Saturday, December 14, 2013

Planning with Pinterest

So I know pretty much everyone out there knows about Pinterest.  And I know people blog about it all the time.

I can't say that it is my cup of tea to be the blogger that does Pinterest projects and then blogs about them.  I am so glad people do, because I find a lot of great stuff that way!

However, on this chilly Saturday on which Adam and I had zero plans but to be lazy and enjoy the snow from our window, I have been spending a fair bit of time on my Pinterest boards...

I have an interesting relationship with Pinterest.  I don't spend hours on it all the time, but maybe 1-2 times a week I'll flip through it for a few minutes before bed and pin things of interest.

Sometimes, I forget about it. But on the days when I decide to sit down and spend some time on it?  I'm always glad I did.

I relied on it a lot this summer when we had Connor for longer stretches of time.  Some of the projects did not take very long, but it gave me a way to break up the days while daddy was at work.  I'd do my work in the morning while he slept and then while he ate breakfast and watched a little tv.  Then we'd go run errands or go to the library or something.  Then we'd do a science project on days we didn't do something like the pool.  It was always fun for him, and everything I found was easy and cheap! We even made our own marshmallow Minions one day thanks to Pinterest!

I actually cook a lot of recipes I find on Pinterest. As Adam and I continue to get settled into married life, I have been trying to cook more often to save us both money and calories!  We have found a lot of our favorites through Pinterest, many of which are super easy (because I don't really want to spend hours making dinner.)

Granted, sometimes we have a big fat fail.  I don't expect what I make to turn out just like the pictures, but I at least want it to taste good.  A few things have just been a flop, so I try to go back and remove them when that happens.

And of course, planning my wedding involved Pinterest.  I used it mostly to make boards that I could show others to communicate what I want.  When I met with the photographers? Showed them my photo board to convey what kinds of shots we wanted.  When I met with the florist? Showed her pictures of what I wanted my bouquet to look like.

I realize I'm not saying anything new, but I did want to encourage you if you're not using Pinterest  very often that it is definitely something worth spending a little more time on!  I think the key for me is to not spend hours on it and to not pin everything under the sun.  If it's nothing something I might actually do or make, I don't pin it.

It just makes me happy when I have days like this where I spend a bit more time on there and discover that I have actually done or made a lot of what I pinned or to meal plan with other pins so I can try new recipes this week.

I won't lie though.... every now and then I sort of miss cutting pictures out of a magazine to make a vision board, haha!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Race Report: Boro Dash 4-Miler

The Boro Dash 4-miler is held in Murfreesboro, TN each year on Thanksgiving morning.  Adam and I decided to sign up (it'd be my third year to run it and his first), and my sister Meredith decided to run as well.



To say it was cold is an understatement.  It was the coldest race I have ever run.  I was so glad it was only 4 miles as I was numb pretty much the whole time.

Adam and I decided to run as part of our goal to run at least one race every month (which we kicked off with this one).  We know most months will be a 5K or something else that is short, but we are planning to do at least two half marathons together in 2014.

We knew we didn't have the training to really push it, so we just focused on trying to run a steady pace and enjoy running in our college town.  It's always going to be special for us to do anything back around MTSU since that's where we met in 2003!

My sister ran crazy fast and scored a PR, and Adam and I finished in around 41:04.  We were pleased with it! Everyone who finished got a medal, so that makes it a bit more worth it that we were out there in the freezing cold on a holiday morning, haha.  We were also thrilled that the shirts were long-sleeved again this year, and they had a really cute turkey on them!

I usually love hanging around at the finish at races in Murfreesboro so I can see friends, but it was just way too cold to do so.  We got our stickers that had our results, and then we made the walk back to the car.

Adam and I had breakfast at IHOP with another couple we are friends with - coffee, bacon, eggs and pancakes were a perfect way to warm up!  I love starting a holiday with a fun race like this, and once again the Boro Dash did not disappoint!

Our next race is a Jingle Bell 5K this Sunday.  We got like 8 inches of snow last week that hasn't really melted since it hasn't been above freezing all week (though it was fun because we had Connor last weekend and he's never seen this much snow!)  We may get more snow tomorrow, so I'm hoping the race won't be cancelled.  If it's not, it's going to be another cold one... I think the high is 21 and the low is 12!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Wedding - The Rehearsal!

On Thursday, August 8th, the girls and I were up early to go get our manicures.  This was one of the things I did for my gals as part of their gift.  It was fun to go together to get it done.  We then headed back home for me to put on my gown one last time to be sure mom had it hemmed perfectly (because my mom is awesome and saved me a ton of money on alterations since she could hem it!).

We went to Cheddar's for lunch and then were able to hang around the house for a bit and relax.  I think the girls took a nap, but I was too excited for that and piddled on some other things.

Before long, it was time to drive over to Lebanon.  Steph and Amanda had hotel rooms since their husbands were joining them that night, so we got them checked in and all got ready for the the rehearsal together.  It was finally time to head to The Mill at Lebanon and see my groom!


