

This morning I woke up and didn’t really feel all that sore. In fact, I didn’t feel sore at all. Well, until an hour ago when I got up from my desk to grab a fresh glass of water.

My shoulders are sore.

My neck is sore.

My biceps and triceps are sore.

My thighs are sore.

I’m sorry for every thought I ever had about yoga being wimpy, it’s far from it. And this morning? I kinda want to try another class.

Napa Valley Honeymoon

The morning after our wedding we hailed a cab, which had just dropped off Joe Jackson at a nearby IHOP (For real. A friend who was randomly at the same IHOP vouched that he was there) and headed to the airport. Apparently, Mr. Jackson was craving pecans and didn’t tip the cabbie.

I digress…

Our honeymoon took us to Napa Valley, where we holed up for 5 days at The Cottages of Napa Valley, eating, drinking, and generally being married.

Cottages at Napa Valley

I had a small weight gain during the trip, which I attribute to the daily pastry baskets which were discreetly delivered to our doorstep each morning. They looked something like this:

pastry basket

Our first full day in the valley took us to Sonoma. I absolutely adored their quaint downtown area full of locally owned boutiques, museums and tasting bars. On this day we also had a stroke of amazing luck. We drove by a little hole in the wall restaurant called Schellville Grill and decided to stop for lunch. Turns out, Guy Fieri has featured it on the Food Network. I opted for a salad while Adam enjoyed a sandwich. After our meal, we paid (including a tip, don’t call us Mr. Jackson) and headed to our car. That’s when “Uncle Bob” ran over to greet us from his Prius.

Uncle Bob: Are you folks wine tasting today?

Adam: Yes sir! We’re on our honeymoon and just getting started for the day.

Uncle Bob: Congratulations! You should make a stop at Ravenswood. Take my card and tell them Uncle Bob sent you.

Adam: Thanks so much, we’ll be sure to check them out.

Me: So nice to meet you! Have a good day.

We went our separate ways and as we were pulling out of the parking lot, I looked at the card and saw that it was not only Uncle Bob’s business card, but handwritten on the back was 2 free tastings courtesy of him. Typically in Napa Valley you pay anywhere from $10 – $25 per tasting, some wineries let you split tastings, but not many. Thanks to Uncle Bob we saved $30…and used our savings to buy the best Moscato either of us have ever tasted. We’d have never gone to Ravenswood if not for Uncle Bob.

Kaz Winery was also an off-the-beaten path find for us. When we passed the painted wine barrels at the entrance? Adam made a U-turn. Thank goodness for that. Kaz was an understated, no frills winery and had a metal chicken greeting guests at the front door. Though they specialized in dry wines, I was entertained by their random assortment of 80s vinyl while Adam sampled wine. He even got to cork his own bottle!

Sonoma

Day 3 is better known as the day Adam tried to kill me. Ok, not really, but it sure felt like it – and it was my own fault. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Adam’s an avid cyclist. Me? Notsomuch.
  • Adam wanted to rent a tandem bike in Yountville and, being the head over heels in love new wife that I was, I cautiously agreed.
  • Adam wanted us to ride a short 14 mile loop and promised we’d stop at wineries that look appealing along the way.
  • Adam and I are both 6’2″. The back seat of a tandem is not built for a 6’2″ person, so I got to ride for 14 miles with my mid-thighs on a bike seat.
  • Adam failed to mention…err, remind me…that cycling typically means you ride on highway shoulders as cars zip past you at the marked speed limit, or faster. Including large trucks.

Let’s just say I freaked. out.

And could barely walk for a day and a half after the ride.

But hey, we got some good pictures.

Winning.

Day 4 was our last day in the Valley and we made the most of it. We woke up early and headed north. It’s safe to say I drank tasted more wine that day than I have in my entire life. I was quite the cool cucumber.

We walked into a castle, but decided to save our tasting money for a winery up the road we had heard a lot about, Sterling Vineyards. We splurged at this winery, getting the full package for tasting which included an additional 3 tastings after the winery tour – for a total of 7 tastings. All were fantastic, but the highlight of this winery for me was the gondola ride from the parking lot to the winery. It was so serene and beautiful.

