Saturday, August 27, 2011

Aloha and Mahalo!

*** I uploaded these pics before writing, so had I realized the order in which I would show them, I probably would have formatted them differently! oops :P

Well, we're back from our honeymoon! It was an amazing trip and I am so grateful that we were able to go. I think Roger learned just how important it is to take time for US. No kids, no stress, just paradise. And I am also happy to report that he loves Hawaii as much as I do! Which in essence means that he will totally go for a return trip without me having to beg. Yeehaw!

This trip came exactly one year after my first Hawaiian vacation. It is amazing for me to think about how different this trip was from the last. First of all, this time I was on my honeymoon, which means that I had a partner for activities. Second, I had already done the majority of touristy stuff last time so I literally spent about 90% of the time lounging by the pool or in the pool on a floatie (as seen in the picture above!). And last but not least, I am about 95 lbs lighter this go round. And I will explain exactly what that means to me.

When I tell people "I've lost a lot of weight recently" I don't think they truly comprehend what that means. Even saying "I've lost about 100 lbs" doesn't resonate as much as it should. Heck, half the time even I don't understand how incredible that really is. But when I think of all of the differences AND see pictures, I am truly in shock. Heck, even Roger was in shock after seeing the picture below!

This was just one of MANY pictures from my trip that just so happened to be on our "little" camera that we only use for quick pics or vacation purposes. I see it and think that I look like someone took an air-hose and inflated me. But then I realize, "Wow, I really looked like that". It wasn't a "bad picture" because ALL of them from the trip have me this big. Roger's comment was "It is amazing to me because I see you now, and I think you look huge in that picture, but at the time I didn't realize how big you were". Which I think is very common. You see someone gain weight over time (even yourself) and yeah, you notice bumps and lumps here and there, but you have no concept of just how much bigger they really are unless something changes drastically. For me, the drastic something was surgery.

Just under 100 lbs also meant that my comfort level on this trip was 100x better than the last. First of all, I felt great in almost everything I wore (I felt good in a bikini, but not great... I'll explain later!), and was excited about the following:

  • I could wear short shorts. I specify short shorts because that is even better than long shorts... which to be honest I couldn't really wear before unless they were capri length. Why? Because before my thighs ate my shorts making it very uncomfortable, and I would have to stop every 3 seconds to yank them out of my crotch.

  • There was not a pair of spanx in sight. I didn't feel like I needed to suck anything in. And most importantly, for big girls spanx do something even more important: They protect your inner thighs from rubbing holes in each other. No joke. Last trip I wore spanx EVERY time I was in a skirt or dress.

  • Also, no baby powder in sight either. Again to prevent chafing, i would douse my legs in baby powder and even carried a travel bottle in my purse for emergency touch ups.

  • I was brave enough to try a "sporty" excursion. I have always wanted to try kayaking but was honest to goodness afraid that I would sink the kayak or that there would be a weight limit that I would exceed. Well, we tandem kayaked from the beach on Kailua to a little island out in the Pacific. I was scared of being stranded like castaway, but I wasn't afraid of sinking the boat. And most importantly... I did it!

  • I WORE A BIKINI!!!! Omg. And not only was it a bikini, it was a STRING bikini! I had tried on a more conservative mom bikini and Roger told me he thought the bright one I am wearing in these pictures looked better on me. I was hesitant, but after seeing the pictures, I do agree that it looks pretty good!

I see the picture above and I have a hard time believing that the girl in the picture is me. The reason being that I see it and think "wow she is skinny!"... and then I am talking about myself. I don't think that when I see myself in the mirror every day, that's for sure! And below for reference... here is a half body shot from last time!

I honestly think my upper arms were as big as my legs are now. Scary thought.

Now aside from laying by the pool, my second most important concern was of course food and beverage! We really did not go crazy on dining experiences other than the Royal Hawaiian Luau which, to date, even though it was ridiculously expensive, I am glad we experienced. Mostly we ate at chain restaurants and I think our highest bill was around $40 for dinner. Not bad. And towards the end of the week we started taking advantage of the happy hour at the Sheraton. Here's Roger with our very favorite happy hour selections: Edamame & Ribs.

Even for someone who is on a life long "diet" these food choices are not "bad" per se. Edamame has some carbs I am sure, but it's sort of a veggie, right? And beef ribs... it's protein so we are all good there. But it's that beautiful little sucker in Roger's hand that ultimately killed my chances of losing weight while on my honeymoon!

In "real life" I drink very very little since having surgery. I'll have a sip or two here or there, but I can't finish an entire drink. And even if I could, I wouldn't want to. There is no happy drunk feeling, so drinking a bunch of alcohol isn't appealing. HOWEVER.... the taste of those fruity, slushy drinks make me so very happy! It's like a fantabulous slurpee! On the trip I learned 2 things... well didn't learn, but was reminded of. The first is that I cannot consume high quantities of sugar and fat. I feel sick. And the second is that those fruity, slushee, slurpee cocktails are so high in sugar and calories that it is pretty much impossible to lose weight.

I had stayed away from the scale for the first half of our drip but on day 4 I stood on the scale and noticed that I had gained a pound. And that was depsite walking a few miles one day, not really eating much due to travel and pool time... I thought for sure I would lose. So once I saw that pound I stuck to a fairly strict no alcohol policy other than a sip or 2 from Roger's drink. It was only hard when I saw people enjoying pina coladas or daquiris at the pool. Otherwise, I could care less. Diet Pepsi is still my biggest vice.... definitely not alcohol!

Luckily the food in Hawaii tends to veer towards the light and fruity side. I ate a bunch of tuna (yay for protein!) and really the "crap" I ate was just at the airport coming and going. What I can say with certainty however is that without the sleeve, I would have DEFINITELY gained like 10lbs on the trip and spent a helluva lot more on food!

We are so thankful to all of our friends and family who gifted us with pieces of our honeymoon. We honestly could not have gone without these gifts (weddings are crazy expensive!), and it was our only trip EVER without the munchkins. We have since decided to make it an annual excursion.

So for now, I leave you with August 2010 v. August 2011. Can't wait to add 2012 to this timeline!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beauty is only Skin Deep

Whew what a morning! Today I got the web files of our wedding photos. They are absolutely incredible!!!! Originally Barbara, my photographer, had linked us to a website where we could see proofs and order online. It was ok.... but as I was flicking through the photos I wasn't drawn to ANY of them. :( This reaction was the polar opposite of my reaction to our wedding fusion video. If you haven't seen it, it's worth checking out!

When I told Barb I didn't like the viewing website, she was kind enough to link me to her web pics and I felt like kissing her! There are so many amazing pictures, I can't decide which I like best!

