Thursday, July 29, 2010


Well...this second round of Do Nothing, Say Nothing didn't go quite the way I expected.

I was just sure that this week was going to be fabulous. The kids were going to rock our world, because we weren't going to do or say anything, and they were going to show us how far they have come in the last 6 months.

Umm...yeah. Right. That fantasy ended pretty quickly.

There were bright moments -- Dante made dinner of his own accord on the nights that he was supposed to (dinner was his contribution this week) and attempted to clean up the kitchen when he was done (the dinner person isn't supposed to leave a giant mess for the dishes person). The dinners were delicious, and even though he wasn't super successful at the cleanup, at least he tried!

Okay, that was one bright moment. I'm sure there had to have been another, I just can't think of it now, no matter how hard I rack my brain.

Again, Will and I haven't had time to formally talk about what we learned, but informally, we've discussed our observation that all four kids are spoiled (with money, toys, activities, you name it) and don't really take responsibility for or appreciate any of it. This is not their fault, but it's not a pretty reality. And, as I posted below, given the opportunity to play video games 24/7, they lose all interest in anything else.

Oh, and I learned that there's a good reason that I've been hesitant to use one of the Parenting on Track strategies, in which instead of telling the kid what to do, I say, "Would you be willing to....?" If they say "no," then I say, "What would you be willing to do?" If they say "nothing," then I get to decide how I will respond (hopefully parenting from my best!)

I planned to try this way back in week 11, but haven't been able to bring myself to do it. Control issues, much? However, I figured that since it's DNSN and I can't order them around or remind them to do stuff, I had nothing to lose.

We were having a dinner party on Tuesday (I know, what was I thinking, right?) and I had already decided that I was going to do what needed to be done so that I felt good about having people over, and that I wasn't going to be resentful of the fact that I probably wouldn't have much help from the kids.

So Tuesday afternoon I stepped in front of the television screen:
Me: "Hey guys, would you be willing to clean up your mess in the kitchen?"
Them: "Sure, can we just finish this song?"
Me: "It's up to you."
Them: {keep playing Rock Band for about 5 more songs}
Me: {silently go about my business in other parts of the house}
Them: "Hey mom, we're riding bikes to the store, okay"
Me: "Sure. See you in awhile!"
Me: {clean up their messes in the kitchen}
Them: {get home and don't notice that kitchen is clean or remember that they said they were willing to clean it}
Me: "Hey guys, would you be willing to hold your rats while I clean the tank?"
Boys: {settle back in front of the television screen} "No, I don't feel like it."
Girl: "I can't decide."
Me: "Well, you need to decide because I need to clean the tank."
Girl: "I hate to say this, but no, I am not willing to!"
Me: "Okay."
Them: {play video games}
Me: {put rats in rubbermaid tub and clean the tank}

I wasn't resentful, the kids had fun, the house was clean when the party started. And I must add here that am really grateful for good friends who are willing to at least act like they understand why we let two boys (ages 7 and 9) walk into the kitchen, grab a loaf of bread and take it down into the family room to eat while playing video games, completely ignoring the fact that we had a houseful of people and that dinner was literally being put on the table as they walked off with the bread.

I'm really thankful that Do Nothing, Say Nothing is over for another go-round.

And I'm feeling like many of the changes we've seen over the last six months (because honestly, there have been many, and almost all of them are changes for the better) are still being directed by the adults. Mostly I'm left with questions about giving the kids more ownership over themselves, their things, and the family.

And I'm really glad that we're starting the whole program over, because I can see it spiraling (yeah, you guys who teach Everyday Math are scoffing now, because we all know that the spiral doesn't really work :P but this is different, I swear!) and I do think that things will continue to improve over time. As our wise counselor told us last time we saw her, we're doing so many things right and it's still really hard.

do they still call it the boob tube?

The kids' reaction when I told them that we were doing DNSN again, and that the purpose was to observe how far we've come since the last time, and to see what we still need to work on: "Ooohhh, comes the moldy milk again!" (I don't remember this, but someone must have left a glass of milk out -- I'm guessing they remembered since they were the ones who cleaned up at the end of the week? Told you it wasn't pretty last time!)

I'm not going to break it down day by day, and Will and I haven't had a chance to sit down together and do a recap on the week, but here's the big thing as far as kid behavior goes (I'll hit adult behavior in another post)...