I didn't really plan for a lot of time for the rehearsal, and I'm really glad I handled it that way!  I knew I wanted to go over things quickly and then get to the dinner to relax and truly enjoy the evening.  I also knew I would be less stressed if we had less time (I know - that sounds backward, but it forces me to hurry up and do the important stuff.)

I also do a pretty good job at instructing people (Adam calls it "bossing people around") so we quickly got everyone in place and marked their spots with tape. Yes, I realize this is a bit OCD, but it was important to me that we have proper spacing.  I wanted everything to look good!

Once everyone had their spot, we practiced walking out and then walking back in with the music.  I had spent a fair bit of time mapping out exactly when everyone was supposed to walk in - in fact, everyone got a document that told them both the time in the song as well as the lyrics in the song at that time to help them memorize when they were supposed to start down the aisle.  Since I was coming in at the end of the same song, we had to have it perfect!  (Ok, maybe we didn't HAVE to, but it was my vision for us to proceed down the aisle with everyone coming in at specific times, and they all humored me.)

We really only practiced twice, and even though it wasn't perfect I sort of just trusted it would be the next day and that our family friend who was helping would help guide everyone just right!


While a lot of our wedding was not traditional in the least, I do have a penchant for some traditions. One of the ones I grew up learning was that the bride cannot stand in her own place at the rehearsal or it's bad luck.

Melinda was the flower girl in my parent's wedding back in the 1970s, and her daughters were the flowers girls in our wedding - so she was the perfect choice to be the stand in bride for our rehearsal!


You'll also notice the fun bouquet - she used this to be the practice bride.  Another tradition I love is that your rehearsal bouquet is made of the ribbons of the gifts you received at your bridal showers.  My sister and mom did a great job of keeping them and making the practice bouquet. I now have this sitting on my bookshelf in our office!

Speaking of traditions, it's also rumored that for every bow you break when opening your wedding gifts equals one child you will have.  I did a very good job to only break two! :)

After about an hour spent rehearsing, we were all ready to move on the the rehearsal dinner! It was at this point that things got really fun for me.  I knew I had finished all the planning and that at this point, it was time for me to trust that all my hard work would pay off and to just relax and enjoy the rest of the festivities.  After a quick drive around the corner, it was time for dinner!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Our Wedding - Everyone in Town!

As the first of what will be quite a few posts to share about our wedding, I want to say that if you have no interest in the wedding stuff, never fear!  I have some race reports on the blog posting plan along with a post on the Justin Timberlake concert in Nashville, the one coming up in Indy, and some other odds and ends.  I'm trying to get back to posting regularly, and I'll filter some other stuff in with the wedding posts.

For now, a quick post about Wednesday, August 7th!

Adam had to work for the first 3 days of the week before our wedding.  We went down to Nashville the weekend before, but then he had to leave to drive back to Indy.  I was busy all week getting things done.. like having my hair cut and colored, making seating charts and cards, last minute dress alterations, and a plethora of other last minute things that needed to get done.  And probably also trying not to cry from stress, but that happened some, too.

In fact, I went to Sephora with my mom to try to find some foundation that provides better coverage than what I usually wear.  Long story short, I told the lady I just wanted foundation, and somewhere along the way she criticized the rest of the makeup I was planning to wear for the wedding.  I'm sure she was just doing her job to try to make a sale, but with less than a week to go to my wedding, she made the wrong choice and lost the foundation sale.  I ended up finding what I needed in another store, but not before bursting into tears with my mom and saying something along the lines of "I'm tired of people trying to tell me what to do for MY wedding that I've spent MONTHS planning!"

I digress.

Adam's boss sent him on his way Wednesday afternoon, and he made it down to Nashville in time for us to head to the airport to pick up our two out-of-town wedding party members!

When we got engaged, I had no doubt that I'd ask my sister along with Stephanie and Amanda to stand up there with me.  Long time readers of the blog know that I have been friends with these gals for years, and despite the distance we have always found time to get together whenever we can.

Upon collecting them, we went out to dinner at a place in Nashville that we'd never tried - The Row. The southern far was really good - our cheese plate was flat out exceptional!  The cocktails were not the best, and the service was a little slow... but the place was new and we really didn't care since we were so excited about being altogether for the wedding!




After dinner, we made our way to my parent's house.  I was so excited to show the girls some of the decor for the weddings, their bouquets, etc.  Adam eventually left to go stay at his mom's place, and we all crashed to get some rest for the next day - we had a lot planned with manicures, the rehearsal and the dinner!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wedding Reviews and Stories Forthcoming

Adam and I have been married for about 3 1/2 months now.  CRAZY!

I am finally feeling like I don't have a million things to do anymore.  Like with any event, it's not just over when it's over.  There's a lot of other things to do to sort of wrap everything up and put it in the past.

I've pretty well gone through the list on top of working, traveling and just living our normal lives and all that it requires.  I finally feel like I can breathe and focus on enjoying the holidays and not having quite so many things to accomplish.