Chateau Montelana was also a highlight for us, as we had just watched the movie about it on Netflix in our cottage the night before. The grounds of the Chateau were absolutely breathtaking.

We ended our last day in Napa Valley with dinner at Bottega. We shared our first risotto and indulged in some amazing truffle-parmigiano fries. Adam ordered “Smoked & Braised Natural Short Ribs” with a whole grain mustard spaetzle, Sicilian pickles, quince paste & smokey horseradish jus, while I ordered the “Forno Roasted Chicken Breast” with “Marsala” sautéed forest mushrooms, marinated grilled onions, truffle honey and sherry vinaigrette. Both dishes were exceptional and at the end of the meal our waiter convinced us to order the house chocolate “cake” that wasn’t listed on the menu. It. Was. Phenomenal.

Our final full day in California took us back to San Francisco, with a slight detour thanks to Adam. Turns out Highway 1 is Adam’s dream road. At least in the US.

My hubby is a HUGE Top Gear fan and took this opportunity to channel his inner Stig. Let’s just say I have never seen him so chipper and filled with glee than I did while he was driving on Highway 1. Meanwhile, I was busy saying “OOOHHH! Pull over, I need to get a picture” or “OMG!!! REAL SEALS!!! IN. THE. WILD!!”

Highway 1 was incredible and I think Adam summed up the scenery best when he said, “This is proof God exists.” I have to agree, as I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Mid-way down Highway 1, I mention that I’m feeling a bit hungry and since it was almost time for lunch, Adam informs me that he already scoped out a place for us to eat in Bolinas. Unbeknownst to me, Bolinas is costal community known for its reclusive residents – I’d call them full out hippies, but that might not be PC – who TEAR DOWN any sign providing directions into their unincorporated community.

Thanks to Adam, we managed to find the town just fine.

I think the status I posted to Facebook as we were entering the “downtown area” sums up my feelings perfectly:

I have officially never felt more out of place wearing J Crew than I did when Adam pulled up in front of a “think globally eat locally” cafe for lunch in a very hippie “socially acknowledged nature loving town” called Bolinas. Needless to say, he loves me so much he didn’t make me get out of the car.

And it’s true, I was so scared of what the hippies reclusive residents might do to me that I refused to get out of the car for lunch.

It was a wonderful trip and was exactly the relaxation we wanted after the hustle and bustle from our wedding festivities. Now I just have to figure out when we can go back – I miss our cottage…and the wine.

Wedding Recap: The Reception, Part II

The one thing I was adamant about throughout the planning process was a reception that reflected the type of couple Adam and I are. We like to goof off, relax, listen to good music and spend time with family and friends. That’s exactly the reception we had. Our reception was high-energy and laid-back and allowed us to be ourselves around our friends.

Our DJ allowed us to create a playlist prior to the reception with music we thought our guests would be most receptive to and, while I stressed a bit about this element of the wedding, it turned out better than I ever imagined. Our dance floor was packed the entire night! Apparently we had a good mix of oldies, line dances, and current hits. 🙂

While we twisted,

my dad shouted,

and my aunts shimmied.

Guests jumped…

and threw their hands up in the air like they just didn’t care.

There were even a few sisterly dance moments.

And then the DJ played “Single Ladies”.

Remember the whole “Operation: No More Beyonce” thing and the fact that I’m slightly addicted to Jazzercise? I worked with my coordinator to loosely stage a flash mob, after I contacted my fellow Jazzercisers mere days before the wedding.

Yep, our reception had a Jazzercise flash mob in the middle of the dance floor.

It was so much fun dancing with my instructors and other Jazzer-buddies who drove down to celebrate with us! I seriously love those women!

There’s even video evidence of our Jazzer-moment!

Then I got sick…light-headed, stomach turning, overheated.

Note to future brides: don’t go a full day on only apples and caramel sauce, get married, then expect to dance the night away in your wedding dress.

Adam got me a bottled water, then got Heather, our coordinator, to come help.

