Thursday, May 27, 2010

Philadelphia Wedding has arrived!

I cannot believe it but Mandy and Billy's wedding weekend has arrived!!! It seems like only yesterday little Mandy and Billy got engaged!
My how times flies!
So Chris and I leave for Philly tomorrow morning, to have a little quiet "us" time before the crazy festivities begin on Saturday evening. We do not have any set plans for tomorrow or Saturday morning...I honestly just want to go and wing it. We will walk around town, take it all in...and not feel restricted to a schedule of things we "have" to see. Saturday afternoon I'm getting a manicure. Then we will have the rehearsal dinner at a pub called Elephant and Castle, which is down the street from our hotel. Sunday is the wedding...we will leave in a trolley for pictures by 1:15, will be back for the ceremony at 6 and then party till who knows when??

I'll will update first thing next week with lots of pictures and a recap of the weekend!!

Sayonara for now!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

1 Year and Counting!

I want you to look directly to the right and tell me what you see...what do you see??? This is what you see:
365 days left!!! One Year!! 8760 Hours!!  525,600 minutes
         (how do you measure...measure a year? Come on, I couldn't help it!)
My friend Ashley refers to this day as the "reverse-iversary". It's my Reverse-iversary!
One year from today I will be celebrating my marriage to Chris surrounded by friends and family!!
One year from today I will acquire a brother-in-law
One year from today Chris will acquire a sister-in-law
One year from today Chris will no longer be my fiance...but my husband.
One year from today I will move from the end of the alphabet to the beginning, as my initials change from LW to LD!

Or as Facebook has it:
Add this to the excitement that Mandy's wedding is 1 WEEK away, and we are both just a little bit overly excited at the present moment! I know we are at a good place with planning everything right now. I have learned so much in the past 10 months of being engaged. I have to say my favorite part of planning so far was the band search, which coincidentally was also the most stressful part so far. But I'm so happy with our choice of Arcadia and cannot wait to hear them play for us next year!

Let's review where we are:

Reception Hall: Check
Church for ceremony: Check
Wedding Dress: Check
Photographer: Check
Wedding Band: Check
Bridesmaid Dresses: Check

Next order of business:
Hotel Rooms Blocked with shuttle transportation for guests:
Post Ceremony Picture Location (I'm doing this because the church isn't that picturesque and I'm not overly in love with the garden at The Sandcastle, plus we have a little bit of time in between ceremony and reception.)

So, with our one year mark so close, Chris and I began investigation into the next order of business last weekend. First of all, last weekend was the Best!!! We didn't have any confirmed or pressing plans and just went with the flow for the weekend. It was soooo nice for once to not have to worry about rushing here or rushing there.

Friday Chris and I got home from work, relaxed in the hot-tub for an hour, and made fajitas for dinner around 9:30! Saturday I ran (totally busted my elbow and knee falling on some uneven sidewalk), got my hair cut, went grocery shopping and BBQ'd with some friends in the backyard that night. Then Sunday we went to the North Shore Animal League (JUST TO LOOK at some cute, adorable, precious puppies) and then we went to check out hotels and Old Westbury Gardens!!

We went to the Marriott Hotel in Uniondale. Nice hotel, crummy location and surrounding that was "eh" and then we looked at Garden City Hotel. BEAUTIFUL...but I'm not sure how I feel about the price they gave for the block of rooms. I'm going to look at a few more hotel options this weekend and see what I can find. So that's started..but not done. 

Then we went to check out Old Westbury Gardens!
Wow this place is neat!! It was such a pleasant surprise way to spend our Sunday afternoon. I figured we'd go there, quickly look around the gardens and be done. Two hours later, we were so hungry we had to leave, and we still felt like we hadn't seen even half the place!
There are 100 acres of land at this place, and each garden is more beautiful than the next. It was such a beautiful afternoon.

But enough about pretty flowers...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Committed- by Elizabeth Gilbert

I recently read Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, who was the author of Eat, Pray, Love. I read this book in a week...and I must say it was an interesting read, though I enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love much more. I decided to write about the book here because it was all about marriage and I find studies on this topic very interesting. Gilbert looked at marriage in other countries, in our country, what works, what doesn't work...and basically tried to come to terms with the fact that in order to keep her boyfriend in the U.S. with her...she had to get married. This clearly absolutely terrified her because of a really bad experience with her first husband that resulted in a messy divorce.

