Saturday, December 27, 2014

'Twas the week before my wedding....

I'm breaking my blogging silence to announce that by this time next week I will be getting ready to walk down the aisle! One week! One week! 

I cannot believe that Christmas is over and we are officially in full on wedding week mode. It was a quieter Christmas this year, just my parents, my sister and I (plus two dogs) around our tree this year. I didn't really anticipate how planning a wedding for the weekend after Christmas would affect all our family's holidays. We just did a little bit less since we're doing so much in the coming week. But we did still manage to fit in some of our favorite Christmas traditions, like a trip into the city to see the Rockettes and the big tree, and to enjoy a nice dinner out. And we made sure to still attend the candlelight Christmas Eve service and read "The Night Before Christmas."

On Christmas day I put down the checklist and guest list to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. It was a time to unplug, and sleep in, and not wear makeup, and rest and find peace, before the hullaballoo begins. It was really special to get to spend this last Christmas as an unmarried gal at home. (Short-Arm-Shannon took a wonderful selfie to commemorate it.) It's a little strange to not know what next Christmas will look like, but one thing's for sure, T.J. and I will be Mr. and Mrs. and we'll be together. I've got a new ornament for our tree and butterflies in my stomach to prove it!
So what does the weekend before the wedding weekend look like around here?
Well, our dining table is covered in big poster-board floor plans which are covered in sticky notes with each guest's name. I haven't blogged in two weeks because I've been slowly and steadily checking things off that big long list you see below. The list which, at the start of those two weeks, had exactly zero things crossed off.  I'm trying to detox from the Christmas cookies so my skin will look glowy and my dress will fit. And one of the guest bedrooms has officially been renamed "the wedding room" and is filled to the brim with welcome bags, tags for the favors, menus and place-cards,  gifts for my bridesmaids, and every other little thing you can think of that we will be packing up into two cars, along with my wedding dressing, and a partridge in a pear tree.
There's a lot of emotions (I think compounded by the Christmas spirit and memories of holidays past), some teary eyes, but mostly just a lot of excitement around these parts. And it's doubling by the minute. Everything feels a bit surreal and I have to give myself a reality check every once in a while. I don't want to miss it while I'm too busy trying to plan it. This is it. This is the week before my wedding. The last days of being T.J.'s fiancee before becoming his wife.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Snippets of not quite our first Christmas

T.J. and I will not be together for Christmas this year and it kind of makes my heart hurt. I feel like I'm the worst fiance ever to leave him alone out on the West coast. Yes, he'll most likely have to work some at the hospital but probably not all day, and then what will he do? Thankfully I will be seeing him just a few days later or I don't think I could handle it. But oh how I wish we could spend it together. I wish we were going to be sitting around the tree with family and cups of hot chocolate, his stocking hanging next to mine.

When I was out in Washington the last two weeks we got a tree and decorated our house a little bit. No way was he not going to have a Christmas tree this year and it only took three trips to the PX to pick up the tree,  a tree stand, lights, and a then back again for a saw. We also started thinking about what some of our new/newlywed Christmas traditions would be in our new home. I made cinnamon rolls (yes, I count popping Pillsbury rolls in the oven as baking), we listened to the Alabama Christmas album, T.J. studied some while I ate candy canes, and in the end we had a sweet little Christmasy home.
(I had to explain the story behind the hedgehog to T.J. - an inside joke with my mom and sister about the time my mom picked up a dead hedgehog from our pond thinking it was a leaf. Shrieks ensued and sister and I were left to scoop it from the water while our traumatized mom watched from a safe distance.)
(How cute is this ceramic pot? It was a shower gift and that blurred out spot has our soon to be shared last name. Only 22 more days until it's official!)
It was so fun having a house to decorate (and to link up over at Kelly's Korner)! Not shown (because I'm a bad blogger) is the garland around our front door, the cute new plaid tree skirt, my Naptime Diaries advent calendar, and the wedding presents under our tree that T.J. so sweetly waits for me to open. On my Christmas list this year I asked for my very own nativity scene and I would also love to start collecting Snow Village pieces like my mom and Mema. That probably makes me sound like such a married lady (which my sister quickly pointed out) but they are quintessentially Christmas to me.

