Last weekend not only did we find our bridesmaid dresses (yay!) I also did not kill either of my sisters (double yay!).
I knew from the beginning that finding a bridesmaid dress both my sisters liked would be tricky. My Big Sis, despite being technically older than me is often mistaken for being younger than me because she is a short arse (And I say this as somebody who just tips the ruler at 5’6). Lil Sis, due to her habit of wearing ridiculous, cripplingly high heels, is about the height of one and half Big Sis’. Finding a dress shape that worked on both of them was going to difficult. So we were on the hunt for different style dresses but in the same colour to make it clear they were bridesmaids. Easy? No.
From the start Lil Sis said she wanted an orange dress. I said no. Lil Sis took it well and while on the long hunt for my wedding dress, she found a gorgeous long sheath dress the sharp green of the fresh grass. Perfect.
There was just one problem, Big Sis hates green. She wanted to wear pink. Not a muted vintage pink, but neon 80’s pink. Yes, observant reader’s my bridesmaids were going to look like a tube of Maybelline.
At this point I was tempted to let them fight it out and sit back with a tub of popcorn. Friends asked me why I didn’t unleash my inner bridezilla and put my ivory stiletto clad foot down. Apart from the fact that once unleashed, like Godzilla, the inner bridezilla cannot be contained; I love Big Sis and I want her to feel beautiful on the day. Also there was the practical consideration that very generously she was going to pay for both dresses, at least I wanted her dress to be something she liked.
So last weekend Big Sis, Lil Sis, moi and Mum took a trip to the bridal shop to find a shorter dress in a complementary colour. She tried on a couple and then she put on the floor length sheath gown Lil Sis had worn. We all loved it. Yes it might need slight alterations, she was unable to walk without tripping off a mile of train because of her mininess, but once that was hacked off and in a colour that complemented the green it would be gorgeous. As Big Sis was being measured I was congratulating myself on getting out of the shop in under an hour without inciting siblingcide.
Then as Lil Sis was measured, the shop lady got her to try on another dress to check the sizing.Think Jessica Rabbit, sweetheart neckline, vintagey, very form-fitting in petrol blue. The first dress was pretty, this dress was stunning.
Inside my inner bridezilla was wailing. Yes Lil Sis looked gorgeous but she could not change her mind, if she did we’d have to start the hunt for another dress for Big Sis. But outwardly I smiled albeit through gritted teeth as Big Sis was helped into the new dress. Standing side by side they looked like goddesses, even if one was pint-sized. So after all that my sisters ended up with matching dresses.
The dresses were bought and nobody died. In my family we count that as a win. And I got to tick something off my wedding to do list. (Fellow OCD listaholics is there a better feeling in the world?)
Next task: trying to prevent Lil Sis from throwing me the tackiest hen do ever, complete with greasy strippers in posing pouches. Wish me luck!
This week I’ve thinking a lot about time. Namely how to get more time without employing Hermione’s amazing Time Turner. (Does anybody have one of these? I will pay you! In buttons, but still payment.)
Last week I had a heavy week at work which combined with a lovely but busy weekend catching up with friends meant I ended up reading a measly six chapters of a counselling book. (To put this in context, one summer I read 88 books. I was ten. I am not a slow reader is what I am saying.) I ate junk food, the flat was a tip and all week I felt completely stressed and overwhelmed.
I knew that working and studying would be tough. But it wasn’t until I actually started doing it that I realised how tough. This is compounded by my essential laziness. If given a choice between doing anything or relaxing on the sofa with the latest Pratchett book, I’d choose Terry every time. I don’t know how working mum’s do it. But simply adding my university commitments into my life without expecting anything to give was a mistake. Like or not my life was going to have to change.
So I started looking at my life and prioritising the things that needed to be done and dropping those that didn’t. I divided my activities into Essential vs Lovely but not compulsory and started to work out a schedule, complete with colour coding of what do when.
So here is my plan for making the most with the time I do have.