I must say that I take Elizabeth Gilbert with a grain of salt. I think she has a lot of great things to say, and interesting viewpoints on life, marriage and relationships. But her and I think so differently about marriage, family, and children that I personally find it hard to really connect or commiserate with her. I feel bad that her first marriage messed with her head as much as it did. She trash talks her old marriage so much that it makes me wonder whether she's truly over it. Though to be fair, she does admits that "one never really moves past a bad divorce." But, she also speaks in such vague terms about the cause of the divorce (perhaps for legal reasons), that I truly want to know what the hell happened?  I hear her ex-husband is writing a book that explains "his side of the story" and honestly, I'll be first in line to read it.

In delving into the mysteries of marriage, she quotes an old Polish adage that warns: "Before going to war, say one prayer. Before going to sea, say two prayers. Before getting married, say three." I'm all for the occasional joke, but I tend of get tired of those "my life is ending" "jokes" about marriage. Ha.Ha.Ha....Let's all laugh how marriage is worse than going to war? I guess that's...funny? I suppose that these harsh feelings toward marriage due to a bad divorce is something that I can't (and hopefully will never) understand. But, the lessons she claims to have finally learned at the age of 40 from her failed first marriage, I think are slightly obvious...and I'm 25. I know that people change with age and experience...and maybe my optimism about marriage Gilbert would call utter naïvetéI read somewhere once that a pessimist is just an optimist with experience. Or worse yet, this one: "An optimist is a man who looks forward to marriage. A pessimist is a married optimist." It's sad, but understandable and when you go through something bad, it's easy to get swept up into pessimism.
One thing that I cannot relate to Gilbert on is the fact that she has absolute zero desire to have children. This isn't something that came about because of her divorce...but was actually partly the cause of her divorce. She said that she never thought to discuss children with her first husband before they got married. THIS is an example of something I can't understand. Why wouldn't you ever discuss your goals and future plans in life and family with the person you are planning to marry?? She blames her age; that she was too young to know or understand this. In my opinion, she wasn't that young...and that topic should obviously have been layed out on the table before they got married. But for her not wanting kids at all? Ok, I guess I get it...she travels the world. She clearly has an intense desire to see, feel, touch, and experience everything she can possibly fit into a lifetime. Believe me, that are aspects of her life that I envy and that I will never experience. She doesn't want to give up her freedom, her spontaneity, the ability to pick up and go anywhere at the drop of a hat. But to never want kids? I know it's an innate thing that many people either possess or don't possess for one reason or another. She happens to not possess that desire...and I do, so...that's that.

What she does talk about are the many joys of being an Aunt. She enjoys being the "cool" Aunt, spoiling them rotten, and loving them as much as she can...without having the actual responsibility of raising kids, which is what she doesn't want. She discribes this whole "Auntie Brigade" of fabulous Aunts who are close with their neices and nephews. But then to back up her claim of how awesome it is being an aunt, she mentions some famous people in history who were orphaned young, and ultimately raised by their Aunts (John Lennon, Coco Chanel, Leo Tolstoy, and Truman Copote). She says these women were amazing, heroic women (which they were) and she was proud they were part of her "Auntie Brigade". But, if you're raising children from infancy or early childhood on...your essentially...a mom, right? You'd be making the same sacrifices and changes than if you were raising your own children. If she were to find herself in that situation, how would that be different than "not having any kids" other than the fact that she didn't go through actual pregnancy and labor? Is she afraid of the act of raising children as she states, or is she afraid of the actual birthing process? (In which case..I hear ya sister.) I just think those examples weakened her "Auntie Brigade" claim.

Moving on, Gilbert talks about the 50% divorce rate that is plaguing America today. "With a 50% divorce rate it is astonishing that marriage is still even legal." She researched and found that the younger you are when you get married, the more likely you are to get divorced later. "You are two to three times more likely to divorce if you marry in your teens or early twenties than if you wait until your thirties or forties." So, the curve is thrown off by 18 year-olds who wed and have a 75% divorce rate....but thrown back again by 50 year-olds who wed and have a 25% divorce rate. She also notes that if gay marraige was legal, that divorce rates could very well go down. The studies don't take into account the many successful long-term gay unions that are out there. (I love her section on gay marriage. I think she eloquently states what I always mean to state when talking on the subject, but never had the eloquence to state in the manner she does. It was long and I couldn't summarize it correctly here but it was good!!).

