7 Things and an Award!


I got something yesterday from my friend Lauren over at Heya, Sparky! She gave me a blog award! I didn't even know they had things like this. But I guess that means I'm awesome, so...thanks, Lauren!

I've been writing on here since May 2010. At first I wasn't sure I'd have anything to say, but it turns out I have a lot more than I thought. I have a job where I get paid to read other people's work, so it's been super fun to write my own and get to write whatever I want (even if I'm not getting paid. Boo on that.)

The rules of this blog award thing is that I now need to write seven things about myself:

1. I have a love/hate relationship with running. I continue to run, hoping that eventually it will turn into just love. It's now been a year of mostly consistent running, and my hopes are dwindling that it will ever not include some hate.

2. I really, honestly (strangely, I know) hate taking showers. Note: That doesn't mean I don't take them (I do, promise), but it does mean I hate it.

3. Country music never fails to make me happy, even if I'm in the crappiest of moods.

4. I am a sore loser. This is something I am aware of and something I fight on a daily basis. Later, when I'm alone and have time to think, I always regret acting like a child and vow to be a gracious loser from then on. Sadly, my aspirations to better myself and vows of adulthood haven't amounted to much yet. There will always be chances to practice, though, since my sports teams (ahem, the Cubs and Bears) are destined to lose for the remainder of my life.

5. I used to be convinced that I was an introvert. I continued to tell people this throughout high school and college and into the workplace...until last year when I took a personality test at work. Come to find out, I'm an extrovert! What a shocker. Who knew? It's not like I'm loud and like to make friends and talk to people. It's not like I love being in a crowd. On second thought, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

6. I love my last name. When I get married, I'm making it my middle name just so I can keep it around. I'm also going to use it to name my daughter someday.

7. Besides being born into an awesome family with an awesome last name, Jordan Bumgarner is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

And now to pass along the love to Laura over at "Beauty Will Save the World." She's a coworker friend, hopefully soon-to-be neighbor (since I'm applying to get an apt in the area where she lives), and new to blogging. But she's great. So, Laura, here you go!

Training Camp


Between wedding planning and church and violin practice and hanging out with friends and the occasional tennis match, I'm still working out in the mornings and/or running in the afternoons, trying to get ready for my second half marathon, which will take place five weeks from now in Seattle, WA. I've never been to Seattle, so I'm pretty excited about flying out there. Plus, I'll be running with my friend Kristin, who was my original running buddy in college.

Kristin and I circa 2005
At Kristin's wedding this past summer
The very first week of freshman year, we bonded over our shared desire to start running. For our first run we just wanted to try it out; we weren't sure how far we'd be able to go before having to walk.

We made it five long minutes before limping to a stop, gasping and bending over. I thought I was going to die.

Every day after that, we added a minute, sometimes two, to our time. A month later, we were running for thirty minutes or more, and we felt great. Kristin and I continued to run off and on throughout our freshman year. Sophomore year, I joined the soccer and tennis teams, and she started running cross country. We didn't run together much after that, but we would sometimes cross paths on the road to our various practices.

The soccer team my junior year. I'm in the middle of the second row.
Tennis team on our spring break trip to Hilton Head, SC

To this day, I'm convinced that without Kristin, I wouldn't be running. At least I know I wouldn't be running in Seattle. She's intimidating, though, having run two marathons (and planning for a third in April) as well as numerous half marathons. My paltry one half marathon sounds pretty lame next to her list. Still, I'm super excited to be running with her.

Yesterday, I got inspired to do a long run. I've been working out every other morning at the small gym in my apartment complex, lifting weights and running on the treadmill, but I haven't been consistently doing long runs once a week like I should be. But yesterday it was gorgeous outside, so I set off.

Let me just say this: I hate running without an ipod. Having one gives me a solid rhythm and keeps me focusing on the music instead of my pounding feet. Knowing this about myself, I was shocked to realize a mile into my run that I'd forgotten to bring it! I considered going back but figured I'd gotten that far without it; maybe it would be okay.

