A Weekend That Was So Much More

Two weekends ago, Richard was away (enjoying the Oktoberfest festivities in Germany, no less!), so the girl and I were on our own. I love our weekends as a family because our weekdays are so hectic, so I was a little sad when I woke up on Friday morning knowing that we wouldn’t see Richard again until Sunday night.

In a daze of melancholy and exhaustion, I grabbed the video monitor and saw the girl squirming in her cot and making her usual morning hey-Mom-I’m-here noises. I wandered over to her room and she greeted me with a smile, as she does every morning. When I saw that smile, the sadness didn’t linger and my heart was bursting as I smiled back at her and said, “Good morning, sweet girl.” After I picked her up, we opened the brightly-colored curtains and she waved out the window whilst I say, “Hello, world, we’re ready for another day!” We walked into the hallway where she continued her waves at a photo frame full of pictures from our wedding before we head back to my bed where I breastfed her then we snuggled for a bit.

I’d love to say that the rest of the morning was fabulous, but in all honesty, it was a little rough and I just felt off. Our girl is teething something fierce plus she is in a major growth spurt (or leap if you follow Wonder Weeks, which I highly recommend for any new parents, as it has been pretty much spot on for us). Right now, she is in a weird phase of high-pitched screaming, which is extremely odd for our smiley, laid-back girl. It is seriously ear-piercing!

This was one of those days where I felt super sorry for myself that we live thousands of miles away from my family. All I could think about was how badly I wished I could drive to my parents’ house and lounge in the living room with them whilst they swooned over their granddaughter. Also? I wanted someone else to cook for me. And? I wanted to avoid the overwhelming pile of laundry from our trip to the States.

I knew, though, that for the sake of our girl and her mood that I needed to snap out of this funk. When she went down for her morning nap, I decided to crawl back into bed and basically start the day over again after both of our naps. Honestly, this was the best decision I could have made. I woke up refreshed and ready to enjoy every moment of our girls’ weekend.

Over the next couple of days, I focused on spending quality time with my favorite girl. There were moments, like when we went to the park on Sunday and she loved every second I pushed her in the swing, that I wished Richard was with us to see the joy on her face. But, that weekend made me so grateful for our daughter and for our little family.

That weekend reminded me of so many things that I needed to remember. That the three of us are better together and that we have the most fun then. That we are incredibly blessed to be able to raise this sweet girl and to say that we are her mom and dad. That despite the miles that separate us from my side of the family that this is our home and it’s a place where I feel fortunate to live. That there are tough times, but really there are so many more amazing times. That I love that I have the opportunity to stay at home with our girl during these early years of her life. That even though Richard and I both like to have time away with our friends that we both come back from those times being even more grateful for our life together. That despite the fact that Richard and I have an extremely strong marriage we know it is still a constant work in progress. That he is, without a doubt, my best friend. That this life we have is pretty darn amazing, and I’ll take the good and the bad any day knowing that I have these two beside me.

So, the weekend that started with me feeling down about just about everything ended with me being reminded of what is important and of how fortunate I am. I’m so glad I chose happiness and positivity and to enjoy every moment of the weekend I had with our baby girl.

Have you ever wanted to start a day over again? Ever had one of those days/weekends/weeks where you are reminded just how fortunate you are?

IMG_4946 Look at that face! I love how she holds on to the swing…ah, my heart.

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Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I’m fairly sure that most of us thought our summer was over, but we have been pleasantly surprised with some great weather over the weekends, and we’ve been doing our best to enjoy it by being outdoors. A few weeks ago, we decided to spend the Sunday at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

We’ve driven past the park numerous times and it has always peaked my curiosity. Richard had never been and he was equally intrigued to visit. And our girl? Well, she’s just happy as long as the three of us are together and she gets to look around!

Pulling into the car park, it appeared that many other families had the same idea as us. It was great to see so many people of all ages out enjoying the day with family and friends. Many of them had packed picnics, and there were kids running around soaking up their last days of summer before school began.

