Dec 31, 2008

Good vibrations

Christmas morning we got a text from our good friend Matt saying he and his girlfriend, Erin, were engaged. Yay! They are sweet and fun couple.

Later in the week we found out that Christmas evening Matt had a seizure. They took him to the hospital and a brain tumor was discovered. He's only 27.

Fortunately we can report that Matt had surgery and is doing very well. The tumor was a low grade cancer (so not too serious in terms of cancer) and its all been removed. They are still waiting for the test results to see if there is any other cancer. But so far everything looks great.

Matt's family started a blog to keep everyone posted on his condition. Though I don't know if I would have thought to do that, its been great for answering our daily question of "how's Matt?"

Even though you probably don't know Matt, if you have some extra good vibrations you need to find a home for, send them to Matt and Erin.

Dec 27, 2008

You and me and the puppy makes three


Lexi and Ross
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
We brought her home! This is our new puppy, Lexi.

We got her from Town Lake Animal Center. She's 8 months old (they estimate her birthday is April 16) and is a pointer mix. She weighs about 35 pounds and is super cute and friendly.

She's also a handful. We took her to Ross' parents' house today...which was probably a mistake on our part. Too much on her first day. She got carsick on the drive, started barking at Russell and then got carsick again on the way home. She's also peed on the carpet twice today. It's only been four hours!

And we think she's schizo. She barks randomly at nothing. Bizzare-o dog.

But she's cute and we're sure that once she gets used to her new home some of these things will improve. I'm really glad we're both home every day for the next 8 days to help her adjust.

Welcome to the family Lexi Black!

Dec 23, 2008

Ross thinks I'm nuts

And he laughs and nods as he reads that title.

I started thinking about how the wedding day is going to run. Like when are the chairs going to be moved from the ceremony site to the reception site and who is going to do it? Who will do the table settings while I am being made pretty?

So my inner OCD person said it's time to start a timeline! Which, for the record, I have been told by multiple sources is a good idea for keeping the party rolling. So create a first draft timeline I did. And he saw it and thinks I'm nuts.

"Is there a scheduled bathroom break for me?" Ha ha ha. Isn't he clever? And no there is not one scheduled but with the exception of 4:30-6:30, go for it. (That's the ceremony and photo time.)

Yes, it's a little detailed. It includes of course the big things like "Groom arrives" and "Ceremony begins" but it includes some little details like "flower pails moved inside" and "Grandmothers seated." I know these are little details and they don't need to happen at the exact scheduled time but I swear we need a general time frame. Right? It has to be important to know that the flower pails will be moved inside during formal pictures (and by people not in those pictures but on hand to help). And I know seating the Grandmothers, the Queen Mums if you will, is important. They have wheelchairs so we need to designate people to wheel them. Yes they are little things but I swear if I don't write them in schedule they won't happen smoothly (or at all) and I'll be left saying "Where is Grandma!? It's October; I know she did not get run over by a reindeer!"

So girls and in-the-know men, do me a favor. Support me in my timeline building. Help me convince Ross that I am not nuts...at least not in regard to this thing. Other things...OK fine, I'll admit to being nuts.

Dec 21, 2008

Modern Bride + Christmas Music = Perfect Sunday

GREAT DAY. I read Modern Bride magazine, called my mom several times to consult about ideas and listened to Christmas music. I even got a little Martha Stewart-y and made a holiday Chex Mix. (It's only "holiday" because Christmas is one of the few occasions when I will make Chex Mix in the oven as opposed to just buying a flavored bag.)

In my perusing of Modern Bride magazine I read a fun idea: to make every table different so as to avoid the mass production feel. We're not talking one is flamingo themed and another covered in Tiffany's blue. Not That different. But, for example, some use orange table cloths with white runners and others are white with orange runners. There is a part of me that loudly says "What fun!" But Mom pointed out that it might get hodge-podgey. I see how this could be a real issue. So that's my challenge, making the tables each fun and unique but keeping the whole thing connected.

I realize to the non-bride, non-event planner, non-OCD decor person this seems like a ridiculous thing to be debating. You say "dang girl, throw a white table cloth, some plates and a flower arrangement on the tables and move on!" And maybe that's exactly what I'll do when it comes down to it. But I have 10 more months until the wedding; more than enough time to evaluate, re-evaluate and re-re-evaluate the merits of matching vs. not matching but coordinated reception tables.

So what do you think? Keep the linens matching but add some personal touches to the other things (centerpieces, favors, table marker things)? Or try the mix-and-match linens in persimmon and white?

Oh the debates of a bride! Life is so hard (back of hand to forehead, head flung back in an exasperated expression).

Dec 20, 2008

Firefighter Ross Black


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
We're done! Ross is officially a state certified firefighter! In the graduation program he was listed as "Firefighter Ross Black."

We're both so happy he's done! He's really enjoyed learning everything but it was a grueling schedule he's happy to leave behind him.

The graduation ceremony was very nicely done. It started with the Georgetown Pipe and Drum Band playing the graduates in. I was pleased to see that because it finally gave me a visual for it, important since Ross really wants to be at Georgetown and in that band.

Then there were some speakers, including Chief Menches who gave good insight into the field and changes that he, as an old man firefighter, expects to see in the next generation. He reiterated the importance of a formal education and I was so relieved to think "formal education? check." He also told us there are 1 million firefighters in the US but only 400,000 are career. The rest are volunteer or part-time. Good thing to remember during the job hunt. I'm glad for Ross' plan to volunteer at Sam Bass FD immediately to keep his skills up while he looks for a full time gig.

Chief Menches also told the cadets to take the holidays to show appreciation to the people who helped make their achievement a reality. Thank you Chief, I agree. :)

AND THEN my honey was recognized for being commanding cadet during live fire training. He got a pretty wood plaque and was fawned over adequately. He even got to speak! Ross did great with the speech - complimenting his lieutenants and the other cadets on a live fire well done.

Finally we had the handing out of diplomas and then off to dinner. Very nice little graduation night.

We told Megan - pretty soon, we'll do it for you!

Dec 15, 2008

Must blog

...about food. I joined the facebook group "Austin food bloggers" but I'll be honest, I'm not a dedicated food blogger. However I can be an amateur. I can write about the occasional recipe success, the good find of a restaurant, the foodie happy hours, CPD cakes and Girl Scout cookies.

But committed foodies, I'll admit it here. Not every blog will be about food. Some are bound to be about my honey, others about our wedding, some about parties with friends (maybe the food at said parties), trips to friends' weddings and of course, Girl Scouts. To earn my place among the Austin foodies though I'll try to sneak in a food blog now and again.

Dec 10, 2008

One delicious article

The article in today's Statesman was beautiful! Paloma started getting emails before noon about her goodies. Yay!!!

I also think we have secured a woman from every TV station in town to be a Girl Scout Cookie bake-off judge next month. We even have the female producer from Univision! Yay!!

Dec 4, 2008

Uh huh, oh yeah, go us

The Statesman is doing a story on Coco Paloma Desserts! Yay! Hurray!

I pitched the food writer a few weeks ago about CPD's appearance at A Christmas Affair and followed up with a link to CPD's blog because it included photos. The writer started reading the blog and recently saw the holiday goodies which sparked a story idea. She's doing a tasting, interview and photo shoot with Paloma on Monday. Rockin'.

Nov 29, 2008

Deck the Halls


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
We're all decorated! We put up our first Christmas tree together last night. It could use a few more decorations but I believe decorations are a gradual process. Our collection will grow as we get to be old. We have about a dozen that are mine from growing up, one Scottish Santa i bought Ross this year, one from our trip to Ft. Davis in August and then some generic glass balls just to fill it out.

Even though the tree is fake, it still smells like Christmas thanks to the good people at Yankee Candle. And thanks to iTunes, it sounds like Christmas too. (Ross is employing a great deal of patience with the music. He's not a big Christmas music person but knows I am and so far is letting me get down to Jingle Bell Rock.)

I also fancied up our dining room table. I found a gold tablerunner which looks great against the dark wood table top. Throw in some fancy napkin rings and gold snowflake candle holders and you have yourself one merry table.

I love Christmas decorations! Happy Holidays!!

Nov 25, 2008

Wedding-Bonanza


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
The past two days have been a wedding bonanza.

First, Larisa finished our save the dates using this photo. I wish I could express to you just how cool our save the date is...because its WAY cool. She did a great job.

Second I went to pick up my wedding dress today but no dice. It was too big. They are reordering it in a size smaller. Way better for the ego than if it had to be reordered bigger.

I also checked out Austin Party Central which has a linen exactly matching the bridesmaids dresses. Very excited about that.

And I sent Nancy and Ross a spreadsheet for creating their half of the guest list.

