About Me

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I'm a loving [although sometimes crazy] wife, a [very] loyal friend, a passionate educator, an involved citizen, a sensitive soul, a faithful Christian, a fiery Aries, and a classy lady.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My husband has a mistress.

And I cannot compete with her. He has his hands all over her all the time. She's slim, sleek, and fashionable. Seriously, everything looks good on her. She never talks back or nags at him to help out around the house. She always goes where he wants, says what he wants to hear, and pretty much follows his every command. He absolutely controls her every move. She's also into playing different characters, so she keeps him interested. She virtually never says no. She's available to him whenever he has time, and she waits patiently if he is busy for a bit before he can come back to her. And he does go back to her, time after time. He reaches out to her first thing in the morning, first thing when he gets home from work, and he stays up with her all hours of the night. She will even hook up with him and a friend without even blushing to play her "games." I cannot compete.

And neither can most women. The television is taking over my marriage. And with football season in full swing, my attempts at keeping that b*tch outta my life are fruitless. The tv in our living room didn't leave ESPN for at least 48 hours this past weekend.

It's not even just tvs. It's all sources of electronic stimulation. I remember when I was a teenager and so many of my guy friends were obsessed with their video games. One of my friend's moms said, "I wonder what will happen when they grow up and get married?" Well, I have the answer right in front of me. Late twenties/early thirties men who are attached to their television sets with gaming systems all wired up or on their computers incessantly playing World of Warcraft or something else stupid.

Seriously - what is with this virtual reality lifestyle we've got going on? Is actual reality not good enough?

I read in Parade this Sunday about how being constantly connected to our tvs/video games/iPads/laptops/smart phones/etc. is actually rewiring our brains. I, too, am guilty of keeping my smart phone on me at all times. I get my work email and my personal email to my phone. I play Words With Friends all day every day. I have the Twitter app, the Facebook app, and the GChat app. I am always plugged in. Seriously, I annoy myself.

Just yesterday, P and I went out to eat after church. When our appetizer came out the server actually said, "You know you're sitting right across from each other, you can talk, you don't have to text." Part of me wanted to tell him to mind his own business, but 90% of me was embarrassed. We weren't texting, but we weren't talking. I responded to the WWF moves that were made while we were in church, and P checked his fantasy football standings and watched the tv above my head that was on - SHOCKING NEWS HERE - football on ESPN.

When we bought our house, we agreed (OK, he was volun-told) that we wouldn't have a tv in our master bedroom. I'd been told by several friends and read in numerous wedding planning mags that having a tv in the bedroom seriously diminished the lovin' feeling.* I'm pretty certain that a tv anywhere within a mile diminishes that lovin' feeling.** This is either because A) the husband is attached to his electronic mistress and doesn't notice their wife in smokin' hot lingerie or B) the wife is so pissed off that she just did three loads of laundry, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, cleaned the bathroom, and cooked dinner all while husband was fooling around with the previously aforementioned mistress.

Anyway, back to that b*tch of a black box - if I could live without reruns of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I'd seriously consider cancelling our cable service and hiding the Wii remotes.

*Maybe this is why our grandparent's generation had so many babies. They usually only had one tv in the house and none of this other electronic junk we can't live without today.

**Ok - not in all cases because several of my friends are procreating, so obviously some of that lovin' feelin' is happening somewhere. I'm sure it's someplace far away from electronic media.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What's in a Name?

It's been a month since we said "I do" and partied all night long with 150+ of our closest, most amazing friends and families. A month of wedded bliss. I can't believe how quickly it's gone by since the month leading up to the wedding seemed to crawl.

We had a day between the wedding and departing on our honeymoon to sleep and finish packing. When we went home from the hotel on Saturday, it just seemed that we were pretending. Like we were just coming home from a party where we got all dressed up and danced all night long. Maybe like prom, except we're old enough to drink and there was a carousel. It didn't feel like anything had really changed.

Our dogs were already gone to his parents, and we were really too tired to even talk to each other. My mom came by to drop off my dress, the presents, and some other left over things from the Zoo. We ate lunch with her in pretty much silence. All I wanted to do was go crawl in bed and sleep, but I knew had to finish packing and not sleep through our 3 AM alarm clock for the airport. Seriously, the day between was so smart. We didn't waste any of our honeymoon resting up from the wedding! But, man, that day was rough.

But still, even our honeymoon felt mostly like we were just taking vacation. We've never been on vacation together, but it didn't really feel like anything had changed. Maybe it's because we lived together for a year before we got married. Please try to contain your shock that we lived in sin for a whole year. It made financial sense, and we were already engaged, so it was totally OK with our church. At least, I think I was, I never asked, and now I think it'd just be silly to open that door up.

So in the year of our engagement I started a new job, we bought a new house, we adopted a new puppy, we fought for about three months straight, we had major family drama happen, we combined our bank accounts, and our lives pretty much stayed in a perpetual state of change. So maybe that's why the day after the wedding seemed pretty normal but not "real."

I'm still waiting for the "difference" to set in, but for now, the only change that is really awkward for me is the name change.

Most of you know my real name is Amanda, not Mandie. I don't really answer to Amanda unless it comes from a familiar voice, like my mom, dad, or immediate family. I answer to Mandie, MT, Thacker, Mands, and Diamond (to Lea, anyway). So since I can't even seem to answer to my real first name, it should come as no surprise that I cannot for the life of me remember to answer to Mrs. Beeler. Or introduce myself as Mandie Beeler. Seriously, it's a super awkward situation every time where I said, "Hi, I'm Mandie Thacker...(long pause, awkward side glances)....Beeler." It doesn't help that schools apparently stopped teaching kids the difference in Miss, Mrs., and Ms. so my former TWC 101/102 students think I'm now Mrs. Thacker. Really? I'm pretty sure people rarely marry someone with the same last name, and when they do it, it's a super common last name like Smith, Moore, Davis, Clark, or Williams.

Anyway, my new license, social security card, staff ID, insurance cards, etc. all now say Amanda T Beeler, and I feel like I'm stuck in this weird place of lost identity. It's not that I don't love my new last name. Hearing P's fraternity brothers yell, "Mrs. Beeeeelerrrr" is definitely a highlight of my life. It's just that I've been Thacker for 27 years. I'll be 54 by the time I've been a Beeler as long as a Thacker. That is a long freakin' time people. Everyone seems to think the strangeness will pass and I will start to identify with my new name, so hopefully that will come soon so my poor husband doesn't give up on me.

This is exactly why I tried to get him to let me hyphenate or to combine our names and make a new one. Theeler or Backer would've TOTALLY worked, and we'd get to be confused together.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

So it's Been a While!

Wow, I realize it's been almost a month since I blogged. I've thought about blogging but actually getting words onto virtual paper has been difficult. Sorry about the long delay folks! I've been a little busy soaking up the awesomeness that is newlywed bliss!

I promise to analyze and go over every amazing detail of our (almost) perfect day and share my ramblings with you. I have to say immediately that hands down we had the most amazing bridal party ever assembled. The men and women who stood with us and all the folks in the background who ran the show were absolutely amazing. Surrounding myself with positive people who love me no matter what and don't hate me instantly when I have a bitchy moment is pretty much the most amazing gift I could've asked for on my wedding day. Suffice it to say, I did have a few Bridezilla moments over wedding week. Thank goodness my friends are forgiving. :)

Everything didn't go exactly as planned, but some of the bloopers were the moments we'll remember and laugh about forever. The heat wave was insane and completely uncharacteristic of Tennessee in June. We ran out of beer, lemonade, and water. The ice cream was a hit! The carousel was jamming all night! Oh, and my FIL dropped his pants leaving the ceremony. From what I've been told, the reception was a blast. Unfortunately, I have very little recollection of most of it. Former brides were not kidding when they said don't even both trying to remember because you won't!