There are still a few post-wedding things to actually DO... like, try to figure out from 800 pictures which 75 I want in the album and which ones I want to print (and what size, where to put them, etc.) To say that's a little overwhelming to me is an understatement.  We've had our galleries online for a while, but I'm getting the discs next week so I can actually put them on the computer.  I think this will make it easier for me to just copy the ones I like into a new folder and then narrow it down.  So maybe by Christmas we'll order everything, haha.  We also ordering parent albums, and I want us to write a nice note to both sets to give them with their album... I had aspirations of us writing letters to our parents to give them the day of the wedding, but that didn't happen... So a letter with their album it is!

We are also getting our video next week, and we could not be more excited to get to watch it!  We get quite a few copies, so there will be one for both my parents and Adam's mom, and I think we get some youtube links for like a 2-minute version.  If so, I'll be sure to share it here.

Past that, everything is "done."  All the thank you cards have been sent.  All the lingering bills have been paid (including everything from Italy, too!).  The gifts have been opened and used.  We bought things with gift cards.  And we asked for the remaining registry items from family for Christmas.

At this point, I'm ready to send some feedback to vendors, write some reviews on appropriate review sites, and share some stories from our big day.

I am hoping that not only will it be fun to share a little insight into our wedding with readers that it might also lend to things that are helpful to other brides planning their big day!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Race Report: The Middle Half 10.12.13

For the 7th year in a row (and all 7 years they've held the race!), I ran The Middle Half in Murfreesboro, TN.  This is one of my favorite half marathons as it runs all around MTSU and my old college stomping grounds.  I also love that I always see lots of people I know!

This year was my first time to run it MARRIED!  I was thrilled to have both of my boys there with me, too!


Yes. Connor is wearing a Wolverine costume. He picked it out for some Halloween activities we took him to over fall break, and we figured he'd have fun wearing it to the race, too.  We were right!

Having not trained for the race, I just wanted to take my time and enjoy the course.  It's super flat, and there's a couple of out and back spots where you're able to spot friends ahead or behind you.  I managed to see several of mine!

I have no complaints about the course or the course management.  It's always excellent.  The only bummer to the event was that the shirts ran WAY too small for the women.  Fortunately, I was able to trade it out... but I would have been disappointed if I couldn't have done that.  The shirt design was super cool!

Adam and Connor were able to see me at three different spots along the course.  The bright yellow costume definitely helped me find them, and I stopped each time for high fives, hugs, and kisses!  It was important to us that Connor learn about supporting one another, seeing parents being active, and other good things of the sort. I think he also loved all the compliments he got from other runners on his costume, too!


I finished in 2:21:31, which was just fine by me!  I had run the whole time at a casual pace, and I felt great!  It's always encouraging to know when I'm feeling a little bit like a slacker with staying in shape that I may be in better shape than I'm telling myself.

I had a lot of friends run this year, so it was great to see them at the finish.  My sister ran a PR, and my mom walked for the third year in a row!





All in all, it was another great race!  I have to be a little emotional here for a minute... because I got a little emotional during the race.  When you run a race every year, it's hard to not think back on the previous years when you're out there running it again.  I found myself going through the years, and I could remember where I was at in life each year, etc.  I could remember all the times I was running and wish I had someone special out there to cheer me on, and I couldn't help but get a little teary-eyed to think that now I had two someone specials out there with me.  Of course, all my family and friends are special, too... but I still always had that hole where my person was missing.

I'm so thankful God has brought me Adam (and Connor!) for many reasons, but being able to have them out there cheering me on at a race is certainly one of them! And it's a nice bonus that they are both so cute!



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Race Report: The Mill Race Half Marathon 9.28.13

I realized today that while I did write about this race being Adam's first half and about the awesome drawing I won here, I never wrote an actual race report.


This was the very first year for this event.  Not only did they have the half marathon, but there was also a 5K and a full marathon.

Registering for the race was a breeze, and we loved that we were able to customized our bibs - we had them say Husband and Wife!

The race started in downtown Columbus, IN near the Cummins office buildings, including the one where Adam works.  We were able to easily park in one of the garages, and we had plenty of time to use the port-o-potty and get to the start line.

One thing I noticed that I hope they'll do differently next year is that they didn't have a couple of blocks of road closed off that they really should have closed.  They set the stage up on this one corner, but traffic was still allowed on one of the roads off the corner.  They should have just closed that stretch altogether.  Not only that, but the potties were lined up down the sidewalk along the road that was still open... so there really wasn't anywhere good for the runners to line up for them.  Everyone was cramped up on the sidewalks, and then people who were trying to walk through risked pushing through crowds or being hit by doors when someone came out of a potty.  And the stage was a block away from the race start.  I think they could better place all of these things, but it wasn't anything that would cause me to not return.

We had plenty of time so we stood in the start area for a bit.  It was the first time in 10 months for me to run a race, but it still felt odd to be standing at a start line and not knowing a lot more people.  I really miss the Tennessee running community!

The start was a bit anti-climatic.  We weren't that far back, but we couldn't hear anything and I never heard the actual start... no gun, no sound system... Hopefully they'll improve on that next year as well.

The race itself was great.  Columbus (and Indiana in general) is very flat, so this was perfect for us since we didn't really train all that well.  We had terrific fall weather, and we felt great!  There weren't a ton of spectators, but when there were they were enthusiastic.  The water/Gatorade stops always came at the perfect time.