Seeing all of these pictures, I definitely feel beautiful! They are gorgeous images and I can barely believe that I am looking at myself. Especially in ones like this:

photos courtesy of Y Studio Photography

But having surgery and losing all of this weight has not only changed my exterior, I truly believe that it has changed my interior. Not 100%.... I am still sassy and strong like I have been since birth. But I am also HAPPY now! And that happiness radiates into many aspects of my life including dealing with my children (which, I might add can be the most challenging thing I have ever dealt with!), dealing with my husband, dealing with clients and coworkers and even strangers. I just FEEL so much better!!! And also, self confidence is up, meaning that I am sure I present myself differently. I'd be curious to be an outsider looking in.

Another thing that I would like to mention is confidence. Roger told me this morning how proud of me he is. Awwwww, right?! Yes he is a sweetheart, but he also knows that I tend to be a quitter when it comes to most things. Some people stare opposition down in the face.... and others tuck their tail btwn their legs and run. Unless it's verbal sparring (which I might add I am very good at!), I fall into the "others" category. I see trouble and I hightail it outta there. That's all fine and dandy, but I am quickly learning that as an adult, 95% of situations demand action and running away is NOT an option. Hmph.

But where I am going with this is that when I decided to have weightloss surgery there was a part of me that truly feared failure. I knew that NOT losing weight was impossible. I mean, hello, you can't eat more than a few ounces at a time. BUT, I also knew that if I ate a ton of carbs, and didn't exercise, and didn't follow the plan, that my weightloss would not reach goal. Roger told me about his cousin who had gastric bypass surgery some years ago, and how she lost like 50lbs and kind of gave up. She was happy to have lost the 50 so she just went back to old habits. I will admit that "story" made me think of myself. Would I do the same??? Would I just be grateful for whatever loss I was granted without having to work at it and give up???

The answer is no. Probably because I fear regain so much, but I am still pushing for more and more weightloss. I am officially 150 as of this morning so that means I have 25 more lbs to lose until I reach my doctor's goal weight for me: 125lbs. I would like to add that his initial goal weight was 145 lbs (ehem which I am 5 away from!), but after we had a serious chat about my weightloss pace and then the next month I showed up 15lbs lighter.... he upped the ante. The reason being that with ANY weightloss patient there is about a 10-15lb flux from their lowest weight. So I suppose I shouldn't plan on being 125 for long. BUT, with that flux I still fall into a very healthy weight range. I get his thinking. And I would LOVE to be 125 lbs!

Let me be the first to tell you that I have periods where I do "give up" and eat what I want. What I am noticing however, is that my body is getting more and more mad at me when I do that. It sucks to feel sick, but I am very grateful because it certainly makes me think twice about eating ice cream or high carb foods, that's for sure! After the wedding I got into a little rut of MAJOR snacking before bed. HORRIBLE habit! Super horrible actually. So I was stuck at 155-156 for a good 3 weeks. I went into work on Tuesday and my boss commented that I looked smaller. Hmmm. Nope hadn't lost weight.

Well, I should call her the weight loss whisperer because on Tuesday I weighed 154.6. This morning I weigh 150.4. That is 4lbs in 3 days. It's great, but to be honest, it also scares me. Because in my experience, rapid weightloss for me means that my body is freaking out which leads me to what this post was intended to be about: my hair and skin.

The other day a friend messaged me after reading my blog and asked me how my skin and hair have fared since surgery. An interesting question because it is well known in the weightloss world that rapid weight loss and a reduction of normal nutrients causes hairloss. Skin suffers just like hair does in my opinion. HOWEVER: I have been very very blessed in both categories!

I have always had very thick hair and mostly clear skin. In fact I have regularly gotten compliments in both categories. Here is me right after having Benjamin... no makeup and my hair is NOT did:

As you can see my skin looks healthy as does my hair. My only issue is my dark circles but those are hereditary so what can you do?!

And I feel like since surgery not a lot has changed. I shed like crazy all the time (ask Roger who dreads seeing the hairs that line the floorboards if we don't sweep or mop them up daily). So I wasn't exactly traumatized after surgery. I felt like the hairloss was right in line with before surgery. BUT, when I dropped 15lbs in a month, I did notice a change. I would run my fingers through my hair and come up with a handful. Eeks. SCARY!!!! I did not want to be bald. In fact, I'd rather be fat than bald to be honest. So after I noticed how much I was losing, I promised myself to really concentrate on taking my vitamins and getting my protein in. And I am certainly not perfect about it, but I am BETTER... and that's all that I can ask of myself at the moment!

My skin on the other hand is pretty much the same. I break out on my chin every now and again, but I feel like I look healthy and happy. I haven't noticed dry skin or more wrinkles or anything. But I also eat foods with oils and such that improve skin quality. I was worried right after surgery because I was on liquids and a low low calorie diet with ZERO fat intake. It's true what they say that healthy fats are essential! But overall I'd give the skin change rating a 0. Hair, maybe a 5.

Here is me at work yesterday:

Granted, my hair is curled and my makeup is done, but it is pretty similar to the "before"....just a little thinner on the hair side, and my hairstylist commented that the hairs are actually finer than before. Weird.

Summing this up is kind of strange because I started with beauty on the inside being more important but yet ending with exterior info. Perhaps the answer is it's great to look beautiful but even more important to FEEL beautiful! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weighing Life's Choices

Greetings everyone! It has been a crazy few weeks since the grand fete known as my wedding, and in the midst of it all, I somehow located the disk with all of my surgery pictures. Since I started this blogging business I had been meaning to post them, but of course they just got lost in the shuffle. August 28 marks 8 months since I had VSG surgery, and I don't know what I will weigh in at on that particular date, but this morning I weighed 154.0 lbs. That is a 91lb weightloss to date! WOW.

The reason that I entitled this post "Weighing Life's Choices" is because I feel like every way I turn, there is a decision to be made. Some are trivial, like "what should I eat for lunch?", and others are more serious like "Do we wait to vaccinate Benjamin because we don't have health insurance at the moment?". Some are fun, like "where should we go on our honeymoon?!" and others suck, like "We only have $100 which bills are MUST pays and which are SHOULD pays?". Yeah, sometimes being an adult SUCKS!

But the biggest reason I wanted to talk about choices is because I feel like the 2 most significant things in my life most recently have been conscious choices of mine.... my surgery, and my wedding.

I spent hours upon hours planning the wedding, making decisions, researching, designing, etc. And as everyone knows, weddings are DARN expensive! I am blessed enough to be involved with the events industry so we paid a fraction of what Joe Schmoe mightve paid for the exact same set up, but none the less, it was a LOT of money (if we weren't poor before, we are now!). Throw in a few job losses, changes, etc, and finances became a huge stress on our life.

There came a point where I was venting to a friend about all of this, and she said to me "maybe you just cut your losses before you sink even MORE money into it." I gave that some good hard thought. Afterall, I would have been ok eloping at city hall... not that it's bad or anything... I just knew that I'd wanted a real wedding my entire life, and the first go round was a civil ceremony... I wasn't planning on a husband #3, and if I did get married a 3rd time I don't think it would be received as a big to-do by family and friends. But, the stress was getting to me so I sat Roger down and asked him what he thought.

