Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dessange VoxBox Review

I was lucky enough to receive another VoxBox from Influenster* (thank you, Influenster!) and, like my last VoxBox, I was super excited for this one, too.

The Dessange VoxBox came in the mail a few weeks ago, but I'm only just now getting around to reviewing it because, well, life happened.  So, let me start off by saying that I love this product!  My VoxBox contained the Oleo Miracle Replenishing Shampoo, Oleo Miracle Replenishing Conditioner, and Oleo Miracle Replenishing Oil.  Admittedly, I haven't used the oil yet, but that's just because I haven't had the time to do a second (or third) wash and rinse after I've used too much of the oil in my hair (yes, this will happen).  But I have used both the shampoo and conditioner, and I really like them!

As with my other boxes, Influenster seemed to know when I was running low, and sent the box just in time.
I'm going to start this review with the scent of the shampoo and conditioner.  I had read other reviews before trying the product myself, and what jumped out at me the most was the a lot of people didn't like the scent.  I did.  It wasn't too flowery or fruity, and it was strong without being overpowering.  It's definitely not a frou-frou frilly/girly scent, but I liked it.  Maybe "mature" is a good word.  In any case, I enjoyed the smell.

Now...suds-ing.  I might be in the minority here, but I want my shampoo and to suds up really well when I wash my hair.  It makes me feel like my hair is getting really clean, and I definitely don't like it when my shampoo doesn't do that.  Dessange had some awesome foaming action and I really felt like the shampoo was getting the job done.  Same with the conditioner.  It wasn't too oily or slick and, like the shampoo, I enjoyed the scent.  Everything rinsed out easily, and my hair smelled great!

One thing I didn't love about the Dessange products (and, honestly, this is such a stupid thing but it jumped out at me) was the lack of direction on the bottle.  The shampoo bottle simply said to use the product with the Dessange Conditioner and Oil for best results, and the conditioner said to use with the shampoo and oil.  When it comes to conditioners, I like a little more direction.  Do I rinse and repeat as needed?  Does it need to sit on my hair for 1-3 minutes?  I'm not vain, but when I take the time to actually blow dry and flat iron my hair, I want to make sure I'm doing it all right so that the finished product looks good.  That, however, was my only complaint.

 I started going gray at 22, and have been coloring my hair ever since.  Between color, highlights, and the ridiculous amount of blow drying, flat ironing, and styling I did in the years before I had kids and actually had 30 seconds to do more than throw my hair up in a pony tail, I've really put my hair through the ringer.  So a shampoo and conditioner that's made specifically to replenish damaged hair is definitely something I need and am willing to spend a little money on.  I wish I had thought to taken a picture after I finished using the Dessange Shampoo and Conditioner, because my hair looked good.  My hair is prone to flyaways and frizz, and I'll admit that there were a few flyaways after using Dessange, too.  But, it was all in my bangs and very well could have been because of my lack of flat ironing technique, and definitely won't stop me from using (or endorsing) this product in the future.  My hair was silky smooth, smelled great, and wasn't weighed down at all.  And, best of all, it felt clean.  All serious hair wins in my book.

Sooooo...all that being said, I highly recommend Dessange!  I'm not 100% certain of the price or where you can buy it, but I'm going to assume that Target, Walmart, and the like will carry it.  It's definitely worth giving a try, and definitely a product that I'll use in the future.

 *I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

UPDATE: I should have done this before writing this review, but...hey, at least I did it, right?  These Dessange products are available at Target (man, I love Target) and run $9.99 each for the shampoo and conditioner, and $11.99 for the oil.  In my opinion, the price per bottle is a bit high BUT I don't spend a ton of money on myself and I'd be willing to pay it for a product that works.  And Dessange does.  Still recommended!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Little Moments

Bailey and Gerry are 4 1/2 and 2 years old now, respectively, and they've become quite the affectionate kids.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't absolutely love it.  Like...LOVE IT.  In the midst of the craziness and the "pulling my hair out" moments in our day, it's these little moments that make me fall in love with my kids all over again.

Gerry is a whirling dervish of motion throughout the day.  From the minute he hits consciousness in the morning until the very last second before he falls asleep at night, the boy is just movement.  Always running somewhere, climbing on top of things and jumping off of things, opening and closing doors, inspecting all the little hiding spots he can find around the house, and playing like it's his job (because it is).  Most of the pictures I have of him in the last few months or so are just blurry because I can never get him to stay still long enough to actually get a good one.  He races his cars, builds (and subsequently destroys) elaborate and tall block towers, pushes Bailey's baby dolls in strollers, and finds different ways to get into things that never would have entered my limited adult mind.  He's motion, plain and simple.  But then, quite unexpectedly, there are these tiny little moments throughout the day.  Moments where he slows down and says, in his sweet little boy voice, "I yub you, mommy."  Moments where I can hear him searching me out from another room.  "Where mommy?  Sit with mommy," I'll hear him say and then a minute later there he is, climbing onto my lap, snuggling his tiny body up against mine and laying his head on my shoulder while he watches tv or plays on my phone.  There are moments where he leans in with his lips pursed and gives me a kiss and I swear a few wrongs in the world have been righted.

