Friday, December 31, 2010

Our poor kitties get the brunt of holiday wrath

Hello from rainy Wisconsin!

Christmas vacation is flying by fast! Both Becky and I have been off work since last Wednesday, which has for the most part been filled with delicious food, tons of time with both of our families, and relaxation. For Becky, this is "holiday break," as her work closes for the time period, and for me it's vacation, as my work does not. Amazingly enough though, I might end up using only one vacation day for the whole thing, between holidays, bonus days in lieu of 2011 raises (bleh), comp time, and a fortuitously placed snow day. Although I'm sad to have missed the snow disaster of the decade in New York City (which is pretty pathetic from the perspective of our Midwestern roots), I'm also quite happy to have missed it.

The brunt of the impact of the snow on us was born by our poor kitties. As we nestled in to our plastic Amtrak waiting area seats at Penn Station, waiting for the train to take us away to holiday wonderment, Becky pulled the envelope with the keys for our cat sitter out of her purse. We frantically decided to mail the keys to the sitter, figuring at worst that the cats would be one day late on their food. The keys literally needed to travel one mile, starting from one of the most major post offices in the country. A snowstorm intervened. By Tuesday night she still had not received the keys. As Becky frantically googled for bus tickets home, my parents suggested FedEx. We made it to a FedEx shipping depot five minutes before they closed and paid too much money to overnight a second set of keys to the cat sitter. Guaranteed by 10:30am the next day. Right. But only on days that are at least 96 hours from the last snowflake falling from the sky. By Wednesday mid-afternoon there was still no sign of either set of keys. Thankfully both finally arrived that early evening and she was able to get in (as Becky and I were boarding a flight across the country). The cat sitter reported back that poor Piccadilly had a gift bag around her neck that she needed to cut off. Our poor kitties!! Hopefully their eventful vacation is over.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tis the Season to be Jolly

Another weekend recap, oh joy for you! And this one is not even a week delayed! I fear that successful blogs should probably have more content than a typical weekend at our house, but I guess one of the magical things about having your own blog (or sharing one with your wife) is that you get to dictate the content.

Friday we made a third attempt at the Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson lottery. And apparently we are unlucky, so for the third time we did not win. This time (unlike at the second attempt) we were armed with enough cash to buy lottery loser tickets. There's only an hour in between the lottery at the show so our dinner options were limited. We picked Shake Shack, largely because they're offering peanut butter hot chocolate. As a bonus the flavor of the day turned out to be candy cane crunch.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson was a good time and definitely worth seeing, but a little more... emo? random? something? than I expected. Pretty much I thought I was going to adore it, since it's one of those liberal-message-rock-musical-cult-following kinds of shows. The theater was totally decorated in red Christmas lights and chandeliers and stuffed animal heads - more than I've seen before (and we've seen a fair amount of Broadway in the last 4 years!) The songs were fun, but nothing I'm still humming now, although I'll probably listen on iTunes and consider buying a few. I was actually surprised that it seemed to be commenting just as much on Barack Obama as on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, but I guess that's the liberal mood right now too.

We then headed uptown to join four somewhat inebriated high school teachers at a holiday party. Cocktail franks, a few drinks, and leftover birthday cake from Billy's bakery were enjoyed by all.

On Saturday our friend Stephanie and her adorable two-year-old daughter joined us in New Jersey. We cooked stuffed shells and hung out and introduced our toddler friend to the joys of decorating cut out cookies. The specimens photodocumented here are my creations, not hers!
Our cat, Cricket, took advantage of our focus on cookies, and decided that the stroller was a great place to take an afternoon nap. Our other cat, Piccadilly, was busy cowering in the bedroom. Gaining a little human sibling someday in the future is going to be rough on her, I think! Cricket may adapt better:

We helped Stephanie navigate the bus back to the city and ended up visiting the Rockefeller Center tree with them, since I missed it last weekend. Apparently we were not the only ones who had this thought - the crowd was crushing. Becky and I played bouncers for the stroller (although of course the biggest risk was probably one of us getting run over by someone else's renegade stroller).

When we'd had our fill of crowd we got some dinner at Five Guys. Yum. And now this blogging effort is making me realize we need to eat out less and eat some real food! Becky and I split off from Stephanie and daughter and revisited Columbus Circle. Still just as magical as previously advertised!

Sunday we stuck around home, cooking, cleaning, and watching movies. Thanks for making homemade rolls, Becky. I'm counting down the days to Christmas vacation! (And yes, Sean, I still need homemade rolls then even though I got some today!) We're now settled in with the ridiculously cheesy yet eternally beloved Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Happy Weekend to All, and to All a Good Night.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Last weekend was filled with all kinds of holiday festivities. Becky's mom came to visit us from Wisconsin to enjoy New Yorky Christmas goodness! Sometimes New York can be really obnoxious, but it really is a magical place to be at Christmas time. On Saturday Becky and her mom hit up Christmas markets at Bryant Park and Grand Central, viewed the Macy's windows and the Rockefeller Center tree, and visited the Bronx Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show. Becky and I also went last year, and learned that we probably would have gone much sooner if we had realized it was in fact not really about trains at all. There's an electric train that runs through it all, but the main attraction is all sorts of New York buildings rendered in natural materials.

Unfortunately I missed all of this (and therefore am going to make Becky re-do much of it), but fortunately it was for a good cause. Every year my work has a holiday party on a Saturday in December for all of the families we work with. We work really hard to decorate the gym, and then we have food and music and raffle prizes and of course Santa! It's a lot of work, but it's also fun to see the families in a more relaxed atmosphere and just have fun. I can't post pictures of the families since I don't want to get fired for not protecting people's privacy or anything, but here's a view of the gym before any of the clients arrived.
Afterwords we met up at Columbus Circle to shop the market (although I was running a little late and missed most of this) and view the magic. A few years ago Becky declared that walking through the Shops at Columbus Circle at Christmastime made her feel like she's in a movie, and even though I laughed at her at the time I actually have to totally agree. It's the quintessential mall-at-Christmas, with colorful flashing lights and a cheery holiday soundtrack, and sometimes even a sprinkling of fake snow.
We then enjoyed dinner at Acqua, an Italian restaurant we'd never tried before, and headed home to collapse.

Sunday morning dreary and early we geared ourselves up for a 9 am performance of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Apparently it is so popular that on peak weekends they pack six performances into a day. On principle we pretty much refuse to pay full price for theater and we could only find a good coupon for early morning or late evening, so 9am won out. The weather gods decided to pour rain. As a Midwesterner, rain in winter causes a lot of cognitive dissonance for me. But here on the East Coast, rain is known as a normal, if unpleasant, wintertime hazard. Standing on the street in New Jersey waiting for a bus while sheets of rain pour from the sky and 40 mph gusts of wind whip your umbrella around is a distinctly un-Christmasy way to start a day of holiday goodness. By the time we got to Radio City we were more than ready for some hot chocolate. Thankfully, they anticipated our needs and had a stand all set up. I asked Becky if she wanted some, and she jokingly asked if we could buy it and then take it to the bar and spike it. Why yes, in fact the hot chocolate bar will do that for you! Hot chocolate, caramel liquor shots, and fresh whipped cream quickly erased any memory of the out of doors. Our orchestra seats absolutely rocked and the show was full of Christmas wonder.

Next we braved the still-wet out-of-doors for much too long, in order to experience all the deliciousness that Sarabeth's has to offer. Sadly by the time we got seated they were no longer serving the Big Bad Wolf Porridge (or any of the other lesser porridges), but crisp potato waffles with chicken apple breakfast sausages can make up for pretty much anything. Seriously, those things are delicious. And I recently learned that they are not on the menu at Sarabeth's Central Park South location. Isn't that disappointing and odd?

By this time we were a wet and generally exhausted, so we returned to the Jerz for relaxing and Christmas cookie baking. This is Becky's yearly obsession, so perhaps she will regale you with tales from the kitchen. Let's just say, in one afternoon I think she finished off five varieties. Yum.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Deck the Halls!

