Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Puppy Playtime

One of the few things we are going to miss when we move from Greenville to DC is the dog park. The one here opened up a little over a year ago, a couple months after we adopted Kona. Perfect timing! Because we live in an apartment and she is couped up most of the day, we try to take her running with us at night and to the dog park on the weekends. It was such a beautiful day yesterday and I wasn't bogged down with school work so we made a special trip. Here are some pictures I took with the new camera Alson bought me:

Running like the wind!

A new friend says hello during a break

Scoping out the scene

I have joined two dog listservs that discuss issues in the DC area, and it seems as though people are trying to establish some off leash dog parks in DC, but that they do not yet exist. I am pretty sure there are some in Alexandria though, so I guess we will have to make some trips to the 'burbs to get the needed exercise!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How I Met My Honey

While exploring blogs today I came across Ramblings by Reba and discovered a blog carnival called How I Met My Honey. Since I am constantly writing about our wedding it only seems fitting that I post on this topic! So here is our story....

Back in 2006 I was a senior in college and was living the life by going out pretty much every night of the week. It was a Wednesday night (Mug Night at Uncle Tony's) and it was common for a couple girls from cheer team to make an appearance downtown. However, we had gone out pretty hard the night before and I was still not feeling well, so I was peer pressured into being the DD. I ended up getting ready and going out for the whole night anyway, but stayed sober as promised.

When we arrived at Uncle Tony's it was already packed and there was nowhere to sit. The place is a super narrow sardine can and if you don't want to get pushed around all night, a table is a must have. After pushing our way through the crowd one of my friends started chatting up a group of boys (aka the hockey team) that had a table. Turns out she lived on the same floor as a bunch of them freshman year and they were happy to share the table with a cute group of girls. So we sat down (I think there were only four of us out together that night) and started playing cards. I was the odd girl out because I wasn't drinking and this one guy (Alson) kept trying to get me in on the game. I politely refused and said I was driving, but he continued to try and buy me a drink. I kept poking fun at him because he refused to go up to the bar to get beer and would sit and wait for a waitress to come, which was forever. Eventually he stopped asking and we went our separate ways. A couple hours later, I was sitting at a table laughing at all my friends as they were singing and dancing along with Garth Brooks to "Friends in Low Places". The crowd suddenly all leaned back for a high note (I'm sure you can picture this) and in the middle of the group, about 20 feet away was Alson. He was just standing there with one hand holding a mug full of beer, the other in his pocket, staring straight ahead at me. We smiled at each other, then the group came back together and our views were blocked again. It was kind of awkward, but super flattering because in the midst of crazy singing antics, it was like all he could focus on was me. Then I drove my friends home.

We didn't see each other for another two weeks. One Saturday night, another friend from cheer team asked me to go to a hockey party with her. I didn't really think about him at the time, but I am pretty sure I subconsciously knew he would be there. So we show up, and low and behold there he is. I always carried a deck of cards with me in my purse, and I knew that starting a game would be an easy way to gather a crowd. So after getting a cup of beer, I began an impromptu card game in the living room. A group slowly gathered around my friend and I, including Alson. Ballsy move #1: After the first game was finished I decided to strike up a conversation (I never went after a boy! I always had them come after me). He asked me my name and I reminded him we had previously met at Mug Night a couple weeks back; I was the girl that was busting him for not getting his own beer. He said he didn't remember, but that he was glad we met again. Two jello shots later we were bonding over hometowns (his being the same one where my dad grew up) and names (his last name being the same as my cousin's first name). It was then when my friend informed me that we were leaving the party to head downtown. Ballsy move #2: I actually asked him to meet up with me at Uncle Tony's, as that's where we were headed. We said goodbye and planned on meeting up later....but come 2am, he never showed up.

