How We Celebrate Easter

In our house, Easter is about learning about the Passover and the death and resurrection of Jesus not a bunny.

What we emphasize and teach during the Easter season is nothing new to our family because our lives are centered around Christ on a daily basis. Instead it is a time to reflect and remember what we tend to take for granted on a daily basis.

It is a time for our kids to tell the story of Jesus in their own words and what it means to them. They get to ask questions they are wrestling with as they get older and are searching for their own truths. It is our time as a family to profess the foundation of our faith and increase the depth of our learning as our children grow up.

Our week of following the days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus ends on Sunday Morning as we celebrate his resurrection in church giving praise for his ultimate sacrifice. We leave church prepared to celebrate with the world.

It is my job to balance our task of living in the world without living as the world does. That does not mean we shun the commercialism part of Easter. In fact the opposite is true for us.

Our kids get Easter baskets, although their loot normally consist of some sort of devotion book, they wait for the Easter bunny, they collect eggs (confetti not hard boiled because yuck), we eat chocolate bunnies and peeps and we have a feast in fellowship with our family (who mainly consist of non-believers) and friends.

Everyone who comes over for our feast knows before we dig in Mr. C will lead us in prayer and my son will recite in his own words the significance of Jesus dying on a cross. They will see scripture framed throughout our home. The kids will share with their cousins what they learned in church in a natural kids being kids kind of way.

We will spend time at the park playing kickball or softball. We have sac races and other games of the sort. We will play a series of minute to win it games and a round or two of Easter themed Pictionary. There will be laughter, fellowship and above all else love.

 Easter KidsEASTER SAC RACES t-ball;easter;d-backs 381EASTER EASTER !

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Mr. C and I have been in Las Vegas since Wednesday. We flew up for a friend’s wedding but stayed an extra night in an effort to turn the trip into a quick getaway. The last time I flew on a plane was also the last time I was in Las Vegas. That would be nine years ago.

If you want to gauge how old you are really getting, go to Vegas. Mr. C’s time leading up to the wedding was filled with wedding duties leaving me to fend for myself. I knew this going in and to be honest I was kind of excited about the me time.

Vegas 2When we checked in Mr. C used his sales skills to negotiate us into a suite, an upgrade from our standard room. Originally I didn’t really care what kind of room we had because in my mind I would wander the town, shop, gamble, sit out by the pool, hang out in the sports book and maybe even have a drink during the day. Let me just say I am thankful for my extra television in my personal living room area because instead I was holed up in our suite reading, resting, drinking Starbucks, watching baseball and working out. The crazy thing is, I loved every minute of it. Apparently when you are pushing forty this is how you do Vegas.

I did manage to go out to dinner with Mr. C a couple of times and to a concert with some other friends (the only other “couple” attending the wedding). I am normally the only girl when Mr. C gets together with old friends so I was thankful there was another wife in attendance.

We all actually worked together once upon a long time ago. Mr. C and J have known each other since junior high and were roommates when we met. Our oldest kids are a month apart and they were married seven months after us.

They moved to San Antonio for work (an option Mr. C and I declined because of Kaleb, my step-son) twelve years ago so we don’t see each other often. I had a great time. We have enough in common that our conversations were easy and we were different enough that it kept the conversations interesting and fresh. Does that make sense? I realized Mr. C and I could benefit from those kind of friends in our everyday life.

Vegas 1It is always fun to attend your friends weddings. For us, whenever another one of Mr. C’s childhood friends get married it is like a mini reunion from our wedding. I love that he is still friends with guys he went to grade school, junior high and high school with. That is over twenty years worth of memories for him and fourteen years for me. It is safe to say they are more like family than friends.

It was nice to getaway from the busy of my everyday but I couldn’t help but miss my babies. They had so much going on. I was forced to live vicariously through text messages and quick phone calls. My mother-in-law is a saint. I am thankful for her continued willingness to go above and beyond to help us out. At the end of the trip I was ready to come back home.