For now, if you'd like some sneak peek photos, visit Christy Foreman Photography's blog. You can also see our photobooth pictures here then click on Patrick and Mandie's wedding.

Also, I'll soon be blogging about married life and our new adventures. I'm sure it will be entertaining, as our life almost never sees a dull moment. Talk soon!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bachelorette Shindig

Last weekend was my "Last Fling Before the Ring Bachelorette Mountain Weekend" hosted by the amazing RevDocJLa and MaidOH. For the male readers out there, we all hung out in lingerie all weekend drinking lots of wine and having pillow fights. For the ladies, read on.

From the very beginning I told MaidOH that I wanted something very low-key where we could sleep, lay around, drink some fun drinks, and not do much. I'm not really into the whole "getting trashed in a bar then having a male stripper" thing. I don't like taking shots, and I get embarrassed very easily, so I don't like all the attention. I haven't actually been to very many Bachelorette parties because of work or grad school or other conflicting events, so I really didn't even know what to do.

MaidOH and RevDocJLa booked a cute little cabin called "A Precious Place" and brought up a TON of wine, beer, and snacks. Let me tell you, this place sure was precious. It's like everything in your grandparents house that you felt guilty about throwing it away - may I suggest putting it in a cabin and calling it cute? DeHart and I had a "Gone with the Wind" themed bed room, Pearls and Meg has a million mirrors, RevDocJLa and MaidOH had lots of lace things, and all the bathrooms had French hotel signs from Hobby Lobby. It was strange, but precious! The porch  downstairs was the perfect spot for us to relax, chat, laugh a lot, and tell stories.

Four of us arrived early on Friday and went to dinner at Hard Rock. I haven't eaten there in a long time, and my new found meat eating ways led me to the most magical turkey burger of my life. I wore the Bachelorette sash, and we drank out of inappropriately designed straws. We got back and hung out in the hot tub for a while. Pearls and Meg arrived later, and we all went to bed at a decent hour. It was great! Saturday morning we went outlet mall shopping. Sevierville has the best outlet malls, and we found some awesome deals! I stocked up on honeymoon and general summer stuff. Other sweet girls came up to join us, including my sweet K, and shop with us before we headed back to cabin. The lingerie shower was definitely fun, and luckily I wasn't as embarrassed as I was worried I'd be! P is going to be a very happy married man thanks to my sweet (and naughtier than expected) girlfriends! Then we just relaxed all evening. We thought about going out but ordered pizza instead. After a delicious brunch Sunday morning at the Pancake Pantry, we parted ways. It was PERFECT.

I think there is a lot of pressure on Bachelorette parties to be wild "one last time" before you get married. The thing is, I'm not wild. I'm honestly sort of boring. A wild night usually lasts until midnight and might have involved a bottle of wine at most. And, if I ever do get "wild" I want P to be there. So, I didn't really want to have something that would leave me feeling sick the next day just for the sake of saying I did it. Male strippers gross me out, and I don't care if a random stranger hits on me in a bar. I know some girls want that, and that's great for them. I know this year I'll go to DeHart's Bachelorette party, and we will be absolutely wild! It just isn't for me. And, it's OK to do what I'd prefer for my last "fling." I only hope the other girls weren't bored! :)

One of my favorite moments of the weekend was DeHart trying on the lacey thing in the RevDocJLa and MaidOH's room. Enjoy!

I hope Grandma isn't mad that we borrowed her wedding dress for a photo-op!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Something Old, Something New

"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and a Six-Pence in Her Shoe"

I'm not entirely sure where this trend started, but it's something I think we all learn as little girls. Some research tells me that it comes from Victorian Times, whichis also where the tradition of wearing a white wedding dress comes from. Maybe it's just the catchy rhyme of the words that keeps it going? Either way, I've thought about what each of these items will mean to me on my wedding day. I've kept things from my youth just to fufill some of these areas while others have been taken care of by friends I've met in my adult years. Each item represents so much to me - the strength of friendships, the love of family, the faith of those around you that your marriage will succeed. It's a nice time to honor those who've passed and celebrate those who stand beside you on this special day. So, let me tell you about my "somethings." They are each so, so meaningful to me!

Something Old

"Something old symbolizes the bride’s connection with her family and her past as a single woman."

I have two something old's that I'm carrying. One is my great-grandmother Grace's handkerchief. It's white with yellow flowers, and I love it. My grandmother gave it to me after Mamaw Grace passed in 2003. Our florist is wrapping it around my bouquet. The other "something old" is my Granny, Jamia's, "grandchildren" ring. She had a ring made with all of our birthstones in it. I loved my Granny more than probably anyone I've ever known, and I'm so glad to be able to honor her on our wedding day. I hope my cousins will also want to wear this sweet ring on their wedding days.
Something New

"A new item in the bride’s attire represents the new life she will soon begin."

I guess my something new is probably my dress and shoes. Or the ring P gave me that started this whole journey? This one is tricky!

Something Borrowed

"Borrowing an item to carry or wear on her wedding day reminds a bride that her friends and family are there for her should she ever need their help."

I also have two something borrowed's. One is my veil. My sweet friend Napolean is lending me her veil for our wedding. It's so beautiful and matches my gown perfectly! The other is a pearl necklace that Pearls is allowing me to borrow. Knowing both of these beautiful women are standing beside me on this day makes them even more special!

Something Blue

"In many cultures, blue symbolizes faithfulness and loyalty."

Appropriately, my something blue does symbolize faith and loyalty - in many ways! I have a fabulous MTSU garter that my sweet friend Em brought me from Murfreesboro! P and I met at MTSU, and it will always be our favorite place. "For the one true Pride of the Blue, MTSU Raiders Ride!" I also have an azure blue ribbon that was given to me on the day of my ADPi initiation that I'll have tied to something on the day of the wedding.

A Silver Sixpence

"A sixpence was a silver coin worth six pennies in England between 1551 and 1967. It was placed in the bride’s shoe to attract wealth to her new marriage."

Technically, my Sixpence is also a "something borrowed" from my sweet friend Disney Princess. She wore it on her wedding day, and I'm so grateful that she's lending it to me for mine.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fabulousness in an Envelope

I've never had a lot of "custom" made things. Since I spell my name with an "ie" instead of a "y" I never got the water bottles, key chains, etc. that people get with their names on it because they really jack up the prices when they have to do a "custom job." But, it was never a big deal to me. I had a few very pretty "M" things, and that was always enough. I never expected to have custom wedding invitations made. I'm VERY thrifty and frugal. When I started looking at wedding invitations, my heart dropped. I was thinking there was no way I was going to be able to afford the amount of invitations we needed! Seriously, have you looked at those things!?

While still at GSU, my old boss had an invitation she'd kept from another girl on campus. The invitation was beautiful and unique. I asked the girl for the details, and she told me how she'd ordered her paper online and had them printed at the print shop on campus. Fantastic news! Except that I was about to move to TN and didn't know where the nearest print shop was. Nor did I have any clue what to print ON the invitation.