Bailey has never been an openly affectionate child.    She loves us, we know, and she always always prefers to be at home with us rather than sleeping over at a friend's house or spending the day out with someone else.  She gives hugs and kisses but, unlike Gerry, she keeps them reserved for special people and special times, preferring to show her affection in more subtle ways.  But lately even she has taken to slowing down during the day, to saying "Mommy?  I love you", to wanting to snuggle up in my lap, or wanting me to carry her somewhere.  There are times when she just seems so damn grown-up to me--when she bargains for more ice cream or tries to argue her point (any point, really...the girl's gonna make an excellent lawyer one day), or just stops and explains something about her day to us--and I feel like I'm literally watching her grow up and away from me.  But then there are those little moments where she's my baby again, when she wants to snuggle up, when she wants me to lay down with her until she falls asleep at night, where she throws her arms around my neck and refuses to let go.

And watching the two of them together?  Well, that's just magical.  Like any siblings, they've got their moments when they're at each other's throats and arguing.  But they have so many more moments where you can see how much they adore each other.  When they play together and one hands the other a toy and they say, "Oh, thank you!"  When they give each other a kiss before bed each night and say "I love you".  When they snuggle up together on the couch or in Bailey's bed and watch tv or play with my phone together.

And it's during these moments that I slow down, too.  I breathe in the scent of hers and Gerry's hair, I squeeze them tight and rain kisses down on them for as long as they'll let me.  I tell them I love them over and over again and I remind myself that this is what it's all about, that these tiny little moments in the middle of our often-times chaotic and crazy lives are all that matter.  I know that in the blink of an eye these two are going to be grown "for real" and that the affectionate displays are going to dwindle more and more as it becomes "uncool" (in their teenage minds) to show your family how much you care for them.  And I hope that they find their way back to this place as adults, and that they never stop showing how much they love us and each other.  Right now, I'm hanging on to these little moments.  And loving every single second of them.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Boys and Boys & Girls and Girls

Yesterday, completely out of the blue, Bailey asked me "How come sometimes boys kiss boys and girls kiss girls?"

Now, in general, kissing in any way, shape, or form is completely disgusting to her.  Any time Scott and I kiss each other in front of her (even if it's just a quick peck on the lips on our way out the door) she rolls her eyes and says, "Ewww, gross!"  So when she asked me about boys kissing boys and girls kissing girls, I responded to her the same way I do when she asks why mommy and daddy kiss each other...because they love each other.

"But boys aren't supposed to kiss boys.  They're only supposed to kiss girls."

Oh, my dear girl...

My first thought when said that was I'm not ready for the toddler version of the sex talk, let alone when it comes to boys and boys or girls and girls.  But then I started to feel ashamed.  Of myself.  For categorizing kissing and sex as something that should be explained differently somehow when it comes to same-sex couples.

I know I'm waaaaay overthinking things here...my kids are 4 and 2.  The ins and outs of sex aren't even a blip on their radar right now. And I know that Bailey's question was completely innocent.  But I also kind of wonder if maybe I haven't done a good enough job, as a parent, of showing her that boy-boy and girl-girl relationships are normal, too.  When you think about it, really, how often do young kids see those kinds of relationships portrayed in "their" types of media?  {I'm looking at you, Disney Jr. and Sprout.}  I can't think of a single kid's show that I know of that shows same sex parents or same sex couples as a normal thing.  All the movies we've seen over the years show the prince and princess getting married, or the king and queen living happily ever after.  Of course, my kid thinks that's the only "normal" kind of relationship out there. Where's the cartoon that shows Johnny's two mommies?  Or Suzy's two dads?  How come when we watch The Finger Family videos on youtube every single finger family consists of a mommy, a daddy, a brother, a sister, and a baby finger?  More importantly, why the hell am I watching those stupid videos?  I hate the Finger Family song.

To clarify, I am not gay.  I am Catholic.  I absolutely do not believe that homosexuals are destined to end up in hell or that anything they do is in any way, shape, or form wrong.  I just don't believe it.  I support gay rights and same sex marriage the same way that I support marriage between a man and a woman.  My brother-in-law is gay and, while we don't see them very often, I think his boyfriend is very nice and it makes me happy that they're happy.  I've had gay co-workers and friends over the years.  I don't think they're "gross" or in any way "less" than any other person, and I don't want my kids to think that way, either.  I'm all for normalizing these types of relationships and if, down the road, one or both of my kids comes to me and tells me that they're gay, then my hope for them will be the same as it is right now -- that they find someone who they love and who loves them, and that  they find happiness in life.  That's it.  I won't be sad for them, I won't be embarrassed by them, I won't look at them any differently.  I won't cringe or look away if they choose to (tastefully) show their affection in public.  And I'll support the hell out of them, always and no matter what.

