North Georgia

Over the holiday break, I decided to do a little special something for Timmy. This past year, he has traveled on average for work almost 2.5 weeks of every month. That’s a lot of airports, rental cars, losing things in rental cars, contacting rental car company and getting stuff back, ubers, luggage, hotel stays, hotel food, and stuff. Needless to say, by November, he was over it. I was over it. Floyd was very over it.

Traveling that much, I just can’t imagine. Going back and forth to Miami and Atlanta over and over and over again can really wear a person down, and in 2018, not only has travel started back up in high gear again, but he has now been given Alabama and Mississippi (the most shameful states in the Union I must say) to boot. My schedule will also be insane this spring semester, so quality time will be prioritized over most everything.

I wanted to do something special to show him how much I appreciate what he does to provide for us, and really give us a comfortable life through sacrificing time with me and Floyd so I secretly started planning a getaway.

When we lived in Atlanta, there was a bed and breakfast only about 2 hours away in Hiawassee that was beyond adorable. It was also the area that Timmy’s family owned a lake house that contained many happy times and the most sad memory ever for them.

We loved going there. I had never really been in my life and it’s just so beautiful in the North GA mountains. I also loved being able to give Timmy new memories of a town that had given him and his family so much despair and sadness as that was where his father had his accident before passing away nearly 14 years ago. It was healing for him in a way that I wish could be possible for everyone. Since we moved to FL, we haven’t been back up there, and we’ve missed it.

The holidays, year after year in FL, just SUDDENLY happen because we have no seasons, so out of nowhere it’s HalloweenThanksgivingChristmasYearOver. I wanted to experience cold again, and winter, and heavy clothes, and all that crap. Each year we’ve gone home for Xmas, it’s been barely cold enough to wear gloves, which is a real let down over the holidays.

My gift to him was a 3-day, 2-night stay at the Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa. We had been to dinner there once but never stayed, and I always wondered what it would be like to stay in a resort in the mountains. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

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On our way up, we stopped in Helen, GA for a quick bite and a beer. If you’ve never heard of Helen, it might be the most random town in the world. It’s quite literally in the middle of nowhere GA (which is never a good place to be in my opinion), completely German-ized. German architecture, German food, German music, all of it German. It’s kind of crazy yet awesome.

We arrived at the resort on the Wednesday before New Year’s to a nearly empty lodge. It was full of old people (hey, we’re Floridians now so it felt totally normal) and MY GOD WAS IT COLD. I left my heavy coats at my parents’ house since I have zero need for them in FL, and thank the Lord above I did that because my knee length down coat was a savior. Along with the hat and leggings I bought in Helen, I finally felt like winter had arrived for the first time in years.

[BTW, a high of 31 degrees is cold for anyone, so none of this “You think you were cold??? Let me tell you…” nonsense that I know some of you are thinking.]

I had reserved a cabin, which was like having a private hotel room in a cabin. We had a fire place, rocking chairs, and a really pretty view. As soon as we arrived, we got drinks from the bar (a hot chocolate with Bailey’s for me, thank you very much) and watched the sunset behind the mountains. It was just magical.

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the hot chocolate was the star of the show

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IMG_0969.jpgI didn’t do the greatest job planning because we tried to make spa reservations and they were completely booked up which was a bummer. No way in hell was horseback riding going to happen in that cold, so we opted for a 2-mile hike along one of the resort’s trails where Timmy proceeded to take a work call because hey, you can’t totally unplug sometimes in his profession.

If you ever get a chance, go there. It was definitely worth it and for us to experience winter during the holidays (finally), well it’s just another memory to treasure.

♥, VB

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#TheVictimWedding Part 1

I’m in no way going to attempt to tell the story of our wedding week and mini moon in one post. I can’t sit still for that long, and I wouldn’t want to torture you by making you scroll endlessly.

Needless to say, our wedding week was CRAZYTOWN U.S.A. In the months and weeks leading up to our wedding, I really thought I was going to go legitimately crazy from the stress, drama, and fighting. Note to self: next time, fight harder for the things you want in the beginning, especially when you know EXACTLY how things will turn out if you don’t.