As you are probably aware, last weekend was Thanksgiving. Which, in our world, meant 35lbs of delicious heritage turkey:

Okay, it actually also included a drive to Massachusetts, lots of other delicious food, Harry Potter 7 Part 1, and a fun weekend with our nephews. The only downside really was that Jen was on-call and ended up spending entirely too much time at the hospital and not enough time at home entertaining us. Oh, and the drive. I love spending time with my sister and her family, but I swear the drive to MA gets longer everytime we do it.

We bought super cute onesies for the boys for early Christmas presents (to us?). We maybe had to run around to about 4 stores to get these in the right sizes. I'm sure they actually want much more for Christmas than their aunties, but it's a nice thought anyways!


And here are some solo pictures of the little guys. I cannot believe how quickly they are growing into little boys. They both have gotten very in to clapping, as you can see from this action shot of Matthew:

And Thomas is a little cutie:

Someday I'll be a mommy blogger :) but apparently I'm trying my hand at being an auntie blogger for now... Guess I'm making up for my too busy sister's non-blogging. :) Hi Jen!

While we were in MA the town that my family lives in did their annual arresting of Santa:

Yes, they drive all around town with Santa and a police escort with blaring sirens. Way to kick the season off right.

This weekend we're at home, gearing up for the Christmas season. Becky's mom is coming to visit next weekend to participate in some New York City style Christmas fun (where Santa never gets arrested!), so this weekend was our opportunity to Christmas-ify the apartment.



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ode to Swiss Veg Med

As we are in the midst of a holiday season, which at least in my world, revolves largely around food, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite holiday dinner/potluck recipes. I suppose it could really be made anytime of year, but it has always stuck in my mind as a holiday food. The food: Swiss Vegetable Medley, or as it has been written on many a holiday shopping list in my family, "Swiss Veg Med".

As you will see, it is a close cousin to the Green Bean Casserole, but I would argue that it is approximately 3000% awesomer. Why?
1. It does not contain green beans.
2. It contains cheese.

Enough said.

Swiss Vegetable Medley
16 oz frozen California blend vegetables, thawed and drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 can (2.8 oz) French fried onions (the cheese flavored ones add extra deliciousness), divided

Preheat oven to 350. Combine vegetables, soup, 1/2 cup cheese, sour cream, pepper, and 1/2 can onion. Pour into greased 1-quart casserole. Cover. Bake for 30 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and onion, then bake uncovered for 5 minutes.

Microwave directions: prepare as above, cook covered on high for 8 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and onion, then cook uncovered for 1 minute or until cheese melts.

For the record, part of the beauty of this recipe is that it is very, very flexible. And you can't screw it up, even when you screw it up. It's flexible even by casserole standards, which are pretty darn flexible to start with. For example, when I made this for Thanksgiving dinner while living in London, I couldn't find fried onions, so I substituted crushed Ritz crackers on top. I also had a fun time trying to track down "Swiss" cheese at the supermarket. My sheltered Wisconsin self didn't know that there were multiple varieties of cheese made in Swizerland and that they all had different names, but fortunately a kind staff member in the study abroad office steered me toward gruyere.

When I made this for Christmas dinner while traveling in Austria, there was no cream of mushroom soup to be found. Extra sour cream and some chopped mushrooms seemed to do the trick. I have no recollection of what vegetable blends I ended up using in each of these countries, as I very much doubt that I was able to find a bag of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. And yes, I have actually tried the microwave directions, when I made this for an office potluck a few years ago. What can I say, this dish and I have a history!

Tonight's version of it may be the most interesting yet: it's pretty much impossible to find pre-shredded Swiss/gruyere around here, and I can't seem to buy the blocks in small enough quantity that I use up the rest before it goes moldy. So today I'm experimenting with cheddar jack. And I sort of screwed up and added all of it to the mix instead of saving some to sprinkle on top. Oopsy. And we were out of sour cream, so I figured a dash of milk and a little more cheese would do the trick. Fingers crossed!

Finally, I would like to leave you with one lesson: buy the small can of onions. If you buy the 6-oz. can of onions, thinking you will have enough to make this dish twice, you just might find yourself eating half a can of onions while mixing the casserole together. Oopsy again. On second thought, if I'd only had the small can, I might have had to run out and buy more while it was in the oven so that I'd have something to top it with.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm the one in the big white dress. No, the other one.

We arrived at the ceremony about 10 minutes before it was scheduled to start, popped out of the limo, and ran inside to freshen up and see our families. The little boys were dressed in their tuxes and the crowd was settling in! Right on time someone let us know that the pianist was starting in on the song we agreed would be the mothers’ entrance. We realized in this moment that we wanted to delay a little, to give people time to get settled. But it was just like it was all in motion and there was no stopping it…and so we forged ahead.

I hardly remember the ceremony itself, which I suppose is why people advocate getting a wedding video. We did have a friend video informally, so hopefully that will be enough for us. Pretty much I think it went exactly according to plan. We realized at the rehearsal that the two of us and the minister were the only ones who had any idea what was in the ceremony, which was kind of accidental fun. Meagan’s rendition of Gandhi/Buddha was lovely, the benediction worked great from the back as we had chosen at the rehearsal, and oddly people weren’t too squished in the church. I still haven’t quite figured out if a lot of people were standing at the back or if people skipped the ceremony or what exactly happened to make that work, but I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. I was a little sad that we ended up missing the postlude (in addition to the prelude, but we’d talked about expecting that). It’s strange to put time and effort into choosing things that you don’t see or hear!

We did the whole receiving line thing, which was a bit long, but was actually nice to be able to see all of the faces that we’d both been avoiding looking at in the church (it’s really weird to stand up in front of everybody!) Then we headed outside for some outdoor formal pictures. Other people complained about being cold, so I guess the fact that I was not is testament to a combination of the unseasonably warm November weather and the adrenaline. Not to mention the excessively heavy big white dress (side note: I have no idea how people get married in the summer. I would die of heatstroke.)



The limo ride back to the mansion was much more relaxed and jovial. We cracked open the Asti and the string cheese. Yum.

When we arrived we greeted a few people and then ran upstairs to freshen and fluff. A lovely friend brought up a plate of appetizers. We returned downstairs and mingled until dinner. As we were being called to the tables I complained (somewhat bitterly, no shame here!) to my mom about having not been able to taste the spanakopita-type appetizer. The amazing coordinator at the mansion overheard me, and appeared at the head table a few minutes later with a whole plate of them!

After sitting down to dinner for a while someone realized that we did not have a centerpiece at the head table. We had planned to use our bouquets for the centerpiece… which meant that the bouquets were busy cruising around Minneapolis in the trunk of the limo we had dismissed for the evening. Winning major customer service points again, the mansion coordinator apparently managed to track them down for us and before we hardly even knew it we were reunited with our bouquets.

Our fathers, maids of honor, and Miss Becky herself all gave loving toasts. I still can’t quite believe Becky let me stand by my declaration that I didn’t want to talk, but if I say that too much she’ll start to think I owe her one or something! The food was delicious. At the urging of my sister, Becky and I attempted to circulate and socialize in between the courses. This turned out to be a good thing, but we started too late and did an unfortunate job of pacing ourselves, which sadly meant that we didn’t have time to make it to all the tables – in particular the tables where some of our young friends were sitting. I think one big regret that we both have is that we weren’t able to spend more time talking to some of our younger friends who traveled to the wedding and who we don’t get to see very often. Overall I think we did pretty well for two introverts. But, between all of the things we were juggling and the fact that several people ended up leaving earlier than we expected we really missed out on a few, which does make us sad. (Yes, we’ve talked about this ad nauseum, so I can definitely speak for Becky too.)

They forced us (hehe) to cut into our gorgeous cake, and we fed each other a few bites of the pumpkin layer. It turned out to be the majority of the wedding cake I ended up eating, because we were so busy. Becky’s cousin’s four year old daughter was our most attentive guest, as she had apparently been drooling over the cake all evening. Her mom also brought her up to us at one point because she wanted to share with us her adorable observation that “I have the same dress as you.” Mine cost more, kiddo! Seriously though, it was a little trippy to be (one of) the one (s) in a big white dress being idolized by a kid in the princess stage of development.