She studied tons of books and reports on marriage. She traveled to other countries and asked about their marriage customs, which were all extremely interesting. One report in particular that she liked came out of Rutgers University and was called "Alone Together: How Marriage is Changing in America." This report seemed to support that the magic cutoff age for getting married was 25. "Couples who marry before age 25 were dramatically more likely to get a divorce then couples who waited until they were 26 or 27 and the statistics only go up the older you get." Yay for me! When we marry next year Chris will be 3 months shy of 26 and I'll be 26. Gilbert all along has been blaming the fact that her and her first husband were too young to get married when they did...newsflash: They were 25....I think they were also probably extremely immature.

Besides age, other studies of marital resilience in the Rutgers Report included:
Education- The more equally educated and the better educated you are, the less likely you are to get divorced.
Children: Couples with young children had higher divorce rates. (Interrrresting...John and Kate anyone?)
Cohabitation: If you live together before marriage, you had a slightly higher divorce rate. (This surprised me)
Social Integration: The more tightly woven a couple is in a community and with friends, the stronger their marriage will be.
Heterogamy: The less similar you are in race, age, religion , ethnicity and cultural background, the more likely you are to get divorced.
Religiousness: The more religious the couple is, the more likely they are to stay married. (However, in my opinion this does not necessarily mean the marriage is better. There are many religions that forbid divorce and make it hard to divorce which would cause two people to stay in a loveless, nonworking marriage just because they can't get out of it.)
Gender Fairness: Where man and woman share an equal place in the home with chores and responsibilities. (Gilbert boasts that her husband once said "I believe a woman's place is in the kitchen...sitting in a comfortable chair, with her feet up, drinking a glass of wine and watching her husband cook dinner." I love this statement, but think it was wrongly placed in the book. Wouldn't that be an example of gender unfairness? If this statement was reversed and a man was sitting in a chair drinking wine while his wife cooked for him, it would be "sexist" and "horrible". Is it considered gender fairness if the man is doing all the typical "women" duties? Isn't this exactly what we're trying to avoid by saying gender fairness? Oy....I digress...)

Part of the reason that people are marrying later in this day and age is because women have become more educated, are working more, and therefore earning their own money. She mentions that "one of the first things that changes in any society when women start to earn their own income, is the nature of marriage." The more financially stable a woman becomes, the later in life she will get married, if ever. This seems to be a huge part of what's driven up the divorce rate. Years ago, women used to stay in bad relationships because they had no money to get out of them. So, this makes me wonder if we are really heading for disaster by saying there is a 50% divorce rate in America, or are American men and women ultimately happier and "freer" in the long run because they are getting out of a bad marriage?

I could write for days about this book, and I feel like I already have (I didn't even have time to quote anything from the last hundred pages because it was due back to the library!!) I'll be very curious to see how her marriage turns out a few years from now. Did it end up being as scary as she thought it would be? Did their marriage really change anything? Is she still pessimistic?? If you read this book...I'd be interested to know your thoughts on it as well, so please share!

"There is no greater risk than matrimony. But there is nothing happier than a happy marriage." -Benjamin Disraeli.

 For now, I still remain a hopeful optimist :)

A good quote from the book: 
"Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ice Cream Maker

Chris and I have been dying for the ice cream maker that we registered for. Our friends Mandy and Billy have one and make the most unbelievable ice cream with it! Now, with summer just around the corner, and the longing for picnics in "our" (read: his parents') backyard...I've been longing for an ice cream maker of my very own! We thought about just buying it for ourselves off of our registry (it was all I could do to tell Chris NOT to get it the day we actually registered). We got a BB&B gift card from one of his parent's friends and it would cover the cost of the ice cream maker, so I've been hemming and hawing for awhile if I should just go get it. This morning...I noticed that RueLaLa was having a Cuisinart sale, and our ice cream maker was on there! PLUS I had a $30.00 credit toward a purchase (This was my first purchase and I joined it 3 years ago, so clearly that credit wasn't really going anywhere) So I got our ice cream maker for $5.00 plus S&H equaling a grand total of $15.00 for a brand new, awesome, amazing, can't wait to make ice cream maker!! We will get it next Friday and I can guarantee that when my sister comes to visit me next weekend...we will be making homemade ice cream!! Chris will be in for a treat when he comes home from Billys' Bachelor party...I just cannot wait!!
THE ice cream maker..isn't it cute??

