Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fort Morgan ~ 2016

I promised a post about our recent vacation so here you go!

Saturday, March 19th, at 1:49AM Wesley pulled out of my family's driveway in the 15 passenger van filled with 13 people, 13 people's innumerable belongings, sports equipment, beach supplies, snacks for the trip, food for the week ahead, and I am convinced that my youngest sister smuggled her entire collection of toys along with, as well.
We had planned on driving two vehicles in caravan with my family but, as it was, my parents were in the hospital with my youngest brother who had RSV. Thankfully they were able to drive down and join us after a couple days. :)
The weather in Fort Morgan was quite cold and windy the first few days we were there but it was redeemed by the end of our stay. The water was never warm enough to just go out for a swim and be enjoyable but three days in a row the gulf gave us great adventurous waves. I  wanted to spend much more time than I got to playing in them but my seven month pregnant body refused. I got to fight waves for maybe 20 minutes before giving in and joining my mom on the shore. Somehow, now that I'm a mom, the beach isn't quite the same. I get to live vicariously through others though, watching them fight the waves for hours, cheer them on as big waves come towards them, and laugh as they are defeated.
This was my sixth trip to the Gulf Shores/Fort Morgan area of Alabama's coast, Jerusha's second, (my family took her and I along mere days after her birth), and Wesley's first. I was excited to show Wesley "My Beach" and to give him a tour of the Fort. Wesley searched trip advisor and took me on a couple of dates into Gulf Shores to places I hadn't been before. Hope's Cheesecakes was definitely my favorite outing ^_^
Wesley and I imposed a "kaper chart" system onto my family drafted roughly from the version his family has used for years on their beach vacations. We made and named teams of 3 and divided the making and cleaning up of meals, cleaning of bathrooms, and straightening of living room among the teams. Having done the beach both ways, (with structure and responsibilities opposed to leaving most work up to mommy) I think the outcome of our teams and chore chart was a success!

Jerusha is quite certain I've spent enough time on this post and need to play with her so I'll put up a few pictures and move on. :)

Together <3
Jerusha hijacking my diary
Sunshine on one of our walks :)
Hope's Cheesecakes. Sooo yummy!

Jerusha enjoying the
sand & sun.

A couple pictures from Fort Morgan

 A very
worn out
Jerusha <3

Our traditional "Last Night at the Beach Banana Splits"

Our family pictures for 2016

I hope you've enjoyed a glimpse of our vacation :)


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Memories of a Wedding Two Years Past

{I interrupt my normally scheduled posts (HAHA) today to spend a few moments reliving the events from two years ago. }

April 5th, 2014; the day that my best friend and I committed the rest of our lives to one another. The day truly was a blur as I soared past on excitement and anticipation so I have been thinking about it a lot over the past couple of days, trying to piece together the emotions of myself and those around me.

