The One with the Things That Matter

6 Feb

On Saturday, the futhubs and I went to premarital counseling– which has been grand, btw.  Lots of vulnerability, often a lot of tears, and even discomfort when it comes to ‘digging down deep.’  It’s good stuff.  Real talk.  And incredibly humbling.  It’s not super easy to go in and lay all your problems on the table.  This is how we’ve been interacting.  This is what we’ve been fighting about lately.  This is what I said.  This is how I reacted (instead of responded).

I’m super thankful that our premarital counselors are such gracious people who also keep it real.  They’re really honest about the problems they’ve had (and still sometimes have) in their marriage and, in their honesty, remind the futhubs and I that we’re not crazy.  That we’re just as broken as anyone else.  That understanding requires compassion.  That love is a choice and it is healing.

Anyhow, after sharing with our counselors about how stressed we’ve both been, they asked us both to do this exercise.  “Close your eyes and imagine that the wedding planning is all done.  It’s the day after your wedding and you’re reflecting back on this whole wedding planning process.  What are the things that were really important?  In other words, in the whole scheme of things, what is important to you right now?  What do you value?”

This is what we said.  (Our counselor jotted these down).

Wedding Planning Values

Notice that neither one of us wrote a thing about napkin colors.  Or flowers.  Neither one of us wrote about trying to please our parents.  There was no mention of decorations, the guestbook, or attendant gifts.  Or ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE WEDDING ITSELF.  In fact, every single thing we said was a relational value.  We value our relationship as a couple and as a soon-to-be family.  We each value our relationship with the Lord and we want Him to be a part of this whole process.

These are the things that matter to me, to him, and to us.  Real life is right now.  And this is what’s important.

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In the wedding planning process, what are the main values that you’re holding onto?  (Or that you held onto?  Or that you wish you held onto?)

The One with the Blubbering

31 Jan

What else are you stressed out about?” asked the futhubs gently, as he stroked my hair.

Handmade Wedding Invitation

DIY Invite - Image via Wikipedia

All the things,” I whispered.  And then it came pouring out like Pandora’s box of wedding craziness.  Wedding decorations.  Favors.  Figuring out flowers.  All the inserts to go with our wedding invitations.  Wedding invitations!  Wording them.  Setting a deadline for one of our groomsmen to design it.  Getting them printed in time.  Inviting people over for an assembly line.  Getting them sent out.  Having time to send out multiple rounds of invitations.  Where to stay the night before the wedding.  Where to put the out-of-towner bridesmaids.  Not knowing how to ‘DIY’ anything at all.  Wanting our wedding to be pretty without pinching our wallets more than we already have.

“And it’s so stupid because I look at all these wedding blogs and see all these themed weddings -  and I’d love for our wedding invitations to have a cohesive theme that carries through the ceremony and the reception – but I don’t know how to do it.  And I’m frustrated at myself because I know that that’s not important and who CARES if our wedding is themed and ‘blog-worthy.’  But I just want it to feel pretty.”  (Ah, yes.  That would be me waving the crazy-bride flag.  Nice and high now.  Also, I started off sputtering and totally ended up blubbering).

The futhubs murmurred something akin to, “My poor girl!”  And he took me in his arms.  He kissed my face and whispered in my ear:

“The theme for our wedding is us.  I love you.  And I would marry you in any kind of wedding.  Pinwheel-themed, gothic, Halloween, whatever…  I’m just so excited to marry you.

The rest of that stuff, you don’t have to worry so much about.  You can worry or you can pray about it– you don’t have to do both.  Our God is a God who provides.  It’ll all work out.  I promise.

…more blubbering on my part.  Gah!  He’s right.  And he’s so frigging patient with me.  haha.  I’m grateful to be with someone who’ll hold me when I’m overwhelmed, listen kindly, lift my chin, and give me honest, loving truth.  I love this man.

The One with the Other Wedding Dress

28 Jan

I cried in a dressing room today.  Not because the dress didn’t fit right or because I felt fat.  Not because it was way too expensive.  Not because it was heavy or uncomfortable.