This is my first purchase off of RueLala. It's usually clothing and jewelry..sometimes home goods, too and once in awhile I do find some really great stuff and deals on the site. I know two of my friends have been lucky on here as well. It's fun to at least look at all the items they have for sale. They send you a daily email with the boutiques of the day. Sometimes the stuff is so ridiculosuly expensive even with the sale it's a little disheartening..but other times, they run some amazing deals that are totally worth it and if you're looking for something in particular, sometimes this is the place to find it! If you'd like to join RueLaLa sign-up here!

Soooo check out these two wedding dresses, they are made out of toilet paper!!!
Ok...first: Weird. I hope women aren't accctually wearing toilet paper dresses because there are TONS of things that I can think of that could go wrong with that. (What if it rips? What if I cry all over myself? Do you sit it in? Do you dance in it? WHAT IF IT RAINS? I guess going to the bathroom would be easy...) But second: AWESOME!! I can't imagine creating a wedding dress...let alone one made from toilet paper. This is truly art, wearable art. Maybe I should try making one? That could be a nice little Saturday afternoon craft to challenge my brain? Eh...I think I'll stick to scrapbooking for now.

Sorry the blog's been slow'll pick up soon. AND I AM STILLLLLLL waiting to get an actual, physical, real date for our engagement shoot!!! I've contacted him so many times with days that work for us in June, and nothing. I get nothing. I don't want to badmouth our photographer before I've even met him, and I've really liked the guy we've been doing business with at the studio, but come on. The amount of energy I have to put in just to track them down for a date is bordering on the ridiculous at this point. I want to have full trust in my photographer, but he's making it very difficult for me right now and I truly hope this is the only and worst complication we have with them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mandy's Bachelorette Party!!

This past weekend was Mandy's Bachelorette Party in Atlantic City! This trip was seriously TOO.MUCH.FUN!! Mandy's sister, Sam, did an amazing job of planning the weekend and it couldn't have been better. Plus...Mandy has a FABULOUS group of girls as her bridesmaids, so would we expect anything less than amazing?

We got a HUGE suite at the Borgata, and of course, were surrounded by other suites who were also holding various bachelor and bachelorette parties of their own. We had a great view from our window, and a huuuge bathroom, it was the perfect size for the 7 of us.
When we first arrived at the hotel around 4:30 and were waiting in line to check-in, we were doing our share of people-watching, which is always fun but it's especially fun in Atlantic City. We noticed this couple walk by that were not only dressed to the nines, but the woman was wearing the most ridiculous, fanciful hat I've ever seen. Being judgmental, I immediately thought "OMG..who does that woman think she is??!!! She looks ridiculous!!! Why would she feel comfortable walking around in that hat in the middle of the day?!?! Everyone else here is just wearing regular beachy-day clothes...does she think she's royalty or something? I can't believe the nerve!!" ...among other equally uncalled for responses. (I had been driving for 5 hours so hopefully this was a little understandable). After expressing my hard and fast feelings, I was luckily able to move on from them and carry on with my day unfettered. Once we settled into the room with all our luggage, and all of us had finally eaten some lunch (at 5:00!) we had 4 hours to get ready for our night, give Mandy her gifts and have a few drinks before our 9:00 dinner reservation.
At 9:00 we headed down to Seablue restaurant where we had amazingly delicious cocktails and even more amazingly delicious food! I had eaten a good amount at 5:00 and was snacking up in the room, so I was very content with my "make your own salad" dinner that actually was the perfect amount of food for me and soooooo delicious. As we were finishing up dinner we got wind that Michael Phelps was dining in the same restaurant. Sam and Becky went on the prowl to find him...but all it took was Mal to look up for a second before she spotted him walking back into the restaurant. Sam was able to get a picture by walking right up to him and saying "Hi, I know you're Michael Phelps. [as in don't even TRY to deny it]. My sister is a really big fan of yours, and it's her bachelorette party and she'd be so happy if you could take a picture with her" to which he replied without even looking up at Sam, "Fine..bring her over." Sam came back to the table saying "Mandy...we have to go get a picture with him now..Michael Phelps is NOT Happy!" Haha so they went over there, and thanks to their picture!
Sam, Michael Phelps and Mandy!
After dinner, we went back up to the room to freshen up and have some more drinks before heading out to the club Mur.Mur.  We were blasting music and laughing a lot per usual, thanks to Mal's dance entitled either "The Seal" or "The Walrus". (You'd have to see it to understand), when we heard a knock on the door. We opened the door to a very nice couple who said "It sounds like you guys are having way too much fun in this a bachelorette party?" To which we replied "Yes!!! Come have some shots with us!" So we invited our new friends Rob and Susie into our room to have a shot with us.
They were such a nice couple, who we talked with for a few minutes and asked them what they were up to tonight. They told us that they had just come back form a Kentucky Derby party where not only did they win the "Best Dressed Award" (an award certainly earned, how dapper do they look?!) but Susie also won the "Best Hat Award!" As soon as they told us that, we all looked at each other realizing that THIS WAS THE WOMAN WITH THE HAT THAT WE SAW EARLIER!!! But of course!! It was Kentucky Derby Weekend!! How else should one celebrate the Kentucky Derby other than wearing a large and ridiculous hat?! Not only that, but she was so nice and down to earth! This woman didn't think she was all high and mighty or royalty, she merely just wanted to win a "best hat" award at a party...and really, why shouldn't she? Anyone has the right to want to win a fun award such as "Best Hat". My wise friend, Belle, said to me after hearing this story: "To know all is to forgive all". I learned a lesson that night and Susie: I'm so sorry for passing such harsh judgment on you AND your hat in the Borgata Lobby on Saturday afternoon, it was unjustified and rude. Phew...I'm glad I got that off my chest!