Screen time. Yuck. Huge issue still. No, really. Huge. And they've taken the opportunity to use DNSN to completely throw our family policy out the window and pretty much do nothing but play video games for the last 72 hours. So...this tells us that the family policy is really a parent policy, that the kids have no real buy-in.

FYI, the policy is that during the summer they get half an hour of screen time a day. Two kids play while the other two "chillax" in their rooms, then they switch. Honestly, Will and I thought this was brilliant, and, in our view, it's worked out well -- everyone gets a little siesta time in the heat of the day, four kids are not having to share the screens all at once, and most of the time the kids are playing, running around outside, and generally being creative.

Will and I actually talked to the kids about this yesterday, and basically they told us that their screen time is so limited that they felt the need to compensate for the fact that they normally get to play so little (yes, they did actually use the word "compensate" -- we must be doing something right, no?) by taking advantage of the fact that they knew we weren't going to stop them.

Still...yuck. So Will and I are contemplating something radical as a result. It goes back to the fact that I've had trouble keeping myself from staying up all night wasting time on the internets this summer, and the idea that we shouldn't be asking the kids to exercise more self control than their parents are capable of. Sorry I ended that sentence with a preposition. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 26, 2010

do nothing, say nothing recap

Well, it's been longer than I thought since the last time I posted. Oops! Life with four kids, three rats, two full-time jobs, a dog, and a snake is a little crazy! I actually meant to blog throughout our Parenting on Track journey, but one day stretched into twelve weeks, which stretched into six months without a single update...

The good news (?) is that we've found the program to be so valuable that we're doing it again. Yup. The whole twelve weeks. It's really rich and deep, and there's so much to learn and try, and we feel like our family has come a long way as a result of the conversations and actions brought about by doing the program. So we're doing it again, maybe this time really in twelve weeks instead of six months!

The first week is "Do Nothing, Say Nothing" week. This is where we stop using ineffective parenting techniques and "strategies" that hinder the relationships we would like to have with our kids. Instead, we do and say nothing, and observe them to learn what they can and will do without interference from us. We also observe ourselves to figure out when it is hard for us to exercise control over our reactions to situations or behavior.

The first time we did DNSN, it led to some hilarious (in retrospect) and horrifying moments.

Day one brought us a seven-year-old (Sebastian) who got up on his own, made himself breakfast, packed his lunch, and cheerfully loaded himself and his backpack into the car on time. Impressive! But Dante (age 12) didn't get out of bed and subsequently didn't go to school.

Day two was role reversal. Dante was totally happy and ready to go. Sebastian refused to go to school because, "It's stupid! I never learn anything! And if Dante doesn't have to go, I don't have to go!" Since he's not twelve, he got dumped at my mom's house while I left for work. My parents did such a good job ignoring him that, around 10:30 he announced, "This is boring! I'm going to school!"

Days three and four continued the pile-up of toys and dishes that had begun at the beginning of the week. Kids were responsible for their own breakfasts and lunches, but we had dinner as a family the way we usually do, except for the fact that we didn't have a formal setting or clearing of the table. I just announced when the food was ready. We also didn't put any limits on screen time, or enforce a bedtime. This meant that things were a little more - ahem - chaotic than usual around the house.

Day five was brutal. It culminated when Will and I left Subway because we were so humiliated at the behavior of all four kids. We just walked out and waited for them to eventually follow, because we couldn't handle staying in there AND staying silent. You name it, the kids did it.

Crawling on the floor? Yup! (Keep in mind that we are YEARS past the age at which this is developmentally appropriate.) Swinging from the railings? Yup! Playing a game in which every chair is an island and you can't touch the floor? Yup! (Keep in mind that this was a relatively busy night at a relatively busy restaurant.) Folding your bread into a paper airplane and zooming it around in the air? Yup! Stuffing an entire bag of chips into your mouth at once and then talking while it takes you almost 10 minutes to chew it up? Yup!

And that's just one example from each kid! Multiply what I just described by approximately 10, and maybe, just maybe, you'll have an inkling of what we put those poor Subway patrons through that night. This is what our kids did when we weren't nagging, reminding, and lecturing constantly about how they should behave. It was pretty clear to us that they had internalized pretty much nothing we have said over the last 7-12 years about table manners and restaurant behavior.

