April/May Fun Brings on the Rain

I love this time of year. It’s when classes end and I get a break! Don’t get me wrong, I love my students, and the overwhelming amount of enjoyable interactions far outweigh the tiny few negative ones. There are just those that get to you deep down, and thank god classes are done for a bit for me!

I still work full time in the summer, and though it’s a break from teaching, it’s not a break at all. We’ve hired 2 new staff members, 1 of which I will be supervising full time. So we have to onboard and create brand new policies and procedures for these new positions, so it’ll take a lot of time for those conversations and planning to happen. I also have to still do outreach and programming for campus, so in reality, it never really ends.

But that’s ok because I love what I do. And I can’t complain about that.

This has been a pretty eventful semester (not that most semesters haven’t been) but the biggest news is that I will be attending the USF Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) program starting this fall. It was a big decision and it was one I had wrestled with for a while. I always knew I wanted to continue my education but was so burned out after my Master’s program that I put any ideas of attending school out of my head for a long time. I’ve never been interested in getting a PhD because I don’t want to do research nor have a job that is tied to my amount of research.

What’s great about a DrPH is that 1) I can continue to work full time (which in most PhD programs you have to quit or go part-time) because the point is to apply what I’m learning in real time; 2) it’s like the other side of the PhD. They do the research and we apply that research in real life and make sure it’s being implemented and evaluated and being advocated for in leadership positions; 3) I get to further my career with an advanced degree that fits perfectly with what I want to be doing.

Another bonus is that my job will pay for it, so the cost for me will be completely minimal. Who could turn that down??

Oh man, I’m freaking out a little bit though because life around here is going to change big time. I remember how studious and non-procrastinating I was in graduate school and that was the main thing that kept me from losing my mind. But I only had 2 part time jobs at the time and very minimal responsibilities. It’s completely different now with a house, dog, husband, and full time job. So word to the wise people: if you haven’t visited us yet, do it this summer before the offer expires in September and I lose all ability to properly host someone.

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April

Other than my upcoming academic career, life around here has been excellent. We had our porch rescreened in April and have really enjoyed being able to use both the upstairs and downstairs porch without fear of being eaten alive by mosquitoes (even though, let’s face it, it will happen to me a million times this summer, without fail). My parents gave us their old hammock, and we’ve put it downstairs and it’s a dream. Privacy, fountain sounds, crickets chirping at night…well, if I haven’t made it clear in the past, WE LIVE IN A VACATION.

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We also had Timmy’s mom and stepfather visit us for the first time in our new house and we showed them a good time the only way we know how: by drinking, eating well, and going to the beach! It was their 5th wedding anniversary and so we treated them to dinner and dessert at Bern’s steak house, which is a historic institution in South Tampa. They hadn’t been properly warned by Timmy of the kind of experience it would be nor how long it would take (3 hours on average, which goes to say, this is not your average, run of the mill dining experience). We laughed so hard that night, it was really a delightful evening. We finished the weekend with absolutely perfect weather, bocce ball on the sand, and lots more laughs and time by the water.

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May

May is a big birthday month around here, what with 2 of my nieces, my sister in law, my father, 7 friends, and myself all enjoying another trip around the sun. It’s been a little lonelier celebrating birthdays here than it was in Atlanta, but this year, that didn’t stop me. Timmy had to work a conference in Orlando the weekend of my birthday, so what’s the next best thing to going to Disney with him?

GOING TO DISNEY BY MYSELF. And it was awesome.

I couldn’t decide at first if a solo Disney trip was the most incredibly confident thing I’ve ever done or the most sad and depressing. I mean, 35 is a big milestone, and yes I still get super amped about birthdays, even now. How could I not? So many people we know passed away and can’t have any more life celebrations. I feel it’s my duty to be as thankful and celebratory as I possibly can simply because they no longer can.

My first stop was to get the ever-so-popular birthday button in Epcot, which was way less exciting than I thought it would be. I asked one person and they said to go to the blue kiosk which had no one manning it. I had to stop another employee and ask if I could get a button from the kiosk and he just kinda tossed me one. I then had to ask for a marker, and he had to find someone else to get me one. Very anti-climactic.

But dagnabnit, I rocked that thing out pretty much all weekend.

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I ended the day with a drink with my former NYU-er Kelly who works at Disney and then headed back to the hotel. Later that night, Timmy’s boss treated us to an amazing meal at Norman’s in the Ritz Carlton, which was just amazing. Great food, the bartending staff kept giving us free alcohol (which also included mezcal which I DO NOT RECOMMEND)…such a good night.

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The next day, Timmy still had to work so I went back to Disney with our friend Jessie and her son Aidan, who live in Sarasota. We had such a fun time in Hollywood Studios. Honestly, WHOEVER DOESN’T HAVE FUN AT DISNEY DOESN’T HAVE A SOUL. We finished out the weekend at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure because we are theme-park-going whores.

The following weekend my father turned 70 so you’d better believe we got our asses back to Atlanta (or rather Athens) to surprise him on such a momentous occasion. Thursday night, Timmy got us a room at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and while I’d been there for DragonCon, I’d never stayed. He got us upgraded to a suite on the 46th floor and the views, well, they were just incredible.

We held the party that Friday night at my sister and brother-in-law’s new house in Athens (which is STUNNING btw), and since my father didn’t know that Timmy and I were in town at all for his birthday, it was a 2-for-1 surprise! My sister got the catering, I got the decorations, and we lay in wait for him. Perfect weather, family, and good food…another awesome night in the books.