I chatted with the Marriott Courtyard and the Hilton today about reserving a block of rooms. I think the Marriott might be a better downtown option that the Stephen F. Austin. It isn't as cool but it will fit people's budgets better so more are likely to be able to stay in town. I think staying in town really betters the Austin experience so I want as many people as possible to do that.

Finally on Saturday I have an appointment with a florist who I have heard amazing things about. I'm super duper excited to meet with her.

I'd also like to take a moment to make a shout-out to my cake lady, Paloma. I think Paloma is the cat's meow. Her cakes are amazing and she's been a dream to work with. If you are a bride in Austin, I highly suggest calling up Paloma over at Coco Paloma Desserts and ordering from her. Here's to Paloma!

Nov 22, 2008

Recently...

1) Ross and I pet sat for my coworker Larisa. It mostly went well until day 5 when the puppy decided to ransack our living room. From playing cards to the remote control, she ate it all. She even pulled the table runner off the dining room table and ate the candles that came down with it. We are no longer pet-sitting.

2) My coworker Savita has been promoted to Chief Development Officer! She's amazing. I am very very excited for her and our development team.

3) Nancy and I went to the Junior League's A Christmas Affair today. MD Anderson had a booth there so I got my Christmas cards. Yay! I also got a really cool little Christmas gift for AJ but I can't tell you what it is. What if you are her?

4) My dress is in! I'm going to pick it up this week and take it home to my parents' house. Melissa is coming over there on Wednesday so I can try it on for her. Yay again!

5) Christmas shopping has begun. So far I have checked off Grandma, Gramma (his), half of Ross, AJ/Joe, all the bridesmaids and half of Dad. If you are Kevin, Mom, Dad, Nancy, Jack or Bryanna, please file your requests now.

6) We're having a BIG new year's eve party at the Krzjzaniek's house. (Its spelled something like that, if you know who I am talking about then you know that's pretty close.) You should come.

Nov 11, 2008

One piece at a time

Two things right now are very "one piece at a time."

The first is my lovely Max, my Mac laptop. He is dying. One piece at a time. First the optical drive went. Then the battery life got REALLY low. Now my wireless card is on the fritz. Here I was saying "stupid AT&T wireless doesn't work..." under my breath and turns out, not AT&T. Its my wireless card. I plugged in with a cable and we are up and running at record speeds! Dear Max, hang out til next Christmas. We can't afford for you to bite the dust before then.

The second is the wedding. Brittany and I discussed lighting and music at length today. From mini lanterns on the tables to bagpipes at the ceremony, the wedding is coming together one piece at a time. Yay!

Nov 6, 2008

Hurray!

I hereby declare today to be a GOOD DAY.

I woke up to an email from the Young Nonprofit Professional Network inviting me to join their board of directors as a Member-At-Large. My first board! As a Member-At-Large, I have to be on two committees and they suggested the Programming Committee (I initially applied to be Programming Chair) and the Development Committee. And I was asked to be the sub-chair for the Do-Gooder games, a night of trivia and silly games where the winners get money for a charity of their choice. Yay being on the board!

When I talked to Mom today we had good conversations. First all us gals (Mom, me, Brittany, hopefully Nancy, Megan and Gramma) are going to see the Radio City Rockettes when they come to Austin next month. Yay! And little brother turned in a 27-page paper and got his grade back...an A!

We're not done yet. Ross aced his truck driving test today. ACED it I tell you.

Yay!

Nov 5, 2008

Nov 2, 2008

Baby Borrower



Let's make one thing clear - Ross and I are NOT ready for babies yet. We're really aiming to be married first, and if possible, married for a couple years. But I do love babies and kiddos so when I see cute ones, even if they aren't mine (obviously) I still want to show them off to the other people in the world who love babies and kiddos.

But I'm into protecting the identity of the kiddos so we won't use last names. This darling bundle of joy is Fiona. She's my friend Amanda's new baby. Amanda is AJ's best friend from kiddo-hood and I got to know her when I lived in Boston. Now she's married and a momma. Goodness gracious how things change!

Nov 1, 2008

November 1 is an ok day by me


Kassie the Lion.jpg
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
This morning I got up and went to this cardio-weight class thing that kicked my butt last week. Last week I only did 35 minutes of it, today I finished it! This might be because there was a new instructor and so it was a little easier. But still; I finished it.

Then I shopped at Target where I was gloriously overwhelmed by Christmas things. I'll have you know I did not buy any Christmas things at Target despite deep wishes to do just that. I did however by a Scottish Santa ornament for Ross at the discount holiday store next door. But back to Target, I got us new throw pillows because our white ones were getting less than white. And on the suggestion of a fellow shopper got Kassie a magnetic drawing board thing for her birthday.

Post Target Dora and I went down to Haila's for Kassie's costume party. As you can see, she dressed up as a lion. And I think my gift was the biggest hit of the day. She clutched the pen thingy for nearly her whole party. And since the pen is attached to the board, it was really the whole gift. I'm very pleased, especially because the toy was for 18+ months and she's only 12 months.

Then, and this is GOOD, I got home and Ross had not only changed the oil in my car but he popped out the dent on the bumper!! My car is so much prettier now. I'm going to wash it later when I go to Brittany's and then it will be really pretty. Yay little car and yay Ross!

That's my summary so far. Oh and we did change the wedding date to the 10/25/09. I am reserving that day with the universe. No major music festivals; no other weddings; no catastrophes of any kind. And since I've had to change it six million times, I also demand a high of 82, a low of 60ish and clear sunny skies.

Oct 30, 2008

One day we WILL get married

We don't know when that day will be but darn it, one day, we will get married. Two good friends had their reception hall mess up their wedding date request and now their wedding is the day before ours. I chatted with the other bride and we thought we could make it work with some crafty planning. But Ross pointed out how poopy any of our guests will be at our wedding from partying all night at the other wedding.

We're investigating changing the wedding...yes I know, again. I guess when I thought we could do it all in one weekend I didn't realize how many of Ross' friends overlapped with the other wedding. I still think we probably could do it, I mean I know we could, but it all goes back to it being our wedding. And if he thinks its really going to bring down the party, we'll research our options. But word to the wise - after this is researched and decided on I dare you, in fact I double dare you, to mess with our wedding date. Just see how that goes for you.

Oct 26, 2008

The Witch Pumpkin


The Witch Pumpkin
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
What happens when the only pumpkin carving tool set at HEB is Disney Princess? Ross and Cheryl carve an awesome witch pumpkin (yes, using a pre-printed template but so what. They just drew the picture. We were the ones who carved this bad boy).

I wish we had trick-or-treaters to show this off to. Maybe we'll have to find someone with a house and become squatters on Halloween. I mean someone needs to see our handy work!

Btw, I haven't figured out how to take photos in the dark of something that is illuminated. I had the same problem in Sydney when I wanted to take night pictures of the Opera House. I know a witch pumpkin and the Sydney Opera House are worlds apart (or at least hemispheres) but its the same concept giving me trouble. Advice is much appreciated.

Oct 25, 2008

Russell the Swimming Puppy


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
He's not really a puppy anymore but you try telling Ross that. It is a beautiful day here so Ross and I picked up "the boys," Russell and Quaid and took them down the lake. Actually to the same place where we took our engagement pictures. Russell had never swam before and Ross was a very proud papa when Russell learned how. If ever a man and a dog were made for each other...

Oct 16, 2008

So much for that blog


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Well I was doing a play-by-play of the Sox game (which is now in the bottom of the ninth and tied at 7) but mid-blog, Explorer shut me down. Shut me down I tell you.

And as for the photo, the blog had nothing to do with it. Ross says this is his fav photo from our engagement pics and so I thought it would be nice to include it in the blog. Because what's the fun of engagement photos if not to look at them?

Oct 14, 2008

Good Golly

Today I learned that 10 of AISD's 14 high schools did not meet the No Child Left Behind standards. I'll admit that I don't know a whole lot about No Child Left Behind but from how the Statesman article explains it, this is ridiculous.

It seems that 60% of students must pass the reading section of TAKS and 50% must pass the math section. Ten of 14 schools didn't do that?! Come on! What are we teaching the kids then? I'm sure its not that all the teachers just up and said "eh we don't want to teach this year."

There are a lot of possible problems. The teachers and administrators could be so busy dealing with issues like bullying, violence and teen pregnancy that actual teaching falls to the wayside. Classrooms could be incredibly overcrowded. On the same token, there may not be enough teachers. Resources, even as basic as books, could be lacking. Perhaps there is a large number of non-English speakers in some of these schools. I am sure the problems that exist are many and varied. I am also sure that AISD is aware of many of them and working to address the issues. But we can't address them too soon. These kids will be our employees, neighbors, soccer moms, voters and more soon enough. If we want to keep them off of government services, we need to prepare them with at least basic literacy and math skills. AISD - GET ON IT!