It actually fit me like a glove– hugging and forgiving in all the right places.  It was dreamy and beautiful and extremely lightweight.  (I twirled in it and felt I might fly away).  And it was incredibly inexpensive for what I saw in it.

And what exactly did I see?  Well… I saw the wedding gown that I should have purchased.  It was elegant without being princessy.  It was modern chic without looking too outrageous.  It looked unique and special– set apart from all the other humdrum gowns that more or less look the same.  It made me feel stunning.  And it was almost exactly 5 times cheaper than the wedding gown I already bought.

The dress I found today

My sister and I took our mother to the mall for her birthday to help her find ‘the dress,’ as she calls it.  The ‘mother of the bride dress.’  But we are our mother’s daughters after all– meaning that, just like her, we like to dress up every chance we get.  So as we were pulling gowns off the racks for her to try on, we were also pulling several choice dresses for ourselves to try as well.  One of them being this dress, the should’ve-been-my-wedding-gown dress.  My sister suggested it, thinking that it would absolutely pale in comparison to the dress that I bought way back in October– the one that the women in my family not only ooh-ed and ahh-ed at, but also the one that I giddily and impulsively committed to spending a fortune on.  I tried it.

Wrong move.  (Don’t do it, ladies.  Never try on a dress that even remotely looks like it could pass for a wedding dress AFTER you’ve already gone and purchased one for the big day.  It’ll end badly.  Trust.  I’ve done this twice now.  And yes, I’m smacking my forehead with you).  I was surprised by how comfortable it was.  How pretty I felt in it.  How unbelievably wallet-friendly it was.  (Again, 5 times cheaper than the wedding gown I’d bought.  How?  What?  Why?!)  “What do you think?my sister asked.

At which I promptly burst into tears.  Torrents and torrents of tears.  Because, when I looked in the mirror, I not only saw a wedding dress, but I saw how much money I could have saved.  I saw how much stress I could’ve saved both the futhubs and myself with that extra money.  Had I bought that dress instead, we might’ve been able to afford proper wedding favors.  Or actual flowers.  Or maybe pay for the bridesmaids to get their hair done.  We might’ve been able to book a nice hotel for our honeymoon night.  Ultimately, it came down to this (as it always seems to): I’m still costing my poor futhubs a fortune.  Pretty much his entire life savings.  (Much of that is due to poor planning/budgeting on both our parts very early on, but it leaves us stuck with that sad fact).  I felt incredibly spoiled and undeserving.  And regretful.  And selfish.  And stupid.  “I HATE MONEY!” I wailed as I flung my arms around my sister‘s neck.  (Yes, I’m totally the youngest child).

My mother and my sister were wonderful.  They doused me in verbal affirmation, telling me that the dress I’d already gotten was to die for.  My sister held me close.  She made kind shushing noises and rubbed my back.

I know that you’re kicking yourself right now,” she whispered.  “But it’s just money.  The futhubs is gonna think you look absolutely gorgeous in your dress.  Really.  And at the end of the day, you’ll be married.  And it’ll all be so happy.  You know?  This is just money.  You don’t have to dwell on what you ‘should’ve done’ instead– it’s not worth it.”  (My sister‘s amazing).

I sighed heavily.  I wiped my drying tears.  I honked my nose loudly into a tissue  my mom produced from her purse.  (She’s got everything in there.  Tissues, tylenol– you name it).  I stood up.  I took a picture in the dress.  And tried on others.  You know how they say: “Keep calm and carry on”?  Screw that.  Have your cry.  Cry it out.  And then carry on.  And if at all possible, be around people who love you and will whisper truth in your ears even when you don’t know that you need to hear it.

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When was the last time you had a good cry?  And what helped you ‘carry on’?

The One with the Breakfast Tradition

27 Jan

Purchased: two bags of baby spinach, a block of smoked gouda, a carton of eggs, a sack of clementines, one bouquet of wild flowers, and a card.

In about 5 hours I’m going to wake up and do what I’ve done every morning that I’ve been home on this date.  I’m going to wake up early, clang around some pots and pans in the kitchen, whip up a gorgeous and scrumptious meal, lay it out all fancy on our family’s “You’re the Best” plate, and serve it to a certain someone in bed on a breakfast tray.