By the end of day six, we were DONE, and really, so were the kids. So why would we want to repeat it? Well, here's what we wrote down at the end of that first week about what we learned...

About ourselves -
We care what other people think about our kids and about us as parents.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
We do a ton of nagging and managing.
We do way too much work and baby them way too much.
Unknowingly, we created some of their problematic behaviors.
We don't enjoy being around our kids when they behave badly.

About our kids -
They are capable of more than they do.
It seems like they don't care if the house is a wreck.
They behave very badly in public when we're not actively directing them.
Their manners and cleaning up after themselves are the two biggest issues.
Some of the fighting the kids do is for our benefit.
Dante is developing a habit of being disrespectful.
They think they are good.
Trin (age 7) gets mileage out of being "the good one."
Most of their negative attention-seeking behavior (fighting, pouting) goes away when we ignore it.
They have no self-regulation when it comes to screen time -- they will choose screen time over just about anything else.

As difficult as DNSN week was, it was totally worth it to me in terms of the insights we gained into our family and our kids and ourselves. So even though I'm dreading this going in the second time, I'm excited to see what we will learn this time around.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

parenting on track

When my kids (especially my oldest) were little, I acted very deliberately when it came to raising them. I made choices that supported the bigger picture that I wanted to cultivate.

Then, life changed. I became a single mom. I went back to work full time. The boyz got bigger, and the decisions didn't seem quite so monumental. It's not that I didn't think about parenting, or do my best, it's just that I got busy and distracted. We had a routine, we had the support of my family, and most of the time, things seemed to be pretty good.

Then, life changed again. When people say blended family, it implies something like a smoothie: sweet, evenly textured, completely combined. On a good day (and we have pretty many of those) it's more like a fruit salad. It's yummy, but lumpy. The bananas are really squishy and the apples are crisp; the mangos are sweet and the yogurt is tart. On a bad day it resembles oil and vinegar, with two groups of people refusing to combine without vigorous shaking.

At any rate, we got a little off track, in terms of parenting. While I wasn't doing a terrible job as a parent, I wasn't doing a great one. I had lost sight of the big picture when making decisions just to get through the day. Luckily, Will and I are in agreement about the need to do something different. I knew he was a keeper, but the last several weeks have really proven it. Together, we're working through a program called Parenting on Track (the name is apropos, is it not?) We chose it because the philosophy aligns perfectly with our ultimate goals, and we're sticking with it because we are starting to see little glimmers of progress.

This isn't an infomercial, and I'm not a paid endorser, but if I'm blogging about our life as a party of six, I've gotta blog about PoT right now. The coolest part of it all, though, isn't the program. It's that doing it with Will reinforces why all of the challenges are worth it. I love, love, love having a partner in all things, one who is willing to hash it out, put in the time, and figure things out as a team, to stand up to me, to make compromises, then follow through on what we decided.

We just started another program for family budgeting/money stuff and the experience holds true. Yeah, I know: what were we thinking!? "Let's tackle the two hardest things, parenting and money, all at once!" But what better time to start doing things right than right from the start? And I gotta say, so far being married rocks!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

wedding weekend: the most important part

Today I'm unexpectedly home, the snow is falling, my gorgeous husband (almost 5 months later I still get a little shivery thrill when I get to say "my husband") is out trying to keep the snow from breaking any more limbs off the trees in our backyard, two bundled up kids are jumping on the trampoline and throwing snowballs (!!) while the other two are cozied up watching Robots, and I, well, I've got hot chocolate, whipped cream, and a little time to tell you about our wedding ceremony!

I'm including the whole text, plus music and commentary for a couple of reasons. The first is that it really helped me with planning our ceremony to see what other people had done, and maybe someone else will find this helpful. If you're planning a wedding and have been looking at different nontraditional ceremonies, you might see some stuff here that you recognize, but we shaped everything, editing, combining, and deleting without compunction, until we had something that fit us. The second reason is that we made a huge mistake, and didn't get a microphone to use during the ceremony. We had a lot of people share our celebration, and some of them in the back couldn't hear the whole thing, so if you were one of them, now you can read what you missed!

All photos by Nicole Allen.