Meanwhile my inner Girl Scout says "THIS is why Girl Scouts is important." We have programs that help girls learn these skills in fun nurturing settings. We can't solve all the world's problems but we're doing our best to help these girls succeed in school and in life.

Oct 13, 2008

Engagement pics


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
We got our engagement pics from Jen this morning. You have to love the less than 24 hour turn around when working with family. It's the best.

Oct 12, 2008

Glad THAT'S Over

I don't care to go into detail but suffice it to say, since the wedding switch-a-roo last Friday nothing has been easy. I am so glad the week's over and a new one has started!!

We took our engagement pictures today and I should have them from Jen tomorrow. I'm really excited! From looking just at the tiny camera screen, we seem to have several good ones. I love the 360 bridge as the background. Austin's such a cool town!

Oct 3, 2008

Change-a-roo

ACL. What's that you say? Only one of the worst possible events to coincide with a wedding in Austin. I'd say the only two that rival ACL are SXSW and UT graduation. Guess what weekend ACL is on for 2009? Yup, the wedding.

Masses take over the city. Loud music loving intoxicated masses. Great fun if you are loud music loving and intoxicated. Not great fun if you are a bride. Folks, I'm talking no hotel rooms, expensive flights (if you buy like now) and no parking at all in town. I looked on Google for a good image to show the crowds but I just can't find anything that does it justice. Suffice it to say, KBR told me changing the wedding was a stroke of genius and my reception hall and photographer didn't even question it as soon as I said "ACL is the original weekend but..." They are Austinites; they get it. During ACL you do one of two things: attend and party all weekend or stay as far away as possible.

All that said, our nuptials are now taking place on October 11, sans ACL.

Oct 2, 2008

Ms. Political Commentator

Ok on the assumption that you are interested, here's my commentary

The Private Sector:
Sarah Palin, we would leave it to the private sector if the private sector was living up to our needs. I agree that its ideal for the private sector to take care of the people but if they aren't doing it, which they aren't, the government needs to step in. But Biden, she made a good point about increasing taxes on households with an income of $250K or more, that's going to hurt small business owners. Tie game on this issue.

Tax Cuts for Oil:
Quit it! They've had record profits and I am over it. I think Joe was on my side here but to be honest, they lost me a little.

Bankruptcy: McCain supported a bill to make it harder for Americans to file for bankruptcy. Good. I may sound cold and mean and hard but I pay my debt, you can pay yours. Folks with luxury items should not be declaring bankruptcy. Sell a car, sell your toys. Biden says bankruptcy courts should be able to adjust interest rates and principals on mortgages. Interest rates but not principals. I think this one goes to Palin.

East Coast Politicians:
Watch what you say Palin; there's a lot of east coasters out there and you don't want to insult them.

Climate Change:
Palin says its not all man made; there are cyclical changes at hand too. She said she doesn't want to argue about causes. I think that's a little thickheaded of her. If we can identify causes we can prevent it from happening again or worsening. However I do agree with her on drilling in Alaska so long as we keep it in check. Biden says climate change is man made and believes knowing the cause is critical for developing a solution. He also wants to create jobs through energy sources like clean coal. Solution and job creation. Point to Biden.

Same-Sex Benefits: Equal treatment for same-sex and heterosexual couples by the Dems. Palin is hesitant as it possibly threatens the definition of marriage as one man and one woman. Yet she is clear that she is tolerant on two adults deciding who their partner is. Some legal concessions could be made for same-sex though marriage will always be, in her mind, one man and one woman. Neither party will redefine marriage. Guys, neither of you are really living up to my standards. A disappointing tie game on that one.

Withdrawal from Iraq:
What Palin says about pulling out early be dangerous makes sense. But I also like the idea of making the Iraqis responsible for themselves. However, this isn't my strong subject so I'm easily lost. We'll call it a tie.

Biden v. Obama:
Palin's wiping the floor with him using quotes from the primaries. Wiping the floor I tell you!

Diplomacy: I feel like I've missed something. Why shouldn't we meet with other world leaders, even ones we adamantly disagree with? Aren't meetings like this good for promoting cooperation and collaboration? We need a few preconditions - your guys won't kill our guys mid-meeting. But I think to be taken seriously and to show that we respect their power, we need to have meetings. Be those meetings of presidents or high level officials, meetings need to happen. Point to Biden.

Israel: I think the other countries in the world need to get off Israel's back. What's the story here anyway? Is it because Isreal is the home of holy lands and everyone wants them? If so, I can see the conflict, but can't we all worship the same holy places regardless of the political lines? Just observations and thoughts. Both candidates are pro-Israel so no real commentary on that.

Nuclear Weapons:
Palin says its ok for us to have them because we use them as a determent. However countries like North Korea can't have them. I agree that Americans are smart enough not to use them because the effects would be astounding. But isn't cocky of us to say what other countries can and cannot have nuclear weapons? A double standard it seems. If there is a solid concrete reason/treaty for this, I'd like to hear about it. But the way its being presented, its presenting us as superior. I certainly don't want terrorists having nuclear weapons but since they are so dangerous, we shouldn't have them either.

Well folks, I hate to admit it but the foreign policy is losing my interest. I know I should pay closer attention but its just not where my interest is. That said, the political commentary of the night is now over. Cheerio

Sep 30, 2008

Me and Austin: Red, Blue or Purple?

I've always described Austin as the island of blue in the big red sea. That's why my college friends accepted it as a reasonable place to live. I hold that we are the bluest city still but does that mean we're actually kinda purple? And might I be more purple than blue myself?

While watching ABC News tonight here in Austin I learned that several African-American leaders in town are challenging the fire department. Apparently AFD does not employ a number of black firefighters that is proportionate to the black population. AFD responded by saying they take the highest scoring candidates on the firefighter exam but were looking for flexibility. LOOKING FOR FLEXIBILITY?! You want the option to hire lower scoring applicants? Because of a race issue? I could understand if there were objections to the testing style, much as there is with the SAT or TAKS test. Just because you can answer questions correctly doesn't mean you can apply it. That would be fair. But there was no mention of that. This is purely to meet proportions. How ridiculous! I'm in favor of everyone having an equal opportunity at education and jobs. An overly subjective interview process yielding the same results would be fairly questioned. But a test? An electronic test doesn't know white from black or any other color for that matter. AFD as a citizen potentially receiving your services and as the fiance of a soon to be firefighter, I hope you continue to hire the most qualified candidates, regardless of race.

See this is why I think I might be a little purple. Affirmative action and program such as the one at AFD are typically associated with Democrats yet this particular situation enrages me. I've not gone completely red though as is clear by this reaction to not teaching evolution in our schools, also a story I saw on this evening's news.

Members of the state school board want to teach "supernatural" causes for the creation of the universe. And if the state board gets its way, this could be taught for the next ten years. TEN YEARS! That's our kids! Ross and I discussed - it's either teaching the kids evolution at home or if our big high paying public service jobs allow it, private evolution teaching schools!

Sep 26, 2008

Stream of Consciousness

I'm pretty pumped folks. This week I got two newspaper clips regarding our new fund raiser, S'more Soiree. One was a captioned photo of two committee members in the Westlake Picayune. The OTHER was a front page story with two color images about the event and focusing on the committee chairperson in the West Austin News.

But what I was really thinking about when I turned on my laptop to blog was not my super cool news clips. However then I got an email from Stephanie about the captioned photo and got excited and distracted. Thus you got to hear about that but we must move on to the original musing.

Now not to be a Debbie Downer, but I just came from a very therapeutic venting session of a lunch with Nikki. We're both overall happy with our lives but sometimes we hit the point of "argh - why is it so hard." And while you always want your friends' lives to be perfect and blissful, there is some relief to hearing that someone else wonders why its tough sometimes too. It's like "Whew! I thought it was just me!" But even if we hit a tough spot or two and wonder why it isn't all sunshine and butterflies, it'll be just fine.

It's like a conversation Ross and I had last night regarding our faith. I may not be the most spiritual person (understatement) but I do believe things that can only be explained by a higher power. For example, as I told Ross, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and we won't be given a burden we can't endure.

So back to my conversation with Nikki, if sometimes we feel a little poor now or are frustrated with our jobs, there has to be a good reason for it. Maybe the reason is just so that when something changes we are all the more happy for it. Or maybe its to ensure we're in the right spot at the right time. It's tempting to try to figure it out but sometimes, maybe its just best not to. As long as we keep on truckin', it'll work itself out and the rough spots will make the sweet spots that much sweeter.

Sep 19, 2008

Val!

Val's on her way here! She'll be here in about an hour! I am super super super excited.