The only thing of note that was a bit negative is that the half didn't have any mile markers after mile 8.  I had my Garmin, so we were able to keep up with it.  At first I thought I may have just missed seeing one, but by the end it was clear that if there were any after mile 8, they were poorly placed.

They also gave out fuel/bars at mile 12.  For the half, this was a bit too late.  However, I wished at the finish I grabbed one because all they had there was bananas.  I don't expect a meal after a race, but when you do 13.1 miles you want a little more than just a banana.  Plus, I don't eat those.

Nonetheless, I chalk all these little things up to it being the first year, and in the end we still had a great time getting out there and enjoying the race and chatting with other runners, etc.

Even better was that once we got changed, we were able to walk to Zwanzigs and have some awesome beer, breadsticks and pizza for lunch before joining the after party and waiting for the drawing, where I wound up winning the Dodge Ram.

All in all, it was a pretty terrific day.  I suppose in a lot of ways the race got overshadowed by the truck, but we still enjoyed all 13.1 miles and plan to do it again next year - only maybe we'll actually train a bit better!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Upon Having a Relaxing Weekend

I think this weekend is one of maybe THREE in 2013 that Adam and I didn't have something going on and that we were able to just straight up RELAX.

Seriously.  Starting the year newly engaged, wedding planning, moving to Indiana, getting settled, getting married, going on a honeymoon, traveling for work, and our regular time with Connor has sort of prevented us from having a lot of serious down time on the weekends.

Don't get me wrong.  Our life is awesome and happy and full of good adventures... but it's also been a little exhausting.  We have high hopes of 2014 bringing us a lot more of these kinds of relaxing weekends where we aren't traveling and get to just relax and have a "normal" life.

What did we do with this one?  This last one we'll have all to ourselves until the new year?

On Friday, we went out to eat and then just lounged on our couch catching up on shows on the TiVo. (We switched from Comcast to Direct TV this last week and are also canceling the TiVo because we found a pretty sweet deal and are going to save like $800 over the next year by switching!)

Saturday, we slept til 10 which was GLORIOUS!  We lounged around more on the couch watching tv, and I finished up a little bit of work.  I usually try to avoid working on the weekends, but we have two big events in the next 3 weeks that will take me to both DC and back to Nashville... so I've got to stay on top of things.

We had a Groupon to a wine tasting, so we spent the afternoon going up to Fishers to Chateau de Pique to sample some wines and have some cheese.  It was a really laid back experience, and we ended up buying two excellent bottles at a great price thanks to the Groupon deal.  $20 for us to both taste 7 wines, have a full glass and $10 off of two bottles... STEAL.

We then went to Drake's and watched the end of the UT game as they beat South Carolina (Go Big Orange!) and then back home to continue lounging.  I took a little nap while Adam watched some football.  We both caught up on magazines.  And then we used some discounted movie tickets he got through work to go see Gravity in 3D.  Totally a good movie and worth seeing in 3D.  (I usually don't like 3D movies, but seeing space stuff in 3D is cool.)

And yes.. you may be noticing a trend of trying to save money.  Adam and I are very blessed, but we're definitely aware of his remaining student loans and want to do everything we can to save money, pay them off, but still have some fun and enjoy life along the way.

We concluded our night by watching Dexter... I've seen the first 5 seasons, but Adam has never watched... so we started at the beginning a month or so ago and have been flying through it.  We're almost done with season 5, so I'm excited to keep going and see the ones I haven't seen.

Today has been lovely as well.  We slept in.  I did a bit more work while Adam watched tv.  We did a quick power clean of the house so it is MUCH cleaner now.  I can't tell you the last time I dusted.  It's a good thing Adam doesn't care... don't get me wrong. I keep a relatively tidy house and it's usually clutter-free... but I don't always do the "deep" clean stuff, so it was nice to get that done today.  I also got all the laundry done... I can usually stay on top of it during the week, but with a heavy work to do list and leaving for DC  in a few days, I figured I'd better just knock it out.

We ran 3 miles.  We have watched more football.  And we're about to cook dinner and are looking forward to seeing Peyton and the Broncos stomp the Colts tonight.  I'd love to be at the game in person... but that sort of went against the saving money thing since tickets are like $200 apiece!  

All this to say... there's something really nice about simple and relaxing weekends like this... maybe it wasn't exciting or full of crazy adventures like many of our weekends this year have been, but it was just as lovely!  It's in these lazy weekends that I am so glad that Adam is my husband... we balance each other out really well in combining moments to relax together, moments to do some chores together, and moments to play together.  And there was wine... so you can't complain about all that.

Monday, September 30, 2013

That Time I Ran a Race and Won a Truck

This happened on Saturday.


Yep. I won a truck.  A Dodge Ram. And the above is my photo from the newspaper where I was heading up to the stage after they called my name (and my handsome and excited hubby following behind me.)

All for running a half marathon.  You see kids?  It pays to run races.

Background: Adam works for Cummins (that's why we moved to the middle of the cornfields of Indiana).  Cummins was the main sponsor of the Inaugural Mill Race Marathon event this weekend, including a 5K, half and full.  A few months back, they announced that someone who finished the half or the full would win this truck.  Adam was like, "there's only supposed to be 3,000-4,000 runners.  That's better odds than the lottery."  Having never run more than a 5K race, he suggested this as his first half solely because of those odds at winning something.