In the meantime, I was chatting with my gloriously talented graphic designer friend, Shauhn. Napolean was looking for someone to help her design invitations for her little boy's first birthday party. I knew Shauhn had her own little painting and artsy business on the side of her full-time job, so I passed on the information. After seeing the outcome, it dawned on me that she might be able to do the same for me! So, I'd asked her if she would help me.

Boy, oh boy, is Shauhn Caughron Designs talented! I gave broad thoughts about what I liked, and she made it into reality. I'd seen a picture on ETSY, and Shauhn recreated it in 15 minutes. I'd google the wording I wanted to get it just right, and she'd quickly lay out beautiful formats and romantic fonts. I gave very basic requests like "I want a pretty B" and she'd find one that was perfect and change the color to complement my wedding. She did it all - photo altering our "Save the Dates," making a logo for our photo booth and address labels, the invitation and information pieces, and the program for the ceremony.

Many of you have seen the outcome of this design process. It's perfect. It's personal. It's different. It's classy. It's unique yet timeless. It's the perfect invitation for me. And, P loves it, too. I couldn't have imagined anything more beautiful. And, she did it all. If you haven't seen it, or want to look again, see below! :)

And now, others can have the same kind of custom design for any event for the same price (or less in many cases) than big time invitations companies. I'm so glad Shauhn, and our dear friend Tasha, have decided to go into this business together. I'm also so glad that I'll never have to buy ho-hum invitations again! Email shauhn@theinkboutique.biz to get more information. I promise, it's worth it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's the best feeling in the world...

...when you meet new friends that you can't stand to be without. [Unknown]

When I first met Pearls, I was terrified. There are very few people in the world that P holds in such high regard. Prior to the weekend at the lake, P warned me that I needed to pass the "{Pearls} Test." This is apparently a test that most folks don't pass on their second and third attempts, let alone the first. And, well, P really, really cares about Pearls, and he wanted us to not just get along but actually be friends. God love my sweet P.

What I've come to learn since that first weekend at the lake is that is she is worth every bit of that anxiety I felt at first. I've learned why girls are scared of her, and I've learned that she is so easy to love just the way she is. She can be brutally honest, blunt in her choice of words, and isn't so much a "hugger." I think the reason most women are scared of this is because deep down, we sometimes wish we could be like that. It's hard to always be sweet and candy-coat negative feelings, and it's considered strange if we're not touchy-feely. And, I've already expressed my love for friends who aren't afraid to hurt your feelings because your friendship is stronger than that.

But the reason I've come to love Pearls on my own is that her core traits are worth the work of getting into her heart. Pearls is incredibly loyal. Once she's decided you're worth it, you've got a friend for life. This applies not only to her friendships, but her fanfare. Her addiction to the Nashville Predators is comical to an outsider. She is fierce and cut-throat as a fan. This is probably due to her natural tendency to go all-out when she care about something. She doesn't do anything half-way. Once she's in - she's in for keeps.

She has the best memory of anyone I've ever met. She remembers those small details that make you feel truly listened to and appreciated. In the same vein, she is unbelievably thoughtful. She's inclusive in sharing and creating memories, and she tailors each opportunity or experience to the person. She is generous with her time, knowledge, and home. No matter what she has going on (and between her job and her business, she has A LOT going on!), she finds time and energy to be there. And not just be there in mere existence but to actually be present and involved in the conversation 100%.

When Pearls gets excited, there is no hiding it. She is excited with her ENTIRE being. Picture a little kid on their birthday and times it by at least 100. This is also exaggerated by the fact that very few things get Pearls truly excited. Sometimes this excitement is about a Halloween costume and sometimes it's because she's just come up with the perfect idea to make things more unique or special for a friend. Pearls is very creative. Her craftiness is enviable, and I get so excited when she's been crafty in my favor. I think she's so good at this because she has the ability to see both the big picture and the fine details.

I mentioned that I had to pass her test but don't let that fool you into thinking she's some kind of "mean girl." That's actually quite far from the truth. Pearls has a very small, tight group. She doesn't waste energy on having multiple, unimportant acquaintances just for the sake of it. She is very decisive in her relationships, and sometime in college, P won favor in her eyes. Pearls is married to one of P's best friends who is also a groomsmen. Pearls met her match in high school, knowing very early on in their relationship that he was "the one." Again, loyalty to the max.

Over the past two years, I've gotten to know Pearls as my own friend and not just an addition from P's life. She's the primary innkeeper of Hotel Kennedy and graciously hosts me anytime I visit Middle Tennessee. Sometimes we just lay on an air mattress in the living room watching Rocky Horror Picture Show. Pearls is the kind of friend that you're so lucky to make, especially in your adult life, because friends like her are few and far between once your enter "adulthood." Pearls is rare, beautiful, and classy, just like her nickname implies.

Leah, me, Andrea, Emily (Pearls), and Megan
"Sigma Nu Wives Club"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

If you want to hear God laugh...

...just tell Him your plans.

Sometimes things change. It's not really 'good' or 'bad' as much as it is 'different.' But, all things change. We change as we grow older, hopefully into better versions of ourselves. Our places change, because of new jobs or a growing family. Our relationships with families change, as we grow from child to adult. Our friendships change, because sometimes all the other life changes land you in some place where common ground is more difficult to find. Sometimes we have to step away and let things air out. There is no anger, no regret, it just is what it is. So, we grow, evolve and change.

Because of some of these life changes, our wedding party has changed slightly. Luckily, we have a closing pitcher who has graciously stepped in for the home stretch. (Did I just use baseball terms sort of correctly? Score!) Come back soon to meet our newest wedding party member. I would have it up sooner, but I need time to come up with a creative but adequate nickname.

Monday, May 9, 2011

April Showers Bring....

A lot of road trips. A guest room full of gifts. Many, many new memories.

In the month of April, P and I each had our own showers. Mine was beautiful - filled with yellow and flowers and yummy snacks! The ladies in our families and local girl friends came together for some funny games and a lot of fellowship. We had all of our favorite snacks - chex mix, cheese and pineapple bites, fresh fruits and veggies, and the most beautiful cake ever made! Spending time with several older friends mixed with some new fabulous ladies in my life was so fun. It was super relaxing, too, to see our families get along so well.

White cake with raspberry filling - and almost too pretty to cut!

P had a "Handyman Shower" where several of his college buddies came together to get his tool collection started. They spent most of the weekend just palling around, and I know it was very refreshing for him to see his friends. I was shocked to hear that he was the first to call it a night when they went out on the Nashville scene. Also, when you get the chance, ask him or his Best Man about "Pat Thacker."

We traveled to Murfreesboro for a "Chef's Shower" with some of our fabulous college friends. Kennedy Occasions hosted lunch at this delicious little restaurant in Murfreesboro. We each got a new apron (mine says Mrs. Beeler - yay!) and fun kitchen related gifts. The favors were adorable branded wooden kitchen utensils. We were lucky enough to get one of each, and they are so perfect! I don't know if I want to use them or save them! Staying at Hotel Kennedy is always a wonderful experience, and this visit made us miss Murfreesboro badly!

Finally, we traveled to Statesboro for a "Toast the Host" party. The best part of this trip was seeing our Statesboro family! We got to pick Pretty up from the Atlanta airport and spend three hours catching up before we had to share her with anyone else. Hot Librarian has a bun in the oven - and is an early shower, which I adore! It was so sweet to see her during this exciting time in her and Beer Man's life. We stayed at the Greenstein Manor with FutureDrKG and Disney Princess, and it was so much fun to catch up. During the shower, we played bridal party trivia and Battle of the Sexes. It felt like I never left Statesboro - man I missed those folks!