Thus was the first mile of a seven-and-a-half-mile run, and I hated every second. The whole run was terrible. (Reminds me of something I wrote last year about how running sucks.) I'd like to blame my lack of ipod, but really I just think it was one of those days (which I guess fits nicely into the week I've been having). I had a side cramp the entire time, which caused my back to start aching. My knees hurt, and I couldn't breathe. Every time I looked at my watch after what seemed like ten minutes, less than one-tenth of a mile had passed! Good grief. 

But I made it, and I spent the rest of the night groaning every time I moved. I felt tired and weak...and proud of myself for finishing. Today, though, my knees still hurt, and my abs and back hurt too. You'd think I'd only just started running!

I hope Kristin doesn't leave me in her dust. I hope I can at least finish the 13.1-mile run through Seattle's woods (that, btw, describes itself as being extremely difficult). I hope I don't have to go to the bathroom right in the middle of my race. Oye. I feel like I'm back at square one.

Except...I ran for eighty minutes this time before having to stop. Take that, freshman me.

Flashback Friday--Pure Candid

This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it. I honestly have no idea what happened in this moment, but I can promise you--this picture is pure candid. 

It was one of the first times I hung out with Lauren (left) and Erin (right). We went out to dinner and then did something else, but I don't remember what. We were freshmen in college, unaware that we'd eventually be roommates and best friends.

And in May, over six and a half years after we first met, they're going to be bridesmaids in my wedding. I can only imagine what sorts of crazy moments we'll have...maybe ending up with a picture like this? I can only hope.

* * *
Visit Tia's blog for some more flashbacks! Happy Friday!

One of Those Weeks


It's been one of those weeks where I feel like I'm just trying to keep my head above water. I keep trying to stay positive, not get upset, and then something else happens.

{warning: slight venting to commence}

On Tuesday, my roommate told me she's moving out two months earlier than expected, leaving me with a rather expensive three-bedroom apartment. I don't blame her at all; I can't even say I'm surprised. She's been a terrific roommate for almost a year and a half, and it's been great to split the bills with someone, but now I have to decide what to do. And I have to decide by Friday, because I have to give my current apt thirty days' notice if I am going to move out.

So...after weighing my options, it looks like I too will be moving out at the end of February. That's not quite the same as August, like I originally thought. Now the apartment hunt is on, and I don't so much like not knowing where I'm going to live next month. My friend Hannah (who you may remember from wedding dress shopping) has been nice enough to offer her extra bedroom for me if I can't find an apartment. Although, I doubt she'll be so gracious when Jordan and I get married and we're both living with her.

Along with random stressful apartment stuff, I'm also trying to figure out wedding stuff. Up till now it's been going pretty well, but I today I got really overwhelmed. Decisions and details and money...ugh. Really, though, I know it will work out and be wonderful. (At least, that's what my mom keeps telling me.) It's just hard to see that right now. 

I went to the dermatologist Wednesday morning (I almost got lost getting there, btw) to see if she could get my face cleared up in time for my wedding. She seemed confident she could get me looking clean and clear and under control (hello, Neutrogena), but apparently for me that means five prescriptions. And who knew face cream could be so freaking expensive? I spent a good fifteen minutes tonight just reading all the directions. After looking at the bottles on my bathroom counter, I saw a vision of my future as an old lady, pills and vitamins galore. I'm not super excited about it.

But if that's what it takes to not look like I have chicken pox on my face in front of two hundred people, I guess it's worth it. I did find it amusing that one of the information pamphlets told me no less than three times to BE PATIENT. I guess they know people get ancy, since this stuff takes twelve weeks to show improvement.

So here I am--expensive face cream on my face--watching the Australian Open on my computer. I just turned it on for a second and now I'm stuck here, unable to turn off this extremely close semifinal match and get some sleep. Believe it or not, professional tennis can get intense.

And as I watched these two top-ten female players, a thought came to mind: They'd probably pay someone to plan their wedding.

How I Spent My Sunday Afternoon


Have I mentioned I hate losing? Yeah... I wasn't happy. Jordan was nice to me, though. Plus, let's be honest--it's hard to be mad at someone who's wearing a cheese head.

