Saturday, October 29, 2011

Meeting New Friends

Do you think God is trying to tell me I need more friends or something?
To be honest, I don't do too well making new friends, and between yesterday and today, I'll have met and spent time with a bunch of new people.
Two nights in a row... boy.
I'm not sure what it is that I get nervous about.
Sometimes I don't feel like I have enough interesting things to say, or when I do say something it will be dumb or won't come out right.
I don't know. 
It's probably something I should shake and move on from.

Mono works in a great office. There's only 4 of them in there, but they are a lot of fun. It's 3 guys and one girl. By now, I am friendly and comfortable with all of them. I went to dinner with Mono and one of the guys from the office and the people they were working with a week or two ago. And then last night Emily, the girl in the office, asked us to go to see a movie with her and some other people from work. It was a movie I had really been wanting to see so I jumped at the opportunity to go out with her! 

She's the sweetest and I always enjoy her company when we're all hanging out, going to lunch, etc. I did not realize this when I went, but it was an actual movie premiere in our town! What fun! I would have shown up in something better than jeans and a sweater and a ponytail. The actors and actresses, directors and producers were all there to meet afterward which was very memorable and tons of fun. The movie was great with a fabulous message to go along. It was really neat to know the movie was made by locals and shot in our state! 

So we had a great time with Emily and some other people that had come with her. After watching the movie and talking to one of the producers for a while, we went to get some coffee... that's when I met new people. I really enjoyed it, but I still always feel like I'm awkward. 

Then today a couple from Mono's work invited us over for dinner. They mentioned it a week or two ago and tonight was the night we went over. Driving over there I was a little nervous.
What if they don't like me?
What if I say really dumb things?
What if we have nothing in common?
You know, all those type of questions.

When we pulled up and one of their little girls was waiting at the door, most of those nerves went away. I thought to myself, "This is going to be okay; It's going to be fun." We walked in to their beautiful home and enjoyed the next few hours very much. We all got along so well, had so much in common and felt comfortable as you would with close friends.For a long time I've been wanting to get to know the wife of this family and I finally met her and have the opportunity to have a good friend in her.

For me it is always nice to have a friend that you can share your faith with, along with your interests and fun hobbies. We spent a few hours with this family and I hope this is the beginning of a really dear friendship. My parents have had friends that really share in common interests as well as the same views of our faith and I have always hoped to meet one or two couples to have friendships just like that. Maybe this is it. Maybe meeting all these new people this week is the start of something like my parents have!

And tomorrow we are going to our new Church for the first time, and I am really looking forward to meeting some people there when we go. There is a Church that we attend daily during the week that I love. It's close to home, right there for Mono to go while he's at work and we know a lot of people there. But we wanted a place to be a member of and attend on Sundays.We were a bit more specific of what we wanted and our new friends helped us seal the deal with our decision for this Church for Sunday Mass. I'll have to let you know how it goes tomorrow!

What a good night!
Off to bed now!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Soap Up! 301.365

Getting married, buying a house, settling in, working on a budget... It all comes at once. I knew from the get go, I wanted to be orderly, neat, and save money in areas I knew I could with much ease. Making my own laundry detergent was one of them. I was prepared for everything, or so I thought. I had no idea that it would produce about 10 gallons in one batch! It probably only cost me like $2.00 or less for all the gallons. I didn't have enough jugs to hold it in so I had to wait a few days and buy a few more new jugs! Crazy, huh? It will surely save me a lot of money! And it washes real well. My only complaint is that it doesn't leave a clean smell. It doesn't leave a dirty one either though. It just doesn't smell. I think I will eventually think of a solution for that though. If you have a lot of kids, are on a tighter budget or are just up for a new project for the fun of it! Definitely try this out! Let me know if you want the recipe! I'll dig it up and send it to you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Longest Post EVER - Feel free to break into parts! 274.365

Hello to all my lovely readers! It's Thursday night, 7:30 ish. I still have a few things needing to get done before I finally relax for the night, but I wanted to take this time while things are quiet to give you all a bit of an update. My dear friend asked for some updates on things and I thought I'd give you some highlights of things from the wedding through the past few weeks. I don't think I've shared wedding pictures, but I think I will post a few and a few from our honeymoon and then some updates. Maybe eventually I'll get a more in-depth post on the wedding. For now it's just an overall look on the happenings in our little and oh-so-lovely life! So I'll sit back in this quiet home, listening to some new music on Spotify, and write you a nice update (especially for you Jilly).