During all this, it reminds me that even though we have so much going on in our lives, we still have to make it a point to see our friends both near and far. It's easy to say "distance makes the heart grow fonder" until your heart is exploding with joy when you hug them again after almost a year and you think it might really beat right out of your chest. So, once all this wedding fun is behind us, we (me) hope to be blogging far more about road trips, weekends with friends, and nights spend around a kitchen or coffee table playing games. Those are the best parts of any party - the people you're surrounded by!

Afterall, it's all about what makes you smile. (hint: it's not the gifts, even though we're grateful for them!)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What do you need? What do you want?

With three showers behind us and three left to go (four if you count the lingerie shower at the bachelorette party), we get asked these questions a lot. I've had my girls-only bridal shower and he's had his manly tool's shower, so it's been really fun so far for both of us. But these questions: What do you really want off your registry? What do you need? I have a very difficult time answering. Luckily, almost all of our showers have some sort of theme attached to it - tools, chef's, toast the host, things appropriate for a Christian college parlor room shower, etc. From each of those lists, I can pretty much choose a few things to give options. 

But, most of the time, I respond with "whatever you'd prefer to give us" or "well, we want or need everything on our registry, so you can't lose!" because, honestly, there really is no good answer. On any given day I really want a particular (mostly random) thing. Just the other day I was telling MaidOH that I hate playing the "where's the paper towel roll?" game because P has moved it somewhere in the house, so I really wanted our paper towel roll holder. Apparently I believe it's magic and will somehow keep the paper towel roll locked in it's specific spot in the kitchen. Sometimes we run out of silverware particularly quickly, and I get excited knowing that relief is coming soon. Also, depending on if you ask me or P, you're going to get very different answers. He wants a juicer. I want place settings. Or any other combination of desires.

Next weekend my campus is having a yard sale, as a service project developed by one of our first-year courses, to raise scholarship funds. Faculty, staff, students, community members, etc. have been asked to donate items they'd otherwise give to Goodwill or another charity. In preparation, I've been sorting through our belongings, trying to determine what we really can live without. (Side note: I also did this back in December, taking a huge car load to Goodwill. P doesn't like parting with his belongings, so having to do this twice in one year might push this sweet man over his limit). Since we're not using any of our gifts prior to the wedding, following the rules of etiquette, there are many older, mismatched things we use that we're holding on to for the next 50 days. This presents even more problems - when we clean it out, do I hold it for next year's yard sale or do I go ahead and donate it to Goodwill? Luckily, I have a lot of storage room in my office "house," so the former will likely be the chosen option. 

We've both lived alone or with roommates, so we've gathered a lot of "things" over the years. Mostly hand-me-downs, yard sale buys, or cheap dollar store finds, the stuff we've acquired of the years holds a lot of memories. I've been combating my pack rat tendencies almost to the point of being a minimalist. P still has more clothes than me, even though he wears a (sexy) uniform everyday. Oh well. We're excited to fill our home with things that are ours, rather than his or mine. We didn't register for many "frivolous" things that we'll never use, like fine china or crystal platters. I don't have room to store dust collectors! We do have some "it'd be nice to have" things on the registry because, let's be honest, Bed, Bath, and Beyond will suck you in with it's beyond-ness. And, I love kitchen gadgets.

But, through this whole process, I've been thinking about those two questions. What do I really need or really want? Well, I want to be married to P. I want to go to sleep every night possible beside the man I love. I want to have a family with him. I want to go on new adventures with him. I want to know that I can talk his head off or say nothing at all and that we've still enjoyed the time spent together. I want to grow old with him. I want to retire with him. I want to have enough saved so that we'll be OK should we ever lose a job or get sick or if we ever have a friend in need, we'll be able to help. I need him in my life. None of these items on my "want or need list" require things, really. In 10 years, will we still be using the beautiful place settings? Well, I hope so, but there really is no telling. Will we still use the towels? Unlikely. Will we have bought new pots and pans? Probably. Will we still be going to sleep beside each other as many nights as possible? Abso-freakin-lutely.

The best part about all these showers? We get to spend time with those we love in small groups. This is especially been the best thing about the out-of-town showers, like the one we have coming up this weekend. Do we appreciate the amazing kindness of our friends and adore the gifts? Of course! But, the best gift I'm getting? P. And, I don't care how dingy, dented, or worn he gets, he's the only one I want, so there will never be a replacement purchase.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you.

Most of you have read A Really Big Question and know all about our love story. If you're a details oriented person, you might realize that this really big question happened exactly one year ago today! It was the happiest day of my life to date. In 81 days, I will become Mrs. Patrick Beeler. I saw my name as Mrs. Amanda Beeler on a reservation for our honeymoon, and it hit me like a ton of very nice, pillowy bricks. I've imagined it, I've doodled it, and I've had Beeler inspired monogrammed items since we announced our engagement. But seeing it there, written on a reservation for our honeymoon, made it all seem really, really real. And I cannot wait!

In 81 days I will get to marry the kindest, funniest, sweetest, and most stubborn man I know. So it is quite serendipitous that our invitations are being mailed out today. OK, maybe not serendipitous exactly, but whatever word means "a happy something-on-purpose." I didn't know a year ago that the timing would work out quite so perfectly. So, maybe it is serendipity.

Either way, invitations are in the mail. Today. They will be arriving in the mailboxes of our loved ones over the next week or so. I cannot wait to start getting those YES! responses in the mailbox. And on a side note - Did you know the only postcard stamps they make display polar bears? Don't people on beach vacations usually mail postcards? Polar bears just seem silly to me, but oh, well.

For those of you who would like to go ahead and start your travel plans, or if you just want to know more about our wedding plans, visit our very cute wedding webpage.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Special Week

This exact week last year changed my life in many, many ways. On Thursday, March 18, 2010, Dr. Suzanne Hine from Tennessee Wesleyan College called to ask me if I was ready to move back to East Tennessee and start a new job developing a service-learning/servant leadership program.

I was at LeaderShape that week, and our location was, to put it mildly, out in the sticks. My phone never rang, just got voice mails. It rarely got text messages, and the internet service was hit or miss. And, I have a good network! It's just when they say you're staying at a rural, country, hunting lodge, they are not kidding.

So I was driving around Flat Creek Lodge in my golf cart, probably getting chased by crazed geese, when I got a notification that I had a voicemail. I'd assumed I'd missed a call from my On-Site Coordinator or one of the facilitators. But, when I listened to my voicemail, I heard the voice of a soft-spoken Tennessean asking me to call her back. Just the night before, during Guest Leader night, my Director had informed me that TWC had called to check my references. He said it sounded pretty likely that they'd be stealing me away soon, but as everyone in higher ed knows, you have to wait (somewhat patiently) for that official phone call no matter how promising the situation seems. At this point, I'd prayed about it, talked to P about it, and mentioned to a select few friends that there was a possibility that I'd be moving back to Tennessee soon. It's been over three weeks since my interview, and I had been very busy to keep me distracted. God had put a sense of calm over my heart, so I was surprisingly calm when I got a chance to talk to Dr. Hine.

After I'd accepted, I was in a state of shock. I was about to move back to a place I hadn't lived in 8 years, to solidify a relationship that I hoped was headed toward marriage (and it was being planned, completely unbeknownst to me), and to have the opportunity to be a key piece in a creative process to start a new program. God had truly blessed me! I called P and my parents. This was the time my dad asked, "So when are you getting married?" and almost spilled the beans about upcoming events!

