Tuesday, September 30, 2014

#LoveattheLand : Team Awesome's wedding!

Spoiler Alert: I think our wedding was perfect.

But I'm sure you want to hear more than that! It was a labor of blood, sweat, and tears. We worked for over a year to get what we wanted for this event. Our amazing photographers, Cailyn & Brian shot the weekend and I'm going to describe it to you through some of their beautiful photos!

The Rehearsal dinner (Or Commitment Carnival, as we called it) had fair-style food and games! The most popular was tomahawk throwing!

Alex is ready to throw some 'hawks!

It got pretty serious!
 After a fun rehearsal, the girls, and my cousin Mark, all stayed at a beautiful B&B just down the road. 

Mark was amazing and did my hair & makeup as my gift! I am so grateful!
 We had fun getting ready and hanging out. We had breakfast, got dressed, and took photos!
The bouquet my mom & I made, featuring my fraternity pins
One thing I should mention, I was sick! My sinuses had been kicking my butt for days! I woke up swollen and with no voice!
One of the MANY times I gargled salt water on my wedding day!
I overcame the sickness and tiredness, and we got dressed! I am so in love with my dress!
Really cool photo with my mom!
While we enjoyed the morning, the boys worked hard to finish with reception setup, then went to a local hotel to get ready. 
I love this shot of Alex's best man, Thomas, putting on Alex's fraternity pins. Several of us where all in Kappa Kappa Psi together.
After all the dressing, it was finally time to see each other! 
How lucky am I?!
We chose to do party and family photos before the ceremony.

The bad news is we had no fun...

Nope, no fun at all!

The best Maid of Honor ever, Tara was on top of everything!

After a bit more salt water gargling and photos, it was getting married time!

This is the Chuppah that we built!
After the Ceremony, it was party time!

Mmmm cake!

I guess this is "come at me, bro?"

Awesome first  dance, twirly dress photo!
It was so, so amazing, and as everyone who is talking about their wedding says, it went by SO FAST. I guess it was adrenaline from being surrounded by our people, but I felt better through the night!

This would be "street lights, peopolllllleeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!"

Other people decorated on Saturday morning, and it turned out so amazing! We couldn't have done it without our amazing crew!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Red Wing

Hello everyone!
There has been so, so , so, so much to happen since our last post in April.  Lets see.... for starters... TEAM AWESOME GOT HITCHED!  I'll leave a detailed post on our nuptials up to Jess.  We also had a kick ass honeymoon of course in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in Blue Ridge, GA.  It was absolutely amazing.  A week of relaxing, motorcycle riding, creek playing, private chef having, massage getting good time.

Beyond that, I (Alex) have also had some other big changes, which of course means that WE have had big changes.  I am no longer teaching at this moment.  After three years of teaching middle school band, it didn't work out for me to enter year four at the school I was at.  I was miserable, had nightmares about students and administration, and needed to go on, and then double anti-depression medication to stay afloat.  I applied for quite a few jobs elsewhere and had 11 different interviews, but none of those panned out.  A lot of being the 2nd choice.

In any case, since I was in college and got to observe the amazing band instrument repair techs at Hurst Music in Lexington, KY, I have said that if I wasn't teaching, I would love to learn how to fix instruments.  In late July, I applied to the Band Instrument Repair (BIR) program at Minnesota State Southeast Tech. in Red Wing, MN.  This is the best BIR program in the country, and likely the world. I'm not exaggerating or boasting.  There are three major band instrument repair programs in the USA. Red Wing is the best of those.  This is where the United States Marine Corps sends its band members when their assignment is to serve as repair technicians for one of their bands.  Three of my classmate are Marines.  How is that for an endorsement? Murca!

It's affiliated with the technical college, which also has a year long string repair program, as well as a 2 year luthier program. It is set up with a regular school year of 2 semesters with thanksgiving break, christmas break, and spring break.  As it is part of an accredited college, it also means that I can take take out student loans to attend (yay debt!).

After applying near the end of July, I was accepted and had completed online orientation within a couple of days, and had class on my schedule within a week.  The first day of class was August 25, so I moved up to MN on the 21st to get settled and get rolling with class.  I also got to bring Coda with me!  Jess is sad to not have him at home with her, but she has the other pups with her, and she is happy for me to have the Bear with me here to keep me company and snuggle me at night.  It took him a few days to get adjusted, but he's doing great now and all of my house mates love him.