Is it crazy that a Vegas trip would leave me well rested and recharged?  This morning the alarm went off and I began the shower merry-go-round. I made breakfast, packed lunches, administered allergy and asthma medication, braided hair, broke up a sibling squabble, went over the plans for the day, prayed for the kids, and gave away as many hugs and kisses as time would permit. I opened my lap top for the first time in five days, answered e-mails, wrote this blog post and registered two kids for Summer Camp. Back to life, back to reality and it feels so good.

How often do you get away with your significant other or alone?

What do you do rest and recharge?

 

Working It Out Wednesday: Staying the course

STC 1I am still trying to find my groove in this whole get fit journey. I have days when I eat right, work out, and go to bed feeling like a rock star. Then the very next day I eat garbage and blow off exercise. It is mind boggling to me because my desire to stay the course is the same on both days. However, progress is progress so I am cutting myself some slack.

I am making healthier choices when it comes to food more times than not. I have been to the gym more times in one week than I have in previous months. So, that’s a good thing right?

Meal prep and planning ahead are proving to be a necessity. I live in a world of taxi driving and snack bars. Temptation and poor choices are everywhere.

Breakfast and lunch are becoming routinely healthy but dinner is a different ball game. Our family eats healthy-ish as a whole in general so I can get away with serving salmon and grilled chicken for dinner a few nights a week but I have a growing family who is accustomed to the comfort of Mexican food and pasta for dinner.

This is real life and in real life sometimes portion control is the best we can do. I’m okay with that. Right now I’m not counting calories or checking the scale every day, or even every week. I’m just trying to build a foundation I could continue to build from.

Mind games have been a big part of daily life so far. Instead of telling myself I can’t have something. I have been saying you can as much of (insert whatever healthy foods are in your house right now) as you want. Sounds silly but instead of grabbing for a bag of chips, I have been grabbing a handful of almonds. So don’t knock it until you try it.

STC 2Right now my focus is finding foods that fuel my body and taste good. I am an extremely picky eater. Some of my favorite foods right now are Quinoa, almonds, Edamame, mango-spinach-coconut water smoothie and Fig Newtons as a treat.

Are you staying the course despite set-backs?

What are your go-to healthy snacks?

5 Ways to Find Joy in the Mundane

mundane

This morning was not like any other. In fact all of our school days are pretty much routine. I wake the kids up by horrifically butchering some version of a good morning song or by whispering in their ear the events of the day. Showers are completed. Breakfast is made and eaten. Lunches are packed. Papers are signed. The yells or hurry-up begin as we pile into our car. Prayers are said. Quick goodbye kisses and shouts of , “I love you. Shine like a star…” are said as the kids get out of the car and walk into school.

My week will consist of doing loads and loads of laundry, cleaning restrooms, sweeping up the creative mess of the weekend, mopping floors, making beds, meal planning, doing dishes, buying team snacks, baking treats for our kids Bible study, packing for a long overdue getaway with Mr. C, writing out a schedule for my mother-in-law, squeezing in a run, writing and scheduling blog post for the week, going to a baseball/softball game every day this week, and whatever else is thrown my way. The truth is, aside for our getaway, every Monday I could hit copy and paste because this is my life. My complete and perfect mundane life.

I didn’t always see it that way. When I first became a stay at home mom my life was filled every second of every day with the demanding needs of infants and toddlers. I often refer to it as the survival years. When my time became less demanding I starting to resent my predictable life.

I was in a cycle of bitterly doing household duties and neglecting them all together. There had to be something bigger and better out there for me I was supposed to be doing. I started searching for something, anything, else to define who I was.

After years of feeling confused and disgruntled, I realized being a housewife is the bigger and better I had been searching for. I rebelled because I felt ill-equipped as a wife and mom, I still do. However I now tackle each mundane day with joy. How did I come to this realization? I simply changed my perspective.

Hindsight is an eye opener when all of your kids are in school, you have five hours of free time each day and you are wishing you could recapture the joy of watching them do anything for the first time. I wish I had this perspective sooner. I can’t change that but would I can do is share my wisdom (I use that word loosely) with you.