In my opinion, it was one of the happiest, most light-hearted weddings of all time. (I note my own bias;))
In a wedding the important things are the ones that you will remember and cherish for years to come, and for me, here are a few of those things:
The officiant.
       A good friend of ours was willing to be ordained in order to perform the ceremony. He and his wife took us out to eat prior our wedding and offered pre-marital counseling and advice on living out a God honoring marriage. 
The guests.
      Having the family and close friends there to witness our union but more importantly to share in the joy of it all. It didn't need to be every person we'd ever met, every distant relative, or a day about spreading our "success" to the world. I hope all who came, came because they wanted to join in the fun, not simply because the received an invitation and thought it their duty to attend.
Not waiting for perfection.
      This one I can't stress enough. To any unmarried out there, you may have dreamed up the perfect wedding but I caution you now; waiting until you can have exactly that, won't be worth it. When you know you have met the person you need beside you for the rest of your life; don't wait. Start spending the rest of your life together. Plan a simple wedding, one that you (your families?) can afford, scrap all your extravagant ideas and make a list of what is truly important. For me: 1. Starting life with Wesley. 2. Giving God the glory for being the author of our story. 3. Family. 4. Real flowers. That is all I had on my list, sure I had ideas and pictures of what I wanted in mind but once the ball is rolling and you have a date set, venue reserved, and your wedding parties picked out the rest falls into place. At least mine did.
Its just not worth waiting until he's made his fortune or you've made your own name in the world, well, I can't say with absolute certainty having not done either of those ;) But I can tell you that I can not imagine being happier, certainly not if I hadn't spent the last two years by Wesley's side, or added Jerusha to our family's lives, or even the love and joy in the life of the baby on his/her way. <3
[Whoops. Got a little carried away preaching the virtues of marriage :P]
My dress.
     I bought it for $20 at a garage sale before I was even engaged and altered it to be what I wanted. Sometimes I feel like I missed out, having not gotten to go dress shopping, but in the end my dress is as special to me for the price I paid, work I put into it, and that is enough. I may not have gotten the same experiences as most but mine was special and maybe someday I'll get to go with sisters and girl-friends and watch them "say yes to the dress".
My earrings. 
     I wanted the perfect earrings to go with my dress and never found any. However mommy told me she had ordered some she hoped I would like and they arrived just in time for me to wear. They were perfect, exactly what I'd envisioned. I still keep them on their original packaging and break them out for special occasions; I will be wearing them tonight on our anniversary date.
Daddy giving me away.
    We haven't always had the clearest of relationships so it means the world to me that Daddy found someone he was willing pass me on to. We didn't talk much about "giving me away" but we didn't need to. I know and love my daddy and I should hope it wasn't too hard on him to pass the responsibilities of caring for me on to Wesley. It was honestly probably a relief to him, I'm not all that easy to care for ;) It wasn't a huge emotional ordeal and for that I am thankful. Daddy loved me and he still does, and he rejoiced in God's plan as he gave my hand to Wesley. To summarize; I am thankful that it wasn't a huge deal, that it was simple, daddy giving me to Wesley. The simplicity and peace of it is what I remember and love.
Our Families.
     Our parents and all of our siblings were able to be there. (Some barely, due to the flu.) We were missing some grandparents and in-laws but our best friends, the siblings who "chaperoned" us on dates, the sisters who listened to endless praise of Wesley, the one's who picked up our slack as we texted, talked, and dated, the one's who gave us advice, the one's who we know will be with us throughout the rest of our lives to pick on us, cheer for us, and make memories with us; they were present and they were the most important ones to share the day with. Followed up closely by the friends who are like family and who helped so much with our wedding and praise God with us as He continues to bless.
The flowers.
     We ordered bulk flowers from SAM's club. We ordered what came in the colors we chose for our wedding, we ordered what was in season, and we arranged them ourselves. They were perfect. 
The food.
     We didn't serve especially exciting food but we had plenty for all of our guests and I thought it was pretty yummy. I wanted it to be lunch, preferably sub style sandwiches and salads and that is exactly what we had. We ordered the subs and chicken salad croissants from Wesley's Casey's. Some people may have found that somewhat lame but I thought it was special since Wesley actually went in and helped make them and Casey's is a pretty important part of our life; I don't mind claiming them. Note: We didn't serve them in Casey's paper wrapping. If you didn't know they were from a gas station you, well, would never have known.
The pictures.
     I love the job our photographers did. They were new to doing weddings so very budget friendly but the moments they captured and images they created will forever offer me a glimpse back at that wonderful day.
My bridesmaids.
     I chose only to have three, my best-friend-sister, and two very close friends. They did a lovely job leading up to the wedding with a bridal shower and wedding preparation, and the night we spent together leading into the big day filled with stories, laughter, and prayer is cherished. 

I suppose that is it. The things that stand out to me as most important on my wedding day.