For nearly a week straight, I drank Pepto Bismol like water. If you don’t think stress causes your internal organs, namely your stomach and intestines, to go completely berserk, then you clearly have never planned a wedding. Ours had a guest list topping out at 382. Thankfully, only around 280 came, so yeah, there’s that too.

I’m also not very good at keeping surprises, so holding all of it in, the stress, the surprises, the procrastinating, the not fighting-Timmy’s-battles-even-though-I-wanted-to-so-bad stuff, took their toll on my body and mental health. Two days before the wedding, Timmy and I went to dinner where we discussed how in the future, event planning will go one of two ways: either I do everything with little to no input from Timmy OR there is no event.

Seems reasonable, right?

We spent Memorial Day weekend as the calm before the storm. It was us two and Floyd, beaching it, sleeping in, enjoying what we could before we had to pack up and head to Atlanta. It really was glorious.

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We arrived in Atlanta on Tuesday evening after a 7 hour drive. It was a PAIN in the ass to try to remember to bring all the wedding stuff that we had stored in our tiny little apartment. With my checklist in hand, I made sure we packed every last item. However, as soon as Timmy got his hands on one of our marquee letters that had been hanging in our apartment for MONTHS, he immediately broke one of the bulbs at the stem.

Imagine the scene, will you. We’re already leaving 4-5 hours later then planned, Timmy’s to-do list hasn’t gotten any shorter, and he breaks a bulb.

Now imagine my brain exploding.

So after that fun experience, we hit the ground running in Atlanta. My mom and I knocked so many things off the to-do list that weren’t necessarily big things, but small things that were growing by the minute. The poster program had to be printed and backed. Check. We had to drop off all the decorations at our event designer. Check. We had to get a new bulb and back up bulbs from Home Depot for the marquee letters. Check.

It felt like it went on and on. And this doesn’t even include Timmy’s list that he left for the last minute.

We did make time to stop by our friends, Matt and Lindsey’s house to give them a reprieve from a tough year, even if it was only for about an hour. We gifted them a couple’s massage and I watched their son for them so they could get out of the house and reconnect. It was probably the best idea Timmy and I had this entire time. I highly recommend that in the thick of wedding planning that you do something for someone else. It got our minds off of things and helped us focus on what matters: friends and family in our lives.

Thursday night, I had a wonderful night at home hanging out with my family that had come from so far. We danced, drank LOTS of cava, and relaxed before the craziness of the weekend began.

Friday rolled around and I started the day off with a hike up Stone Mountain with 4 of my friends from my bridal party. It was amazing. Getting a good sweat, seeing all of Atlanta, spending some much needed quality time with my friends…it was the best start to our weekend. We even got done faster than expected, so once I got back to my parents’, I decided to watch Harry Potter until the verrrrryy last minute.

Those were the last moments I had to myself for the rest of the weekend.

We headed over to our next door neighbor’s house where our neighbors threw me the best bridal luncheon ever. It was EXACTLY what I wanted and what I needed. The most important people of my life were all there: those I grew up with, the women of my family, my bridal party, my best friends. It was low-key, delicious, and so so so fun to catch up in an intimate setting.

Of course I cried. Who wouldn’t??

Then we headed over to our hotel, the Glenn Hotel, our home base for the weekend. Our friend Mathew scored us a SICK deal on the penthouse, and we’re still amazed at what he was able to do for us. It was HUGE, posh, and completely sexy. It was awesome! We grabbed our shuttle bus with the grooms’ party and headed over to our venue, the Foundry at Puritan Mill for the rehearsal.

That was quite the clusterf**k. Imagine 24 people plus 4 parents plus the engaged couple plus our officiant and music man plus our wedding planner. It was ridiculous. Timmy’s side tended to not shut up the entire time we were up there and it took EVERYTHING I had not to just completely lose my mind at them. With the stress of everything just starting to bubble over, I was reaching my breaking point with the drama and disrespect. But I held it in and made sure we got through it, blow-up free.

See, I’m improving.