So while my guests were doing this:

and this:

and this:

I was doing this:

Yep. I missed doing the “YMCA” at my own wedding.

But I was soon back out on the dance floor just in time for the “Time Warp”. My sudden weak state was nothing several bottles of water and a plate of food couldn’t fix.

While I went back to the dance floor, Adam went to hang with his family. And by hang, I mean totally goof-off.

Then it was time to drag him back out to the dance floor for the “Cha-Cha Slide”…

…before ending the fun-filled night with a sparkler getaway and a kiss to seal the deal.

We were officially married and on our way to Napa Valley for our honeymoon!

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: The Reception, Part I

I’ll admit, we threw our amazing coordinator a huge curveball during the planning process when we told her the location of our reception. I wanted to create a warm, romantic, and vintage setting. In my hometown’s concrete and cinder block armory.

She accepted the challenge without hesitation and transformed the space beyond my wildest expectations.

Our reception began with a Wedding Party Entrance to The Beatles – All You Need is Love which took us right into our first dance as husband and wife to Adele’s cover of Make You Feel My Love

During our dance, we agreed that we felt very awkward dancing by ourselves in front of our family and friends. I also remember Adam goofing off during our dance, I think he was rapping along with Adele – which doesn’t really fit but, as always, made me laugh. I love that our photographer captured that moment.

Next up, was my father-daughter dance. My dad selected Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World for our big dance – which was only a mere warm up for the rest of the night.

After we showed off our fancy footwork on the dance floor it was time for Adam’s mother-son dance. Adam’s mom chose Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You Dance for their special moment.

I absolutely love the looks of pure happiness on both our parents’ faces during these dances. Wonderfully captured by our photographer, yet again!

Once the dances were done, our coordinator whisked us away to cut the cake. In fact, we were whisked so fast that our parents missed us cutting the cake. Thankfully, we have pictures that captured the excitement and yumminess!

Our coordinator surprised us with some vintage forks I had been lusting over for months from Etsy. It was at the moment she presented the forks to us that my emotions from the day finally overcame me and I shed some very happy tears. Heather truly was the best!

After the cake cutting, Adam gave a speech thanking our guests for coming and celebrating our special day with us. We also wanted to thank our guests personally and went from table to table in an attempt to do so.

At the end of Adam’s speech, we led our Razorback loving guests in a Hog Call. It was only fitting since we intentionally picked our wedding day based on the Razorbacks’ football schedule – our wedding day was one of the only bye weekends of the season.

Throughout the rest of evening we had a few scheduled “events” for special moments. First up? A sorority sing. My Alpha Delta Pi sisters are the best and I was so honored that they made the trip to the middle of South Arkansas to celebrate with us.

Then, of course, we had to have the garter and bouquet tosses towards the end of the night…

Our reception wasn’t all structure and formality. After the cake was cut, the guests were thanked, the Hogs were called and the buffet was opened, the dance floor became a happening place…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: The Details

Everyone has a specific part of weddings they love. For some it’s the ceremony or the way a groom looks as his bride is walking down the aisle. For others it’s the bride’s dress or the reception.

For me, it is all about the little details. The things guests may or may not pick up on immediately, but that have importance to the couple and their families.

Immediately after I got engaged, I started stalking wedding blogs and trying to determine a vision for our big day. I’m a Southern small town, Anthropologie loving girl and knew I wanted to bring in bits of this throughout the ceremony and reception.

I emailed picture after picture to my mom of mason jars, lace, burlap, and wheat. I overwhelmed her and confused her. In my head I knew exactly how I wanted my wedding and reception to be, but telling it to someone else? Not that easy. Eventually we got on the same page – understated elegance with a romantic rustic chic feel.

I loved my bouquet and I loved that I was carrying a part of the strong women who were no longer here with me down the aisle. In memory of my grandmother Gran-Merle, we pinned one of her brooches to it, which served as my something blue, and wrapped the bouquet in a handkerchief which had a border tatted by my great-aunt Lila.

