Friday, January 30, 2009

Texas Old Town...and it's own brand of charm

So don’t you know that it turns out the FH has to work on the Saturday that I’ve scheduled us to go and look at Texas Old Town? That’s just our luck. But the good news is that he thought that it would be a short half-day of work, and worst case scenario we could drive there separately and just meet instead of riding together.

In the end, it worked out fine. We managed to meet up, and ride together and got there right on time. As we’re driving along, I’m trying to keep an open mind, preparing myself to find the things that I don’t like about the venue. I mean, honestly, it’s the best option that we’ve come across on line and seems to fit in with everything that we’d been looking for. But nothing can be that great, right? Once again, that’s just my luck talking.

So as we’re driving along, I’m trying to see things from an outsider’s perspective. It was nice that Texas Old Town is situation so close to our house, a DEFINITE bonus, and I was trying to follow the directions given to us by Danny German, the manager as if I wasn’t familiar with the area. Good news, the directions were great, and the roads were clearly marked and all turns noted. Check on directions.

As we pull into the property, there is a large wooden ranch-style archway that you drive through, reminiscent of an actual ranch. Once inside the gates, there is a fork in the road. One way points toward two of the halls, and the other direction is clearly marked for another hall. Once again, kudos for having the trail clearly marked. I can see that this could be a nightmare if not marked clearly, but never fear, the folks at TOT seem to know what they’re doing. I also notice that underneath each building name is what looks to be a chalkboard frame, and I’m assuming that when there is an event scheduled, the event name is probably written upon that board to more clearly define where your guests should be going. Quaint, and I like it.

So we follow the roads around until we find a grouping of buildings where the office in located. Immediately I can see the outdoor stage area, as well as one ceremony site and two of the halls. The two halls are situation close together, but not side by side. They are separated by the outdoor stage as well as the office buildings, which is good news for me.

We find Danny, the manager, and are immediately welcomed to TOT and find him to be genuinely friendly and informative. He immediately lets up know up front that he’s not a salesperson, he’s just a tour guide. He welcomes us to his family’s business and immediately sets about making us feel at home. He gives us some papers to look over, with information about what is included in the rental and the rates and some preferred vendor information. He patiently explains some things, and answers any questions that we have right then, and we move quickly to the tour portion of the visit.

Danny does a great job of explaining the history behind TOT, giving us a better understanding of how the place started and how it morphed into what it is now. And there is a method to his madness…while on the tour, you can see the buildings and feel of the place change. The older buildings were built for reasons other than to be event locations, you see. The original founders (Danny’s in-laws) built Texas Old Town to be a throw back to the good old days of West Texas, back when there were cowboys and Indians roaming about. It was started as a “cow-town” settlement, for entertainment purposes only. It’s only been in the past few years that the wedding industry has discovered the unique charm and rustic elegance of having a Hill Country wedding in a locale such as this. And I think that it was important to have the brief history lesson – it gave us an understanding of the where, when and why behind it all.

And it explained the differences in the halls. Before going out there and seeing things myself, I couldn’t understand why two halls that hold different size parties would cost the same amount, and the other building was so much more expensive. Seeing things first hand, really helped clarify these points for me. And it truly is such that each hall has its own character and set of attributes that might appeal or not appeal to each individual bride. There are things that one hall has that another doesn’t that makes it more or less appealing to different people. And we liked this. It gave each hall its own little personality, and it was a joy to try to match that unique set of characteristics with what we’re shooting for with our wedding.

And as such, we felt it when we walked into the hall that “fit” us and our wedding. There was no question about it. The other two halls were nice, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but this one hall just fit US….stayed tuned to find out which one!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Venue Option B : Texas Old Town, Kyle, TX

So now we’re down to just one…and yep, you guessed it, this one is MORE than likely going to be our winner. There are a few other options that I need to double check myself on, but this venue met all of our needs. And then some.