But, then I had to go to the dining hall with a group of students I adored knowing it was one of the last events I'd get to be a part of with them. I love these students, and I'd gotten to be very close with several of them during my two years at GSU. It was a bittersweet time, since LeaderShape was my favorite GSU event to plan. I smiled and enjoyed my time, and I told the people who needed to know while keeping it from the rest until the right moment.

I went home from that week exhausted, excited, anxious, nervous, and eager. There were so many questions and so many plans, and I just wanted to sleep. So Saturday when I finally got back to Statesboro, I crashed. I had no idea that the excitement of the week was about to get turned all the way up just 24 hours later!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beware of the Guestzillas

From the very moment planning begins, people tell you to "make it your own" and choose things that "the two of you love." Yeah, right. You see, I'm a pleaser. I like to make sure everyone is considered and taken care of. Even on "our day." So, from the second I started planning, I've considered what people will think of:
- My dress
- My bridesmaids dresses
- Our flowers
- Our church
- Our reception venue
- Our reception food
- Our lack of wedding cake
- Our bar selection
- Our choice of music
- Our reception decorations
and the list goes on.

It's easy to say, "Don't worry about it! It'll be wonderful!" But, I know there will be Guestzillas.

You know those people I'm talking about. There are always people that go to a wedding and snicker, "Can you believe she choose as _____(fill in the blank with strapless, halter, material, etc.)_____ dress?" Or those people who judge the food, the drinks, the dessert, the decorations, etc. and try to blow it off as "Well, it's not what I would've done." Well, of course not, since it's not actually your wedding, so you didn't get consulted.

It's so easy to say you don't care what people think of your wedding, but the truth is, your wedding is one of the most personal experiences you can share with people. You invite people you care about and hope they are as excited to share your day as you are to have them there. But, I've noticed that weddings tend to bring out the worst in the people you think love you unconditionally.

Since I've started planning, I've had people complain/make snide comments about:
- Our date being on a Friday
- Our date being in the middle of Bonnaroo
- The time of our wedding (seriously, it's 7:00 PM, it's not midnight.)
- My bridesmaids not wearing the same dresses
- The location of our reception (because it's a whopping 4 miles from the church)
- The fact that we're not serving a traditional wedding cake
- Our dinner menu selection
- Having a DJ instead of a band
- Our wedding colors
- Where we choose to register
among many, many others.

I know I've not loved every single detail about every single wedding I've been to. But, you know what, it wasn't my wedding, so why did I need to love every single thing about it? I have worn dresses I hated because I loved the bride. I've not been able to eat at the reception because there was no vegetarian option (during my 3 year stint as a veggie). I've gotten lost driving to the reception site because they forgot to include directions. But you know what - I loved those people. Those people loved me, which is obvious by the fact that they invited me. I wouldn't have traded any of those experiences for anything in the world because seeing those people I loved in one of the happiest moments in their lives made me happy beyond words.

Planning this wedding is one of the most stressful, exhausting, scary, exhilerating, and anxiety inducing things I've ever done. On this day, I do not care if I have fancy table linens or huge flower centerpieces or a five-tier cake. As stated in my last blog, I just want to marry Patrick. And, those things are just not important to me.

And, for the record:
- I LOVE my dress. As my MatronOH stated, "There was never another dress."
- My bridesmaids look BEAUTIFUL in their unique dresses that fit their personalities.
- Icecream trumps cake. End of discussion.
- Yellow is my favorite color and P is colorblind. If he doesn't care, neither should you.
- Sunflowers have always been my favorite.
- Church Street is the most beautiful church in Knoxville.
- The Knoxville Zoo rocks.
- Our food is delicious and filling. You can make the choice on whether or not you enjoy it. I'll be sure to enjoy my plate enough for the both of us.
- If you'd rather be at Bonnaroo, then just go.

We can't wait for everyone to celebrate with us. I hope you enjoy the special time with us, the different choices we've made, and if you get a chance to hop on the carousel with RevDocJLa, I promise she'll be entertaining. Just bring her a class of wine when you come.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On (not really) Being a Bridezilla

Towards the end of the series, I got into watching the show Bridalplasty. Brides are competing in various challenges to win plastic surgery, and the winner gets this big, fab, expensive wedding and all her "wishlist" surgery done. At the end of each episode, other brides choose to RSVP to someone's table, and the bride with the least RSVPs goes home. The host tells the losing bride, "Your wedding will still go on; it just won't be perfect."

Hold. The. Phone. Stop. It. Right. Now. Are. You. Serious?

Let's be clear about something - I am a control freak. I live by my color-coded planner and closet, and I have a difficult time believing that my way is not the absolute most efficient and well-planned way of accomplishing whatever task is at hand. I thought I'd be a bridezilla. Some of my bridesmaids thought I'd be a bridezilla. I'm sure all of you thought at least once that I would be a bridezilla. But, by the grace of God, I've actually be pretty chill. In fact, I've had several people say, "This is your ONE chance to let it be all about you! You realize you're being TOO lax, right?" Well, maybe. Maybe not.

Here's the thing: On June 10, 2011 at (around) 7:00 PM I will be walking down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams and become Mrs. Beeler and spend the rest of my life with the funniest, kindest, most handsome, charming, and overall best person for me I could've ever imagined. I will be surrounded by six of the most amazing women to grace this earth. I will have my family, my friends, my co-workers, and the random church janitor there to oohh and awh and whatnot.

Yes, something will go wrong. Events ALWAYS have glitches. It might rain. The florist might show up with pink and purple flowers instead of my beloved sunflowers. I might break a heel on my amazing yellow shoes. Heck, I might fall down the aisle. My dear friend might slip up on the words to the verse she's reading. The organist might play the wrong song. I might run out of programs or birdseed or napkins. Someone might forget the rings. Marble Slab might bring the wrong flavor of icecream. Someone might have a severe nut allergy I'm unaware of. The table linens may be off-center. My grandmother might flip out that we're serving alcohol. RevDocJLa might not ever get off the carousel until the end, so her legs might not work properly. People will choose Bonnaroo over our wedding. Who knows? Something will go wrong. As with everything else in my life, I've made the best plans I can, and it will be what it will be.

But one thing that will absolutely not be affected by anything that might go wrong: Me becoming Mrs. Patrick Beeler.

For this to happen, my bridemaids don't need to have matching dresses or shoes. I don't have to serve traditional wedding cake. I don't have to have gigantic centerpieces or fancy linens on my reception tables. I don't have to be getting married on a Saturday. I'm still going to be marrying the man of my dreams.

Before you former or future Bridezillas lash out at me, I know there are many women out there who've dreamed of this big, "perfect" wedding with matchy-matchy maids and the perfect food at the perfectly set tables. The wedding industry makes big, big, big bucks off these dreams. There is absolutely nothing wrong with women or men who have these dreams. Everyone deserves to have their version of a perfect wedding. This is ours.

We're getting married at the church I've wanted to be a member of and get married in since I was a little girl. We're having our reception at a place that brings out our childish side. We're serving food we love. We're being surrounded by people we love. We could not be happier. Something will go wrong. But, unless he decides not to show up, the only thing that really must go right, will.

