The Birthday Post

Well… I was waiting to write about my birthday until I had my photos developed, but they’re now developed and they suck! Turns out that you CAN take pictures with an underwater plastic disposable camera… but you really shouldn’t. Now I know.

We planned to do at least one excursion while on vacation and my birthday seemed like the perfect time. We went to the excursion office to talk about our options, and we picked an all-day excursion to Las Caletas. The excursion was to include snorkeling, kayaking, and a jungle tour.

The rough part was that we had to catch a cab to the marina by 8am. I am NOT a morning person so having to set an alarm on my birthday made me a little cranky, but I quickly got over it. After a half hour trip to the marina, we found our tour booth and got checked in. There were people there with a parrot… too cute.
Not a fantastic picture… but it makes me laugh. Also keep in mind we were going snorkeling so this is totally sans makeup!

I was super excited at this point but B was a little tired..

I got even more excited when we saw this pirate ship. Confession: I love Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels. On an episode recently they went to PV and they rode on this pirate ship! So cool that we were exactly where they were filming.

Next up was the boat to Las Caletas. It was an hour down the coast. At the start of the trip I was happy and feeling pretty good..

Note B’s peeling forehead… poor boy. Then I remembered that I get sea-sick… oy! Lucky there was no… erm…. puking. But I was not feeling fabulous.

Immediately when we got to Las Caletas they sent us up the hill to get snorkeling gear. At some point I realized that I had come to Mexico during the Swine Flu crazies and was about to put a piece of used plastic in my mouth from a big bucket… but I decided to just roll with it!

First thing I learned about snorkeling: flippers are hard to work! They’re a lot flimsier than you would think and I kept tripping over myself. Second thing I learned about snorkeling: Those masks are annoying! I had such a hard time keeping it on correctly so that I could breath without getting salt water in my mouth… blech. B said that he was having a really hard time too and he has snorkeled before, so I wonder if their snorkeling gear was different than most?

Regardless.. snorkeling was a ton of fun and HARD work. We followed the instructor all the way up the coast. I kept forgetting to keep my head underwater… such a strange thing this snorkeling. It was sooo cool though when I would remember. I’d just be swimming along and remember to stick my head down… then woah! A whole school of tropical fish! I tend to forget that the ocean has so many creatures because you just don’t see them that often. Some people were able to dive down but I was not quite that advanced! The instructor did dive down and brought up a sea urchin for us to hold which was very cool.

By the time I swam back to shore my legs were TIRED. Swimming that far, even with (or maybe especially with?) flippers is seriously hard work. My legs were buttah. B made it back before me and my hopes of relaxing for a few minutes were dashed when they announced it was time for KAYAKING!

Now… B was super excited to kayak whereas I was scared. I kept thinking that we were going to flip over and I wouldn’t be able to get back on, but B assured me that we’d be fine so I jumped on board. It was actually surprisingly easy to stay upright! I hate to admit when B is right… heh. The kayak was a great rest for our legs but now it was time for our arm workout! We had some trouble staying in sync but for kayak-virgins I think we did pretty darn good! We paddled all the way down to an adjacent beach and docked on the sand. We got to spend a blissful few minutes relaxing on the beach and there was a guy there playing with his dog in the ocean… so cute and made me miss Stew!

Once we arrived back at Las Caletas in the kayaks it was time for the Jungle Trek. Our guide was a lot of fun and showed us so many cool things. Like this huuuuuge spider that he wanted us to hold. B wanted to but I put the kaibosh on that because I didn’t want it anywhere near me! haha

After our tour we headed over to get lunch. It was surprisingly good! Just a buffet but I was able to get a margarita and the food was tasty. Plus it was nice to just sit and relax for a bit… I thought I was going to fall asleep in my food!

Soon after we heard that they had a monkey on the other side of the resort area so we had to check it out for ourselves. Now… I can’t believe I’m even posting these photos because they are so. bad. But– please keep in mind… this is post snorkeling, kayaking, and jungle trekking. I had not seen a mirror in hours. I was too tired to notice my bandana was falling of my head (and I have no idea why B did not tell me this… heh)…. so ummm yea. Bad pics… but cool stuff!