Introducing Texas Old Town (

I don’t remember exactly how I found this place…I think that I had just done a generic search on for wedding reception facilities and this website popped up. At first glance, I wasn’t really sold on anything other than it seemed to fit the feel of what we were talking about wanting for the wedding (rustic elegance) and the spacious rooms and outdoor ceremony sites made this one worth re-visiting. I sent an email off to the contact address asking for rates and more information. The owner, Danny German, was more than quick to reply and has been MORE than gracious during the three months between our first contact with him and the actual appointment to see this place this past weekend.

You see, I was in a dilemma about how much I could actually do for the wedding without being actually engaged. Yes, this put pressure on my sweetie to pop the big question, but there came a point in my looking that this might seem to be the front runner in the list of venue options, and I didn’t feel right going to see the place until I was ACTUALLY engaged. And then, of course, once I was engaged, there was too much actually going on with the holidays and work-related stuff to even consider making appointments to see venues.

So fast forward to last week…when it hits me like a ton of bricks that January is almost OVER and I haven’t made ANY wedding decisions yet! YIKES!!

A quick phone call on Friday afternoon fixed that up, and we had an appointment to view the facilities on Saturday morning. Now you’re probably wondering what this place had over all of the others that I was looking at online to make me actually call them instead of just researching more…so I’ll tell you.

I liked the look of the place – outdoors Hill Country meets wedding reception venue. Old world charm with modern amenities for a nice wedding.

Everything was wood in sight – walls, ceilings, chairs, tables and flooring – which means, yep, you guessed right – built in dance floor!

Rental rates included the ceremony site along with the hall rental at no extra charge. Rental also included a FULL DAY – 8am-12am, so set up and take down would be no problem or cost anything extra. Plus, the cost of clean up was included (after removing anything that you brought in yourself) and on site dressing rooms were also part of the package. And an added bonus was that if the facility that you book isn’t reserved the day before your reservation, they don’t care or charge you extra to come out and do set up the day BEFORE! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – was this heaven on a website?!?!?

Texas Old Town allows outside vendors, but also has agreements with certain vendors and coordinators to allow discounts. Their catering charges quotes on line were WAY below others that I had been looking at, and they do a get together the first or second Friday of the month (Family Night) so that you can come and hang out, play games and taste the goods prior to booking with anyone, including band and dj options. A nice addition, I think. The only vendor that they require is the bartending service, which is not a deal breaker for me, and the rates quoted on music services (both band or dj) were also very reasonable.

So if all of this great stuff is there, what’s the drawback you ask? I’ll tell you. At Texas Old Town, there are three different halls that you can reserve for your event. Which means that on a busy Saturday in the fall, there could be three weddings going on at the same time. I think that you can see where my questions at this point are going, right? How close is each hall to one another? How secluded are the ceremony sites to give me the privacy and romance that I’m looking for? If everyone uses their caterers, and I have the smallest party booked for that day, will I still get the same great service that the larger weddings will get? Of course, this question was addressed on their FAQ page, but of COURSE they’re gonna say that this has never been a problem.

And at this point, I’m thinking that I want to book the smaller hall, Redbud Hall, based on size guidelines that they offer on their website. So I know that I’ll be the smallest wedding/event going on that day…

But all of this could be a moot point once I see the joint. You know? This is getting too long, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow to see what FH and I thought of the place….

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Venue Option A : Mercury Hall, Austin, TX

So, as most of you ladies know, when a girl dreams of her wedding there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, right? Right. Until you find that dream locale for your wedding, and you get your heart set on it, because it’s got everything that you would put on a wish list to have at your wedding, and then you see the price tag. Yeah, after my head quit spinning and I was able to breathe fully in and out again without placing my head between my knees….I started searching again. For a more reasonably priced venue.

And that’s when I stumbled upon Mercury Hall. ( This is an old hall that was moved from the outskirts of town way back when and plunked down in the heart of South Austin – just off of South 1st street. If you’re familiar with Austin at all, you’ll understand why this place would appeal to me. South Austin has it’s own vibe, it’s own feel, and pretty much just marches to the tune of a different drummer than the rest of snotty Austin. So, it would fit us perfectly.

