Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Heart Gardening - NOT

My story about my foot/knee problems will continue in a bit.  But first I want to comment on the lovely timing of these physical setbacks.

It was May.  Yes, MAY!  I really don't think it could have come at a worse time.  Not only was I just a month away from serious wedding season, it was also that month when if you're going to have a decent yard it's time to get out and work for it.  Well, not me!  And our yard has looked AWFUL for the last 4 months....until today.

See the above clip?  That's how I felt today when I went out there with my gloves on and hacked at just about every living thing in our yard.  It felt soooooo good after 4 months of doing nothing but staring at the weeds as they took over.  Ha ha, weeds!!!  GOOD BYE!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

40 is the new 80

I turned 40 in March.  Yeah, I know...FORTY!!!  UGH!  It kills me to even admit to that.  I remember at 19 thinking that 27 was about the oldest I'd ever want to be.  But here I am.  Forty. 

It wouldn't be so bad if my health, which has always been fantastic, hadn't gone downhill pretty dramatically starting in May.  I went to bed one night feeling just fine, but woke up a few times feeling a weird cramp in my right foot.  By the time I got up in the morning, my middle toe was completely swollen and I couldn't apply any pressure to the bottom of my foot at all.  What the heck could it be???  I hadn't hit it against anything so maybe it was a bug bite?  I limped around, waiting for it to get better.

It didn't.  After about 4 days of no improvement, I went to my stand-by medical plan ("Google") and had no problems finding out what it was:  Morton's neuroma.  It's an irritated, swollen nerve between the bones in the toes.  It's most commonly between the 3rd and 4th toes, but mine felt like it was between the 2nd and 3rd toes.  Most people on the internet talked of invasive treatments, such as cortisone and/or alcohol injections or even surgery to have the nerve removed.  I did find a couple bloggers who discussed cold laser treatments done at a chiropractor's office.  I decided to take the route.

By the time I got the appt with the chiropractor and the first treatment, I had been limping for about 10 days.  The treatment did start to loosen up the toes a bit, but by then I had an even bigger problem...literally!  My left knee, which had been bearing the brunt of all my limping, was swollen to about 3 times its normal size.  YIKES!  Now I was unable to bear weight on EITHER leg!  I was so miserable,  I can't even begin to tell you.  I ended up on crutches for about a week, trying to get the knee back into working order.  We had to have Chris take a bit of time off work and hire a sitter for the other days to help take care of the boys.  I could hardly get to the bathroom, take a shower, etc.  Everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - took a Herculean effort to get through.  I was depressed because I felt so incredibly useless.

Chris joked with me that "40 is the new 80" but I wasn't laughing about anything. 

Stay tuned for part two....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Finally...a break...


That's how I feel after these first three weeks in August where I had one wedding after another.  I'm still busy now - don't get me wrong - but it's nothing like being so "in demand" with brides who are getting a little nutty.

I think back a lot to my own wedding eleven years ago and am soooo glad I knew virtually NOTHING about weddings.  Sure, I had been to a few at that point in my life (I was almost 30!) but had never really paid much attention to them.  The internet was a new thing back then and nobody had even begun to dream up Pinterest. (THANK GOD!)  So I was pretty happy with my hokey little bud vases on the tables, never considered how many servers I should have based on my guest count, didn't even bother with a contract or anything in writing from the restaurant.  I basically just told them we were coming on May 26th at 2pm and there would be about 60 of us. 

Thankfully, I did have a friend at work who talked me through a few things.  She asked me what music I would walk down the aisle to.  You mean I have a choice???  Seriously, I had NO idea!  But that's good, because I see a lot of brides knocking themselves out, overthinking every single little detail.  Really?  Is this how you want to remember the weeks leading up to your wedding?  Do you want it to be stressful and crazy and to feel like you might regret choosing one flower in the bouquet over another?  Ultimately, those of us who've been married a few years know that NONE of it matters. 

The only thing that REALLY matters is that you are surrounded by the love and support of your family and friends as you say the most important words you will ever say.  If I could advise my brides any way, I would tell them to spend more time mulling over the BIG decision of the marriage and don't worry so much about all the little wedding decisions.  No matter what it looks like, as long as there is love and commitment a wedding is a beautiful thing.