So, I'll start with the wedding festivities. A few from before the wedding and then a couple from our wedding day. :) I hope you enjoy!

Mono, my parents and I drove up to the northeast a few days before our big day to get some things in order and to be there in time for the fun festivities taking place on Friday night! On Friday morning, I giddily drove to the airport to pick up my best friend and Maid of Honor and head up to Maryland for the rehearsal and dinner that evening. Now let me tell you…. the rehearsal dinner was kept a bit of a secret from me. My amazing "second mom" (aka. mother in law) and sister-in-law (yaaaayyy! I have a sister and brother-in-law now!!!!) - - - Here's a picture of them to go along with my excitement!
Back to what I was saying. Mami and Erin planned an amazing evening, far beyond anything I thought we could have! Actually, I thought it was going to be held in the church hall… no way! It was held in the crisp fall air, underneath the sky filled with stars. Ah-maz-ing times 1 million. I thought I was in a dream! The weather was perfect. Mami had arranged for some heaters and an outdoor fire pit for a little warmth for the evening. Oh, it was lovely!

Kath and I brought our stuff up to our nice suite in the hotel (we needed the room for all 13 of us - myself and mom and 11 in my bridal party - to get ready) and relaxed a bit before we headed to the rehearsal at the Church.
The fact that I was getting married the very next day had yet to hit me, but I was very excited to practice for such a big day. The Church that we were going to be married in had just been renovated and I was really anticipating it's beauty. I couldn't wait to get there and see it. It was magnificent! Fresh paint, marble floors... gorgeousness!

There's nothing super special about this picture, but I just love looking at Kath (my MOH) and Lea (my cousin and one of my bridesmaids). They both look so happy! We were having fun. I love those two. 
This was fun! 
But the following day was even better!!!
Now on to our fabulous party!
Some of my favorite things from the night were the balloon lanterns light strung between trees, the light and warmth coming from the flickering fire, the yellow striped paper straws in the mason jars for our drinks, the Jones Cream Soda (yummmm), the Georgetown cupcakes (my favorite)...
My god-father!!
Our parents :)

Some of my favorite people!

Once the rehearsal came to an end (which I was sad to see... I wanted it to go on forever!) Kath and I headed back to our hotel, but we didn't get to bed until after 1am! Yikes! But we did get a special visit around midnight from Jilly when she arrived! I was so excited to see her. She came with her magic wand and all to help us with a little last minute fix to Kath's dress! Let me tell you, that girl can fix anything! :)

Even though we didn't get to sleep until after 1, we had to wake up at 5 to begin the process of hair and makeup for all of the ladies, plus a few extras...

Yawnnnn.... Thank goodness for the million pots of coffee we ordered!