And... My Lucky Streak Continues


A year ago, I won a raffle at my company's Christmas party and got a Caribbean cruise for two. A few months ago, I won a raffle at a church event and got a pretty wreath (which, btw, is still hanging on my wall). 

Okay, so. . .

On Thursday, I may or may not have won another raffle. Okay, I did win another raffle, furthering my lucky streak and fully erasing the line "I never win anything" from my life forever. (I know I already said I'd do that, but now I really mean it.)

Three days ago, I took a friend to a cooking demonstration by the only female Iron Chef, Cat Cora. I'm not going to lie, I actually had never heard of her before two weeks ago. Jordan's dad works at a hospital, and every year they host a famous chef (last year it was Emeril), who cooks and shares a few healthy recipes. Apparently it's a big deal, and you have to buy tickets and dress up (I didn't know about that part), and--this was totally awesome--eat the food. Yay! 

I didn't actually go with Jordan, because he was busy, so I recruited another friend, who got really excited and thanked Jordan no less than three times for not going. We didn't know what to expect as we walked up to the entrances doors. Then, we saw a flash.

"Are those cameras?"
We peered through the tinted glass window.
"Wait," I said. "Those people look fancy."
Sharelle looked down at her black-and-white polka-dotted rain boots then up at the sign, noting the "VIP entrance."
"VIPs?" I said. "Hmm... Well, too late to change now."

We walked in and gave the lady our tickets, and she handed each of us a pink raffle ticket. Then she told us we could sit anywhere there wasn't a "reserved" sign.

For the next hour, Cat Cora cooked and talked and answered questions, and it was really cool. She made an appetizer, a pasta entree, and a freaking delicious apple dessert. And as she cooked, waiters brought out the dish for each of us. I learned some interesting cooking facts, and each guest got a wooden spoon with Celebrity Chef Cat Cora carved into the back.

Then, at the end they raffled off three of Cat Cora's cookbooks.

Knowing my history, I suppose I shouldn't have been shocked that they called my raffle ticket first! I jumped up in front of everyone and shouted, "That's me!"

A lady handed me a cookbook, and I got it signed by Cora herself! 

If you're keeping score, that's now three raffles I've won in the past year. Don't be jealous. I'll cook you something delicious and make up for it.

A Letter


Dear Jordan,

You asked me to marry you, and that means that less than four months from now we'll be married and living together. I want to make sure you fully realize what you're getting yourself into.

I'm not very quiet. I try to be, but let's face it--I'm loud. I accidentally slam doors, and I can't really whisper. I like to talk things out, and you won't be able to escape me very well once we're living in the same apartment. I like to listen to the radio when I'm falling asleep. I'm always cold, and I sleep with at least two blankets, even in the summer.  I hate closing the windows any time of the year. 

As soon as I come home, I put sweats on. I don't like taking showers, and I'm not very good at cleaning. I make a mess in the kitchen, and I don't do laundry every week. My hair is long and gets everywhere, clogging every drain possible. 

I love pictures, and I'm going to be a creeper and take pictures of you all the time and make you take pictures with me. My bedroom isn't neat, and my closet is exploding with shoes and shirts and pants and dresses. To be honest, there really isn't room for any of your stuff. So...sorry about that.

I often make smoothies in the morning. It's loud. 

Sometimes I cry for no reason, and other times I just like to be quiet. That doesn't mean anything is wrong, though. I like eating leftovers, but sometimes I forget about them for a little bit too long. I'm not afraid of mold or spiders, but I do hate snakes. I hate being late and would rather be early. It takes me forever to make a decision.

Occasionally I feel like watching a chick flick or listening to sappy love songs.

Even though I won't try, I know I'm going to make you crazy. I'm awkward and silly and will most likely embarrass you in public a time or two (not that I'll try; it just happens). In the mornings, I can look pretty rough.

But if you're up for it, I am too. It's gonna be insane. Just don't say I didn't warn you.