As I reread this I realize I didn't dwell much on the emotions of the day. I have stopped and pondered and tried to remember but from my perspective, it wasn't especially emotional. Or maybe I didn't see past my own to notice emotions of those around me? I was marrying my best friend. I was thrilled, ecstatic, over-joyed. There was not so much as a prick of sorrow at being given away, or leaving forever, or anything of the sort. I was given away, I did leave my family's home forever, but for what? To join someone else and have our own home and family. It's addition, it's multiplication. Never did it feel like subtraction or division. A new step was taken, a new family created, and I at least, and I believe my family as well, found nothing but joy in that. Two family's joined and another was created.

I'll leave you now with the vow I made and a few pictures of our wedding day.

Before God and these witnesses
I take you - Wesley
to be my best friend,
my faithful husband,
and my God given love.

I promise to encourage you
and to inspire you.
To love you truly 
through good times and bad.
To submit myself to you
and follow as God leads

I will forever be here to laugh with you,
to lift you up when you're down,
and to love you unconditionally
through all of our adventures in life together,
as long as we both shall live.


And I know I've thanked you before, but again, Thank You to everyone who helped make our wedding day perfect, from Mr. & Mrs. Smith who raised the perfect man for me to the guests who came to take part in our day; you friends who worked hard to set up and tear down, you family who put up with the chaos of a wedding: Thank You All. <3

Friday, April 1, 2016

1st Birthday Party

For Jerusha's first birthday I wanted to keep it low key and small; I didn't want anyone to feel obligated to come because, well, lets be honest, it's just a first birthday, the celebrated party isn't really going to appreciate or remember it.
It was also important to me that we celebrate on her actual birthday which landed on a Tuesday so that was somewhat limiting on family members schedules and availability; another reason to keep it low key.
          We invited only our local family which if you've read the  'Our Family' page of this blog you'll know is quite a few. In a family as large as ours this party, consisting of only 34 people, was a "small" gathering.
I knew my duty as host of an event so I took it to heart and planned ahead. We chose to have her party at 5:30 so I knew it needed to include dinner. We went with a salad bar because it is a fairly inexpensive option for the group size we were having and because the prep could be done at my own slow pregnant pace.
          On Monday I baked cakes for the party. One 9" stack cake, Jerusha's little cake, and 12 cup cakes. My mother stopped by and we agreed that I was probably going to be short on cake so she made an additional 24 cupcakes that night.
          Tuesday I decorated. I went with an elephant theme as Jerusha's toy collection had acquired several stuffed versions over the year and her very first favorite toy was a stuffed Dumbo who we call "Ella The Ellaphant' because I always thought Dumbo to be a really weird creepy kids movie and I'd rather not have her toy associated with it. ;P
I didn't go very far with the theme, I just made two streamers of stenciled elephants cut out of paint chips and used Jerusha's elephants on the food table.
When Wesley got home from work we began preparing the food. As toppings for our salad we had croutons, crackers, feta cheese, shredded cheddar, black olives, green olives, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, avocados, boiled eggs, freshly fried bacon bits, and broiled marinaded chicken. My mother marinaded, broiled, and sliced the chicken for me. Huge thank you, mommy.
We had ranch, french, raspberry vinaigrette, and three cheese vinaigrette as dressing options.
Guests arrived and everything went smoothly. We ate, we presented Jerusha with her cake and like most one year old's she was pretty uninterested and overwhelmed by the audience, we ate cake, visited, and watched her open presents.

I think we managed to pull off a nice little party. :)

The Spread

The only picture you can see the streamer of elephants in

The Cakes:
The Chocolate Cake with Mint Chip Filling
Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with Mint Chip Frosting and Purple Chocolate Frosting.

A picture my mom took of our little family <3

We tried putting Jerusha in the high chair with her cake but with all the attention and pressure she was overwhelmed. Moving her to her daddy's lap helped a little but she still didn't understand why everyone was watching her.


After everyone had gone home I gave Jerusha her cake again and without the crowd she seemed to enjoy it :)

Jerusha playing with the box from her uncles, aunts, and cousins gift to her :)