Tomorrow we are going on a wine tasting adventure in Driftwood. I think we're also going to go out for dinner. At some point we are going to get her sized for her bridesmaid's dress. A little early yes, but they don't have Alfred Angelo shops in D.C. so the best plan is to have her measured at a shop here so when we order the dress, they already have her size. And with any luck we'll grab dinner together this week since she is here for several days on business.

I love Val! Yay!

Sep 15, 2008

Its Lookin' Sunny Again

Yesterday Dad headed back to Houston. Of the 5 houses in our family (grandma, uncle, etc) that we've been able to get to, all are still standing and with minimal property damage.

We haven't been to our house yet because they (the city?) had the neighborhood blocked off. However, Melissa went by this evening and was able to drive through the neighborhood. The house is still standing! Woohoo! She said there aren't even obvious signs of flooding - quite the relief as you can imagine. As far as she could tell, the only damage was to the fence. But like Mom said, it needed replacing anyways.

It also started to look sunny again yesterday when Mom and Grandma went with me for distraction from the doom-n-gloom of Hurricane Ike. We went to Alfred Angelo and met Nikki to purchase my wedding dress. We got my dress, a comb for my hair, the blusher part of my veil and a fancy garment bag for my dress. As if that isn't exciting enough, they were having the biggest sale of the year (we didn't even realize it!) and we got it all for a steal of a deal. It would be tacky to say how much of course, but suffice it to say, I feel like a darn smart, sly, thrifty bride.

And I can't tell you how fabulous it was to have Nikki's help. Besides just loving to have a girlfriend there to gush with me, she's so good at her job. Pinning the dress, making sizing suggestions, finding the perfect comb, promising to take care of my every need, and even offering to be my personal dresser for the wedding. I could not have asked for a more competent friend when it comes to the world of bridal wear.

Finally, we have a cold front here this week. Meaning the highs are 81 and 82 instead of 95 and 96. We have the AC off and the windows open. I can feel my electric bill (and bank account) smiling down on us.

Sep 13, 2008

A photo's worth 1000 words

So here's several thousand word's worth of photos.




Hurricane Party!!

Talk about a party!

On Thursday morning I talked to my mom and they were headed to the Memorial area to stay with my aunt and uncle while Hurricane Ike ate Seabrook for breakfast. Well I got out of my morning meeting and had a voicemail that no, they were not staying in Houston any more but were now on their way to Austin. By they I mean Mom, Dad, Grandma, 2 dogs and a cat. Oh and could they stay with Nancy and Jack.

And that my friend is when it all began. We have 4 parents, 2 grandmas, 5 dogs and a cat all living under one roof this weekend. Ross and I are entertaining and caring for people/pets as much as possible. The level of ridiculousness is just out of control.

Fortunately everyone, except the dogs, are getting along. Ross' dog, Russell, and my dog, Boopie, are not friends. They have to be separated all the time. As a result we are playing musical dogs and Gramma's room has become a dog holding cell.

Meanwhile, my Grandma tripped and bumped her head within 5 minutes of arriving in Austin. She's fine but was understandably a little frazzled and embarrassed. Dad is glued to The Weather Channel with Boopie at his feet on a leash (the security of a leash somehow actually keeps her calmer). Russell was so excited he's been shaking and panting...the amount of slobber coming out of his mouth rivals the rainfall in Seabrook. Quaid, Ross' other dog, God bless him, is too dumb to realize there are other dogs on his turf. He's happy as a clam. Mom's staying calm but I think she's secretly saying to herself "never in a thousand years did I think..." Nancy and Jack are teaching classes and Gramma is potentially leaving for Tennessee tomorrow. Ross and I are pouring the drinks and trying to keep the chatter flowing.

All the in-laws in one house is just too much. I'm glad the option was there for my parents and Jack and Nancy have been fantastic hosts but if we're never in this boat again, that'll be alright with me.

Until then though...back to the hurricane party!

Sep 9, 2008

Sassy

I just got my hair cut and it looks sassy. I also touched up my highlights. Apart from the minute where my stylist shed a tear after seeing how AWFUL my roots were, it was a very happy appointment. In summary: I have short well-highlighted hair now. God bless it.

Sep 2, 2008

I'm Trying So Hard

I am trying so very hard to be open-minded about our presidential choices. So very hard. So hard that I am watching the RNC and reading John McCain's stance on the issues.

I've gotten through one of his twelve issues areas, "Human Life & Dignity," and I am already violently opposed on three issues.

Pro Life v Pro ChoiceI feel this is the issue that I am the most compassionate to the Republican cause on. I agree: murder is wrong. But we disagree on the science of it. I don't think a fertilized egg is really a baby in the first tri-mester. Maybe not even in the first 4 months. I don't think a woman who is raped should have to bring the baby to term. Why should she be reminded everyday by her growing belly of the terrible thing that happened to her? I will say though that I'm on board for discouraging abortion as a form of birth control. We should offer potential mothers who choose abortion free counseling. Perhaps we should require it. Perhaps persons under the age of 16 should need parental consent... perhaps not though as this may make it unavailable to some of the most needy. I'm not 100% sure on exactly what our plan should be but I do think we should discourage abortion in the case of irresponsible behavior by an adult while permit it for those who did not choose sexual activity or those who truly cannot care for a child.

Same Sex MarriageThis is where I get passionate. How dare one adult tell another that they cannot marry. How ridiculous! First, nobody cannot make that decision for two other people. Aren't Republicans supposed to embrace the idea of small government and letting people live their lives with as little government interference as possible? How does this reflect that value? That violates basic rights! Second, I believe it is discrimination. And I believe in 10 or 15 years those who discriminate against gay and lesbian couples will be ashamed of themselves. I hear people say "that's not how people are supposed to be." Well then is it a disability? People aren't supposed to be blind but imagine if we told blind people they couldn't marry or couldn't go to school. People would be outraged! As we should be outraged by telling two people they cannot legally commit to one another. And third, to the argument that a mother and father are both needed in the traditional family: sure. A child needs two parents. It takes two involved parents to raise a child because raising children is challenging. Instead of telling two loving and capable people that because they prefer a partner of the same sex that they cannot have children, why don't we tell fathers to stay around? Why don't we crack down on deadbeat dads? Why don't we frown on mothers who abandon their children? Wouldn't it be better for children to have two loving intelligent same-sex parents than one parent in any situation?

Stem Cell Research
I'm not a science person. But I have no problem developing human stem cells for the purpose of research. If it will help cure diseases like Alzheimer's then I am on board. Plain and simple.

In all fairness to John McCain, Sarah Palin and the Republican Party though, I will tell you which issues from that same issue section, "Human Dignity and Life," that I do agree with.

Promoting Adoption The idea of two people who desperately want to be and can be good parents adopting a child with few options is beautiful. We should encourage it and open the opportunity to as many willing and capable parents as possible. Women with unwanted pregnancies should have this option presented and we should help them, as much as reasonably possible, make adoption a reality for their baby.

Protecting Children from Internet Porn and Predators
Not very much else needs to be said. All in favor say "aye." AYE.

I told, you, I am trying very very hard to be fair and open minded.

Sep 1, 2008

Dress-a-palooza


Princess Dress
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
I think I tried on 25 dresses between Friday and Saturday. This is one of my favorites but one we ultimately decided was not for me. I love the full lace overlay and the scalloped bottom. What held me back though was the weight of the dress and the petticoats. I started to "glisten" just standing in the shop! Not even walking around. We're having an outdoor wedding so glistening in AC does not bode well for the actual wedding.

I'm also very conscious of looking like an oversized marshmallow. Don't laugh! I feel like some brides can wear a very full skirt and look like a super glam princess. I don't think I am that bride. As much as I loved looking at this dress in the mirror, I think the photos make me look like the Michelin man. I don't want to look at my wedding photos for the rest of my life and think "grab a hershey bar and graham crackers! S'more time!"

I did find two dresses that I really liked. Very different from each other but both very pretty. I think I have one of them picked out but it just seems like such a big decision. Your wedding is the day that you get to wear the most beautiful gown of your life. How many wedding barbies did we all see growing up? Once you buy that dress, its done. That's it. That dress will forever be your wedding dress. Oh the pressure!

On another clothing note, mom and I had dinner with Ross' family post dress-a-palooza and Nancy started to tell us about the items necessary for Ross' ensemble. Dang. This is one wedding where the groom's attire is more complicated than the bride's. I kid you not, I think the kilt-tuxedo combo has 6-8 pieces for it. I have one: a dress.

Aug 29, 2008

Happy Birthday

In my family we think its extra super fun to have our birthdays in spurts. That said, happy birthday Uncle Doug (August 2), Mom (August 9), Dad (August 27) and Grandma (today)! Woohoo! Y'all are a year wiser!