Flashback Friday--A Wedding


My parents on their wedding day, circa 1982. The stash, the hair, the white tux... Classic. They set such a great example for me, and I pray that I can follow in their footsteps--starting officially 113 days from now.

* * *

Also...I'm trying something new and linking up with a Friday blog hop! Because I'm just that cool.


Happiness Combination


I love chocolate.

I love the Chicago Cubs.

What, then, could be better than a Chicago Cubs chocolate bar?

Don't think too hard.

The answer is nothing.

Chocolate bar courtesy of my grandpa, who mailed this to me all the way from Illinois. Thanks, Papa!

*This is my one-hundredth post. I now feel accomplished.

Death of a Snowman


When I was home last weekend to go wedding dress shopping, I discovered a strange figure in my parents' yard.

It was a snowman. 

In Texas.

Apparently, last week North Texas was hit with a blizzard. I think it really was just a dusting, but people in Texas are weird about snow. Everyone freaked out, and people were going crazy. 

His girlfriend went sledding.  Isn't she cute? 

Again, just to be clear, this was in Texas. She probably looks so scared because she's not used to snow. She's wondering how to stop sliding. She's wishing she had warmer boots. That's just a guess, of course. I can't read minds.

My brother made a snowman. 

So this past weekend I pulled into the driveway and saw a peculiar sight. It was sad. So, so very, very sad.

Austin's snowman was dying. (Think: melting Frosty from that awesome Christmas movie.)

I mean really. Isn't this just the saddest thing ever? He's clinging to life with a droopy hat and ragged scarf. Although, to be honest, I was shocked he'd held on for so long. He's a fighter, that snowman.

As the weekend wore on, I continued to document Texas Frosty's slow, albeit not surprising, death. When his hat fell off, my sister was sad. (It's hard to see, but she's giving a thumbs down.)

Then the scarf started to cover his body as his head melted. It's like a creepy, old Texas Frosty, wearing a death shroud.

And then the body slowly morphed into a stump. When I left, this is what I saw:

Today, my dad e-mailed me a photo of Grandpa Texas Frosty. Now he is no more than a small lump, almost fully covered by the rainbow scarf.

I feel like I should say something significant here. Something deep and powerful. 

But I can't think of anything both appropriately humorous and poignant enough for a snowman's funeral.

My Perfect Dress


I had no expectations for wedding dress shopping. This was mostly due to the fact that I didn't know what to expect. Was I going to find The Dress in one day? Was I going to know if I found it? Were the ladies going to be nice? Were they going to have any dresses for under $50?

I'm kidding on that last one.

I took my friend Hannah with me, and we drove to Texas to spend Saturday shopping for a pretty white dress. My mom, kind soul that she is, was super helpful and made a few appointments for me at some bridal shops in the area. Bridal shops. It still seems surreal.

Anyway, I went with Hannah and my mom to the first appointment at 12:30 on Saturday at this cute little bridal boutique.  

With butterflies churning in my stomach, we approached a door displaying a sign sternly stating there NO cameras were allowed as well as NO food or drink. I pulled open the door and instantly felt like I'd stepped into a fairytale. I'd never seen anything like it. Rows upon rows of white, off-white, ivory, and champagne dresses hung gracefully on sturdy hangers, waiting for the perfect home. Around the store were girls, sparkly rings on their left hand, smiling excitedly while an assistant asked them questions about their wedding to determine what kind of dress they were looking for.

My sister and dad met us soon after that, and my dad walked in to a bustling store packed wall to wall with white dresses, excited brides-to-be, and tearful mothers.

"This is...I mean...wow," I said. There really were no words.
Then my mom turned to me and said, "This is way more fun than I thought it would be!" 
Uh, well, Mom, we've only been here for 30 seconds. That's what I thought; I didn't say it, though, because I'm nice. 
"Looks like you're the only guy in here." I glanced at my dad, who was already munching on a handful of cheese and crackers he'd found by the reception desk.
"Geoff! What are you doing?" my mom whispered. 
"What? We're not allowed to eat these?"  

The dress shopping was off to a strangely wonderful start.