So, I tried to explain to Bailey that it's perfectly normal for a boy to kiss a boy or for a girl to kiss a girl, and that it means that they love each other.  That girls can love girls and boys can love boys, and that sometimes they show their love with a kiss.  Thankfully for me, this answer seemed to satisfy her, and she tossed out this gem:

"Well, I'm not gonna kiss anybody til I'm married."

That's my girl.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

It's Been Awhile

I've been downright lazy about blogging the last few months.  Work has kept me busy, Scott's been working A LOT of overtime, and the kids are downright exhausting most days.  By the time I have a few minutes of peace to sit down and write, I'm just too tired to want to do it.  Sooooo....here's a recap of what we've been up to the last few months.

We have an appointment next month to register Bailey for Kindergarten.  Whhaaaat?  How is my baby going off to Kindergarten already?  And more importantly, how am I old enough to have a school-aged child?  We've got all these forms to fill out, and she needs to see her pediatrician and her dentist before she can start (luckily, we've got appointments scheduled with both in the next few weeks, anyway), and there's a readiness exam she has to take and orientation in August.  My mind is in a constant tailspin of worry already, and she doesn't even start for 6 more months.  I keep pushing it to the back of my mind, but it keeps annoyingly nudging itself forward.  God, I hope I'm not that mom who cries on the first day of school.  {Spoiler alert-- I already know I'm going to be}.

Bailey has taken her fashionista cred to new and insane levels.  She wore a bathing suit yesterday.  A bathing suit.  It's February, and the high was 23 degrees.  I couldn't convince her to wear anything else and we spent the day at home, so far be it from me to strike down her little diva spirit.  She's still obsessed with dresses and picking out her own outfits, and a "normal" day is one where she's changed her clothes at least twice.  She got this book for Christmas that shows her me how to do different hairstyles based on characters from Frozen.  I suck at just about all of the styles, but she still keeps asking me to do them.  I'm the little engine that could, except that I can't.  

Second outfit of the morning...

She put together this ensemble completely on her own

The only hair style in the 89 page book that I can do with any sort of ease

She still loves to sing and wear makeup, and she's obsessed with babies.  She makes up these crazy little stories and acts them out with her Barbie dolls, and she's got a self-proclaimed crush on not one but two boys right now.  God help us all when she's a teenager.  She's so freakin' amazing, though.  

We moved Gerry to a toddler bed after he climbed out of his crib for the third time.  Three sleepless nights later, we switched him back to his crib.  It was the longest and most nightmarish three nights of my life.   G has always been our great sleeper.  Aside from the times he's been sick, he's never gone to bed with any difficulty, and I've LOVED it.  Once he realized that he could just climb out of the toddler bed, though, it was all he did.   I'd put him down for a nap or to bed for the night and then have to wait outside his bedroom door because it was inevitable that he'd climb right out of bed and come running out into the hallway.  He woke us up anywhere between 2 and 5am for three nights in a row.  He'd come running into our bedroom, all smiles, yelling "Hi, mommy!  I awake!"  And then he'd climb up into our bed and want to hang out for the rest of the night.  And, just like that, our wonderful sleeper was no more.  It was the longest few nights of my life.  My breaking point was night three, when I found him in Bailey's room at 3:15am, jumping on her bed and playing with her Barbie dolls.  I ran to Facebook to see if any of my mom friends could commiserate and, lo and behold, a friend of mine had a simple thought that had never even entered my mind.  Have you turned his crib around so that the shorter rail is against the wall?  I read that and it was like a thousand light bulbs went flashing over my head...how had that never occurred to me?  So there we were, at 3:30 in the morning, turning his crib back around so that the higher rail (the one he can't climb over) was facing out.  When we put him back to bed that night/morning, it was like all the stress of the last few nights {stress that I hadn't even realized I was feeling} just melted away.  And I had my great sleeper back.  I'm thinking of keeping in a crib until he goes off to high school...

Gerry is a giant ball of non-stop motion and energy.  Not that this is any different from the past two years, but it somehow seems like he's amped it up the last few months.  I never know what I'm going to find when I walk into a room at any given time.  He goes from climbing on chairs to get to my coffee and stack my k-cups, to pulling all the cushions off the couch and jumping all over them, to chasing the dog around the house, to pouring water from the bathroom sink to the bathroom floor to the carpeted hallway to tearing up the roll of toilet paper and leaving trails of it all over the bathroom--all in the span of a few minutes.  It's exhausting!  
A wallet, Cheetos, and a sippy cup tossed into the bathtub

But then there are these little moments of incredible sweetness when he stops what he's doing, seeks me out, and runs into my lap yelling, "I love you, mommy!"  He follows it up with a hug and kiss, and then he's off to destroy some other part of the house.  

Scott's sports season is finally winding down.  And not a moment too soon.  It'll be nice to have him home more often, and I know he'll be glad to be home and not clocking a game.  We miss him.  

