Friday, December 31, 2010

Reverb 10: December 31st: Core Story

December 31 – Core Story

What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

(Author: Molly O’Neill)

My story is less of what I am, and more of what I'm not:

I am not "just" Parker's mom.

I am not "just" Naomi's mom.

I am not "just" Nathan's mom.

I am not just a mom of 3. I am not just an English teacher's wife. I am not just the chubby redhead. I am not the girl who used to be an aerobics instructor. I am not the goofy girl who doesn't embarass easily. I am not the girl who took 8 years to finish college. I am not the neat fanatic. I am not the chocolate fiend. I am not my hysterectomy. I am not my insecurities. I am not a couch potato. I am not my downfalls.

I am a tabula rasa every day.

I am compassionate and funny.

I am dynamic.

I am open-minded.

I am goofy.

I am on this road with all of you, just trying to stay true to myself and smile every day.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reverb 10: December 30th: Gift

This post is a part of Reverb 10.

December 30 – Gift

Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?


That's what it sounds like when Parker says, "I love you". My precious little boy's speech progression was the best gift I received this year. When I realized his speech was behind, it was a good way's behind. He was 2 and only said maybe 2 words. I guess I was just so busy living life I didn't notice the signs until he was a bit older. At that point we were getting along ok without audible speech.

The gift of speech came from the hard work of so many people.

Parker worked so hard to faithfully repeat all the phrases we constantly threw at him.

My wonderful husband, Mr. G, worked so hard with Parker every day. I would hear him every morning, talking to Parker. "Let's put on your pants. Where are your feet? Can you point to my eyes? Go find your boots! I'll help you put on your jacket." He chattered with Parker to make conversation an important part of his day.

Parker's pediatrician and ENT who decided to put tubes in his ears so that he could hear better, to speak better.

Parker's developmental interventionist, Ms. Joanne, for playing with him an hour a week this Spring and Summer.

Parker's first speech therapist, Ms. Heather, who faithfully drove out to our house twice a week and engaged Parker in lots of activity...and PUSHED him when he wanted to be silly and lazy and stubborn.

Parker's second speech therapist, after our move, Ms. Nancy. Ms. Nancy works with Parker every week and when he wants to eat instead of play, she turns that into speech exercises too.

Parker's behavioral therapist, Ms. Andrea, who reminds Parker to "use his words" when he is wanting to have a meltdown.

Ms. Jamie, Parker's daycare provider, who gives Parker a safe and fun environment with other typical children whose speech isn't delayed. Every morning Parker gets excited when they go to Jamie's house.

All of these people helped develop Parker's speech this year. He's really come a long way in the last 10 months since we noticed the delay. He has a long way to go still before he is on-target, but every sweet word he says melts my heart.

Especially when he runs in the door and says, "Mama!!!! Luhyoo!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reverb 10: December 29th: Defining Moment

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 29 – Defining Moment

Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

(Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)

This Autumn, making the decision to stop working as a graphic designer and seek employment outside of the home was a defining moment. I mulled over the decision for weeks. I talked with all of the most important people in my life about it. I temporarily felt relieved when I imagined not being encumbered with the responsibility of working from home and the instability of income. I became joyful at the thought of going to work for 8 hours, doing a job and leaving. Allowing my free time to truly be my free time again.

Then the negative parts hit me. I wasn't clinically depressed, I didn't see a doctor or take medication. But I did have a little bit of situational depression. Those who know me well know how uncharacteristic I was acting. I laid on the couch and watched TV for 4 days. Sounds mild, but very out of the ordinary for me. I was so sad about closing the chapter of my life that involved graphic design. I let myself wallow, then forced myself to get off the couch, dust myself off, and move on. Literally within a week I had a job offer and realized that the only thing that stood between me and happiness was my own silly self.

It has been a great experience. I miss graphic design but still dabble in it some. The things this decision has brought into my life have been far greater than the things I miss...things being new experiences, feelings, and people...I missed the workforce more than I realized!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reverb 10: December 28th: Achieve

December 28 – Achieve

What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

(Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

Next year I want to achieve balance. I don't want to spend all my time doing one thing, or miss out on free time because I work too hard. Or stop blogging because my laundry is backed up. Or stop taking photos because I'm too busy working.

I think achieving balance is not a finite goal. It will always be a moving target, something I will constantly have to work on. Achieving balance every day, however, will make me feel blissful. It will make me feel relaxed. It will make me feel satisfied

What can I do to achieve balance today?

1. Schedule time, silly as that sounds, to do fun things.

2. Do not allow things to pile up. I am in control of choosing to procrastinate.

3. Choose to not procrastinate.

4. Release the thought that things have to be perfect.

5. Ask for help when I can't do it all.

6. Recognize the opportunity cost of doing one thing over the other.

7. Accepting less than I'd like...for instance, I'd like to work out for an hour, but maybe 30 minutes is all I have time for today if I want to fit other things in.

8. Remind myself daily to keep things in perspective.

9. Don't make mountains out of molehills.

10. Recognize time wasters..especially emotional ones, like sulking instead of talking things through. I don't want to waste time doing non-productive activities.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reverb 10: December 27th: Ordinary Joy

December 27 – Ordinary Joy

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

(Author: Brené Brown)

My family loves to watch movies. However, we've never successfully had a family movie night because Parker is a bit too young to sit still for one. James and I watch movies, we take Naomi and Nathan to the movies, etc...but the family thing never works out.

Well finally, a couple of months ago, we were all sitting here at the house and it actually worked. Tabatha and all her kids were over for Naomi's birthday. We all sat down in the living room, adults and kids alike, and started watching How To Train Your Dragon, which had just come out on DVD. Everyone enjoyed it! Parker and Julian, who are both 2, didn't sit enthralled through the whole thing...they got up and played some. But it was so pleasant...All 10 of us sitting here watching a family movie and the little ones finally being old enough to enjoy it.

It was fun, and makes me look forward to doing more of that in the future! Family time ranks pretty high on my list of favorite things :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reverb 10: December 26th: Soul Food

December 26 – Soul Food

What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

(Author: Elise Marie Collins)

Well this doesn't really have to be a long post. There's not much to say about truffles except that they are the best food on Earth. Don't try to argue with me, it's a scientific fact.