While people were mingling and finding seats, our prelude music was the entire album of The Vitamin String Quartet playing ACDC songs. We thought that was a very appropriate way to set the tone for the whole evening -- classy, but with a sense of humor!Will and his kids came in from behind the arbor and stood in front of the famous paper flower arch, accompanied by instrumental Metallica. Anyone who knows Will understands why we had to have Metallica at our wedding!

Our "processional" music was "I Will Love You" by Fisher. Several people told me that they started to tear up already when they heard this song and we started walking in (Will included!)When we got to the front, I couldn't help myself. I reached up and gave my sweetie the last smooch of our unmarried life. Just a little one.Then Lynn (our officiant) began:
Mawwage…Mawwage is what bwings us togevver today. Mawwage, that bwessed event, that dweam wifin a dweam. Wuv, twue wuv, will fowwow you fowever.
While people were laughing about this, my dad stepped up and played Storybook Love on his flute. This is something of a family tradition -- my dad has played flute at every single one of his kids' weddings -- and one I was happy to continue. We thought it was also a nice transition from the Princess Bride jokey beginning to the more serious part of the ceremony.Lynn again:

September and Will have invited us to share an occasion of great joy and celebration.

They know that marriage is not a relationship to be entered into lightly, but deliberately, lovingly, and reverently. Today they are declaring to each other and to all of us that they plan to be by each other’s side, no matter what life brings their way.

Then my very very very good friend Jill stepped forward, and read the lyrics of a Leonard Cohen song:

As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill
So my body leaves no scar
On you and never will

Through windows in the dark
The children come, the children go
Like arrows with no targets
Like shackles made of snow
True love leaves no traces
If you and I are one
It's lost in our embraces
Like stars against the sun

As a falling leaf may rest
A moment on the air
So your head upon my breast
So my hand upon your hair

And many nights endure
Without a moon or star
So we will endure
When one is gone and far

True love leaves no traces
If you and I are one
It's lost in our embraces
Like stars against the sun

May we have the rings, please?

Will's brother Corey came up and gave the rings (in a little bag) to Lynn -- it's funny how nervous he was but he did a great job as a first-time ring bearer!

Lynn held the rings and said:

We will now bless these rings, symbols of infinite love.
The root meaning of ‘to bless’
is ‘to share life with’.
As these rings pass from one to another
we will each have the opportunity to share our energy,
our blessing, our thoughts and our love
with Will and September.

Take your time. Know that as we take this moment to ‘share life’ with this couple we will each be contributing our love to this marriage.

Corey followed the rings as they were passed from hand to hand among the people who were present, while Lynn continued to speak:
As we pass and bless these rings, let us also bless the hands that will wear them.

September, please hold Will’s hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as you laugh and cry.
These are the hands that will play air guitar, throw footballs and exchange high fives with your sons.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears of sorrow and of joy from your eyes.
These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief engulfs your heart.
These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes.

(Now Will, I would like for you to look at your hands right now, really look and them and remember this moment, because this will be the very last time you will ever have the upper hand!)
Will, please hold September’s hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend.
These are the hands that will massage tension from your neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard day.
These are the hands that will put bandaids on scrapes and help with homework and provide nourishing food for your children.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.
These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.
These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams.
God, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other. Help these hands to build a family full of grace. May Will and September see their four hands as healers, protectors, shelter and guides. Amen.

The idea had been that we wanted to keep things moving, wanted to keep the ceremony long enough to be meaningful, and short enough to be interesting, and that the blessing of the hands would keep people from getting bored while we did the blessing of the rings. I thought that the two would end at about the same time, but people really did take their time with the rings, and by the time the hand blessing was over, the rings weren't even halfway around the crowd.

So we had a moment of silence that stretched out, then I turned to Lynn and whispered that we should just go ahead with exchanging our vows. Side note: we wrote the "I promise" part together, but the one thing we kept secret from each other was the "I love you because" part -- we wanted to have a little surprise, but we also wanted what we said to sort of match, so we agreed in advance on how many funny and how many serious things we would say.

I love you because you get so excited about things, even when they are things that don't seem exciting to me at all, like fish and chips or a great power chord, or a football game.

Will: I love you because when you want to tell me a funny story, you start giggling so much, you can't even get the story out.

Seppie: I love you because you are an amazing father -- you're fun, your patient, you're firm, you're gentle, and you are a great role model to all of our kids.