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's here!!!

Hi!  I did my very FIRST vlog today, reviewing my new Erin Condren planner!  I've been lusting after these planners for over a year but finally bit the bullet and ordered one on July 30th.  It took three long weeks to get here, but it was totally worth the wait.  I didn't plan on the video being 14 minutes long, but there was a lot to cover! 

As I mention in the video, I have not been a very organized person in the past but now I really need to be.  September is always a great month to start fresh, don't you think?  What are you doing to get organized this month?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Great wedding, great job

Here I am, living the dream. (And I don't say that with one iota of sarcasm!)  This life is what I dreamed of for sooooo long and I need to appreciate every last minute of it.  I try to, but it's been so busy that it's hard to really step back and see it for what it is/has been for the last year +.

I never thought this would happen for me.  I really thought I would work a regular, full-time job for the rest of my life.  The only way I ever saw my life getting any easier was when the kids started helping around the house so that I wouldn't have to do as much on my weekends at home (when I had them; I did work a lot of Saturdays). 

And then almost exactly two years ago at this time, God spoke to me.  People are sometimes skeptical of a statement like that, but I know for a fact that's what it was.  I literally woke up one morning with the clear vision of what was going to happen:  I was going to start my own wedding planning business and get to stay home with the boys.  I even knew that it would happen within a year.  I was GIDDY with excitement, even though it was months away, and immediately started a small notebook to hold all my thoughts and ideas for this new stage of life that was on the horizon. 

As the time to quit my job neared the following spring, I got less excited and more nervous.  How on earth were we going to make it financially?  Chris didn't even have full-time hours at his job, just his weekend gig with the possibility of picking up extra shifts.  How was I going to get my name out there and afford marketing materials, etc.  I was walking towards the cliff and peering over the edge.  But I knew God was there - not at the bottom to catch me, but standing next to me holding my hand.  He said "I'm jumping with you."  And I took the leap of faith.

I knew the first year would be the hardest and it was.  Chris worked every single minute they would let him and somehow kept us afloat.  (Thank you, Chris, for being so supportive and working so hard for our family!)  And I used my connections to get a few weddings...then a few more.  In January of this year, a friend of mine who owns a ministerial business needed an associate minister to help with the overflow of ceremonies in the summer.  I started training, got ordained and have really enjoyed performing wedding ceremonies for the wonderful couples I've met.  (It's helped us tremendously in the financial department, too!)

Yesterday I had a wedding at a local golf club and it was BEAUTIFUL!  God took care of the weather (80, sunny, no humidity!) and I took care of the rest.  I left the house around 9am with a lot of excitement, not dread, for my 16+ hour day.  I enjoyed every last minute of it!  Performing a truly valuable service and being APPRECIATED for it is all anyone can ask for from a job.  I'm so very, very happy God spoke to me two years ago....and even more happy I actually listened!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to School...sort of

Last year at this time, I was really excited to start the adventure of homeschooling Owen and Sammy (grades 3 and 1).  I looked forward to learning with them and really allowing them the freedom to explore their individual interests and learn at their own pace.  However, it didn't take long for ME to learn a few things:

1.  I bit off WAY more than I could chew, with the business getting started and the two little boys needing attention.
2.  Owen and Sammy's main interest is electronics:  TV, the Wii, computer games, etc.
3.  I had no idea what I was doing with creating my own curriculum.  What was I thinking???

So I sent them back to traditional school after Christmas last year.  It was a knee-jerk reaction and one I felt guilty about almost immediately.  It was the easy way out for sure, and neither of them benefited from it.  (The only one who DID benefit from it was William, who learned to read since I had so much more time on my hands! YAY!)