We knew even then that we'd likely walk a lot.  Running his first half so soon after the wedding and honeymoon? There wasn't going to be time for us to train properly.  Honestly, neither of us have run more than 2 miles or so at once in MONTHS.

We showed up Saturday morning, and conditions were perfect.  We started off easy from the beginning, clocking 11:30 or so miles.  We pretty much ran most of the first 7 miles.  We then started incorporating more walk breaks.  We enjoyed the sunny, cool day.  It felt like fall!  I was excited to be running a race again (my last race was in early December of last year).

We had our bibs customized to say "Husband" and "Wife."  Someone even noticed and cheered us on saying, "there go the honeymooners!"

We finished in 2:39:58, which I thought was pretty darn good considering our lack of training.  Adam did so great for his first half, and I was so proud of him!


We changed clothes and freshened up.  We went and had some pizza and beer.  We wandered around the after party.  We knew you had to be present to win the truck at the big drawing at 3pm, and while we never dreamed we'd win, we knew we might as well hang out to be sure.

When it was time, there was a huge crowd.  We weren't too close to the stage, but we could hear ok.  They finally got to the part where they drew a number... and announced, "1864." And it hit me that it was one of us!  And then they said, "Melanie Riddick" and it took a second (I've only been that name for less than 2 months now) and Adam going, "that's you!" before it sunk in.

And then it was just a rush of adrenaline.  I was shaking, and I couldn't believe it.  It was so surreal.  I jumped up because I wanted them to know I was there (I'm short, and I knew they wouldn't see me if I didn't cause a commotion... plus, I was excited!)

I started making my way up to the stage, Adam behind me.  As the crowd parted, everyone was cheering and giving me high fives and fist bumps.  I got on stage and they handed me the microphone, which I was not expecting.  I said how exciting this was and pointed out Adam and said we just got married last month so this is a great wedding gift (this girl has a journalism degree, and I know how to give the media a good lead, haha) and thanked the dealer who gave it and then headed down off the stage still sort of bouncing around.

We were immediately surrounded by some photographers and reporters before being walked over to the trucks where we got to pick between black and red.  There were more pictures and questions, and they put me on the radio for a minute.  More and more people kept coming up to congratulate us and hug me and everything - another piece of evidence that the running community is the best.  These people were so excited for us!

Eventually, we drove away in the black one and got to spend the weekend driving around town in it.




Adam and I sort of have to laugh because nothing in our lives since we started dating last summer has been normal.  Seriously... who wins a car in a random drawing?!

The nitty gritty? We've already sold it.  Thanks to the ridiculous tax structure in our fine country, we still have to pay taxes on it as if it's income.  We'd have been fools to keep it and have to pay out of pocket for all the taxes.  This way we came out a little bit ahead.... because even though we sold it, we still have to pay the income taxes on it this year. UGH. (I'm sorry, but if you win something that is free, it should be free... not something the government gets to tax you on.  No political discussion needed - it's just dumb. End rant.)

All that's neither here nor there.  This has just been surreal.  And exciting.  And one of the craziest things to ever happen to me.  And while we can't say we miss living in Nashville any less, this did redeem Indiana just the tiniest bit for us this weekend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

On Parenting

I can still remember the day I met Adam's son.  I pulled up at his house to find him, Connor, and Adam's mom running around in the back yard with the dog.  Connor was about 4 1/2, and his first question for me was if I was at Jessica's funeral.  Ah, kids... no censor or awareness half the time about the world around them... I knew he was just trying to figure out if he'd met before.

Of course, I had no idea at the time I would become this child's step-mom.  Ever since that day in June 2012 and in very different ways, I have fallen in love with this kid just as much as I have his daddy.

One of the ways I knew that Adam was the man for me was that he was an amazing dad.  I could see him firsthand parenting his son, and I knew that I would never doubt what kind of a father he would be to our future children.

I remember feeling nervous in the beginning... would Connor love me?  Would he enjoy me being around?  Would he listen to me?

Over time, we found that half the time he minds me better than Adam... we think because he loves women, haha.

Becoming a step-parent has caused me to think about parenting styles a lot more than I ever dreamed I would be this early in a relationship.  Adam and I of course had numerous conversations, and we quickly found that we have the same approach.

And I've quickly found that it's so easy to be critical of how other parents are doing it.  That's something I do not want to do or to have done to me.  There's no one right way... I think we're all evidence of that... But I do know that there are some key things Adam and I will teach Connor and our future children regardless of what everyone else in the world around us thinks.

Last night, we stumbled upon this article: What is Ruining Our Kids? You. Not Miley Cyrus.

When we are responsible for the rearing of a child, we have to hold ourselves accountable first before looking to anyone else that may influence that child.  I'm not saying that other people can't influence our children and that we should protect them from every bad influence... but I am saying that it starts with us and what we teach them.