This past week I got some really great advice. A woman I look up to a lot told me to step back two days before the wedding and remember that it's all been planned, it's all being taken care of. If I'm worried about something, I'll pass it off to my mom or his mom or those wonderful bridemaids and girlfriends of mine. She told me to remember that this is our party. Our party. Not anyone elses. I sure don't want to miss it. I will enjoy our wedding day - with all it's beauty and wonder and quirks.

Disclaimer: I hope each and every one of you holds me to this.

If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Little) Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

When I first met Diamond, I never imagined in a million years she would become my "little sister" the following year. I was taking an Honors Theater Appreciation class during my first semester at MTSU. Since recruitment occurred in the first couple of weeks, I was super proud to don my newly acquired Greek letters to every class, every meeting, everything. Diamond was the super smart girl who sat in the front row, had an opinion about everything, and knew something about everything. One of her opinions was that sorority girls were dumb. She has said before that she doesn't remember thinking this, but I remember it to be true! ;) Thank goodness K and I were in that class to show her (and everyone else) that the assumption was completely untrue! In fact, I'd like to think we changed some opinions!

Anyway, suffice it to say I was completely shocked with Diamond walked through the doors during recruitment in 2003. I had no doubts she would get a bid - she's incredibly intelligent, completely beautiful, involved in a million different things, held leadership positions on campus, and can talk to a brick wall. When she joined ADPi, we immediately reconnected. When she became my "little sister" aka "Little Diamond," we were bonded for life. The day she became my little Diamond wasn't the best day for me personally. We happened to be getting little sisters on the same day I found out my parents were separated/ing. But, I was determined to make it a wonderful day for Diamond, and I like to think our struggles brought us closer.

Over the next three years, we spent a ridiculous amount of time together. We cried over boys who broke our hearts, laughed together through the late nights of Homecoming, danced our way through formals, and spring-breaked together when we needed a break from the world. Diamond was one of my best friends throughout college and has since remained one of my closest confidants. We continue to support each other through numerous struggles, joyfully reunite whenever possible, and catch up as often and as best we can even though our schedules are incredibly different.

Today I still tell Diamond pretty much every single thing. She is still one of the most beautiful people I've ever met - inside and out. She is still making the world a better place through her heart and her work. We've been through a lot together since we met over eight years ago. But the beautiful part about friendship like ours? It just keeps getting better. I am so blessed to have someone I love literally like a sister stand beside me on my wedding day. She's the only little sister I've ever had, and she's the only one I'll ever want. In June we'll have five generations of my Diamond family standing together for a picture! Just one of MANY reasons to be excited!

<> OBIC <>
2004 - Kristin, 2003 - Lea, 2002 - Mandie, 2000 - Andrea
Joining us in June for a reunion picture - 2005 - Alison

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.

It all started when my overly poofy 80's era hyper color dress smacked her in the face while she was leaning down to reach her cubby hole in second grade. Seymour Cuban and I become instant friends, and we've stayed that way through Beta club, boy drama, religious conversions, graduations, and a whole lot more in between. She's the bridesmaid I've known the longest, and our history is filled with more crazy stories than I have time to write about on this blog.

In middle school, when I decided to attempt a sport, she didn't laugh at me too hard when I was a terrible soccer player. In high school, she helped me get on the yearbook staff when there really weren't any spots open. In college when my parents divorced, Seymour Cuban opened up her guest room to me anytime I came home for a holiday and didn't want to have to choose between the parents. When I gradauted college and was about to move to South Carolina for grad school, she threw a "Mandie's Going Away Again" party complete with yellow solo cups. She's been to every graduation, no matter how far she's had to drive. She celebrates with me with every up and mourns with me when I'm upset. She knows when to take me swimming in a margarita and opens up her life when I just need a safe place to hide out for a while. No matter what, I can without hesitation say she has always been there for me. Even at our worst teenage drama, I've always known she and I would always be friends. I know I can always count on her, and I think she knows she can always count on me, too.

Seymour Cuban loves the people she loves without any pretense or expectations. She'll go out of her way without a second thought and never expects anything in return. She has supported me with every decision I've ever made, even if she's told me it probably wasn't the best idea. She's unassuming, incredibly thoughtful, and always has my best interests at heart. She is that friend you can call in the middle of the night no matter what it is, and she'll be right there.

I've known for years that I wanted Seymour Cuban to stand with me on my wedding day. She's stood by me through so much, it just wouldn't be the same without her there on such an important day. P and I were lucky enough to watch her say "I do" to her sweetheart in a small, private ceremony. We were the only "friends" in attendance. That's because she is more than my friend - Seymour Cuban is part of my family. The family you choose for yourself. The family you build over many years. It's been 19 years since I met Seymour Cuban. It's been an incredible ride, and I can't wait to see where we're going next.

Seymour High School 2000-2001
"Somebody's gonna drop everything, run out and crank up their car, hit the gas, get there fast. Never stop to think 'what's in it for me' or 'it's way too far." They just show on up with their big old heart. You find out who you're friends are." - Tracy Lawrence

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends.

Napoleon and I were not exactly "friends at first sight." The first time we really talked to each other was at our graduate program's annual Rock Your Undergrad Welcome Back Cookout. I tried to tell her that we should get our dogs together to play, and she tried to tell me to get lost. Napoleon thought I was a dumb sorority girl. And I thought Napoleon had, well, a slight Napoleon complex. I don't remember the exact moment we actually became friends, but I remember being in the same group for our theory class project. Nothing will bring you together like analyzing personality and learning theories. Sometime during that semester we realized we actually liked each other. By Halloween we were half of the Best-Costume-Winning Golden Girls. The next year we decided to live together. Our dogs did, as it turns out, love playing together, even though Sam could drag Pongo around with a rope toy.

Napoleon doesn't let people in easily. That actually makes me feel pretty darn special. She is picky, and I love that about her, even though it made living with her challenging sometimes. I like to think it was good practice for living with routine-driven P. When she chooses to let you in her life, she will love you harder than anyone else ever has. She is brutally honest but also very kind with her words. She feels with you, just like she is experiencing the exact same emotion. She is very practical, except when it comes to shoes. She is introverted and needs her time alone, but she didn't kill me when I blasted music early in the morning and wanted to talk through everything. She is that friend I call when I need a reality check. She is incredibly thoughtful and surprises you with it because she's not mushy at all. Some of my favorite memories of Napoleon are sitting on the couch, eating whole pickles, watching Hannah Montana, and cuddling with our pups. She is that friend you can just be with. Silence isn't awkward, and you always walk away feeling refreshed. And, she isn't afraid to hurt your feelings. That's probably my very favorite thing about Napoleon. She doesn't aim to hurt your feelings, but she would rather bruise your ego a little bit than watch you get yourself into a bad situation that you might get stuck in. I firmly believe that's what makes someone a true friend.

I was blessed to be able to stand by Napoleon on the day she said "I do." I love her and Marky Pooh so very much. Now I get to love on her little boy, too. After P proposed, I immediately started talking plans with her. Funny story though, I actually forgot to ask her to be in the wedding. I'd assumed it was just understood. Good thing she feels the same way, otherwise this blog post would be super awkward.

The real test of friendship is: can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you enjoy those moments of life that are utterly simple? [Eugene Kennedy]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

If I paid for my friends, I surely didn't pay enough.

In the fall of 2002, I met an amazing woman. I moved to Murfreesboro to start college with two of my friends from high school, and we decided we would go through sorority recruitment together. When all was said and done, I was the only one who joined a sorority at MTSU. I was thrown into a group of 39 women from all over the place, with all kinds of talents, each just as unique as they were beautiful. We all had a common bond - the Alpha Class of 2002 for Alpha Delta Pi.