I really enjoyed having my girls with me getting ready that morning. Having them all in the room was so special. I wish I could have spent a little more time chatting with each of them, soaking up those moments together, but you know how things get on the morning of a wedding!
Two girls from a local salon came to do our hair...
And Jillian did a fabulous job on all of our makeup. If you need your makeup done, Jilly is the person to go to! I had gone to get my makeup done - trials - and everyone was a disaster. I knew I wanted her to do my makeup, but I wanted to test looks out before the big day. She lives in NY and I live in AL so I couldn't have a trial with her so I had to work with what I could. Well, I called her in a panic after the 3rd or 4th person tried their own spin on the look I wanted on me. Ugh! I was so frantic, but each and every time I called her, Jillian told me, "Mare, I've got you covered. Nothing to worry about." I would always become instantly calm when I heard her say that. I knew she'd have me covered, but I still wanted to know what I'd look like. I should have known to just let it go and know that no matter what "look" Jillian did for me, I'd look fabulous. And she did a darn good job!
I can't remember exactly what time there was a knock at my door the morning of my wedding, but I ran to see who it was and it was my Aunt Mare (one of them - I have two Aunt Mares)... dressed in yellow... just like my mom. I have a feeling this is the sort of thing that happens after being friends for over 30 years. They haven't seen each other in months, yet they are wearing the same color shirts! I love it. Aunt Mare is Jilly's mom, by the way!
Boy, 5:00 was long gone and when I looked at the time, it was time to pile into the limos (we needed two to fit all of us girls!!!) and head to Church for the big moment!!! 
Gosh, I was so stinkin' excited!! I can't even begin to explain! I remember sitting in that limo, just being filled with anticipation and excitement, and I was incredibly calm. Not an ounce of nerves!
My man waiting for me!! I couldn't see him for a while because people were peeking out of their pews to watch me walk down the aisle, but when I finally saw him, I was one incredibly happy girl (if it was possible to be any happier than I already was!)
While I was waiting behind the doors in the back of the church, I was peeking out of the windows to see people and wave at them. I was so happy! A few people that could see me talked to me after and said, "Mare, you were the happiest and most excited bride we've ever seen before a wedding!" I was so happy to see everyone filling the church! 

My Aunt Liz (you can see her on the very right of the bottom picture here) just kept saying to me, "Ooch (that's what she calls me), you're getting married!!" So when I was passing her she was squealing, "Ooch, you're getting married... now!" She really made me smile and chuckle! I'll always remember that little moment with her.
Two priests that are close family friends were there at our wedding. There were a few others, but these two played prominent roles in the day. Fr. Isaac (on the left) said the nuptial Mass and Fr. Anthony (on the right) did the vows.
The Church is so beautiful. It's breathtaking really!
Our groomsmen (standing), Mono and I (sitting) and our bridesmaids (kneeling)!! - All different parts of the Mas.

Consecrating our marriage to the Blessed Mother.

After a few pictures in Church with the wedding party and family, we were quickly off to the reception!
With the pouring rain seeming to just hold off by a thread, we all went outside in the drizzling rain (doing a number to my hair) and very chilly day to take pictures. We were so cold (and getting wet) that we took turns going in to warm up! When the guys were being photographed, the girls went inside and vise versa. :) But then when Mono and I were just being photographed, we had to guts it out! 

Six handsome groomsmen, one maid of honor (one matron of honor not there in person, but in spirit - I'll get to that later), five bridesmaids, three junior bridesmaids and two flower girls... oh and of course a bride and groom!
 You're going to see some absolutely amazing pictures from my photographer/friend soon, but for now, here's a sneak peak at three of the pictures my Dad snapped of us...
The rest are going to be a little out of order, but you can still enjoy them!

Jilly and my Dad (Dad's her god-father).
 Our first dance.
I'll let you in on a little secret...
We did not practice our first dance until we were waiting in the line to be introduced. Thank God for a big wedding party in front of us!
Let me tell you, we were good! :) We swayed back and forth, no fancy steps (that's not us) and Mono even twirled me around with perfection! 
Look how happy he was! And he doesn't even like to dance!
 Stealing away a moment with my sweetest friend (and MOH).
 A moment I will always cherish... Instead of the normal bouquet toss, I wanted to present the bouquet to my godmother (my second Aunt Mare). I wrote her a note, played a special song and gave her the biggest hug. I love her so much and I am so glad we share the same name. :)
 Rockin' on the dance floor; milkshakes in hand!
 Sweetness galore! We had a milkshake bar (especially for Mono), cupcakes and little tartlettes, a candy buffet (not shown) and our cake! And there you can get a glimpse of our dining area of the reception.
 We had two speeches. Alex, Mono's brother and best man, gave an awesome speech. It was perfect and just right! A bit funny and a bit sentimental. It couldn't have been any better. Now onto a brief story about my matron of honor.