I can't decide whether they are amazing because they are the best chocolate I've ever tasted or if they are amazing because I first tried them the day before my wedding.

I don't think it matters why they are amazing...they just are.

Two days before the wedding I was with my bridesmaids shopping in the grocery store for wedding food when I decided to pick up some chocolates to eat. I grabbed a bag of truffles although I had never eaten them before. I tried them the next day, the afternoon of my wedding rehearsal, and have never looked back.

I love Lindor truffles, they are my sinful decadent pleasure. I've now tried all varieties I can get my chocolate-covered paws on, and none of them disappoint. I'm a sweets girl...chocolate is my thing...and from this year forward, I'll probably be known as that girl who always has a bag of Lindor truffles at her desk.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reverb 10: December 25th: Photo

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself

Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

(Author: Tracey Clark)


For many years there was never anyone around to photograph me when I needed a portrait. So, I think I've mastered the self portrait. It's always the same...hold out my arm, smile, snap, be overly critical of the shots, then edit the heck out of one of them until I'm not embarassed to share it. They all virtually look the same though.

This past June, I snapped this one. What is interesting about it...different than all the others, is not something I can really put into words. It's the expression on my face. It's so happy. I mean, purely carefree and happy. And it's true...I was immensely happy. Still am! And I didn't really have to do much editing for the photo to make me happy...which was a bit of a feat in itself ;)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reverb 10: December 24th: Everything's OK

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

(Author: Kate Inglis)

Being a mom is my most important job. So it would stand to reason that it is one of my biggest stressors. Although I've been a mom for 10 years, this year has felt like a completely different ballgame. I felt like a new mom all over again because after 3 kids, I was all of a sudden being hit with new challenges I never expected. As Parker's personality began to take shape and he entered toddlerhood, I had to learn as though it were the first time, how to parent a spirited toddler.

I refuse to call him my 'bad' child or anything of the sort. He's just different. The behaviors he shows me are both polar opposite of the behaviors I saw out of Naomi and Nathan at age 2, and also very similar to how I imagine I was at age 2. He is most definitely my most aggressive, my most rambunctious, my most independent, my most busy-non-stop child. Couple that with his hearing/speech delay and I'm clearly out of my element.

It was around April that I realized the few words Parker said were not enough for his age. We discovered hearing loss and had tubes put in. I held out hope that we would see improvement based on the tubes, but really we didn't. He has been in some pretty intensive speech therapy over the last 7 months (2 hours a week for 3 months and now 1 hour a week for the last 4). I have seen the most progress lately, after we added daycare into the mix.

Still, he's way behind in speech. Eventually I realized that his speech delay had completely infiltrated his behavior as well. He gets so frustrated that he can't tell you what he wants to say and he doesn't always understand what you are saying. After some meetings and evaluations, we added a few hours a month of behavioral therapy as well. We've introduced some basic discipline methods and structure in the house. Luckily, we already had quite a bit of structure...the evenings run like clockwork around here, and bedtimes are pretty smooth. We have our moments but things are getting better.

Sharing is difficult for Parker and Naomi. They are typical siblings. Close in age, young, neither wants the other to have a toy. This is normal behavior, I understand, but still undesired! It has gotten worse over the last few months and we are working on it pretty heavily. Lots of positive reinforcement, reminders, etc.

Today I realized everything was going to be OK. We were on our way to Cincinnati and the kids had done fine for the first 60 minutes of the trip. We were at the last 15 minutes and they were getting antsy. I decided it was time to let them play with my phone. I had gotten the iPhone a week before, and had downloaded some kid-friendly apps on it, but I still had been reluctant to let them hold the phone. Of course, I don't want it damaged. Additionally, there's only one phone and two cantankerous children in the backseat.

I was driving, so James loaded up the FluidToy2 app I had downloaded. It is just a funny little liquid motion kind of app that swirls under your finger when you touch it. We told them they had to share. Their eyes were aglow with the wonder of it all. At first Parker would hold it and play with it for a minute, and after about 60 seconds we'd tell him to give it to Naomi and vice versa. They obliged. We praised them for doing such a good job. Then they started passing it back and forth without being reminded. It was awesome! James queued up another app, the SteamDraw can put a picture on it, we chose one of Parker and one of Naomi, respectively, and then they can draw in the steam that is over their face. They drew moustaches and beards and glasses and well, just rubbed the steam away. They had so much fun! And they shared the whole time. It was kind of like a Christmas miracle.

I knew at that moment that if we could make such great strides in their behavior, especially Parker's, in such a short amount of time, that we could travel the rest of the road in 2011. The effort we are putting in is paying off tenfold, and is so worth it. We get 5 more months of behavioral therapy before he ages out of the program at age 3. If we can continue to make this sort of progress with him/them over the next 5 months, I'm hoping he'll be more of a typical toddler/preschooler. He'll always be spirited, but that part is ok with me!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reverb 10: December 23rd: New Name

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 23 – New Name

Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

(Author: Becca Wilcott)

This prompt was an easy one. I named my daughter Naomi, but I also really love the name! Sometimes I wish it were my name! It's classic and pretty and just unusual enough to be perfect. We get complimented on the name constantly and every time it reaffirms my love of the name.

That being said, introducing myself as my daughter would be kind of weird, and Princess Consuela Bananahammock is already taken, I'm back to the drawing board.

I like quirky and trendy and unusual names. If I got to keep a name only for a day, it would never reach that overused or dated point, so carpe diem right? I have a list of fun names I'd love to embody: Piper, Paisley, Ivy, Gwendolyn, Francesca, Dax, Lydia, Alexa, you name it. These are all names that please my ear and eye, but to others they'd be meh. Hey, if it's just one day, I could live with anything!