So that's that.  Not a whole lot has been going on, but I'm sure things will pick up in the next few months as tee ball season starts and school gets closer.  Until then, I'm enjoying the relative peace around here...and I use that term very, very lightly.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Frosty VoxBox Review

Thanks to Influenster, I received another VoxBox* in the mail...more than a month ago.  Life has been SO BUSY lately, and I just haven't had much time to come here and update things, but I want to share and review the awesomeness of this VoxBox with all of you.  Because it really was an awesome box, and just about all of the products that came in here were full-sized!

Here's what came in the Frosty VoxBox:

  • Fruit Vines Bites Strawberry
  • Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
  • Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner
  • Eco Tools Hairbrush
  • Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea
  • McCormick Gourmet All Natural Thyme
  • Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Advanced
  • NYC New York Color Expert Last Lip Color

First up for review:  Fruit Vines!  My VoxBox came with the strawberry flavored bites and they were delicious.  I'm a big fan of Red Vines, so I was excited to see these in my box!  The bites are soft and chewy, and they come in two flavors--strawberry and cherry.  These are low-fat and made with no preservatives and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed them.  So much that I went out later on and bought a few more packs from Target.  These are definitely a chewy snack that doesn't disappoint, and I highly recommend them!

Rimmel is a brand that I've never tried before.  Not because I have something against the company, but simply because when it comes to makeup I've got my tried and true favorites and generally don't deviate from those.  This VoxBox came at just the right time because my "regular" eyeliner was ridiculously low and I'd been using a tiny little nub of a liner for quite awhile.  So, of course, the first thing I tried from this box (besides the obviously already ripped open bag of Fruit Vines Bites pictured above) was the Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Eyeliner.  I have blue eyes and usually wear a dark brown eyeliner...the Scandaleyes eyeliner I got was black.  I LOVED how smoothly the liner went on.  The color was much darker than what I'm used to, so I probably won't wear it very often, but I WILL go out and buy Rimmel Scandaleyes in dark brown, a color that I feel comfortable wearing often.  This particular liner went on so smoothly that there was very little effort on my part, and I love that.  Normally, I'm dragging my eyelid to the side with one hand and trying to {not-so} effortlessly apply the liner with my other, which always drags somewhat painfully on my lid.  It's a process, people.  But Rimmel Scandaleyes made the process a whole lot easier, and I definitely recommend it.

Just ignore the fact that I badly needed my eyebrows done when I took this picture

I also got this Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover.  As far as makeup removers go, this one was adequate but not great.  It wasn't oily and I liked that the bottle had a squeeze-top as opposed to just the large opening (less mess for me), but it didn't actually remove my eye makeup as well as I'd expected.  My drug store brand makeup remover took it all off more easily and cost a little less than the name brand Rimmel remover.  If you've got a few extra bucks, I'd stick with the eye makeup remover you love and spend the extra cash on the Scandaleyes Eyeliner instead.

On to lips!  Bailey (my 4 year old daughter) is constantly--constantly-- taking my lip gloss and lipstick.  I don't wear it as often as I like, but I'm always on the lookout for more options and colors to fit my fair skin so I was pretty pumped to see this NYC Expert Last Lip Color in my Frosty VoxBox.  I'll be perfectly honest here--when I first saw the color, Sugar Plum, I thought for sure that it was going to be too dark and weird looking for my pale skin.  I tend to stick to pale pinks and clear glosses and this color looked waaaaay darker than I'm used to.  But I gave it a shot on date night with my husband and I actually liked it a lot!  It didn't go on nearly as darkly as I thought it would, and it looked quite nice after a quick blot .  In fact, the shine was so nice that I didn't even need to add clear gloss, and it lasted awhile.  Plus, it went on smoothly.  And the best part is that NYC brand is MUCH cheaper than a lot of the other makeup brands.  I highly recommend the brand AND the color, and I'll be trying out different colors from the NYC line, too!

And because I'm not one to pass up the opportunity for a selfie when I've actually put on makeup and left my hair down, here's one with the Rimmel Scandaleyes Eyeliner and NYC Lip Color that came in my VoxBox.

Moving on...to my Eco Tools Hairbrush.  The bristles of this brush are synthetic boar's hair-like and the concept behind the unique bristle pattern is to distribute your hair's natural moisturizers and leave it with a sleek, lustrous shine.  I'm going to be honest, and I hate to say this, but I didn't love this product.  Quite possibly, this is completely due to user error on my part, but I found the brush to be more difficult than anything and I gave up and switched back to my Conair before I'd even finished.  I first used the Eco Tools Hairbrush after showering when my hair was completely wet.  I towel-dried it a bit but found that the brush didn't move as deeply through my wet hair as a normal bristled brush does.  The top layer of my hair was brushed smoothly, but underneath was still somewhat of a tangled mess after the shower.  I tried to comb my hair again after I'd dried it, but came away with the same feeling of not being able to brush clear to the scalp and also with staticky hair.  Again, this could be an error on my part and, for $10.99 I think it's worth giving the brush a try.  I have thick, fairly dry hair and this could be part of the reason why I felt like it didn't really work for me.  I'd definitely like to try the styling brush in the Eco Tools line, though.