5 Ways to Find Joy in the Mundane 

1.) Have Gratitude: Spend time everyday counting your blessings by writing them down. It may sound cheesy but it works. The more time you spend giving thanks the less time you have for complaint. After I did this for a couple of months I found myself thanking God the food in our fridge, my family being abundantly clothed, the extra finances for sports, and indoor plumbing instead of grumbling about housework.

2.) Get a Hobby: I was partly searching for something better because I had neglected my own needs. Although being a housewife is my priority it does not mean I can’t explore outside hobbies or even a career. After trying out different activities I have discovered that writing has become a necessary outlet to maintaining my joy. I also run, attend a Bible Study that also serves as fellowship, and every once in a while I go out with the friends. Doing things that feed my soul help me to relax and refresh making me a better wife and mom.

3.) Live in the Moment: One of the greatest gifts I have given myself is permission to chuck my to-do list. Look there is so much planning that needs to be done in order to keep our busy household in order so I am not saying to give up planning. What I am saying is your housework will be there tomorrow. Trust me. Take time for the impromptu dance in the rain, bike ride, couch snuggle, pajama day, video game competition, dance party, swing jumping, sidewalk chalk drawing, science experiment, and dessert before dinner days. In other words, enjoy the reasons your life is what it is today.

4.) Change Your Perspective: Being a mom is no joke. It is extremely hard to find joy when your kids are bickering, dinner is a bust, finances are low, or your kids are sick, again. I know. I get it. In the most difficult of times I remember those who want to desperately but can’t conceive or those who have lost a child. Just turn on the news and we are reminded everyday that our time here on Earth can be taken away without warning. In those times I am most thankful for the mundane.

5.) Put God First: I once heard God referred to as our Power Source. I love the truth in this analogy. As a mom it is easy to get overwhelmed. If we are to maintain joy in our every day life we need power from the only source who can give it to us, God. I start my everyday with a short and simple prayer for strength before my feet hit the floor and our routine begins. Being filled with the Holy Spirit provided me with the strength to be the kind of mom I want to be.

It is easy to use the word mundane to describe a day in the life of a housewife. However, if you string together three hundred and sixty-five days of ordinary you might just discover you are living an extraordinary life according to your purpose.

Do you struggle to find joy in the mundane?

Do you have any tips to add to the list?

 

I’ve Got Nothing

It’s Friday. I know that may seem like common knowledge to most but because the kids skipped school on Monday, for a very good reason mind you, my days have been skewed. So much so that I sent my daughter to school forty-five minutes early on Wednesday despite the fact she had a late start, just like the previous thirty-five Wednesdays this school year. Who’s counting, right?

Anyway I had hoped to have some brilliant post on parenting or faith but I’ve got nothing. Why? Because I have spent the majority of my week at the baseball park, including a major league one. I almost skipped a post altogether but decided to substitute brilliance with my ramblings. I know. You can thank me later.

We started Monday by continuing on a family tradition that was started by my daddy in 1998 when the Arizona Diamondbacks became a Major League Baseball team and then continued when Mr. C and I started dating of attending their home opener. We have only missed one as a family. Ironically, Mr. C and I postponed our honeymoon to attend but the baby had a high fever and because she was my first child I freaked out and took her to the ER and gave away our tickets. Reasonable right?

nothing 2

The word you are looking for is anyway… The kids skipped school because MLB Opening Day should be a national holiday in our book. My mother in law met us at our house and we took the light rail out to the game. Our oldest son met us there. Can we just pause for a second and acknowledge the fact that we have a twenty-one year old son who still shows up and participates is family traditions. Oh by the way he is my step-son to boot! Anytime all four of our kids are together it fills me with so much joy. This day was no exception.

nothing 1

Going to this game meant that our ten-year old son missed one of his little league games. At this age, it’s a big deal, to him. As a sports family our kids rarely miss a sports related obligation but this gave us the perfect opportunity to teach our son that sometimes family and traditions are more important than one little league game.