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This past weekend, my sister did her annual mother-daughter trip to come visit us, this time with Anna! We planned to go to Universal again, and despite the non-stop rain all weekend, we did actually get beach/pool/sun time in on Friday. The rains came but that didn’t stop us from hitting most of the rides at both Universal parks (which was new not only for Anna but most of it for Carla too) and then did some outlet shopping. I was impressed by how much we got in, and especially considering that the rain isn’t going to stop until sometime next week, I’m super glad we did what we could before Timmy and I basically become shut-ins.

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So now it’s Memorial Day weekend, and we don’t have anyone visiting (thankfully because hello rain) nor anything planned. It’s been a pretty active two months, so maybe we should actually just rest for once.

Probably not though if we’re being honest.

Enjoy your weekend and thank you to all who have served this country of ours.

♥, 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

#TheVicTimWedding Rehearsal Dinner Video

In a time of such sorrow, I choose to spread love. I choose to be grateful. I choose to be thankful.

Thank you to our loved ones for supporting us always. If it went by too fast at the rehearsal dinner or if you haven’t seen it, please enjoy.

♥, VB

Just The Way We Like It

This past month has been grueling. I’m 100% not ready to write about everything that happened as it’s been a pretty emotional and exhausting time, but I promise I will.

In the meantime, I thought today was as good a day as any to share something Timmy and I have had so much fun with the past few months: planning them, taking them, sharing them. When I say fun, I mean F-U-N. As in tears streaming down our faces because we can’t stop laughing at ourselves and all of our completely brilliant ideas.

I am of course talking about our engagement pictures.

If you know us, you are probably slightly aware of the fact that Timmy and I like to laugh and enjoy making others laugh as well. We’re pretty self-deprecating and will do whatever we can to get that laugh. Even when others think we’re morons, at least we’re laughing first and foremost (and sometimes last).

Clearly, our engagement pictures were the perfect vehicle for this. I originally had some really ambitious ideas for photoshopping and visual imagery that were, in essence, our way of saying “F*&k You Pinterest” for making everyone believe that having the exact same type of engagement picture is somehow a good thing. As if couples should no longer seek to share something that makes them unique or create a little window into their life together for others to see.

Railroad tracks, old bridges, and brick walls are not unique, my friends. Not anymore.

Unfortunately, I had to give that dream up as our original photographer almost died after taking our original shots in February and I didn’t really think it would be appropriate to be like, “Hey James’ family, I know your son is like at death’s door, but can I grab those pictures when you get a chance? Kthanksbye.”

Like many things I wanted for our wedding planning, compromise was the name of the game. And also a pain in the ass, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

So we enlisted our wedding photographer, Raven Shutley from YouAreRaven (I found her on A Practical Wedding who is not only affordable but takes the most breathtaking photos with a very light editing touch), to meet us one weekend morning in Atlanta in May. I loved her work online and couldn’t wait to work with her. I feel very strongly that our photos should look like us; I didn’t want us so retouched that we look like robots. We filled Raven in on what we were looking to do: nothing serious, nothing romantic, nothing lovey-dovey, and certainly nothing Pinterest-like. Not only did she get it, she was 100% down with getting the photos we wanted and never once tried to sway us from our vision.

Why go through so much trouble to get silly photos, you may ask? Honestly, that’s just who we are. If you’ve ever spent time with us as a couple, you know that we poke fun at each other and ourselves, we’re silly, and we genuinely enjoy bringing people into the fun, crazy world we bring to life every time we’re with each other. To showcase any other image through photos that we’ll own forever would not only be inauthentic, it would be a flat-out lie.

Anyone can capture a loving gaze. Anyone can shoot just the bride and ignore the groom entirely. Not everyone can capture the essence of your relationship through a photo. And that’s what Raven was able to accomplish.

Once we finished the session (which included about 30 minutes of searching for the Beltline Trail entrance until we just gave up and went to the park I played in as a child, and afterwards we drove to the restaurant to finish shooting and meet my parents for lunch, we drove right over the Trail not even 2 miles from the park…), we anxiously awaited the return of the photos. Once they were ready, we had a Google Hangout with Raven where, I’m not joking, the 3 of us laughed so hard at the final products that we barely got a word in the entire time we were on the call.

I’d call the entire thing a complete success. Once we chose the photos we wanted to include in our Save the Dates, I got busy designing the cards and spent HOURS staring at my computer, collapsing in never-ending giggles. Timmy and I chose 6 different Save the Dates, so everyone on our list got a different one. Timmy and I spent last weekend going through our guest list, and one by one, decided who should get which card, and laughed the entire time we did it.

Are these Save the Dates completely appropriate? Not so much. Are they romantic? Nope. Are they us? YES. 100 million times YES.

I’m sure our parents would’ve liked something a little more tame and traditional, but I have to admit, we wouldn’t change a single thing about the photos or the cards. I have the feeling that our parents think that I’m 100% responsible for the direction these photos took, but I want to remind them and everyone else that like most everything in this relationship, we make EVERY decision together (which drives me insane the majority of the time). Nothing that represents us as a couple is decided by either of us in isolation, so if you’re a little ticked about the photos, all I ask is that you remember that it wasn’t just me.

Oh, and get over it.

Timmy and I will remember planning the poses, taking these photos, and choosing who gets which card as times of doubled-over laughter and deep bonding, as we were continuously reminded of why we chose each other in the first place and why we choose every day to stay together.

Enjoy a few of the photos we took that day.

FYI, I doubt our wedding pictures are going to be much different, so stay tuned. 🙂

To Raven, you made our dreams come true. You can read Raven’s blog about our engagement session here.

♥,

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