The article resonated with us for many reasons.  Connor is closing in on 6.  He's in kindergarten.  He is smart. (Seriously, Adam and I both were bored in school... and we suspect the same will happen with Connor as he already reads above his level.)  We have felt for a while that he is "old enough" to do a lot of things... get dressed, make his bed, clean his room, help fold laundry, help with other tasks like cooking or putting groceries away..  Sure, there are some exceptions.  We're not quite ready to task him with getting out the milk and pouring his own glass.  But he's getting there.

In the article, Mother Cusser says, "If you never let your child have an opportunity to make a decision, he will have no self-esteem at all.  Because he will not believe in himself enough to know the right thing to do."

SO TRUE.  And it's baffling to me that there are parents out there who don't get that.

Connor has some rules in our home that I'm not sure are typical.  He's not allowed to talk or act like a baby, even for pretend.  He's not allowed to whine.  He's expected to act like a big boy.  We praise him when he does things for himself or to help us out.  Our conversations on the phone with him typically involve a few minutes finding out "what color he was on" at school that day and what he did wrong if he didn't stay on green.  We praise him when he does a good job, and we ask him to tell us what he needs to do better on the days when he's not on a positive color.  (And we also remember how much simpler life was when we were in school... you either got to play at recess or you didn't.)

Adam and I have high expectations for Connor.  And he knows it.  He's quickly learned how to self-correct... for about 3 weeks we had issues with back talking.  We explained why it wasn't ok, and we told him what will happen if he continues to do it (doesn't get pennies to put toward a reward, loses a privilege, etc.) and then started giving warnings.  It wasn't long before he'd start a sentence, stop, and then rephrase to say it correctly and not as a smart-alec.

I'm sure Adam and I will never be perfect parents - there's no such thing!  But we do want for Connor and our future children to grow up knowing we believe in them and believing in themselves... that they can learn what the right thing is and how to decide how to do it... that they understand and experience consequences when they don't do the right thing... that we are not overprotective and wind up with them all living with us into their 30s!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A few weeks later...

So what they don't tell you when you're planning your wedding and honeymoon is just how flat out EXHAUSTED you will be when it's done.

Everything was fun and amazing and wonderful and so many other positive adjectives.

But then we got home.  And even after being home for a week, we are still worn out.

Like, I was in tears for NO apparent reason the other night.

It didn't help that 3 days after coming back from Italy we had to make the drive down to Nashville to get both my car and Tucker to bring back to Indy.  To be fair, we also had to get all of the wedding presents as well.  That part was fun.

But 8 more hours in the car in less than 24 hours, and only a few days after flying home from across an ocean and heading straight back to work?  Yea.  Not ideal.

Today is really the first day we have felt more normal... and thus, tonight we are going to Bed Bath and Beyond to make a few returns and to spend our gift cards getting the last few things we didn't receive off of our registry.  I'm excited to get rid of our old bedding and put on the new... and finally have "our" bedding.  (When we moved in together in January we just used all of my bedding... so it's fun we will finally put on something we picked out together.)

Speaking of registries - when you are buying wedding gifts, please buy off of someone's registry.  Even if you don't like what they picked, buy it.  Or give them a gift card to that store.  Or just give them money (it is NOT tacky or poor etiquette to do so.)  I can't tell you how many things we have returned to other stores...  Yes, I'm thankful someone blessed us with a gift, even if it's not what we asked for... but at the same time, I have to encourage readers that if you're going to take the time to pick up a gift, pick up from a store the person is registered at and pick an item on the registry.  If there's no time for that, write a check or get some cash and put it in a greeting card.  We are tired, and while it can be fun to go shopping, it's really not fun going to stores all over town to return items we didn't need from stores we don't shop at.  End rant.

But all in all, everything is lovely.  I had a few friends who went off registry but did so in the right way... we got a couple of personalized gifts that are freaking awesome.  I may have to share photos of those soon.  When you're close friends, it's safe to go off registry I think.

We are excited to be getting the last items we need for our home (and putting a few of the other "bigger" items we didn't get on our Christmas wish list) and getting everything in order.  We're excited to finally be catching up on sleep and finding some time to relax.

And it's good, because we're going back to Nashville yet again this weekend for the Labor Day holiday and to have Connor.  We've got some fun stuff planned with him!

More to come soon, including the sneak peek at my wedding pictures!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

MARRIED!!!!

It's official.  I'm a MRS now.


I don't have many pictures yet, but the above is an Instagram from a friend that gives a little peek into our day.  In a word, the day was a dream!  Everything was perfect (even the things that weren't, like the caterer not bringing napkins and saying they weren't supposed to... you can imagine the words I will have about this with them now that I'm home).  We had so much fun all day - everything from all the getting ready to the pictures (oh, how I can't wait to see the pictures!) to the ceremony and the vows we had written to dancing to leaving under a toss of rainbow sprinkles.

It's funny... we left right away, and we just got back 36 hours ago... so I haven't talked to many people who were there just yet.  I think everyone had just as much fun as we did from the little bit of feedback I've heard.  One friend has gone so far as to dub it "best. wedding. ever."  I will take that.

