Wednesday, 30 November 2011

WFW: Father-Daughter Dance and Cutting the Cake

Once the toasts were done and everyone in the room was done falling in love with Ross, it was time for the Father-Daughter dance.  I'd given my dad the choice of two songs for this dance, but he never managed to make the call so I made an executive decision to go with "Isn't She Lovely".  I know it's become a standard over the years, but that's only because it's so perfect.  I mean a song written by a father about how much he loves his daughter?  Come on.  I also figured the fun and upbeat nature of the song would fit my relationship with my dad better than something more saccharine or slow.  I even talked to the band leader and got him to change one of the lyrics to be more personalized.  There's a line where Stevie uses his daughter, Aisha's name.  I had them substitute "Redbird", the nickname that my dad uses most often for me.

Now my dad is not a dancer, so the fact that I got him to dance at all was a huge win!  I don't think I'd ever seen him dance before!

I was worried that people would get bored just watching another dance, so Ross and I had decided that at some midpoint of the song, he would ask my mom to dance.  After a suitable amount of time, he'd then cut in on my dad and me and mom and dad could dance together.

On the actual night, I caught Ross' eye and motioned with my face that it was time to ask my mom to dance.  He looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about.  So I was forced to make even more pronounced expressions and possibly hiss instructions at him.  He's a good and obedient boy and got right on it.  Soon afterwards, we made the switch.  I now present to you the only picture of my parents dancing together.  Ever.  Aren't they sweet?

After the song was over, the band really kicked into high gear and our guests got dancing!  Meanwhile, Ross and I headed over to the cakes for some pictures.  I loved our cakes!  We were incredibly lucky to find our baker Joyce of Bake Rejoyce! just as she was setting up shop on her own.  She'd previously been the head designer at well-known Dallas bakery, so we got someone who had great talent and experience, but at a lower price.

Joyce did a beautiful job on the wedding cake which was champagne with chambord filling.

We went with a simple clear acrylic W as our cake topper.  

Joyce was totally excited to play along with our quirky idea to have a duck-shaped groom's cake.  She helped us add to our vision by coming up with the bathtub idea.  Traditionally, groom's cakes are chocolate-based, but Ross isn't the biggest fan.  He chose almond cake with orange icing and was very proud of the fact that lots of people commented on how tasty it was.

 I've never really understood the allure of watching the cake cutting.  I mean, I know it's a wedding tradition, but I just don't get why all the guests want to crowd around and jockey for position to watch people cut a cake.  I didn't make a big deal of the fact that we were going to cut the cake and people were horrified and came rushing over to watch!

Then we took the obligatory hooked arms, drinking champagne photos.

And finally, we were done with all the structured parts of the evening and were able to just kick back and party!

As always, photos in the post are by the talented Shari Hunt.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Nursery Inspiration

For the longest time I was holding off on thinking about how we would decorate the nursery.  A big part of me wanted to go with bright, bold colours regardless of whether we were having a boy or a girl.  I have always hated the "pink for girls, blue for boys" school of thought when it comes to baby related goods.  So, I thought, I'll just do something bright and fun and mostly gender neutral.  I can throw in a few feminine touches if its a girl.  Right?

But then, I also had visions of sweet pastel wonderlands, full of fairies and twinkle lights and pink, pink, pink for our darling princess!   We could hang these beautiful pictures, that I found in the gift shop of our favourite theatre and have been looking for a reason to buy for ages now, over the crib.

And so I waited.  I decided that there was no reason to get all worked up or tied to any ideas until we knew whether we were having a boy or a girl.  (Even though I totally knew we were having a girl because my husband told me so because his dead relatives told him so in a dream.)

OOPS!  Whatever, I so totally knew it was a boy all along.  Ross says he did too, but he's lying.  So this revelation meant I could move forward with my bright, fun nursery inspiration.  And I knew exactly where to start.

The first time I walked into our warehouse, I noticed 2 roller blinds in the corner by the door.  One of the hazards of Ross' line of work is that he buys LOTS of an item.  He then sells those items on to others, usually in smaller quantities.  We almost always end up with 2 or 3 of any given item "left over".  I can only assume that these 2 roller blinds were left overs from some long-ago stock, but I adored them on sight.  They remained by the door.  