It’s my mom‘s birthday today.  And this breakfast tradition has made her happy since… forever.  And I’ve loved it– all of it, the entire process, every year.  Setting my alarm impossibly early so that I’d beat her downstairs.  Rummaging through the cupboards to find the right cooking gear, always unintentionally making a huge racket in the process. :P Finding new ways to fold the napkin all fancy; she likes it when I do that.  Figuring out how to make instant coffee taste drinkable.  (Still can’t brew a real pot of coffee to save my life).  Realizing it takes a whole mess of eggs to make an egg-whites only omelette.  Adding splashes of color with a single flower.  A sliced and fanned out strawberry.

Birthday Breakfast 2009

I just love the look on her face.  ‘Beaming’ is the word that comes to mind.  And suddenly she seems more like a young girl.  “Sit with me,” she always says, offering food off her plate.  (I just realized Papa always makes his way downstairs.  “I don’t like to eat in bed,” he says.  But maybe he wants to give us our time).  Because we just sit there my mom and I, talking and laughing by ourselves, splitting the bites between the two of us.  Until finally I say something like, “I better go make Papa something; he must be hungry.”  And she’ll just wrinkle her nose at me for a second, as if in childish protest, give my hand a squeeze and say, “Thank you!  I love this.  I look forward to this every year!”

Every year.  Each time it goes down more or less exactly like this.  I’m not sure why I felt the need to write about it… except for the fact that this will be the last year that I do this for my mom.  The last year that I wake up in the morning in the same house and give her this gift of a home-cooked breakfast, of time.  Together.

Our relationship is just so… complicated.  I even got into an argument with the futhubs tonight about it as we were wedding planning at his place.  I got upset with him for something he said because I felt like he was making an indirect jab at my parents.  (He wasn’t at all; I found out later).  And I got super defensive and protective of them.  But after we talked it out (read: I cried it out), I realized that… I’m crazy.  I always vent to the futhubs about how my mom is unreasonable, demanding, and sometimes a little cruel.  But if he even says one word that sounds even remotely like it’s against her, I immediately fly into action ready to defend.  I throw up a shield with the words: “I know my mom’s crazy, but only I get to say so, dagnabbit!

Even on this blog whenever I vent about the latest conversation with my mom, in the same paragraph I want to jump to defend her honor.  To tell you that she only says what she says and does what she does because she doesn’t know how else to show me that she loves me.  She doesn’t know how to be vulnerable when she’s upset.  So she fights with me because she feels like I’m going off and getting married and she’s ‘losing me’– her ‘baby.’  Because if she says it outloud, she’ll start crying.  And sometimes she does say it outloud.  And on rare occasions she’ll even let me see the tears.

And sometimes on her birthday I get to spend a whole morning laughing and talking with her, seeing her as the young, joyful woman she must have once been.  And I think, “What a gift!” It’s like I’ve been given a secret: that in my mom’s heart of hearts she’s just a young woman like me.  A young woman who loves to laugh.  Who hates goodbyes and can’t stand change and loves so much she’ll think her heart will break.  It’s like for one morning a year, we somehow understand each other.

And maybe I’m being stupidly sentimental and overly nostalgic (or just plain PMSy and emotional ’cause, not gonna lie, it’s totally about to be that time of the month).  Maybe I’m making all this so much more dramatic than it needs to be.  But I’m thankful for today.  Every year.  I’m thankful for my mom.  She’s a firecracker and a frigging handful, but I love her to death.

And dagnabbit I’m every bit as crazy as she is sometimes.

The One with the Happiness Definitions

26 Jan

Today happiness is…

  • sleeping in to a ridiculous hour.  And on that note, comforters!
  • having heart-to-heart catch-up sessions with friends via FaceTime.
  • a visit from my adorable little nephew, who doesn’t speak much yet but loves to hug my legs. : )
  • hotpot on a cold night.
  • finding out that my futhubs secretly hunted down this blog and read it because he knew that I’d be encouraged by the hits.  hahaha.  That man!  He knows me and loves me.  And he is so, so sweet.  <3
  • ridiculous youtube videos like this.  And this.  They make me smile and laugh like no other.  (Psst… futhubs, if you’re reading this, how about you try that dance on for size? : )
  • reading the blogs of other women who lay their lives out on a page; they both encourage and inspire me.
  • Moroccan mint tea with honey.  And timtam slams.  (Treat yo’ self 2012).