And then there was dancing. And more dancing. As mentioned earlier, people cleared out a little earlier than we expected, but a decent group stayed and danced until the end. We had a lot of fun rocking out to a pretty eclectic mix of music – including John Denver’s Thank God I’m A Country Boy – which was the one song all evening that caused Becky’s sisters to come RUNNING to the dance floor.

We had planned to leave before the end and have a send off with bubbles. My mom had painstakingly tied personalized ribbons around them for us, even. But it just didn’t really fit into the evening. Casualty of the dance, I suppose.

The next morning we re-grouped at my parents’ house for quiche and the best chocolate cheesecake ever (plus some other food, including birthday cake in honor of Becky’s sister Jenny). We opened gifts and generally enjoyed the afterglow. And then finally, later than expected, we jetted down to Hastings for two much needed decompression days. That’ll probably be another post too, just what you always wanted!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The new Mrs.(s)

This blogging thing is more complicated than it looks! Somehow time keeps getting away from me…

We had a wedding! And a rehearsal dinner and a brunch and minimoon and all the fuss and festivities that surround all of those things. I can hardly believe it’s actually over. Even afterwards I kept waking up in the night thinking it was still coming and thinking of things that I needed to make sure to do or bring or make sure happened. And then I would remember, oh yeah, it’s over. There’s nothing more that can be changed, it is over.

And it really was amazing and lovely and beautiful and all of that, but it went by so incredibly fast. Everyone said it would, but I guess I didn’t really believe it. Going in to Friday the only major project left was the childhood picture slideshow, plus a lot of general organizing and finishing touches for other projects. We went to a local nail salon with our mothers and my sister and Merry to have some spa time, and somehow a quick mani/pedi appointment turned into over three hours. Intense anxiety over the time crunch pretty much started there and didn’t end until after the reception was over.

Becky and I were almost half an hour late to the rehearsal, and then afterwards still needed to spend time in the car frantically finishing up thank you notes for all of our amazing attendants and other participants, which we gave out at the dinner. I felt sad at the time to miss out on the beginning of the dinner, but in retrospect we still had plenty of time at the restaurant. Because, of course, nothing starts without the brides!
After dinner Becky headed to the hotel with her family and I toted Becky’s computer back to my family’s home to work on our still unfinished slideshow. Jen and I stayed up as late as we could manage selecting and ordering pictures, and then resolved to finish in the morning.

The morning… was just a whirlwind. The hair stylist came a few minutes early, while Merry was a few minutes late, and we were more than a few minutes late in getting Sean and the babies out of the house. My family was our typical chaotic selves and we all ran around frantically while Matthew and Thomas threw porridge from their high chairs. I packed while I waited for Becky’s dad to come over with the computer power cord we neglected to trade the night before, and then once it arrived worked on the slideshow while Merry and Jen got their hair done. The two of them then took over the project while I got mine done. My one regret is that we didn’t get more pictures in all of this chaos, particularly of Jen and Merry’s hair being done. I think I checked and double checked that I had everything in my getting ready/overnight bag at least a dozen times.

We headed to the mansion a bit late, of course, only to arrive at exactly the same time as Becky and her family. The staff had started setting up the tables, the cake had been delivered, and everything looked so incredibly beautiful. And of course, as Becky already noted, the weather was absolutely the best November in Minnesota weather we possibly could have hoped to have.

Getting dressed and make-up’ed proceeded to take much longer than expected, interrupted only by a small snafu in which the florist misunderstood our order of “trailing ribbons” for the bouquets. (She had the ribbon sticking out from the bouquets, but only about 8 stubby inches!) Unfortunately she didn’t have the ribbons with her, but she took off as quickly as she could and drove home and made it back in time to vastly improve them before we needed to start pictures. We resumed trying to decode the mysteries of over-priced make-up and corset-backed wedding dresses until we were finally ready for pictures.

We sort of frantically packed what Becky and I had envisioned as an hour and a half of pictures into about fourty five minutes. During a round of the pictures Jen and Merry took over finishing the slideshow. And then the limo showed up and whisked us away to the ceremony!

And this post is getting ridiculously long, so we'll end with a To Be Continued!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Phew!

Well, after months and months of planning, followed by a few weeks of crazy planning, followed by a couple of days that I can only call sheer madness, our wedding came and went. And it was lovely. So many of our wonderful friends and family members pitched in to help make everything happen. Even the weather smiled on us--57 degrees and sunny is better than we could have reasonably hoped for on a November day in Minnesota!

The timing worked out, the ceremony was beautiful, the decorations and details all got finished and were gorgeous, the food was delicious, the cake and flowers were pretty, and we danced the night away. In short: it was incredible. But it went by so fast, and I still can't quite believe it's over, much less digest everything in a way that I can write about it. So for now, I'll leave you with a few pictures that we've seen so far. Since Carrie and I didn't have our cameras that day, we're left to rely on the pictures of our friends and families (hint: if you have pictures from our wedding, please please please email them to me!) while we wait for the full set from the photographers. Here's my favorite picture from our first dance (snagged by my sister):




For more fantastic photography, check out pictures from our dear friend Jen and a preview from Becca Dilley, our amazing photographer.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Legal Wedding Photos

Here we are at the town hall applying for the license!


And here are the beautiful red and purple flowers my mom sent us!


This is the minister signing off on us!


Us with our certificate!


Becky's fear factor battle scars!


And lastly, me with our guests! Sadly Becky took the picture so she's not featured.


There are other pictures with Becky and I during the ceremony, but they are on Jen's camera and therefore I still don't have them. After almost exactly a month, this is what you're getting. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The legal ceremony

NOTE: I wrote this last Friday before we left for MN. I wanted to at least finally get it up, even if I can't add anything else right now. I was going to throw some pictures in here, but unfortunately I've realized they're not on my computer. So for now at least, words it is.

Wow, it’s been way too long since either of us last blogged. The unfortunate thing about blogging is that it takes time, and therefore when less is going on in your life you’re more likely to blog, and when things are happening you’re too busy to blog. Or maybe that’s just us.

The wedding is coming at us fast and furious now. I can’t believe we never posted about the legal ceremony. In fact, we’ve hardly even provided pictures of it to our families (let alone the video!). Overall the farther we get from it the more unreal it seems. We’ve jokingly referred to each other as “wif-ancĂ©e” since none of the other terms seem to apply to technically married people who are frantically planning a wedding. We also contemplated changing our relationship status on facebook to “it’s complicated” which seemed appropriate, but also, well, complicated.

We had a nice little ceremony at a UU church near my sister’s house in Massachusetts. It was just the two of us, the minister, my sister and brother-in-law, my nephews, and the wild turkeys. It was unexpectedly sunny and in the 80’s and we did the ceremony outside in a stone labyrinth in the woods beside the church.

And I’m apparently already seeing it with rose-colored glasses because I nearly forgot to tell you about the killer mosquitoes and the hand-food-mouth disease. Thursday afternoon and evening I was absolutely freezing at work and then sitting in class. I thought it was just that the weather was changing, until I got home at about 11pm (we were supposed to leave at midnight to drive to MA) and decided to take my temperature. It was 102 degrees. I popped some Advil, deliriously finished packing, and then we decided to instead sleep and head out early in the morning. I never want to hear “It’s 4:44, make a wish!” again. By Saturday I had all kinds of weird little bumps on my fingers and the inside of my mouth. Just what everybody wants while they’re getting married!

As for the mosquitoes… well, suffice it to say that I do not react to mosquitoes, whereas Becky practically gets hives. Apparently that type of reactivity does not mesh with a strapless dress in the woods. Becky described it as “marriage ceremony meets Fear Factor.” She did amazingly well at not flinching too much and at the end we all marveled at her spotted arms and legs and back. Jen was happy that she went forward with the long pants and long sleeves on her sons, despite the 80+ degree weather.