Once we knew we were having a boy, my thoughts strayed to these roller blinds more and more often.  I declared to Ross that our nursery would be based around them.  We put them in the car to bring them home. No, our nursery does not have 2 windows the correct size for these blinds.  Our nursery has one teeny tiny window and is smaller than the walk-in closet in my old apartment in Dallas.  But I had a vision!  A vision of quirky jungle animals!  It was perfect.  It would be the most adorable (teensy) nursery ever in the history of time!  And I would accomplish it with style, panache and zero dollars because I'm so creative!  

But then I decided to go an entirely different direction.

(Those roller blinds are still in the back of our car.  I refuse to let them go.  Eventually we'll move and have a playroom or something.  And that playroom will be the most adorable, quirky animal de-decked room of all time!)

Did you find inspiration for your nursery somewhere unexpected?
Did you change your mind about your first idea even though you, like really REALLY liked it?

Monday, 28 November 2011

I've never heard of that... Christmas music edition Part 1

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can all feel free to talk about Christmas.
Yay Christmas!  I asked Ross last year what signifies the official start of the Christmas season in the UK, as they don't have the Thanksgiving marker.  He didn't really have an answer for me, but it tends to be about four weeks before Christmas- which is pretty much Thanksgiving.

I noticed this weekend that some of those good old holiday ads that make it feel like Christmas have started airing, just like back in the US- namely the "He does exist!  They do exist!" M&Ms commercial and the Coca-cola "The holidays are coming" commercial.  It's funny how much they put me in the mood for the holidays!

But that's not what I wanted to talk about today.  What I want to talk about are Christmas songs that never made it across the pond.

This first example will act as a segue (What?  It's good writing to announce that kind of thing), as an instrumental version has been featured in a number of seasonal commercials over the years.  I'd never heard the song prior to moving to the UK and I have to admit that Shane McGowan (and therefore this song) sort of scare me.  He's like a drunk hobo in a bar singing karaoke.  Ross says this song is more about Kirsty MacColl and that I'm not allowed to say anything bad about her.  I've actually featured Kirsty on my blog in the past, so I guess I like her too!  Anyway "Fairytale of New York" was released in 1987 and is a popular holiday-time song here.  It's apparently (according to wikipedia) "frequently voted the Number One Best Christmas Song" in the UK and Ireland.  Who knew!?

When I asked Ross about other songs that should be included, he immediately said that "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade is the biggest of all time.  It was released in 1973, but has remarkable staying power as it was voted the Number One Christmas Song of all time in 2007!  This video contains 2 points of British pop culture bonus.  The band is introduced by the beloved, eccentric, recently-deceased Jimmy Savile.  He is wearing, for some reason a Wombles costume (without the head).  

The next song on the list that Ross said MUST be included is "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday".  Apparently the 70's were the heyday for future British classic Christmas tunes.  This song never made it to number one because it was "famously" (I'm not sure why...) beat out by the above entry from Slade.

Our final entry for today is from the institution Cliff Richard.  You my remember that he was the subject of his own "I've never heard of that..."  Though he's been in the business since 1958, his first Christmas song (Little Town) wasn't released until 1982.  Sir Cliff has made up time by becoming quite prolific in the Christmas music department over the years.  This may have something to do with his status as Britain's best known Christian.  Seriously, he beat both Jesus and the Pope in a recent poll where British people were asked what came to mind when they thought of Christianity.  Ross deemed "Mistletoe and Wine" to be the best of Cliff's effforts, so I share it with y'all now.

The Brits take their Christmas music pretty seriously, so I'm learning there are way too many classics for just one post!  So I'll stop there for now, but I'll be back with more musical merriment in a second installment.

What's your favourite Christmas song?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Cheerful Sunday

These adorable shoes make me smile.

Ross and I noticed these adorable shoes in several shops on our recent trip to Canada and New England.  They are too cute for words and I'm fairly sure they will end up being our son's first pair of shoes.  I mean sure baby shoes are pointless, but if they are this cute they're hard to resist.  So tiny!  So cheerful! Strangely I've found them from several sources in the US, but not in the UK.  Lucky for us, we have some connections.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Word of the Week


Definition:  The accepted attire for men on a formal occasion.  There are many variations, but are generally black with satin accents.
Used in a sentence:  Most men, including my husband, look very handsome and dapper in a dinnersuittuxedo.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Social Media Sharing

A friend recently pointed out this article, thinking that I'd find it interesting.  She was right.  I have a few reactions to the article.  You should probably go read it and then come back and we'll talk.  Ok?  Ok.

I'll just hang out here in my Pound Shop Cowboy Christmas Hat while I wait.