I fought my way through a crowd of girls (okay, three) and put my name in. 
"Melissa's gonna help ya. Jest a sec."
After browsing through the dresses for maybe five minutes or so, I heard my name called.
"I'm Melissa," she said in a no-nonsense tone. "So, when's the wedding?"
"May 14," I replied.
"Of this year?"
When I nodded, she frowned.
"Hmm, well, that's means we're in a bit of a time crunch, then. Usually it takes about 4-7 months to order a dress. I'll have to check and see which designers will be available for you on such short notice. Do you have any favorite designers?"
When I shook my head, she sighed.
"Have you been dress shopping before?"
When I shook my head again, she grabbed my hand and pulled me over to a rack of dresses. "Here," she said, motioning to my family, "y'all wait here." Then she turned to me. "I'll pick some dresses out for ya."

What took place for the next two hours was nothing short of insanity. And fun. Lots and lots of fun. My initial reservation about dress shopping and Melissa's frown and having a wedding date less than four months away quickly wore off, leaving only the hopeful expectation of finding the dress. 

And Melissa was the perfect woman for the job. She navigated the hustle and bustle of the dressing room like a pro, weaving in and out of white-dress-wearing girls so that I could stand on the platform (basically a square box) and check myself out in the huge, full-length mirror. 

The first dress I came out in ended up being one of my top two. There were others, however, that I didn't like as much. And if I showed any hint of displeasure, Melissa would grab my hand and, with a "come on, girl," usher me back to the dressing room and hand me another dress. 

While my dad questioned her about prices, my mom, sister, and Hannah stood to the side, asking what I thought and making notes about what I did or didn't like. Surprisingly, my mom was holding it together really well. 

Then, it happened. 

"Try this on," Melissa told me, holding up a dress. "I know ya said it wasn't your style, but don't kill it jest yet."
I slipped it on, and she tightened the clasp and pull the zipper up.
"I don't need clips or anything," she said, stepping back. "It fits ya perfectly."
I smoothed the front, lifted up the hem, and walked out to my family. Stepping onto the platform, I turned and felt the swish of the train settle in behind me.
"Here." Melissa took my hair out of its ponytail and quickly created a messy bun on the side of my neck, just below my ear. Then, grabbing a flower from a shelf behind her, she tucked it in.

Instantly, tears welled up in my mom's eyes. "You look so beautiful."
Apparently the flower had put her over the edge.
"Okay, Mom, hold it together," I said. I turned to my sister and playfully rolled my eyes. 
"Well," my mom said, "what do you think?"
"I think I love it."
"As much as the first dress?"
"Umm...not sure. I'll have to try on the first dress again."

As I walked back to the dressing room, I was convinced I would like the first dress better. I had loved how it looked and felt, and I thought it was the one. But I surprised myself, because as soon as I put that first dress on, I knew. 

"I like the second one better," I said confidently.
"Really? Well since it's fits ya perfectly, maybe I can convince the owner to let y'all buy it off the rack. That way ya won't have to wait to order it, since you're short on time and all." She paused. "I just can't believe it fits ya so well. All it needs it a bit of hemming."

I'll make a long story short by saying that I did go to a few more places on Saturday. I tried on more dresses, and they were all beautiful. But I knew I had already found it. So we drove back to see Melissa that very same day, and she let me try the dress on again "just to be sure." 

"You can't buy it if ya ain't sure," she said, grinning. 
"Oh, I'm sure."

I couldn't believe it. I was wearing my wedding dress. My mom was giddy with excitement, and Hannah and my sister just kept saying, "It's gorgeous."

The whole day was yet another blessing to add to my growing list, and I got to buy the dress off the rack, so no worries about shipping it in time. Plus, they'll clean, press, steam, and fix it up for free before I take it to get the hem altered. Score!

{Sorry, no pictures. I can't spoil the moment my fiance (did I mention it's weird to use that word?) sees me in all my glory.}

But I can tell you that it's beautiful and makes me feel like a princess, which I know sounds cheesy, but whatever.

It's gonna be so great.

Flashback Friday--Brothers


These are my younger brothers two and a half years ago. Being crazy. Trying to punch each other.