It was time to head back to the boat and I was a bit nervous about getting sea-sick.. but once again I made it back without serious incident. When we finally got back to our hotel room and showered we just laid… for hours. We were too tired to sleep even! Call me weird but laying around watching mtv with B for a few hours was really the perfect late afternoon activity to me.

To finish off the night we decided to get dressed up and go to dinner at the nicest restaurant at the resort, Portofino. Holy cow was the food there good!! We had been there once earlier in the week and we were super impressed with our meals. This time I bravely ventured out getting new things (this is huge for me because usually when I find something I like I stick with it) and it was SO. GOOD. Is it weird that one of my favorite italian meals I’ve ever eaten was in Mexico? I started with a tomato basil salad, got a spicy pasta for my entree, and had tiramisu for my birthday desert. Almost too pretty to eat… almost!

We got our waiter to take a photo of us at the end of the night which turned out to be my favorite pic of us from the whole trip… even though it kind of looks like I’m naked. Note to self: do not wear a maxi-dress and lean behind a table for pics.

All in all… my 25th birthday was pretty fabulous. I got to do three things I’d never done before: snorkel, kayak, and hold a monkey. I got to go out to a fabulous dinner. And I got to spend the whole day with my brand new fiance! (That word still sounds so weiiiiird.)

Things I never cared about before I got engaged… part 1

1. Chairs

Let’s think back a few months. If you had asked me…. what kind of chairs do you like? I would have said ummmm comfortable ones?

This is the answer of a non-engaged person. Or a man.

See… most venues come standard with ugly chairs. I think they do this on purpose because they know that as a bride, you don’t want your wedding to look like a school assembly. Behold… the standard Ugly Chair:

Of course… for the low low price of anywhere from $4-8 per chair, you can rent chair covers for the night. They look really nice and definitely have that “wedding” feel… but with 100 guests an extra $400-800 for totally non-essential chair covers is just not going to cut it.

And then there are the coveted Chiavari chairs… which I had never heard of or seen until I entered wedding blog-land. Apparently these are a hot item which go for anywhere between $10-15 per chair… to RENT for your wedding. Beautiful? yes. Going to happen? Sooo not.

We did see one venue that came with chiavari chairs standard… but the food is super expensive there so it probably wasn’t meant to be. In the end we’ll most likely end up with the Ugly Chairs and I won’t even notice on the day-of…. but I kind of hate wedding-land a little bit for showing me what I’m missing!

2. Flowers
I am sooooo not a flower girl. I always thought my mom was silly for spending so much time gardening when I was little. When B got me a big beautiful bouquet around our 6 month mark I scolded him for spending wayyyyyy too much on something that I could enjoy for mere days before they died. I told him if he wanted to get me flowers in the future, I would much appreciate some wild flowers (or better yet, a flowering plant) from the grocery store. Same thought, lower price.

So I thought flowers for my wedding would be easy… I’d get silk flowers and make my own bouquet a few months prior! Easy peasy… I’d get exactly what I wanted for a fraction of the price and who the heck cares?! My mother. She gasped audibly when I told her my plan and explained that silk flowers were soo….. tacky! I was unaware.

I still hope that I can buy flowers for cheap and DIY my own bouquet but my mom is being skeptical and wants me to just go to a florist. And I almost hate to admit it but in doing some research on how to DIY my own bouquet… I actually found some flowers I kind of love.

The ever-popular but wayyyyyyy too expensive peonies:

The less expensive and just as pretty (maybe prettier?) garden roses:

And the ones that I can’t pronounce, ranunculus:

Sigh… another expensive thing I now love due to the wedding. Stay tuned… I have a feeling this post will be ongoing for the next 15(ish) months!

How to talk to boys: budget ed.

So ummmm the budget negotiations are ongoing. See, the problem is that I’m conflicted. I’m torn both externally and internally. Let me explain.