Sometime during our freshman year, K and I decided we would live together during sophomore year. With another ADPi sister and a Zeta friend, we chose an apartment and made plans. K and I shared one end of the hallway, and the four of us shared a year of changes. That was the year K met her now husband. It was the year my parents got divorced and my great-grandmother passed away. It was the year one of our roommates got serious about pageants and another quit being serious about school. We had many ups and plenty of downs. Come on, four girls in 1,000 square feet is bound to bring the drama. But, I knew even then that K and I would always be friends, no matter what happened in our lives.

K and I have, in fact, always remained close. She is also from Knoxville, and after she married, her and the Mr. settled in Knoxville. We always got together when I was home for the holidays, and we've always had the kind of friendship that you just pick up where you left off. No matter how long it's been since we've chatted or seen each other, we are just right back. I love those kinds of friendship, don't you? When I moved back to East Tennessee, we got together and celebrated that we were living close together again. Sometimes our plans follow through, sometimes they have to change, but we always reunite just like we saw each other yesterday.

After P and I got engaged, I knew I'd want K to be a bridesmaid. She is so unbelievably kind, with the biggest heart I've ever known. She has a way about her that makes you spill every secret you've ever had and is completely non-judgemental. She has a sweet relationship with the Lord that makes you want to find that for yourself if you haven't already. She is the kind of person who makes you strive to be a better person. She is so very smart and is always working to better the world by being a better nurse. K really is one of those people that you couldn't find something negative to say if you tried forever. She has stood with me when I needed someone on my side, stood behind me when I needed someone to hold me up, and I couldn't imagine not having her stand beside me on my wedding day.

Watching K and the Mr. marry was one of the best memories I have a of K. She was the most beautiful, glowing bride I'd ever seen. I am beyond blessed that this crazy busy wife/mom/student/nurse will take some time away from saving the world to stand by me on one of the most important days of my life.

The ladies of 305: Myranda, Katelyn, Erin, & Mandie
Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other. [Carol Saline]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'll tell you one thing, meeting them explains a lot about you. [Connor]

Sidda: Such as?
Connor: Well, let me put it this way. You're a hell of a lot more normal than you've any right to be.
[Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood]

MatronOH and I started out our friendship with a question.
"You're L. Jason's L?" - Me
"No, I'm MY L." - MatronOH
Turns out she was NOT in fact the girl I thought my sort-of-boyfriend at the time was flirting with non-stop. I used to be way more confrontational that I am now. But, I digress.

MatronOH and I met in high school. We got in trouble together during chorus, made up secret societies together in Geometry, and generally had a grand time together. We were also the only two of our friends who understood the gloriousness of the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - the book not the movie. Don't get us started about the movie. Her son's name is Baylor, for any of you Ya-Ya aficionados out there. We fought like typical teenage girls, but we've always remained very close.

MatronOH is one of the funniest people I've ever met. She has a fiercely loyal heart and will defend your honor even if you're in the wrong. She will always be by your side, even when you don't deserve it. She is creative and generous. She is thoughtful in very unique, personalized ways and is as stubborn as they come. She is protective and always makes you feel safe. She's definitely the "mama bear" in the group. She is also a strong Christian woman who pushes me to strengthen my walk every day. If you don't have that person in your life yet, I hope you are as lucky as I've been to find/have someone like MatronOH.

MatronOH has been slowly but steadily pushing me to find a kind, strong, loving man. She'd heard me talk about P over the years, but she was beyond pleased to see him arrive with me to dinner one night during the summer of 2008. She just smiled and waited. She had a feeling this would be the one for me. She urged me to stop letting my fears of getting hurt stand in the way of falling in love. Boy, was she right. But, she knows a thing or two of the trials and tribulations that come with love. She and futureSquid were married not long after high school and have been blessed with two beautiful and amazing children - Bug, who happens to be our ringbearer, and Sugarplum Fairy. Their marriage is one that P and I look to as we find inspiration for this lifetime ahead of us. It seemed only natural that she would be my MatronOH.

I asked MatronOH in a similar manner to MaidOH. After calling family and MaidOH, I called MatronOH. Much like MaidOH, MatronOH rarely answers her phone because she is wearing one of her many hats. However, she did, and I couldn't even contain my excitement. I said "I'm so glad you answered. I have something to ask you." She laughed and said "Ok?" In a burst of emotion I squealed, "Will you be my Matron of Honor?" She then stuttered "wh-wha-what?" before agreeing to hold the super important role. She even pointed out that I made her stutter and that it'd be a long time since she'd done that. I do aim to shock!

MatronOH has been such a strong support during this wedding planning process, just as she's always been for me. I am so lucky that she will listen to my never-ending questions on her opinions from flowers to music to invitation paper to ice cream flavors. I'm so grateful to have her in my life. I'm blessed that she would agree to stand with me on one of the most important days of my life.

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same. [Elliot Hubbard]

Monday, January 24, 2011

If Friends Were Flowers, I'd Pick You

MaidOH might be kindest, most considerate person I ever met. She really is the kind of MOH/Bridesmaid every girl dreams of. She's the friend you count twice in your blessings. Seriously, if you don't know her, shame on you.

MaidOH and I met during GARP (Graduate Assistant Recruiting Program) at the University of South Carolina in March 2007. She was applying for one of the first-year graduate assistantships in the University 101 office where I worked. Her resume was stellar. She's won every academic distinction you could imagine while also doing a million hours of community service and holding every leadership role known to man. She also happened to be incredibly sweet. I actually told RevDocJLa that MaidOH might be too nice to be a GA in our office. Our director at the time needed people who would stand up to him, and I was afraid he would run all over her. But, she of course, knocked our socks off in every possible way. We also had so many things in common, it was kind of creepy. She was from Seymour, Indiana. Most of you know, I hail from Seymour, Tennessee. She has a Yorkie named Brinker. I have joint-custody of a Yorkie-Poo named Ilyana. We both have an obsession with Moe's and Dave Matthews. We were meant to be friends.

We were instantly close when she arrived in Columbia to start her grad school adventure. We bonded quickly (and often) over homemade Chex Mix and puppy play dates. During my last few months in Columbia, we spent almost all of our time together trying to soak it up before I had to go on the "real world." She was one of the first people I told about P when we started dating in summer 2008. I called and told her that this was the man I would marry before I even believed it myself. I called her first thing after he told me he loved me, and I called her crying when we broke up and when we got back together. She was my rock, even while she was starting her job and finishing up her graduate work. We lived about 10 hours apart while I was in Statesboro, but that didn't stop us from talking often. I knew she'd be my MaidOH, and I knew how I'd ask her.

On that glorious March evening when P surprised me with the most amazing surprise of my life, I grabbed both our cell phones and a glass of wine and ran outside. After calling the families, I called Michelle first thing. I was almost sure I'd get her voicemail, as she is busy every waking moment with her job. But, she answered. I tried to contain my excitement and asked how she was, trying to make normal chit-chat. Then I told her I needed to ask her a question, and I believe she really had no idea what was coming. When "Will you be my Maid of Honor?" came out of my mouth, I think she screamed, gasped, cried, and laughed simultaneously. By the time we got off the phone that evening, we'd made several plans.