The next day I was pretty angry. I didn't usually go out of my way to talk with and hang out with a guy, and I felt stood up. So I did what any college girl would do. Ballsy move #3: I searched for him on facebook and requested his friendship. I also sent him a message, letting him know how I felt in my own sarcastic way. And guess what, I still have the facebook conversation:

Jackie: jerk i looked for you at tonys and you werent there....we're not friends anymore
Alson: what? i got stuck at sportsbar with my friend and he wouldn't leave...i couldn't bail on him...but if you go to mug night wednesday i'll be there
Jackie: a) it was a joke b) i'll be at mug night only if you promise to get your own beer at least once c) jello shots = death
Alson: fine i guess i'll get my own beer at least once...any more then that i can't promise
Jackie: that's all i ask p.s. next time i want to talk to you i am IM-ing you because this facebook message thing is kind of creepy.....
Alson: thank god because i really agree
Jackie: which is not to entail that i think you're creepy...i worded the last message weird

As promised, we started conversing on AIM, and we agreed to meet up that Wednesday at Mug Night. But, when Wednesday night rolled around, NOT ONE of my friends was planning on going out. I literally tried to convince everyone I knew, but there were lots of tests the next day and no one would go (good to know we all we're studious when we needed to be!). Ballsy move #4: I went downtown by myself. So I showed up to Mug Night and its me and 10 guys from the hockey team. Sounds scary, but it ended up being really fun and I am pretty sure the guys (including Alson) respected me for being able hold my own in a group that crazy.

We spent the next 2 months hanging out every day/night, putting our relationship on the fast track. Remember, it was my senior year of college, and I was about to move from NY to NC for grad school, so it was a do or die situation. In the end it was a do situation, and we were engaged that June (on my birthday). Alson graduated that Decemeber, moved to North Carolina, and now we will be married in two months! Can you believe it? I am so glad I took the intuitive at the beginning; all those ballsy moves paid off. It was definitely out of the ordinary for me, but it seemed natural at the time and I knew that he was worth the effort....meant to be, if you will.

What a romantic story :)

Morning to Myself

Today was the first day in a lonnnng time that I woke up not feeling stressed. Although I still have some pressing things in the woodworks, I didn't worry about them...instead I just let myself be happy and took a morning for myself.

To start, I made my first pot of coffee. Although I do drink frou frou drinks from Starbucks, I have never really had coffee from the pot at home. Since we are moving to a much more expensive world next weekend, I figured it was about time that I started making simple coffee at home, because we surely won't be able to afford $4 lattes every day. We bought some caramel flavored beans last night and although it wasn't as sweet as I like, it was okay and I think I can get used to it. Whatever the taste, it was just nice to sit and relax and sip some coffee with snuggle puppy by my side. I was so relaxed and at ease that I didn't even turn on the TV! I also baked some muffins....domestic diva in training :)

I then tried my hardest to not shop online, but ultimately I caved. I only bought Alson's wedding present, so it wasn't unnecessary shopping and I exhibited a little bit of self control! I know he reads my blog so I can't go into detail about what I bought just yet, but I will thank the ladies from Rare Bird Finds for blogging about a super cool gift that will be really special and fun for both of us! More on the gift after it arrives :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Assembly Required

Last night I was planning to post about our weekend full of wedding related fun, but after returning from Pinehurst, we wanted to bust out our wedding invitations so that we can be finished with them before we start packing this week. Four hours later, I had developed a mild case of carpal tunnel, pretty serious lower back pain, and a headache like you wouldn't believe. Needless to say, I wasn't about to start typing up a storm. Who knew wedding invitation assembly and addressing was so hard on the body!

Now I must admit that last night we were in the stretch. We started assembling and addressing last weekend and after 6 hours had completed 70 invites. That left us 80 to complete. I know you're gasping, but of course we picked the most complex, but adorable, invitations out there. We were told by the bridal consultant that they came unassembled and had many parts, but they were so pretty and different that I couldn't resist. Now I'm not talking about taking some cards and stuffing envelopes...we had to use these things called glue dots to put every piece of card stock onto a pink background and then onto the black "pocket". The pocket is the main part of the invitation, presenting the wedding announcement in the center (after being assembled) and holding the response card, response envelope, reception card, and events card in the side pocket. Then on the front there is a tab (assembly required, of course) that basically served no purpose, but is very pretty and has our names.

So back to the glue dots....I have a love/hate relationship with them. They are definitely easier to use than glue (which obviously requires drying time) or a glue stick (which isn't all that sturdy), but man were they a pain to work with. They are like the rubbery glue stuff that holds products together in a Bath and Body Works basket, if you know what I mean. They are so sticky and so hard to transfer from their backing to the card stock that I wanted to pull out some Elmer's and give up on them. Multiple times they got stuck to the wrong part of the card or got mangled on my fingers while I was trying to move things around. By the end of the night, I knew Alson was wishing we went with the simplest one out there.