Will: I love you because you understand my need for alone time and have no problem giving it to me without hesitation.

Seppie: I love you because you always make me cry. I never used to cry, but now I cry all the time. It's because you care so much about me and because I feel completely safe with you.

Will: I love you because when you come home and I am watching SportsCenter, you don't let out a big sigh of disapproval, even though you're probably thinking it.

Seppie: I love you because no matter what wild and crazy idea I have, like a wedding that lasts an entire weekend, you just nod your head and say, "okay, that sounds fun" even when it means a ton of work for you and you wish I'd just let you rest.

Will: I love you because not only do you understand my love for the great game of Texas Hold 'Em, you enjoy playing it with me.

Seppie: I love you because we always laugh so much together.

Will: I love you because you are the first person in my life that completely understands me and loves me despite my faults. I love you!

Seppie: I love you because whenever I'm with you, I feel like I'm exactly where I should be.

Will: I love you because you treat me the way I've always wanted to be treated.Seppie: Will, I accept you just as you are today.

Will: September, I accept you just as you are today.

Seppie: I choose to intertwine my life with yours.

Will: I choose to share my life and everything I have openly with you.

Seppie: I choose to build my home, my family, my future with you.

Will: I promise to strive for the kind of family and the kind of life we can both be proud of.

Seppie: I promise to be faithful to you, and never to allow anything to build a wall between us.

Will: I promise to speak truthfully and lovingly to you, to support you and encourage your fulfillment.

Seppie: I promise to be who I am, and no less, and to accept and support you in being who you are and no less.

Will: I promise to be patient and forgive you when you get upset and act unreasonable about stupid things.

Seppie: I promise to clean up the yard even when it’s your dog who got into the trash.

Will: I promise to always clean the bathrooms even when it’s your kids who miss the toilet.

Seppie: I promise to hug and kiss you every single day.

Will: I promise to let you put your cold feet on me in bed every single night.

Seppie: I promise that I will love you.

Will: I promise that I will love you.

Seppie: I choose you to be my husband and life companion.

Will: I choose you to be my wife and life companion.

Those last two lines were supposed to be when we actually exchanged rings, but the rings still hadn't made it back to us, so we just kept moving with the rest of the ceremony.

Lynn told everyone to look on the bottom of their chairs. We had secretly taped playing cards -- the king and queen of hearts, natch -- to the bottom of two random chairs, Oprah-style. The two people who found the cards underneath their chairs were called up to witness our signing of the marriage certificate. Even though our selection of witnesses was completely random, this turned out to be another emotional thing for me, since one of those was my aunt Moira, who obviously has known me all my life, and is herself the mother of a blended family with six kids!There was yet another pretty long moment of silence while my cousin J's son spontaneously handed out rose petals and we waited for the last people to bless the rings (let me tell you, people took that ring blessing seriously! Our rings are blessed!) and for Corey to bring them back to us. We exchanged rings.
We wanted our ceremony to acknowledge that our marriage is not just about us, but about our kids as well, and we wanted them to be part of things, but every suggestion I found seemed lame and hokey, or weird and creepy, so this next part we pretty much totally made up. The bracelets we gave them were a pretty heart with rhinestones for Will's daughter, and manly bike chain bracelets for the boys.

Early in their relationship, September and Will took all four of their kids to Subway. Somehow it worked out that the kids were sitting at one table, and the grownups were sitting at another table. The kids decided that this was so romantic that Will should propose, and they spent the whole meal making rings out of their straw wrappers and running over to whisper in Will’s ear that he should just “ASK HER!”

Well, less than a year later, they got their wish, when Will really did propose. Today, Will and September know that they are not just marrying one another, they are marrying entire families. They are promising to accept one other’s children just as they are, and to help them grow into good, happy people. They are promising to make their home a place where all members of the family feel safe and loved.

I put bracelets on Will's kids, and Will put bracelets on my kids.
These bracelets represent the promises of a new family made today, just as September and Will’s rings represent their commitment to one another.

At this point, Lynn gave a piece of paper to Dante and he surprised me totally by giving a little speech of his own. I had some inkling that he was planning some secret with the help of my mom, but didn't know that what he planned was part of the ceremony! As soon as I get my hands on the last remaining copy of the text of his speech, I will post it here. At any rate, it was AWESOME!Since we started with the Princess Bride, we had to end with it, too...