Then yesterday morning  I was watching the Today show with my son before school and we saw this story about the MLB player who caught flack for using his paternity leave to be with his wife while she gave birth to their child. I mean can you believe the audacity of this man? For heavens sake they should have scheduled a C-Section as one former NFL quarterback suggested.

My son could see the smoke coming out of my ears and knew a long-winded rant was about to come. I did not disappoint. I went off on the poor kid about what is truly important and if he ever makes it to the BIGS he better not even…and so on. Then for good measure, and much calmer, at dinner I casually mentioned how much I appreciated and loved their daddy being with my while I gave birth to each of them because we know that others are not as fortunate to have the choice.

nothing 3

Speaking of my son, I am enjoying watching him play. He has played for the same coach for more than five season and this is his first year he is playing for a different coach. Although we are truly grateful for his previous coach because he and his family have become great friends but switching things up has been beneficial to our son.

He has grown leaps and bounds in just a few practices. On Little League Opening Day he put on a show by hitting a legit in the park home run, meaning it wasn’t due to an error by the other team, threw a guy out at second, threw two guys out on third and tagged a guy out at home for the third and winning out. It was a definite “that’s my boy” moment. Last nights game however was a “who’s this kid” kind of game so it evens out. I kid. I am very much proud of him no matter the outcome. Seriously, I am.

Then there is my daughter’s team. I may just go completely grey after this season. You can insert every known rant about having a ill-equipped coach here because I have decided to do my best not to rant anymore because it’s not doing anyone any good. In addition to this her starting pitcher was hit in the collar-bone off of a direct line drive causing her to be out a few games (thankfully it wasn’t broken) and her back up quit on Opening Day.

My daughter is the only other girl on the team with pitching experience. So, even though she hasn’t pitched in an entire season she took the mound yesterday. She did great. One strike out, one walk, two balls hit back to the mound (both fielded for the out by her) but her defense couldn’t make an out to save their life, mostly because they have not been taught how to, so it looked like she was lit up. She threw nothing but strikes, slow right over the plate strikes but she did her job.

nothing 4

Then there is my youngest child who spends her nights wrangling up all the other kids who were drugged there by their parents to watch their brother or sister play ball to play anything but ball. She gets her one night a week of glory during gymnastics. For one hour a week I watch as she tackles these incredible skills without fear. After each task she looks up to make sure I am looking, just as I do the others. I am.

I know soon my nights will be spent worrying and praying my kids make their curfew safe and sound. Soon my calendar will be empty, my kids will be grown and gone and all I will have are the memories. I remind myself of this on the nights when after the kids are tucked in and Mr. C and I say goodnight and I  am tired, exhausted and I have nothing left because I know it is so worth it.

Working It Out Wednesday: The Dreaded Before Pic

Last month I embarked on a 30 Day Challenge. The purpose of the challenge was to try to jump-start my stalled get fit journey. It wasn’t about the scale or my waist line. Instead it was an effort to stop talking about losing weight and start doing something, anything, about it.

It is time to take the challenge to the next level and get real. This whole getting fit thing is hard. I need to accept that it is not going to happen overnight, or in a week. If I want to do it right and make it at true lifestyle it is going to be a slow (according to my standards) all-encompassing journey.

With that being said my goals this month are:

Plan: Groundbreaking, I know. Last moth when I had meals prepped and the fridge stocked with healthy choices I ate well. The problem was this didn’t always happen. In order to succeed more days than not, I need to have my meals and work-outs pre-planned.

Temporary Sacrifice: I have gained so much weight because I have denied myself nothing. I eat to my heart’s delight under the pretense that this one thing is no big deal. The problem is all the one things add up. I have to remind myself that in order to achieve my goal I have to temporarily make sacrifices until I am at a point when I can indulge, in moderation of course, without ruining all my hard work.