On one hand we have dear B… the accountant. He is practical and stereotypical in that he just doesn’t “get” spending money on things that are not an investment (so he says). A house, he gets. My ring, he gets. These are things that do not diminish in value over time. A wedding, meanwhile, is a single day event that will be here and then gone and in the end… regardless of the amount spent… we will be married. So why spend more than necessary?

Then we have my mother… the romantic. But its my WEDDING she says… it is my one wedding! I should have everything I ever wanted (within reason). Sure it’s only one day but its the greatest party I’ll ever throw and if you go into a little debt to make it happen? Well… it’s only money. You can’t take it with you.

External conflict. But I am also internally conflicted because I can’t decide who I agree with! I am a practical girl and the idea of spending more than $10,000 on the wedding even if we had it is just ridiculous to me. It is so much money! We could put it towards our downpayment on a house… or a new car… or a rainy day fund! (sex-ay I am with the spending). But it IS my one wedding and I don’t want to regret skimping years down the line. More money always comes along and we are in a pretty good position financially… why not… stretch?

Yep… I am one conflicted bride-to-be (squee(!) at being a bride-to-be… still really exciting to me!). I believe that the best policy is honesty so I’ve explained all of this to B. At first he was a bit frustrated at my semi-waffling at our previously hard-set $10,000 budget.

And that is when I figured out how to bring it to his (testosterone-y) level. CARS. Follow along:

B: But either way, we end up married!
me: Hmmm… I agree. But lets go at it this way. You bought a car last year… right?
B: yes… (looking at me skeptically)
me: And you could have bought a nice newer used toyota for $15,000 that would have gotten you to work every day, right?
B: right…. (not liking where this is going)
me: But you didn’t want a toyota. You wanted an audi. Which will get you to work. Won’t do any more than a toyota will do really…. but you just WANTED it. It wasn’t rational or practical, but you work hard and you wanted an audi and you bought one. A wedding is the same kind of thing for a girl. We could have a toyota wedding and it would be fine and it would get the job done… but what if I want an audi wedding? Not for any reason other than i DO?
B: I don’t get it… but I’m going to defer to you on this one. We can do whatever you want.

Analogies for the win. 🙂

Now, this is not to say that we ARE going to do an audi wedding because really.. I’m not sure that is what I want or that it is worth it to me. But, I do appreciate that I have a bit of flexibility in our budget if I decide I want it. ❤ him.

B-U-D-G-E-T is a four-letter word.

So in the interest of full disclosure… this whole “wedding planning” thing isn’t going exactly how I thought it would. Here is what I thought would happen:

I’d get engaged, somehow I would magically know what to do and where to go and what to buy, I’d have a ton of fun doing crafty DIY stuff and in the end I’d pull off an awesomely chic wedding and come in way under budget.

Aren’t dreams nice?

I had noooooo clue how much stuff costs. Specifically food for the reception. Pretty immediately, B and I set a budget of $10,000 for the wedding. We figured that was the amount that we could save in a year if we worked at it, and honestly who needs to spend more than $10,000 on one day anyways right? That seemed like PLENTY of money to throw a kick-ass party for 100 of our closest friends and family.

I was so stupid!

We started looking at the venues we had in mind and found that our top choice would cost us about $8,000-9,000 just for the venue, food, and alcohol. Woah. I went to theknot.com and used their budgeting tool because I didn’t even know what items I should include in the budget… and discovered that the most we can spend is really $5,000 on the venue, food, alcohol, rentals, service charges, and taxes. For 100 people. And that is if we skimp on everything else!

When we realized that we hadn’t even thought about a rehearsal dinner, wedding bands, or a honeymoon… well… I started to panic a little. We decided we could do pizza for a rehearsal and a honeymoon would just have to wait. As for rings.. I didn’t want to think about it.

Luckily a week or so later my mom very graciously offered us some money. She wasn’t sure exactly what her and my dad could get together but she thought about $5,000-7,000. Talk about generous! I was totally blown away because I didn’t expect any help… and in all honesty I feel badly accepting it. She convinced me that they want to do this and I graciously accepted. What this really means is that a rehearsal dinner and rings are back on the table… and maybe a honeymoon.