I knew from the day I was engaged that I wanted to ask Katie to be my matron of honor at our wedding. And all was set that she would be there, until the amazing news came! Katie called me one day to tell me that she was pregnant! My goodness was I excited! Katie and I have been friends since the day I was born and now she was having a baby! Well, baby Jay Jay was going to arrive at the end of October so it was cutting things close, but Katie was still going to make it. To make the story move along, Katie had to have a c-section scheduled for two days after my wedding and she had to make a call telling me she wasn't able to make it. It was hard for both of us, but we knew that the excitement and joy of her precious son's arrival would outweigh the sorrow of her not being at my wedding. Even though Katie wasn't there in person to give her speech, she sent it typed up, all three pages, with a dear friend of ours to read to me. Up until the moment Marjy started reading I was okay, not crying at all. Not a single tear! Well, I think it was then and there that it hit me that my Katie was not there on my wedding day. And Niagra Falls then moved to Maryland. So many emotions hit me. I was overjoyed at what she was saying in her speech, so sad that she wasn't there (physically), sad also for a few things she mentioned - like my moves further away from her - and some real good laughs. Jillian recorded the entire thing on her phone and sent it right over to Katie back home. I know she was really there with me every step of the way in spirit. I will always say I had 12 girls in my bridal party... matron of honor and all!
 Our dances with our parents!
 Okay, so that's a peek into our special day. It was even more memorable than either of us could have imagined and everyone that had come to the wedding said they had a fabulous time... that is what I was hoping for. I wanted it to be special and memorable for everyone who shared our day.

So there you have it! Our wedding updated on the blog!

And, if you are willing to eventually read more of my blog, there is a separate post up with honeymoon updates... just pictures and some fun memories.
I will have to post about married life in another post. I think this may have crossed the line of how long blog posts are allowed to be!

My parents came for a visit and to help work in the house today, as well as one of Mono's good friends who had off for the day. He hung out with us at the house while Mono was at work (they visited together for lunch) and then all five of us went to one of our new favorite restaurants, Sweet Bones. We got a bit done today which was nice and I have a really full day ahead of me tomorrow getting lots of random things done!

Good night all!

Bon Bini Aruba! 276-284.365

Aruba was amazing! To be honest, it took me a couple days to get used to a few things, like the weird bus system... they pretty much don't run on a timely schedule what-so-ever. 
 (note: this was a joke... I wasn't really that upset!)
The bus stops and I actually became pretty good friends by the time our trip had come to and end.
 I enjoyed every minute of it though and it was such a neat island to explore. 

The pictures are in no order, but I will post a caption with each when needed! :) Enjoy a bit of the beautiful island with us!

There are cactus plants everywhere! Our resort was on a breathtakingly beautiful beach, yet you walked out onto the grassy areas right off the beach and there were cactus and aloe plants growing!
 Every morning we sat in this little area for our delicious breakfast. 
Every single morning, Gouda cheese was part of my meal. 
Gouda, fruit and french toast!
 Our lunches were served right to our little hut on the beach! 
Can a lunch get any more amazing?!
We took a land-rover tour of the island to go to the areas that we weren't able to get to on our own by car (though Mono says next time we go - if there is a next time - he wants to rent his own little jeep and go it ourselves... ummm, I don't think so! I need a trained islander to drive me around. The roads we took, well they weren't really even roads most of the time, were insane. INSANE!

This was one of our stops... the Natural Pool. It is found on the northern side of the island where the water is quite a bit too rough and deep to swim in. We had to go down these rocks to get there... yes, and then climb all the way back up them to return to the top!
 It was beautiful and I had so much fun! You swim in this little "natural pool" with the fish and the huge waves crashing on the large rocks around you! So neat!
 I love these piled rocks! 7 - one wish per rock.
 These cactus fences amazed me. All you have to do is chop off a top part of a living cactus and stick it in the ground. No big digging or anything. Pretty cool! Oh, and that tree, a divi divi tree, look at it; growing in the parking lot! I loved those trees. They are all over the island.
 This was another stop on our tour... an old gold mine that was made to look like a castle or fort by the Indians years and years ago.