My husband is one of those people who bugs me with his "knowledge" of anything and everything (even when it's just him THINKING he has knowledge) but every now and again he pulls out all of the stops with his brilliance! He said: "I'd rather regret having a wedding than not having one. We can't decide to go back and do this if we go get married in the courthouse." This pearl of wisdom got me through and I agreed with Roger 100%.

Well ladies and gents, based on the look on my face in the picture below... do you think I regret having the elaborate wedding that I did????

That's right. Absolutely not! I am SO SO SO SO glad that we had a wedding that we loved, that we felt gave our guests an opportunity to share in our joy and love, and was a testament to our own personal style. I wanted our wedding to feel like a really fancy dinner party with all of our closest family and friends, and in the end, that is EXACTLY what it was! We got so much positive feedback, and we were thrilled with it ourselves... it just felt right. And in a way it felt like our relationship was validated finally. I love legitimately calling Roger my husband, and seeing a ring on his finger. And I love even more that every couple days something happens and he reminds me that we are in it for the long haul, and that he loves me indefinitely. It's amazing. So for this I say: Objective achieved!

Now with all of this, comes the drama that weddings bring, and while I won't get into that directly, just know that I have a new sense of what "true friendship" really is. A wedding is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime event. Some invitees who made the list (which was under 60 people, so if I sent one I meant it sincerely) didn't feel like our wedding was high enough up on their social calendars for whatever reason. I won't lie... that hurt. Not because they couldn't make it, but because they CHOSE not to make it. Big difference! And of course there were others who couldn't make it, but made it a point to apologize and explain why and share in our joy from afar. Like I said... it's a whole nother issue, but I guess this all relates back to choices in life. They chose not to come! haha

So aside from choosing to marry my darling husband, the very best choice I have made to date was to get VSG surgery. December 28, 2010 was the date, and despite being in debt because of it, despite having some people disapprove of my choice, It was THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE!!!! Here's me, on the big day, walking to the operating room. Looking at this picture, I think I look pregnant.....seriously. But I guess that's what 245lbs on a 5'4" woman will do for ya. Notice my ENORMOUS smile! And my mom smiled for the pic, but she was very nervous about the surgery.

The surgery was supposed to last just under 2 hours, but the surgeon found a complication that needed to be repaired, so I think that I was in the OR for about 3 hours total. I don't know, I was under general anaesthesia! But apparently whatever painkillers I was on were working well because I had enough cheer to smile in the recovery room!

I also have a phobia of anything gory or bloody or disgusting.... so I was afraid to look at my wounds. I literally would close my eyes or turn away when the nurses came by to look. Finally Roger wanted to see them the next morning and so I lifted my gown. He isn't good with gross medical things either so I expected an "Ewww" and barfy face reaction but he insisted that they really were not bad! I still wouldn't look, but asked him to take a photo for photojournalistic purposes! For the day after surgery, I'd say these incisions are down right amazing!
(stretch marks courtesy of Mr. Benjamin Barr 9lbs 5oz and excess amniotic fluid!)

I ended up staying in the hospital an extra day because I just could not get down as much liquid as they wanted me to. Ice chips were about the only appealing thing to me, which obviously is zero nutrition content. They had protein shakes that were SO sweet... blech. I don't drink sweet things other than diet soda so to ask me to drink a pineapple flavored thick drink when I can barely keep down water... yeah that was rough!

But eventually I got down enough and peed enough for them to clear my exit..... here I am on my way out!

The past almost 8 months have been challenging phsyically and emotionally. For me, the hardest part has been learning my limits. There was a point where I was vomiting pretty much every day, sometimes more than once. I wanted to eat, and I wanted to eat quickly, which, any sleeved patient will tell you is not gonna work! Eventually I learned the "warning" signs of being full, and I am not able to tell in advance when I need to close my mouth, put down the fork or spoon or glass, and just not consume. It's sort of empowering when I think about it!

The other thing has been subtracting some of my foods entirely from my diet. There are 3 things I stay away from: Broccoli, spicy tuna rolls, and Chicken nuggets. Broccoli is just entirely too gassy I think.... every time I eat it, I get sick. Spicy tuna rolls.... up they come! And chicken nuggets feel like a brick in my chest. And yes I know they are not a good food choice, but just because I had surgery doesn't mean I am not normal!

I think that is one of the biggest misconceptions from outsiders.... that once you have weightloss surgery you will have the willpower to stick to plan 100% of the time and let me tell you, that is all of our goals, however it just is not realistic! The beauty of surgery however, is that when you do get off track, your body basically tells you no. No you cannot eat that amount, no you cannot eat that food, no you are not allowed to mistreat me this way! It's amazing really.

I do try to make healthy choices, I try to choose foods that are highest in protein, I try to get in my veggies, limit my fruits, drink water, etc. My vice is still diet soda which is bad, and NOT recommended by my surgeon, but I could have worse vices like ice cream or fried chicken. Thankfully my body put the kibosh on both of those because extremely fatty sweets cause me to have a weird spike in blood sugar and I get REALLY hot and lethargic. Not like "yawn I'm tired" but more like "Omg I am going to pass out on this table, this is kind of scary". And then I get the runs. NOT a good time! And then with the fried food it just sits like a lump in my chest and I have to wait a considerable amount of time for it to pass. Plus it just gives me a stomach ache.

So, thank you body for forcing me to make better choices than most I have made in the past!

Emotionally the past months have been interesting to say the least. There have been ups and downs and all arounds. Extreme joys, extreme sorrows. But overall I would say that things are looking good. I feel like a new woman. I look, act, and dress like a new woman. I feel young again! I know that sounds weird, but I have always been an old soul, and dressed slightly "mature" for my age, but I am starting to wonder if it was just becasue I couldn't fit in all the cute juniors stuff??? I don't know but I am thoroughly enjoying shopping in the middle of the racks rather than on the "heavy" ends. My boobs and butt have withstood this 91lb weightloss incredibly well. I went from a 36DD to a 36C. Not too shabby!!! And this C rating is just a recent development. I'm just glad to have something on top, something on the bottom, and not a lot going on in between! lol.

When I look at these before surgery pictures I find them hard to recognize. I truly cannot believe that I was that big. I mean, I felt fat, I felt ugly, I felt unhappy. But I was never "that bad" in my mind I guess..... I mean, I was. But I wasn't. Hard to explain I suppose. And as the weight came off, my self esteem has skyrocketed. I truly feel beautiful now. I am proud of myself. I am proud of my journey. I am also proud to say that YES I did have weightloss surgery.

That's another thing.... I am a very honest person. Sometimes too open and honest. But I am SO glad that I decided to share this with pretty much the entire world. And here's why: Weightloss surgery shouldn't be taboo. It should not be judged. It is a tool that God and medical science has given us to USE. And I am a living breathing example of all of the wonderful things it can do for a person. I cannot explain how amazing it is to look how I never thought I could, to accomplish tasks I didn't know I could, and to feel NORMAL!