Not much has changed since then. That I can promise you.

They're always up to something crazy.

I love these boys.

Engagement, Stage Two


I'm actually not sure if this is a documented stage "by the book," but in any case, part of being engaged includes wedding dress shopping! It's happening this weekend. I have appointments and everything. I'm so legit.

My first thought is that white just isn't enough. Red, white, and blue...now that's more my style. What could be more perfect? I love America, after all. Why not display my love for 200+ people? In this:

On Growing Up and Car Maintenance


*Disclaimer: I am fully aware of how ridiculous the following will likely sound.

[But what's a blog for if not to make fun of yourself?]

As such, I present to you the following [short] essay on growing up, and how I know I'm making progress in the aforementioned area.

The first time I went to get an oil change, I was scared. Like, really nervous. I wish I could lie and say this first happened when I was sixteen. No, I took my car to get an oil change by myself for the first time just two years ago. I'm not marking an anniversary or anything, just so you know; that was a guess. The point is, I was old enough to not be nervous.

My dad had warned me to not buy anything else. Only an oil change, he said. But that got me thinking... What if they rip me off cuz I'm a girl? What if they mess with my car on purpose so I'll have to go back and spend $5,000 getting it fixed? What if they ask me a super easy question that I don't know the answer to? I freaked myself out before I even went. 

When pulled into the garage, my palms were sweaty. They asked me what my license plate number was, but I didn't know and felt stupid. They asked me what kind of oil I wanted, but I didn't know and felt stupid. They asked me what type of engine I had, but I didn't know and felt stupid. I was sweating the entire time I was in there, and when I left I'd never been so relieved in my life. 

Just yesterday I went to get an oil change. As I drove out of the garage and back onto the open road, I realized that I hadn't sweat at all. I was able to answer their questions intelligently, and I hadn't gotten nervous even for a moment. 

That got me thinking about life and growing up and how I've been learning and practicing and getting better. Most of the time, though, it's such a gradual process that I don't even realize it until I go to do that thing again and discover that I'm way better at it than I used to be. 

Sometimes practice is hard and takes conscious thought. But other times it just takes doing something over and over and over again--unconscious improvement. Although, improvement of any kind--conscious or unconscious--is good. 

It's something I'm going to work on in 2011, unconsciously, of course.

Two Things I Thought I'd Never Do


Have you ever wanted to buy something that was expensive? Like, much too expensive for you to justify buying but something you secretly wanted and knew would make your life 1,000 times better?

For me, that thing was a watch. A Garmin 305 Forerunner GPS watch, to be exact. (No nerd jokes, please. Wait till you hear me out.) As if Jordan didn't get me enough for Christmas--like, oh I don't know, a diamond ring--he also bought me what I'd been talking about ever since I started training for my first half marathon.

If it looks big and cumbersome, I can promise you it isn't
I actually wasn't completely sure what the watch did, but I knew that it would be awesome and completely change my life forever. 

Well, I'm here to tell you that it has, because on January 1, 2011, I did two things I never thought I would do: 

1. Run outside in the cold while wearing gloves, leggings, and under armor. 
2. Run on grass, not pavement, without first mapping out the course.

While these might not sound like major, call-home-to-your-mother achievements, I was super excited. This watch is seriously worth every penny. I can't even tell you all the awesome things it does, because I don't know yet. The instruction booklet is the size of a short novel.

But what I have figured out about the watch is mind blowing. For starters, it tracks intervals, pace, calories, time, distance, heart rate, and it hooks up to your computer to show you the route you ran. It also shows your history of past runs and tells you how fast you ran each lap. You can include a warm-up and cooldown lap, and you can program the watch to pause when you aren't active, which is helpful if you're running a course that has a lot of stoplights and other annoying stuff like that.

Basically it is so awesome! I've braved the cold a few times since that initial run, and each time I get so excited to use my sweet new watch. 

Okay, I think I've babbled enough. All I can say is that it makes running fun...well, as much fun as it can be anyway. Now I just need a warmer pair of gloves. The rest of my body is fine, but my hands get cold after an hour in this crazy wind.