Then we left the country and went to Italy for almost 2 weeks.  AMAZING.  We had both always wanted to go there, and I'm so glad we did it for our honeymoon.  We decided on the front end that we would not be on the internet or anything.  It was refreshing to leave the phones at home.  I didn't even miss social media.  We did get on the hotel computer once the first night to send both of our mama's an email that we got there (which was funny to me that they insisted on.  I was like, "If we don't make it, it's because the plane crashed and you'll hear about it on the news."  But I digress.

Italy and the wedding both will deserve their own multiple posts, but for now here's a few photos.







Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Keeping My Sanity

Adam and I get married in TWO days.  Seriously.

And then we go on our honeymoon for 12 days.

So it'll be a while before you get to hear how it all went...

For now, I wanted to share hwo I'm staying sane.  I've pretty much done everything that can be done, so I'm entertaining myself today with funny videos.

First, Sh*t Southern Women Say.  The accents are pretty exaggeratted, but I am pretty sure I've said every one of these expressions at some point in my life!


The third episode is pretty good, too.  Episode 2 was kind of dumb and must be based on a different south than Tennesee, haha.  Here's episode 3.



And since I'm from Nashville and appreciate great music, I have to share a music video as well.  What's hilarious is that I truly thought it was Mumford and Sons for the first minute and was thinking how I need to send the link to our videographer and tell them how I want this style in our video...


Pretty sure all I'm going to do today until time to pick up my bridesmaids at the airport is play on youtube. :)

See y'all on the flip side.... with a new last name!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Seriously?!

I interrupt this "I'm 11 days from the wedding and so insanely busy so there's even less chance I will blog until after the wedding and honeymoon are sadly over" silence to share a "SERIOUSLY?!" moment.

Back in late March, I contacted all 5 of the caterers that our wedding venue allows us to use.  I quickly narrowed it down to 2 based on initial pricing and set up meetings with both of them to discuss things in depth.

One of them - the one I did not select - met with me but then took over 2 weeks to send me a quote. Even then, I had to call her again to ask when I was going to get it.  Then, things on the quote were wrong - they weren't what I'd discussed with them in the meeting.

When I called to discuss it, she acted as though she didn't have time for me and also told me she doesn't usually do tastings.  Weird.  When the call ended, she asked me to email her everything we discussed so that she could send an updated quote.

I had made my mind up before we got off the phone that we were going with the other caterer who had responded promptly, had us sample even more than what we had asked to sample, and was just so stinking nice and actually seemed to value our business.

Nonetheless, I emailed her the info and asked for an updated quote.

That was April 3.

I never heard a word back, which confirmed to me I had made the right choice in hiring the other folks.

This weekend, this lady called and left me a message saying she just wanted to check in and finalize details with me for my wedding next weekend and get the contract and deposit taken care of and to give her a call back.

Ummm... SERIOUSLY?! You waited almost 4 months and then at 13 days before my wedding decide to call me to see if I want to work with you.

I'm currently drafting an email to her (as a reply to the last email so she sees the whole chain) to let her know I got her message this weekend and decided when she never responded to my last email to book someone else back in April.

I mean, WOW.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Becoming a Stepmom

I know I'm not blogging as much these days, but I've mentioned here and there that I am becoming a stepmom to the most awesome 5-year-old ever when I marry Adam.  While it's not "legal" until the wedding day, I'm already 100% part of this kiddo's life as he is mine... and I can't tell you how amazing it feels to know that he loves me and to love on him.

We get to spend a decent bit of time with him this summer, which means some time where it's just him and me hanging out while daddy is at work.  We're learning new things like how to swim underwater, how to spell and write our last name, how to tie his shoes, etc.  We are doing science projects and making crafts.  We're watching a lot of Goosebumps! (Do y'all remember that show from Nickelodeon? It was more silly than scary, and he eats it up!)  But mostly we're just hanging out and enjoying summer life.

There's nothing sweeter to me these days than when that little voice says, "Melanie?" and I say "yes?" and he says, "I love you." And most times also grabs me for a kiss...

I'm so excited to be a part of this little man's life and to help his daddy shape him into being an amazing man!

Here are just a few photos from the week before last when he spent the first of three weeks we enjoy his company with us this summer!


We went to the library and got a ton of books and movies!
 

When I was doing Insanity one day, he decided he needed to try it and do some of the stretches!
 

Putting daddy in a fort
 

Ready for a science experiment
 

Excited about the Wizard's Brew we made
 

Playing at Monkey Joe's
 

Yep, I love this kid
 

The family ready to see Monsters University
 

Visiting daddy at his work
 

Enjoying a sundae at an old-fashioned ice cream and soda shop

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Saving Money through Negotiating and Customer Service

So planning a wedding is expensive.

Actually, life in general is expensive.

But I've definitely been learning some important tools to how to mazimize your spending and savings as I've been wedding planning and merging my life (and income/outflow) with Adam.

NEGOTIATING

Do NOT be afraid to do this.  I have yet to pay full asking price for anything related to our wedding.  I have asked every single vendor one simple question: "How can you help me make this something I can afford?"