The other birthday spurt comes in the spring when we have Aunt Linda, Grandpa Jack, Ross and me all in April. And while they may not be part of the April birthday sprint, having Wes and Win on the March side and Kevin (plus Mom and Dad's anniversary, Mother's Day, and when applicable, graduations) on the May side really makes the spring a marathon of celebrations.

Ross' family is not nearly as fun. They don't really have birthday sprints...well they didn't. Since Ryan and I joined the clan we have really crowded April. But the family, as it legally stands now, is Ross in April, Gramma in July, Nancy in September and Jack and Megan in December. However that does mean it seems like there is a birthday every month. Going with our running-like metaphor, they are the Sunday stroll of birthdays, slow and steady.

Aug 24, 2008

What's Up Doc

So here's what's up

Ross finished his first week of fire academy and he really likes it. He especially like the mechanical aspects. Yay!

Mom, Brittany, maybe Melissa and me are going wedding dress shopping on Saturday. Woohoo!! I can't wait!

Tomorrow we have a statewide Girl Scout communications retreat at camp. Yup, an overnighter at camp with grown up Girl Scouts.

AJ is having to change her wedding date. They found a place and the only day not available was the one they wanted (of course). So they are looking to change.

It's time to start on the fall wedding goals: find a minister, take engagement pictures and create/mail our save-the-dates to out of town guests. Nancy has a suggestion for a minister so I am going to try to go to a few services this fall to see what I think of him before we chat about him officiating the wedding. Jen's taking our engagement pictures in October and then I need to make the Save-the-Dates by Thanksgiving so they can make it into our Christmas cards. We also need to make "Guest list-round 1" by Thanksgiving so we can determined who the our of town guests are. I also need to send Brittany's wedding album to print so I can see the finished product (and decide if its what I want for our album) and give it to her for Christmas. I'd like to find a dress soon too but that's more of a fall/winter goal. Done by February would be good.

Whew! I think that's it :)

Aug 17, 2008

On Top of the World, Lookin' Down on Creation


Rock Placement 2
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
We had an awesome trip out to West Texas. We went mountain hiking, ate yummy food, watched the sunset, hung out poolside, cuddled in our pueblo of a room and just relaxed. We did an eight mile hike and could barely walk for the rest of that day.

One of my bosses (when you are low on the totem pole you have several) told me earlier this summer that people don't fully relax until day 8 or so of their vacation. I thought she was full of bologna. But I have to say, I didn't feel totally relaxed til yesterday. And tomorrow it's back to my Girl Scout cubicle. Which is just to say - note to self, take longer vacations.

Ross begins at the fire academy tomorrow. Woohoo! The road to firefighting is back and kicking! T minus 4 months.

Aug 8, 2008

Vacation-land here I am!

That's right! It's vacation time! I have officially been on vacation for (checking clock) 3 hours and 38 minutes. And how have I been celebrating you ask? With a little Chuy's jalepeno dip, an episode of King of the Hill and quizzing Ross on EMT test materials. Maybe nothing fancy yet but just you wait, its about to get snazzy.

Not only am I now on vacation but by 8 tonight, Ross will be done with his EMT national registry test. And Rick will be a college graduate! Woohoo!

And then the celebrating shall begin. Margaritas and BBQ. If that doesn't say vacation in Texas I don't know what does.

Aug 2, 2008

I've got some sweet new wheels

I still don't have my baby but the dealership gave me a loaner car. It's a Hyundai Santa Fe. Pretty fun little SUV. And it came with a full tank of gas. Rock on.

We've had an eventful weekend. Thursday night we saw most of Beauty & the Beast which was done by Zilker Theatre. A live outdoor musical for free. Fantastic! Then we played Monopoly with the Krszjznieks (I think that is how you spell their last name). Ross won. Ryan and I went down in shame. Susannah held her own. Last night we did karaoke with those crazy Ks. Ross sang "Suspicious Minds" beautifully. I'll admit, today, we mostly slept. I'm talking we woke up at 10, had breakfast and went back to sleep at 11:30. Did not move again til 2:30p. But it means we're all rested up for tonight - party barge on Lake Travis! Woohoo!!! Time to get into my bikini!

Jul 28, 2008

Cars, Dancing and Photographers

What do they all have in common you say? Basically the sum of my weekend.

On Saturday I went to Burnet for a Girl Scout day of training. I saw my favorite volunteers, showed off my ring a little and then tried to go home. Tried being the operative word. My car, Ruby, would not start. For 25 minutes my coworkers (gotta love them) and I worked on getting my wheels in gear. No dice folks, no dice. Roadside assistance had to come get the car and my CEO drove me home. Today I learned that it was the key-thingy. They gave me a technical term for it but I don't remember. Long story short, out of a car til Wednesday afternoon. Luckily I could take today off and Ross will drive me to work tomorrow and Wednesday.

To help cheer me up we went dancing Saturday night. It was a blast! We went to Midnight Rodeo with the Krzyz-es. That's not really Ryan and Susannah's last name but their last name is too hard to spell and too long to even try. I like those people though, the Krzyz-es and had an awesome time two-steppin' with Ross all night.

And finally, today I settled the photographer matter once and for all. I had tried to hire this one photographer but he never sent me a contract. I've been requesting it for 3 weeks! It's been over a week since the last time he told me it was in the mail. He only lives/works 10 minutes from me so there is no reason for it not to be here. Anyways, I've been very irritated and today decided it was time to really find a new photographer. We're using Red Letter Photos and I'm very happy about it. In fact, he's already gotten back to me and I have a contract to review. Hmmm. So there.

Jul 24, 2008

Mr. President, I agree

The president of UT recently made a plea to the legislature to put more funds into OTHER Texas state colleges. The idea is that other schools need to be brought up to tier one like UT and A&M. This my friends is very smart.

In California, the UC school system is pretty well respected all around (so I hear). UC-Berkley might be considered the cream of the crop but who was ever bummed about going to UCLA? Nobody. That's what we need in Texas. We need more schools that top students are excited to go to.

This would be especially great given the top 10% rule. If two other schools were as fantastic as as UT or A&M then top 10%-ers would be more evenly distributed instead of overcrowding our state's top two universities. Additionally, students not in the top 10% would be more likely to be accepted into a university that fits their academic level.

And, oh yes, there's more. It would bring money to Texas. Research dollars go to great top tier universities. We'd have more pull on research dollars if we had more schools with a top tier reputation. Not to mention general improvement of our education system's reputation nationally.

But which schools? I think Texas Tech should definitely be one of them. Currently our two top tier schools are Central to East Texas and neither very far north. Texas Tech as a top tier school would give outstanding students in Northwest Texas a closer-to-home option. Where for the other? UT-El Paso was mentioned in the article. I thought of A&M Corpus Christi. While either of those would add great geographic diversity, it clearly favors one system or the other. Perhaps a non UT or non A&M school would be best politically. Angelo State in San Angelo maybe? To be fair, I don't know what school besides Tech might be on the brink of top tier. It would definitely make the most sense to choose the school with the least investment necessary.

That's it. I'm done on that topic now. Time for dinner.

Jul 18, 2008

Another Great Pic from Jen


@ Turners
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
We finally went through all of Jen's pictures from Gramma's 80th birthday a couple weeks ago - this is Ross' favorite of us.

And Ross is done with clinicals! Woohoo! Hence why we have the time to sit down together and look at pictures. Also why he has the time to read this as I type it and offer his edits.

Jul 13, 2008

The Princess Bride


Princess Bride & Grandmas
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Yesterday my parents hosted our engagement party. We had 26 people all said and done. Doug and Linda even flew down from Boston to attend. I think it was the first time since my parents' wedding that all my uncles were in the same place.

My mom gave a little speech - essentially Cheryl and Ross, birth to dating and Melissa ended it with the proposal story. Complete with props. Ross was given a rubber ducky necklace to symbolize his outfit at proposal and I was given full princess garb to represent how I felt with that brand new diamond ring on my finger.

We had a blast! And now we're resting up and getting ready for the real world to kick back in tomorrow.

Jul 10, 2008

Great Ring Pic!


ring b&w
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Finally - a good picture of my ring! Thanks to Jen, Ross' sister-in-law, for making it happen.

Jul 6, 2008

Ay chi wah wah

Ay chi wah wah is right. I know I don't need to do it now - and thank God - but just the idea of creating the wedding guest list frightens me. I keep thinking "OK 125 people. We can do that." Then I realize that my family alone is like 30-35 people. And only one of my cousins is married and none have children!

If it doesn't rain we can have more than that. But what if it does rain? I don't want everyone coming to the wedding in the rain and then being too crowded because the inside venue isn't huge. We just cannot have that.

If you would like to create our wedding guest list - and break the news to anyone we can't invite - then you might even be able to secure yourself a seat. Maybe.

Jul 3, 2008

Summer Goals: DONE

Well mostly done. Decided on. Not signed for and all that jazz quite yet.