So what did you think?  Ok, ok.  I'll go first and tell you what I thought, then you can join in later via the comments.  Deal?

My overall reaction:  Middle ground people!  MIDDLE GROUND!  I think it is possible to share to an entirely appropriate extent and not veer into the dreaded territory of disgusting your friends with every tiny overly-personal detail.  I think we've all read (and cringed at) a few status updates from friends that make us think "I didn't really need to know that".  I also know that those updates are not confined to being about pregnancy or babies.

Our FB announcement

More specifics that directly relate to this article:
For me talking about my pregnancy (and obviously this blog) isn't much of a choice.  Given that most of the people that care about me and my growing son are on another continent, it just isn't an option to only share things in person.  Who am I to deny the people what they want?  I do go into WAY more detail on things (pregnancy-related and not) here on my blog than I do on Facebook.  The idea being, that those that read this blog are choosing to be inundated with my rants and thoughts and TMI sharing.  Friends on FB just want to be kept in the general loop.
The idea of not talking about my pregnancy at all online is strange to me.  Growing this little guy is such a huge part of my life that I can't imagine not at least acknowledging the process on Facebook.  It would be a pretty big effort not to talk about it.  It would feel like lying to intentionally leave out the ways my pregnancy is impacting me.  I feel like I share about my life in the same way I always have, but now my life includes a pregnancy.
The author makes the statement: "I have a deep-rooted desire to give my child a choice, and the chance to meet the world before it is thrust into the online limelight."  How does holding off until the baby is actually born give him or her any more of a choice?  I guess I could go with this point if the author planned to never post about her child until he or she is old enough to actually consent  (even though I think that idea is more than a little absurd).  
I've had online friends who shared about their pregnancies at such an early point that I sucked in my breath and questioned their sanity.  I've had others no disclose until they're in the homestretch or post-delivery.  That always shocks me too.  I think "Wow!  I can't believe they never mentioned that."  As a general rule, however, the latter group are friends who don't update often on anything.  So I guess that brings me back to my point of a comfortable middle ground.  As with most thinks in life, I figure that a happy medium is a pretty safe course.

A slightly ranty bit that was inspired by the article, but not directly related:
I can respect not sharing on principle, but I see a fair number of women who say they don't post about pregnancy out of a sense of superstition.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm all for keeping the news private (or at least not sharing with the whole wide world) through the especially nervous-making first trimester.  I think sharing too early with too many people can mean that painful miscarriage disclosures have to happen on a much larger scale than is helpful or necessary.  
You may notice that I refer to miscarriage disclosures as possibly being helpful.  I'm not necessarily talking about FB sharing at this point, but sharing at some level.  I've had a good friend go through a miscarriage fairly late in the first trimester.  Because she hadn't shared with anyone, she also had no support system in place when things went wrong.  She found herself isolated and unable to reach out for comfort and help because she didn't know how to bring up the miscarriage to people who hadn't known she was pregnant.  
My friends who have gone through later-term pregnancy loss (meaning they were out of those first few weeks of "DANGER") all said that not having allowed excitement earlier on, doesn't make it hurt any less.  Loosing a baby sucks big time.  Period.  I guess I'm saying that it's a balancing act between privacy and connection.  When we first knew I was pregnant, I made the decision that I was comfortable telling close friends and my parents before we were out of the first trimester.  I thought that if something were to go wrong, then these were the people who I would want to know.  I would want them to be able to offer comfort and support in the worst case, just as I wanted them to share in my joy at the best case.  We are so so SO grateful that we haven't had to experience "the worst".  I realize what a blessing this is.
I've seen women who act as though posting about a pregnancy online is something like "jinxing it" or "tempting fate".  Here's what I think:  If something bad is going to happen, it is going to happen.  Not posting on FB won't keep you safe.  I have a dear friend (FYI:  Approach this blog with care)* who went through some really crappy stuff.  It happened at 24 weeks.  She should have been "safe".  She was out of the first trimester.  All her check-ups showed that things were going perfectly.  She and her husband had picked names for their twins.  She had already shared with Facebook.  She'd posted ultrasound pictures and talked about her babies.  When the worst happened, she posted about that too.  And because she did, she had buckets and buckets of help, support, and encouragement that otherwise wouldn't have been able to get to her.  Social networking activated her network of people to take care of her and her family.  It actually made things better.  And I can't think of a better use of Facebook.

Where do you stand on social networking and pregnancy?
Are you a sharer, a secret-keeper, or an over-sharer?