Afterwards we dropped the babies off with a babysitter and the four of us headed in to Boston for an absolutely amazingly delicious steak dinner. I got to try Kobe beef for the first time, and it was ssooo smooth and delicious. I approve highly of eating cows that lived better than I do. Steak tartar, pesto risotto, hashbrowns, champagne, and specialty desserts were also enjoyed. Our first reception dinner is a lot for the second one to compete with!

This weekend we’re gearing up for the last of the grand planning trips to Minnesota. This time Jen and Matthew and Becky’s aunt will be joining us, in addition to both of our moms. They’re coming along to help but also because we’re having a shower!

I am resolving to get back to blogging before the shower is ancient history too, but I don’t really anticipate things will calm down in the next few weeks so we’ll see how that goes. I will try!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Alterations

Well, I think it's official. Alterations is (so far, by far) the most stressful part of our wedding planning.

I went to my first fitting appointment tonight. I blindly trusted the recommendation of strangers on the internet, and scheduled an appointment at a random bridal shop in a random New Jersey town somewhat southwest of Newark. You, being rational people, may already be wondering what in hell I was thinking when I made this decision (or not have any clue what I'm talking about, depending on your knowledge of New Jersey geography). Well, what I was thinking was that I was scared to pick any shop, I was overwhelmed about the idea of searching for one, I was scared of any New York shop (not to mention having to drive into the city to drop the dress off), and just generally wanted to make a decision and move on.

Of course tonight as I was rushing to leave work on time the plan suddenly didn't seem so good. I left my last home visit 15 minutes late, waited forever for a train, waited an even longer forever for a bus, and arrived home with about 40 minutes before my appointment. I rushed frantically around the house collecting the things I needed and made it out the door with 30 minutes on the clock. By the time I and all of my stuff were settled in the car, the phone was set to navigate me there, and I was ready to go... I was at 20 minutes. The friendly people at Google used their massive privacy-invading database of personal information to tell me that in current traffic conditions it would take me 47 minutes to arrive at my destination. And, let's be honest, in the NYC metro area, you pretty much always need more time than any electronic prediction. Great.

I won't bore you with details of the stressful drive in stop-and-go traffic, or scare you with the fact that I had to find the bridal shop phone number while driving to call and let them know I was running late and see if I should even bother coming (oops, guess I just did.)

After some debate they graciously allowed me to still be fitted, on the condition that I accepted a fitting in the bridesmaid area. No problem. The seamstress seemed flustered and a bit annoyed by being in the wrong area and having to do several things at once. More troubling though, what had somehow seemed obvious about altering my dress to the friendly Minnesota shopkeeper and her trusty seamstress sidekick apparently did not seem at all obvious or easy to my new seamstress friend. She wanted to shorten it in a way that made the dress look stupid, and she made disapproving tsk-tsk noises when I told her what friendly Minnesota shopkeeper told me about several things (i.e. how to shorten it, the importance of a bra, etc.). The pins kept popping out, and I'm fairly convinced that a some important pins were not in place when I put my dress back into the bag. Insert much stress here.

On the plus side, she did give me a price estimate that was lower than I had prepared myself to hear. But, overall, I have one piece of advice for anyone planning a wedding involving an expensive white dress: get your dress altered at the same shop you buy it at. Seriously. Just do it. (This public servie message was also approved by one Miss Becky, aka the other bride.)

P.S. Thank you Becky for having dinner ready when I got home.

Gettin' Dressed, Part Three

Well, as you may have heard, my dress came. And this weekend, our lovely friend Kara (of original Gettin' Dressed fame) came over again and helped me try it on. This girl's a pro now. And fortunately, this time we timed dinner a little better so there was slightly less insanity. Also, dinner was wild rice soup with homemade rolls. Delicious!

Anyway, back to the dress...fortunately, I still love it. And although it looked a little funny on the hanger, it does not look funny on me. Unfortunately, it needs a bit more altering than I had anticipated. I had somehow deluded myself into thinking that maybe since I'm tall-ish and wearing heels, I might not need it shortened. (The fact that neither of my sisters needs ANY alterations on their bridesmaid dresses may have aided in my delusions.) Newsflash: I am not that tall, despite any "giant" claims that Carrie might throw at me. Anyway, there are bunches of little things that need to be altered, which means I need to find a seamstress. Now the logical among you would point out that since I was obviously going to need a bustle, I was going to need a seamstress. But like I said, I was delusional...and in denial.

So here I am, less than 8 weeks (yikes!) from the wedding, and desperately in need of someone to make my dress fit right. Tonight I grudgingly sat down with a list of 3 places to call:

Shop #1: Had good reviews that mentioned prices are more reasonable than others in the area. This is where Carrie's getting her alterations done. They, unfortunately, are not taking any more outside alterations for that date because they can't guarantee they could get it done.

Shop #2: Left voicemail. Carrie had talked to someone at this store the other day and they seemed nice. Good reviews. Hopefully they'll call back tomorrow?

Shop #3: Mostly good reviews but a couple that were iffy. Shop owner on phone would not give any price information, though she was happy to give me a 5-minute spiel on why she couldn't give price information over the phone without seeing the dress. She then informed me that I need to come in ASAP
Her: You must come in now. After tomorrow.
Me: Okay, when?
Her: Thursday, or Saturday
Me: Okay, what time on Thursday?
Her: Morning or evening. Okay, I'm very busy, I must go now.
Me: Okay, evening...
Her: Okay, I see you on Thursday evening timeslot. What is your  name?
Me: Uh...what *time* in the evening...
etc.
Anyway, I wouldn't say she was rude, but she was definitely pushy, and definitely not interested in what I had to say. I mean, I get that she can't just say "dress alterations cost x" but given that I have a good idea of what's needed, I feel like she could give me some idea if she would have let. me. talk.

Basically, after that phone call, I did what any rational person would do: I burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. I think I might need to sleep more...

Bottom line: I hope Shop #2 calls me back and is a little friendlier. And isn't obscenely priced.

To sum up, here are two big things I miss about the Midwest:
1. Friendly people
2. Reasonable prices (while I still don't know what it's going to cost to alter my dress, I've read enough online to be very, very afraid.)

If anyone reading this happens to know of a reasonably-priced seamstress in the NYC or northern NJ areas, please share! We're both lacking in personal recommendations for vendors in the area, so we've pretty much had to rely on online reviews. And if you have any suggestions for not stressing out so much, please share those too. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gettin' Dressed, Part Two

I stayed home from work sick today (nothing too serious, just woke up with a migraine this morning and needed to sleep it off; I'm feeling mostly better now) and was planning to spend the day lying in bed and maybe watching some reruns of The Golden Girls this afternoon if my head felt up to it. But then mid-morning I got an automated call from an 800 number, which of course I ignored. Who wants to talk to a telemarketer when you're sick? An hour or so later, I got another call and answered this time, to find out it was an automated call from UPS that a package requiring my signature would be delivered today.

Have I mentioned that my dress hasn't come yet? Have I mentioned that this is a source of much anxiety for me?

So here's my thought process right then: OMG IT MUST BE MY DRESS. WHY DIDN'T THE STORE SEND ME A TRACKING EMAIL? IT WORKS OUT WELL I'M HOME TODAY ANYWAY! CRAP, WHAT IF THE UPS DRIVER DOESN'T BOTHER TO RING THE BELL?! OMG OMG OMG.

So, needless to say, I was not going to be getting back to sleep. Here's pretty much what the rest of my day looked like:

Ran downstairs (two flights) to make sure UPS hadn't already been here and left one of those "sorry we missed you" notes.

Ran back upstairs and wrote a note to the UPS driver so he'd know which bell to ring (yeah, it's labeled, but it has still caused problems for people) and included my cell phone number just in case. I was not messing around with any possibility of the driver trying to claim no one was home because it's not like I was going to be home for any redelivery attempts and I sure don't want to drive to some depot in who-knows-where to pick it up.