We made our way to the main visitor’s centre, where there is a gift shop, a restaurant, and a snack shop. We paid for our parking, which is £8 for the day, then picked up a map to plot our walk. (You can pay for smaller chunks of time, but £8 seemed completely reasonable to spend the day wandering the gorgeous grounds without the need to continually be checking our watches.) We decided to walk the cross country walking route to the Longside Gallery that took us to the opposite side of the grounds from the visitor’s centre, which the map says is 2 kilometers one way. This walk takes you past many of the sculptures – in a range of mediums – and within viewing distance of the larger buildings on the grounds as well as through a pasture complete with cow pies (or, as I just learned from my husband, cow pats as they are known here). It definitely was a beautiful walk through the park. When we finished exploring, we made our way back to the visitor’s centre and had a late lunch at the restaurant whilst sitting outside on the deck upstairs.

We really enjoyed our day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and will for sure be returning. It’s a wonderful place for families with all of the open space for kids to run around, and it will make a great addition to our tour of Yorkshire when we have visitors. If we get snow this year, I’d love to visit then as I imagine it is incredibly beautiful on a clear winter day. I just wish it was a bit closer, so we could go more often!

(Richard just informed me I don’t have many photos of the sculptures. This appears to be true! Oh well, hope you enjoy the photos anyway!)

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DSC_0002Molecule Man 1+1+1 by Jonathan Borofsky

DSC_0006Buddha 2000 by Niki de Saint Phalle

DSC_0009Everything is Connected by Peter Liversidge

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DSC_0029Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei

And a super cute photo just because these two melt my heart….

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

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 Photo by HDC Photo

Although Mother’s Day was celebrated in March here in the UK (and I was definitely treated like a queen for my first!), it is being celebrated today in the US. So, I’d like to wish my beautiful mom a very happy Mother’s Day! Also, happy Mother’s Day to all of the other moms out there!

I feel extremely lucky that Mom visited us for two weeks in April and that the little one and I were able to take her out for a special afternoon tea to shower her with love. We had a lovely Saturday afternoon of just us girls! (Blog post to come reviewing the tea!)

On this special day, I want to take a moment to tell her again how much she means to me. I’ve always appreciated my parents, but when I hit my mid- to late 20s, I gained a whole new appreciation for them, their marriage, and for everything they did for me and my brother. That appreciation increased even more once our daughter was born because now I truly see and understand how much a mom emotionally, physically, and mentally invests in motherhood and in her children.

I’m forever grateful to have been raised by such a strong, loving, and beautiful woman. She has set an incredible example for me to follow. I only hope that I can be as much of a mother to our daughter as my mom was to me. And, I am so thankful that I now can call my mom an incredible friend. I miss her terribly, so the time we do have together is very important and I really cherish every moment of it. Her visit showed me that not only is she a great mom and wonderful friend, but also an amazing grandmother. Our girl loves her Noni something fierce and I could tell she enjoyed Mom’s visit just as much as I did.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for everything. We can’t wait to see you again in a few weeks. Happy Mother’s Day! xx

 

Life lately.

Oh, hey…it’s me! It’s been ages since I’ve written a post, hasn’t it?!

I’ve been settling into motherhood and life as a stay-at-home mom. It is amazing and it is hard and it is beautiful and it is exhausting and it is invigorating all at once. I love being a mom. I honestly absolutely love it, despite how difficult it can be sometimes. I love spending my days with our darling daughter. She is such a joy. Her toothless grin makes my heart burst with love.

She has this amazing giggle that will turn even the worst day completely around. The best part of her laugh is you never know exactly what will bring it on, so sometimes she downright surprises me with it. And, I love that. I love the fact that it seems like she understands what her dad and I are saying and that she moves her mouth in a way that makes it appear she is trying to talk to us.

I am constantly in awe of her. I love watching her grow and learn new things. At the same time though, my heart is breaking because our little girl is not-so-little anymore. She turns five months this week. How is that even possible?!

Last week, she was having a particularly tough day due to teething. She woke up from her nap, and I could tell she was still tired. We snuggled up on the couch together and she fell asleep on me for a couple of hours. At one point during her nap, I found myself in tears because I want her to learn and to grow and to explore, but at the same time, it is so hard to really grasp how quickly she is growing up.

