2008 goals

I'm not big on the term "resolution" but I love me some "goals." It's not that I need to resolve to change my life, but I certainly enjoy working towards goals. And I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming year, and what I want out of it.

So here they are, my goals for 2008:

1. Run another marathon. I'm in the process of convincing myself to run a FULL marathon this time, even though the half marathon we ran in 2005 was harder than heck. Let me clarify: the race itself was not extremely difficult, especially after training for three months. We used this training program by Hal Higdon for our 13.1 mile race and it prepared us sufficiently. What was difficult was the amount of time and commitment needed for the training. Day in, day out, running ALL the freaking time. And let's just say that I'm at the opposite end of the "motivation spectrum" these days. Which is exactly why I want to get off my lazy arse and run the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee, October 5, 2008. At first I thought I'd do the Chicago Marathon, but alas, we'll be at Laura and Andy's wedding that weekend in St. Louis. It makes more sense to run the marathon in my new city anyway, and in October it will be quite nice running weather. Here is the path I will take:

Now back to the whole 26.2 versus 13.1 miles thing: I'm nervous about committing to a full marathon. I don't know if my old lady body will hold up for the intense training. I don't know if my attention span can last for the 18 weeks of training that this race will require. I might even need a 12 week pre-training program before I begin the actual training, since I haven't exactly been an avid runner as of late. Nate isn't sure if he will run with me this time. After all, he is beginning his own intensive program this summer [P.T. school] and our partnership last time lead to quite a few arguments. Come on, you try running with your then boyfriend for three months and not bicker. Impossible.

Bottom line: if I post this, then it makes it real. And I can't easily back out now that I've announced this to you blog readers. I'm going to do it, by golly. But that doesn't mean that I'm not scared!

2. Save $18,000, or $1,500 per month. Now this is largely dependent on A. when we move out of our money draining apartment and begin to live rent-free:), B. how healthy my promised "nice raise" is in March, C. how much Nate can contribute with his part time job[s]. But regardless, this goal will certainly be challenging but possible. It's going to take determination and focus on our ultimate goal of home ownership. I am also aware of the "balance" concept, meaning I cannot save every single penny I earn at risk of going crazy. I have to let go of SOME money to maintain [Nate's] sanity. So yes, we will need to spend money on food and an occasional "fun" purchase. I'm working on this balancing act each day, so that my inner tight wad does not always dominate.

Bottom line: 15-20K should be in our savings account by this time next year. It's going to be hard but worth it, my friends.

3. Obtain our professional wedding album. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Well, that requires money and considering that we are attempting #2, any major purchase is difficult to justify. But this is something that I won't sacrifice because we NEED a visual representation of our big day. We spent enough time, energy, and money on that day already....and I think it deserves a permanent reminder. I just have to get the wedding DVD first, then decide on album options. But I want an album in my possession by the end of 2008 [hopefully before our one year anniversary, but we'll see].

4. Catch up on my traditional scrapbooking, so that I can pursue digital scrapbooking. I make chronological albums for our everyday life. But right now, the current album is only up-to-date through May 2006. Yikes, I'm far behind. But really, I didn't take TOO many pictures in the last 1.5 years. And our honeymoon album is already finished, the wedding album will be a separate entity, and I'm contemplating turning this blog into a book someday, too. So that would cover October 2007 until the present. Still, catching up on our scrapbook will be time consuming but rewarding. It's always been in the back of my head but I've just been a little preoccupied with wedding planning, moving, being married, etc.

5. Find a church and start going on Sundays. Again, something that has been in the back of my brain, nagging me. Religion is an interesting topic in our household, as we are from completely different backgrounds. Me: attended Lutheran grade school for nine years, public high school, Jesuit [Catholic] college, while my parents attend a Southern Baptist church. Nate: Catholicism all through his childhood, but not actively practicing for awhile now. We both agree that we want to be a church going family, especially for our future children to experience that aspect. We just need to find the right denomination for us. I personally think that Lutheranism is a nice compromise between Catholicism and Baptists, so I think I might look into a few local Lutheran churches. I hope Nate comes with me, and I know it will be difficult to give up one of my two sleep-in mornings, but I know it will be worth it. Hey, I'm all for Sunday afternoon naps, even when I DO get to sleep in, so why not suck it up and go to church?