The wedding will be October 4, 2009 at Mercury Hall in south Austin. We looked at it today - though unfortunately the manager was sick and couldn't answer some of our questions. Ross likes it as does his mom, sister and gramma. I'm going to meet with the manager next week to ask some questions and get the paperwork started. I love Mercury Hall. It's perfect and I am so excited.

And I have a photographer! I'm very pleased with what he's offering us. He'll be doing our engagement photos (I think overlooking the 360 Bridge), the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. I am really excited about having the rehearsal dinner photographed as well. It was a bit of an after-thought but I think that will be really good. He'll get to meet everyone before the wedding and we'll have great photos. I think this will be especially great for Nancy because she is so excited about hosting it. This will ensure that she has great photos to remember it with.


YAY!

Jul 1, 2008

A New Soapbox

Today Barack Obama said he would continue President Bush's plan to give money to religious organizations so they can help meet the needs of under-served people. So far, I'm OK with this. Any organization that is going to meet basic needs, without discriminating against anyone, should have the government's help in doing so (if you ask me and since you are reading this, we'll assume you asked).

But if I understand correctly, Obama is happy to give this money to organizations that discriminate in the hiring process by religion. How is THAT OK? Can we require an particular belief system like we require college degrees? I can't say I am comfortable with that.

While I'm on board for the better part of the plan - helping faith-based organizations meet the needs of the poor - I am not OK with the discrimination in the hiring process. We need to be very careful with this and perhaps Obama and his staff should reconsider this part of the deal.

Jun 28, 2008

The Search Continues

I've been emailing, calling and meeting with photographers left and right. Securing one for the wedding is one of my three goals for the summer (the other two are choosing a date and choosing a location).

It's much harder than just "who takes pretty pics and at a good price." The prices include such a variety of things. How many hours? How many prints? What is the quality of editing? Are the digital negatives included? And then there are personality questions. The photographer I met with yesterday was superb in the personality and editing realm. When we started talking he asked several questions about the feel of our wedding. He even walked through the schedule with me, including the position of the sun at 5 p.m. when our ceremony would begin.

Tomorrow I meet with a photographer who I know includes a great number of prints in his price. But who knows the kind of attention he places on any one wedding.

I really hope that after this weekend I will have met with enough photographers to make a decision and schedule our engagement photo session.

The other search that continues is the dress. And here I don't just mean THE DRESS for my wedding day. I mean my clothing for all wedding related activities. So far I have my engagement party dress picked out and purchased. The next one will be what to wear for engagement pictures. Some photographers list tips on their web site that include wearing solids for engagement pictures. It's going to sound strange but when I look in my closet I don't see many solids that I would want to wear. I might just need to look harder ... or I may have a very good excuse to buy new clothes. Then of course there's the wedding shower outfit, the bachelorette party attire, the rehearsal look, THE DRESS and perhaps even an after-party dress. That's a lot of clothes! And all the outfits of course needs shoes (oh darn).

Speaking of clothes, that plaid is his family tartan. That's what his kilt in the wedding will look like and is thus our accent "color."

Ha! And Ross says I will run out of planning to do by the end of this summer. Clearly he is not a bride and does not know the extent of planning possible for a wedding.

Jun 25, 2008

All Roads Lead to Austin

At work I am going through an address list of 20,000 addresses. I did a unique entries only sort (which is how I got from 27,000 to 20,000) but there are still duplicates due to human error upon entry. For example, N. 1st Street and North First St. are clearly the same street but it shows up as two different entries. Fun.

However the high point is finding fun street names in Central Texas.

The first really fun one that caught my eye was Cheryl Lynn Road in South Austin. Surprise, surprise.

But what is really exciting is I learned about a WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD in Round Rock with baseball street names. That's right. Fenway Park Court. Nolan Ryan Blvd. Reggie Jackson Trail. Roberto Clemente Lane. Campanella Drive.

Check it out yourself.

Jun 19, 2008

My Bridal Personality?

You can take a quiz for anything. I took a few bridal personality quizzes. Here are the results

From iVillage

The Storybook Princess
An old-fashioned girl at heart, you want your special day to be steeped in elegance and tradition. You love the thought of transforming yourself into a timeless bride � la Grace Kelly or Princess Di. You'll feel equally regal in a gown with a full tulle skirt or long, flowing train and a beaded corset top. And don't skip on any of the trimmings; go for the veil, tiara and gloves. As for your shoes, a sleek satin heel with a pointed toe is the perfect footwear for your stroll down the aisle. To complete your blushing bride look, keep your makeup soft and dewy. Use a light foundation and cream blush in a warm rose color that compliments your complexion, keep your eyes soft and natural by using shadows in warm natural shades and polish off your pucker with a sheer lipstick in a soft red.

From BeliefNet


The Casual, Inclusive Bride: You seeks some tradition but looks more toward intimacy, sentiment and inclusion of others. The wedding experience for you is meant to be shared with those you love and celebrated in a way that is affordable and manageable. While you might want a mid-sized affair, it can take just as much planning as a formal event; yet you are more likely to choose a slightly alternative approach ex. a penthouse loft space instead of a hotel, or a rooftop or garden.

From theKnot

You're a City Girl
From funky invitations to a knockout gown, you're sure to bring your sense of impeccable style to every aspect of your wedding. Our advice: Don't be a slave to your inner hipster. If there's something classic like a tiara -- or even the bouquet toss -- that you'd like to include in your day, go for it. Besides, if you’re doing it, everyone else will think it's cool.

From ME


If you've talked to me about my wedding once you will know that I made the mistake many moons ago of telling AJ that I wanted a man like my father (this is not the mistake part!) in that he will have opinions and not be afraid to tell me he's as entitled to his wants and opinions as I am. He'll challenge me. That he would insist on wearing flip flops or something equally ridiculous to our wedding (this was the mistake, inviting ridiculousness). And what did I get? Ross, the groom who wants to wear a kilt. In all fairness, it wasn't a mistake because Ross the groom who will wear a kilt keeps my life very fun, interesting and keeps me on my toes. So all that said, our wedding style will be fun and representative of "us." It will include Ross in a kilt. Bright colored fun-looking flowers. A bag piper. Margaritas. Country music. CHIPS AND SALSA. Heels that are not too high but are still heels. A bride's cake but a groom's fruit salad. Our grandmother's properly seated in the front row and hopefully active in the ceremony. So without giving any more away, I would say I hope I am a fun and comfortable bride. I hope you leave our wedding not saying "oh did you see the flowers? They were exquisite! And yes! The tea cups were extraordinary!" but saying "That band was fantastic! I have never seen a man in a kilt two-step like that. But I guess when the margaritas are that good, anything can happen. WHAT A PARTY!"

Jun 15, 2008

A More Successful Day in Wedding World


S8001658.JPG
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
I am very excited to marry Ross and I know he feels the same way. But believe it or not, the intricacies of ceremony chair arrangements and reception just do not excite him.

But they do excite Brittany and me! So we left Ross and home and we went scouting for wedding items. First I got my veil from her - which is really her's but will be my something borrowed for the wedding. Y'all, it is so pretty. It's down to about my elbows and has crystal beading along the bottom. LOVE IT.

Then we went to Mercury Hall, which is where this picture was taken. It's down off South First Street and I love it! There are so many options for how to use the space. There is a rock covered area with an archway for the ceremony. A large grassy area that you could also use for the ceremony or maybe for the reception. AND there is a nice reception hall for a rain plan and/or any part of the wedding. I love it! I can't wait for my mom to see it. (Oh yeah and Ross too. You know b/c envisioning ceremony chairs and dance floors will be so thrilling for him.)

And finally the end of our adventure was to visit Ms. Nikki at her bridal shop. She called me on Tuesday to see if I had found a dress (no) and to tell me she thought she just got my perfect dress in at her shop. Yup, and she was right. I think it might be the one. Now you know the drill, I can't tell you any more. But suffice it to say its beautiful, relatively simple but with a little pizazz. Again, I can't wait for my mom to see it!

So while I was a little down after Friday's wedding adventure, I was super pumped after Saturday's. Saturday's goodness didn't end there either. Rick came back from a month in Mexico so Ross was downright giddy. Then we had our housewarming/welcome home Rick party. It was a relatively small gathering but I think everyone had a lot of fun. Ken really chatted it up, more than I have seen him do before. The girls and I played some hilarious card games. Suzannah is such a blatant cheat it had us rolling with laughter.

Now we're just having a lazy Sunday. Ain't life great

Jun 13, 2008

Fun Flora


S8001654.JPG
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
On a whim today at HEB I bought some daisies that might be like our wedding flowers. Brought them home, gave it a trial run, got some ideas for developing my flower look and am quite satisfied.