So, in between loving and learning, I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog and decided to stop thinking and to actually start doing, so here I am ready to share our little life again. I don’t plan to turn this into a blog that just focuses on parenthood, but it will most definitely come up quite frequently because our girl adds such an incredible dimension to our life that I know I will want to write about that. My idea is to write from the heart and go with the flow and see where that takes me.

 

I’m really excited to write because it is something I truly enjoy, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading what I have to share here in my little corner of the internet. So, thanks so much for reading (especially you, Dad)!

Our Daughter on my Mind

I find I’m at a funny place with this blog. The title implies me sharing my tales of living in Yorkshire, but sometimes what I want to write about has very little to do with Yorkshire or even England. There are days when I don’t write because I fail to see how what I want to share relates to the ‘purpose’ of this blog. Today though, I decided to just put some words down and see what happens, so this post has nothing to do with England – just a warning!

I think it is safe to say that most people who read my blog are well aware that I am pregnant. I’m 37 weeks along and wondering how much bigger I can possibly get, even if everyone continually tells me that this growing bump is fairly small for this stage of pregnancy. It’s all relative though, isn’t it? And, everyone carries babies differently making it impossible to compare.

I have to say that I feel I have been lucky to have a fairly straight-forward, healthy, and enjoyable pregnancy. I know that this isn’t the case for all women, which makes me very grateful for the past nine months I’ve had of growing this little one and getting excited for her upcoming arrival.

Richard and I cannot wait to have her here, and we feel ever-so-lucky that we’ll have all four grandparents with us to celebrate her first Christmas!  Our life is about to change immensely, but there is so much to look forward to and to have her with us as we continue to enjoy life will just be incredible. I can’t wait to take her on her first trip to the US and Richard is beyond excited to teach her to ski. We are already smitten with her.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it will be like to be a mom. Obviously, it can’t be predicted as to how it will all pan out, but I plan to share my love of life with her and hope that translates into making her a well-rounded person. While I’ve been thinking about all of this, I remembered a TED Talk a great friend of mine shared with me back when babies weren’t even a consideration for us. Even then, I was extremely moved by the poem Sarah Kay shared. Now though, this poem and her words have a whole new meaning for me as we gear up to welcome our daughter into our lives. I love the words she speaks and the advice she plans to give to her future daughter. The entire video is nearly 19 minutes long, but if you only want to hear the poem, it is roughly the first 4 minutes. It’s definitely worth a listen.

So much to share!

I’ve wanted to write for awhile now, but a multitude of things have kept me away. And of course, today, when I woke up and started to tackle my to-do list which included me publishing this post, I remembered the power had been shut off for some works happening right up the road from us, so the post would have to wait due to lack of electricity leading to lack of wifi!

During the next week(s), I plan to recap a lot of what has been happening in the last few months. This particular post won’t be anything spectacular (well, maybe it will be!), but I knew that if I just wrote one post then I would want to keep writing more posts. You need to start somewhere to get to where you want to be, so this little post is it for me!

(I really cannot believe I have not written since March. Yikes. Not happy with myself about that, but such is life sometimes!)

Our days have been filled with visits from friends and family, a trip to Wales, a trip to Edinburgh, purchasing an incredible new house and moving into that house, and putting our old house for rent and saying a tearful goodbye to the place where we started our life in England together. Needless to say, it has been an exciting and emotional time for us!

There is one thing that I haven’t mentioned, and to us, that thing is the most important of all. We’re still in disbelief some days and completely over-the-moon excited to have found out right before Easter that our family of two will become three in late November! We’re going to have a little British-American baby!

So yes, there is a lot for me to cover and I’m looking forward to sharing it all!

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You’ve heard me moan about the horrendous weather here and are probably wondering if we are buried under this much snow in mid-June. Thankfully, we aren’t and we’re actually experiencing a stretch of beautiful weather! The relevance of this photo is that I took it on a walk the day we found out we were going to become parents. Every time I think about that day, I remember our excitement and I remember the snowstorm. 