Ah, well, as they say, it's not worth it if you don't have to work for it.

Thus ends my fifth installment of "things that make me happy." For more, go here or here or here or here.

Flashback Friday--Sliding and Getting Stuck


Who doesn't remember sliding down the banister as a small child? It was frowned upon in my house, which always made it so much more exciting (and also surprising that I found a picture of such an event). I was such a rebel.

I've also heard of some curious kids who tried sticking their heads through the railings, only to get stuck. I'm sure this resulted in screaming and crying and promises to never do such a thing again. Of course, I wouldn't know for sure. That never happened to me.

Not even once. 
Certainly not twice. 
Definitely not three times. 
Duh. I'm not stupid.

* * * 

Visit Tia's blog for more flashbacks.

Engagement, Stage One


Before a week ago, Jordan and I only talked about getting married on short occasions. When we did, it was all hypothetical. "If, at some time in the future, we end up having some sort of event where you're wearing a white dress, and people come just to see us..." That sort of thing.

As such, once we got engaged, we had no plans whatsoever regarding a wedding, a date, a guest list, or anything else. The only thing we'd decided long ago was that I want dancing and he doesn't. Not so much the best place to start (for him, at least, because I'm the bride, so I do what I want).

So where do you start? Everyone is going to have a different opinion, and I knew the questions would start immediately upon breaking the news (which is most of the reason why I waited a few days before announcing my engagement to everyone I know).

"When's the Big Day?" (For some reason people like to capitalize Big Day.)
"How many bridesmaids are you having?"
"Where is the wedding going to be?"
"How many people are you inviting?"

"Are you having a reception?"
"When are you going dress shopping?"
"What are your colors?"

AHHHHHH! That's what I was thinking.

It's been eleven days since The Moment (see what I did there?), and I have decided to stop freaking out. Yes, there is a lot to do. Yes, there are a lot of details. Yes, it is a huge event. And no, it does not have to completely stress me out. 

There are, however, two main decisions that need to be discussed and decided upon, especially if you want a rather quick engagement period. 

Step 1: Pick a date 

This narrowed down rather easily for us. Anything before May was too early. June felt too cliche. July and August are too hot. September wasn't the best for a few of my friends who are teachers and my dad, who is training for a 500-mile bike trip. Anything after October was too long of an engagement, according to Jordan. So that left October or May. The more we thought about it (as much as you can think about it over a three-day period), the more I realized that Jordan was right. A long engagement wasn't necessary for us. So May it was. 

We looked at weekends in May, and it almost instantly narrowed down to either May 7 or May 14. I asked a few of my closest friends (the girls I wanted to be bridesmaids), and May 7 was ruled out for one of them for sure. That, coupled with my brother's finals week and a few other small things, left May 14. 

Now at least we had something to tell people.  

Step 2: Decide on a location 

Oklahoma? Texas? Illinois? These were the possible states where it might have made sense to get married. But after talking with Jordan, we decided that Oklahoma was the best place that fit us. We met here. We have mutual friends here. We go to church and work and live here. Done.

At this point, I could (and did) start getting freaked out by the multitude of options. Colors. Dresses. Flowers. Photographers. Cakes. 

Pick. One. Now. 

Forget that. I have time, and everything is going to be perfect. And now that we've answered the two big questions, I am firmly settling into stage one. I'm calling it The Gathering Stage.  

This stage involves organization, research, and absolutely no decisions. Right now, it's all about ideas and considering your many, many options.

Basically it looks like this*:

And this*:

*Binder, pens, colored tabs, and bridal magazines courtesy of two of my best friends (and bridesmaids), who knew I probably wouldn't actually buy a bridal magazine or binder for myself.

Note: I'm not exactly sure what the next stage is. I'll make up a name for it when I get there.

On Worry


Like most people, thoughts hit me randomly here and there throughout the day. Sometimes it's a funny memory, and I laugh out loud, causing whoever might be around me at the time to look at me strangely. Sometimes it's a reminder of something I have to do or something I forgot, and hopefully I have a paper and pen handy to make a note.