Suck It Up Buttercup: I am the queen of excuses. I often let my everyday obligations get in the way of working out. I have to remind myself I am no different from any other housewife out there getting it done. I want to be an example and encourager to others who want to get fit while living a real life.

Extend Myself Grace: I have a tendency to throw in the towel after one set back whether it be a poor food choice or a missed work-out. It is an instant motivation killer. Any of us who have tried and failed along this journey knows there will be set-backs. I need to learn to find the balance between extending myself grace while staying motivated.

Weigh-In Every Other Week: As much as I truly believe it is not all about the scale, the scale is a great motivator and truth teller. In an effort to keep it real, I am embarrassed and ashamed to share with you what is my current and heaviest before picture. I would have much rather waited until I lost a few pounds to be so vulnerable but that defeats the whole purpose of being well, vulnerable.

before 154

These goals allow me the flexibility to get it done without being so restrictive I fail before I even start. This month my focus will be on eating smart, working-out and eliminating mindless eating and drinking.

Where are you on your get fit journey?

What is you biggest obstacle?

What one goal can you set for yourself this month?

 

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                                                      I’ve added my blog to the Hump Day Blog Hop                                                                              hosted by Fitness Blondie and Co-Hosted by Life According to Steph

The Hump Day Blog Hop

What surprises me most after 11 years of marriage

11 years

I spent all of last week sharing Our Story. The trip down memory lane made me both laugh and cry. All the while I couldn’t help thinking of just how far Mr. C and I have come.

On Saturday night, March 29th , Mr. C and I went out to celebrate our eleven years of marriage. As soon as we settled into our home for the night (a strategically located spot in walking distance to the Metro light rail), I put my phone away and made a conscious effort not to reach for it.

Instead of playing “rock, paper, scissors: or “whose day was worse” to decided on who would be the designated driver we opted to use the Metro Light Rail as our source of transportation for the night. We started out in Central Phoenix for dinner at St. Francis followed by a trip to SunUp Brewery and then back on the light rail to Downtown Phoenix to spend a few hours at Copper Blues before getting back on the light rail, giving each other a high-five for staying out until 1:00 am and calling it a night.

It was an amazing night of laughter and reflection. During dinner we discussed what about our life are we most surprised by eleven years later. We were in consensus about how fast eleven years has gone by marked by how grown up our twelve-year-old daughter is becoming plus the fact that Kaleb is twenty-one and out on his own.

Then it hit me. I am most surprised by how normal, better yet traditional our life is now.

I was raised in a highly dysfunctional home, abandoned by my mother with years of emotional and verbal abuse that followed, raised by an alcoholic single father, left home as a teenager and was a wayward youngster for years before getting my life back on track only to get pregnant out-of-wedlock, twice after my dad died.

I have never known normal or traditional a day in my life. Yet, here I was living the most traditional life and loving every single second of it.

Mr. C is our sole financial provider, I stay at home and run our household, the kids are excelling in school and are all involved in extra curricular activities and above all else, God is the center of our family.

Mr. C and I continue to be the exception to our statistically doomed, on paper, relationship. People see the married couple Mr. C and I are today and they want we have. What they don’t see is the years of hard work and our fight like hell mentality to keep our marriage thriving. Our traditionally, normal fairytale life did not come easy, but it sure has been worth it.

Eleven years later I wake up every single day and thank God for our imperfectly, perfect marriage.

What surprises you most about your marriage today?

 

Our Story: After the I Do’s

family 13

Today Mr. C and I are celebrating our eleventh wedding anniversary. In honor of making our marriage work over a decade I have dedicate this week to sharing our story. I have shared how we metthe proposal, our wedding and the honeymoon.

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In case you missed any of our story you can click the links above to catch up. In the meantime here is the cliff notes version:

Mr. C and I met at work and started a year later, after my dad died.

A few months after we started dating, I became pregnant. A few months after that I miscarried. A few months after that I was pregnant again and we moved in with each other.

After the baby was born we moved into a more affordable place and I quit working after one day of day care.