P.S. Due to the power outage, our security alarm has gone off twice today leaving me frantic and unable to shut it off. No matter how many times I punch in the code, the alarm will not stop screeching! I ran out of the house earlier to apologize to the neighbors on either side of us, and thankfully we’ve lucked out in the neighbor department because they were so understanding and one of them was actually outside checking to make sure everything was okay. It’s now off, but I’m afraid to move around the house for fear the motion sensors will trigger the alarm again! (I just spoke to Richard again and he has assured me this will not happen. Phew.) The irony of the situation is Richard works in the security systems industry and he is in London until the evening, so he’s had to helplessly field both of my panicked calls – one of which was me sobbing! Oh, the pregnancy hormones are out in force. Ha.

 

{Our Wedding} Getting Ready

The first two posts about our wedding can be found here and here, if you’re interested!

We woke up to sun – and a good bit of wind – on the 29th. I darted off to meet my parents and three of my bridesmaids for breakfast whilst the Brit stayed in our room putting the finishing touches on his speech. After breakfast, we all headed to the pool for a couple of hours. Honestly, the fact that we could do that just made the day even better. We all had time to relax, share some laughs, and sip on mimosas (aka Buck’s fizz to the Brits). It. Was. Perfect.

Around 11 AM, we met with Silvia to check the weather reports and to determine whether we would continue on with the plan of having the ceremony and the reception outside on the beach. The reports looked fine and clear of rain, but there was no sign of the wind calming down. Silvia gave us an hour to determine what our plan would be, so back to the pool it was for more relaxing before we finally just said we were going for it and stuck with the beach ceremony and reception because it is what we had imagined of our wedding from day one.

Soon, it was time for me to head to our room to begin getting beautified. I feel very fortunate that my good friend, who was also my hair stylist when I lived in Washington, made the journey to celebrate our wedding with us not only because she was there to celebrate with us, but she so generously offered to do my hair and my make-up on the wedding day. This was a major added bonus that I wasn’t expecting because I wanted her to enjoy her vacation, so I was overjoyed when she brought it up with me. Having her help with my hair and make-up was incredible because she knows me, she knows my hair, and she knows what I like. She also did an incredible job with my mom’s hair and make-up. Mom and I were happy ladies!

Me&TawnyHugs with my incredible friend who worked her magic on hair and make-up. And, special thanks to my sweet sister-in-law, who surprised me with the cute robe to wear whilst getting ready!

All of the bridesmaids were in the suite as well getting ready and chatting away. It was so fun for my mom and I to be there being made pretty by one good friend whilst my bridesmaids flitted around the room laughing and chatting. I loved every minute of that because I was really surrounded by some of the most amazing women I know.

Soon, the photographer arrived and he was snapping away at us. The next knock on the door was from the best man – still in his swim shorts – with Richard’s gift for me. We had made the decision that he would buy me my jewelry for the wedding and I would buy him his cufflinks.

BmirrorYou can catch a little glimpse of my new favorite earrings!

Because he had never seen my dress, I sent him some ideas of what styles of jewelry would look good with my dress. Well, he went his own route, as he normally does (I truly love this about him!), and he completely blew me away with what he chose. I had images of chandelier-style earrings and a matching cuff, instead he went with beautiful bubble-style studs and a matching bracelet. I never in a million years would have chosen those two pieces on my own, but he knows me better than I know myself sometimes and they were perfect. (I wear the earrings nearly every day!) Funnily enough, he had purchased the jewelry prior to us choosing my wedding band and they all matched! We are terrible at keeping secrets from each other, so I am in awe of the fact that he never let it slip that the three pieces look like they were purchased as a set.

RichardGifts

For his cufflinks, I found a vendor on notonthehighstreet.com who stamps cufflinks with the longitude and latitude of a location, so I had them stamped with the coordinates for Punta Cana. I also found a vendor on Etsy who does something similar with collar stays for shirts. I had one of the stays stamped with the coordinates of another very meaningful location to us and the other stamped with a simple two-line message. I’m so glad we chose to do our gifts this way because it meant we both contributed in an extra special way to the other’s wedding day attire.