I realize this post has also gotten long, but I hope that the pictures have helped enhance your reading pleasure. And so, I leave you with "Then v. Now" Alexis @ 245lbs day of surgery size 18/20 v. Alexis on Tuesday at 155lbs size 8/10.

(to anyone who said to me "you're not THAT big".... ummm yes I was!)

(woohoo my stomach is flat, I have 1 chin, and I have kneecaps!)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Get the Party Started

Whew, these blog posts end up longer than I anticipate but I feel like I want to preserve my memories so I need to include every little thought and detail that was important to me at the time.... so bear with me while I talk about the reception!

When Roger and I first got "engaged" (I put parentheses because it was more like decided like 2 adults who have 2 kids and already live together than an actual proposal story), the original intention was to elope in Hawaii. I had vacationed there the year prior and absolutely fell in love with the island! I pictured us lounging in the sun and saying our vows on a beach under a palm tree. And it just so happened that my aunt Bev was planning to take Benji to Chicago for a week during the first week in July.... so if we got married then, we would only need a sitter for Aidan! Brilliant, right?

Yeah not so right. I went to a travel agent and discovered that flights and hotel for that week would be around $4k. And then the "wedding" that I wanted, another $2k, thanks to photography and all of the other stuff like dress, hair, flowers, etc. Roger's original idea was to elope, but then have a reception back home. Eloping for $6k plus paying for a reception for our family and friends here sounded really expensive to me. And so I decided that if we were going to have a reception anyway, we might as well just get married here! Plus, when truly thinking about how we got to where we are today, so many experiences include our family and friends.... it would be nice for them to get to see us get married. Roger agreed.

And so began our quest for a venue. I immediately called Sandy, a friend of mine through NACE (Natl Assn of Catering Execs) who worked at a golf course out in Vallejo (about 50 miles outside of SF). She was able to get me a KILLER deal, but it wasn't the venue of my dreams, the menu of my dreams (in her defense she was just trying to keep it at my original price point), the ceremony site of my dreams... it just wasn't it. I probably would have compromised and had it there, but once I saw the ceremony site, I knew it was NOT the place. Plus, Vallejo is FAR for 99% of our guests. So that sucks.

We looked around at a few other places in the East Bay, almost settling on one in Berkeley, when I went to a NACE board meeting and a few people suggested that I talk to the Catering Manager at the Hotel Adagio, in downtown SF. My immediate response was "We can't afford a wedding in downtown SF... not with everything we want!". But I went to talk to Krystal and two things happened. The first was that I fell in love with the hotel the minute I saw the event space. The second was that she HOOKED US UP. I cannot even tell you how amazing the deal she gave to us was. Roger happened to call me a few minutes after I had walked in, and my words to him were "This is it!!! You will absolutely love it!". That weekend we went by to see it again and I was right! He loved it!!!!

The reasons we fell in love with the Adagio are a) location .. it is in the HEART of San Francisco b) decor.. it is modern, yet has elements of traditional San Fran like a gorgeous enormous fireplace and handpainted wood ceilings c) the price we were offered d) the AMAZING terrace attached to the event space that we could use and that overlooks downtown SF... GORGEOUS and e) it was perfect size for an intimate wedding like we wanted ours to be!

Well, nothing is perfect. Krystal had given her notice at the hotel before I booked with her. I knew that. But I thought I'd get to sign the contract before she left!!!! Unfortunately that was not the case, and I was left wonderign what had happened. So the Sr. Sales Manager calls me, introduces herself, and tells me that she will honor what Krystal and I had discussed (YES!) and even sweetens the deal by lowering the corkage a bit and also offering a deeply discounted rate on the suite the night before the wedding. We got it free for the night of the wedding! Score!!!! Thankfully we firmed that up and it was signed before SHE left the hotel. Ay ya yay!

As someone in the events and hospitality sales industry, I am well aware of the fact that sales people are a revolving door more often than not, so that didn't scare me too much. Also, I am aware that detailing an event takes just a few hours generally speaking and that a tasting can be done any time. But when we were just a month out and there was no catering manager to contact, THAT is when I started freaking out! I requested to speak to the chef to come up with a custom menu. Roger and I are not the most adventurous "foodies" per se, but we are definitely picky and have high standards!

We met with the chef to lay out some ideas and in Roger's words "they should not have him meeting with clients". He is a super nice guy, but he let us run the show, he didn't really make suggestions, it was just kind of "sure, I can make that". Which is great... but lacks creativity. He told me he would email me with what we had discussed and we could set up a time to do a tasting from there.

When I got that email, I noticed that it was copied to someone with the last name "Sainz". That isn't exactly a popular last name. And the first initial was "A". Hmmm. I know an A Sainz. In fact I have known him since high school. And I vaguely remember talking to him at a bar one night and him mentioning that he worked in hotels (that conversation is blurry... shocking LOL). Could it be my friend from HS?!!!! Yes it sure could!!! My friend Alfredo started as the Catering Manager of the Adagio right before our wedding. And looking back, we were so blessed for this turn of events!

Alfredo was my knight in shining armor. Having never worked with him on a professional level (think football player, partier, etc in HS) it was interesting to see how he would act. I was highly impressed. He knew his sh--t. He was professional, detailed, VERY diplomatic and his goal was quite obviously for us to walk away happy. He truly went above and beyond. In addition, we (and about 75% of our guests) can thank HIM for the beef menu option being filet mignon. The chef was trying to give us short ribs (EW).

So... back to the story at hand. After the ceremony my feet hurt like a mother. I was able to change into my flip flops, dump the heels in our suite (which by the way is attached to the terrace which is attached to the cocktail room, which is attached to the dinner space!), and head into the cocktail area to say hi to all of the friends and family who were already getting down with the hors d'ouvres! I was handed a glass of champagne, and a delcious bruschetta. YUM!

Every single guest commented on my dress and how beautiful I looked. Once a fat girl, always a fat girl in your head.... it felt amazing to hear that.... I am not used to it at all. My friend's husband told me that I rank on his top 3 of "most beautiful brides". Aww! So sweet. I told him that I understand...his wifey had to be #1. I stopped to take pictures with people who "wanted to send the pic to xyz" via iphone. It was just awesome.

I had requested for the hotel to keep the doors to the dinner space closed until our guests would be seated for the meal. What this also did was a) keep the space perfect until that time and b) let me make sure it WAS indeed perfect before they could walk in. I walked into the dining room and immediately said "where are the bread and butter plates?! why are they not on the table?!". Bridezilla pops out so unexpectedly sometimes :P Alfredo assured me they would indeed be put on the tables. And they were!