At the end of the school year, I was frustrated - VERY frustrated - especially about Sammy's situation.  He has ALWAYS been incredibly smart but that has been a detrement to him in school because it makes him very BORED.  When I met with his teacher after he started back to the school, I told her he was bored and she seemed so surprised.  She told me I could nominate him for the Gifted and Talented program, which we had never been told about before.  I was pretty surprised that neither his kindergarten teacher or this first grade teacher had nominated him - didn't they see what was so plain to us and everyone else we knew?  So I nominated him and they were going to test him.  I waited...and waited...and waited.  THREE MONTHS later, I got a call from the lady who runs the program.  They FINALLY tested him and he was pretty much off the charts.  But by then it was May and the school year was all but over.  He would get more testing in the fall to see if they need to even potentially bump him up into 3rd grade, but there was nothing they could do for him until then.  By that point, Sammy was practically BEGGING me to not have to go back to school.

And Owen...well, that's a different story.  He is also bright academically, but has a lot of problems focusing.  He has been having social problems as well, mostly because he's a bit immature for his age (plus he's one of the youngest kids in his class due to his July birthday).  He was all gung-ho to go back to school, but Chris and I were very concerned about him being bullied in the 4th grade.

Because of all this, we are going to try virtual school this year.  I am hoping this is the solution to both boys' issues.  I am to be their "learning coach" so I won't have to come up with lesson plans or anything, but am just to help them complete their schoolwork every day.  They are excited about the idea of being able to finish sooner each day and then have their own time.  This is something they struggled with - no matter how quickly they breezed through their work at school, that bus wasn't coming any earlier, so they would get bored and weren't motivated.  (I can totally relate from my past job, where I would sit and watch the clock for the last two hours of the day sometimes.)

We have enrolled them with Wisconsin Virtual Academy and they start after Labor Day.  Soon, we will receive computers in the mail, as well as all other supplies needed.  I just need to get our school room organized and ready for them so they feel like they have a designated classroom here at home.

I have decided to take William to traditional preschool this year, mostly to give us a quieter atmosphere for the boys to do their work.  It's 5 days a week for 3 hours in the morning and he will most certainly LOVE it!  I hope he will be going to traditional kindergarten next year, but he might be alone on the bus if his older brothers prefer to stick with virtual school.  We are taking it one year at a time now and just trying to find the right fit for each of them. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Reflections

Last summer was pretty epic.  For the first time in my adult lifetime, I wasn't working 50+ hours a week.  I actually had a REAL tan (not from a bed) because I took the boys to the beach 3 or more times a week.  Chris was working a crazy schedule with a lot of overnight shifts, so it made sense for us to spend a lot of time away from the house so he could sleep. 
This summer hasn't been quite as fun as last summer, partly because I'm busier and partly because Chris is working a crummy afternoon shift that really puts a damper on beach days - when they have to end by 2pm, they really aren't much fun.  However, we did get to take a trip to northern Wisconsin for Chris's birthday in early June.
It was a surprise I had started working on back in January, when it was comforting to think of a warm summer weekend spent at a cabin on a lake.  On the morning of his birthday, Chris opened several clues:  sunglasses, a map, Corn Nuts and Coke (his favorite roadtrip snack) and, finally, a brochure from the cabins.  It was soooo hard to keep the secret for all those months, but totally worth it!
We took the kids out of school for their last two days and drove 7+ hours to the Delta Lodge.  It was just as I had imagined and the weather was perfection.  It truly couldn't have been better.  The boys spent a lot of time kayaking and swimming and the little guys just loved playing on the beach.  Even Scrabble had a good time running loose for the weekend, something I'm sure his little doggie mind has always dreamed of.  Here are a few pictures:

This was definitely the highlight of the summer for us this year.  What was your favorite 2012 summer memory?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

For anyone who doesn't know, I have my own wedding planning business.  After years of working in hospitality and doing weddings for hotels/resorts, I broke out on my own last spring.  It was so scary at that time, as I had always been the main breadwinner in the family and now we were going to have to figure out a way for me to go without a regular paycheck.  Chris stepped up and is now working full-time, while I continue to build this little business of mine.

One of the things I looked forward to was working for myself and not having to deal with some of the nasty people I encountered.  Brides were, for the most part, really nice to me but every so often I would have a "persnickety" one.  I was always able to let that roll off my back, knowing that she was probably going through a lot of stress during the planning so they never bothered me.