From the pictures, since this is the venue that I haven’t actually visited in person, it seems charming, with a lot of character that other venues that I have been looking at online don’t seem to have. It’s an older building with beautiful wood flooring and really awesome looking antique windows that add to it’s charm. Mercury Hall is located on a wooded, semi-secluded lot in Austin (you cannot see it from the road when you drive by), so there would be somewhere on the facility suitable for the ceremony to be held outdoors.

So it meets all of my primary requirements. The price is a little on the higher side of what I’ve been looking at spending, but still reasonable. I can reserve the venue for a total of 10 hours, with additional hours available for purchase if needed. There is a suitable area outside for the ceremony, along with ample room for our guests to eat, drink and dance the night away inside. And they allow outside vendors, instead of dealing only with certain ones – big plus for us when thinking of $$.

In addition to all of that, it’s situated in Austin, a stone’s throw from downtown, so the options for rooms and other entertainment are plentiful. (This was a big concern when doing my initial research. I found several places that were in the right price range and met some of the other requirements, but they were located pretty far out of town, and with an open bar in the works, I don’t want anyone to be inebriated on their drive back to the hotel.) This also opens up options for the rehearsal dinner too, I mean, a girl’s got to keep all of the factors in mind, right?

I was going to include some pictures, if you didn’t want to visit the website, so that you can get a feel for the place and what I’m talking about….but it seems as if they’re having troubles with it. The photo gallery page is the best for pictures, but it won’t load on my computer right now…frustrating! OK – so you’ll have to visit the website and see if you have better luck than me...I'll keep trying to link the pics before this blog posts, but if you see no pics, then you'll know that I had NO luck!

Looks like a great place for a wedding and reception, right? I thought so…but my fiancé wasn’t as sold on it as I was….to be continued…

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Early Contenders...

In my haste to post about the two venue choices that I managed to narrow it down to, I totally forgot all about one of the my early contenders. So, in all fairness, here are a few other wedding venue site that you can check out that I did consider before narrowing it down to the final two…

I really like several of those vendors, but there were problems with the venue. In some cases these venues did NOT include any rentals. Others had restrictions on vendor choices, and I couldn’t justify the additional cost to myself, much less to my fiancé. When there are other choices that do include tables, chairs and dance floors…it just didn’t appease the practical side of my nature. Please feel free to look at them online and give me your feedback though! Maybe you’ll come up with a solution that I hadn’t thought of before I book another place!

There were a few of these venues that I absolutely fell in LOVE with, and then had to cross off for practicality reasons…Austin Museum of Art being the #1 for that category. This was one of my early forerunners in the venue selection. Not only were the grounds FABULOUS, but the gorgeousness of the gardens would make on-site decorating a minimal expense. But the limitations on time of rental, vendor restrictions and no tables, chairs OR dance floor made the cost of the this venue add up quick!

The Allan House we REALLY liked, as it was central to downtown Austin – lots of lodging options, as well as extra entertainment choices for out-of-town guests. The only draw back to there was the lack of space. The house itself is small, the grounds are compact and there is no dance floor. Yes, in some of the pictures on their website you’ll see people dancing, but the flooring is stone, so uneven enough for our guests who are wanting to do a little boot scootin’!

And Angel Springs seemed to fit all requirements but one….it seems REALLY far out of town. With no local accommodations, that means our guests having to drive quite a distance after the reception. And since we’ve already discussed my fears of drinking and driving mixing that night, I just don’t want that on my conscience. I suppose that I could look into some transportation options for our guests, but that seems a bit extreme when I could just opt for a place closer into town.

So there were some of the close runners up for the venue selections. On to the final two….

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wedding Locales are in Abundance!

If you’re a bride that’s getting married in Austin, the possibilities for a wedding venue are almost boundless. The area is so ripe with vegetation and breathtaking scenes of the Hill Country that this area is known for that it’s almost impossible to pick a place. That is, if there’s not a limit on your budget….

