Monday, July 31, 2006

We are back from North Carolina and the wedding now seems like more of a reality, which is both exciting and scary. Scary mostly because it's going to be expensive, even without going overboard on anything. We've realized we're going to have to spend a good amount of money if we want something nice, and we've made peace with that.

Our favorite place for the ceremony is the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, which are absolutely beautiful. Here are some pictures we took over the weekend.

This is the ampitheater that we want for the ceremony:

That's a closer look at the lily pond right behind where we would stand for the ceremony. It's really breathtaking and the photos, while good, don't do it justice.

And just because I feel like it, and because it's such a beautiful place, here are some other random shots we took at the Gardens on Saturday.

Here is another possible ceremony site:

We looked at lots of places over the weekend (10 total) and have narrowed it down to our favorites. We would like a hotel reception (preferably the Hilton) but are still working out the details. The Doris Duke Center at the Gardens also has a nice reception hall:

...but they don't have any nice package deals like the hotels do. We would basically pay for the rental of the hall and then have to take care of everything else on our own (catering, tables/chairs/linens, flowers, etc.). So we are leaning toward the Hilton deal, but nothing is set in stone.

We're also thinking about having everything on a Friday evening instead of Saturday, mainly for a couple of reasons. Well, one reason: money. The food & drink minimums are much lower (or nonexistent) on Fridays and Sundays. Plus, everybody gets married on Saturday and we want to be different and make life difficult for everyone involved.

Other than wedding stuff, I'm going to NYC this weekend to visit Alexis and Phoebe! I've never actually been in the city so this is very exciting for me. I hope to eat a lot of good food, do some great (window) shopping, and maybe see some celebrities. That would make an awesome weekend for me.

Oh yeah, as promised, here is a higher-resolution and better shot of my ring. It really is exactly what I wanted. :)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wow, it's been two weeks since I updated. Guess I haven't really had much to say.

Work is starting to pick back up now as we approach soccer & volleyball season. I am working on media guides and trying to coordinate photography and all that good stuff. I really don't want to be busy at work again but oh well... until I win the lottery I guess this is what I must do.

This past weekend I worked the AVP Beach Volleyball Tournament here in Birmingham. It was pretty neat but really HOT. I got sunburned pretty bad on Friday - I guess I sweated off my sunblock and the reapplication didn't work because I was still sweating so much. Gross. But at least I get paid. It was also a good refresher course on volleyball statistics. Now hopefully my first real match of the season won't be a free-for-all where I basically make a lot of stuff up while I get back into the hang of it. Oh, I also got to see Misty May and Kerri Walsh play in the championship match which was cool - they are REALLY good. There were also a ton of other players there that apparently I should know but I don't: Holly McPeak, Casey Jennings, Elaine Youngs, and a ton more. All I really know is that there was a lot of great eye candy that weekend, for guys and girls.

The wedding planning has hit a snag and we keep going back and forth about where to have the ceremony. At first we were all about going to Las Vegas and getting one of the wedding packages at one of the hotels on the strip. Then we started thinking about the Duke Chapel until we found out how freaking expensive it is. Plus the fact that if we have it close to my home, tons of people will come, and we can't really afford a huge reception. So we are at a standstill and don't really know where to go from here. If anybody has any advice or ideas or words of wisdom, please share. We know that, no matter what we choose, someone (or several people) will not be happy, but it's so hard to make a decision that you know will automatically preclude people from being able to attend (for example, my two grandmothers will probably not be able to get on a plane and fly anywhere). Then again, it is OUR day and we should be able to do what we want, but family is important to both of us so we are going to have to make some tough decisions.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It was a really great birthday.

Despite the fact that I wasn't feeling very well (I thought it was strep throat but the doctor says it's just a bad cold), I still managed to have a great day. Got some cash as a gift and Mike gave me a gift card to get a massage back in B'ham. I took a great nap and then went to eat fresh seafood with my parents. After a little more hanging out, I got the biggest surprise of my life when Mike gave me my second birthday present:

Yep, that's right folks, I'm engaged! It was a total shock and the best surprise ever. (Sorry the picture kinda sucks - it was taken with a camera phone.) Mike proposed in front of my parents and little sister. After asking if I wanted my other birthday gift, he pulled out the box and got down on one knee, at which point my mom freaked out and my sister started to cry. My dad has known since March, though, when Mike asked him if it was okay. Of course I said yes.

At any rate, it's all very exciting. People are already asking if we've set a date but we haven't - we don't even know what state we are going to have it in or where we will be living next summer, so who knows. But we are really happy and I feel very grown up, almost like I'm playing make believe or dress-up. Also, a lot of my relatives are relieved because I guess we technically aren't living in sin anymore now that we've made our intentions known to the world. Or something.

We're heading back to Birmingham on Sunday, after which it will be very hard for me to concentrate on work, but I'll do my best.

Monday, July 03, 2006

You know you're a grown-up when your birthday gift involves tires.

That's what happened to me today. I got my car inspected here in NC since it's still registered here, and the guy told me my rear tires barely passed muster. After informing my mom, she offered to buy me new ones for my birthday. And here's the butt-kicker: I was really excited about this. So now I have two brand-new rear tires on the good 'ol Civic. Hopefully it will also slightly improve my gas mileage, which is around 30mpg already (I love my car).

Being home has been great so far. We drove in on Sunday (11 hours in the car, fun) and had dinner at my grandma's house (my dad's mom). That involved fried chicken, fresh corn on the cob, and lots of other great stuff, so that was a good start to the trip. Today I got jerked around a little bit more by my apartment people, got the new tires, ate at a Mongolian barbeque joint, and bought some stuff in bulk at Sam's Club, so all in all it was a good day. Tomorrow we're grilling hamburgers and hot dogs at my aunt's house, which is where we're bunking this week, and Wednesday my dad is grilling steaks for my birthday. Tomorrow may also involve fireworks in someone's driveway (really, what's 4th of July without that?), but we're not sure yet.

I think we're about to get a nice summer storm here in a little while. I swear it's hotter here than it is in Alabama, I'm not sure how that happens. I think it's a lot more humid here (71% as I type this) so that probably has a lot to do with it.

Also of note: my 14-year-old sister has gone vegetarian. I say good for her, wish I had the will power to do so. I know my body would probably thank me, but I just can't give up delicious animals.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Today was productive, we got the apartment cleaned up for the most part and got nearly all of our laundry done. I think it was probably about 10 loads, maybe more, that's how far behind we were. But now the place feels nice & neat and will be good to come home to in a week. It's always nice to come back from a trip away from home and not be stressed out by clutter, so I feel pretty good about that. On the other hand, I don't want to leave the kitties. My co-worker is going to come every other day while we're gone and I'm not worried about them but I don't like leaving them here because they will probably find something to tear up, or something to hide, especially since McKenzie loves to steal my stuff. (Note: if you ever get a cat, don't bother buying toys, just give it old lip balm tubes, hair bands, and plastic bottle caps.) Here is a picture of the furballs (McKenzie is on the right):

See how cute they are? It's all a clever front to get treats and not get kicked when they vomit on the freshly-cleaned floor.

I'm really excited to be going home tomorrow. Also, I'm excited because I got TWO pairs of workout shoes today. I was going to buy one pair but couldn't decide between two pairs so Mike bought the other pair for me for my birthday. Isn't he awesome? We also had lunch at Moe's today which was excellent. I would even go so far as to call it delectable.

I hope y'all have a great 4th of July. Don't blow any fingers off setting off fireworks in your driveway.