I had decided to do assigned seating, right down to which chair each person would be sitting in. The reasons for this were a) there was absolutely no space to display name escort cards. b) there was absolutely no space for people to be dilly dallying about where they were going to sit and c) I knew which guests who didn't already know each other would connect and mix well together. Case in point: my coworker Dave and his wife attended the wedding. He has never met any of my family or friends other than the kids and Roger. But, I purposely sat him next to my friend Jenn's husband Tim. I knew that their personalities (warm, outgoing, friendly, jokesters) would mesh well. And I was right! Dave commented the other day on how much he enjoyed talking to Tim. See! I should be a matchmaker! :P

My decision worked out really well as far as the seating goes, I must say. Everyone sat down, and we made our "grand entrance" which was really Alfredo being kind enough to announce us as we walked in to dinner. But they caught it on video.. that's what is important, right?! I felt a little silly putting my bouquet in the air and being all excited, but sometimes you just gotta toot your own horn : P

I also spoke a few words of gratitude to thank everyone for coming before we sat down. Shortly thereafter the speeches began. My mom got up first and said a pretty generic speech. Then my cousin Cara, my maid of honor spoke. I was a bit worried because she didn't have any note cards or anything of that nature with her, but she claimed she had it under control. She was right. Her speech was personal, heartfelt, and she shared something with me that I never knew. We are only 6 months apart in age (I am older by a smidge) but she has always looked up to me. I never knew that.... in fact it's pretty amazing what came out of ALL of the rest of the speeches. Eric, the best man spoke next. His speech was pretty traditional. Started with some line about how the best way to give a speech is "stand up, speak up, and shut up". Chuckle chuckle. There were a few more of those kinds of jokes, an anecdote about Roger and his antics (I think he said "before there was "Punk'd" there was "Rog'd") because they'd pull pranks on people left and right, and then he spoke some words about love and marriage. A+ for preparation and effort!.

I thought that after Eric spoke the speeches would be over. I mean, we hadn't asked anyone else to speak. But surprisingly enough, we had lots of volunteers! Roger's sisters Becky and Debbie got up and spoke, talking about how much they love him and how glad they are that he is happy. And then all of the sudden out of nowhere, my dad spoke. My dad is very quiet, very unassuming, very under the radar for most occasions. His speech was so heartfelt and so kind, we all were crying. To top it off, my little brother Henry ALSO said a speech which again, was so mature and so sweet for a 14 year old.... cried again. Luke on the other hand just said "what he said" and pointed to Henry. Turd.

After Roger heard these speeches, he felt compelled to get up and say a few words. He thanked everyone for coming, he thanked me for waiting for 5 years for him to marry me, he thanked my parents for all of their help with the kids, and for feeding us dinner 65% of each week night :P, he thanked my aunt & her husband (the kids' godparents) for all of their help with the kids. But one thing he did which no one was expecting, was he spoke about my dad. He spoke about how he is the least assuming person, how his presence speaks more than words, and how he reminds him of his own dad who passed away over a decade ago. And he started crying! Ugh, tear jerker. It was the sweetest thing ever.

After all those emotional toasts, we were ready to EAT. But for whatever reason, dinner service was REALLY SLOW. Like really really slow. Not for our table... the hotel followed the "feed the bride and groom first" rule, which as the bride I didn't like, because I could see our guests waiting and waiting.. and waiting for their food! So that was bad. At one point I went in the back and saw them plating the salads. Immediately I said "That does NOT look like what we tasted. If it tastes good, we're ok. If not, we have a problem". The reason being: When we tasted the salad, the chef had used grape tomatoes which are easy to eat, and pretty. For the salads they served he used BIG ass roma tomato slices. I know that had he served that to us at the tasting, Roger would have ixnayed it to begin with. But alas, it tasted good.

Another issue was the kids table. I had the bright idea for them to pop up a standard table in the cocktail area for the kids. It was connected to the main space so we could see them, but they were separate and wouldn't destroy nice linens, chairs, or decor. In the end that was a great decision. However I should have specified that they needed to eat ASAP after we sat down. The poor kids were waiting FOREVER. I had to ask a server to bring them bread because they were starving. In the end they did like their meals, and according to my friend Yvette, their chicken was really good!

After the salad, we had given our guests the option of beef or chicken. This was indicated on the place cards with a bridge for the beef, and a flower for chicken. This was also indicated per my instruction on the banquet event order. Well imagine my face when a server asked me what I would like to eat, beef or chicken. Ugh. Do these people not read?! Apparently they do not because later on I saw the BEO posted in the back hall and in BIG BOLD letters: bridge = beef, flower = chicken. So annoying. But, depsite that, the food was EXCELLENT!!!! We have received more than 2 handfuls of praise on how delicious dinner was. And it really was. It was filet w/ mashed potatoes and green beans cooked PERFECTLY. Or chicken w/ isreali cous cous & green beans. Yum! We also had a dessert course of chocolate covered strawberries.. omg delicious.

Between the salad and dinner courses we had arranged to show a "fusion" video of our engagement photo shoot. I had no idea what to expect because it had been kept a surprise, even for us. Also, I am not sure that I shared this, but Roger and I got into a HUGE argument the day of our engagement shoot so I was surpised that we had ANY good pictures at all. Also when being asked why you want to marry someone after a knock down drag out argument... it's hard to be chipper about your feelings! And FYI that was a question that was asked of us! In the end, the audio was used without the video because according to Barbara our facial expressions didn't match the kind words coming out of our mouths : P The cool thing however, was that we were separate when answering the questions so I knew what I had said, but not what Roger had said. Well, it turns out we said the same thing!! See, meant to be! lol. When asked when we knew we were in love with the other person we both said "at Harding Park". Friendship can most definitely turn into love.

After dinner I was concerned that people would be bored because we didn't have dancing but my mother took care of that with her "speeches". Apparently her initial speech was just a prelude to her potential speeches after a few martinis! It was great though.... lightened the mood, had everyone laughing, and was definitely entertaining! My favorite line was "Should I stop?! He's telling me to stop (referring to my brother Luke)"... and then someone shouts "yes, stop!" and my mom's response: "I could stop. Or I could go....Or I could stop, or I could go...." LOL! Oh Janet, what are we gonna do with you?!

People started leaving around 10pm, which for a reception without dancing, is pretty good in my opinion. I sincerely hope that everyone had as good a time as we did. We tried to make it to each and every table, chat with all of our guests etc. The reception had the exact look and feel we were hoping for... a very chic and upscale dinner party among our closest friends. When people would ask me "What is the "theme" of your wedding?" my response evolved into "Old San Francisco Glamour". Or as I told my coworkers "Grandma meets modern", which is pretty much how I describe my own personal sense of style. I am pretty traditional in general, but then you get this pop of modernity every now and again. I love classics but also love innovation.

And so, the happiest day of our lives was celebrated with 58 of our closest family and friends. So I guess that only leaves one question... was it worth it?! The stress, the money, the time, the energy... there was a lot of woe is me involved!