Butter Butter Butter Sandwich

Naomi loves peanut butter & butter sandwiches but she calls them "butter butter butter" sandwiches. I caught her on film calling it that, and it makes my heart melt every time I watch it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb 10: December 22nd: Travel

This post is part of Reverb 10

December 22 – Travel

How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

(Author: Tara Hunt)

2011 NEEDS to include a trip to Florida to see my family! I miss them so much! In 2010, James and I took a lot of small trips. One to Louisville, one to Cincinnati, just little weekend getaways. I enjoyed every little trip we took. But next year I want to take one big trip instead! We are aiming for Florida in the summer, maybe take the kids on a day trip to Disney (since it's just an hour from my dad's house, where we'll be staying). I can't wait to sit with the kids at the beach and catch up with family and friends. It will be a much needed trip! I get excited just thinking about it! I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reverb 10: December 21st: Future Self

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 21 – Future Self.

Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

(Author: Jenny Blake)

Girl, 2011 is going to be your year! Just remember, you may not be able to lose all the weight you want to lose in a month, but give yourself a year and you will feel so much better! Don't rush it! At the end of the year when you feel 1000% better, you will wonder why you didn't stick with it before. You'll also be so proud of yourself! I'm proud of you for weathering all the changes on the job front, ya done good, chica! Just remember...there is no sense stressing over the things you can't change...that includes people! You keep on taking care of yourself, and your kids, and everything else will fall into place.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reverb 10: December 20th: Beyond Avoidance

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance.

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

(Author: Jake Nickell)

This is an easy one...get healthy, lose weight, get fit! I made some strides towards this but every time I started a new diet or exercise plan, every time I bought new tennis shoes or renewed my Weight Watchers got crazy!

I'm not going to beat myself up over it...I'm giving 2010 a bye on it. Between surgery, wedding, move, new job, etc...there was plenty of things to keep me occupied! That being said, I'm going to have to make it a top priority because life will always be busy, a holiday will always be right around the corner, and I will always be too tired/busy/hungry/lazy/etc. Will I do it in 2011? Of course, daaahhhling.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reverb 10: December 19th: Healing

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 19 – Healing.

What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

(Author: Leonie Allan)

I had a hysterectomy on December 29th of last year so the first 3 months or more of 2010 were spent healing. What healed me was time and education. Understanding what was happening to my body, taking the time to heal my feelings. Knowing that the baby factory is closed forever is a tough pill to swallow but I'm fine. I really haven't gotten 'baby fever' at all, which is good. It's probably because I have my hands full! No one going through a hysterectomy and the aftermath of it wants to hear it...but time is what you needed. It took about 5 months for my hormone levels to level out to a point where I felt normal again. I distracted myself with other things and it happened while I wasn't paying attention! I read a few books on menopause and hysterectomies though, and that education helped me quite a bit!

In 2011 I'd like to continue healing old emotional wounds and not make any new ones! That's a lofty goal but I think it's a good one!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reverb 10: December 18th: Try

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 18 – Try.

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

(Author: Kaileen Elise)

I didn't have a goal in 2010. Is that sad? I say no. Just uninspired maybe. In 2011 I do want to try something. I want to join a fitness class at the YMCA and show up for it! I have never been successful in sticking to one of those classes. I'd like to try Spinning I think :) I joined a kickboxaerobics class one was literally 10 years ago. I went one time, then never went back.

A few years later I wanted to get fit, so I registered for a class in college. I didn't want a failing grade or a withdrawal, so I knew I would have to go! I loved every minute of it. I went to every class, twice a week for 10 weeks, and 20 classes later, I was more fit. I was also quite proud.

After that confidence booster, I joined a class at the Y and it was cancelled due to losing its instructor. That's how I became an aerobics instructor. For 2 years I taught step aerobics for the Y and loved it. Sometimes I didn't want to go to class. Some days I was lazy, tired, sick, you name it. But I had to go, because I was the instructor.

When I quit teaching due to overuse injuries, I enjoyed being a sloth for awhile because no one expected anything of me anymore. It was a welcomed break, and my feet healed. But I also gained a bunch of weight, had a few babies, and have never reached that level of fitness again. I won't be fit overnight, but joining a Spinning class at the Y and sticking through it even if I'm sore, embarrassed, or tired, will give me a feeling of accomplishment that I haven't felt in a while. It's a good goal for 2011 :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reverb 10: December 17th: Lesson Learned

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 17 – Lesson Learned.

What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

(Author: Tara Weaver)

I learned this year that I am capable of more self-control that I ever imagined. This year I learned how to better control my natural tendencies to control...ummmmm....everything! Ok, so let's call a duck a duck. I am a teensy bit of a control freak. I like the house cleaned just so. I like the dishes put away like this. I like my food not touching, I like to do things in certain orders. I like people to treat me the way I expect to be treated. I want everyone to see the same logic I do. I want people to agree with me. I want to hold myself, and everyone around me, to a high standard.

This year I have let loose that grasp. Not 100%. This will be a lifelong journey for me, because it goes against my innate grain. But I made small changes; baby steps. When I wanted to nose around in someone's business, I didn't. When I wanted to throw a fit over the littlest thing, I didn't.

I found some self-control in diet and exercise. I managed to eat healthy some of the time, instead of always or never. I managed to work out semi-regularly instead of every day or never.

This balance and self-control has been the hardest change for me, but also the most self-rewarding! I have reigned in my chocolate consumption. I have reigned in my extraneous spending. I have reigned in my need to have a perfectly clean house.

I still eat chocolate, I still splurge on boots and lip gloss, and I still have a pretty clean house. But letting go some hasn't hurt a thing. Only made me happier!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reverb 10: December 16th: Friendship

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 16 – Friendship.

How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

(Author: Martha Mihalick)

I had an interesting conversation with a friend this year that changed my perspective on my world. It was a short conversation, a friendly, off-the-cuff, catching up as this friend and I often do.

At least, to her, that's all the conversation was.

To me, it was an epiphany. I realized at some point during the conversation that somewhere between high school and that point, I had lost perspective in making myself happy.

She told me about her hobby, her job, her boyfriend and daughter, and how her parents were. We have these conversations a half dozen times a year. When I was chatting with her, I told her about Mr. G. And then the kids. And after that, I really didn't know what else to say. Somehow I had lost sight of being in charge of my own happiness.