 Another stop, which was just beautiful. I truly could have spent days there, just taking it all in. The scenery, the crashing waves... everything.
 Oh my goodness... The Donkey Sanctuary. 
At first when I heard we were going there, I thought, "come on, really?" 
I live in Alabama. We have donkeys all around us.
But once I got there, I remembered those little friends of mine and how much I love them.
This little guy smiles on command. No lie.
This is at the natural pool again...
The Natural Bridge area of the island. 
The big one collapsed a few years back, but this small one was still standing. I hope it lasts for many years to come because it is so beautiful. 
The waves on this part of the island are just amazing. I had seen a picture of them when I was looking at Aruba tour books and websites and I was hoping some how I could see this place, but didn't know where the pictures were from, so I was so excited when we arrived and I saw that we were in that spot that I dreamed of going to!
I was wishing I had an amazing camera lens for this spot. Even though I didn't, I tried to make the best of it and took only about 1,000 pictures at this one spot. Not too many. ;)
Mono had to stand by the DANGER sign... Good way to make a new wife nervous. ;)
The piled rocks again. :)
On one of our last evenings there, we had a delicious dinner on the beach outside our room. 
I am sure I will never have another dinner like it!

Now some sunset shots:
I wish I was better at knowing the settings for my camera so they would have come out better. Oh well. You'll get the point and we'll remember it in our memories!
Our resort at night:
And some during the day:
The pool area:
Our sailing trip...
I'm going to be honest here... I enjoy being out on the water, but I have been known to get a little sea-sick. Nothing serious, just a little woozy. I am okay on a fast boat, but sailing, I wasn't sure. I've gone back and forth with getting sea-sick. Turns out I did fine and was loving the boat.
We took the catamaran out to go snorkeling... yeah, I wasn't loving that idea. I had no idea where they were taking us and I didn't like that idea. I was fretting about the thought of not seeing land. Thank God we could still see land when they dropped the anchor. And we could see the bottom of the ocean floor... the clear water and sand. "Yes, I can happily jump in this water," I thought to myself. But then came stop number two... Deep, dark, open waters, over a shipwreck.
I was freaking out inside.
Really freaking out.
Scared out of my mind freaking out.
On the first stop I had fins and they just did not work for me. They weren't fitting me right and I was struggling more than enjoying the swim. So I knew in the second stop I'd try a life-vest instead of the fins. The water in the second stop was quite choppy. I told the guy I didn't want fins and he was surprised that I'd want to go out there without fins... everyone else had them on.
So there I was, standing on the edge, looking at everyone else out in the water, getting all the courage I could to just make the plunge and jump in those scary unknown waters.
I did it.
I think I screamed under water pretty loud though.
That's good though... scared any potential sharks away. ;)
 Then when I got out there the life vest was causing me to struggle more than I thought it would so I deflated it and man, that made all the difference in the world. 
The best part though... getting back on the boat, of course being number one. But when I got up there, the guy saw "the girl with no fins" and saw that I also had deflated my vest. 
He looked at me kinda surprised and said, "You're a good swimmer?" And I said, "Yeah?" And he was like, "Impressive, going out there like that." - without any help!
haha- Maybe there aren't many good female swimmers out there in Aruba?
But here I am, happy to be back on the catamaran, sailing.
Last day and stormy weather:
I fell in love with our polka dot curtains in our room. I want some in my house. Maybe in my "nest," which is one of our guest rooms.
Our room (bottom left) and some pretty coconuts right outside our door!
 Mono's friend, the dancing cactus:
We rented a car and drove around, visiting the California Light House, the Alta Vista Chapel and some other spots on the island.
 Going into town, Oranjestad, and Mono's mini photo shoot with his new hat!


 Our cute car and it's "one happy island" license plate:

 Our hats :)

 My handsome driver:
 Going to the Chapel:

 For Brian :)
 For Sasha :)
 They played a movie on the beach right outside our room on our last night. It couldn't have been a more perfect ending!
 Hugo, our tour guide on the land-rover tour:
 My 7 rocks piled up.
Dinner at Papillon:
 More cactus.
 Yes, and MORE cactus.
And just a few more pictures from another stop on our land-rover tour:

Well, I think that's it... and it was plenty long. I hope you all enjoy Aruba, and if you are looking for an island getaway, I highly recommend it! :)