Since that wonderful evening, MaidOH has attended bridal shows and dress stores, poured over decorations, talked about cake/cupcake/icecream options, and gotten sucked into more of the wedding planning details than she probably ever really wanted to. She rocks. Hands down. The most amazing thing about having MaidOH in my life is knowing that this is only one of many events we'll share in our lifetimes. We've watched each other become "Masters" of education, start new jobs, move to new places, and I've watched her complete a 60 mile 3-day walk for breast cancer with RevDocJLa. I know I'll watch her say her "I do's," and we'll be there for each other when babies come around.

"A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future,
and accepts you today just the way you are."

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Really Big Question

FutureDrKG, Disney Princess, and I have a regular tradition of Sunday night dinner. A lot of times Librarian, Beer Man, and Pretty join us. P has attended these dinners when he has been in town. This time, though, I didn't know he was in town. P spent the day at Pretty's house getting ready.

Although exhausted from the week, I still wanted to go to Sunday night dinner per usual tradition. I also had to go get Pongo, who'd stayed with Disney Princess while FutureDrKG and I were away doing the conference. P was supposedly at his parents helping with yard work and having dinner with them, which assured that I wouldn't call to interrupt. While waiting on Librarian to arrive, I was sitting in the kitchen talking to Beer Man. Beer Man knew what would soon be happening, so while I was freaking out about moving in with a man I wasn't even engaged to, he just kept poking me along saying things like, "Well, he might not ever propose. You should be ready for that." Sneaky, sneaky, Beer Man. There was a knock on the door, which I assumed was Librarian.

However, P walked in. I was completely surprised (remember how I said I didn't like surprises?) and said "what are you doing here?" to which P replied, "It's celebration Sunday, isn't it?" I again asked, "But what are you doing here? I'm coming home next weekend." All this time I was still assuming he meant celebrating my new job. Silly me. P explained that he had an important question to ask me, which went something like, "You've been my best friend for a very long time, and now I want to know if you'll be my wife?" I was ridiculously excited and of course said "YES!"

There are many good side-stories that go with this story. The second best part of this story (other than the proposal, duh) may be Pongo, who was jumping on P while he was down on bended knee because clearly he was there to see him. Everyone comes just to see Pongo, didn't you know that? It's also a wonderful memory how Beer Man sat at the kitchen counter with his chin perched on his hand just smiling like an awkward stalker. Anyone who knows Beer Man will be able to picture his creepiness immediately. Love you, Beer Man.

At this point my phone was dying but I HAD to call everyone I knew. I'd made a promise a long time ago that the super important people would not find out via Facebook. When I called my dad, he was waiting by the phone. It turns out that P had visited him the previous Monday and asked for his blessing. Then his question from Thursday made perfect sense. Way to almost give it away, Dad! I also had to call my mom, who was ridiculously hard to get a hold of that evening. She actually kept trying to blow me off saying she couldn't talk right now because she was doing something with her car. Of course she stopped when I finally got the news out! With joy, everyone drank wine and celebrated a wonderful night.

I will be posting individually about my wonderful bridesmaids and how I asked them to hold those positions. They are extraordinary women, and I am truly blessed.

I would tell you about them now, but I have another issue I'd like to address. Friends don't let friends get proposed to in pajamas and with no makeup on when they know the groom-to-be will be dressed well. FutureDrKG and Disney Princess had ample opportunity to get me dressed up. I'm gullible. Seriously, very gullible. They could've just said, "Let's dress up and celebrate your new job while drinking wine and being fabulous!" But, no, they did not. They let me look like a hot mess. Oh well, good memories I suppose. So here is pictorial evidence of P's hotness and my hotmessness on the day that changed our lives with one big question.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yes, I Guarantee, Things are Sweeter in Tennessee

In February 2010, I stumbled across, quite by serendipity, a position at Tennessee Wesleyan College. It was the perfect position for me, and it was conveniently located in the place I wanted to live. For those of you who don't know much at Student Affairs/Higher Education, you typically find your niche within the field. Usually there is one office at each institution for that area. Within that office can be 1-8 people. The odds of finding your dream job in your dream location at the exact time you want the job are pretty slim. People also tend to stay in their jobs for multiple years, so it really is a special moment when the stars align and God blesses you with your exact perfect prayer. In my case, it was a brand new office and position, so that was extra exciting and extra scary!
So, I submitted my application on a Wednesday night. They called on Thursday. Apparently they were in the middle of the first-round interviews, and I got very lucky with the timing of my application. I was offered an on-campus interview, and my mentor, RevDocJLa, assured me that the worst that could happen is they paid for me to come home and see P for a weekend. SCORE! As it turns out, they liked me. Almost a month after interviewing (I was the first of five candidates - long wait!), they called on Thursday, March 18 to offer me my dream position, in my dream location, in my dream time slot. I called P and my parents after getting the great news. My dad congratulated me then said, "So, when are you getting married?" As a 25 year old woman living in the South who had yet to marry, I was REALLY used to getting that question. My response was, "I don't know. When P asks, I guess."
After celebrating outside the dining hall with FutureDrKG (the only person there who knew I'd been job searching), I was on cloud nine. I was also a little sad. You see, I was in the middle of a week long leadership conference with over 50 amazing and wonderful students from Georgia Southern. I was there with students who I'd really bonded with during my 19 months at GSU. I couldn't tell them yet since there were other "higher-ups" who needed to know the news first. So I just smiled. FutureDrKG also smiled and off I went just being super excited that I was moving home.
You see, what I didn't know was that FutureDrKG had other secrets hidden behind his big smile.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Air Force Shorts and Third Times a Charm

To understand the power of the shorts, we must go back to Spring 2005. They weren't meant to be anything special. They weren't a gift or something sentimental or some other token of love. But, over time, that's what they turned in to. These shorts were P's from basic training/tech school. You know how boy's shirts are always way more comfortable than our own t-shirts? Same goes for workout/pajama/lounge shorts. P lent them to me one night while we dated in Spring 2005. I never gave them back. Funny how girls always manage to keep a guy's clothing around.

Anyway, after not speaking to P for 5 months, I decided that I really needed to let go and move on. To fully do this, I had to give the shorts back. I'd had them for 4 1/2 years at this point, and I didn't want to hold on to anything that caused me to hold a grudge just because a guy made a choice I didn't like. So, I wrote a letter to him explaining that I wasn't sending these shorts back out of hate or anger, I was sending them back out of love and forgiveness. I was giving myself closure, and I wished him well. With a heavy heart, I mailed him his shorts. Of course, I knew I hadn't truly let go, but I hoped it would come with sending this package.

Getting this package in the mail was what gave P the final kick in the booty to pick up the phone before he lost me for good. I expected some sort of response, most likely in the form of facebook email. I didn't expect what I got. Even though I'd deleted his number from my phone, I knew it was him when it rang. It was one of those moments that time stops because the possibilities of what's on the other end could be so great or so very bad. I let him leave a message. I then made two friends listen to the message. I was terrified. It was the strangest feeling ever. But, then I called him back. We talked for hours. We agreed to meet in Atlanta the following weekend to see how things went.

I don't know if I'd ever been so nervous to see someone ever. It was like a blind date with your best friend. The weekend ended with us deciding to give love a third chance. We were equal at this point - I'd broken his heart once and he'd broken my heart once. This was either going to end horribly or be the best decision of our lives.

Over the next nine months, we worked to rebuild our trust in each other and to bring back the romance we'd missed. I started job searching back in Tennessee, and we started talking about a future. I guess there really is something to that saying that "Third time's a charm." It sure was for us!