Sleep – like with eating and exercise, the better I sleep the more prepared I feel for life in general. It’s lights off by 11.30pm from now on.
Work – despite my hints to HWSNBN he refuses to keep me in the manner to which I have become accustomed. (Where is my home Library HWSNBN?) So at work I’m abiding by the old To Do list. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done. Plus I’m reintroducing the timer to encourage me to take regular screen breaks.
University – one day a week I’m a student again and I love it.
Reading for University – I have a choice, either I read at lunchtime or I read when I get home but I aim to read at least a chapter or article a day (except Thursdays when I’m at University). I’ll let you know how I get on!
Counselling – there’s something so indulgent about having a weekly 50 minute space to talk about whatever you want sans interruptions.
Placement – I’m meeting with my supervisor tomorrow and somehow I’m going to have to fit five hours of placement time in. Eek!
Osteopath appointment – the pain in my hip is preventing me from sleeping, which has effects my energy levels. So I need to put the time in sort my body out.
Lovely but not compulsory
Spending time with friends, family and HWSNBN – I love seeing people but I need to manage my commitments to still allow time for study. That means one day of the weekend is set aside for reading the other for fun. I will probably trying to do more group activities (hard for this introvert) so I get see a lot of people at once. Or combine exercise and friends or tv series and friends.
Tidying – our flat is small, but perfectly formed. However due to HWSNBN ebaying and my towering mountain of books last week it descended into chaos. So I’m be employing some happiness projects guidelines (everything has it’s place, the one minute rule) to keep on top of things and stop my stress levels rising.
Watching TV series about vampires and the girl that loves them – I spent the weekend deleting things I thought I should watch, saving a small but significant time for the shows I want to watch.
Reading for pleasure – ditto TV above. Also less TV will give me more time to read book series about vampires and the girl that loves them 🙂
Exercise – if I take care of myself I have energy to devote to others things. Simple, right? But the hip limiting the exercise I can to swimming and water aerobics plus counselling meaning I can’t go to water aerobics I’m at a bit of a impasse. Any ideas?
Cooking – I love cooking, I find it really relaxing and it helps keep me healthy. But there simply aren’t enough hours in the evening to cook, do my University reading, exercise and relax. So Uni wins this one. The plan is I’ll pre-cook and freeze some staple meals (veggie chilli, tarka dahl and soups) and mix these up during the week with easy to cook meals (stir frys, omelettes and that staple cheese on toast) and the dreaded ready meals.
Blogging, tweeting, and my personal journal – Yes I am fully aware of the irony of blogging about having no time. But I find blogging very therapeutic, I like having a record of how I felt when and I also feel like it helps me keep in touch with friends near and far. But, passing my degree much more important. Expect less frequent more concise posts in future.
Poodling about on the internet – the biggest time suck in my life. I’m not naive enough to believe I’ll be able to stop completely looking at weird and wonderful things on the internet. But I’m digging out the timer so I don’t disappear down the rabbit hole. Bu-bye internet.
Planning my wedding – at the moment we’re in wedding limbo but as we get closer I’m going to need to start making decisions. Maybe I’ll never be a DIY goddess but our wedding will still be awesome, and that’s what counts.
So here it is my life streamlined. Or the plan at least? Any time savings tips, let me know if the comments.
We’re currently in ‘the lull’ in our wedding planning. Most of big things (the venue, the date, the dress) have been booked. But it’s way too early to finalise the stationery, start my DIY projects or buy the bridesmaids dresses.
This week we’ve finalised the details of our wedding ceremony. Before I got engaged, if I ever pictured my wedding, which was rare, all I could think about was the party. I am not religious so the legal bit was something to get through on route to champers and dancing. Now I’ve become obsessed with our wedding ceremony. Whenever I have trouble sleeping at night I run through the order of the ceremony in my head like rosary beads. HWSNBN standing at the end of the aisle, our families looking on, the long walk.
The ceremony will be short, half an hour at most, but it’s the focal point around which the rest of the day revolves. After the ceremony HWSNBN and myself will be husband and wife. (Still sounds weird). After all you really need is a bride, groom and Registrar for a wedding. The rest, well it’s just window dressing isn’t it?