September and Will, by exchanging vows today, you have let it be known that you are joined, body and soul in this lifetime, and that this bond is sacred and eternal...

Will interupted her:
MAN and WIFE! Say MAN and WIFE!!

Lynn: I now pronounce you man and wife!

Then we kissed and we were done! Our recessional music was "All I Want is You" by Barry Louis Pollisar.

Friday, August 7, 2009

wedding clothes

All photos by Nicole Allen

One of the biggest expenses for many weddings is the bride's dress. In fact, the average bride spends $1505 on her dress, according to the Bridal Association of America. It seems silly to me to spend that much money on something to wear exactly once. I thought my best options were to wear a non-wedding dress, or to buy a used wedding dress. Just like the real diamond, I wanted the real princessy/white dress experience, so that left the used option.

Digression on the topic of being "princessy": Today I was dragging Sebastian through Target, unshowered, hair uncombed, wearing my black clog sandals that I've had forever and this funky knee-lengthish black cotton tank dress with black embroidery, a diagonal zigzaggy hemline and lacing up the bodice. A little girl, probably two years old, walked by, pointed at me with wide eyes and said, "Look! It's a princess!" I laughed out loud, and so did her mom.

Anyway, back to wedding clothes...Everything gets a bridal markup, I guess, because dresses I found at thrift stores were still $90 and up. Craigslist was even worse -- people wanted hundreds of dollars for dresses that were pretty hideous even in 1981 when they were brand new. I was bitching about this to some of my coworker/friends, and one of them offered to lend me her dress.

This was before Will and I were officially engaged, but I was too excited at the prospect to wait, so we stopped by her house right before my birthday dinner (Waffle House, the kids were too hungry for the wait at the restaurant I chose first) and everyone sat in the car while I ran in and tried it on. Might not be the most romantic wedding dress story ever, but as it turns out, Tara and I are just the same size, and I absolutely loved her dress. Here we are together at the reception. Yes, we were doing the dance commonly known as "the shopping cart":

So. Dress problem solved. Can't get cheaper (or greener) than that, and this was seriously the dress I would have chosen if I had walked into a bridal shop to buy the dress of my dreams.

As it turned out, the dress thing was much, much, much easier than figuring out what Will would wear. He knew that I wasn't a bridezilla kind of bride, but I think the first time he realized that our wedding was about US and not about WEDDING was when I suggested that he wear this shirt:In case the image is too small, yes, there are guitars! And yes, it does say "Rock & Roll Religion!" To make a very long story short, we looked at probably hundreds of shirt options, and I told him I thought he should wear whatever he would love and be comfortable in. He really struggled, though, because many of the shirts he loved seemed like they would only look good untucked, with jeans, and he worried that people would think that he didn't know how to dress for his own wedding, or that he wasn't taking the occasion seriously. It wouldn't have bothered me if he had gone untucked with jeans, but we decided that he wouldn't be comfortable unless he felt more dressed up.

In the end, he chose a new bright blue button-down shirt and black pants that he already owned. I found a guitar tie on etsy, and he looked great!Instead of the traditional "wedding party," we had an adult flower girl (my sister) and ring bearer (Will's brother) and our kids stood up with us.

I told my sister to wear any black dress she wanted. She was silly and emailed me beforehand with a pic of the one she chose, all worried that it wasn't what I wanted. Of course, she was gorgeous!I told Will's brother to wear jeans and any button-down shirt he wanted. He was silly and came over beforehand with shirt options, all worried that they wouldn't be what I wanted. Of course, he looked great!

With a little help from my internet friends I found the perfect black sundress for Will's daughter. You obviously can't see them in this picture, but she also wore the cutest black suede mary janes that I got for $3 at the thrift store.

I put white clay flowers in her hair to match the ones in mine.

And that just left the boyz...I found them Hawaaiian shirts with guitars that totally matched Will's tie, and they wore those untucked with jeans.

I think it worked out beautifully -- they were way more comfortable than they would have been in formal outfits, they looked great, and all of the kids have worn their wedding clothes several times since the wedding.

On Offbeat Bride I saw this woman who had the sweetest little shrug over her dress, and I started thinking about how nice it would be to have a shrug to keep my shoulders warm, not necessarily for the ceremony, but beforehand.