In the months leading up to the ceremony, my mom worked tirelessly on various “mom-jects”. She sewed burlap table runners, found beautiful iron work medallions at a steal to use for mason jar candelabras, created perfect burlap bunting banners to hang at various places throughout the reception, sewed pillows and cushions for our hay bale lounge, hot glued lace to french pails, cleaned antique medicine bottles and glassware, made moss letters and burlap wreaths. And just one week before the wedding? She stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to bake 72 dozen of her famous dishpan cookies as favors for our guests.

Details

She was quite busy and I’ll never be able to adequately thank her for all of the love she poured into making our wedding day absolutely everything I imagined.

Meanwhile, I was busy designing the program and other paper goods for the ceremony and reception using a few free graphics from the Wedding Chicks website which I manipulated to fit my overall vision.

The family fun didn’t stop there, though. My dad and uncle built a screen out of old doors my parents salvaged from the 110+ year old victorian home I grew up in, all of which had been kept in our shed since they remodeled the home in the late 80s and early 90s. My dad also cleaned up his old tandem bicycle that had been stored out in the shed for as many years as the doors.

Adam and his brother joined in the project fun as well, bringing wine barrels from the winery Adam worked in throughout high school and college which would serve as the “legs” for the groom’s table and my sister brought her large collection of wine corks to fill additional mason jars for the groom’s cake stand.

The effort that was put into these details by our families helped to make my wedding day all that I dreamed and more…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: The Ceremony

I wanted our ceremony to take place in the sanctuary where I spent every Sunday of my childhood.

The sanctuary where the kneeling pads my grandmother Ottie helped to needlepoint are placed around the altar rail.

The sanctuary where I have so many wonderful, peaceful memories.

I wanted to make a new memory in the place where so many of the memories that shaped me into the woman I am today were made.

Well, we made many memories that day. From the chills I got as soon as the organist began playing the processional music for the bridesmaids – a song I had chosen in memory of Ottie, The Wedding Processional from The Sound of Music, to how I felt right before I walked down the aisle alongside my father. The memories were only beginning.

As I walked down the aisle towards Adam, I faintly remember seeing friends and family out of the corners of my eye, ecstatic to be able to share this moment with them.

I remember looking at Adam and seeing the look of sheer happiness across his face. I couldn’t stop smiling.

It was time.

We were ready.

After my dad presented me, the preachers began our traditional Methodist ceremony. Everything was moving along perfectly until the first prayer.

That’s when my sister realized she forgot the ring.

Thankfully, our coordinator, Heather, sensed that Madeline had forgotten the ring and was already halfway down a side aisle when it was time to place it on Adam’s finger.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough to save Madeline from embarrassment. When the preacher asked for the rings, Madeline had to admit her mistake – which was the first moment Adam and I knew what had happened.

Madeline hates to draw attention to herself – specifically embarrassing attention – so this moment couldn’t have been more perfect for me and I laughed heartily at the altar.

Then I exchanged a forgiving smile and a high-five with her – yes, you read that right, we high-fived at the altar – before taking the ring and placing it on Adam’s finger.

The moment we exchanged rings was surreal for me. This was actually happening. I was becoming Adam’s wife!

I remember Adam proudly and loudly repeating each line of the vows after the preacher and I remember the look of complete commitment in his eyes. It warmed my heart and showed me a new side of him that I immediately loved.

After a final prayer it was done.

The ceremony was over and we were taking our first kiss as husband and wife.

As we were exiting the sanctuary, I felt a swell of happiness greater than anything I had ever felt before. It was overwhelming and exciting and the perfect emotion to ramp me up for our fun-filled reception…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: Wedding Party

Our  wedding party was the best!

Just as I wrote of how wonderful my bridesmaids were, the same could be said for Adam’s groomsmen. They were attentive, hilarious, easy going and supportive all day long.

Made up of siblings and close friends, there was no other group I’d have wanted standing in support of the commitment Adam and I were about to make to one another than this.