Susie and Rob were only with us for a short while before they left and we prepared to head back out again to the dance club Mur.Mur at around midnight.
Let me just state for the record that under normal circumstances, this is soooo not my scene. However, I'm totally willing to make it "my scene" when it's called for, and certainly when it's for a best friend's bachelorette party. And you know what? It was pretty darn fun...sure...there were guido-mcjersey's everywhere (sorry for all my Jersey friends...and Guido friends). was really hot and crowded on the dance floor, sure...sometimes the fog machine produced such thick fog that I couldn't see in front of me. Sure, Mandy kept spilling her drink all over my feet (love ya!)...but all in was an experience, and a pretty fun one at that.
At around 3:30am we decided to "evacuate the dance-floor" (you like that?) and went back up to the room. Mal, Lizzy and I had been drinking caffeinated vodka earlier in the night, so none of us were really very tired at all. 3 of the girls pretty much passed out asleep as soon as we got to the room, but they missed out on some more shenanigans. For instance, as I was walking back with Mal and Becky, we discovered a poor, lost soul who was asleep in the hallway outside his door because he didn't have a key and didn't know where his friends were. 
Austin sleeping in the hallway!
After waking him up to see where he belonged, we learned his name was Austin. So...we took poor, little, lost Austin (or Scottie as we liked to call him) under our wing and sheltered him. Austin hung out with us for awhile, gave Mal, Becky and Lizzy foot massages, and fell asleep in the corner of our room for a few hours, but got up and left without a trace in the early morning. As Mal put it the next morning "Austin was a breeze that flew through the night and was only a distance memory by morning," or something cheesy and eloquent like that. She also constantly announced that "Austin was magical"...which in all honestly...was true. The rest of the night was packed with tons of other ridiculous and hilarious little stories that will forever remain in our hearts and memories...but the next morning as Elizabeth was calling the hotel's lost and found to see if they had her Credit Card (it was in her jeans pocket the whole time) someone appropriately asked her to also double check if their dignity and pride was also left down there. Well played...well. played.

We were packed, dressed and out of our room by noon on Sunday and headed off to the Phoenix Diner for a much needed brunch. We seriously were non-functioning human beings until we finally got food in our systems at that diner. Then we sadly said our goodbyes to each other, got in our respective cars and headed back home. Monday was a HARD does of reality being back at work.

Mandy has an amazing group of girls as her bridesmaids who not only all get along extremely well, but have a damn good time when they're together. I hope that we can plan a weekend just like this again soon....or at least next May as a sort of "one-year-bachelorette party anniversary!" I'm so happy for her and Billy, and I didn't think it was possible, but this weekend made me even more pumped for the Strassman/Leef wedding, which is only 27 days away and sure to be an amazing time!