Unfortunately not all wedding things are as easy as $4 gerber daisies in a recycled salsa jar. We looked at a location today. Nice space but lacked some small things that add up. For example, I was not impressed by the staff. I know they do weddings every darn day nearly but they are trying to sell us on hosting the most important day of our lives there. They didn't even congratulate us! It was like the magnitude of our wedding to us didn't even register. And somewhat petty but the mirror in the bridal suite was full length yet not large and nice and pretty. It will be my wedding! I want to see every inch of myself before I walk out there. So we'll see.

Brittany and I are going to take a sneak peek of another location tomorrow and then I'm trying on a dress that Nikki has at her store. She called to tell me she just got it in and thinks I'll love it. I'm excited for that!

And Ross wants just one day without wedding. Sure honey, one day. Just not today :)

Jun 8, 2008

The Adventure of the Dress: Part 1

Yesterday I went with Mom and Grandma on the first wedding dress exploration. We went to Alfred Angelo and David's Bridal. I tried on some beautiful dresses of every shape and style.

I determined a few things...

1) I do not want a mermaid dress. You can't move in those things! It reminds me of when we did the pillow dance in high school and you tie a belt around your knees. There's no way I could shake my groove thing properly at my wedding in one of those.

2) I like dresses that have it all built in. The Alfred Angelo dresses have boning built in and really have great shape. They also have all the petticoat layers already in them which is fantastic.

3) I've said it before and I have to say I was right on the money...I do not want a train on my dress. I went, I tried on, I felt silly. (Not to say they aren't pretty - they are. But they are not my style.) I felt so silly standing in one place and having part of my dress a yard behind me. And I must say, I did not like having to ask my mom to fix my dress with every step I take. What a hassle! I can't tell you how many people tried to convince me that I want a train. "Oh we can bustle it up." "It's so bridal with a train." "Here try on this dress [with a 6 foot train]." I just simply don't want one and this seems to baffle the bridal world. It was very hard not to snap at the sales ladies but I just wanted to say "I said I DO NOT WANT A TRAIN. AT ALL. PERIOD." They just kept raving about this bustle business. Good lord, I am sure other girls have gotten married without a train before. It seems to be the biggest deal. I found some dresses without trains and they were beautiful. But you can't know any more b/c what if you are my lovely fiance? You certainly can't know what my dress looks like before I walk down the aisle.

Rest assured though, there will be a dress. And it will be white. And floor length. And with no train. What more do you really need to know?

Jun 4, 2008

One hell of a weekend

It started with my car being hit in the parking lot at Docs on Brodie. Just a bumper bump and thankfully a phone number left. Not really the way you want to start a weekend. Unfortunately for Ross the mood lasted through the weekend.

On Monday fortunately the mood lifted. Everything has been peachy since. :)

May 28, 2008

FINALLY


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Check out the finally uploaded pics of the new abode. Pictured is our old but made new dining room table. On Chad's suggestion Ross tried the latest thing in woodwork - mixing and matching stains. We're pretty pleased with it.

May 27, 2008

Seasons of Love

I picked the song for the Survivor Lap at next week's Relay for Life! I am so pumped :)


Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Moments so dear
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure - Measure A Year?
In Daylights - In Sunsets
In Midnights - In Cups Of Coffee
In Inches - In Miles
In Laughter - In Strife

In - Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure
A Year In The Life?

How About Love?
How About Love?
How About Love?
Measure In Love

Seasons of Love.
Seasons of Love.

May 20, 2008

Faith

Ross and I just had an extensive conversation about God and religion. It's a topic that I am somewhat conflicted on. It's not something that rules his life but he is more religious than I am. I'm very happy that he is willing to discuss it with me and while we don't see eye to eye on it, we're close enough that its OK.

At first when we were talking about it today I was a little concerned that my indifference would really bother him. I'm very pleased that it didn't seem to. If anything he was inquisitive and open.

This all came up because at dinner on Sunday I said I didn't want to get married in a church. (Actually to be honest it came out very harsh. I think the direct quote was "I have no desire to get married in a church." That sounds much more anti-God than I meant.) And I don't want to get married in a church. We don't attend church. I've never attended church regularly. If anything I feel somewhat out of place in church. Like there is something that everyone else knows that I missed. And I don't want to get married in a place where I don't feel completely comfortable or that doesn't really reflect our relationship. Religion simply isn't a driving force in our relationship.

But I want to take my kids to church. Ross does too though he found my skepticism paired with my desire to teach my kids religion to be odd. And maybe it is. I think there are a few parts to that though.

1) I don't really have anything against church. I think attending church and Sunday School helps build community. I want my kids to feel strongly connected to their community.
2) Maybe I can learn with them. Just because I didn't learn religion really as a child (I have a feeling this would make my father very upset and I don't mean to, but again religion has just never been a force in my life.) doesn't mean I can't learn it later on.
3) I don't want to take my kids to church in a "I don't believe it but you have to" way. Its more that I want them to be better educated in religion. I want them to understand Christianity and be able to question it if they feel the need. But to effectively explore, question and develop their own beliefs, they need to understand. I just don't think I am capable of providing them with that understanding.

Whenever I have discussions about religion, I feel some internal conflict. I don't think a Bible is necessary. I believe that Bible stories aren't literal but are meant to teach lessons. This is a tough belief to have though when so many aspects of the Bible are referred to literally or celebrated for their literal story. However, if I take the Bible literally than I question it more. Why should we believe these fantastic stories? They were written by men and are therefore imperfect.

But if Bible stories are meant to teach lessons, I agree with many of the lessons taught, especially those outlined in the 10 Commandments. It is important to respect your parents. Faithfulness to your spouse is of utmost importance. Charity, generosity, forgiveness and kindness are all of absolute necessity. But do we need a church, a Bible or a minister to practice and teach those things? No, I don't think so. I can employ them in my own life and teach my children by example.

Finally, there are two beliefs that keep me leaning toward the existence of a God as opposed to agnostic.

1) Heaven. Too many bad things happen to end the lives of good people. The only way this can happen is if there is another place for them. I know there is no scientific proof of it, but I just can't believe it is any other way. All our loved ones must be somewhere else not of this world.

2) We are only given what we can handle. I'm not sure how else to put this though I am sure there is something more poetic. But I am confident that someone up there somewhere is making sure that we are never dealt a hand that we can't manage. If you have a disabled child it is because you are strong enough or because you need to and can be strong enough.

These are two things that I have faith in. I may struggle in other areas but these I feel very confident in.

When its all said and done, conversations like the one Ross and I had make me think a lot. I worry sometimes that I will be judged as a less good person because of my hesitations (a concern that is true but angers me as I feel I lead a good life, better maybe than many who attend church or believe deeply in God). I'm thankful that my honey is accepting of my questions and is open to discussing them. I am thankful that after the whole conversation he kissed me and said "I want to be where you are always."

May 18, 2008

Goin' Through the Big D

Except here we do mean Dallas. Ross and I spent the weekend in Arlington (just outside of Dallas) with our friends. Not with our friends together but mostly with our friends apart.

His friend and groomsman, Aaron, had his birthday shindig this weekend which included paint balling and house party. Brittany and Ken live about 10 minutes away so I rode up with the boys and then played with Brittany for the weekend. We looked at and I think picked out bridesmaids dresses. They are short-ish, strapless and sassy. No buying yet because I want to look a little more and maybe see what the 2009 styles are like. We also glanced at wedding dresses (!!) but no trying on. That waits til Mommy and Grandma are here in June. And Brittany, Ken and I went to the Astros-Rangers game which, much to our surprise, was followed by a free Robert Earl Keen concert. Random? Yes. Cool? Also, yes.

After playing with our respective friends, me, Ross and our amigos joined forces for Aaron's house party. It was a great time! There were many of Ross' college friends who I had not met before or had only met once briefly so I was paraded around as the fiance again. It's fun. His friends are always so amazed and insist on meeting "the one who settled him down."

Sometimes, like this weekend I become randomly and wonderfully aware of why I am marrying him. It's never one thing he does but the combo of them all. He makes me so happy. Knowing he is as head over heels for me as I am for him, thats a powerful thing.

May 13, 2008

So Cool Its Chilly

Age and Joe's wedding web site is wicked cool. So cool its chilly.


http://www.momentville.com/JosephandAmanda/welcome


While I am way jealous of theirs playing music I am not going to change mine because currently I can do EVERYTHING on the Knot. EVERYTHING I tell you. I can bookmark dresses, flowers, invitations etc. I can keep a budget. I can keep a guest list with gift/thank you card records. I realize I could still do all these things and have a web site elsewhere that was as cool as theirs but folks, I am all about streamlining.

But way to go Boo on one wicked sweet site.