So that is it, five goals for 2008. Sorry there aren't many pictures in this post. I know it's quite annoying to read a novel without eye candy, but hopefully you survived. I'll do my best to avoid long posts for awhile now.

Christmas take 2

Specially ordered for our second round of Christmas fun, Mother Nature delivered another 5-6 inches of snow on Friday. The previous layers were beginning to melt into the nasty slushy black type of junk, so this new white fluffy layer is actually quite appreciated:Christmas at the in laws! I don't think I've shown an exterior picture of their [and soon to be our] house. Isn't it cute? The door on the right will be ours, and the whole top floor is ours. If you look closely you'll see our little porch above the lower one, with a little door leading outside. I think there is supposed to be a railing of some sort up there, but I think we can manage to sit out and have a glass of vino without falling over the edge:)
We decided to start a new Christmas tradition: Fondue! We had a fondue feast last night. Beginning with beer cheese sauce and dipping soft pretzels and bread, then onto the main course of shrimp and beef dipped in oil, then dessert with strawberries, pineapple, pound cake, and marshmallows, dipped in chocolate. Whew, I'm still full!
The only thing about fondue is it gets a little wild. Oil spattered all around Lois' table cloth and almost got our faces a few times. But it was so good!

Here is the Christmas tree in all it's glory, plus the gifts that took over the living room floor. I told you my ILs go all out for Christmas!
Then time to open presents. Nate has been begging for [another] Patagonia fleece hoodie. As in, he wrote down all of the information for his mother and handed it to her about two months ago. The boy is seriously addicted to outdoor gear, mostly fleeces and coats. Well, of course he received his beloved hoodie:
But don't worry, I received one too! It's a gorgeous red wine color by North Face and it has "wind stopper" material in it. So the whole family has warm hoodies for the Wisconsin weather now:
Other items I received: a windstopper hat, warm North Face mittens, Patagonia tight lounge pants, warm fuzzy socks [do you see a theme here?], framed artsy pictures taken by my BIL Jon, a newlywed cookbook, and a $50 gift certificate to Roots----an awesome restaurant where we will be spending New Years Eve. It's SO good and now we can splurge a little more on Monday night!

Lois received her wedding album and loved it. I got a tear out of her, too, so overall the albums were a success! Nate was in heaven with his hoodie, plus another fleece, plus some outdoorsy shoes he's been coveting lately. He also got the brightest bike light you will ever see. It's basically a blinding spotlight he can put on his handlebars at night:)

Our parents, along with Memaw and Pepaw, contributed money towards our "wedding DVD" fund as well. So we are closer to buying the stupid thing so I can attempt to make us an album. As time goes on, and we move further and further away from the wedding, I have a feeling that deciding on images for the album will be a lot easier. It's not that I don't care anymore, but it's just so far in the past that I will probably be able to narrow down the shots with less emotional attachment.

So overall, we had some wonderful Christmases! And now onto the New Year: I have to work tomorrow [of course] but I'm off on Tuesday. So we'll go out to dinner Monday and maybe grab a drink afterwards. I love four day work weeks!

Eye candy: decor

As I've mentioned before, I have about 65 blogs on my Google Reader. Many of them are crafty, home decor type blogs. There are two in particular that provide GREAT eye candy: Made by Girl, and Desire to Inspire. I love when they post tons of gorgeous pictures without a lot of text. The lazy girl in me loves to skim through pictures without having to read:) Anyway, there are a few pictures I think are worth sharing. Enjoy!

From Made by Girl blog:

The writer, Jennifer Ramos, found this canvas on a friends website. Isn't it awesome? And you could easily make something like this for yourself:

Here is an NYC loft worth a measley $2.1 million. It's owned by the couple who runs a site called Deeply Madly Living.
I'd live here if you FORCED me to:) Obsessed with the dark and light contrasts.

This loft from NYC Tourist is a rental that goes for $950 a night. GULP! I always wanted to live in an urban loft with exposed brick walls...but I think we'll skip the loft and trade for a cozy single family home in the suburbs [someday]. And I could never EVER afford to live in New York. Thank god for the Midwest!

This place she found on bijou kaleidoscope.
It is absolutely fantastic with dark wood floors, gigantic mirrors, chandelier, and pink wall. Swoon!

From Desire to Inspire blog:

Lynn Morgan Design: FAB kitchen, very modern and bright.