Unfortunately for this Austin gal, there is a budget, and I REALLY want to adhere to that budget as much as possible. Yes, I want a really cool, beautifully elegant wedding that I will remember through awesome photographs for the remainder of my days, but I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for that to happen. There are too many other things to spend my $$ on these days, especially these days.

It’s been a big dilemma for me, to be perfectly honest. Spending $10K, $15K, or more on a ceremony and party that will last only ONE day…but it’s what I want, and since it’s me paying for it, then why not? As long as future intended is on the same boat, and he is.

So back to picking a venue. I started my search months and months ago. Yes, ladies, I started searching for the wedding venue LONG before I was actually engaged. You see, I knew that with our big project coming up at work, that my time around the actual engagement would be somewhat limited (Boy was a right about that one!) and I wouldn’t be able to fully focus on wedding-related details at that time. So, I went in the opposite order of things (since I knew it was coming, but not exactly when) and did some research ahead of time.

I found everything that you could imagine. From the ridiculously expensive to the cheapest of cheap wedding venues, and keeping an open mind to the possibilities, I looked at them all. And I started reading all the wedding magazines and books that give you budget guidelines and all, so that I could get a better grasp on what % of my budget should go for reception venue.

The good news is that we were both okay with an outdoor ceremony. So that meant that I was looking for a venue that could be both ceremony site and reception hall. The other factor that narrowed things down for us was the availability of a dance floor. My future husband and I want to enjoy our wedding, we want to have fun on the dance floor and several of our parents LOVE to country-western dance. So that limited things too, because if the venue didn’t have a dance floor already, then the price had to be lower to accommodate us renting a dance floor since that point was non-negotiable with my fiancé.

So without further ado…here are the two that my internet search got me down to:

Both venues have their good and bad points, which I’ll get into starting tomorrow. I have visited one site personally, with plans to visit the second site soon, and I’ll share my observations and such about each site tomorrow. In the mean time, feel free to check out the sites and do your own research!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sleepness Nights...

So, I started the last blog about how I was SO stressed out. And then, just like in real life, I got distracted and went off onto another subject ENTIRELY! Those that know me in person, have to love that about me, since there’s no changing it now…

So we left off at how stressed I was at work, moving into our new house (new to me and Lil’ CC, anyway) and just doing too much in general. I’m also kind of stressed about the wedding. Not that there’s really anything yet to BE stressed about, but I think that I feel pressured for there to be something to stress about. Like I would feel like I was making more progress on the whole wedding thing if I was actually making progress of some kind.

I have lots of ideas for what I want, just haven’t had the time, energy or extra $$ to put towards the down payments on my vendors like I should be doing with the holidays just ending. Hopefully all of that will change soon. Work is getting better, I got a big promotion yesterday and the holidays are over. (You know that Christmas is over when you go into HEB and see the Valentine’s Day stuff out…)

So the only other thing that’s really wrong with me now is that I’m tired. And not just a little sleepy – I’m dead tired on my feet all of the time. I realize that a portion of that tiredness is related to how many long hours I’m putting into this project at work, and that’s slowly getting better – I’m aiming for only 50 hours this week! I just haven’t had time to sleep. And when I find myself with extra time to sleep, I can’t sleep. Too much stuff going around my head about what I should be doing other than sleeping, you know? Thinking about the wedding, which vendors I want to use, worrying about the project at work, thinking about what I didn’t get done today that I need to make SURE to do the next day, wondering if I packed up my extra hair dryer and brought it over yet, and worrying about what all I have left to get out of my apartment….the list is endless and it seems to go on and on. Anyone out there ever been that way? Be honest…I know that you have.

So if by some miracle I get past all of that crapola and manage to get comfy and fall asleep, I’m still not sleeping good. Partly because even though my body has shut down, my mind hasn’t and I proceed to dream about work, marriage, wedding or moving. And partly because of my future husband. Love you to death honey, but you have to admit that neither one of us has been sleeping good lately.