The next product I received in my VoxBox was this Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Advanced Serum.  This particular skin care product got great reviews online.  The serum is supposed to help protect skin from future signs of aging and keep it looking younger longer.  Admittedly, I'm not great with my skin care routine.  I don't use any "magic" creams, but I do wash my face with cleanser and use lotion regularly.  I always wear sunscreen, and have only worn makeup rarely in the last 4 years or so.  I turned 30 over the summer, and don't think my skin is showing many signs of aging (and, guys, for real--if I'm looking old, LET ME KNOW!), so I didn't really see much of a difference in my skin when using this product.  BUT, I also don't think it hurts to use it and I like the thought of it helping to prevent future signs of aging.  Overall, I recommend this one.

Moving on from face and hair to the kitchen...dun dun dun!  Those of you who know me know that I am not so great in the kitchen.  If it weren't for Scott, the kids and I would live on sandwiches and microwaved dinners, so I didn't have high hopes for the McCormick Gourmet Thyme that came in the VoxBox.  I don't cook often and when I do I'm not very creative.  But I sprinkled some of this on a chicken breast for lunch one day...and it was delicious!  I'm not a fan of plain chicken breast but we're trying to eat healthier over here.  A tiny sprinkle of the thyme gave my plain chicken breast a hint of flavor without being overpowering , and I really enjoyed it.  Luckily for all of us, Scott is much more creative in the kitchen than I am, so I'm sure he'll come up with a million and one recipes to try the McCormick Thyme in...and I'm looking forward to those!  Overall, I recommend this product!

And last (but certainly not least), Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea.  As luck would have it, I had a miserable cold the day this VoxBox arrived.  I'm a coffee junkie but when I'm feeling under the weather I prefer tea at night.  So, of course, it would make sense that the one time I wanted tea I didn't have any in the house.  Until my VoxBox arrived.  I'm not a fan of green tea.  Like, at all.  And, truthfully, I didn't think I'd be a fan of the Celestial Seasonings Green Tea either.  But desperate {sick} times call for desperate measures, so I ripped open the packet and steeped that green tea like it was my job.  And it wasn't half bad.  I added a little bit of sweet and low and sipped it, and it was pretty good.  If I'd had regular tea in the house there's a 99% chance that I never would have opened the Celestial Seasonings, but I'm glad that I did.  I wouldn't drink this all the time, and I still prefer my plain Lipton when I'm sick, but this particular tea was good in its own way, and I liked the hint of mint it had...definitely nice for winter and a change of pace from all the hot chocolate and peppermint mochas I normally consume during that time.  Overall, I recommend this product.  I wouldn't buy it in bulk but it's nice to have just in case.  And if you're a tea drinker and you like green tea, then go for it!

So, there's my Frosty VoxBox review.  I really liked this one and will definitely be purchasing more of some of the products I received.  If you'd like to become an Influenster and receive your own VoxBox for free, comment with your email address and I'll send you an invite.  You won't be disappointed!

* I received all of these products for free from Influenster for testing purposes.*

Friday, January 9, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday, Gerry!

It's been more than two months since my last post...yikes!  Life has been crazy busy and I just haven't had the time or the inclination to sit down and write a proper post.  So what better way to kick off a new year of the blog than by wishing my favorite little man a happy 2nd birthday?

Gerry is, in a word, incredible.  He's mischievous and funny and sweet and cute as hell, and I'm so lucky to have the pleasure of being his mother.  Life, for him, is just one big opportunity.  He's learning and discovering new things every day, is totally a go with the flow kind of kid, and he laughs at everything.  If more people were like him the world would be a much better and happier place.

I'm going to keep this short, otherwise I'll have a mile-long sappy and sentimental post.  So I'm just going to say this:

Happy happy happy birthday, Gerry!  I'm so thankful for you and I love watching you grow every day.  I love you to the moon and back, buddy!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Day We Met {From the Husband's Perspective}

Last week, I wrote this post about the first time Scott and I met.  When I first started thinking about the post {weeks ago}, I'd asked Scott to write his own little blurb about how we met from HIS point of view.  To be honest, I was expecting a quick 2-3 sentence summary along the lines of  "I saw her and thought she was hot and I asked her out", so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened an email from him that contained an entire page about that day in his mind. 

The editor in me couldn't help but jump in a few places but, other than a quick spelling adjustment and a sentence structure check, this is all Scott. 

When we met: My wife can tell you that I am definitely not good with dates, so I will refrain from trying to remember the year. The details I do remember are the ones that I cherish. It was a cold breezy day in October. I was repeating my School and Society class for the second time around. For the most part, the class was a breeze. I remember trying to set up a lunch date with another girl in that class who, at that time, I wasn’t sure had a boyfriend. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the girl who I had been talking with in class who really caught my attention, but the girl who was following behind me on my way back to the dorms.