Domino Mag: I love this room because of the many framed pictures but also because the shade of blue is just like ours! I like the eclectic feel here.

Zeschin: OMG! A PINK kitchen, massive clock, fantastic shelves? I'm in love.

Annie Schlechter: I really love haphazard placement of frames. I may try something similar in our next place.

Brainerd_x_Mullins: Color coordinated book shelves? LOVE it.

James Merrel: more great frame placement, plus a really cool chandelier.
You must check out these blogs and be prepared to fall in love!

Engagements, Weddings, Etc

[First of all, let me just say that I truly appreciate all of the kind responses to my "baby" post. Words of wisdom by comments, email, and myspace messages make me feel very loved and supported. Thank you, ladies!]

This post is about future weddings. We have six sets of friends who recently became engaged to be married in 2008 and possibly a few in 2009. These six couples all attended our wedding and thus, we will probably get invited to theirs [at least, I HOPE so.] There are actually quite a few more couples engaged within our extended circle of friends, but these guys are the closest to us:

1. Andy and Laura, to be married in St. Louis in October. Nate will be an usher and I have a feeling it's going to be a stunning wedding. Their reception is at the Chase's Starlight room! Holla!
2. Emily and Tony----Emily is the blonde on the left, and that is NOT Tony on the right. This lovely brunette is Megan, who was Emily's partner in crime at our wedding since Tony was on a flight to Rome. Their wedding will be in Omaha in August.

3. Caleb and Ashleigh, the most recently engaged a week ago tonight [Keri, were you aware of this???] I don't think they've set a date in the last week but I'm sure the wedding will be in Kansas City and Nate might be a groomsman. Caleb was one of Nate's best buddies in college and we love Ashleigh, too!

4. Mike and Michelle, to be wed in Wisconsin [whoo hoo for local weddings!] in September. Mike is Nate's cousin and they loved our Studio B so much, they have decided to start their own business in Madison! I can't wait to try out our poses at their wedding next fall:)

5. Nick and Amy, probably to be wed in St. Louis but I'm unsure of the date. I think this is probably one of my favorite poses from the night.
6. Kristen and Will, to be wed in St. Louis, April 2009. I already blogged about her engagement but she is having a party tomorrow night, which we have to miss. Boo for missing the fun:( I predict Kristen's wedding will be dripping with crystals, pink, and extremely girlie flair.

Now for the guesses on who's next:

1. Could it be Charlie or Brian [probably not to each other, but this picture is too funny]?
2. Allison or Milldogg [again, to their respective new boyfriends, not each other]?3. Nate's brother Jon and his girlfriend Emily? They are only 21 though, so I'm thinking this will be a ways down the road.

4. Keri and Matt [I know, I know Keri. It's SOOOO not going to happen for awhile. Humor me, here]?
5. Lindsey and John [I think she may snap someone's neck if anyone else asks when she is getting engaged]?
6. Or Nick and Kelly? I'm sure he is getting some major heat since they've been dating for about five years now.
Ah the fun of weddings, planning, and partying with friends. It's going to be a busy year, that's for sure! I guess we are just in that phase of our lives when EVERYONE is getting hitched and I plan on living it up. Who doesn't love weddings?

Movies can change your life:)

Over our Christmas visit, Mom and I indulged in some good girlie fun. While the boys viewed the classically masculine "I am Legend" movie, the girls enjoyed "P.S. I Love You" and everyone was happy with our split decision.

I should mention that I read the book awhile ago, and was a little nervous that the movie would fall short. I mean, come on....look at this book cover and tell me you don't want to to read it:
Now, I should also mention that I NEVER cry at movies. I didn't even cry at my own wedding [although my sensitive groom shed a few tears, as did most of the women in my family and a decent number of bridesmaids.] I suppose I have a cold heart or something. Well apparently this movie even touched my icy soul because I freaking sobbed---multiple times. Seriously, I cried on and off throughout the whole movie. It was THAT good:)
At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, let me say that this movie made me look at life differently. First of all, it made me want to do everything possible with my husband now....instead of waiting until "someday." I decided to quit whining about how much I hate the cold and go skiing with my hubby, just like he's asked me to do so many times. It made me want to say, "Screw our finances, let's go on a pimp vacation." It made me want to live every day to it's fullest and never take anything for granted again. It also makes me want to return to Ireland so that I can meet some hotties like this. Who is this guy and why is he so adorable?
The second occurrence resulting from this movie was a nice little case of B.O.T.B. And for those non-knotties out there, that means Babies On The Brain. It made me want kids sooner than later, too. I blame it on the movie because Holly, the main character, didn't want to have kids until they owned a house and until they were financially stable [hello, those are my stipulations, too!] And let's just say that her grand plan didn't pan out and she regretted being such a rigid, overly planning wife.