I couldn't help but think about how our holiday will grow and change in the years to come. We'll accumulate ornaments, and maybe a dog and one day littles. Maybe next year, what will actually count as our first Christmas, we'll have family visiting 
our house for the holiday, or it might be just the two of us, or maybe some friends from our community who are also far from "home. Maybe next year we'll adopt a single guy who has to spend the holiday working like my T.J. does this year. 

I just love that warm glow from the tree and snuggling up on our futon when T.J. got home from work with just the tree lights on. And even though I only got to enjoy the tree for the short time I was out there, and I'll probably be returning to a dead tree after the wedding, I love that we got to have a little taste of Christmases to come.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

one month

T.J. and I are tying the knot one month from today!

I can't believe it's so close! That all the planning, and list making, and organizing are wrapping up, to culminate in what I hope will be the wedding I've been dreaming of since forever.

It feels like we still have a million things to do. Welcome bags to put together, 50 rsvp cards we're still waiting on to be returned by the end of the week (ahem), programs to print, ceremony music to finalize, seating charts to plan. But today, I'm going to do what my mom suggested and "dwell in the shelter of the most High... rest in shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 9:1)

One way or another it will all come together in this last month.

I've been trying to imagine what I will be feeling on that morning one month from today, when everything is checked off the lists (Lord willing) and all that's left it to let the day unfold.

Will I have been able sleep the night before or will I be too anxious and excited, like a little kid before Christmas morning? I imagine my sister and I will have been up late in our bedroom, giggling and shaking our heads in disbelief that I'm getting married that next day. Like we used to do when we were waiting for Santa.

How will it feel to see my bridesmaids, my best friends, in the suite all around me that morning as we get ready? A room full of hairspray and perfume and laughter and nerves.

Will I cry when I catch my mom's eye as she helps me into my dress and my sister fluffs my veil?
What will it be like to see my dad that day, the first guy I loved?

Will I be able to take it all in, to capture pictures in my head of that morning at the hotel, of the ride to the church with my parents and my sister, our family of four for the last time before T.J. becomes an official part of it?

Will I remember to smell my bouquet and take a deep breath and exhale and appreciate all the once in a lifetime moments happening around me? Or will the scene, the colors, the music be swirling like a haze?

In the back of the church before the doors open will my heart pound out of my chest? And when I see T.J. for the first time and he sees me, will I be composed and calm or will the happy tears fall free?

Oh I can't wait to see what that wonderful day will hold!

The magnitude, the weight, the deepness of that day, of the vows we'll exchange, of the shift in our lives that will happen as I take on a new role, another layer of my identity.
Not just a daughter, sister, friend.

In one month I'll become T.J.'s wife.

Monday, December 1, 2014

still thankful

T.J. and I have been enjoying time just the two of us out in our home. And we're getting a taste of what it will be like to be "roommates" come January.

I got out here last Sunday for a two week stay. It was perfect timing as I was able to have both my car and all my stuff from the East coast delivered on Monday while T.J. was at work. I spent the rest of the afternoon listening to my ipod and unpacking the kitchen and living room so we would have all we needed come Thanksgiving. T.J. was pretty impressed with my progress... until he saw the upstairs hah. Also our garage is a hoarders paradise but we're plowing through.

We've had an interesting past couple of months. Without going into too much detail, let's just say T.J.'s right eye has been giving us some grief so I've been getting acquainted with the army hospital where he works, and is lately sometimes a patient. Needless to say it was not exactly the Thanksgiving you could plan for.
But oh, did it remind me to be thankful.

I'm thankful that I was out here with him and not on the other side of the country worrying.
I am thankful for our health which we so often take for granted.
I'm thankful that I was still able to find a turkey late Wednesday night after another crazy day.
I'm thankful that instant tapioca is a substitute for (the sold out) cornstarch so I could still make corn pudding. Did you know that?
I'm thankful that we were still able to relax most of Thursday and still have the meal I had pictured and that my mom had taught me to make. 
I am thankful that God is good and He is in control.
Even during the unexpected and the confusing moments where we don't understand why or what's going to happen, He is there. 
I am thankful that T.J. and I have each other. That we will support one another during those hard moments and celebrate together in the after moments. 
I was reminded that what's important is not the perfect meal cooked in the perfect kitchen in the brand new roasting pan (though I have to admit I was pretty darn proud of my first Thanksgiving dinner). What's important is that T.J. and I take care of each other, love each other, laugh together, pray together.  We'll make plans together and when those plans get thrown a curveball we'll hold hands and move through it together.