Those few hours before the ceremony went by in the blink of an eye, and Silvia was soon in the room telling us we didn’t have much time to go. Truthfully, I had no idea what time it was at any point during the week and the same held true on the wedding day. It was awesome not to care one bit about timing (a first for me!) and this was made better when Silvia informed us that the bride being 10 to 15 minutes late to the wedding is good luck! You can’t not love that!

By this time, my gorgeous bridesmaids were all ready whilst I was still in my robe, so they quickly helped me dress. I did follow the tradition of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” with the added UK bit of “and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” The two most touching were my something old/blue and the silver sixpence. My mom had found her garter from her wedding to my dad in 1980 and had gifted it to me. I was unbelievably touched by this gift from my mom. The marriage the two of them have is one Richard and I look to as inspiration in how we want to live our life as a married couple, so it was with extreme honor I wore her garter on our wedding day. What’s even more amazing is she has trusted me with it, and hopefully, one day, if we are blessed with one, I can pass it on to my daughter. It was a really amazing moment to have my mom put that garter on me.

Momgarter

The other was the silver sixpence which was gifted to me by Richard’s mum. It was another incredible surprise when she walked into our suite on the wedding day and handed me this tiny box. I was worried I would lose it in the sand if it were in my shoe, so you can see the concentration in the photo below as my friend uses body tape to stick it to my side. It was really amazing to be able to take part in a tradition that reflected Richard’s heritage as well.

BMshelpingI wish I could say this photo was staged, but I was in need of major help in getting ready. It’s not easy to fasten your shoes in a form-fitting dress!

M&DbeforeweddingMy incredible parents!

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Next thing we knew, after a few quick snaps by the photographer, we were in the elevator heading to the ceremony. On our way to the ceremony location, we had to walk by one of the resort pools and the people there were clapping and offering their congratulations. The bartenders at the pool bar were crying, which in turn had my mom crying. My bridesmaids were all smiles, and my best friend from when we were in middle school was twirling around in her dress and I was overcome with happiness! I wasn’t nervous. I was SO happy and I could NOT stop smiling! I had my best girls in front of me, my parents on either side of me, and a handsome groom waiting for me by the ocean. This was the wedding day Richard and I had planned for and dreamt of. We were about to become husband and wife with the most amazing group of people as our witnesses.

All photos were taken by Miljan Vasovic from HDC Photo.

{Our Wedding} The Rehearsal ‘Dinner’

Want to read the first part of the {Our Wedding} series? Find it here.

I’ve mentioned before that the rehearsal dinner is not a wedding tradition that is common in the UK, but we still wanted to honor the tradition in our own way. Also, because we knew we wanted to invite all of the wedding guests (instead of limiting the invite list to immediate family and those in the wedding party as is common with most rehearsal dinners), we chose to host a cocktail reception. With the resort being all-inclusive, we felt that everyone would be fine having dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants and then we would all meet up later on Friday evening.

We did have a very short wedding rehearsal earlier in the day dressed in our best swimming attire. This gave Silvia, our wedding coordinator, a chance to let us all know what would happen for the ceremony. It was also a good opportunity for our friend who was marrying us to give us a brief outline of his ceremony and to let those doing readings know exactly when they would need to come to the front of the ceremony space. (I tried to think of a better word for this, but couldn’t as we got married on a random spot on the beach.) It was absolutely hilarious because as we were gathered in a circle listening to Silvia an older gentleman in bright multi-colored Speedos joined in to listen. A friend of mine did catch this in a photo and posted it to Instagram with the caption of ‘Honorary groomsman,’ but I feel a little weird putting it on the blog even though I’m really tempted because I want you all to see how enthralled he was in what she was saying despite him having nothing to do with our wedding!