You see, he snores. Not just a little, but like tear the house down snores. Just kidding. It’s not that bad, and he does everything that he can do to make sure that he doesn’t snore. And we’ve worked out a good system. He starts out on his stomach, sometimes wears the anti-snoring strips and if he does manage to roll over onto his back to trim a few trees, I have ear plugs on my side of the bed. And I honestly don’t mind wearing them. You see, it’s not all his fault. I’m a REALLY light sleeper. I can wake up at the slightest little noise. And with all the things that are vying for attention in my head, once I get woken up, I’m awake. And it takes me forever to fall back asleep. So if I manage to fall asleep to light snoring, once I get woken up (by bigger snoring or whatever) I can’t go back to sleep. So the earplugs seemed to solve all of our problems. Combined with what my fiancé would do to lessen the snores, it worked fine.

Until he’s gotten all stressed with work stuff too. The earplugs work great with the noise level. Unfortunately, they don’t do anything about the twitching, jumping and general flopping that is occurring in the wee hours of the morning. He starts off nice and calm, relaxed and motionless. But about 3am or 4am, the movements start. And since I like to sleep cuddled right up next to him, I get woken up when all of this starts. I devised a simple enough solution right away, being the smart girl that I am…I moved over. But you know what? It’s cold on my lonely side of the bed. Coupled with the fact that I’m now awake enough to move over, and then I’m cold because he’s not right next to me, the thoughts creep right on in and you can kiss my good night’s sleep bye bye! I just can’t seem to win.

Until last night. After venting my frustrations yesterday and finally telling my fiancé about the flip flopping keeping me awake (I really didn’t want to tell him - he feels so bad about the snoring thing already!), he did the sweetest thing for me. He knows how tired I am, and he vowed that he wouldn’t move all night long. Or at the least, he would NOT flop over back and forth. Rolling is preferable, as one of us doesn’t nearly get launched off of the bed mid flop, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re as heavy a sleeper as he is. I honestly don’t think that he got one wink of sleep. I slept sans ear plugs all night long, and he didn’t snore, twitch, jerk or anything. And there was definitely no flopping. He rolled over a time or two, but it was done so slowly and carefully, that I seriously don’t think that he slept! He MUST love me…that’s making a huge sacrifice for me to be able to get some sleep. When cornered about it this morning, he promises that he did get sleep, but I don’t know that I believe him….

Just one more reason why I love him SO much…I hope that he knows how much I appreciate all of the little things that he does for me on a daily basis to show me how much he cares. I know it’s not much, but it means the world to me!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The busy life of Miss Cotton Candy...

Stress does all kinds of things to a person.

Some people get moody. Some people can’t sleep. Some people get extremely agitated or annoyed at the smallest things. And some people, like Miss Cotton Candy, seem to do all of those things at the same time!

Yeah, lots of laughs…for those of you reading this post from many miles of safe distance away…

For those of you closer to me, there is a big apology coming your way! Especially to my fiancé. How he puts up with me on some days is nothing short of a miracle. Truly.

I mean, as if the biggest project of my career isn’t enough for me to handle right now, I decided that this would be the PERFECT time to move! Yep. That’s like asking for a dose of insanity to go with the big helping of craziness that’s already on your plate. I don’t know WHAT I was thinking. Honestly. I mean, it’s one thing to be an over-achiever, and another thing completely to do something this insane. It’s just that the timing was off. Really. Maybe if I tell myself that, I’ll start to believe it!

My lease is up at the end of the month. And I didn’t really want to wait until the last minute to move the big items. We (my fiancé and I) got my daughter’s bed and dresser moved last week, along with her bookshelf and a load of her toys. So we basically moved into his house, without officially moving out of my apartment. Over time, I’ve accumulated enough clothes and things at his house to not need to go back and forth between houses. So the main thing was getting my daughter’s room set up.

Now, the bedroom that she took over used to be where the doggies sleep. And when I say doggies, don’t get it in your head that these are cute little puppies, or tiny little dogs. Although they are cute, they are also large dogs. One is a lab and something else really big mix, and the other is an American pit bull. (Not the crazy half in-bred mix that always goes nuts, but the registered breed of pits) Anyway, our two dogs slept on this old mattress in the spare room and had been sleeping there for about a year. And now that you can picture how large these dogs are, you can probably imagine that the room needed a little sprucing up before it could be my daughter’s room.