    Tim Tam Slamming

    Image by Kevin via Flickr

  • family.  Knowing that I have a family in which everyone truly loves one another– even if we show it in different ways.  Sometimes crazy ways.  (And I confess: I am often part of the crazy).  haha.  But to quote Lilo & Stitch: “[My family] is small and broken… but good.  Yeah.  Still good.”

What brings you happiness these days?

The One with the Giddy Futhubs

25 Jan

I’ve never seen him so giddy.

But let’s take it back a step.  Last week a package came in the mail from Amazon: the wedding band for my betrothed.  (I love the word ‘betrothed.’  It just sounds so romantic.  Also, who knew Amazon sold wedding bands?  : ) Anyhow, I was debating whether or not to hold off on showing him the ring until our wedding day.  But then I couldn’t wait.  It had come in the mail and it was bright and gleaming and in a cushy box and– ahh!  How could I not?

The Futhubs' Ring

So as the futhubs was serenading me on the guitar with the song we’d chosen for our processional (eeeee : ) I got down on one knee and asked him to marry me.  He stopped short, whipped off his guitar, and I slid the ring onto his finger.  “Wow.  This is perfect!” he said.  He took me up in his arms and whispered, “We’re getting married!”

Hours later he was still fiddling with the ring– repeatedly taking it off and putting it back on to admire the fit (on his right hand though, since he wants to wait til our wedding day to wear it on the left).  Days later my futhubs was still playing show-and-tell with everyone we saw telling them about his new wedding band.  At church this past Sunday, I caught him sliding it around on his finger as our pastor gave his sermon.  It’s adorable how much he loves this ring.  And I love that he doesn’t care whether or not a guy is ‘supposed’ to get this excited about his wedding band– I love that he just is.

And I’m so glad that we both can enjoy different elements of this wedding planning process.  And that we’re both stoked about wearing rings that symbolize our love and commitment to one another.

Plus, they’re shiny.  And nice to look at.  : )

P.S. The futhubs’ ring was beautifully made, a perfect fit, exactly what he wanted, AND under $20.  Boo-frickin-yah.  Eat that, wedding industry.

The One with the Emo Prewife

25 Jan

Can I just cry a little?
And maybe whine a little too?

  1. I just found out that the futhubs’ brother, the eldest of the three best men (who are also his brothers), might not be able to make it to the rehearsal+dinner.  And then I found out that because of rules for his med school, he’s not even guaranteed that weekend off.  He and his wife may not make it to the wedding.  It’s totally out of their control and they’re fighting it like mad.  But… whattttt.  Are you kidding me?  Whyyyyy?
  2. My mom sat me down tonight and had a long talk with me about how I need goals in life.  How I never get anything done.  How she doesn’t want my wedding to look… (searching for the word in English)… cheap, I guess is a way of putting it.  Or maybe, ‘low-class.’  (I can handle the first two complaints [been hearing them forever], but bringing my wedding into it?  *breaks pencil in half* She told me that using pinwheels for bouquets makes it look like I’m a cheap college student.  -.-  Grrrr).  I love that she cares more about how the wedding will reflect on her than me being happy.  (I hate that things like that still hurt me). *
  3. I found out that my cousins from Texas may not make it to my wedding.  The youngest in that family is being shipped off to Afghanistan via the Marines and so they’re flying to California next month to see him off, which means they might not be able to afford another trip out here for a spring wedding.  It totally makes sense, and if I were them I’d want to see my brother off as well.  It just makes me sad.  And I know that’s selfish.  I just thought for sure they’d be there.