It was a tough transition for me, too.  It was very hard to leave home, two  of my puppies, and especially my bride of of only 2 months.  I spoke to Jess on the phone the first night I was away and was in tears. I felt grateful that she was supporting me in going to school and guilty for not continuing to work.  I was excited for the opportunity to learn about instrument repair, but scared because I had no idea what was in store.  The first few days of getting acclimated were as hard for me as they were for Coda, who I also felt guilt for as I took him from his pack.  His cheerfulness and great behavior has certainly alleviated much of that last emotional burden.

We are now about to finish our 3rd week of class, and you know what?  I love it.  I get there at least 30 to 45 minutes early every day to work on any project I can.  I complete the assignments and ask to be given more tasks.  Class starting at 7:30am is awesome.  I wish our lunch break was half as long so we had more class time.  I hate that we end at 3:00pm.  I want to continue working.  I loathe that the weekends come so quickly and I can't wait for Monday to arrive.  Never in all of the years that I have been in or taught school have I ever been disappointed to have a 3 day weekend.  All I want to do is get back in the shop and make more tools, buff more parts, or learn to solder better or remove dents. It's wonderful.  I've even self-reduced my anti-depressant medication since being here because I don't need it as much.  I don't have nightmares about lesson plans or unruly students.

If you want to see what I work on throughout the year, and you should because it's freaking awesome, check out my new website:    Clever, right? You'll find ever-increasing entries on that blog page about the tools that I make and projects I complete.  It's so cool!

Also, the small city of Red Wing is very pretty.  Coda and I went for a walk today downtown from our house.  I will end this post with some pictures from our walk.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ketchup, catsup, Catch up

Hiiiii friends!

We've been nuts around here! With planning a wedding (OMG EIGHT WEEKS), renovations at my work, Alex's band concert coming up, and raising 3 pups, we've been up to the gills in stuff to do.

Let's do a bit of a run down!

 We have been hiking and backpacking!
Coda had a blast taking a swim break in Lake Barkley

Hello dere Pup!
"I'm a model"
We had a fantastic couple's wedding shower! Thank you Tara for throwing a great party! We loved seeing our friends and family and having fun!
And getting a waffle maker! Which we've already used!
While we were in Lexington for the shower, we got to see Thomas and Laura who live in DC. We found an amazing crepe place (If you haven't been to La Petite Creperie at Woodland Park in Lexington, go now.), drove around town realizing we are old now, and picked out wine for the wedding!

Taste testing in a hotel room with your friends is the best!
 I also went with Vicki and saw Jillian Michaels Live! It was a good show, and we had a great time.

What have you been up to?! I really hope to get some more posts done, but we shall see! No promises, but I'll at least try to throw up a puppy picture or two! ;)


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lace, tulle, bling, and ballgowns: Team Awesome goes Wedding Dress shopping

In September, I got to do one of the most exciting part of wedding planning, wedding dress shopping!

The coolest part of wedding dress shopping, for me, was having almost all of my bridal party and all of my moms there! Between my party people, mom, step-mom, and Alex's mom we had quite a crew!

Basically, I only wanted to go dress shopping once. I really, really wanted to be able to find my dress with my team there. So, Bridesmaid Laura did a bunch to help me organize this! She made a schedule for us to hit up three shops, and planned in time for meals (no need to get hangry!). She EVEN made a spreadsheet! A girl after my own heart!

I went in having an idea of what I liked (thanks, Pinterest!) but everyone I'd talked to told me to keep an open mind and try on all types of styles, even ones I didn't think I'd like.

Any of you who've read this blog for any period of time know that I struggle with my weight. I wanted to set myself up for success and feeling good about myself.

Here was my game plan:
1. Get a workout in before hand. This was just to feel strong and get the blood flowing. Laura and I did a yoga workout in the hotel!
2. Eat enough food, but not heavy food. I didn't want to be in a food coma after lunch. I also didn't want to be super full while climbing in and out of dresses.
3. NASA grade spanx. Enough said!
4. Look good. I did my hair in a curly, low style that would hold up but look nice. I even put on makeup, which is not that common for me.
5. Have a supportive crew! I even had a few ladies who were willing to say something if anyone got...rude.

I really wanted to hedge my bets. Laura and I also planned out a variety of stores to hit up.

Our first stop was at The Bridal Suites of Louisville. This was a little boutique type shop. Our party of nine pretty much filled up half of the store. There was some variety, but not a ton. What the best part was, was the fact that we have very, very personalized attention. Scout was my attendant, she was sassy and fun! She wanted to hear all the details, talked a lot about my wants, and pushed me to try on different styles. She also let my mom come in the back with us to try stuff on, which she loved! Scout did a great job clipping the dresses so they looked awesome. For those who don't know, most places only carry a few sizes of each style. So, you may out on a dress that doesn't fit right. They have this big clips to hold it to your body like one in your size would fit. We had a blast here and they were willing to joke around with all my crazy friends. I found a dress here that I loved that was totally different from what I expected! I loved the boutique experience.