I had a minor bout with B.O.T.B. right after the wedding. I successfully fought it off with some good old fashioned logic: it makes no sense for us to have kids right now. We are still renting and have no room for a kid, we are living off my salary alone, so if I went on maternity leave we'd be screwed, and then I'd HAVE to return to work full time [not sure I'm okay with that], and we don't have a decent emergency fund saved for a child and other issues. It obviously makes more sense to wait until we have two salaries [freaking 2011 !] and until we own a home. So basically, I would be thirty before we even start to think about kids [boo!]

Logic says this is NOT the time, but the other part of me can't wait to be a mom. I'm a natural caregiver [considering my career choice], I think I'd be a really good mom, and I'm just the type of person who focuses on the next "goal" in life. Meaning, in my head, our next step in married life would be buying a house and having kids. It's very difficult for me to "just be" without constantly striving towards the next step.

Nate and I discussed this topic at length during our eight hour car rides recently. I feel like our final decision is a bit personal to discuss on this blog but I will say that we've met in the middle with this one, and have compromised so that we are both comfortable with our new time line. We don't necessarily have to wait until after 2011 but we agree that it wouldn't be smart to have a kid right now, either. I feel significantly better about this whole situation now that we have a realistic time frame----which feeds into my anal retentiveness regarding schedules, time lines, and goals. I'll never be one to "just live" without a vague game plan for the future---I think I'm too Type A!

Oh and another reason why I'm not 100% ready to have children? Look at the following picture. Do you notice any abnormally large babies compared to the rest? How about the second baby from the left?
That little monster is Nate! He was 10 pounds at birth and had a gigantic head. I mean, just look at how he puts the other tiny tots to shame. That head. That gut. That blue jumpsuit.

I think I'm doomed:) Sorry this is so long. I guess I had to get that off of my chest. Any comments are welcome on this topic. Anyone else struggling with this major life decision? Advice from moms?


Well, it definitely wasn't our most extravagant Christmas ever. Our funds aren't exactly like they used to be. So guess what that means? Yup, handmade Christmas fun!!

Here are a few shots of my "family wedding" frames for my Mom and Memaw:
Here is what I printed for Memaw since she had one less picture [my Dad's parents weren't included in her frame.]Both my Mom and Memaw loved them! Family tree information is so freaking cool. My Mom has researched a lot of it for us, and although these measly little frames are not profound, they are still pretty special.

So on to our MAJOR gift: Wedding albums!! [Lois, if you are reading this look away NOW. You haven't gotten your gift yet and I want it to be a surprise!!!]

I decided to stay old fashioned with this and make a traditional album for Memaw, Mom and Lois. I had our photographer print up 100 photos and used those shots for the albums. I anticipated these three albums taking me three months, so I started in October. But alas, I was finished with all of them before November. I guess it was more fun than I thought!
I found these adorable fabric-covered 8X8 albums at a local scrapbooking store. Normally I'd splurge on a high-end Kolo album or something similar, but I loved these and they were inexpensive. The green one belongs to Lois, pink to my Mom, and white to Memaw. I added some of my veil lace to my Mom's album just because I know she likes the extra frill:)

Here are a few pictures of the pages I made. They really aren't too special, but I tried to keep them simple to showcase the photograph. One per page, and they all have photo corners in place so that the girls can remove the photo and frame them if they so desire. I did this instead of selecting photos to frame----now they can just choose the shots they like, and frame them without me! Ignore the glare from the flash here. Taking pictures of pictures never seems to work out, right?

So far, so good. Both Memaw and Mom got a little teary eyed with these, mostly because I was mean and added some sappy quotes throughout the albums. Sayings like, "I'll always be your daughter, no matter where I roam" will always get them:)

I highly recommend making wedding albums for family members, if you have the time and energy. No matter how long it takes they are always appreciated. I think Memaw already showed her album to half of her town. No pressure or anything, right?
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