All these disheartening things, right?  Sigh.  And then I started thinking about all the people I thought would definitely be at my wedding, who are actually gonna be no-shows.  My first roommate from college, whom I love dearly.  She’s in a hardcore firefighter training academy and isn’t allowed a weekend off.  The students that I worked with while I spent 2 years in college ministry.  The team that I took to Japan with me on a summer-long missions trip.  My old college friend, W, who’s in East Asia right now on a 2-yr-long missions leave.  (I totally would’ve set him up with one of my 7 bridesmaids; he’s such a stud; they’re amazing women).  It’s sad to think that they won’t be there to celebrate with me.  It’s heart-breaking to think that there probably will be many more people who won’t be able to make it for whatever reason.

I know that there will be plenty of other people whom I love that will be there to celebrate with us on that special day.  And I know that, whatever my mom thinks or says, our wedding will be beautiful and filled with love.  It’s just hard sometimes to focus on the positive.

…I’m gonna go eat a piece of cake now in a non-eating-my-feelings kind of way.

* Next day edit: I had an epiphany a long time ago, sometime in college I believe, that I’d apparently forgotten.  It’s this: there’s no pleasing my mother.  No matter what I do, there’ll always be something she’s not happy with.  Something that I didn’t include her on.  Something I could’ve done better.  But that doesn’t have to define me.  My mom probably grew up in a household where her mom treated her the same way she treats me.  Here’s to not carrying that with me into the new family the futhubs and I will create.

The One with the Cocktail Hour Music Rant

24 Jan

Eff cocktail hour!” is what I found myself blaring at my amused futhubs as I pounded the Starbucks table with my fist.  I only swear when I’m absolutely livid (or in the depths of despair), so ‘eff’ seemed to suffice for this particular interjection.  Plus it sounds funny to me, so I can guarantee myself a smile at my own ridiculousness whenever I say it, which I just need sometimes.  But I digress…

Let’s rewind a little.  Tonight the futhubs and I interviewed a third DJ just for good measure.  And because– being a girl who always packs 15 different outfits for a week-long trip just in case– I enjoy variety and the option to choose.  He was a really nice guy and I really liked him.  The futhubs said so too.  Then again he’s said that about every other DJ we’ve met too.  (I think a part of it is because he’s quicker to see the best in people while I jump to categorizing all their flaws in my head.  I’m an awful person sometimes).  I found the first DJ to be reassuring albeit rather cocky and the second, unprofessional and dispassionate about his job.  (Impassionate?  Non-passionate?  Are any of these words?  I could totally google the answer to this right now, but I’m not going to!  Lalala, also #englishmajorfail).

Anyhow, something I really appreciated about DJ #3 is that he was eager to work around our budget– which, btw, we calculated correctly and held to for the first time.  (Sigh.  Harsh lesson: learned.  More on that in another post).  He even suggested super helpful things like cutting out music for the cocktail hour and asking our tech-savvy friends to run sound for the ceremony instead of hiring him to do it, since both of those things would put us over our budget.  I love that he was eager to help without being pushy.  Also, it helps that our friends used him for their wedding so there’s already a level of trust there.  Anyway, blahblahblah– it was a good meeting.

The futhubs and I stayed put after he left to discuss how we felt about it.  I heard myself saying things like, “I liked him, but we wouldn’t be able to have music for the cocktail hour with him.  If we went with DJ #2 we could totally afford it.”  And then my brilliant fiance pointed out: “Yknow, I can’t even remember a wedding where they had music during cocktail hour.”  I heard a pane of glass just shatter in my brain.  He’s so right!  I’ve been to plenty of weddings (I think we went to 8 in the past year alone) and even if they had mood music playing during cocktail hour, I’ve never ever noticed.  And I can totally remember weddings that I know for sure didn’t have music, but I was just as happy gabbing away with old friends and downing stuffed mushrooms.

Appetizers we've attacked sans music-- they taste just as delightful! Trust.