They were willing to hold one of several bunting banners my mom made for our wedding day…

Willing to stand in rocky alley way terrain for a less traditional photo-op…

Willing to wear matching shoes and socks…

Willing to put up with Adam’s excitement…

And, most of all, willing to put up with our shameless displays of affection in the moments leading up to the ceremony…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: First Look

Adam and I chose to have a “first look” prior to me walking down the aisle and I’m so glad we decided to do this! After exchanging our gifts and putting the final touches together before our wedding party pictures, our photographer whisked us off to the garden of the church between the education building and the sanctuary for our only chance to be alone on our wedding day.

Adam stood with his back to me and between the coordinator and photographer we had a timed photo opportunity, followed by several moments of alone time to soak up all that was about to happen without interruption. It was perfect.

Seeing him for the first time, EVER, in a tux was great in and of itself, but knowing that in just a couple of hours he would be my husband made seeing him at this moment even more special. I was overwhelmed with joy.

I was full of love.

I wanted to know if he was nervous.

He wasn’t.

And just as soon as we were left alone, we were swept back into reality for wedding party pictures…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Wedding Recap: Getting Ready

While home for Christmas, Adam and I received our gorgeous wedding album and disk of images from our photographer, Karen Segrave of KES Weddings. Ever since then I’ve been itching to share the story of our wedding day with you. From getting ready, to the “I Dos”, to the par-tay following the ceremony and everything in between, I’ve decided to break our day up into a series of blog posts.

Let’s begin, shall we?

On the morning of our wedding, my bridesmaids and I gathered at a local salon in my small hometown to have our hair and makeup done. My sister served as photographer at the salon – which would explain why there are no pictures of my maid of honor getting ready.

First up was Sydney, a hometown friend I’ve known for my entire life – and hers.

Sydney

Then my hilarious sorority sister, Sarah got her pouf on.

Sarah

Following Sarah was another sorority sister and sweet friend, Lauren – whose hair had never held a pouf until my wedding day.

Lauren

My bridesmaids were awesome that morning. We laughed, we played Tribond, we chatted about life and we enjoyed the Southern small town requisite lunch of Sonic. Well, I should say they enjoyed Sonic, I was given strict instructions by my wedding coordinator, Heather, not to eat anything greasy so I had apple slices and caramel sauce while the smell from everyone else’s greasy goodies filled the air.

Leading up to my wedding I had no idea what I’d be like on my wedding day. Would I be nervous? Manic? Stressed? I actually ended up having a tremendous feeling of peace all morning and in the minutes leading up to the wedding. And, in addition to peace? Complete and utter happiness. I’m still shocked my cheeks weren’t sore the next day, because I’m pretty sure I had a smile all. day. long.

No Makeup

Ignore the lack of makeup…I know I’m scary

Around mid afternoon, our photographer arrived at the church to begin capturing our day. I had taken my dress, veil, and other belongings over to the church earlier that morning so that all I’d have to worry about once my hair and makeup were done was getting dressed at the church.

Photography by KES Weddings

After getting to the Bridal Suite at the church and getting everything in place it was time. Time to put on my dress.

For my wedding.

On my wedding day.

I was so excited for this moment.

After putting it partly on in the bathroom, my mom helped to button me in. I still remember the rush of excitement that swept through me at this moment.

Laughing

After putting my dress on, I was able to relax for a bit. Adam and I had decided to exchange gifts first thing after we had gotten ready, so my sister took Adam his gift while Adam’s brother and best man, Sam, was in charge of delivering my gift.

Once our gifts were exchanged, it was time for our “first look”…

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

A Holiday Survey!

I came across this survey over on PB Fingers and thought I’d share my responses with you.

Enjoy and feel free to play along in the comments or post to your own blog!