I can’t fathom trying to do something like this again, and although I don’t regret our wedding weekend AT ALL, I still wish I had gotten something more intimate, something smaller, something more, for lack of a better word, calm. Some people really did go off the deep-end in the planning of this wedding, and I can’t help but think that if the sheer magnitude and scale of this wedding had been eliminated from the beginning, the drama would have decreased significantly.

Or not at all. Who knows.

All I know is that it was the greatest weekend of our lives. Words don’t exist to describe it at all. But when you make your wedding as personal as we did, the effects are felt and are lasting. Stay tuned for #thevictimwedding rehearsal dinner.

♥, VB

Parties Galore

Do you understand what it feels like to have people throw parties in your honor? It’s like this completely overwhelming mixture of appreciation, love, gratitude, humility, and guilt, wrapped up into 72 hours. That’s what this past weekend was like for us.

If you know me (or have read this blog), you should be well aware by now that I like to plan. This weekend was a planner’s crazed wet dream. From the second we landed in Atlanta Thursday night until we left Sunday evening, I don’t think we got to sit down and chill out for more than 30 minutes at any given time.

Because we only have limited time whenever we come back to Atlanta, we usually have to do double duty with social events. We want to see everyone but time constraints make it hard to prioritize. Not so with this weekend! We had a number of close friends and family ask if they could throw parties in honor of our upcoming wedding, so to save airfare, we requested that they be hosted on the same day. Who needs sleep, right?

Friday, we hit the ground running. Got our marriage license, got my nails done, had a hair and makeup trial while Timmy went to a hotel to check out suites for our wedding weekend, then we had a rehearsal dinner tasting and venue walk-through with the caterer.

So while we planned to come home for a full day on Saturday, it occurred to me if people were going to be in town for these parties, why not try to throw yet another thing in the mix? Since I could be classified as insane, I decided to take on the monumental task of hosting a party at Timmy’s mother’s house on Friday night.

Because Timmy’s first bachelor party did not really go as planned (read: massive drama ensued), I decided to throw him a surprise bachelor party 2.0. My anxiety was at an all-time high trying to plan this party and keep it a surprise from him. Do you know how difficult it is to do that when you live in less than 800 square feet??

For weeks, I had to make sure my phone was on me at all times in case one of his friends texted me. I had covert phone conversations with his mother and texted with his stepfather to ensure that everything would go as planned. It drove me insane to have to depend on other people to get this done, but concessions had to be made as I knew that I would have ZERO time to pick up food, drinks, and a passenger van that I chauffeured to and from Decatur to make sure no one drank and drove.

Barbara and Trey really came through for us on this event, and I could never thank them enough. Towards the last hour or so, Barbara began to crack trying to stall Timmy while I finished setting up at the house. He got so suspicious, I don’t know how Barbara managed not to just give up and tell him! Major props to her though as she used a fantastic stalling technique at the bar they were at before they came home: asking Timmy what the differences are between a Roth and Traditional IRA. Genius.

Once he got home and saw the door closed to the living room, a smile spread on his face, because while he knew something was up, he didn’t know what. And when he walked into the room and saw his friends, he was still so confused! I had to tell him it was his Bachelor Party 2.0 before he realized what was happening. He lit up and the rest is history.

To be honest, this party wasn’t the most incredible production ever. It was nothing fancy, nothing crazy, just an opportunity for him to get together with his best buds for a night of drinking, laughs, and catching up. And it 100% worked. He said later that the bad memories from his first bachelor party were a dim memory compared to his 2nd fiesta.

And all was right in the world.

Saturday was NON STOP. I made it crystal clear to Timmy and his friends that fun could be had, but not so much fun that he couldn’t wake up for our 11 am shower being thrown by Timmy’s neighborhood friends. Sure enough, he woke up slightly hungover but hey, he woke up and made the best of it.

We walked two doors down to the most incredible food spread and warm and welcoming people ever. It was incredible. These people hardly know me and my parents but spent a lot of time making us feel loved and part of the group. It meant so much!