 As a gentleman would, I opened the door and asked how she did on our test. I know--great pick up line. We talked while we walked all the way back to the dorm. At that moment I was torn. I had felt a strong connection with Jess and wanted to continue the conversation by taking her to lunch. Which, at West Chester, meant the side caf. So I vowed that I would go and sit through the lunch that I had already planned, with full intentions of simply smiling and nodding at everything my lunch date had to say because I was so taken by Jess. As it was, fate wasn't far off-- as I was walking to lunch with my date, there was Jess. At that moment, which can only be described as an “OH S***” moment, I realized even more that I wanted to be going to lunch with her. I had only talked to Jess for five minutes and in those five minutes I knew that there was nowhere else that I wanted to be and no one else that I wanted to be with.

I remember feeling like I had blown an opportunity, that there was no way Jess was going to talk with me again. At that moment, I knew that she was the one. It only took one look and a five minute walk to convince me that this girl was the rest of my life. Needless to say, the lunch date was like a sand trap. The girl that I had been walking with continuously talked about her boyfriend at home. As she continued to talk, I continued to hear "Blah blahblahblah", and I could only think of Jess. The fact that she had seen me obviously walking to lunch with this girl and the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about her, pushed me to stop down to her room later that day to ask her about some answers for a homework assignment. The reality of the moment was that I just wanted to get a glimpse of her, to see if I still had a chance. At that moment, I wasn’t sure. She had said that she hadn't started the assignment, but that when she started working on it, she would stop down to help me out. I can tell you that I nervously waited to see if she would ever stop down. I knew how to do the homework; it was just a way for me to break the ice. I didn’t have to wait long.  Within an hour or two, she had stopped down with the assignment completed. At that moment, I knew I had met someone special, even in spite of my half clothed roommate, who jokingly asked if she had come to see him.

We've had many great times since that day. I am glad that I had failed that particular class the first time around with a C-, I am glad that I ran into her on the way back from class, but more importantly, I am so very lucky that she said yes on that day and yes on October 24th, 2009. Thank you for the life we have built together.


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Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks our fifth anniversary, and it's been 5 years of nothing but rainbows and unicorns and chocolate and wedded bliss.

Just kidding.  We have two kids--there's been stress and worry and craziness, and unicorns don't exist.  But I wouldn't trade the last 5 years for anything in the world.

You know that part in your vows that says 'in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, 'til death do you part'?  That's some pretty heavy stuff, and I don't think a lot of couples take it as seriously as they should when they get married.  On the day of our wedding, I knew we were never going to be rich.  Scott is a teacher and I worked in daycare...it was a safe bet that we'd never be "rolling in it".  I knew we'd have good moments and bad ones.  I knew it would take some adjusting to our new husband and wife roles.  I knew that we were going to have struggles.  I knew that we'd have arguments and disagreements and that we'd be angry with each other sometimes.  I knew all of this as surely as I know my own name, and yet I wouldn't have changed a thing.  Because there's no one else in this world that I'd rather struggle and argue and disagree with.  And because I knew that there were going to be so many good and happy moments in our marriage, and there's no one else in this world that I'd rather celebrate those times with.

So, that's what we've been up to these last 5 years.  In between the disagreements and the struggles, we laughed.  We loved.  We had two of the most beautiful children on earth.  We bought a house and made it our own.  We spent time with friends and family.  Celebrated birthdays and holidays.  Marveled at our children's first steps and first words.  Shared discreet laughs at their expense.  Teared up when they learned something new and wonderful.  Survived health issues.  Comforted each other.  Praised each other.  

It hasn't always been easy.  In the monotony of the day-to-day, it can be far too easy to focus solely on myself and on how I'm feeling and thinking, and completely forget that there's another person who's opinion matters.  There've been many nights where we've fallen into bed, exhausted after a long day of work and an even longer evening with the kids, and offered up a quick, perfunctory "g'night" before falling asleep only to wake up in the morning and do it all over again.  In those seemingly endless days, that cycle of work-home-kids-sleep, it's easy to forget who we were before.  In the early days of our marriage when it was just the two of us.  But then we'll get a few minutes after Gerry has gone to bed to snuggle up together on the couch and watch one of our favorite shows.  Or Scott will sneak up on me in the kitchen while I'm washing dishes and kiss me.  Or we'll hold hands while walking the mall with the kids.  And in those moments we find ourselves and each other all over again. 

I blinked, and five years and a lifetime went by. 

I love my husband more today than on the day we got married.  I watch him with our kids and I can't imagine life any other way.  Through the stress and the struggles, the tears and the laughter, it's always been him.  Us.  And I'm so lucky that I get to be his wife. 

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Do... {The Wedding}

Tomorrow is our anniversary, so I thought I'd post about our wedding today.  Because, like most weddings, ours was magical and wonderful, and I'd do it all over again if given half a chance.

We got married on October 24, 2009 and the days leading up to the wedding were pretty uneventful.  Scott and I had just found out that I was pregnant and I was doing my best to stay as calm and stress-free as possible.  All the major details were ironed out, our honeymoon was booked, and the only thing left to do was show up at the church and "get it done". 