We approached our wedding coordinator, Silvia, with this idea of a cocktail and dessert reception, and she thought it was a great idea, but had to check with their chef about the dessert portion. She also knew immediately of the perfect location at the resort for the reception, which she showed us during our visit in November. That space is a terrace off the buffet restaurant that she planned to decorate with tiki torches amidst the tropical surroundings of the resort. We could truly picture it and it was exactly what we wanted. So, that was the plan!

carnivalterraceCarnival Terrace during the day

Then, Christmas Day rolled around and the Brit, myself, and our friend went to dinner at the Mexican restaurant at the resort — how’s that for mixing it up for your Christmas dinner?! Our waiter was absolutely fabulous, so fun, and kept calling us his ‘table of beautiful people!’ (I’m sure he has a new table of beautiful people every week, but we were loving it!) We enjoyed our whole meal immensely and he made it so much better. When Friday rolled around, he was the bartender at the swim-up bar and asked us where we were eating that night. We told him we had no plans yet, so when he said he would be serving at the Mexican restaurant, we thought, ‘Why not?!’ So, he was kind enough to reserve two tables for 10 in the back of the restaurant for us. There were 24 of us that all went to dinner together, so in the end, we did have a a slightly more traditional yet informal rehearsal dinner and it turned out to be great! Because there were so many of us at dinner, our meal took a little longer than expected so we were 20 minutes late to the cocktail and dessert reception, but it didn’t matter as everyone was on island time and not too concerned.

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The Brit and I finished our meals and raced over to the terrace for the reception. As we were approaching the terrace, the doors that lead out to it were opened for us and we were both greeted with a melon cocktail, which was the ‘welcome drink’ they created for us that night. The terrace looked absolutely perfect with the tiki torches lit and the moon shining down. Scattered around the terrace were high tables lit by candles for people to gather around. There was a bar at one end of the space and a table full of dessert bites at the other side. (I didn’t take a lot of photos as I was too busy enjoying myself!) A server passed the desserts around while people were arriving. There was a great mix of desserts ranging from cheesecakes to chocolate tarts, and the whole gathering was exactly what we had imagined!

BMrehdinMe with my beautiful bridesmaids.

Everyone mingled and those who hadn’t met each other yet were introduced. It was absolutely amazing to see all of these people we love – most of whom had never met before – getting along so well. I walked up to a table full of my closest girl friends just chatting away like they had always known each other. It made my heart burst and my smile couldn’t have been bigger. I think one of the incredible things about a destination wedding is that because everyone is there longer than just an afternoon and evening – as is the case with a more traditional wedding – then people really have an opportunity to get to know one another. It’s a pretty fun time, and I say that having been a guest and the bride at a destination wedding.

Months before, I had decided to say a few words that night because we planned to keep the speeches at the wedding reception in line with the English tradition, which include speeches from the father of the bride, the groom, and the best man (in that order). About halfway through the Friday evening event with time moving very quickly as we were having such a good time, the Brit pulled me aside and suggested I give my little speech. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t just fumble through it with tears streaming down my face, so I put thought and planning into what I was going to say. Not that I really had to be worried about being embarrassed in front of this crowd, but I wanted to be composed.

We managed to pull everyone away from the amazing time they were having with some shouts and maybe even a whistle or two, and I started off by thanking everyone for joining us in this celebration and expressing how touched we were that so many of our nearest and dearest made the journey to be there with us. I maybe then might have poked a little fun at my handsome groom before I went on to thank my incredible bridesmaids, the Brit’s parents, my parents, and finally, the Brit. I think it went down well, and I even had my dad and the Brit tell me I had stolen pieces of their speeches! The bonus of going first!

Soon after, we were kicked off the terrace and continued the celebrations at the lobby bar before a large group of us made our way to the night club. It was a blast, and I think our dance party gave us all a little insight into what a great time we would have as a group the next night! The photos, which include one of my brother and the Brit embraced in a hug on the floor and another of the Brit on our good friend’s shoulders, really paint a picture of the fabulous time we had. I can’t remember what time it was, but the Brit and I (okay, it was mostly me) decided it was time for us to go to sleep. We did have a big day ahead of us in a few short hours!

brosisrehdinUs with my brother and sister-in-law

And, in case you are wondering, we had planned to stay in separate rooms the night before the wedding and try to stick with the tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony, but we soon realized we would definitely not be able to avoid each other during the day of the wedding, so we just stayed together and it actually kept the whole thing so much more relaxed.

Next up, the WEDDING DAY!!