You shall find out in my next post what my final verdict on having a wedding after 5 years together and 2 kids later... should we have just eloped as we initially planned???

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Goin to the Chapel! And yes, we did get married!!

Whew, so much to say yet again about the ceremony and reception! First let me reveal a little secret. I put a start time of 3:30pm on the invitations, but knew that it really did not start until 4pm. Why? Because my family is late for everything, and also with traffic and San Francisco parking, I knew our guests would need ample time to arrive. I am glad that I did this because as I arrived I saw my Grandma being dropped off and a few guests hustling into the church!

We chose to get married at the 1st Congregational Church of San Francisco. My good friend and former coworker Aimee is the "controller" there and when I was complaining to her about not having a ceremony venue, she suggested that I check her church out. Roger was skeptical because we looked online and the pictures were less than enticing, and in addition the exterior doesn't look like a church at all. But, when we visited we walked in and both said "It's perfect!". The location is primo because it is just half a mile to the hotel, so very few people could get lost or stuck in traffic between the ceremony and reception. Also, just a side note, my mom was very upset that we were not getting married in the Catholic church. Those Catholic's are greedy, I tell ya! I called around and one had a $1600 fee just to use the church, never mind that a) you had to book at least 6 months out to take their pre-marriage classes and b) you had to use ALL of their vendors for floral, music, etc. All of which were, I am sure, additional fees. YIKES!!!! So we were thrilled with the $300 fee to use the church which INCLUDED the officiant and music!!!! (Thanks again Aimee!)

So, we get to the church and I was really weird about not wanting anyone to see me before I made my grand entrance. My dad greeted me and told me how beautiful I looked, and then we all lined up to head on in! I waited about halfway down the stairs because again, I wanted the big reveal to be a surprise!

I had a hard time choosing music for the ceremony. I liked too many songs, and wanted to also be creative and different, but classic at the same time. Weird to over think this one I know. But after keeping Roger up until 2am one night listening to You Tube videos of piano music, I brought up the issue at work, and my 2 lovely coworkers Kelly & Jennifer helped me narrow down my choices. I knew that Pachelbel's Canon in D HAD TO be included somewhere. I just didn't know if I wanted my girls to walk into it, or me myself. If I didn't walk into it myself, then what the heck was I going to walk in to??? For some reason "here comes the bride" just wasn't sitting right with me.

In the end, I chose Edelweiss (from the Sound of Music) for my mom and Roger's sisters to walk in to. I chose it because it is a beautiful song, I love that movie, and my Grandma is German.. I knew she would cry! I chose Canon in D for the bridesmaids, flower girls, etc. And I chose Ave Maria to walk into myself. At first it sounded funeral-ish to me but at work I happened to click on a different You Tube of it that was beautiful. Plus it is special in our family... they play it at special church ceremonies (my grandfather's funeral) and I know it is a special song for my mom. So sold on that one! That left what we walked out to. Kelly, my coworker told me about how her SIL chose a song by Colbie Callait called "i Do". Super cute, but way too pop for Roger. BUT she also sings the song from The Little Mermaid called "Kiss the Girl". It was SO cute, and I had visions of us walking down the aisle and him stopping to kiss me! Ok so maybe that was a little dramatic, but in the end, it was the song I chose for the recessional. At the rehearsal my mom insisted that we use the pianist for it, rather than an Ipod. Sorry Colbie Callait!

And so, the ceremony started. The following pics are from our guests' iphones (thanks folks!) so enjoy!

Apparently Kate was telling Aidan that she better shape up and get walking! SO CUTE!

And here is Benjamin, our ringbearer, who refused to hold the pillow. To be honest I was shocked to even see him in a tuxedo because I know that when we went to try on the men's tuxes he wanted NOTHING to do with them...we couldn't even get him to try on the jacket, let alone put on a bow tie!!! We had contemplated having him pulled up the aisle in a wagon (with the license plate RINGBRR.. so cute!) but the consensus was to have Luke walk him up the aisle. Thankfully they made it to their seats but Benjamin had the same sour expression he always does when he is NOT happy about something!!! lol I love my son... most expressive face in the world!

And so the real deal began. It was strange seeing all of the faces looking at me. But I was so glad that everyone was there cheering us on! I remember Ruth, the officiant saying a somewhat LONG homily (sorry, but it was!), but the most important thing that I remember was her speaking about how we have worked hard at our relationship, and we know not to go into this marriage with rose colored glasses. I second that 10x over!

Somewhere during her long speech, 2 things happened. The first was Benjamin having a hissy fit, saying "MAMA! MAMA!" and coming up to us while tugging on his jacket. Thankfully it was just the jacket that seemed to be the issue so we paused, helped him take off the coat, and then continued on. The second thing was that I remember looking at the altar and thinking "WHY THE HELL ARE THE CANDLES NOT LIT?!!!!!!" We had talked about that during the rehearsal and I was not pleased! But I got over it quickly!

We had Henry, my little brother, read a verse from Chapter 4 of Ecclesiastes about how 2 are better than 1, and how with 2 you can conquer anything. Again, I wanted the bible reading to be different than the simple seasons of love one, and I found the Ecclesiastes one online and loved it. Then we had the affirmation of the community, and then my bridesmaid Becky read a poem that I wrote for Roger.

I had done a lot of thinking in the weeks preceding our wedding. I had likened our relationship to a marathon... you have to pace yourself to succeed! So I knew that I wanted to write a poem for Roger. I also knew that I probably would cry like a baby if I tried to read it in public so I decided that Becky would be a good option for who should read it. She did NOT disappoint! I swear her inflection and voice was absolutely PERFECT. I cried (of course) and so did Roger. It was beautiful!

The last reading was called the Marriage Blessing, and my aunt Bev read it for us. She has been a wonderful friend and confidant to the both of us so I thought it fitting that she speak of advice and blessings for our marriage.

Here we are saying our vows! One unique thing that I wanted included was a statement about my engagement ring. It basically said that while a wedding ring is a never ending symbol of love, and engagement ring is a symbol of promise. So after Roger placed my wedding ring on my finger, he was told to place the engagement ring on top of it to take that promise and intent to protect the covenant that we had just made. It was beautiful.

In the end, it was a beautiful, personal, intimate ceremony. Roger and I looked right into each other's eyes and didn't flinch when promising to love each other as man and wife forever. I will admit, forever is a somewhat scary word, but I think we handled it well! Then it was time to kiss and become Mr & Mrs. Barr! According to my coworker Dave he thought it was hilarious when the pastor said "you may now kiss the bride" because apparently I just grabbed Roger's face and planted one on him! Sorry, I was excited!!! lol. Plus we had practiced "the dip" per his idea and during the ceremony I had to somehow communicate to him that there would be no dippage at the end of the ceremony. He got it, but he is super conservative, especially in front of people, so I had to take matters into my own hands!