My lovely sister-in-law, Heather, saw that on my list of stuff to do on this blog, and offered to try to make me one. She said try, because at the time she was nine months pregnant, and we were just about 3 weeks away from the wedding, and she had never made a shrug before. We went shopping for yarn on a Tuesday, and two days later, this little bundle showed up:

Amazingly, Heather finished the shrug in time anyway! Thanks, Heather!
You can see it pretty well in this picture (on the left is my dad, who played flute during the ceremony and went with the black/jeans thing, and my mom, who has much better fashion sense than I do)

And I had to include this picture, not only because it shows off the shrug, but also because I have no idea what the hell was going on when Nicole took it, but it makes me laugh so hard every time I see it! I also bought a dress for $25 on sale so I would have something to change into at the reception. I picked it because it was cheap and comfy and would match Will's shirt and my shrug, and was also something that I would wear again. I didn't change until the very end of the reception, but it was nice to have, especially since we were riding our bikes away at the end of the night and I didn't want to wreck Tara's dress.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

wedding weekend: beauty

All photos by Nicole Allen, unless otherwise noted.

I'm not really much of a girly girl, but I'm not really a tomboy either. My daily routine consists of moisturizer, mascara, and lipgloss. I get my hair cut and colored every six months or so. I sometimes used to get manicures before I had kids, but my oldest is 11, and I haven't had one since he was born.

I figured that I'm only getting married once, so I might as well take the opportunity to get pampered. At the same time, I didn't really want a new or different look -- what I wanted was to look like me, only prettier! I think it worked...

I timed things so my regular hair and waxing appointments fell in the week or so before the wedding. I didn't count them under our wedding budget, since I would have made those appointments anyway.

I experimented a little beforehand with my hair. I thought about wearing it down (Will's first choice) but decided against it, mostly because every female I know told me I should wear it up for various reasons (down would be too hot, it's an occasion that deserves an updo, up will stay looking better through the day and night) and because I loved the clay flowers I got from etsy, and knew they would look better if I wore my hair up.

A couple of weeks before the wedding, my mom and I took a special trip to Sephora to get makeovers, and I ended up buying some primer, eyeshadow primer stuff, tinted moisturizer, and fake eyelashes. I had never used any of these before, but I didn't feel like I was going over the top (even though my debit card was screaming when we left!)

On Friday morning, I went by myself to get a manicure and my very first pedicure ever. This was super fun and relaxing, and definitely worth it!

After the scavenger hunt and lunch with everyone, we came back home to get ready for the photo shoot and the wedding itself. Some people like the idea of a big reveal, where the groom sees the bride for the first time when she's all dolled up. I didn't care a bit about that, and anyway, Will had already seen me in my dress when he walked in our room while I was trying it on one day. His reaction then was quite gratifying, even though I was wearing my glasses and hadn't combed my hair in a couple of days.

I'm glad we didn't try for a big reveal, since I actually really loved getting ready with Will and all the kids and my mom and sisters, with Nicole taking pictures of the whole thing.

My sister Corina and I always laugh sooooo hard together, and we've been getting ready for events together for as many years as I can remember. We have lots of stupid private jokes, and make new ones all the time. You don't even want to know what we were laughing about here! She's amazingly good at everything she does, and has a great sense of style. She came over to our house right after I had blowdried my hair.

I put on my makeup then curled the ends while she did her makeup. I wanted little asymmetrical braids in the front of my hair and a messy bun in the back. I couldn't afford to hire a stylist for the day, and I'm just as glad, because Corina did such a good job!

Once our hair and makeup were finished, we ran off to do the formal family photos, then Will and Nicole and I went all over town taking photos of just the two of us. I was really windblown (no hairspray for this girl!) by the time we got to the church, but Corina fixed me right up again. Check out her headband! I had given her carte blanche to wear any black dress she wanted, and I hadn't given any direction for hair. She had no idea that I was going to wear white flowers, but we thought it was such a happy coincidence!

Look closely at the next two pictures to see the tiny braids. The first one shows the messy bun at the end of the ceremony. Isn't it pretty?! (Nicole didn't take this one)

Proof that Corina did a great job: the next picture was taken twelve hours after she first fixed my hair. Three of those hours were out in the wind, and four of them were spent dancing like a crazy woman.