So one good wall scrubbing, a couple of coats of paint and many carpet shampoos later, the room looks great. I still need to touch up the corners with the pale lavender paint color that we picked out, but it looks like a new room. We got her bed and dresser moved in, got her TV set up, and she’s sleeping in there like a champ.

So that just leaves all the rest of my furniture to get moved. And the rest of my junk all packed up and moved over. Since we have the kiddos every other weekend, we decided that waiting until the last weekend in January was cutting the deadline too close for comfort on moving the furniture. That meant that it all needed to move this weekend. The weekend after the week from hell at work. Go live with our new system, came, went and kicked my butt in the process! 65 hours of work later, and I was pooped! After sleeping until 1:30pm on Saturday, it seemed smarter to wait until Sunday to get stuff moved, so Saturday was spent doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. Man – it was NICE!

But Sunday came all too quickly, and the grueling work of moving out of a third-story apartment. Luckily for me, the guys did the heavy work, and I hauled the smaller things that I had packed and ready to go. Unluckily for me, there’s still at least one more truck load of stuff at the apartment. But the big stuff is gone, which is good.

But man, I got to tell you. I HURT today. I can’t imagine how fiancé and mover friend feel, since they did the heavy lifting, but I hurt all over. And I have NO desire to unpack any of the boxes that are cramming up the house…but I have to unpack the boxes since I need the boxes to repack the stuff left at my apartment. Lucky for me, I have 20 more days to get that done! And you KNOW I’m gonna wait until the last minute…

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Night of the Engagement - Part II

(Sorry for the delay…things have been CRAZY with work – I clocked 65 hours last week…)

Continued from prior post…

He let me pick the restaurant, and we ate a good meal with a margarita at Chuy’s in South Austin. We walked back to the truck and when he opened the truck door for me, there was a huge box on my seat. We had talked about this gift earlier in the day, but I had thought that I had won the argument about the early Xmas present. Apparently I didn’t win.

After MUCH grumbling from yours truly, I proceeded to open the present. I tried to get into the truck and sit on the seat while holding the present on my lap. That wouldn’t work for my fiancé, he insisted that I use the seat as a table and stand with my back to him while opening the present. Looking back, with the knowledge of hindsight, I see that he needed my back to him to do what he was doing. So yeah, I open the present and it’s a camera printer that I had seen as Best Buy and wanted. YEA! I go to get into the truck – it was COLD outside! No, not yet. “Open it up and see if anything’s missing.” Because we were right there by Best Buy and could return it if anything was missing. Which prompted me to make the argument of how would I know if anything was missing since I didn’t have one. Yeah, call it the night for me to be difficult. I know. Believe me, I know. Anyway, back to the story.

So I open up the box, and being the true smart ass that I am, I pull out the cds and cables and say “yep, looks like it’s all here to me!” It was really cold and I just wanted to get inside again. My fiancé literally had to encourage me to take the printer out of the box to see how big it was. That’s when I saw the pictures. On the top of the printer, my fiancé had taped some pictures. The top one was a picture of my daughter that said “Will you” and underneath was a picture of his son holding a sign that said “Marry him?” Beneath that picture was a photo of my fiancé kneeling down beside his truck with the ring in the box holding it up to me. Shocked and surprised, I quickly turned around to look at my fiancé and completely looked over him. He was kneeling on the ground, just like in the picture, holding the ring up to me. He asked me in person this time, and I started crying.

And of course I said yes. Tearfully, joyfully and completely touched at the trouble that he had gone through to make the most perfect proposal to me. He apologized to me for not doing anything extravagant, but I was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness of his proposal. To include our children, without having them actually there was the sweetest thing that he could have done. It was the best proposal that I could have ever imagine or dreamt up on my own. In fact, it was WAY better than anything that I could have dreamt up. It was perfect.