I wish this meant that everything was easy now, but it isn’t. Throwing a wedding for 100 on $10,000 is still no easy feat… but I’m up to the challenge. I have lots more to say on this subject and I’m sure that some days I’ll feel differently, but for today I am confident. I will pull it off. I will negotiate, beg, borrow, and ste… okay I won’t steal. Even brides-to-be have a line. 🙂

My most exciting update is that I have a MOH!! (Hi MOH!) She and I went to law school together for one year before she moved away (then moved further away). Regardless, we talk basically every day and she has helped me out so much in the 4+ years that we’ve been friends. She even helped B pick out my beautiful ring! I’m so excited to have her as my MOH/keep-me-sane-when-everyone-else-is-driving-me-nuts-person (the latter of which, of course, is a title she already held).

Glamour shots…

No, not of me. Of the Ring! There is absolutely no reason to take these… except that I love photography and I love my ring and I had an hour free this morning. They are totally self-indulgent, so what better place to post them than on the blog! I still haven’t taken one that makes the ring look as good as it does in person, but I think that might be the norm with diamonds. It is hard to capture the sparkle!

I took about a zillion photos… but here are the best of the best:
ring1
ring2
ring3
ring4ring5

Calm…

So far the best thing about being engaged? The Calm. There was so much anxiety in the time leading up to the proposal… as you can see from my posts below. When will he do it, how will he do it, how will our families react, how will we set a budget, etc etc.

But now I know the answers! He did it, it’s done, we’re engaged! And now I know for sure we’re getting married, I know when (approximately January 2011), we’ve set an approximate budget. I feel like everything is as it should be. And really… the transition from girlfriend to fiance has not been as weird as I thought. It was a LITTLE weird the first time I called him my fiance (and I still hate the word, doesn’t it sound… fru-fru?), but other than that it has been a natural transition.

We’re two weeks in and I’ve only had one minor freakout (budget… that was expected… and to be blogged about later). I think wedding planning will be fun, but honestly I’m looking forward to the BEING married more than the GETTING married. Hopefully I can just take my time and enjoy every step of the process.

Still waiting… so again I write!

I’m writing the second, and hopefully last post that I can’t publish until after he’s “popped the question.” It is October 5, and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far without exploding from the excitement of it all!

In the month+ since I wrote my last pre-engagement post, I think I’ve calmed down a bit. Kind of. I’m a bit more able to focus on other things, and a bit less…. bouncy? heh. I still think about it every day and I still can’t stand the waiting, but I guess I’m accustomed to the waiting.

It all got a bit more real a few days ago though.. on October 1. I realized that in all likelihood…. I will be engaged THIS month. In a matter of weeks. When making plans with a friend for November I realized that… I will probably get to show him my new ring! When I saw my parents this weekend, I thought of the next time I’ll see them the weekend after my birthday, and if I’ll get to tell them how he did it. I thought of this coming Thanksgiving seeing my family, and Christmas. How exciting!! It is REALLY going to happen. And SOON.

We leave for vacation in two and a half weeks (or 2 weeks, 3 days 11 hours, if you’d like to get specific about it), and I just can’t wait. I’m looking forward to the sun, the sand, the serenity. I’m looking forward to giving up the computer for a whole WEEK (crazy, right?). I’m looking forward to a week of nothing but fun and sun with my guy. But most of all I’m looking forward to leaving the country single and returning ENGAGED.

I still have some small hope that he won’t make me wait until my birthday… but only time will tell. I am so worried about him trying to get the ring to Mexico and keep it safe for 4 days before my birthday. I’m also worried that he’ll be so nervous about the impending “moment” that he won’t fully enjoy the first half of our vacation! I think it would be perfect if he proposed before we left so the trip would be in celebration and so I could be put out of my waiting misery! heh.

I also have a fear that I’m wrong and he won’t do it on my birthday and will make me wait even longer! I can’t lie… I will be a bit disappointed if the trip ends and my left ring finger remains naked. But, regardless, I know it will happen soon and until then…… I wait!

——————-
so glad that I was right! This is the second (and last) post that I wrote while “waiting.” We’ll return to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. 🙂