Grabbed tape. Ran downstairs to tape note to door. Got halfway down second flight when I realized I didn't know if I'd locked the apartment door behind me. Panicked that I would be locked out in my pajamas. Ran back up. Checked door: unlocked. Phew! Ran back downstairs. UPS truck was parked across the street. Waited in entryway awkwardly to see if he was coming my way. He was putzy. Taped note to door and ran back upstairs. Watched UPS guy out the window as he delivered a package across the street and left. Put house keys in my pocket and swore to keep them there all day so that I wouldn't risk another lockout scare.

Putzed on the internet and lazed around for awhile. Turned on the TV to look for reruns of The Golden Girls, which have always been on somewhere in the noon-2:00 time range on other sick days. Looked on tvguide.com and learned that The Golden Girls have now been relegated to midnight and mornings, which meant I had missed my chance.

Called the store I ordered the dress from, which has been mildly annoying this whole time. I'm sure they're probably lovely people if you're ordering in person and picking up your dress at the shop, but they're not so good over the phone and with shipping, which is a little surprising since they run a huge online business too. (For example, I was told when I was at the shop that shipping would be free, but it was $30 when I called to place the order. I was also told in store that my dress would arrive mid-August but then when I called in early August to check on an exact date, they told me mid-September.) Anyway, I called them to confirm that the package coming today really was my dress and found out that yes, it was my dress, and I should have received a tracking number but apparently they got my email address wrong back when I ordered and then didn't bother to fix it when I asked them to a couple months ago. Oh well.

Went back downstairs just to make sure UPS hadn't been by. Picked up a box from Amazon for Carrie that was down there. Yes, it was delivered by UPS. Yes, that means UPS had already been on my street twice today. Went back upstairs.

Putzed around some more. Suddenly....DOORBELL RINGS! I jumped and ran so fast that I almost threw my laptop on the floor. Ran downstairs. UPS guy was there with not one, but TWO boxes for us! My dress came!!! And we got a wedding present! Oh happy day! UPS guy was very nice. In retrospect, this may be because he was holding a box that said "Wedding Shoppe" all over it, and I grabbed it out of his hands like a crazed hyena, so I think he knew what it was. I decided not to ask UPS guy about why his company thought it was logical or efficient for them to stop on our street at least three times in one day.

Came back upstairs. Stared at box for awhile debating whether or not to open it. Yeah, after all that, I was scared to touch it. Finally concluded that I should at least make sure they sent the right dress. And it is the right one. Woo-hoo! It looks a little funny on the hanger, but I hope I'll still love it when I try it on. With any luck, Kara is going to come over this weekend and help me too, though maybe we'll try to skip the BBQ ribs drama this time around.

Like I said before, we're not going to see each other's dresses before the wedding. But we have limited space, so they still have to share a closet. Pretty much right now it looks like we have two oversized cocoons hanging in the closet in our office:

(the Christmas wrapping paper in the corner is a nice touch, no?) Anyway, you'll all have to wait until after November 6 to see if they produce two byoootiful butterflies.

Note: all those who have any respect for grammar in the English language, I apologize for the nearly total absence of subjects in this post. On the plus side, I guess you can't yell at me for subject-verb agreement problems if I just leave one out altogether! Also, the whole running up/downstairs bit is a more accurate depiction if you read it in your head in a very fast, frantic voice. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

My POV

When it rains it pours. Which is why you get two lovely posts from us today and not just one.

First of all, a funny comment from Becky regarding her new Etsy addiction. "What I need right now is a "not ugly" search. But apparently that's sort of subjective."

We've had yet another lovely weekend around here, this time bidding farewell to a wonderful summer. Friday we braved a hurricane to attend a Brooklyn Cyclones game, which turned out to be a lot of fun. I noted to Becky that baseball is the one and only sport that I can actually watch and generally understand without asking her a lot of inane questions about the rules. This led us to the general realization that one of us (Becky!) is going to have to get a bit smarter about sports before we have a child. We contemplated our usual tactic of each choosing a team to root for, but decided that the song commanded us to root root root for the home team, and so we did. A good thing too, since they won. Fireworks were sadly canceled due to "high winds" from the aforementioned hurricane (aka a few clouds in the sky and a slight breeze).



And here's a picture of an eerily glowing Nathan's hot dogs (where we stopped in after the game... apparently the only way to make Nathan's prices look reasonable is to buy food when trapped in a sports stadium.) I admit, the creepy glow is an element of the photo and not representative of reality. But it looks pretty cool.

Saturday we had a picnic in Central Park with our friend Stephanie and her one year old daughter, who has mysteriously turned into a preschooler while we were looking the other way. I'm tempted to post pictures, but I think it's bad internet karma to post pictures of other people's children without their permission. Trust me when I say she's adorable. From there we did some clothes shopping (including a dress that Becky might wear for the legal wedding! And, by the way, being two women makes it very complicated to select clothing because for EVERY event related to this wedding we have to have the debate about making our clothes look good together but not be matchy matchy and be balanced in terms of formality and femme-y-ness and style and...), and then headed to a housewarming party for Kara and Joe's new place. Much jealousy for living facing Central Park!

Sunday.. I guess Sunday we did a lot of boring stuff. But we did watch a movie - Ghosttown - which I rated as "pretty good" and Becky deemd "disappointing." And then today I guess you already read about in Becky's post. So really I guess the excitement was Friday and Saturday. To make up for it, I'll leave you with a picture of us at the beach last weekend, since I obviously never got around to regaling you with stories of beachy goodness.

Gettin' Dressed

Well, the wedding is now a mere two months away. Cue panic. The RSVPs are rolling in, which is making it painfully clear that this even really IS happening, and we really DO have a lot of stuff that needs to get done before then. This, of course, is why I have spent a good 5 hours today staring at etsy.com in search of handmade goodness for presents, jewelry, etc. In the process, I have discovered many fantastic things that are completely unrelated to the wedding, such as some adorable children's artwork, like this and this. While I'm sure that will come in handy someday, it's probably not what I should be spending time on now.

Of course, I don't have much else to do because I am currently sequestered in our bedroom with the cats while Carrie is trying on her dress in our living room. We are both wearing big white dresses for the wedding, and we're both keeping them a surprise cuz we're traditional like that. Carrie's arrived last week, so a friend of hers came over this afternoon and is helping her try it on and sort out what is needed for alterations, etc. (Or at least I assume that's what they're discussing out there; I don't really know, I'm mesmerized by etsy.)

Being logical people, we of course decided that we should have ribs for dinner tonight post-big-white-dress-trying-on. Carrie and I came up with a plan for cooking them, which we didn't really share with Kara. So of course we put the ribs in the oven and then I went off to the bedroom to hide. A little while later, the timer goes off. Carrie is (presumably) standing in the middle of the living room in a big white dress, I'm locked in the bedroom, and Kara doesn't know what to do with the ribs or where to find a potholder for that matter. Smart thinking us. Fortunately, Kara's a pro and dutifully got the ribs out and then carried them over to Carrie and me individually so that we could discuss a plan while I stood in the doorway with my eyes both closed and covered and facing the other direction just for good measure.

Oh, and did I mention that this was interruption number 2 (of 3)? Interruption number 1 was me pointing out that they should take some pictures of Carrie in the dress, which they informed me they had already thought of. Interruption number 3 was when they finally went to take pictures, realized Carrie didn't know where her camera is, and then came to borrow mine (cuz when you're trying to keep your dress a secret from your fiancee, using her camera to take the pictures is a great plan, right?)

Now that the ribs are ready to be sauced, I anticipate interruption number 4 coming any second now...

In the meantime, I'll be on etsy pretending to look for something wedding-related. And anticipating this whole shenanigans being repeated whenever my dress appears (hopefully soon!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A breath of fresh air

The last couple of days here have been delightfully cool, with the nights even delightfully cooler. I'm not actually ready for fall yet; this was clearly demonstrated by my rummaging around in the storage closet looking for sweaters when I realized that it was only going to get to 72 yesterday and today. (Note: because we are oh-so-organized, the cold weather clothes only got moved to the storage closet maybe a month ago, so having to get some of them back out already was a bit ironic to say the least.) But I have GREATLY enjoyed being able to sleep with a comforter on the bed again for the last couple of nights.