Our rehearsal and dinner went really well {with the exception of one of my bridesmaids dropping the ivory part of her dress in a mud puddle...props to my mom for saving what NONE of us thought could be salvaged and cleaned} and, afterwards, Scott and his groomsmen went back to our house to do whatever it is they did and my bridesmaids and I headed back to my parents' house for the night.  The girls and I got set up and ready for bed, and I remember being so excited and so nervous for the next day.  We woke up the next morning, and my parents had donuts and coffee ready for all of us.  I munched on a donut and drank copious amounts of coffee {because every bride should have the caffeine shakes on her wedding day} while waiting for my makeup artist to arrive.  The plan was for everyone to have their makeup done at the house, then head over to the salon to get our hair done.  Long story short, the makeup artist got lost, was absurdly late, and we ended up rushing to the salon to have our hair done and then rushing like a bunch of madwomen back to the house to get our makeup done before we had to leave for the church.  Because this is me we're talking about and because I'm rarely never on time for anything, the limo ended up waiting for me to finish getting dressed and grabbing a few last-minute photos with my parents and my sister.

My parents

I remember feeling so flustered because I was running late like always and I'd been determined to be on time for my wedding day.  My grandmother, my sister, my mom and I were planted in my parents' bedroom with the photographer so he could capture a few photos of me getting ready while my bridesmaids and flower girl came in and out of the room getting ready.  My grandmother was spraying the hell out of my hair and my mom and sister were both cinching up my dress to within an inch of it's life, and I distinctly remember looking in the mirror and thinking, Oh my God, this is really happening.

The photographer insisted on a few more pictures at home and, honestly, I was totally okay with it.  It was raining outside and I had no desire to try and stuff my beautiful white dress in the limo without dragging it through a puddle or sliding all over the place in my heels.
My grandparents

My {pregnant} sister and me

 We all made it successfully into the limo without incident, rain, heels and all.  The church was about a 10 minute drive from my parents house and I spent the entire ride trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach.  We'd been together for 7 years by this time and had spent the last 2 planning this wedding, but I still couldn't believe that Scott and I were actually getting married.  I kept trying to picture him standing on the altar in his tux, but I just couldn't.  I worried about tripping on my way down the aisle, or passing out because, good lord, my dress was tied tight and heavy, and I was suddenly feeling really hot and shaky and definitely regretting the amount of coffee I'd consumed that morning.  And then we were pulling up to the church and everyone was jumping out of the limo and running for cover from the rain and it was go time.

 My bridesmaids and I were piled into the vestibule of the church, waiting for our cue to go.  I watched them walk down the aisle one by one, and for a minute I was just consumed with nerves.  I honestly didn't think I'd make it down the aisle without passing out and started wondering if there was any way at all I could just stay there in that vestibule, without anyone watching me, until the ceremony was over.  And then my last bridesmaid started down the aisle and I got a glimpse of Scott waiting for me at the altar and, just like that, the nerves were gone.  I was getting married.  To my best friend.  My favorite person.  And he looked so handsome and so happy standing up there.  And I just wanted to be up there next to him, smiling at him and exchanging our vows and being called husband and wife.  Pachelbel's Canon in D started playing and I just remember  looking at my dad and saying, "God, I hope I don't trip.  Whatever you do, don't let me fall", and then I took a deep breath and we started walking.

The trip from my end of the aisle to the altar took all of, maybe, 20 seconds.  But in those 20 seconds time stood still for me and our entire relationship played out in my mind from the very beginning.  That very first day we met.  Those first fluttery does he like me? days.  Meeting each other's families.  Arguments and disagreements and making up.  Holidays.  Vacations.  All the drives back and forth to each other's houses after we'd moved out of the college dorms.  The stress of trying to keep a relationship going when we lived apart and were both student-teaching and trying to finish up our degrees while working part-time jobs and very rarely seeing each other.  The night I thought we were going to break up for good.  The day we graduated college with no jobs and no money and no idea what the hell we were supposed to do now.  The day we moved in together...and then a few weeks later when we lost power and our bathroom toilet exploded and we had to clean everything in the dark.  Kisses.  Hugs.  Promises made and sweet words spoken.  The night Scott proposed.  The months we spent planning our wedding--choosing our colors and flowers and cake and planning our honeymoon.  Tears.  Smiles.  Laughter.  The smile on Scott's face two weeks earlier when he found out he was going to be a father.  The previous night when he kissed me and told me he couldn't wait to marry me in the morning.  By the time I made it down that aisle the only thing I wanted to do was to marry that man.

 I don't even remember what the priest said or the psalms that were read.  I do remember saying my vows and putting Scott's ring on his finger.  I remember looking up at him and knowing that, even though we had no idea what was going to happen in the future and in spite of some of the things that happened in the past, we were going to be okay.  More than okay.  Even if we were dirt poor and living in a box on the street.

Before I knew it, the ceremony was over and Scott and I were making the trek back down the aisle hand in hand.  I remember looking up into the choir loft and seeing all of my preschoolers {who we'd invited to the church}smiling and waving at me.  And I was just so damn happy.