Andrea even found this beauty... It was a tux jacket thing with a puffy train.

After this place, we went to McAllister's Deli to refuel with delicious sweet tea and a salad (see plan item #2). After tons of loud laughter we were on to stop #2 at Bridal Warehouse. I'll be honest, I'm really hoping we were here on a crazy day. This place was a mad house! There were TONS and tons of people in the try-on area and it was basically a big room with tiny stalls to change. My girls just went and grabbed some dresses in my size/price range/style preference. Then, due to our sales person being not around, Laura became my helper! She was pretty fantastic at it! The real sales person ripped a dress and didn't have clips. Laura hunted some down and made each change quick! I'm pretty sure they should have hired her!
Due to the wait for my sales lady, they went on an adventure. Keegan found this cloak...
Tara decided that regardless of it being June, that she should be allowed to wear this to wedding. And she wants to be referred to as Bellatrix now.

They did have a really big selection. Bridesmaid Keegan figured out she has a fantastic nack for accessorizing. She could look a dress and grab belts, sashes, hair pieces, and veils that fit perfectly. She did such a good job that they actually talked about hiring her! I found two dresses here that were really different but that I also loved. It was really strange having favorites that had SUCH different qualities!

After a sprint through a fro-yo joint (you know, we wouldn't want low blood sugar...) we headed to David's Bridal. I know some people have negative opinions of DB. But, I knew they had plenty of dresses in my price and that were plus sized. We walked in, and our sales lady asked what we were looking for. Well, after 2 shops and a few dozen dresses, I had a list of things I like. The issue is, they didn't really fit together at all. So, I said, well I don't think you can find it all in one dress, but here is what I like.

The second dress I tried on here had every single thing. I loved it. I knew it was the one when I thought "Do I really have to try on any more?" I literally hung out in MY dress for almost an hour. Just standing around. While we were here, my 'maids all put on their dresses. AND the mom's bought their dresses! I'm sure ol' DB was happy to see us!
Keegan, Laura, Andrea, and Tara. Unfortunately, Vicki couldn't make it. We missed you Vicki!
It was a great experience. I honestly don't think I would have picked my dress if it wasn't for going to the other shops first. I was able to find out what I liked and didn't before I stumbled upon MY dress. But within moments it is unanimously voted as THE dress!

Do you want to see it?!

Well, you'll have to wait until after the wedding! ;)

I was so thrilled with the overall experience. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about myself physically trying on dresses, but honestly, I felt great the entire day. I felt confident and like I looked fantastic! I actually had the thought "I could get married tomorrow and be totally happy with my body!" THAT, my friends, is amazing!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bows, Satin, and Puffy sleeves: Bridesmaids Dresses

Men have it easy. Go to the suit store, look at the rental options. Pick one of the 5 choices, then select a tie. Boom. Wear that.

For Bridesmaids, there are so. many. choices. Let's pretend you've already picked a fabric and color scheme. That's hard enough! After that, there are still a lot of choices!

You can do all matching dresses:
Basically perfect.... (source)
You can do different shades that coordinate:
The hats are amazing. (source)
Mismatched dresses is an option that can be really cute:
I like that everyone's personality can shine through. (source)

Or, a current trend is the convertible or infinity dress:
I actually LOVE this look. I really like that you can personalize it with how each girl likes to wrap it. (source)
I was super drawn to the infinity dress look. I'm too OCD for the different colors or totally different looks. I researched infinity dresses, and there was a range of prices. My issue with that was the fact that they were not that high of quality for less than $150. I know it's a cliche, but I really, truly wanted a dress they could wear again.

So, I kept thinking and talking to some of my girls. Eventually, we talked about the pros of the convertible dresses: flattering to different shapes and sizes, liked the variance in the look, still the same color so a cohesive look.

With that, I checked out David's Bridal. You can sort by color and fabric on their website. Consulting with everyone, we picked out a dress for each girl that they felt comfortable in and enjoyed!

Here's what we came up with:
They will all be the same color, and Tara chose the one on the Right.
I think this is a great option for bridal parties that have different sizes, shapes, and ages! They will all have the same shoes and in the same color. I can't wait to see what they look like all together!