I struggled to find my identity in being a mom and a pseudo step-mom to his son from a previous relationship who spent the majority of his time with us.

We had a huge fight and in the end wound up engaged.

We bought a house out in the middle of BFE.

We were married on March 29th 2003, nearly three years after we started dating, in what I believe to be the most amazing wedding celebration ever.

We had a low-key, low-budget, we just bought a house, paid for our own wedding, and have two kids honeymoon by visiting three different MLB parks in California and it was perfect.

This is the part in the fairytale when the happily ever after is supposed to happened but it didn’t. It turns out changing my last name didn’t help my identity crisis. In fact for the first few years of my marriage it made it worse.

Also, becoming Mrs. C didn’t miraculously alleviate the whole chaos of being a blended family. Even in the best of circumstances being a blended family, if you care to do it right, is an exhausting, frustrating selfless task.

Getting married doesn’t solve a broken past or the unresolved issues you had while you were dating. No, it exasperates them. At least it did for us.

For the first year of our marriage we fought. I’m talking about knock-em-out drag-em-out fighting all night, crying yourself to sleep only to wake up the next day fueled with more anger and sadness you’re not sure if you are relieved your husband is leaving to work or sad that you will be spending another day in the middle of no where with a toddler, an infant and step-son feeling alone and unappreciated.

There were good times too but they were overshadowed by the pain. Our marriage was a heaping broken mess of hopelessness. I found myself on my knees, in tears begging God to help us. A God I had put on the back burner when my dad died.

Mr. C and I had attended church like most of America, on Christmas and Easter. After an Easter service in 2004, a couple of months after our son was born, I felt my heart yearning for more. Mr. C and I decided to attend on a regular basis and it was as if God was fast tracking the answer to my prayer.

I joined a MOPS group shortly after and a few months later Mr. C and I joined a couples Bible study group. I attribute both to saving our marriage.
We made rebuilding the foundation of our marriage in Christ a priority.

It wasn’t easy and we had to work really, really hard. We messed up more times than not but we stayed the course. In April of 2005 we both surrendered our lives to the Lord in baptism and our lives have been forever changed.

I do not take pleasure in sharing all of my shortcomings. I was a broken little girl in a big world who was born to a teenage mother who was deemed unlovable by her mother, raised by an amazing single father who battled alcoholism but in the end gave his life to the disease. I allowed myself to get pregnant not once but twice out-of-wedlock, miscarried the first time and then proceeded to sabotage my marriage on a daily basis but that is not who I am today. Today I am a wife, mother, sister, friend and above all else a child of God.

I have written with tears in my eyes all week-long to share our story for two reasons. 1.) to let others in similar situation know they are not alone and 2.) to give all the glory to God for whom I am confident is solely responsible for working a miracle in our marriage and in us.

11 Anniversary

Today we celebrate eleven years of marriage, to God be all the glory.

 

Our Story: The Honeymoon

This Saturday, March 29th, Mr. C and I will celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary. In honor of making our marriage work over a decade I decided to dedicate this week to sharing our story. This week I will share how we metthe proposal, our wedding, the honeymoon and life today.

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HM 2

We knew that our honeymoon would have to be a low-key, low-budget get away because we had just bought a house, paid for a fairytale wedding, and had two kids to provide for. We opted to drive up to California and visit three MLB Baseball Parks. I know what your thinking? Best wife of a couple of days ever! In actuality it is my dream to visit every MLB park.

HM 3We drove out to San Diego first and saw the Padres play at Qualcomm Stadium. Neither of us had ever been there so we spent a bunch of time exploring the Stadium. It didn’t really have a baseball feel because it was truly home of the San Diego Chargers. The Padres now play at a beautifully park of their own and we have been fortunate to have watched several games there but I digress.  We spent the rest of our time in San Diego wandering around the city, the beach and just relaxing. We love San Diego.