Despite the effort required and physical ailments I have sustained as a result of invitation assembly, I am still really happy that we picked the one we did. Here is the manufacturer's shot of the invites:

In the end, we survived the glue dots, the invitations are all done and ready to be mailed, and we can finally take a short break from wedding related "stuff".

Friday, April 25, 2008

Being a Bride

After presenting my thesis data at a psychology conference tomorrow, Alson and I are headed to Pinehurst to tie up some loose wedding ends. I looked at my wedding webpage today, T-minus 71 days until the big day. It's getting so close!

The first thing on our to-do list is my dress fitting. I have had my dress for over a year and a half and this is the first time I am putting it on in almost a year. It will also be the only time I am putting it on before the wedding. I know most people have multiple fittings, but since we are moving in two weeks, trying the dress on a few times just to make sure I haven't gained/loss too much weight isn't an option. I guess I better stick to the same exercise plan and eating habits from here on out. Alson has already seen pictures of my dress and he will be accompanying me to the appointment, but I think I will make him sit in another room so he can't see me in the dress. I would not call myself a traditionalist, but I would like to see a genuine look of awe on his face when I first appear in the church, in the dress, on the big day. I am pretty excited to put the dress on again....especially the part where they figure out how to make me look like it actually fits my chest. The dress is strapless of course, and there is a "gaping" issue. When I tried it on the first time, and the second time for that matter, you could literally look down and check out my goods. Not something I want to share with people on my wedding day. Sooo, tomorrow I may have my first experience with bra stuffing (the gel kind, not tissues). Check back for updates.

We will then be flying over to the chapel (the meeting is an hour after the dress fitting begins...ahh not enough time to complete all wedding tasks!) to meet with the music director. Not nearly as exciting. I heard he is old and kind of mean, so I am actually a little scared that he is going to force us into choosing music we don't like. Really, as long as it sounds pretty and makes the ceremony meaningful for us, I don't have any burning desire to fight for particular songs. With that said, I also don't want the music to be too cliche or lovey dovey. Okay, I do have one demand...I WILL NOT walk down the aisle to the traditional bridal march. We'll see what happens.

The rest of the night we will hopefully be able to relax and enjoy the peacefulness that is Pinehurst. We will also be without that is both sad and releaving. It will be nice to have a night free of puppy entertaining, middle of the night barking/dreaming/kicking episodes, and trips outside for potty breaks. Also, my grandmother always gives me a hard time about having Kona in the condo, so a small part of me is happy that I won't have to feel bad about that or worry that she might pee or throw up on the carpet. I can't say I won't be sad though....she always brightens my day and her snuggles are heartwarming! I will just keep telling myself that she loves being at day care and it's fun to play with other puppies for one day/night! I also need a chance to sit down and work on my pre-marital counseling homework. Speaking of pre-marital counseling.....

On Sunday we are meeting with the pastor to partake in the counseling. Needless to say, we are both a little apprehensive. Not because we have anything to hide or don't feel like we're ready to get married, but just because it's super awkward discussing your deep dark feelings with a stranger! (Ohhhh the irony coming from the girl that forces adolescents to spill their guts in school counseling) But seriously, I hope he doesn't ask me anything too uncomfortable or private or religious...or make me feel stupid, guilty, etc. because then I will just get pissy.....and maybe cry (I have been really stressed lately). Deep down though I know it's for the best, and I certainly don't want to end up a statistic (i.e. divorced), so if they say I have to do some pre-marital counseling, I will do some pre-marital counseling. So wish us luck and hopefully we will still want to tie the knot!

Just kidding, of course we're still tying the knot!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blog Social Skills

My secretary at DSS left my calendar open today so that I would have plenty of time to pack up my stuff, say goodbye to all my tutees, and catch up on the last minute office gossip. Most of my day was spent on the latter, but I still ended up having a lot of free time this afternoon. After finally posting again, I got sucked into the blog world and spent most of the afternoon browsing others' blogs. Two hours later......I found some I like, commented, and have added a link to them on my page.

But, now I feel awkward.....