The biggest way we have saved a TON on our wedding is by getting married on Friday. Our venue, photographer and videographer automatically gave us a discount for having a Friday evening wedding as opposed to Saturday. I've also used the fact to my advantage when negotiating prices with other vendors, pointing out to them that they could still book a wedding on that Saturday if they so choose.

For others, it's that I've named a price and asked them what they can do in line with my vision for that price.  Generally, what they suggest is perfect, and then I'm not overpaying.

I've also been able to negotiate some better rates by working with folks that people I know well have recommended to me.  I like to think of it as a friends and family discount.  I've been able to negotiate better rates than listed for our cakes, DJ, my dress, bridesmaid dresses, groom and groomsmen tuxes, and more!

All in all, our wedding is still going to cost more than I care to admit.  Part of me feels foolish spending money on such an event, but then I remember I've been dreaming of this day for YEARS and it's important to me and is a celebration of our love and will be worth it.

Plus, we were selective as to where we spent the most.  The photographer, videographer and my gown were our largest expenses... and seeing as how the pictures and video (where I'm wearing the dress) are what we will have to remember the day by? Totally worth it.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

I do not believe in being negative and complaining all the time.  However.  If you receive poor customer service when you have paid good money for something, I think you should always kindly and respectfully speak up.

Case in point: I bought an item on etsy to be used as a gift for Adam's son for the wedding.  It turned out perfectly, but there was a serious lack of communication from the seller throughout the whole process.  I have neutral feedback on etsy.com, and explained that the item was great and had a good value, but that it was frustrating to feel like we didn't get the answers to questions we asked along the way.  The seller contacted me, apologized, and issued a refund back to my card for half of the item's total amount.  Sweet!

Case in point:  I received an item at my lingerie shower that I wanted to get in a different color.  When I went to the store, I found the same item in another color and went to the counter to swap it out.  They wanted me to pay them $16!  It turns out the color I had been given was a "summer color" and the color I wanted was a "fall color."  I asked to speak to a manager and explained that I understood there are new colors each season, but that I felt this was an even exchange since it was the exact. same. item.  He quickly agreed (or maybe he was just uncomfortable being in the lingerie department), and I walked away with the nightgown in the color I wanted at no extra charge to me.

Case in point: We discovered that we needed to replace the hard drive in my old iMac we had given to my mom.  Adam used to work for Apple and knew the ins and outs of such a procedure.  We bought the hard drive through Amazon for half the rate a store would have charged, and we took it to the Mac Experience store instead of Apple, as it was the same replacement for half the price.  Ultimately, it took 3 days longer than they quoted.  Then, WE had to call THEM to ask if it was done yet.  Then, they said it was done and to come on by.  We left to get it, and 30 minutes later when we got to the store they told us we had to wait for them to finish it up.  I asked to see a manager and just politely expressed that it was all a bit frustrating and that he needed to know I desire better communication when we are choosing them to provide something we could have done elsewhere.  I never even asked for anything, but he refunded us half of the price for replacing the hard drive!

FINAL TIPS

I think the key is to always be nice.  Being a born and bred Tennesseean, I like to think I know how to turn on the southern charm.  I always try to be as sweet as possible, but I am very direct in expressing my concerns and desires.  I'm not going to beat around the bush, but I also won't ask for something that's outlandish.  For example, I didn't ask the manager of the department store where I was swapping lingerie to give me another item... I just wanted the same thing as I had before - same brand, same original ticket price - but just in another color.

I love coupons and sales, but those just aren't always available.  And I don't mind paying for quality products and services.  But I think it's important to 1) never be afraid to ask if someone will take less or will work with you on pricing (heck, you may not even want everything they're offering!  See if you can cut some items and also cut the price!) and 2) never be afraid to express when you feel you've been taken advantage of as a customer and see if they offer to make it right.. and in some cases, just ask them to make it right!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bachelorette Party in Nashville

A few weeks back, my baby sister and two bridesmaids/best friends planned a fantastic bachelorette party and lingerie shower for me in Nashville!  It was so great to be back in my favorite city and having some fun on Broadway, and I felt so lucky as I looked around at all of the amazing women I now call my friends.

We did dinner at Puckett's, did the lingerie shower thing (and games!) back at the hotel room, and then hit up The Stage and Honky Tonk (where I was pulled on stage along with another bride out that night).  It was SO much fun, and it got me all the more excited for the big day!


Playing the "guess who brought this pair of panties" game. 


My Before photo
 

All of the snacks and the wine bottle party favors!


Cute cookies
 

One of the most creative gifts
 

Some of the gals who joined us
 

Dancing on stage at Honky Tonk
 

Me with the other bride on stage
 

My somewhat staged After photo... I was really ok with the exception of my feet hurting like crazy from wearing heels all night!
 

Probably the "real" After photo... me leaving a voice mail on Adam's phone to tell him how excited I am to marry him in August!

Monday, July 1, 2013

My First Bridal Shower

Last month, some very kind family members hosted my first bridal shower.  It was a lovely afternoon with tasty snacks, a mimosa bar, some close friends and family (all female for this one), and some amazing blessings we received with the gifts folks brought.  I am so thankful to have so many wonderful people in my life to celebrate with as the wedding date approaches!

Here are just a few photos from the day!