Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wedding Preparations: 106 Days!

Summer is moving quickly. My phone reminded me this morning that we have just over 100 days until our big day! When Raymond proposed, we picked a date over a year out thinking that was plenty of time to save and plan. Funny how time can play tricks on you...

In the last couple months we attended two very important graduation ceremonies (both siblings), took fabulous engagement photos thanks to Jade Street Photography, and I was promoted to the Marketing and Development Director at the Museum of World Treasures. This has been an exciting year of change and opportunity.

Raymond will tell you I spent weeks planning our engagement session. We've been very low-key and relaxed about all of the other wedding plans so far. I wanted this session to be creative, show our love of travel, and convey the joy and happiness of our wedding adventure. We were thrilled with our photographer and I'm excited she will be shooting the wedding as well! See the rest of the photos in our album here.

That's us, always dreaming up a new adventure.

I absolutely adore this red bike!

Raymond bought me this parasol at the Japanese Festival in St. Louis the day he proposed.

Where in the world will we go next?
We agreed early on in the planning process that we want a small, intimate, and affordable wedding. This means the guest list is almost exclusively family. We wish we could invite everyone who has touched our lives and our relationship (hundreds!), but we hope you understand our decision to be financially conservative about the day. It's very important to us to start our marriage in a healthy financial place instead of thousands of dollars of debt. Still, we would love to share the wedding fun with you through photos and updates. If you would like to know more, please visit our wedding website here.

Until next time --

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Always go to the Funeral

April 6, 2013 was a beautiful spring day. The sun was bright and warm. I wore a sleeveless dress to the funeral. I remember walking from the church to the cemetery and thinking, "I should be golfing with Daddy today."

It was the worst week of my life. Unfortunately, it's also true what the country song says: when something terrible happens, "you find out who your friends are." I learned this the hard way when my dad passed away.

Before my dad's funeral, I didn't realize how important it was that my parents told me to "always go to the funeral." I've been to funerals of at least a dozen people I've never met, because I know someone who cared deeply about the individual who passed away. I didn't realize how important this was until it was my own family who turned around and looked out at the church, heartbroken at the loss of such a wonderful man and father.

The fact is, it matters. It makes a difference. As my dad said, always go to the funeral, and if you can't, send a card. Call and check in. Drop by and knock on the front door. Stop and ask, "How can I be there for you now at this terrible time?" Do something, because even if you don't know what to say, it is worse beyond belief to say or do nothing at all.

Many of my oldest and best friends drove in from out of town to be there, including one who drove 18 hours to be in Wichita for less than 12. I cannot express how much it meant to me that these friends dropped everything to hit the road and be there. I've tried, but they will never understand that their presence physically helped me get through the day. Other friends I had not talked to in weeks or years asked Raymond for my address and sent a card, or surprised me in the receiving line at the church. I am so thankful for the amazing amount of love and support my family received at that time.

Unfortunately, I learned some hard lessons on the flip side. Some friends I thought were close didn't show up, call, or send a card. Some were there all week to support me or help out, but six months later were nowhere to be found. Some got tired of me when I wasn't "over it" in three months.

I knew I would "find out who my friends are," but I didn't realize it might take all year.

Overly-dramatic Pinterest words to live by.

After my dad died I could not bear to be on the golf course. It was too painful; the reality that he was not there, and would never be there again, was too hard to play with. He taught me to play. He had always been there. The one time I tried to play a few months after he passed away it felt like there was a dagger stabbing my heart on every tee box and green: his absence.

He had a pure love of the game. After he made me move to the men's tees, whenever he beat me on a hole or a round he was straight up gleeful. I didn't want to play without him, and until last week I wondered if I ever really would get back into the game that I loved so much. Then my mom, the most amazing woman on earth, surprised me by announcing she was joining the woman's club and she wanted to learn how to play golf.

The last thing my dad asked me to do before he died was to teach my mom how to play. I would have done it anyway, but knowing how painful it was for me, I didn't know if she would ever want to try. Last week she played her first round of golf. Afterwards she was so excited to tell me about every hole that she made me want to play again. I am so happy that today we played our first round together (first ever). I realized as we walked the course that if she wants to play golf, then I want all those memories I have with my dad with her too. He would have been so happy to see us out on the course today. I could feel him there with us, cheering us on, laughing at us in the trees, and walking with us every step of the way. I realized that of all places, I feel closest to him on the course.

He is gone, but his love of the game, thrill of a challenge, and warm presence will be there with us. Heck, we even got to go to the beach with him when I found a sandtrap...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Midwest Christmas Marathon and Wedding Planning

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and crazy January!

Raymond and I were lucky to get out of Wichita for a few days over Christmas and surprise his family in St. Louis. His mom had no idea we were coming until we walked through the door. It was wonderful to relax and explore for a couple days before we drove on to Branson and Silver Dollar City.

Raymond had to work on his birthday but we had a nice dinner and cake! New Year's Eve was relaxed with a few friends. It was exactly what we needed. I went back to work expecting to ease into January and was blown away by such a busy schedule. Immediately I jumped into a banquet space renovation project, worked the bridal expo, finished rental pricing changes, and much more.

I'm thrilled to see the space renovations coming along both professionally and personally. Our wedding reception is planned at the Museum! Here's a sneak peek at the new paint color:

Stepping backwards (for an important reason), in December my dad was given an Honorary Degree from Newman University. It was a big day for my mom and family. My dad always wondered if someday he would have given enough time and love to Newman to be considered for such an honor. Unfortunately he was not here to see it happen. We missed him terribly, but my mom gave a fantastic acceptance speech; I'm so proud of her! If only things were different, and he had been here to celebrate and be his usual humble self.

Wedding plans are coming along. Do you have a reasonably priced DJ you would recommend? Please leave me a comment if so! Choosing a caterer led to some tasty research. I was thrilled to pick and order my dress a couple weeks ago at The White Dress.