I guess it's because I don't know the blog world social etiquette. Is it weird to comment on someone's blog if you don't know them? Should I introduce myself before declaring that I'm a "reader"? What are the rules, what are the rules!?!?*

I suppose it sounds pretty stupid, but I feel like I'm back in 8th grade and I'm the new girl at school who is trying to make some friends. It especially hits home since I am moving to a
new city in two weeks! I guess I feel like it is strange to try and make (blog)friends because I have always had the convenience of a surefire network of potential friends (i.e. first college roommate, cheer team, grad program, etc.) and this is more open/unrestricted and also carries the possibility of rejection. Does that make sense?

I think this is a nice description of the situ:

Ultimately, I'm sure it's no big deal and people would be flattered to know I find their writing interesting, but until I am comfortable as a blogger, I will fret about my blog social skills!

BTW, I love someecards. They are hysterical and often speak to me!

*Does that phrase remind anyone else of the Betty Crocker commercial where the kid flips out that Santa is going to leave because someone ate the cookies? LOVE THAT COMMERCIAL

Worky Work, Busy Bee

Okay, so maybe a month ago wasn't the best time to embark on blogging.

The past 3 weeks have FLOWN by and it has been a whirlwind of last minute assignments, cases, presentations, thesis stuff, etc. My to-do list kept growing and growing for the longest time, but it's starting to get smaller and smaller. Oh how I love crossing things off that sucker.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel! Today I attended my last day of graduate school classes EVER, and am finishing up my last day working at Disability Support Services. I can't believe the day has arrived!! Granted, I still have two finals, four days of practicum, a countless number of assignments to fine tune, and the dreaded thesis defense.....but at least I won't be bogged down with 9 hour days on campus twice a week. Once May 8th arrives and this semester is officially finished, I will only have to return to campus once a month (starting in August) to participate in my internship meetings. So although I won't officially get my degree until May 2009, graduate school is almost in the past. Like I said, the year of internship is technically part of graudate school, but at least I will be out of Greenville, working full-time, and most importantly....not having to worry about homework, tests, papers, and the like. I have been in school since I was 5 people! Time for the real world.

Lunch time has arrived and my co-workers at DSS have arranged a going away party so I am off to that.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Feeling Grateful

Over the past couple of weeks I have been hearing about a friend's (continued) break-up and recently found out about a family member's newly diagnosed medical condition. Both incidents have evoked many feelings for me, mostly sadness and empathy, but it has also made me really grateful for my fiancee (Alson) and dog (Kona). They both are the most important things in my life, and I know without them I would be nothing.

Since I will likely be referencing both of them in many posts to come, I figured I would share some pictures so all my readers (I'm pretty sure only Michelle reads my blog, but a girl can hope for an audience) know who I am talking about.

I'm such a lucky girl!

Spring Reading!

One of the main reasons I decided to re-start this blog is because I saw a bunch of people with Spring Reading Thing 2008 book lists while browsing through other's blogs. I visited Callapidder Days Spring Reading Thing page and found the perfect way to get my head out of school books and into something I enjoy. Now I must admit that my school reading, assignments, and thesis will come first the next 3-4 weeks, or at least until they make me crazy. However, once I move to DC and am FINISHED with my second year of grad school (only 32 days!) I plan to really devote some time to reading for pleasure. With that said, here is my book list:

Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

Jennifer Government by Max Barry

Nineteen Eight-Four by George Orwell

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Falling Out of Fashion by Karen Yampolsky

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Walden Two by BF Skinner

The Other Woman by Jane Green (I've actually already read this, but not since I got will take on a new meaning this time around)

These books should keep me occupied for a while. I think it's a nice mix of my favorite genres...especially chick lit and dystopia science fiction.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Change of Purpose

Originally this blog was created for a class I am taking (hence the strange, previous postings in January and February). Because the class requirements were the opposite of a few and far between (not sure what that term would be at this late hour in the night), the ongoing assignment was abandoned. Now I am left with a blog that has no recent entries, and certainly not any of interest to a person outside of the class.

Soooo, I have decided to change the purpose of the blog and use it as most people would....a way to communicate with other bloggers/strangers/long lost friends/stalkers/and the like. Hopefully I will have some interesting and amusing things to say. With the insane number of significant life events that are happening in my near future (moving, getting married, finishing coursework, etc.), I imagine I will have a lot of things to blog about.

Alas, my first free will entry as a blogger. I'm glad this one won't be graded :)