And the gifts! I’m still not over the feeling that registering for gifts is one of the most 1st World things one can do, especially when you’re in your 30s and already own everything you need. And even after registering, we were told 3 separate times that weekend that we hadn’t registered for enough!! CRAZY TALK, I tell you!!

After our first shower ever, we walked out of there on a high immediately followed by a 2 hour nap at Barbara’s. You’ll see that the two gifts I decided to include in the pictures are our favorites only because 1) I have wanted an immersion blender for YEARS, and 2) Timmy and I have now worn our monogrammed robes every night since we got home. Thank you thank you thank you!

Saturday culminated in another party thrown for us by our friends Mathew, his fiance Lucie, Michael and his wife Abigail (who unfortunately couldn’t make it from DC). This was known as the “young people’s party” and we did it up! Gosh this was so fun.

We got to see so many of our friends that night, food, drinks, the works! And of course, it’s not a party until someone lights an old Christmas tree on fire and endangers the neighborhood, right?

Right?

Other than that safety hazard, we stayed there until close to 1:30 am and got home just in time for Daylight Savings Time, which has royally kicked my ass. Just an FYI, it’s incredibly hard to recover from a weekend of partying AND an hour lost. (Ugh, isn’t our life so hard?!?!)

Sunday we finished up with lunch with our wedding planner extraordinaire to review the timeline for our wedding weekend, and visited with a friend who is about to undergo some pretty scary brain surgery in a week. We flew out Sunday night and I haven’t really recovered since.

The weather could NOT have been more perfect. We waited for rain everyday, and it never happened. Actually the rain came, no joke, RIGHT as we left for the car after Saturday night’s party. It’s like the world’s forces conspired to make sure we had the greatest weekend ever.

As we left for the airport Sunday evening, the feelings from the weekend began to hit me. The well-wishes, the congratulations, the amount of support we have behind our relationship is overwhelming. We couldn’t fail even if we wanted to; it’s clear to us how many people have our backs. We still can’t believe how much time and effort and love was put into everything.

To everyone who played a role in this weekend, small or large, THANK YOU. Truly, completely, just THANK YOU.

♥, VB & Timmy

The End of 2015 and Life Lately

So a lot has happened in the past two months and boom, now it’s 2016. I thought I’d catch you up on our lives the past two months before I launch into the great BIG changes that have happened in the last few weeks.

Halloween, Timmy and I celebrated our 1-year engagement at Spinners on St. Pete Beach. It’s a rotating restaurant that I dumbly reserved a table for AFTER the sunset, so we saw a whole bunch of nothingness. We will return with much better timing.

I finally talked Timmy into wearing a couples’ costume, which he poo-pooed until he realized that it was just a black cotton t-shirt with jeans. We were Opposites Attract, but apparently people also thought we were a pregnancy test, so it has multiple uses. #Imeanttodothat

We also went out to Green Bench Brewery, one of our favorite St. Pete spots and in one of the most random run-ins I’ve ever had, ran into the little sister of one of my close college friends. WHAAATTT?! We ended the night at Enigma for a lot of gay costume contesting and free beers bought for us by people wishing that Timmy was gay.

For maybe one of my highest professional achievements, I was selected as one of the 8 inaugural TEDxUSFSP speakers on November 13. I had a blast creating the talk, practicing it, and then finally performing on stage in front of students, colleagues, Timmy and Gavin, one of my friends that I met through St. Pete Pride. It was truly awesome, and I can’t wait until the video comes out.

November finished out with a morning trip to Auburn immediately following my TEDx talk. It was a super fast trip that started with an 11 AM game and ended with a star-filled night at Lake Martin with good friends. We also got to meet Wiles, my friend Heather’s newest baby girl and Timmy got grossed out by my bachelorette party gift.

December ended the way it should. I made a gingerbread house for the first time, we moved Timmy out of his apartment in Orlando into mine (more on that later), drove to Atlanta for Christmas and New Year with both our families. A little drama here and there, a WHOLE LOT of driving, and so. much. love.

Hope you all had the best holidays, whatever you celebrate, and hope mostly that your final days of 2015 were filled with nothing but joy, love, and hope!