*This blog is truly beautiful.  It covers topics that are heartbreaking and likely to make you cry.  This disclosure mainly intended for hormonal pregnant women who don't need to hear about this kind of thing right now.  I'm a big fan of not telling "horror stories" to preggos.  

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

I'm missing Thanksgiving, but I'm still going to keep the spirit of the holiday alive by telling you some things that I'm thankful for this year.

1.  Ross.  I don't know if you can tell, but I like totally puffy heart lurve my husband in a ridiculous way.  He's sweet and funny and smart and all mine.

It took every ounce of his self-control not to buy this hat.

2.  Our son.  I haven't even met him yet and I adore him.  I'm so thankful to get to be his mom and to have a little family with my two favourite guys.  

3.  My Family.  The rest of my family is pretty awesome-sauce too.  They're so supportive and have made me the person I am.

I'm of course grateful for other things, but those are the biggies.  Sort of lame, I know, but really what else can a girl ask for?  So tonight, as Ross and I eat our Thanksgiving dinner of tuna (What?! It starts with the same 2 letters... that counts... right?) and key lime pie (It was part of the "Dine in for £10" deal at M&S), I'll gaze across the table at my present family.  I'll be thankful every time the baby kicks and think about our future family.  I'll probably shed a tear as I skype with my past family in San Antonio.  

Lookie there!  I didn't even plan that!  Past, present, and future.  That's just about everything, don't you think?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

WFW: The Speeches

After we'd finished eating, the band took a break and it was time for the speeches.
This part of the evening was one of the biggest nods to a "British-style" wedding that we included.  When Ross and I first talked about the speeches I didn't really understand what he meant until I learned that a typical British wedding features long (compared to the usual American style) and more formal speeches.  Ross was excited about making his groom's speech, while I was nervous that our (mostly American) guests would be restless and uncomfortable with lengthier speeches.

This ended up being one of my favourite parts of the night.  All of our speakers did a great job and the crowd was so filled with love and goodwill that it was just delicious.  I felt bathed in love and support, which is the perfect way to start a marriage.  I will say that not having the speeches on video is my one real regret about our wedding.  A friend had warned me ahead of time that a having videographer was the best money she spent, but I didn't go for it.  What a fool I was!

One of the things that helped make the speeches flow and kept the room entertained was that Best Man Tom acted as a sort of emcee.  He introduced each speaker and got the crowd to applaud everyone.  The fact that he regularly does this sort of thing for comedy nights as a stand-up was definitely on display!

BM Tom kicked things off by introducing my dad.

My dad made a very sweet speech.  It's no surprise that he's good at public speaking because of his professional life, but in everyday life, he's not a big talker.  Whenever he does speak though, he always shows of loving, sweet, and intelligent he is.

 Next up, it was MOH Micah's turn.  She was so nervous to speak in front of everyone, but did a wonderful job!  She read her speech directly from her notes, but was still heartfelt, sweet and funny.

BM Tom took his turn at a speech and did a bang up job.  He brought some of his trademark dry humour and gave some insight into Ross' and my earliest meeting.

Finally, it was Ross' turn.  He'd worked on his speech quite a bit and I had no idea what he was going to say. I knew he'd do a good job, but had no idea how amazing it would be.  My mom described his speech as extra-ordinary, and she wasn't wrong!  He worked the audience like a master.  He had them laughing and crying.  I loved it so much, because it was a chance for people to get some insight into this wonderful man I love.  I'm pretty sure everyone in that room fell a little bit in love with him.  It was that good!

He spoke about his family and how sad it was that his parents and sister couldn't be with us.  He opened up a part of himself that is generally kept private and it was an honour to witness.  He shared a piece of his soul with everyone that night.

He was also very, very funny.

He made fun of the terrible pancakes that my mom made us during his first visit.

And the fact that my dad never talks to him.

He even got my big brother crying (though Matt will deny it, even given this photographic evidence!).

What follows is a priceless series of pictures.

The photographer captured the moment that Ross took to thank Ben for marrying us and to tell him that Ross thought Ben could have a future in stand-up if he'd just "drop the God shtick".

As the final part of Ross' speech, he decided to do a twist on the traditional toast.  He asked the room to raise their rubber duck key chains and quack them in honour of his new bride.

The room was filled with light and quacks and it was magical!

Seriously, the venue's staff and band members were all gathered around and caught up in listening to the speeches with sweet looks on their faces.  I felt like the whole room got to understand this sweet, amazing husband of mine- and that was a wonderful gift.