I got off the phone with her and immediately knew it was time to make some changes.

And I did. I jotted down some notes in my journal, and it was a catalyst for change.

Six months later, I barely recognize that girl I was slowly becoming. I'm glad, because today, in part because of that one conversation with a dear friend, I am a happier version of me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reverb 10: December 15th: 5 minutes

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 15 – 5 Minutes.

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

(Author: Patti Digh)

I want to remember:

1. The pain of recovering from surgery. It was terrible but I can't forget all I went through to get me to a healthier place, free of cancerous cells and looking to the future.

2. The melancholoy winter months that helped me discover some of the most beautiful music on this Earth. (Iron & Wine, Katie Melua, Eva Cassidy to name a few).

3. My journey to become whole again and settle into a new normal. So much healing occured in 2010.

4. The awakening of Spring that included a point of no return in loving Mr. G and knowing I didn't want to be without him ever again.

5. The excitement of the Summer...busy planning a wedding; enjoying a creative burst of energy. Gazing at the stars and knowing they would disappear before your eyes if you stare too hard. Watching the clouds float by and breathing the pure air at the Arboretum.

6. Saying I Do.

7. Nesting a new home.

8. Taking a new job.

9. Making new friends, and missing old ones.

10. Finding comfort in happiness.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverb 10: December 14: Appreciate

December 14 – Appreciate.

What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

Time with family tops my list of things to be grateful for. This is probably a fairly standard answer, but that doesn't make it any less true or sincere. Just taking time to sit in the floor and build towers and castles with Naomi and Parker. Sitting on the couch gabbing with Nathan over the plot of his newest book. Having a movie night with Mr. G. Going to visit my sister and having it being something special because I don't get to see her every day anymore. Special grandma and grandpa snuggles scattered between all the kids....

All of these things make me grateful to be alive and I think I have expressed gratitude in the best way making time. No matter what I can master in this life, I won't get time back. Money can make me look younger, allow me to work less or make my free time more exciting...but no matter what we are bound by time. Choosing to spend my time in a more well-rounded manner is a constant battle but one worth fighting!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reverb 10: December 13th: Actions

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 13 – Action

When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

(Author: Scott Belsky)

In 2011 I want to do another 5K. I just completed my first 5K this past weekend. I walked the whole thing...which was the plan. I am proud of my accomplishment though...I didn't want to be last (I wasn't) and I wanted to walk it in less than an hour. My official race time was 51:45. Not bad for a walk!

In 2011, though, I want to do one where I actually run part of it. More than the last 200 yards :) My next step is easy, though. They make programs just for this! So I don't have to get too creative with my next step. My next step is to drop 20 lbs before I begin running at all. I'm working on that right now. After that is done, I'm going to start a Couch25K program. The idea behind losing weight first is just to help alleviate some of the pressure and stress on my joints...especially with my RA. This frame running wouldn't be very good for my joints. I know this!

However, I have a plan, and it's already in action. I'm planning to do my next 5K in the Spring.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reverb 10: December 12th: Body Integration

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 12 – Body Integration

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

(Author: Patrick Reynolds)

On June 26th James and I got engaged. We had such a great evening...we took a walk at the Arboretum, had dinner at Applebees, had a cupcake from Gigi's was low-key, laidback, and romantic. At the end of the evening, we went for a swim in the apartment complex pool. No one else was there, but it wasn't closed for the night yet. It was relaxing and quiet and still. The water was still warm from the sun and the air was balmy. Normally I don't love being in a swimsuit..I don't think many overweight girls do. But since we were alone and no one was there to see...since the sun wasn't beating down on me, stressing me to the HILT about burn and skin cancer (regardless of sunblock!), I was able to just enjoy myself. I didn't think about what I looked like, or if I was getting a sunburn, or if my freckles were connecting :P . I was completely caught up in the moment, completely happy, and I wish every day could be like that day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reverb 10: December 11th: Things

This post is part of Reverb 10.

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

(Author: Sam Davidson)

I love this prompt, although I must admit it was a lot harder to write about than I thought it would be. I think I'm going to gloss over the "how to eliminate" part. I've got specifics in mind. Just coming up with 11 things is hard enough for me.

11 things my life doesn't need in 2011.

1. Jealousy of people when they have things I can't have.

2. Guilt over spending time doing things I enjoy.

3. These extra pounds.

4. Junk mail!

5. An all or nothing mentality.

6. A perfectly clean house.

7. Perfection, period.

8. A high credit card balance.

9. Worry over other people's problems.

10. Resentment.

11. Feelings of failure over unfinished projects.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb 10: December 10th: Wisdom

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 10 – Wisdom

Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

(Author: Susannah Conway)

I usually dislike cryptic feel-good cliche'd phrases like "everything happens for a reason." Of course everything happens for a reason. If one of my children is running away from me and trips over his shoelace, BAM, a reason. He fell because the universe has a sense of humor and for one second, was on my side. ;)

This year, my wisest decision isn't turning out so great for me. Yet I still consider it my wisest decision. I'm going with the "everything happens for a reason" camp. My wisest 2010 decision was also my most difficult, as is par for the course. It probably wouldn't be so wise if it were easy.

This fall, I made the decision to step away from the graphic design business and get a job outside the home with benefits. I am loving my job with Hewlett-Packard. When I made the decision to close up shop and start looking, it kind of depressed me. I laid around the house for a solid week, watching TV and avoiding doing anything I didn't have to do. Once I began my search, though, and found the job at HP, I have loved every minute of it.

All of a sudden, Friday meant something again. I love looking forward to the weekend because my work is done. I love the structure it adds to my day. I love the feeling of self-worth I get in having a purpose *other* than raising my children (I do love that purpose, too). I love getting out of the house 5 days a week and interacting with other adults. It was a tough decision but it wound up being a wise one.

This prompt is twofold, however. How is it playing out, you ask?

Well that part, not so well. We found out that we are facing pretty much guaranteed layoffs in the Spring and of course, that makes me sad. I'm still not sorry I made this decision, though. I'll learn everything I can while I am here, I'll enjoy every moment I can until it's over, and I'll take with me life experience and the confidence that I can have life outside of being a mommy. I love my kids more than anything, but I'm also learning to love the me that remains when I'm done wiping noses, changing diapers, and giving snuggles.