May 7, 2008

Movin' On Up

Tomorrow we're movin' on up - up an exit to Scofield Ridge Pkwy. Are we packed? Nah. Are we gonna pack? Nah. Throw it in the car and drive it a mile up the road. That's our style.

May 4, 2008

The "Women" Who Tamed Rosco

I think Rick meant the woman who tamed Rosco. Nonetheless it was an entertaining way to be introduced to another of their buddies from college. This guy, Lee, didn't even know Ross had a serious girlfriend and is then told - ha! Ross is engaged!

And I think Lee is the first of the bunch to be having a baby. His wife is 8 months pregnant with a little girl. Yay them!

Apr 28, 2008

The Word of Val

Val flew in on Thursday for my birthday. She departed yesterday. Here is her post-visit email to all our friends.

Subject: Ross: a review
To: AJ, Ben, Anna, Jane, Kristin, Bob, Christa and me

Dear friends,

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to the great country of Texas (no seriously, I flew out of the international terminal) for Cheryl's birthday and also had the opportunity to meet that Ross fellow that she is always talking about.

I will first admit that for the 72 hours that I was there, I was almost always under the influence of tequila - which was all but pumped through my veins in the form of margaritas - we drank frozen margaritas, margaritas from buckets, and mexican martinis (which will do more damage than a standard margarita). Nevertheless I will give you all the most objective review of Ross that I can :)

I put him through a rigorous set of tests to ensure that he will properly fit into our group. The following are just a few of the reasons that make him an alright match for our Cheryl:

1) He has a good sense of humor and was able to put up with my smart remarks all weekend, which isn't always easy to do.

2) He agrees that for their wedding, they should have an 80's cover band so that we can rock out to Journey all night long (I'm lobbying hard to make sure this happens)

3) He'll fit in just fine with our guys - while I can't guarantee that he'll wear a man skirt with Justin and Joe (or a man skirt fashioned as a cape), he likes beer, baseball, he drives a white wrangler and he's from the south, so Ben and Bob will like him just fine.

4) He comes fully equipped with a margarita machine.

5) He seems quite fond of our Cheryl - I knew he was in it for the long run when he said "she'll do." :)

Okay - I'm getting cramps in my thumbs from using my blackberry to write this email so I'll leave you with just these 5 reasons. In short - I'll give Ross 4 stars.

I hope all is well with everyone, I'll be in Boston as of Friday at noon (in the pub with Jane, of course).

Love,

Val

Apr 19, 2008

We're Engaged!


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
He did it! He asked! This is a very important entry so I will try to give it appropriate attention.

Last night, after babysitting at the Roedner Ranch, I went by Ross' store to take him dinner. One of our many topics of conversation was to go ring shopping when Val is here next weekend (we'd been once already). So naturally I got really excited, went home and pulled up rings online. Nothing makes a gal happier than diamonds. Ross came home shortly sat with me and asked if I saw the one we were looking at. I said no I didn't think Helzberg had that one online and I wish they did so I could remember every detail. Bummer. He told me enough rings, it was freakin him out a little. He didn't think we needed to rush anything and was I disappointed. I said, honestly, a little yes. It was like if you were told you were getting a new puppy and you thought it meant a new puppy now and then found out it was in 6 months. Still exciting but a little bummed.

Then Ryan called about going out. Talked to him for a minute. Ross asked if I would make us some popcorn to eat while we vegged in front of a baseball game pre-going out. So I'm in the kitchen about to start the popcorn when he pokes his head out of the bedroom and says "get back in here. I'm not done lovin' on you."

Into the bedroom to do some smoochin and one of his hands comes off me and goes to his pocket. Then he drops to one knee, holds out the Helzberg box, opens it and says "is this what your ring looked like?" And there it was! The perfect ring from the perfect man!! I said yes and smooched him and he asked if I would marry him. We kissed a bunch, I think I may have even pulled him onto the bed. And then I remembered, I better say yes. I said yes (much to his relief I later learned) and asked all about how he asked my dad.

He told me the dad asking story...they talked marriage for about 1 minute and then jumped to the important stuff, baseball. Then it was time to make the phone calls. Oh what a fun game it is to call people and tell them you are engaged!! Really, few things are more fun (one would be actually getting engaged). We called our parents, our grandmas and our bestest friends. When he called Ryan, Ross said "I'm engaged!" and Ryan responded with "To who??!" Ryan claims to have been joking but we think its just typical Ryan.

Now to answer the next set of questions....

Its a round solitaire with little bitty diamonds in the band. It also has these teeny diamonds around the prongs of the solitaire. It's in white gold, has a matching wedding band and is BEAUTIFUL. I cannot stop looking at it...ever.

We're just going to enjoy being engaged for a while but the plan is fall 2009. I want fall and he wants a long engagement. Everyone wins :) And it will be here in Austin. I only know that because we had talked about it pre-ring.

And finally, why I am up at 7:30 on a Saturday. Well Ross woke up to turn on the fan which woke me up and my first thought was "I'm engaged!" and the next thought was "I can't see the diamond without any light!" I tried my best to stay in bed with my honey, my fiance, but he didn't want to cuddle or anything. The silly boy wanted to sleep, imagine that. 6 am on a Saturday after being out til 1 am and he wants to sleep, Go figure. I then did the only reasonable thing. Grabbed my camera, uploaded pics of the ring and called a girlfriend from college who I knew was awake.

But now, in addition to being overjoyed and engaged, I am hungry. Quick bite for breakfast and then to wake the fiance with some smooches!

Apr 17, 2008

Wake up and smell the sausage

MMMMmmmm MMMMMmmm Ross is in the kitchen making us sausage and pepper sandwiches for dinner. They smell good! Oh its ready!

Apr 13, 2008

lake, sun and birthday


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Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
We spent Ross' birthday at Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis. Well kinda. We didn't really spend his exact birthday there (that would be today) but we spent yesterday and last night there. It was us, Ryan, Susannah, Aaron, Josh, Rick, Shannon, Chris, Patty, John, Christina, Crystal, Chad and Shannon. A couple other folks whose names I know not.

Just real chill, laid back, hanging out by the lake, playing games and boating (per Chad and Shannon's generosity).

There were a few casualties, namely my contacts and then my high school class ring which I couldn't find when I dropped it because I had no contacts. Vicious cycle that. But I did take away a sunburn and an old man boyfriend - 27 - who is feeling very happy and affectionate. I think he really loves me this one :) at least thats what he tells me.

Apr 11, 2008

The Big W-O-D


Women of Distinction, or WoD. The life consuming event of GSCTX is over (at least for 2008)! Tuesday was the Waco event (pictured) and yesterday was the Austin event. Both went really well. At Waco we had 175 attendees, including a Waco Tribune Reporter, in a beautiful room at Baylor and raised $15,000. At the Austin event we had 700 attendees, including a News 8 cameraman, at the Hilton Austin and raised $150,000. They were fun but I am so glad they are over for a while!!

After working 10-12 hour days Monday-Thursday, I'm taking today off. Ross is off too and we have quite the day planned. Some shopping, lunch date, car registration and generally preparing for our birthday (his, 27) camping trip this weekend. Speaking of Ross, he's up for a promotion! He's been bouncing around at work, covering stores when the regular manager is on his day off. A couple days ago the opportunity to have his own store appeared. He's officially let the folks know he wants it and I think it will be his store soon. Yay! But for now that sexy about to be promoted man is still asleep. I think I shall go wake him :)

Apr 6, 2008

God Bless You My Love!

He's on a strict diet - oranges, orange juice, more fruit, veggies and hot tea. And he sneezes a lot and I say "God bless you my love!" a lot. (Though he coughs more than sneezes honestly.)
My honey is going to get better if its the last thing I do! Sadly Senor Ross has not been feeling well. But I think between the Vicks, the throat spray and all the oranges he is consuming, he will feel well again soon.

I think most, if not all, couples have their show that they watch. Ross and I LOVE trashy TV. LOVE IT I tell you. This spring our show was "Here Come the Newlyweds." Hilarious I tell you! Couples competing against each other for money. Great competitions. Blindfolded hubby driving a minivan in an empty parking lot via wife's directions. Wife getting a make over so hubby can guess what changed (changes even included butt pads!). Folks, it was one laugh after another. And of course running commentary by us about how we would handle it throughout. (Blindfold car - we'd hit every shopping cart, he'd totally notice and celebrate some butt pads.) It makes us laugh but it was also pretty educational. We chatted about things I don't think we would have randomly brought up otherwise. Like how much is too much to spend on a car EVER (him: $30,000 me $50,000 - so much for my dream Lexus SUV). I wish I could remember some of the others but great things I am telling you. My point? Eh I only sorta have one. We enjoy trashy TV, especially tonight's finale, and while I'm a little hesitant to say it - trashy TV helped us learn a few things about each other.

My name is Cheryl and trashy TV is my preferred couple's therapy.