In between all that happiness, our limo left without us and my sister and brother got in a fight with the driver and Scott's aunt fell and whacked her arm at the buffet.  But in between all of that was more love and more joy than I ever could have imagined for my wedding day.  Scott was finally my husband and we were surrounded by our family and friends.  The food was great, the music was awesome, and the entire evening was fun.  More than that, we were ready to spend the rest of our lives together, corny as that sounds {and, believe me when I say that it's corny as hell}. 

I'm sure that every bride swears she'll never forget her wedding day, and I'm no exception.  It was one of the best days of my life, and one that I'd happily live over and over again.  Five years later, I still remember that day very clearly, and I'll never forget how happy I was.  I know it's not a lot of time to have passed but it sometimes feels like forever.  When we first got engaged, my mom kept asking Scott if he was "sure" that this is what he wanted to do and, back then, I was so angry that she was questioning him and us and our commitment.  But as we started planning the wedding, I realized that she was asking him that because marriage is such a big commitment.  It's not a "well, let's give it a shot and if it doesn't work out, there's always divorce" type of thing.  It's for life.  Forever.  My mom wanted to make sure that we were both prepared for the ups and the downs that come with married life...and there have been a lot.  But there's never been a day when I questioned our marriage or my husband, and I count my blessings every day.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Will You Marry Me? The Proposal

Spoiler Alert:  It took 5 years, but he finally put a ring on it, guys.

The proposal was everything I could have hoped for, and I can't wait for the day when Bailey or Gerry ask me about it.  Scott had surprised me with tickets to see a show and stay the night in a hotel in New York for Christmas that year {2007}.  I was thrilled...thrilled!  The date was December 22nd and we met up that morning with my sister and brother-in-law who were also going.  The plan was to take the bus to NYC so that we wouldn't have to worry about leaving our car anywhere...but, after spending a solid hour at the bus station and then being told that even though we had reservations we weren't guaranteed an actual seat on a bus and thus may never actually make it to the city, we ended up piling in the car and driving.  We made it there with just enough time to grab some dinner in the hotel restaurant before heading off to see Hairspray.

 We headed a few blocks away to get in {a ridiculously long} line to see the show, and I remember being so cold.  December in New York is absolutely beautiful...but freezing.  We enjoyed the show and got the obligatory {and over-priced} Hairspray souvenir cup, and then headed off to check out Rockefeller Center.  I'll admit this was my sole reason for wanting to come to New York in the winter.  The tree all lit up, the crazy crowds, the ice skaters...I love it all.  I mean, look how beautiful!

 So we head down to Radio City Music Hall and it was just breathtaking...and there were so many people.  My brother-in-law suggested we take a picture in front of the tree -- as close as we could get to it, anyway.  So we snapped a few pictures of him and my sister and then my sister tells us to stand there for our photo.  "Jess, stand in front of Scott.  Now, Scott,  put your arms around her...act like you like her!"   And I remember thinking, for God's sake, just take the damn picture....and then I felt Scott's arms around my waist and heard him say, "Look down".  And, because I hate having my picture taken and just wanted to be done, I plastered a smile on my face and told him "Shut up and smile."  Because I'm classy like that, and it's how I'd always pictured my proposal going...

Eventually, I got a clue looked down and saw the ring box in Scott's hands, and time froze.  For me, anyway.  There were a million and one thoughts running through my head, spanning the gamut from WTF is this? to No way...no way! to This is really happening...

 I'm pretty sure I didn't even give him a chance to actually ask, Will you marry me?  I just dove right in with, "Is this for real?!"  We'd been dating for five years by this point and I'd thought he was going to propose when we'd gone to Aruba back in August.  He didn't, though he had the ring then, because he knew how much I loved New York at Christmastime and he wanted my proposal to be special.  And special it was.  But completely unexpected after Aruba.  I remember him taking my glove off and putting the ring on my finger and finally asking me to marry him.  I remember the huge crowd that was surrounding us at the time.  I remember gazing at that ring and being absolutely shocked that he had chosen a ring that was so perfect for me, and one that I would have chosen for myself had I been the one to pick it out.  It was beautiful and shiny and the diamond...oh, I loved it.

After calling my parents and my grandparents and, I think, Scott's parents, we finally walked back to our hotel, where there was a bottle of champagne waiting for us, compliments of my sister and brother-in-law.  We toasted and I stared at my ring some more and then we went to the bar down the street for more celebratory drinks.

I can neither confirm nor deny this, but I may have made it a point to get regular manicures for, like, a year leading up to the proposal.  Just in case. 

The next day was Sunday {family dinner day}, and my family and Scott's were all at my parents' house when we got home.  There were congratulations all around, and my mom gave me a gift bag full of bridal magazines, and I think I came back to Earth sometime that night.  Over the next few days, we picked a date and told all of our friends, and I just remember being so happy.  I wish I could better put into words exactly how I was feeling at the time, but I can't.  But you better believe it's a day I'll never forget.  The drive, the show, the actual proposal...I couldn't have picture it any more perfectly. 

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