Happy New Year!

♥,

VB

What Happens After a Perfect Day

I figured I might as well get the horrible part of this blog post out of the way so I could finish it on a high note. I can look back on it and laugh, but that day, nothing was funny.

I’m talking about the day after our amazing engagement party where I experienced what I assume to be the 2nd closest feeling to death without actually being dead (the actual closest is food poisoning, where I would gladly welcome death instead).

I honestly don’t know what happened. Being a health educator, you’d think at this point, 32 years old, hangovers would be a thing of the past. But man, did I get schooled on what it’s like to mingle at a wedding-themed event that revolves around you and your partner.

I had no idea how hard it would be to remember to eat enough and drink water when attempting to make every single guest who drove 1+ hours to Athens in your honor feel welcome and appreciated. I’m sure some people felt a tiny bit shafted by Timmy and I; I promise we tried to make the rounds but we only had so much time to fit it all in. And we only had like 30+ guests! I can’t even imagine how freaking difficult this is going to be at our actual wedding.

We did make it out to downtown Athens that night with Timmy’s cousins Matt and Leeanna and my brother in law Jared with a follow-up at Waffle House, if that’s any indication to you how the day went.

So obviously, Sunday, was the the worst. Absolute worst. Ever. I’ve never felt that bad for that long. It’s true what they say about hangovers in your 30s — they will make you regret every decision you ever made that led you to that point. I won’t go into details, but needless to say, I had to reschedule my flight home until the next morning (I would’ve missed it anyways thanks to construction traffic), and I finally stopped throwing up at 4 PM. FOUR O’ CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON.

Thankfully, my mom was there to take care of me and make me my favorite childhood soup remedy. I don’t care how old you are, when you get sick, all you want is your mommy.

I’m getting flashbacks, so let me move on with the story.

So the actual engagement party day was pretty perfect. It was hot as f%^k (which duh, it was the last weekend in July in Georgia. Of course it’s going to be hot) and we all pretty much sweated off any attempt at makeup, but I didn’t care for long. Once people started showing up, it was pretty sweet.

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setting up

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sitting area

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all ready for that low country boil!

It’s a little odd to be the direct center of attention at a party. Even our 30 Years, 1 Wish party was about something bigger than ourselves, so the attention, while on us, was shared with our charities and special guests. Our engagement party and subsequent fiestas are about us, and that’s a little odd.

But not unwelcome. If anyone loves being the center of attention, it’s this girl and Timmy. It’s like we were born for this kind of stuff. 🙂

You’ll probably notice that I have on two dresses in these pictures. The first one, I loved and felt like a pretty little girl in. But I quickly realized that the fabric wasn’t letting any air in between my legs, and I immediately ditched that plan after the first two guests arrived and switched to a shorter dress.

One of my favorite moments of the party were when at one point, I walked inside and all my guy friends were inside in the AC with their children while their wives were outside drinking. To hell with gender roles!

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My two bridesmen, Matt and Austin, with their sons, Matthew and Aidyn

Also, this moment was made possible by our old neighbors from Norcross who remember me from before I was even a baby. Their gift giving ability receives a perfect 10.

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The Joy of Sex, indeed

Also, at some point, this also happened. No words. Just awesomeness.

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’01 Yeah

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my bro in law Jared and Timmy mean muggin’ like old ass high schoolers

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We love being dorks and will never apologize.

Honestly, I’m so impressed that we all fit into our old letter jackets. Seriously, that’s an accomplishment to add to our life lists.

We just can’t find the words to say how appreciative we are of everyone who came to the party and risked standing dead still in traffic on insert-any-Atlanta-highway-here. To my sister (and matron-of-honor) Carla and my bridesmaid Heather for hosting the party. Thank you to my bro-in-law Jared for standing in direct sunlight for over two hours making the low country boil (first batch non-spicy, just for me!) and quite possibly losing a gallon of body hydration in the process. To my parents who came early in the week to help babysit my nieces, set up, cook, and decorate.

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THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

It was just an awesome day. Thank you.

♥, VB