Last week we met with the registrar to check we weren’t related! Let’s just say seven years on that horse has well and truly bolted! Thankfully the Registrar wasn’t fazed that HWSNBN couldn’t remember the date of our wedding, my date of birth or even how long we had been together. The marriage certificates are and in a fortnight I can pick them up from Town Hall.
Yesterday I received our ceremony pack from Aldershot registry office. (Yes I am getting married over the Hampshire border in Fleet, no judgement Surrey folks.) In the ceremony form you specify what will happen during the ceremony, within reason. For example as it’s a secular ceremony you cannot have any reading or music with religious connotations such as hymns. For somebody like me who likes to plan out each step in obsessive detail, filling in the form has been tremendous fun. But I realised after conversations with friends that a lot of people have never attended a non-church ceremony. So let me introduce you to the little haven of godlessness I like to call our wedding ceremony.
Rundown for our wedding ceremony
Guests are seated as music plays
This is where we break out the Alkaline Trio and Captain Beefheart to get everybody in the mood for luurve. Lies. My dad would kill me if I played Captain Beefheart when he wasn’t even in the room, I’m saving it for the father-daughter dance!
Enter the bride (aka me) with Daddy January
TOP SEKRIT music plays, no Pachelbel’s Canon in D for me, as we walk while I try not to dissolve into a pile of tears or trip over my own feet. This will be hard. I may have to practise. Why don’t they have classes in the running of the bridal gauntlet? (Dodge small children and overenthusiastic grannies in 17 layers of tulle and stilts. Go.)
Registrar performs introductions and talks about the meaning of marriage
Although I will try to listen carefully inside my head this will be playing. MAWRIDGE!
First reading (optional)
I have done readings before. I think it is an insurance policy because if I am reading I cannot cry, and if I cry the room will fill up with tears until we all drown.
Ie ‘I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, Rowan crybaby January, may not be joined in matrimony to HWSNBN.’
This in the moment in Jane Eyre where she finds out Mr Rochester was married before. Looking back, Edward Rochester = total dickwad. But just for your information if anybody does the joke interruption of the Registrar as he asks if any persons know of any lawful impediment I will kill you dead, K?
The bride is given away (optional)
This part is optional, which is good. Although I love my father more than life itself if he ever tries to give me away I will kick him in the balls and run for the hills, because I am a human being not a parcel.
You can keep this as minimal as possible (just answering yes to the registrar’s question) or you can make craft your own vows. Guess which option I am choosing because I like to make things complicated meaningful. I may or may not have been mentally drafting these since our first kiss. HWSNBN has not yet started.
The exchange of the rings (optional)
I love the symbolism of the wedding ring just not the cost. Damn you economic crisis why you gotta make metal so expensive?
Second reading (optional)
As a lover of all things wordy it was really hard for me to choose just two readings. But I have. Expect a tortured post about this shortly.
Or the moment when we realise how unmusical HWSNBN and my future children will be.
We are declared husband and wife
Or the awkward moment where you have to kiss in front of your friends and relatives. At least give me some tequila first.
The signing of the marriage register
… while being shot by the wedding paparazzi. I will probably be grinning like a loon at this point or crying. Or grinning while crying. I look like Dawson when I cry.
Exit followed by a bear throwing confetti
That’s a Shakespearean reference don’t you know? I am SMRT!
So there you have it more than you ever wanted to know about our plans for the wedding ceremony. But we all know what happens to plans…
This week I’ve been busy creating a bucket list, a list of 30 life ambitions I want to achieve before I go. If I only had a year left, what would I want to do, see or feel before I leave this earth. It sounds morbid but I’ve found creating my Mighty life list a very joyous process. First there was satisfaction when I realised I could tick some items of my list (night swimming in the pitch black Brighton sea in February, watching the sun rise over Uluru). Secondly it also reminded me of how much my bucket list had changed over the years (and I am sure will change radically in the future).