Reverb 10: December 9th: Party

December 9 – Party

Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

(Author: Shauna Reid)

I'm not loving the idea of writing about our wedding...again. Don't get me wrong, I loved our wedding, but "the big post" I wrote about our wedding took me 6 hours to compose, and I just did so 6 weeks ago. I love re-reading it, but I don't really want to rehash it again.

That being said, I would be remiss if this weren't my choice for the prompt. We had a few get togethers this year...nothing fancy...a few birthday parties, tambien...

The wedding was, of course, the quintessential party for the year. Anytime you're feeding 50 of your closest friends, it counts.

So, I'll just itemize.

Describe the people-

Well, it was our favorite people of course.

Describe the music-

We burned a CD for some great romantic music but never got around to playing it. We had live music thanks to Matt Branham. He is one of Mr. G's closest friends and he has such a great voice!

Describe the food & drink-

Yummm. We had croissant sandwiches, pasta salad, shrimp, salad, chocolate covered strawberries, and fruit and veggie trays. We drank water, lemonade and strawberry lemonade.

Describe the clothes-

I wore white. ;)

And the shenanigans...well they were tame. We're not the whippersnappers we used to be ;)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reverb 10: December 8th: Beautifully Different

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 8 – Beautifully Different.

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

(Author: Karen Walrond)

This is a tough subject to write about. What makes me different...from whom?

Physically speaking, I'm different in a few aspects, I suppose. I have red hair. This is "different". But I'm even different than a lot of redheads because I am capable of tanning skin tone is not as pink based as most redheads. I'm not freckled all over like some redheads...just clusters here and there. I have dimples. 3 of them! That is different, too.

If I move away from the physical, it becomes harder to distinguish ways in which I'm different. Comparing myself to others is not only a waste of time, it's a mathematical impossibility. If I write that I'm different because I like to eat ketchup on my fruit loops (I do not), surely there is someone else out there (where is there?) that likes the same thing.

All I know is who I am, and that is dynamic, too.

I do have an interesting quirk. I prefer even numbers always and choose special days based on them (My wedding anniversary is 08.28.10 for instance). I don't like it when I am odd number of years. But when I turn 31, I'm declaring it Baskin Robbins year and I'm going to eat all 31 flavors. You know, do some sort of ice cream meal replacement diet. Just two scoops for breakfast, two for lunch, and a sensible dinner! ;)

What do I do that lights people up? Well...I smile a lot. I try to stay positive. I look at the bright side. I try to cheer people up. I think up creative ways to do so. But I have to be this person who does all these great things because on the flip side, when I am having my rare moment, I need the same thing from my friends and family. They always pull through and light me up!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reverb 10: December 7th: Community

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 7 – Community

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

(Author: Cali Harris)

Online community is a big thing for me. I registered at Sweet Shoppe Designs in 2007 and started posting heavily in 2008. I can't say I joined any new communities in 2010 because there hasn't been a need for me to!

I'm not a huge fan of mommy the past I've tried them out, and even enjoyed them in part, but never so much that I couldn't leave and never look back. (I joined my first mommy board in 1999!) I have a private mom's board with only about a dozen active members that I've enjoyed for almost 5 years now. The busy-ness of the board has waxed and waned but the friendships remain.

During 2009 I joined briefly a few medical support communities for 2 different medical conditions I was dealing with. One condition proved temporary, the other permanent, but both experiences taught me I wasn't a huge fan of online medical communities, either.

Here's the part where I generalize. I do not wish to offend, but indulge me my stereotyping and if your experience is different, that is fantastic. Mommy communities often seem judgmental to me. Also, longevity-wise, those who stick it out over time often seem to have extreme viewpoints. You know the ones. You might be one of the ones. I am not.

Medical communities...well IMHO they fixate. I don't have time to fixate on my medical condition(s) , be they temporary or permanent. Sometimes I wish to...and I allow it for a short while then force myself to adapt and move on.

Social media communities are great moderation.

So that brings me right back to where I a scrap community in 07/08. I have frequented many scrap communities, actually. I've been happy in various communities at various times. But the group of girls in my private mom's board and in my scrapping community at Sweet Shoppe really where it's at for me.

The girls (and guy) have seen me through so much...been there for me through times of heavy posting and times when I was quiet...and through the good and the bad. As much as I've been willing to share, they've been willing to listen, encourage, and commiserate. I can't imagine seeking out a new community in 2011. I'm happy with the homes I have!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reverb 10: December 6th: Make

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 6 – Make.

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

(Author: Gretchen Rubin)

I needed this prompt more than anyone can know. Digital scrapbooking has been a part of my life for 5 years and it has been the perfect hobby for me...there for me when I need it, and fairly easy enough to cast aside when life is just too much for hobbies.

2010 was too busy in spots for hobbies, but in a good way. Still, I mourn for the opportunities I missed to be creative.

Prior to today, the last thing I made was a poster. I'll share it in another post, but it was a 16x20 poster for our house rules. I was instructed to make one by the behavioral therapist we're working with. I whipped it together yesterday fairly quickly, and it was just enough to whet my appetite for creativity. Prior to the poster I hadn't created anything in literally 3 months. It was sad.

Today, in preparation for this blog post, I sucked it up, put my big girl panties on, and took the plunge. Re-entry into the digital world can be tough. You get rusty, you lose confidence and creativity and if you're gone long enough, styles can even change.

I made this:


It felt good.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reverb 10: December 5th: Let Go

This post is part of Reverb 10.

December 5 – Let Go.

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

(Author: Alice Bradley)

I made great strides this year to let go of other people's behavior. It sounds so cliche and well...way more grown up than I feel--but it's true!

I've always heard people say that as you get older, you care much less about the petty crap. While it sounds nice, I always doubted my own personal ability to experience this. I am type-A to the max. I am sensitive, have high expectations for myself and others, and well...I *do* care about stuff. Even if I shouldn't.