And the thing is, I’d never even thought about having music during cocktail hour.  The thought had never occurred to me (read: it wasn’t at all important to me).  Until, that is, we started interviewing DJs and they started sliding all these price quotes across the table and wooing me with coffee to make me think that I needed it.  And badly.  But the truth is, people come to your wedding to celebrate with you– to rejoice at the fact that you’ve found love and you intend to spend the rest of your life loving someone else unconditionally (and apologizing when that fails at times).  They don’t come for cocktail hour music!  And they’re not gonna miss it!  At all!  There are so many things that people won’t care about but the wedding industry tricks us all into thinking that they’re important (or maybe just me because I’m impressionable and trusting!  Gah!).  Ahhh, ridiculous!

And so I say again: eff cocktail hour!  Eff cocktail hour expectations and eff obligatory wedding things that you’re ‘supposed to do!’  Huzzah!  I’m free!  I’m going to bed.

The One with the Bad Dreams

23 Jan

It’s 2:41AM right now and I’m not in bed yet.  Partially because I’m such a n00b at navigating wordpress and I’ve been trying to figure everything out for the past hour and partially because I know that once I nod off into dreamland I’ll be transported to a dark and unkind world where the theme is: Our Wedding Gone Wrong!

Awful Dream #1: Last night, for example, I had an unnerving dream about the day of.  Not quite distressing or fear-inducing, just unnerving.  I dreamt that the futhubs and I had just finished the ceremony, which may or may not have been completely lovely– I don’t remember.  Basically, we were supposed to take family pictures immediately but my dad’s side of the family went missing.  And then my mom’s side went missing.  And I spent the entire hour running around, looking for all of them only to find out we had no more time for any pictures whatsoever.  I think I was about to sink to the ground in despondent, sweaty resignation when I woke up.

Awful Dream #2: This was a couple of weeks ago.  I dreamt that we were running 2-3 hours late on the day of because we couldn’t find my dad, who will be officiating our wedding.  I ran around the venue looking for him like a chicken with its head cut off– much to the surprise and disapproval of all my parents’ friends.  And then the futhubs started yelling at me in front of everyone because it was somehow all my fault that my dad was MIA.  I was so humiliated; I just stared at him wide-eyed until he turned on his heel and left.  The dream ended with me numbly trying to tell my guests that he’d be back without believing it at all myself.

Yesterday the futhubs told me that he had his first bad dream about the wedding too.  (Also, I refuse to call them nightmares because I feel like that would mean I’m letting these dreams terrify me.  And I’m not!  I refuse!)  The futhubs’ Awful Dream: It involved our ceremony going through with neither of our immediate families being present.  He said that all he remembers is the recessional; once we walked to the end of the aisle we slowly looked at one another and started to cry.

My days are filled with so many wedding details and hypothetical things going wrong already.  It’s so frustrating that my nights have been taken over by dreams about it too.  Can’t a bride catch a break?  Even the futhubs has gotten dragged into it.  Le sigh.

Have you had any crazy dreams about your wedding?  Any tips on how to will yourself into kinder dreams at night?  Help a sista out!  Please!

The One That Began It All

23 Jan

I’m not gonna lie; I’m a hopeless romantic.  And I’ve been one pretty much ever since I popped outta the womb.  “Let me outta here, I just want to find my soulmate!” is probably what I was screaming as I made my way into the world.

Okay, that last part’s not true.  But here’s something true: I’ve found him.  I’ve found the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with.  He’s the real deal.  And he frigging popped outta nowhere.

Maybe in future posts I’ll elaborate on how exactly the love story between me and the futhubs (my shorthand for ‘future hubby’ : ) unfolded.  How we met by accident.  How I was not at all interested a romantic relationship… initially.  How I fully intended to set him up with one of my single girlfriends.  How I fell for him in spite of myself.  How he pursued me and put all of my fears to shame.  How we dated long distance for two years.  How he proposed and made me a prewife.

I will try fix youFor now, I just want to introduce myself.  I’m a sap.  I’m a story-teller (not always a good one, but I love stories).  I’m a prewife who’s getting married to the man of her dreams in just a few months.  And I’m new at this.  All of this– being engaged, planning a wedding, preparing for marriage.  It’s exhilarating and overwhelming, heart-warming and batshit crazy at times.  But this will be the place where I whisper all the crazy (and not-so-crazy) into the void.

So, welcome!  Nice to meet you.  And here we go!

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