Sometimes, however, it's a scary thought---a "what if?" moment that causes me to pause, and I find myself imagining a darker world where my greatest fears actually come to pass. Oftentimes these "what if?" thoughts are completely ridiculous. They're things like, What if, when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, a snake that I didn't know was living under my bed comes to life and strikes me on my heel? Ridiculously unlikely, obviously. Or, What if my life isn't real, and I'm actually living inside the Truman Show? Uh huh. Right.

As you can see, my thoughts can go in strange directions.

But sometimes I freak myself out with what ifs; even if only for a moment, I let myself dwell on thoughts of death and destruction of those closest to me, and I get scared. Then I realize that if I did this all the time, I wouldn't enjoy life at all because I'd be too worried about the possibility of something going wrong that I wouldn't try anything or go anywhere. Or, for that matter, let anyone I love go anywhere either.

With that in mind, today I read an article sent to me by a friend. It was written by a reverend who wrote down twelve things he wish he'd put into practice more when he was younger. Among the list were the usual notions about being yourself and not sweating the small stuff.

And number seven was this:

"Don't worry too much about the worst that can happen. Even if it happens, God is with you, and you can handle it. Really."

That's quite a statement. It's for sure something I will try to put into practice in 2011. Even if the worst happens, I will be okay because God is with me. Really.

I say amen to that.

Defining Success


Last June I wrote a list of 10 things I hoped to accomplish during the remainder of 2010. I completed 7. Success? Well...I guess it depends. In school days, a 70% would be a very low C, even a D+ for many teachers. So yeah, that's bad. But I'm not in school, and being an adult means measuring success for myself--and I'm happy with it. 

#1 was to read through the Bible in a year. I started this on January 1, 2010, and read a few chapters every day through January 1, 2011. I can now say that I have completely read through the Bible cover to cover. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to do it again in 2011, but I'm proud of myself for keeping up during a busy 2010.

#2: Celebrate one-year anniversary with Jordan. Looking back, I realize it's kinda pointless to make a resolution like that. I mean, if a relationship isn't working out, you shouldn't force it to work just because you don't want it to be over. Thankfully, though, mine did, and we will be hitting the year-and-a-half mark next month.  Check. 

#3: Fly to Illinois to visit my college roommates. Done. It was wonderful and fun and actually came at the perfect time--just when I was seriously needing some girl time. These same girls will be bridesmaids in my wedding.

#4: Go skydiving. Yes, I did, and it was awesome. Totally worth the money to go once. I'd go again, but I think for me this will most likely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

#5: Crochet another blanket. When I wrote that, I hadn't started a blanket yet or have someone in mind to make one for. But Jordan was the lucky recipient for Christmas this year after I finished my eighth blanket. Eight! That's a bit crazy. I might need to get out more.

#6: Run a half marathon. This had been on my bucket list for a few years, and it was with the insistence of a good friend that I registered and trained, and we ran it together in October. I don't know if I've ever felt so accomplished. 

#7: Bake a successful loaf of bread. Yes, I'm counting my most recent loaf as a success. Now I just need a food thermometer, and I'll be set for successful loaf number two!

{now here's where I started to drop off}

#8: Start a senior girls' Bible study. This one...fail. Yeah, I dropped the ball. But I did start talking to the older people at church and make many new friends. Now I have quite the following in the first service. So it wasn't a total fail.

#9: Read fifteen books outside of work. Okay, so maybe I only read seven. But I read a lot at work...I'm talking nine or ten a month. So there. 

#10: Learn how to change a flat tire. No, I still don't know how to do this. The only resolution that I would consider to be a monstrous failure. I am such a lame girl. 


So would I consider 2010 a success? Most definitely. It was hard for sure, but it was also a lot of fun. This coming year has big shoes to fill. But I'm not worried. I've already hit the ground running with save the dates and dress shopping and all that wedding jazz. 

Even so, I promise to not make this a wedding blog. After all, I've still got my half marathon training to tackle. But that's a story for another day.