This year, though, I made a wasn't in one moment but over several months this past Spring. I decided to stop wasting my time and energy caring about other people's problems, behavior, and issues.

Wow, that sounds so easy doesn't it? Well it hasn't been that pat, trust me. It is a daily process. But I have stuck with it. For about 7 months now, I've worked hard at taking care of myself and spend little energy worrying about other people's issues. It has been very freeing, and as I get better at it, I think my happiness will increase exponentially.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reverb 10: December 4th: Wonder

This post is part of Reverb 10

December 4 – Wonder.

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

(Author: Jeffrey Davis)

This is a good prompt and my answer is two-fold.

The first thing I've done to cultivate wonder is to learn. I've read several books on several things, but the fact is I've come out on the other side more knowledgable. Some of the material was dry, but my new knowledge and experience is something no one can take from me! Nothing promotes wonder better than learning!

The second thing I did in 2010 to cultivate wonder is to take time to just 'be'. I can't tell you how many times James and I went to the Arboretum just to lay in the grass and stare at the clouds. It makes me feel small every time. We found a spot in Rockcastle County to lay on the hood of the car this summer and stare at the stars. And just since it has gotten bitter cold, we've spent plenty of time laying on the living room floor gazing at the fire in the fireplace. Taking time to just enjoy peace and allow your imagination to wander is awesome! I want to find even more time in 2011 to enjoy quiet moments.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reverb 10: December 3rd: Moment

This post is part of Reverb 10

December 3 – Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

(Author: Ali Edwards)

This is an easy peasy one. Considering that I got married in 2010, it stands to reason that there is one moment that stood out from the others.

"I do."

I need to look at this from a different angle. I can't say it any better than right here. If you want details and pictures, I've already blogged this moment, and recently. Just in October I finally blogged the details of our big day, and the moment when James and I shared our vows was momentous.

I love Ali's prompt, though, because of her attention to detail.

(texture, smells, voices, noises, colors)


The silk of my dress was getting heavy by the time we said our vows. I didn't realize this! I said to my photographer, "it feels like my dress is getting longer!" And she said back to me..."it is!" See, you learn something new every day.


I loved the smell of our outdoor wedding. I ordered some perfume to be our wedding scent...I chose Vera Wang's Princess to wear that day and have it be my signature scent. However, I forgot to put it on. So what I smelled was... honeysuckle. From the honeysuckle bush beside the house. Lemon...because there were SO many lemons as part of our day. Fresh cut grass. It was truly amazing scent mixture.


Pink and yellow, baby :) Since we were having an outdoor wedding, I wanted to be sure our day was filled with organic colors. Brown was our neutral, and everything else was pink and a sunset! I kept calling it our 'strawberry lemonade' wedding.

We had a great wedding day, and the memories of that exact moment seem burned into my memory so precisely that it is hard to imagine ever forgetting any of it. But in case I ever do, I'm glad I have blog posts like this as backup.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reverb 10: December 2nd: Writing

This post is part of Reverb 10

December 2
- Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)

I'm choosing to modify this prompt (as is within my rights LOL). I'm not a writer...well I'm a blogger but only casually writing isn't really my passion. I'm going to modify this to say "scrapping" where "writing" is.

Scrapping isn't just a casual hobby for me. It's a passion that really only another scrapper can understand. I dream about it, I think about it every day, and occasionally make life modifications to support my hobby. Illustration: I read a journaling prompt about scrapping your bedtime routine. Normally I wouldn't photograph my kids' bedtime routine...but in this instance, in the name of art, I chase my children around with a camera one evening...pretending to be a photojournalist so that I can fulfill my scrapping desires :)

Nearly every other thing that I do every, cleaning, sleeping, eating...gets in the way of my scrapping LOL! There really isn't anything I can do to clear out my schedule... I'm not giving up sleep or eating so that I can scrap.

What I *CAN* do, however, is make sure that I scrap some every day, even if it's only 1/2 a layout. I'm going to have to realize, going into the next year, that if I have to pull up a layout and leave it in progress for 2 days on my laptop, Paisley, that it's ok. Doing one layout over the course of three days is better than going for three weeks without scrapping before I have one full block of time to scrap with.

A lesson I can take away from that all or nothing often leaves us with nothing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reverb 10: December 1st: One Word

I am participating in Reverb 10. Will you participate with me? I am looking forward to some reflection.

December 1 - One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)

My word is CHANGE.

2010 has been a really big year for me and my family. During the winter, I was experiencing a lot of change physically, mentally and emotionally. After having a complete surgical hysterectomy on Dec 29, 2009, I was recovering slowly at home during the first few months of 2010. There were so many changes to deal with, but over time they all leveled out and I am relieved to have it behind me. I am taking hormone replacement therapy, I am physically feeling fine and feel just like my normal old self, just with a closed baby factory! ;)

During the Spring, I experienced a lot of changes with the way I view my world. I relied heavily on my family and friends. I worked hard at personal growth. I began to feel the need for change...I began to feel ambitious, like I was ready for a career change. I started updating my resume. I changed the way my family ran our day...streamlined our schedules and worked hard to fall into a groove.

During the Summer, I worked my tail off! My graphic design business was hopping and I designed sometimes for 15 hours a day. I can't say it was a change from normal, but it was a change in the makeup of my day. In addition to work, work, work...I planned, planned, planned! James and I got engaged, and married. Change much?

During the Fall, I moved to Lexington and enjoyed life with my new husband. I started a new job. More changed. :) James and I really didn't live together before being married, so that was a big change for us. A good one! And our new apartment was a welcomed change as well. After much deliberation, I decided to rejoin the rat race. I had been working from home for 5 years and enjoyed it very much but was ready for a change. The change was great. I accepted a job with HP and have been enjoying my job very much.

However, I found out shortly after accepting the job that most of the location was facing an unexpected layoff. Myself included...and soon. I'll only have this job for a few more months. It was a shock, but it has been a learning experience too. HP has handled themselves very gracefully throughout the ordeal. It wasn't in HP's control...the result of a broken contract removing business that had been at the location for over 5 years. I harbor no ill will towards the company--it's business. I get that. They are offering a respectable severance package that helps ease the burden of the impending layoff, and I'm making the most of the job while I still have it. But it's a bit crazy that admidst all the change, more is coming.