And as you can see in this picture, when Kiss the Girl started strumming, and we walked out as man and wife, I was THRILLED!

Now after the ceremony, it worked out that we sort of formed a "receiving line" in the lobby area. I was glad for this because I had read about receiving lines and didn't think the sidewalk on Polk St. made a good location to greet our guests and say thanks for coming. My only complaint was that it was hot as heck in the upstairs area so everyone was complaining about the heat! Oh well.

After the majority of the guests headed out, we decided to take some formal, family pics in the church. Lord help me, this was probably the low point of my day. The kids were NOT cooperating. Aidan was having a fit because her butterfly fell out of her hair and she couldn't find it so she wanted my bouquet (my blue butterfly was my "something blue") and Benjamin wanted ZERO to do with taking pictures... in fact he wanted to be held by us. It was a NIGHTMARE. Thankfully we were able to wrap it up relatively quickly, but my coworker Dave's wife Tracie sent me this picture the day after the wedding.....

Gee do I look pissed off or anything???!!! lol Cause I was! I just wanted to finish and get the heck outta there!

In the end because the bridal party had squished in a taxi to get there (which only cost $5 might I add!) we split up and Roger and I ended up riding to the hotel with my parents and brothers. Free transport beats a limo, any day! Even our wedding day :P

I was so excited to see what had become of our cocktail room and terrace and the banquet space.... and I wanted to see if people were enjoying the appetizers. I was also excited to get the hell out of my shoes! With dress #4 I was able to wear my original wedding shoes which were very pretty but VERY tall! My feet were KILLING. Thankfully I had randomly selected to bring platform flip flops on Friday, and because I didn't plan to take off my shoes during the reception, these worked out perfectly!

And so, with the conclusion of my ceremony post, I leave you with the poem I wrote to Roger for our wedding day:

The Marathon

by Alexis Barr :)

Our love is like a marathon
Excitement on the starting line
Anticipation of a dream come true

And with each step a reality
As we take in our surroundings
Plan our course ahead

We soon realize that the journey
Will put our resolve to the test
And so we push on

As we stretch our legs
We learn a rhythm
And quickly set a pace

To learn our strengths and weaknesses
To test our endurance
To challenge us to continue

For when the road becomes steep and rocky
And our legs become tired
Our souls become weary

We must remember why it was
We embarked on our journey
Remember the goal we set out to achieve
And it will renew our spirit

Love is not always easy
But it endures, and it challenges us
Because our journey
will never be as expected

No matter what obstacles we face
Through rain and sunshine
Through pains and blisters
Through tears of sorrow and joy

Our love will always
look to the finish line
And we will always
be reminded of the road
that got us here.

I have always loved you
from the excitement of the beginning
through the blind curves
and the amazing vistas.

I will love you forever

As I look forward at the road ahead
And backwards at the path behind
I thank you

For all of the lessons
The words of encouragement
The problem solving
And the patience to stand by me

But most importantly
I thank you for not giving up
And for loving me and our children

Because in our marathon
Your determination
Has shown me
That our love will endure
the test of time.

As we stand here today
At perhaps the most Significant
mile marker on our course

I realize that
My love for you
continues to grow
And I look forward
To facing what comes
beside you.

With your love and support
I can accomplish anything
WE can accomplish anything

I will love you forever
Because my love for you
Has no finish line.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Princess for a Day

Well, the wedding has come and gone, and I have to say, it was INCREDIBLE! I cannot express in words how wonderful and special it was for us, and also how much love there was in the air! There were relationships formed and strengthened that day and we are so incredibly blessed to have such amazing family and friends!

An so... a recap of literally the happiest day of my life!

Friday night we had our rehearsal and it went pretty well. I wasn't nervous, and I don't think Roger was too nervous... he did well practicing his vows. My dad was joking around a lot, and my aunt Bev was snapping away with the camera (thanks!!) as requested. Earlier that day I had been running around like a crazy person buying last minute items, getting my nails done, checking into the hotel, etc. But alls well that ends well, because by around 9pm or so there wasn't too too much to be done! My bridesmaid Becky ended up having a sleepover with Aidan and myself which was really nice. It was good to have someone to talk to besides my lovely 3 year old, and Becky is one of the most calm, positive people I have ever met.

Around midnight I started getting nervous. Weird, I know. I have been with Roger for over 5 years now, and although it is like we were already married, we weren't. Was I making the right decision?? I couldn't imagine my life without him, I love him... but eeks, marriage is a legally binding agreement! Just as I was wishing I had my leftover muscle relaxers from surgery, I fell asleep.

When I woke up, it was the wedding day and there was so much to be done on our tight schedule!!! Becky was kind enough to fetch me my morning Starbucks latte and take little Missy with her so I could take a shower and get dressed in peace. When they got back Aidan decided to not eat the bagel she had requested and then threw a fit because I told her that if she didn't eat her bagel she couldn't have her juice. Becky tried negotiations which were an epic FAIL. Stress level = 4ish. We had to hurry up and get across town so that my beautification could begin!

The downside of the beauty shop being across town is just that... it's across town. The upside: it is right by my parents' house! So, I was able to drop Aidan off with my dad and brothers while I got my hair done. Sidetrack a little: my dad is not my dad, he is my stepdad. But he has been more of a dad to me than my real dad. So, I skip the step and call him dad. He's earned it! Other side note: I have 2 brothers who are teen/preteen. Pain in the ass, right? Nope, not right. They are the two most respectful, well behaved, loving brothers I could ever ask for. So for whatever reason, whenever we go over to hang out with them, I leave feeling so much better! After I dropped Aidan off, stress level was down to a 1-2. Thanks guys! xoxo

I arrived at the beauty salon only to find my mother getting her hair blown out and looking like a british lady (kinda reminded me of that Susan Boyle or whatever her name is... the singer lady!). She looked good though and Sandra, our family hairdresser was kind enough to spruce her up with some foundation and makeup. More on that later. But of course, my mom Janet, started her appointment later than arranged and thus we were about 20 minutes behind schedule. Stress level - back up to 4. But I was confident Sandra could make up some time!!! haha Also, at that time I got a text message from Roger. It said how much he loved me and how excited he was to be marrying me. Roger is not very emotional most of the time so to get that text just put a little happy cloud in my mind. It felt good to know he was excited as I was!

I had had a practice hair run, which I showed you all in my last post, but with my new dress, I knew I wanted something close to what we had agreed on (a low chignon) but a little more exciting. The most important thing to me was having my hair OFF MY FACE. No wispies, no swoop, nada. Just a clean, elegant look. I had asked my mom to raid my grandmother's old jewelry and she definitely delivered!!! She showed up with a gorgeous rhinestone brooch that was PERFECT as my hair adornment. So with that and Sandra's hair skills, I wound up looking amazing....just a little tired without any makeup!