Now, it might not be perfect for everyone. But it was perfect for me. And that’s just one of the many reasons why I love him as much as I do. He takes the time to know me. To understand me. And he still wants to know more. He wants to do more for me each and every day. I’ve got to be the luckiest girl ever…

I’ve got the man of my dreams, and the marriage proposal that melted my heart…what more could a girl ask for? Not a thing. Not one single thing.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Night of the Engagement - Part I

So from the get-go we knew that the kids wanted to be involved in the asking of the all-important question. They had been bugging us for months about getting married, and they knew that we were talking about it. They knew that we had taken the time to go ring shopping, so they knew that it was going to happen sometime soon.

And they wanted in on the action. Bad. They begged and pleaded to be there when he asked me to marry him. We love our kids. A lot. And we understand that there are times when you have your kids around. The night that you ask a girl to marry you is not one of those time. That doesn’t mean that we don’t love our kids. It just means that we also understand that there are times that you DON’T want your kids around!

But it was important to my fiancé that they be involved somehow. He took that knowledge and made a whole, extravagant proposal night that melted my heart. If he hadn’t already owned it lock, stock and barrel, he would have after what he did to propose to me. Let me tell you the story and see if you agree…

The night that he asked me to marry him started off as a date night. You see, I’ve been working a lot on the new software system that our company is installing at the beginning of the year. And when I say that I’ve been working a lot, I know that you might be thinking of a few late nights and maybe a weekend or two. Not so in this case. I’ve been traveling a minimum of three days a week since last May. I work two days a week in Austin, and three days a week in Dallas. Sometimes I drive, sometimes I fly. No matter what, when I’m in Austin, I have my daughter and when I don’t have my daughter, I’m in Dallas. That’s how our life has been for the past seven months. To keep our sanity and romance alive, we started doing date nights a while back. Nights without the kids, where we go out to eat and maybe see a movie. A night away just for the two of us.

So the first week of December, we only had one night with me being in town and without the kids. It was December 4th. And my fiancé asked me if I wanted to do a date night on that night a few days earlier. Now, I have to say that between the end of September and this time, we had picked out a ring, and I knew that he was trying to tie down the details of how/when/where to buy it at and all, but he had led me on a merry chase of having trouble getting the ring. This is all to tell you that I didn’t really suspect anything on our date night on 12/4.

We had been in training for the new computer system all morning. We got out of training just before lunch and decided to have a date lunch before I had to work that afternoon. We went to this little pizza place on the square in San Marcos that we hadn’t been to in forever and shared a pie with a pitcher of beer. So nice!

After that relaxing lunch we did some Xmas shopping and went home. I had to work and he relaxed a bit. Before long, I was instructed to stay upstairs for a bit while he wrapped a Xmas present for me. When asked why he didn’t just wait until I wasn’t there to wrap it, he told me that it was a present for me to open that night. I argued that we weren’t opening presents early and he told me that this was something that he thought that I would want to open early, something that I could use in the next few weeks before Xmas. When I continued arguing about getting a present that night, he finally told me to suck it up and deal with it. That I was opening the present that night, even if he had to call it a date night present.

Yeah, this was just the beginning of “Sandy being Difficult Night”…stay tuned for more details.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dreams of wedding plans dance in my head...

From my previous post, you know that my fiancé and I were talking about merging our lives, and making plans for the future together. Yet somehow, we’d managed not to discuss how the event of marriage would take place. Or what we would want our wedding to be like.

The main reason that we had avoided this topic was because we didn’t want to jinx things with our kids. My fiancés son is older, so we knew how he felt about my daughter and I and he was really excited at the thought of us getting married and forming a new family. But he’s 5 years older than my daughter and her moods and opinions are as fast changing as mercury. There were days that she was completely cool with everything, and other days when she would act cooler towards the whole idea.

Then a few months ago, the kids started bugging us pretty hard about when we would get married. And this time, it wasn’t just his son asking, it was my daughter too. Which was VERY cool with us. It relieved a lot of stress and worry from my shoulders, and I’m sure from the shoulders of my fiancé as well. She was really excited about us getting married, and about her having an older brother and they even started asking us if we would have one more kid so that they could have a baby brother/sister. They really got into it and started questioning us about it all the time.