What do I think my 2011 word will be?


At least that is my goal. In the middle of all the crazy changes that 2010 brought me, I lost balance many times. I spent the last 6 months of 2010 without my hobbies. Sometimes I look at my clean house and wonder when cleaning became my hobby. Well's not...yet sometimes by the time I'm done getting the house cleaned, I don't have the energy to scrap or read or just veg out. Which is a problem...because all work and no play makes Lena a dull girl. I really should be mindful...too much of anything isn't here's to some balance in 2011.

Paper, Snow, A Ghost!

Do you get my reference? If you do, you're giggling with me now.

I don't have much time today, this week is insanely busy. But today we woke up to a snowglobe outside our window. It didn't stick much, just in a few patchy spots. But it reminded me to check my camera to see the last time I took a photo! I found a few from this weekend, but I also found this photo from a month ago.

It was sprinkling outside (that's what you see on the top of her hood), but Naomi INSISTED that I take her photo anyway. It was such an odd request, so who was I to deny her?


Rain or snow, I know one thing...I have got to dust off the DSLR and get back to recording these cute kidlets. They grow up so fast! *sniff*

We had family portraits taken Friday and I'll share them soonish! But's time for me to venture out into this snowglobe and see what I can get into!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The One Where I Break The Rules

I am not a quitter. I am a rule breaker. I tried doing Project 365 this year. I made it 7 months before falling so behind I couldn't recoup. Not giving up...just losing the spirit. If I am 3 weeks behind, and only have 7 new photos on my camera, then I've sort of lost the point, right? I got behind this summer because I was insanely busy with design work and up to my chin in wedding plans.

I decided to start over with our first day of marriage and figured I would document a year in the life of the Gardners. I made it 2 months before the next big thing knocked me on my butt. We had another life change (again, a good one). It is just extra difficult when you are adjusting to a new circumstance to keep up with something like P365. This summer it was the wedding that threw me off course, this fall it has been me accepting a new job.

I love my new job so really was a wonderful thing for me and for us as a family, but it is an adjustment nonetheless. I'm in my 3rd week of working at Hewlett Packard. I'm training for 2 more months and I'm going to be working in advanced technical support. It's evening shift, which is fun but a bit of a juggling act for my family. We're managing well, and I'd say almost thriving at this point. We have all adapted quite well! It doesn't change the fact that I haven't picked up my camera in 2 weeks.

So...where do I go from here? Well I'm not quitting Project 365; I refuse. I am just going to share with you some of my favorite photos from the last month and then pick right back up where I left off. I may not post a photo every day, and I'm ok with that. I hope you are too!

Over the next few days I'll edit and post some of my favorite photos from the last month, and then go from there! =)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 58 {Majestic}


Today was served with an extra helping of awesomeness. After checking out of the hotel, we had a full day of fun planned. We went to the Newport Aquarium, which was awesome. We also saw a movie, ate some delicious food and walked the Purple People Bridge. A great ending to an even greater getaway.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 57 {Way too big}


So we took a quick detour from our sightseeing and relaxing in Cincinnati today! Since we were just an hour away from where my ex-husband and delightful 5th grader Nathan live, we made the trip to see him play his last game of football for the season. The Jets won today, taking 2nd place in the league. Seeing him play was bittersweet...he is getting way too big and I predict he'll be looking me in the eye by the time he comes to our house next summer--hopefully not by the time he's here for Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 56 {Romantic Getaway}


So we snuck away for the weekend to Cincinnati. It's such a nice place to go...close-by with plenty to do and enjoy. This was a special weekend for me because we got to stay in the Radisson, the neatest round hotel with revolving restaurant on the 18th floor. I've always wanted to stay in that hotel and this weekend I got my wish. We enjoyed the restaurant and the view from our balcony!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 55 {Confidence}


Parker enjoys playing with his new speech therapist, Ms. Nancy, SO much. I really wish I had his confidence though. He rocks the upside down princess sunglasses like a rock star.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 54 {Truer words...}


Truer words have never been spoken. Today I painted Naomi's nails and we read books and cuddled...the laundry didn't put away itself but that's okay, too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 53 {Not Fair!}


It's not fair that poor Ms. Naomi is sick on her actual birthday. She was just a little under the weather and spent most of the day watching cartoons and not getting out of bed. Don't feel bad girl, that's how I like to spend my birthdays, too!

Brandenburg-Gardner Wedding Part 1

Finally I am ready to share our wedding with you! It took me quite awhile to sort through all the photos. I have narrowed it down from over 600 photos to 75. Honestly 75 is still quite a bit, but that was the minimum I could whittle our story down to. I will share with you here every detail of our day. I know a lot of people who wanted to be at the wedding but couldn't be, so this is my way of making them feel like they got to virtually crash our wedding :)

Leading up to the wedding were some of the busiest days of my life!


The morning of our wedding, I got up and rushed around doing last minute details and our wedding party met us early to help with setup. After that, the boys and girls split. The boys went back to their hotel to get ready and ate at BW3's. Unfortunately Parker was sick but there was nothing I could do for him other than push fluids and ask them to give snuggles. (Parker and Nathan went with the boys).

My sister and maid of honor Tabatha, my best friend and Matron of Honor Amber, Naomi and I went to our hotel room and met my stepmother Ann who did all of our hair. We ate salads from Wendy's while she fixed us up! She owns her own shop but it was too far away for us to go there! Ann's hairspray got clogged and we had a mini-emergency because no one else had any. We survived it though :)

Nothing says bridal like a tangle of tulle, satin and lace:


I tied up Naomi's tutu after my hair and makeup were fixed:


I don't even remember what she was mad about, but whatever it was, it was easily fixed with Aunt Tabatha snuggles:


Then, the girls left the hotel to head back to Tabatha's house, the venue for the wedding:

When we arrived back home, behind-the-scenes people were buzzing around finishing up last minute work like fruit platters and table setting.


and getaway car painting:


Beverage table:




Part of the photo display:


A reminder:


Strawberries make the perfect addition:


I cut a zillion lemons that morning, many to line a 15 gallon galvanized tin full of ice!