A few days later we drove out to Los Angeles and visited Dodger Stadium. Mr. C had never been there but I had been there several times with my daddy. It was bittersweet for me. We lucked out because the Arizona Diamondbacks (best team ever) were playing the Dodgers. I even managed to get Mark Grace to acknowledge me by screaming his name like a maniac during warm-up. Too bad I couldn’t form words after that but still, MARK GRACE!

We were also able to visit the Anaheim Angels for the first time for us both. I think they were coming off of a recent world series win because they had their trophy displayed in all its glory. It was really cool. We happened to be in attendance during girls softball night and we were surrounded by them. Who knew it was a glimpse into our future? I left that stadium thinking, man they have the best hot dogs!

I could watch baseball all day, every day.  I loved every minute of visiting these three parks.

HM 1We spent a few more days just wandering around the city with no real plans. On a whim we decided to visit Disney’s California Adventure Park on our last day in California. We had never been . We had so much fun because, hello, Disney. It was amazing being able to wonder around, hand in hand with a permanent smile on our face.

In retrospect our honeymoon was the first time Mr. C and I had been away, alone, in almost two years. It was the first time we are able to take a deep breath and appreciate the gravity of what life has dealt us and yet we persevered.

We were able to reflect on just how much we can forgive when we choose love. A lesson we would have to learn over and over again in the years to come.

We returned from our honeymoon and jumped right back into life. A life that required us to parent a ten-year old and a one year old, continue to adjust to being a blended a family, living almost an hour away from town, being a sole provider, being a stay at home mom, and after three months of marriage being pregnant, again!

I loved every single second of our honeymoon. It fit us and our personalities perfectly. It provided the calm before the storm but that’s a story for another day.

Did you go on a honeymoon?

Where did you go?

 

 

Our Story: The Wedding

This Saturday, March 29th, Mr. C and I will celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary. In honor of making our marriage work over a decade I decided to dedicate this week to sharing our story. This week I will share how we met, the proposal, our wedding, the honeymoon and life today.

 

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wedding 003

 

When I think back about our wedding day I always, always smile. It was the most perfect, imperfect day of my day life. Sure I had to do all the planning with my soon-to-be ten-year old step-son in tow and baby on my hip and we decided to buy new build house out in the middle of BFE during our engagement, closing two months before our wedding but that’s what makes our story so special.

The Rings:

wed 2We went shopping for rings together. I picked out mine and he picked out his. Both rings are simple and platinum, or simple because platinum is expensive.

The Dress:

annierversary 10 001

This was my least favorite part of the planning because I had to do it without Mr. C. I have never been the most girlie of girls. I blame nurture and not nature but it is what it is. I am most comfortable in jeans and T-shirt but I knew on this day I wanted to look like a princess but the process was overwhelming.

I went with my maid of honor/best friend in the universe to a family owned bridal shop, the first time around. I ended up picking a ridiculously traditionally puffy Mexican style dress out of haste. In that moment all I could do was miss my daddy and curse my mom for leaving me. I just wanted it done.

My sister convinced me to go looking again. This time with her at a different dress shop. She is the fashionista in our family and I am thankful for that. We browsed the racks and we each selected a few. I walked into the dressing room and hanging up was the perfect dress.

I called my sister in and asked if it was weird to want the dress the person in front of me didn’t. She made me try it on. I knew it was the one but she made me try on all the others before I made my final decision.

She spent the day shaking her head in a no, yes or maybe each time I came out of the dressing room. She gave me the experience I almost missed out because she understood my anxiety and made me deal with it anyway. Sure I lost my deposit on the other dress but it was worth it. She made me feel like a princess. I picked the dressing room dress because it was perfect.

The Location:

wedding 004This was the most exhausting search known to man kind. If there is a non-church wedding venue in the Metro-City area of Phoenix we have toured it. Every place we said no to was because it was either too big, too small, too many restrictions, too desert looking, Vetoed from the parking low or unavailable.