So it was good for me to know that she was ok with things. And once I knew that I had her approval with the plan, it was easy to start thinking about the actual marriage. Not just how we would merge our lives, but when we would take that next step. Which was really neat for me. But still, no discussion regarding weddings.

That all changed at the end of September when we all traveled to Dallas for my friend BH’s wedding. That was the weekend that changed the nature of our discussions. That was the weekend when my future step-son asked why we couldn’t just get married along with our friends since they already had the church and the preacher there! Too funny! To kids, it’s just that easy, right?!?! My fiancé and I were rolling we were laughing so hard.

But sitting through that ceremony, watching my good friend take the vows that I was now free to take, changed something in my head. I sat through that ceremony, looking around at the details and started thinking about what I wanted for my ceremony. And I did the same thing during the reception. I started taking ideas that very night. And my fiancé and I started talking about what we would want at our wedding. We talked all evening about it.

And we talked all the next day about it during our drive home. And the kids got involved. And we all got excited. From that day forward, it’s been nothing but planning our wedding. I mean, we had already worked out all the other logistics during the last few months.

Normally, people have to work out all the details of how to combine their lives AFTER they get engaged. We had been planning this out for months, so the logistics of how to move, when to move, where the extra furniture would go, and how to make the spare bedroom into my daughter’s bedroom where all already planned. Which left things wide open to start planning the wedding…every girl’s dream!

And for me, the wedding took all of my focus. For my fiancé, the engagement took up his time. While I dreamed of wedding dresses, extra special shoes, and fabulous table decorations, he dreamt about the ring and how to pop the question.

The question gets asked…next time!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Yes, I'll marry you, but not right now...

It all started almost a year and a half ago. My fiancé and I were on the phone one day, after we’d been dating about six months. I was driving to my daughter’s day care to pick her up from school and he was driving home. It was “date night” for my daughter and I - so my fiancé and I were enjoying a quick phone call before I spent the evening with her. During the course of the conversation, marriage came up. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but a part of me knew that it was a semi-serious question.

I didn’t say yes. But I also didn’t say no. I said not now. We had only been dating for about six months. But there was a part of me that wanted to say yes. I knew, deep down in the bottom of my soul that this man was the one for me. That he was the man of my dreams – the one that I had spent the last thirty years looking to find. And I wanted to say yes. And I know that I would have said yes if it had just been me. I would have married him in a heartbeat.

But the reality of my world is that it wasn’t just me. I had someone else who depended on me to take care of her – to make the best choices since now all of my choices also affected her. And my reality was that I had a five year-old daughter who had spent the last year coming to terms with my divorce from her father, and she was still having struggles with seeing me date. If it had just been me, we would have gotten engaged that day. And she was doing very well with me dating my fiancé, but there were moments that you could tell that she just wasn’t sure about the whole thing.

So I said not now. But at that moment, I knew that I loved him. Not just enough to date and be with for a while, but truly, deeply loved him. I knew that I had found someone who would stay by my side each and every day, giving into the relationship just as much (if not more) than I did every day. Someone that I cared for more and more deeply as every day passed.

From that moment on, we started planning the logistics of WHEN all of this would happen. Maybe we couldn’t talk about the marriage aspect of things yet, but we could talk about our life together and how we would take care of this or that. We started to plan what each of us wanted to do with the house that he owns, how to improve it and make it better for the four of us to live in. We talked about money and finances and our personal thoughts on debt and credit and how to handle major purchases. In short, we started to merge our lives. Slowly but surely, we made plans for the future and for the day when we knew that my daughter would be as ready as we were to take the next step.

So we talked all around it, but never really talked about the actual event. By that I mean that we talked about the day that we would be married, but not about the actual day that we would get married. We talked about everything except the wedding. Most of you girls out there are wondering how we could skip over the most important part of getting married, but it just wasn’t what was on the forefront of our minds. But all of that changed this past September…stay tuned for those discussions….