A Lovely Little Weekend

I realized yesterday that I don’t often do posts in which I talk about the daily happenings of our life. And, I think I’d like to change that. Instead of always writing about big things, I’d like to share more about life here for us in West Yorkshire. Sometimes, it is hectic and busy, and we have our weekends booked solid. Other times, we don’t want to get up off the couch because there is a Big Bang Theory/How I Met Your Mother marathon (me) or one of the Back to the Future movies (the Brit) on, so we order Thai food and veg out to our heart’s content. It’s a funny little life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

fireplaceI mean, who would really want to leave the comfort of their living room with this keeping them warm in the cold and damp English winters?!

Friday kicked off our weekend with the Brit out with some of his guy friends for a head wetting. This is a tradition here in which the men go out to celebrate the birth of a baby, so this particular head wetting was in honor of one of the Brit’s oldest friends and his fiancée who just had a sweet little boy. I’ve expressed my confusion related to this tradition multiple times and I’ve yet to receive a solid answer on why it happens, so I Googled it to see what the internet had to say. Most of the results that popped up were from various pregnancy and motherhood forums that involved rants from the women about the men not deserving these nights out as they haven’t done the hard work associated with the pregnancy and delivery. Fine, but that still doesn’t answer my question. From what I can gather, the term ‘head wetting’ stems from the idea of baptism and wetting the head of the baby, but in this tradition it  basically means to drink a lot of booze without making it sound like it’s a night full of pints.

I’m completely fine with the idea of the guys going out to celebrate as long as they aren’t claiming full responsibility for the work that is involved in the pregnancy and birth, and from what I can tell, that isn’t what is happening. What I’m not okay with is that the women don’t have a similar tradition and I feel I am completely justified in this. (Although all the men I’ve mentioned it to have had a good laugh about my suggestion!) So, if we are lucky enough to have children in the future, I’m definitely asking some of my lovely female friends if we can arrange a night out as well. I’ll be sure to blog about that when it happens…one day!

Saturday for us included a very quick trip to the mad house that is IKEA. We ran so quickly through there that we barely had time to grab what we actually went to buy. We both wondered if most of the people there were actually planning to make a purchase or if they just went for a day out with the family. The jury is still out.

We then popped into Next Home where we fawned over some of the beautiful furniture before we jetted to the cinemas to see I Give It a Year. I am unsure if this movie will be released in the States because it is very much a British movie complete with British humor. I think I have quite a sarcastic sense of humor and usually do ‘get’ British humor, but some of this was plain awkward and parts of the film just dragged on for what seemed like hours. I will rank it as a decent movie (the Brit says it is ‘good’) with some hilarious parts mixed amongst some awkward parts. Those awkward parts made me nervous laugh because I didn’t know what else to do. (Please tell me I’m not the only one to nervous laugh!) If someone else has seen it, get in touch because I’m curious if you felt the same way I did throughout most of the movie and I don’t want to give anything away in case someone is planning to see it.

Saturday night, my handsome sous chef and I made these delicious shrimp lasagna rolls and brussel sprouts in balsamic vinegar. (These are so good and so simple and I plan to share the recipe soon.) We actually sat at the dinner table for the first time in months. (We’ve gotten into the habit of eating at the coffee table whilst watching tv.) I set the table with a water glass and a wine glass for both of us, and we used our new dishes and cutlery. Seriously big deal in our house!

dishesNew dishes and a newly-organized cupboard.

Sunday was fairly low-key with a Skype session with my family (and a guest appearance by my aunt who recounted a hilarious tale of visiting her daughter/my cousin in Guam), a trip to the grocery store, and an unexpected but welcome family dinner at the new-ish pub in the village about 2 miles from us.

It was a really lovely weekend that went by far too quickly!

{Our Wedding} The Week Before

I’m still laughing at myself for hitting ‘Publish’ instead of ‘Save Draft’ on this post the other day — oops!!

The Brit and I knew from the start that we wanted to have a destination wedding. We wanted to find a balance and a sort of ‘neutral territory’ between our two countries, and although the Caribbean is closer to the US, we knew we wanted a warm destination so it seemed like the best choice.