Of course, to balance that lovely, happy, snuggled-under-the-covers feeling, the cats have felt a need to wake us up every couple of hours for the past two nights. It seems that the heat puts them into sort of a lethargic stupor, rendering them incapable of moving during the night. But once it cools off a little, they're suddenly young and frisky again and think that 3 a.m. is a great time to squawk at your moms until they wake up and play with you. Or throw things at you, one of the two.

In addition to cool days and cool nights, this weather has also brought...cool evenings (funny how that happens, right?) And cool evenings are the perfect time for knitting! Yeah, knitting, remember when I used to do that? The temporary onset of cooler weather, coupled with rapidly approaching September, has suddenly reminded me of all the knitting projects I had planned for various gifts this fall and winter. And yes, at least a couple of them were things that I said months ago "oh, I really want to finish this for Christmas this year, so I need to just work on it a little at a time all year to make sure it's done on time." Guess how well that went? Oh well, I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to knit in the next few months--it's not like I have anything else to do, right?

Wait, what's that? The wedding hasn't planned itself yet? Hmmm.

Speaking of wedding planning, I know Carrie already told you all about the limo issue. So we had emailed a well-recommended limo company and were all excited about their price. Until, of course, we discovered that they were passive-aggressive homophobes. C'mon people, if you're gonna hate on us, at least have the decency to admit that you're hatin' instead of not responding. But in all of our wedding-planning so far, this was the first negative vendor response (or, I guess non-response) that we've gotten regarding being a same-sex couple. And it stung, more than I expected it to. After they didn't reply the first time, I thought "okay, give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they're just slow, even though they did reply to the online form super fast." But after there was no reply to the second email, my thoughts mostly involved a lot of expletives that I do not feel to be blog-worthy. And then I was upset because it's really hurtful to have someone reject our relationship (I mean, besides the federal government and 45 US states that won't recognize our marriage, such as the states we're getting married in, live in, and work in) and because I was pretty convinced that we were going to have to pay significantly more for a limo from another company. (And if you know me well, you will know that I have some money anxiety, so it shouldn't surprise you that the wedding is no exception). But I'm so glad that we asked the question, as we have with everyone we've dealt with in planning. I would much, much rather avoid any awkward situations on our big day, and of course I much prefer that none of the wedding budget be going to homophobic businesses or individuals.

So, I was in a funk over the limo, to say the least. And then I got an email from Carrie while I was at work, forwarding me the response to our quote request from the limo company made of Awesome. I was quite pleased when I saw that the quote was lower than we expected it to be (including lower than the aforementioned meanie limo company). But when I got to the end of the quote and read, "As far as being same sex couples, we are gay owned and operated and have chauffeurs on our staff that are gay...All of our staff is VERY diverse and open and you would not have a problem with anyone," I actually started to tear up at my desk (Fortunately none of my co-workers were nearby!) Needless to say, the limo is booked, and I am ecstatic about it.

So, the limo was a learning experience, and I'm glad it all worked out in the end. Just when I was getting tired of summer, we got a break with some cool air. And just as I was getting depressed and angry about some people's views of our relationship, I was reminded that there are supporters out there. The limo good news and the first few RSVPs all arrived at a very good time, particularly as we're starting to panic about how much we still need to do in the next 10 weeks or so. Yikes! Okay, back to breathing...

This post brought to you by the rambling thought and the overused parentheses....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wedding progress, bit by bit

This lovely (coughpouringraincough) Monday brought some very satisfying wedding progress that I have come here to our humble little blog to share with you.

First of all, we received our first RSVPs!! And they were both yes! We had a bet going and we both lost because neither of us thought the first ones would come so soon! It's kind of fun the way we could make a guess from the postmark, but especially when it's the Twin Cities area or the Fond du Lac area we won't really have any clue! Having actual RSVPs in hand is sort of trippy and fun, because it means that this is actually really happening. We both go through moments of panic that no one is going to come (ok, and also moment of panic that everyone we invited is going to come!) and it's nice to know that at least SOMEONE beyond our immediate families and wedding party type peoples is going to come! I'm looking forward to watching them roll in over the next six weeks.

Secondly, our convoluted search for a limo company seems to have come to an end. Several weeks ago we e-mailed several companies for price quotes. They were all higher than we wanted, and so we did what all good procrastinators do, and did nothing for a few weeks.

Last week we decided it was time to take the project up again. We dug up reviews on several more companies and requested a new batch of quotes. One company came in clearly with the best set of price point and reviews. We exchanged a few pleasant e-mails with the company and thought we had basically made our decision. And then we asked the "we're a same-sex couple..." question. And suddenly... Bueller? Bueller? No reply. We gave limo guy the benefit of the doubt and followed up with a repeat e-mail. Still nothing. And so, sadly, we resigned ourselves to the idea of paying nearly $100 more and selecting a second choice.

Until... we sent out a few additional e-mails, including a second contact with our initial first choice that we rejected due to the expense. We went ahead and asked the gay question right up front to avoid disappointment. And guess what? Not only is the company gay-friendly, they're actually gay-owned and operated. And, the best part is, because fate was on our side, it turns out that the price is actually LOWER than Bueller's price. HAH, TAKE THAT!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baby names and Maps

Becky sent me an e-mail yesterday with the title "I'm almost afraid to tell you about this." Apparently she knows me too well.

Since childhood I've loved baby names. I loved going through books of names and coming up with names and personalities for enormous imaginary families. The families had chore schedules and pets (with names!) and all kinds of details. But mostly, names. For years I've talked to Becky about baby names and she has refused to participate, being one of those women who has not had her future children named for decades. Now that we're finally engaged, a few months ago, she finally let me have one conversation in which she entertained the idea of naming children something other than Rainbow Cloudforest and Cookiedough Christmastree. So yes, I love baby names.

I also have a long standing love of maps showing regional differences. For example, here is a really awesome one of the great pop vs. soda debate. Seriously, I could stare at that thing for hours. I love election returns maps for similar reasons. This cool one shows changes over time and this awesome one shows the 2004 presidential election results by county and population size. And here is an absolutely amazing collection of regional American dialect maps. So, if I haven't convinced you I'm a nerd yet...

You can imagine my excitement when Becky sent this my way. How cool is that? I wish there was some way names could be shown in colors on a map, but this is still awesome. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer's ending

In some oddly pessamistic way, my summer is really short. I don't really consider it summer until it gets warm enough to swim in the ocean and the kids I work with finish school, which pretty much means the end of June. But now I find myself prematurely declaring summer over when Becky's summer hours end and her kids start coming back for the fall, despite the fact that NYC public school kids still have three weeks left.

And once again, I don't feel ready for the season change. I'm never ready for the heat of summer to start, and now I'm not ready for it to go. The past week or so I've started to notice the sun setting as I finish a late visit for work. Soon those late visits will end in total darkness, and after that dusk will be falling even on the miraculous days I make it out on time.

But even with a few weeks technically left, I'm happy to reflect that it has been a really nice summer. We've taken small steps into doing more fun stuff, eating better, keeping our house cleaner, and generally being a bit more like the people we want to be. Theoretically that was the theme when Becky started this blog, but I think only a small portion of it has really been reflected here. I'm always preaching to clients to recognize and celebrate the small positive changes, because that tends to be how positive change realistically comes. In my own life though, its still easy to get caught up in the vegetables I didn't eat yet, the weight I didn't lose yet, the dishes that are still sitting in the sink, and the money I didn't save.

And now of course I want to rest on my laurels and enjoy the rest of the summer at the beach and camping and eating outdoors. But instead its time to focus furiously on planning for the next steps.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So much weddingness

Just a quick post to let the world know that we're still alive. I'm not quite sure what happened, but suddenly it seems that all the wedding tasks are coming at us fast and furious. Invitations have been mailed (Thanks for all your help, Jen!) and all sorts of little things taken care of, but it seems that every time we cross a little thing off the to do list, we discover three more things to add!