  1. Eggnog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate. With peppermint.
  2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? We always have at least one Santa gift wrapped under the tree, but most were unwrapped and sitting around the tree.
  3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White is preferred, though I also have an appreciation for the vintage colored bulb strands.
  4. Do you hang mistletoe? Growing up, my parents always hung mistletoe in the hall of their home.
  5. When do you hang your decorations up? Typically, we decorate our home the weekend of Thanksgiving.
  6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Christmas morning my mom makes a breakfast casserole and an amazing bread dish she calls “Tutti Bread” – it’s smothered in a poppy seed mustard mixture, cheese and topped with bacon. Deeeelish!
  7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? My family gathering at my grandmother’s house on Christmas night and singing Christmas carols. A family favorite was “Twelve Days of Christmas” and we’d break into groups for each “day”. My uncle had the 5 golden rings part down! A close second would be The Advent Wreath mishap.
  8. What is on your Christmas wish list? Anything from my holiday gift guide!
  9. Do you open a gifts on Christmas Eve? Yep! We get to open one pre-designated gift on Christmas Eve and it’s almost always a new pair of PJs.
  10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With random ornaments that have either been given to us or bought by us over the years. I much prefer a mismatch of ornaments that have meaning!
  11. Snow? Love it or dread it? Love it!! Too bad we were more likely to get ice than snow at Christmas in Arkansas.
  12. Real tree or fake tree? Real!
  13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Probably the Playmobil Victorian Dollhouse. My sister and I spent countless hours playing with it growing up. I loved making up stories for the dolls and tucking them in to their beds. I think it’s still stored in my parents’ attic and I occasionally dream about playing with it as an adult. It was seriously a gorgeous dollhouse.
  14. What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you? The memories made with family.
  15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? I am always up for a large serving of my mom’s dishpan cookies.
  16. What is your favorite tradition? I love going to the 11 o’clock Christmas Eve Candlelight service with my family. It’s a wonderful and peaceful service that reminds me every year what the season is truly about.
  17. What tops your tree? An angel always topped my parents’ tree, but this year Adam and I have a star topping our tree.
  18. Do you prefer giving or receiving? I love giving gifts, but I also equally love snooping to find out my gifts.
  19. What is your favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night
  20. Candy canes, yuck or yum? YUM!!!!
  21. Favorite Christmas movie? Elf!
  22. What do you leave for Santa? Dishpan cookies and milk.
  23. Do you have a Christmas morning tradition? My sister and I always had to wait and come down the stairs together before we could open our presents. We always wear our new Christmas PJs.
  24. Do you prefer to shop on-line or at the mall? Lately, I’ve enjoyed shopping online, but there are some gifts that are just easier to find in-person at the mall or local shops around town.
  25. Christmas letter or Christmas card? Christmas card.

Noses are Deceiving

Now that [almost] all of the boxes are unpacked and I’m slowly able to start accessorizing rooms, I’m feeling more settled. Adam’s old “grandma chic” bachelor pad apartment is starting to feel like the home in which we’ll start our life together.

Every day this week I’ve made a concerted effort to make a visible dent in a random room as far as organization goes. I’ve stored books and papers from my old cubicle in my old dresser we refinished, hung pictures, replaced lamp shades, put away our china, and pulled out my Scentsy.

Y’all have one of these, right? I’m obsessed with mine. I love letting the scents permeate my apartment and now that I’m working from home all day you better believe I have it on all day every day.

Back in September, on a rare trip to Wal-Mart, I bought some wax cubes by Better Homes & Garden. I wanted to have seasonal fragrances like Apple Strudel, Pumpkin Pie, Blueberry Muffin, and Gingerbread. Tuesday, was my first day to use my Scentsy warmer since moving and I chose to put in a Gingerbread cube. I put it in mid-morning and had forgotten about it until Adam came home from work that evening.

He walks straight to the kitchen looking for a freshly baked batch of cookies. I felt horrible that the Scentsy led him astray so that night, we worked late cleaning the counters and putting away the remaining wedding gifts and serving pieces I already owned. Essentially, we made the kitchen usable.

And yesterday? Because I wanted an excuse to use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Adam got his cookies. Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip.

This time, the scent he smelled as he walked through the door is edible! Given the fact that he ate almost an entire dozen by himself in one hour, I’d say he thought they were scrumptious!

Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/4  cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until creamy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla until all ingredients are blended.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating well as you go.
  6. Stir in chocolate.
  7. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Yield: 5 dozen