The ones that drove me over the edge were my co-workers.  It was a VIPER PIT at my office.  Seriously, I can't imagine ever being such a miserable person that you take it out on everyone around you and get AWAY with that - that was the worst part!  At the resort I last worked, it was as if a culture of back-stabbing was no only permitted but ENCOURAGED!  I endured three years there and it was HELL, but I'm so glad I took that job because only a job that BAD would have FORCED me take the leap out on my own.

Fast-forward to yesterday when I had a wedding at a local restaurant.  I was thinking about how grateful I am not to have to deal with miserable people on a daily basis (and for 9+ hours a day, too!) but how I STILL encounter people who are so mean and nasty to me.  Why?  I just don't get it.  I understand that sometimes wedding planners come into a place and try to order people around, but right from the beginning I make it clear in ALL my dealings that I am only there to represent the bride and help both her, and the vendors, with whatever I can. 

I guess I am spoiled because I worked at the Ritz-Carlton for years and the motto there is, "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen."  At orientation, every new employee is indoctrinated with the motto and the meaning behind it:  ACT like a lady/gentleman and treat everyone you come in contact with as one, too.  That doesn't JUST mean the hotel guests, but also outside vendors and mostly the people you see every day, your co-workers.  I'm not saying it was the most perfect environment and no one ever fell short of this, but at least the company itself set the bar high for its employees.

Most of the local vendors here know me and they are very nice.  I'm happy to have this small-town area where I do deal with a lot of the same (nice) people for most of the weddings I do.  I guess I just want to know what the heck happened in society that people are allowed to treat others like doormats so much of the time.  It's a real shame.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wow, it's been a long time!  I don't even recognize the "new" look of Blogger (which might be 6 months old by now!) It's been busy around here, to say the least. 

I over-commit myself all the time - have I mentioned that before?  I think it's because I'm competitive and want to challenge myself all the time, but I'm certainly not about to do a triathalon or anything.  (Although that would be AMAZING, wouldn't it?)  So this week I am committed as such:

6:15am - Neighbor girl arrives, as her normal sitter is on vacation. 
7am - Hopefully I'm done with my shower so I can focus on waking up the boys and making breakfast for 5, instead of 4
8:15am - Everyone (including neighbor girl) out the door to go to VBS at our church
9am - 12pm - Work in the nursery at VBS, caring for the 3 and unders of the teachers.  (Had to change TWO diapers today - boy, I sure don't miss that mess!!!)
12:30pm - Back home (send neighbor girl home) and get the boys lunch
1:30pm - Struggle to get at least one of the younger two down for a nap
Afternoon - try to get some work done - I have three weddings in the next two weeks!  YIKES!
2:30pm - Mumble something to Chris as he's on his way out the door to work.  Perhaps "Who are you again?"  It sure feels like that most of the time!

Then the rest of the afternoon is usually spent breaking up fights, trying to keep them from killing the new kitten (oh - didn't I mention we recently added a third pet to the mix?) and debating whether or not to turn on the A/C.  (I've found when it's off, they spend more time outside so it's worth a little sweat to promote that, I feel.)  After dinner, there's showers/baths and bedtime, then more of my busy-work.  WHEW!  At this rate, summer is REALLY flying by!

We are doing virtual school for my two older boys this year.  It's worth a try.  Homeschooling myself turned out to be a lot more than I could handle, esp with my start-up business, and I feel public school wasn't working for either of them for different reasons.  I am still planning on sending William out to pre-school because he will love it and it will also make things around here a lot quieter for the older boys doing their schoolwork.  We should be all set with enrollment and look forward to receiving the computers and other materials in a few weeks.

I'm excited for the school year to start, because it always feels like a great time to get organized.  To that end, I splurged and ordered myself an Erin Condren planner.  I can't wait to get it!!!  It should be here in a couple of weeks and it starts in September, so that will give me ample time to get it all set up.  I am thinking about doing a vlog review on it when I get it, so stay tuned for that.  Before I ordered it I watched a ton of YouTube reviews on it, so I'll get a kick out of doing my own, I think.

Hope everyone out there in blog-land is having a great summer!