A quiet moment alone with my groom before it all got crazy :)


At this point, Mr. G and I snuck away with our photographer for an hour. We were still a few hours away from the wedding, so everything was right on track. Our wonderful photographer Barb Hogan went with us to a few local places to snag some great photos:








When we arrived back home, people worked on busying themselves before the ceremony.

I took a moment to pose with Naomi:


People made introductions and mingled:

(this is my mom introducing herself to my dear friend Jaime's husband). Jaime is a scrapper, you might know her as azrood. She also happens to live near me!


Parker glared outside from behind the picture window (as he did not appreciate very much being stuck inside. There were lots of things he wished to destroy outside).


Naomi practiced holding flowers:


My cousin Michael found the swingset:


People collected their goodies:

(we had programs complete with puzzles for them to enjoy during their wait, insect repellant moist towelettes, bottles of water, and hand fans)




The stage was set:


and the groom was waiting patiently:


The wedding party walked down the aisle to this amazing song by the Plain White T's

And then it was my turn, escorted by my father, to this classic song by Etta James.


It felt like it was 100 degrees outside, but it was still a beautiful day for wedding.


I'm going to continue this entry in a second post. I'm honestly not certain how much I can fit in one post!

Brandenburg-Gardner Wedding Part 2

And then it was time for the vows!

James went first.


In retrospect, this was a bad idea for many reasons.

1) By the time he was done, I was crying and couldn't speak clearly.
2) His were sooooooo wonderful. Mine were ok, but I couldn't really "top" his. It's a good thing it's not a contest, right? But seriously everyone was laughing and crying at his, and I totally looked at our guests when it was my turn and said "I should have gone first!" Okay, so they did get a laugh out of that.

He had us laughing:


and crying:


and laughing so hard we were crying:


Here is where I waver a bit. At first I didn't plan on sharing his vows for two reasons. The first reason is that I felt like it might be nice to keep that part special and private. The second reason is that you reading them in print isn't the same as his delivery. His delivery, voice inflections, pauses, all of it, were perfect. I was talked into sharing them, though. Just so you can get an idea of just how funny he is. And how sweet he is.

~~I vow to remember the holy days in our relationship (anniversaries, birthdays, and kids’ birthdays) and keep them holy.
~~I vow to look lovingly upon you as you sleep and to protect that sleep to the best of my ability.
~~I vow to always have a hug ready should you need it after a bad day or a worse week.
~~I vow to keep a kiss ready when you feel like sharing good news.
~~I vow to keep a smile on my face when I’m with the kids, except when I have to lay down the law.
~~I vow to not complain when the kids want to watch Yo Gabba Gabba!, Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, ICarly, Suite Life of Zack and Cody or Lady Gaga and anything she’s in.
~~I vow to believe every Christmas in Santa Claus, every Easter in the Easter Bunny, and I’ll make sure the tooth fairy finds the childrens’ beds when the kids lose a tooth.
~~I vow to be wiser than any sitcom father (not to mention, funnier).
~~I vow never to be stingy with my hugs or my love because the greatest lesson you taught me is that love is the greatest when given freely.
~~I vow to remind you how beautiful you are inside and out, whether you need to hear it or not.
~~I vow to listen to what you are saying to me because listening is an important part of communication.
~~I vow to speak what’s on my mind, whether it’s an issue at work or the need for a good hamburger because speaking is an important part of communication.
~~I vow not to openly insult the movies you like that have Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock, Katherine Heigl, Patrick Dempsey, Matthew Mcconaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, any actor from Will and Grace, or any combination thereof.
~~If Spider-Man, Batman, or Superman suddenly came to me and offered me a job as a sidekick, I vow to tell them I’m already working with my hero.
~~I vow to believe you when you tell me it will get better and that I’m still the hot guy you dated.
~~I vow to always believe that you are the hot girl I started dating and that by virtue of knowing you it will get better.
~~I vow to remember the snuggle and keep that holy.
~~I vow to hold the light of your dimples right beside where I keep the love you have for me in my heart.
~~I vow to love you with all my heart, to be with you with all my body, and to fortify you with all my soul.
~~I vow that my love will last longer than all the stars, will be wider than the universe and be deeper than the deepest trench in the ocean floor, whether that’s this ocean or an ocean a thousand miles away. I will love you, Lena Brandenburg, because the love you’ve given back is the newest sun in my shinier solar system. Pardon me while I, your humble planet, circle you for all eternity.

Then it was my turn:


~~I vow to love you every day like I love you today.
~~I vow to bring you Gatorade when you're sick.
~~I vow to try to make you laugh as much as you do me.
~~I vow to not grimace when you arrive at the parent-teacher conference in your El-Santo t-shirt.
~~I vow to support you in your writing.
~~I vow to rub your neck when you're up till 2 a.m. grading essays.
~~I vow to be your muse.
~~I vow to treat you like you've always been a part of this family.
~~I vow to not go to bed angry.
~~I vow to nod and smile when you're talking about wrasslin.
~~I vow to hold your hand when you're driving.
~~And to not squeeze it when you're not braking fast enough.
~~I vow to see you with loving eyes every morning.
~~I vow to watch the occasional horror flick.
~~I vow to remind you to take your medicine at night.
~~I vow to make time for us to spend together every day, even if it's only a few minutes at the end of a crazy day.
~~I vow to be mindful of the number of little hearts I post on your Facebook page.
~~I vow to watch my verb/subject agreement and dangling modifiers.
~~I vow to love you for who you are.

After the vows, we had the kids come and join us for a sand ceremony.


When the sand ceremony was over, Naomi had another mini-meltdown about her job being over and did NOT want to continue to stand and be part of the bridal party.


Luckily, we were almost over. After we were pronounced husband and wife, we proceeded down the aisle to this song.

I don't remember what James was saying to me here :)


And there we were, Mr. & Mrs. James Gardner:


I'll share the reception during a third blog post!