After two weeks of debate and scouring the internet for resorts and locations that suited our styles, we finally decided on a resort in the Dominican Republic called Now Larimar. One thing with destination weddings is you aren’t always so lucky to visit your resort prior to making a decision, so we chose Now Larimar based on the website, the advice of a travel agent we were using in the States, and online reviews. (Although I later came to realize that TripAdvisor can sometimes be your worst enemy having worked myself into a tizzy a few times about things I read, so I had to stop myself from reading reviews.) We were able to visit the resort a month before the wedding because we were in the DR for my cousin’s wedding, so that made the last month incredibly easy as we knew exactly what details needed our attention and what decor we still had to purchase.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur room was on the second floor on the far left. I want to go back.

Because this trip was not just any old holiday but our wedding, we splurged on the Preferred Club Ocean Front Master Suite. It was a great decision! We had plenty of room for all of the wedding things we brought with us with a living/dining room, two bathrooms (one of which was the size of the entire downstairs of our house and I am not exaggerating), a wonderful bedroom, and a stunning balcony boasting a hot tub and an outdoor shower that allowed us to wake up to this view every morning….

morningview

The Brit and I left for Punta Cana on Christmas Eve, so we actually spent Christmas Day there. This was the first time both of us were somewhere warm for Christmas, which was weird but incredible all at the same time. (I mean, we saw Santa arrive on the beach in a helicopter!) We were both so excited to be in the sun again and definitely made the most out of our time by the pool. A friend of mine was also there with us beginning on Christmas Eve, so the three of us amused ourselves by making trips to the swim-up bar, soaking up the sun, taking walks on the beach, and tearing up the floor at the disco at night! It was really great!

crabcococollageWe also watched a crab race and drank from coconuts. All funny touristy things that we had a good laugh about!

The Brit and I did have some wedding errands to complete (for example, assembling welcome bags for our guests and our centerpieces) and we had some loose ends to tie up with our wedding coordinator, so we took care of those things as well. One advantage of having the wedding at an all-inclusive resort is that most have their own wedding department, which means they take care of everything from the flowers to the food to the entertainment for your wedding day. We were assigned our own wedding coordinator when we first put our deposit down in early 2012 and she was our contact at the resort throughout the whole planning process. I feel we really lucked out with our coordinator, Silvia, as she was extremely kind with some of our crazy requests and had some great ideas that she thought would suit our tastes.

DSC03681The welcome bags and booklets we made for our guests. The booklets were a BIG surprise to our guests. I’m so glad the Brit came up with this idea because our hard work on them paid off with everyone loving them!

The whirlwind began on the evening of December 26th when more guests began to arrive. It was so exciting and fun to see everyone in a warm and relaxed environment! Our friends and family were there to celebrate with us and they all came with the best attitude of just wanting to have fun! It was really amazing!

ThursdinnergroupOur Thursday night dinner crew — we have some AMAZING friends!

It was also on this day when a storm decided to sweep through the midwest and the northeast of the US, which is of course where nearly all of our US guests live. It’s so funny looking back on it now because I had some tears the morning of the 27th when my parents’ flight was cancelled, but then I just moved on with it because they were rescheduled on a flight for Friday (which ended up being cancelled too and the woman at United got them re-booked with US Airways when my mom explained her daughter was getting married the next day — thank you, United woman!!). Soon after, we found out my aunt and uncle’s flight as well as the flight of one of my bridesmaids and her fiancé were also cancelled, and it didn’t appear they would make it at all. Ha! Still, I was oddly calm. I think I knew it would all work out. And, it did because they all ended up arriving on Friday!

The best part of this is we had no idea my bridesmaid was able to reschedule her flight, so we just happened into the lobby and who comes running at me?! Jessi! I would have loved for someone to have captured a photo of that moment because I didn’t know what to do, and my eyes couldn’t believe what I was seeing. All I could say over and over again was, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” I then remembered I had cancelled their dinners and her bouquet, so the Brit took over and ran to the wedding coordinator’s office and added them back on — no problem at all! That excitement was soon followed by the arrival of my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and my aunt and uncle.

Everyone had made it and it was time for the fun to continue with our own take on the rehearsal dinner!

To be continued….