We finally found and reserved The Ocotillo Golf Course. The ceremony would be outside with the reception inside with sparkly lights mimicking stars. (Okay! I might be a bit girly) The food and liquor options were fabulous. But what really sealed the deal was getting half off golf fees for up to four people from the date we reserved until the wedding day.
The Photographer/Videographer/DJ
All of these guys were on the referred vendor list from our location. I walked into the photographers office and he was playing the Eagles DVD and I knew he would be the one to capture our wedding in photos. He recommended the videographer because they had worked together countless times before so I booked him too. I love the one million wedding photos we have and we watch our video every year.  The DJ, well, we all had a great time.

The Food and Drink:
We served a salad, swordfish and filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus and chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. We offered an open bar (beer and wine) and a cash option for all other liquor.

Our Cake:

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For obvious oinker reasons this was my favorite, and easiest part of the planning. I went with a simple tiered vanilla w/strawberry’s cake and opted for the top to be spiced vanilla. Our florist and good friend decorated it with roses.

The Flowers:

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I am a bit of a traditionalist and went with red roses. A family friend made all of the things that required flowers, including the decorating the venue with some. I am thankful for her because I had no clue.

The Centerpieces:

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Mr. C and I attended one of those huge bridal shows at the Phoenix Convention Center. Aside for the free samples, we were about to call it a bust when I found our centerpieces. They were these tall candelabras. We had them painted silver and our florist decorated them beautifully with roses. We also had little votive candles everywhere, inside and out.

The Wedding Party:

wedding 008Mr. C has remained friends with a handful of guys from as early as grade school. They were all in the wedding. His brother, Gabe, served as the best man and our son, Kaleb and my Maid of Honor’s son, Chris, served as ring bearers. We did use the original bridal shop, Azteca Bridal for all of the tuxes.

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Me on the other hand, I am a bit of a loner. My cousin, Margaret as you know served as the Maid of Honor. My two sisters, Monica and Esther, my brother’s then girlfriend and my bestest, and only pen pal friend since I was twelve, flew in from Rhode Island rounded out my bridesmaids.

I was walking through Dillard’s one day and found simple bridesmaid dresses in our wedding color, red-ish. They were altered at the same bridal shop I bought my dress.

The Wedding Day:

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On the day of the wedding all of the girls met at our house and we took a limo to get our hair done. From there we went to the venue to get dressed. My sisters and I could not look at each other because we knew we would start crying, an ugly cry. It was clear I was about to get married and my dad wouldn’t be walking me down the aisle, so we avoided eye contact.

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Aside from that I was unusually calm. I was not anxious, at all. It was a weird feeling to have stone sober. The pre-wedding pictures kept us all entertained until go time.

The Ceremony:

bobby 001My baby brother walked me down the aisle while a five piece orchestra played the traditional Wedding March. The ceremony was fairly short with the traditional vows being read by a paid officiator. Before Mr. C and I said I Do, a special family circle prayer was read to include a blessing over our children, Kaleb and Karisa (I truly thought I would be getting married with a baby on my hip but Karisa went down for a nap right before the ceremony started so just her name was included). It was important to me that Kaleb knew that I promised he would always be a part of our family. I have kept that promise.

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Mr. C and I said I Do on March 29th 2003, as the sun was setting. It was perfect.

Cocktail Reception:

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A guitarist played and appetizers were served while the bridal party took a million pictures. I heard it was pretty cool.

The Reception:

annierversary 10 019Before dinner was served, Margaret’s Dad blessed our food and our marriage. Our wedding party was introduced right before Mr. C and I made our first appearance as man and wife. Our guest ate while some instrumental Led Zeppelin played in the background.

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Then Mr. C and I danced our first dance to Love Will Keep Us Alive by the Eagles. Mr. C and his mom danced the Mother/Son dance to A Song for my Son and because the DJ didn’t have Benny and the Jets… My brother and I danced to Butterfly Kisses to a tear filled room.

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Then, we partied. We danced and laughed all night long.

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At the end of the night our kids were sent home with family who stayed behind to clean up the aftermath and Mr. C and I left to spend our first night as man and wife. It was the most amazing night of my life.

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