Fortunately, this sudden insanity has coincided with the end of "Summer Fridays" at my work. During the summer, my office is closed on Fridays, but in exchange, we make up the extra hours Monday-Thursday, which meant that I frequently didn't get home until after 8:00. By the time we then made dinner, it was after 9:00 before the evening really started, which left little time or energy to think about anything other than staring blankly at facebook and then going to bed. Hopefully now that I'm getting home a little earlier, this trend of being able to get wedding stuff (and more fun blogging!) done will continue.

To close, a real-life conversation from our couch for your amusement:
Carrie: Is it a sign that I've been looking at too much wedding stuff that these personalized tote bags are starting to look like a good idea?
Me: Yes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weekend Recap

There was no theme of this weekend per say, but we did manage to pack a lot into it! Friday evening Becky's friend Meagan came over to discuss music for our wedding ceremony. Becky whipped up some delicious spaghetti and garlic bread (I'm jealous of summer Fridays!) for us to eat and we busted out some champagne and orange dreamsicle cocktails (the Becky and Carrie signature cocktail??) and ended up having an enjoyable social evening talking about pretty much everything you could think of. By the time we were thinking about bed Meagan realized it was really late to be dragging herself back to Brooklyn alone and decided to crash on our futon. The next morning we continued the music conversation (have I ever mentioned that we're crazy indecisive people, which makes planning a wedding a close to impossible feat?) over pancakes. Yum.

Meagan had hardly left us and we had barely settled into some productivity when who should appear on our doorstep but Kara! Two friends in one day is pretty much unprecedented for New Jersey lepers! We had another nice chat and then sent Kara off on her way to sit in horrible traffic on the George Washington Bridge.

Saturday evening we did something we had never done before. Roller Derby! Spectating, not participating, because we're way not anywhere near hardcore enough to do that. We watched the Bronx Gridlock face off in a bout against the Queens of Pain. In usual Becky-and-Carrie-watch-sports tradition we each selected at random a team to root for at the beginning. I ended up with Bronx Gridlock, while Becky took Queens of Pain. She won, but only because Suzy Hotrod could pretty much eat any of us for dinner. We quickly learned to appropriately use words like "jammer" and "blocker" in sentences, and actually somewhat passionately rooted for our teams. Which is saying a lot, if you've ever watched sports with us (or, you know, read our fascinating live blogging of sporting events). Roller derby is a very random mix of gay, punk, and awkward misfits. You decide where we fit in there.


Sunday we headed the other direction to Six Flags: Hurricane Harbor. It was on our summer to-do list, and we had $10 passes from earlier in the summer when Becky and a friend experienced electrical problems at regular Six Flags. We had a fun day in the end, but let's just say I wouldn't go if you don't have $10 passes. As best I can tell proximity to the ocean is inversely related to quality of a water park. Hurricane Harbor staff could learn a lot about efficiency, cleanliness, and friendliness from Noah's Ark staff. At one point we waited forever to be allowed to put our tube in the water while listening to a SEATED lifeguard complain about how the waterslide we were not choosing to go on was better. Then, when our tube was stuck the lifeguard didn't bother to get up and instead let a little kid behind us in line get off of his tube and come push us off and yell "have fun!" after us. We also probably stood in line for about an hour at one family tube ride because they didn't have enough tubes so the line had to stand and wait for tubes to come up the conveyor belt, the staff were only loading one tube at time, and it took approximately 5 minutes to load because of all the needless steps the lifeguard created (get in the water to position the tube, get out, unhook the chain, let us through, re-hook the chain, get in the water to hold the tube, allow us to get in...). The wave pool was only 5 feet deep, had no tubes, and was about as packed as a mosh pit. Not to mention, we had to pay $17 for a locker that we opened only at the beginning and end of the day, and we decided to pass on food once we saw that a single Italian sausage cost $9. I think the only reason we ended up actually having a really good time was that we got to go on 5 or 6 slides right in a row at the end of the day as the park was clearing out. Plus, the next door KFC was cheap and deliciously fried.

However, as Becky noted on facebook or twitter or whatever she was doing while I was driving, the fabulous Noah's Ark is a sixteen hour drive. Guess that'll have to wait for another summer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tradition

Despite the lack of talk here, we're still chugging along on the wedding planning. The current major project that's taking all our energy we're procrastinating on like crazy is invitations. We're semi-DIYing them--we let someone else do all the printing and cutting rather than fight with our dying inkjet (or buy a new one) and a paper cutter, but now everything needs to be glued. And stuffed. And stamped. And addressed. And all I can say is thank goodness we didn't try to completely DIY these or we might have both gone completely insane!

Fortunately, Carrie's sister (you may know her from the comments as "Anonymous") has graciously offered to help us with a bunch of this stuff, and her husband also graciously offered to watch the boys for the weekend so that she CAN help us! I also hear he is providing food? I'm there! So we'll be hauling our big box o' invitation supplies across several (teeny Northeastern) states next weekend for an invitation assembly extravaganza.

But in the meantime, we need to get all these envelopes addressed. And that has proven to be a much more contentious task than I had imagined. I remember reading stuff about invitation-addressing etiquette online back when we first started planning and thinking, "Who cares?" Apparently, some people care. And I strangely discovered that I care much more than I expected and in very conflicting ways. I like the formality of doing it the "right" way as determined by etiquette guides, but I really hate the fact that the formal way includes omitting the woman's name in most straight, married partnerships in which the woman takes her husband's last name. So I debated long and hard over whether to fight against Mr. and Mrs. Hisname; Carrie and I actually spent the better part of a day discussing this as we tried to make a spreadsheet with everyone's addresses and how to list their names. And in the end, formality and consistency won out for all but a couple close friends who I knew weren't fans of that convention.

And then in addition to the debate over how to address straight, married couples with the same last name, there are all the other variations of names and relationships to consider. Couples where one or both partners have professional titles. Unmarried couples. Married couples with different last names. Unmarried couples who may or may not view themselves as in a marriage-like relationship. Divorcees. Widow(er)s. And how does that "and guest" thing work again? Oh, and let's not forget that at least 10 people on our guestlist have moved just in the last 3 months since we sent out the Save-the-Dates. And did we keep track of these address changes in an organized fashion on our address spreadsheet? Of course not. Does that really seem like our style?

Anyway, after much digging through emails for addresses and consulting with moms and the internet, I think we finally have a list of how to address everyone's invitations. Since I have been voted "handwriting that looks least like a 1st grader's" in our relationship, I was awarded the task of addressing the envelopes. And of course I got some bright idea that writing in cursive would look prettier than printing, I am painstakingly writing them all in my best Zaner-Bloser script, which I have not used on a regular basis since about 6th grade. Why? I can only conclude it's because I'm a crazy person. So in sum, if you get an invitation in the mail from us, please pause for a second and admire the pretty handwriting. Unless you hate that I wrote your name as Mrs. Yourhusbandsname. Then just throw it out and don't hate me, please?

Apologies for the lack of pictures--I forgot that Carrie already used them in a previous post. I guess that's what I get for sharing the blog with her...by which I mean getting her to co-blog and then neglecting to post anything for weeks. Oops.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Death of the Brontosaurus

I learned something tonight that I feel compelled to share with you, despite the fact that it embarassingly exposes my paleontologic ignorance. Regardless of the fun-making that I have endured from Becky in the long minutes since I learned, I am daring to share my new knowledge, that it might enlighten any fellow unknowing blog readers.

The brontosaurus is no more. That's right, they no longer exist.

Now, I had seen photos of our long-necked friend mysteriously labeled "apatosaurus." Close relatives, I assumed. A new dinosaur. I had even briefly pondered (brief in this case should be measured in miliseconds) the lack of modern (and by modern, I mean post Land Before Time) representation of the brontosaurus. But never did it cross my mind that the brontosaurus was just gone! Until tonight.