The agreement with my mom was that she'd get her hair done, get home and packed up with her stuff, and then when I was done, Becky and I would swing by and pick up her and Aidan to take back to the hotel for getting ready pics. Of course, she was lagging, and that's when Bridezilla finally reared her ugly head. Sorry MOM! Stress level = 7ish.

As it turns out my makeup artist Jennifer was running late as well, so ironically her tardiness made me feel better about my own! Let me just tell you that having her as my makeup artist was one of the best decisions I made for this wedding. I met Jennifer in 1st grade.... fast forward to now... we knew each other as aquaintances with the passing of time, but thanks to the advent of Facebook I knew that she was a MAC makeup consultant, so after emailing her we arranged a trial. It was awesome! My only complaint was that I got oily really quickly so she was kind enough to do a SECOND trial for me. God Bless her. And of course day of, she definitely delivered!!!! AND she even fixed my mom's makeup from that morning so that she looked perfect. So THANK YOU Jenn!!! YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!

Having my mom there for getting ready pics was important to me. It is tradition afterall. Plus it controlled her arrival time for the ceremony ; ) But really what it ended up doing most was having helping hands with Aidan and Kate. Again, a thank goodness! Not so much for Kate, but for my darling demon child.... Aidan is a handful! Thankfully she loves her grandma and my mom was able to somewhat control her while I started the getting ready process. The only thing was that I didn't know that the photographers were all taking pics of Roger and his guys getting ready so that was stressing me out, and Roger had sent Benjamin up to the room because he was getting unruly down in the guys room.... so I had 2 kids raising my blood pressure! Stress level = 8-9.... Bridezilla: IN FULL EFFECT! I think my mom and cousin and Becky and even poor Jenn who redid my eyes because I randomly thought they were not what I wanted, only to say "actually they were good the way they were", and my kids... they ALL deserve a bridezilla apology. Sorry guys, thanks for being patient with me! And kudos to my gorgeous ladies in waiting who didn't even snap back at me when I said that their hair looked like they just got up and said "im gonna be in a wedding".... yeah, bridezilla was DEFINITELY in effect.

Thankfully, before I could strangle anyone, my aunt Bev showed up. We had arranged for her to come to the hotel around noon to give Benji a much needed nap. She was running late, but got there around 12:30... just in the nick of time! But not only did she show up, she came bearing gifts, one of them being a gorgeous tennis bracelet that I decided to wear for the wedding! The other gift was so her.... I opened the card and it basically said that she loved me, and would always be in my corner cheering me on. Then I opened the gift and just about DIED laughing.
It was a book entitled "You're ALL THAT!" Love it!

At that moment, Barbara, my photographer, and her entourage showed up. Just in time to capture the gift exchange and my happy laughter. They also got a few shots of my makeup pretending to still be done, and Barbara also had the idea of doing some "bridal budoir" shots. Va va voom! I happily obliged, bright green granny panties and all ; ) Hopefully she positioned me so that they aren't noticeable, but we had a good laugh. Hey, isn't green good luck?!

After that it was time for my dress.... oh my dress. 4th time is more than the charm! My dress is and was absolutely spectacular! My aunt was wowed, as was everyone else in the room. I felt amazing! Then it was time for veil, jewelry, and then... SHOWTIME! I had decided that it would be best to do our bridal party portraits before the ceremony. I didn't want to be rushed and I love "first look" pictures. Barbara had asked each of us to write a card for the other to give at our meeting place. So, card in hand, we headed to the elevators to get the show on the road!

I remember feeling somewhat nervous, not about getting married anymore, but more about Roger's reaction to me. I know I looked good, but I wanted him to be just absolutely blown away. I went and tapped his shoulder and yup... BLOWN AWAY! He gave me a hug and a kiss and couldn't stop telling me how beautiful my dress was and how gorgeous I looked. He said that he was surprised at the intricate beading, and even the style. He said that he thought I would pick something more classic and plain... certainly not a glamourous mermaid style gown! (one of those things where you wanna go "HEY I HAVE STYLE!" but you're just too happy to even care) He also said that he loved my veil (his vision of veil was "white poofy thing on top of the head) and that he loved me.

We exchanged cards and I was doing fine until I got to the last line of his. Day 140 and I love you just as much as I did on day 1. I turned and asked him if he had really counted and he said that yes he did. The waterworks started! Oh how I love my husband and I love how when it really counts, he always comes through! You might be wondering why the hell day 140 is so significant, so I suppose I should explain. Get ready for some brutally honest admissions.

This past spring Roger and I reached a crossroads in our relationship. I was sick of waiting around for someone who I thought would never commit to me. We were always fighting. I was just done. So I told him I was done. I started talking to a guy friend who I care about, but am really not interested in. I just liked that he is a gentleman, and made me feel special. Roger found this out and immediately went into "I need to get her back mode". We had been down the road before and I swore I would not fall back into the trap. Said guy friend invited me to Vegas for a weekend trip. Roger said if I went, that it would mean the end of us forever. I said if I didn't go it would mean the end of us forever, so either way we were done, and I'd rather just go. Obviously this was a stressful time for us. Well upon my return from Las Vegas I went back to work and that Monday I received a bouquet of flowers with a card. I had received MANY a bouquet since dumping him so I was ready to just say "oh lord not again" but I opened the card and was stopped dead in my tracks.

Roger had been advised by one of the pastors at our church to rent and watch a movie called Fireproof, where a husband really isn't treating his wife as he should so she finally asks for a divorce. It is then that he realizes how much he loves her and his dad gives him a 40 day challenge of loving her as she should be loved, even if she doesn't show any love back. Long story short, he wins her back and they love each other, happily ever after. So, Roger too had apparently started his own 40 day challenge... ironically the day I left for Vegas was day 40. Sad times for RB.

Back to the card. I open the card and it reads "Day 43. I love you". WOW. I take off and go to Vegas with another guy and Roger still loves me and wants to be with me?! That is some heavy stuff right there. It was that card that led us back to each other, and made me really see and understand that although he has a hard time showing it at times, Roger does really love me, even when I am being selfish and hurtful. His wedding band is engraved with those words..."Day 43 forever. I love you".

So, now that you know the WHOLE story, you can see why that card was so special. We hugged, kissed, and were ready to head to Union Square for some awesome photography! This post is getting long, but let's just say that we were essentially famous for about an hour. We had a crowd of about 30-40 tourists standing watching and taking tons of pictures of us. People were honking their horns, yelling "Congrats!" o r "You look amazing!" and one guy even asked me to marry him! I had to let him know that I was already taken ; ) It was such a fun experience. And what made it even better was that normally Roger is pretty conservative with his PDA but he was giving and accepting kisses with pleasure the entire time. It just made me feel so loved and happy.

We came back to the hotel and quickly shared a bridal party champagne toast before heading over to the church... all smooshed up in a taxi cab! Truly a city wedding!

I will continue this later because it has gotten really long.... so... to be continued!