Headlines on my internets announced to me that new research shows that the Triceratops was also doomed. OH NOEZ! Thankfully, further inspection revealed that the headlines were probably incorrect, and in fact some boring Torosaurus will actually gain the Triceratops name rather than the other way around. The articles noted the similarity of this problem to the Brontosaurus problem. Say what, I said. Frantic googling, paired with Becky's laughter at my ignorance, brought me to the truth. The brontosaurus has passed.

So this is the way it works. Scientists find out that two previously named dinosaurs are actually one dinosaur. One name has to go. They decide based on which name was recorded first. The Triceratops is spared only because Othniel C. Marsh named it in 1889, two years before he named the Torosaurus. Brontosaurus had no such luck.

Of further note is the fact that apatosaurus apparently means "deceptive lizard," whereas brontosaurus means "thunder lizard." I think they need to reexamine their naming system, isn't the cooler name painfully obvious??

So there you have it. The more you learn, the more you know. Or something. I'll be back to blogging when I finish mourning Littlefoot. And Pluto.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Key Limey

And here again is Monday. And a Monday to start a new month none-the-less, which means not just that we must pay rent and that we get to flip to another page in our 1000 places to go before you die wall calendar, but also that the summer is almost over! Perhaps a bit over dramatic, but seriously, where did it go?

This weekend we crossed something delicious off of our summer to-do list. However, I have sadly just realized that there is absolutely no photo documentation. Bad bloggers.

On Saturday we made plans to go visit a friend in Queens. We hadn't seen her in a while, which of course is sad, and also we hadn't yet made use of the pool in her apartment complex to cool off from this unbearably hot summer. Naturally the weather decided to provide one of the first comfortably warm days of summer in honor of the occasion. It was still really nice swimming weather and we definitely had fun. Before we left home though, I was looking at our summer to-do list and worrying that we weren't crossing anything off of it. And then a brilliant idea came to me! We could drive to Red Hook and get pie! After a bit of convincing Becky and generally fretting about the state of traffic, off we went on a grand driving adventure through four of the six boroughs of New York (north Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens) in order to acquire Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie and bring it to our friend's apartment for dessert. I used to not like Key Lime pie. In fact, I thought it was a pretty lame excuse for a dessert. And then I tried Steve's. The bakery prides themselves on using the freshest, most unprocessed ingredients possible, including real key limes. They operate out of an industrial warehouse type building in Red Hook, which is located on a dead-end cobblestone street that tried awfully hard to give my car a couple of flat tires. The only things they sell are two sizes of pie, the Swingle (delicious dark chocolate dipped key lime pies on sticks), and limeade. To make the trip completely worth it we decided to enjoy Swingles for lunch and purchase a whole pie for post-dinner dessert. Just as good as I remembered!

The rest of the weekend was mostly focused on boring household stuff and trying to make progress on wedding things. It seems like every wedding task expands to fill whatever time we offer it to fill. After mostly rejecting our previous idea for a solo during the ceremony, we spent at least 3 hours scouring iTunes for the perfect song. And in the end, we concluded that maybe our original ideas weren't so bad after all. At least we did make some solid progress on the invitations, as they need to get sent very soon. I'll leave you with a few photos of us working diligently at the kitchen table (please ignore piles of clean laundry and other junk - that's evidence of the household stuff we were doing simultaneously!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Striving for excellence or accepting reality

Occasionally I have clients with whom, for whatever reason, maybe even for just a few moments, I identify. And sometimes in these conversations I briefly let down my social worker filter and I just talk to them. I don’t mean that I do this in an inappropriate way. On the contrary, it’s a way of thinking about clients that I believe is essential to providing good services. What I mean is that I let go of a little bit of the “us vs. them” mentality. I think about what I would want or would do, if chance dealt me the same hand it dealt them. I open my mouth and find myself giving the same advice or empathy that I would give a friend.

The other day I was meeting with a mother. She was speaking with me about her daycare dilemma, about the conflict between staying at home with her child and going out into the world and pursuing money and knowledge. This is practically a universal debate among modern women. I did a research project on this issue back in high school, I debated about it with my college roommate who was studying social policy, and flame wars are fought daily about it on the mommy internets. I found myself spouting information about research that shows that high-quality daycare does not harm children or their attachment with their parents. And as I was soliloquizing about this, my client looked at me and asked in a concerned voice, “what do you mean by ‘high-quality’?” I stopped. Awareness of who I was talking to seeped back into mind. I answered, honestly but with a filter, “well, things like not just sitting in front of the TV all day doing nothing else.” “Oh,” she replied, with the same level of concern in her voice. Yes, it turned out, that is primarily what her daycare provider does. My attempt to reassure had backfired horribly. In all honesty, her child is doing great. The toddler is developing normally, is loved, and is certainly solidly attached to the mother in front of me. I finished as gracefully as possible, encouraging the mom to provide stimulation outside of daycare hours but also reassuring her that daycare would not be damaging.

But it left me thinking. Do I believe that this mother should have to settle for the TV babysitter? By saying yes, I perpetuate poverty. Decades of research on Head Start show how important early childhood education can be. But high-quality daycare is a limited and expensive commodity. I turned on my internal social worker and backpedaled to say “it’s okay.” Maybe I was even right. But I know it’s not what I would say if I was having the same conversation with my sister, or a friend. Can it somehow be true both that it’s okay for her child and that it’s not okay for my nephew? Would I do my client a better service by saying “no, it’s not okay, but it’s all you can get”?

On Surrey Biking

You may have noticed our long absence from blogging. Or, more probably, you were on vacation with us and therefore did not. But for those of you not related to me, we're home from a lovely week at the Jersey Shore! Before you ask, no, we did not run into The Situation or any of the other show characters, nor did we participate in any of their antics. We were in God's Square Mile, people! Haha, okay, I crack myself and no one else up.

I intended to blog this while we were gone. I even told Becky I was going to do it. But I didn't, so here it is now. The story of the surrey bike.

Once upon a time we were planning a trip to the shore. We thought, what kind of wacky kid-friendly activities can we lure the family in with? Surrey bikes are pretty wacky. And they come with child seats - perfect! We originally thought for Jen and Sean and us and the babies. But then my parents wanted to try. So off we went!

Even looking at this picture now makes me giggle a little. Note the ominous black cloud in the background. We didn't note it. So, a few minutes after we're pedaling along, looking for someone to take our photo, that cloud starts to drip drip drip. Within minutes it is full-on pouring.

We rush back to the bike shop to protect our toddler cargo. We inquire about the rain policy. No refunds, rental rain or shine, says the employee. Great. Major biking fail. But wait! It's a slow day he says. Come back if it stops, you can finish your time. We run to the big building at the end of the pier to wait out the storm. I carry Matthew, and completely wipe out on the slippery floor. I make sure that he lands in my lap and hardly even notices we fell, and then look up to see at least a dozen people all staring concernedly at me and my tiny charge.

We hem and haw about what to do as the rain pounds down. We snack, toddlers grow impatient. And just as we're seriously considering giving up, the rain lets up, the boardwalk starts to dry, and the sun peeks through. Friendly bike employee graciously allows all eight of us to climb back on board the bike. And then the drips start. Rain is caught in the canopy. No biggie we think, we'll just push it up to dump it off. Cue rain water pouring down on Thomas, who starts screaming. Everyone off again, comfort baby, clear water collection, borrow towel to dry off bike. We're on again, pedaling furiously to the farthest end of the boardwalk we plan to go! Cue flat tire.

We walk the bike, complete with my mom perched at the steering wheel, back to the shop. We contemplate accepting defeat. But I don't want to accept biking fail! Still gracious bike employee granted us another extension and sent us off with a four seater.

By this point everything was hilarious. We took turns a bit and pedaled furiously around once again. The babies grinned, the adults sweated like mad, and bike fail was miraculously avoided. And you know what? Later in the week, most of us cited it as one of the best parts of the vacation. So there it is. Surrey bikes mean family bonding. I guess the Governor's Island Jews had it right.