When I was five I wanted Majesty, the unicorn My Little Pony with every fibre of my being. But that never happened *sad face*. (Strangely enough none of the items on my bucket list are to do with possessions. Spoiler!)
When I was thirteen, I wanted to get sick (nothing serious but something good and contagious) so I never had to go to school ever, ever again. But that never happened, which was kind of a good thing.
When I was 17 I wanted was to get great A level results so I could get the hell out of my tiny hometown and go to Brighton. That happened and living in Brighton was as awesome as I thought it would be. But I’ve found it harder to leave my tiny hometown behind than I expected.
When I was 21 I wanted to go to Australia. That happened and I got to tick off many things from my bucket list. I’ve swam in a waterfall in the middle of the rainforest, I rode an elephant bareback, holding hands HWSNBN and I slept outside in the outback under a carpet of unfamiliar stars so bright they blinded us.
Now I’m in my late (*ahem* almost terminal) twenties I’m started thinking about what makes me happy and what makes me unhappy. Don’t get me wrong, life is really good for me at the moment. But lately I’ve felt like I’m in limbo. I’m not a student but come autumn I will be back at University (for the first time in eight years, eeek). After seven looooong years technically I’m no longer not a girlfriend but I’m not yet a *gulp* wife (don’t even get me started on the word ‘fiance’ . It just sounds weird. I like it not.) And I don’t have long to adjust because next year I’ll be a married (double eeek). In a year and two months I’ll be thirty, with all that entails . If I’m lucky in the not too distant future, I’ll graduate, possibly change career, buy a house and eventually have babies (triple eeek).
All good, all exciting but at the moment I feel like I’m stuck in this in between place. I’m somebody who is all about the destination and not the journey. I want to be there, yesterday and anything longer makes me grind my teeth. But there is an opposing voice that is telling me to appreciate what I have because soon everything will change. This push and pull between the future and the present enough to make anybody want to retreat to a fainting lounge with a battered copy of the sweet valley high books. But a more *ahem* adult reaction might be to take stock of what I want out of my life. So I made a list.
Yes, I’m a list-a-holic I need help! But seriously, lists are so helpful for me in boiling things down to the essentials. Inspired by Mighty Girl‘s Mighty Life List where she lists the 100 things she wants to do before she goes, I’ve created a list. Bear in mind this list is a work in progress. I’ve only listed 30 things to start, which I will add to as I come up with new ideas.
What this list isn’t is a list of things I should do (exercise, eat my greens, do my homework). It’s all the things I want to do some big (go to Cuba) some small (learn front crawl). I’ve tried to make this list as joyous as possible and fill it with ideas that make my heart sing. So here it is, forever preserved in the amber of the internets, my bucket list by Rowan aged 28 and three-quarters.
My Mighty Life List or 30 things to do before I go.
In 2004, after less than a year together HWSNBN and I travelled the world together. Our favourite place was Franz Josef in New Zealand, a tiny town on the south island famous for one thing: its glacier. To get to the ice so clear it’s blue it takes almost a whole day of hiking and then you have to turn and come right back down. Unless you’re lazy like we are and take a helicopter to the snow line and climb the glacier from there. Unfortunately when we were in Franz Josef the weather was bad, as in dinosaurs emerging from the fog bad. We spent days in Franz Josef with a friend where we gorged ourself on pizza and chocolate cake, venison rissotto (mine was with mushrooms) while we waited for the fog to clear. We waited and we waited and we waited but we never did climb that damn glacier. But one day I’m going back and I’m going to climb that glacier.
3. Do two lengths back to back in front crawl.
I love to swim, but really I’ve mastered variations on two strokes: breaststroke and backstroke. Which I rock by the way. However my front crawl is horrific and my butterfly stroke, shameful. My dad’s been teaching front crawl which I can do, I just haven’t mastered the breathing thing yet. My aim to swim two lengths of an Olympic sized swimming pool without stopping.
Have you ever seen the Cherry Orchard? If you haven’t it’s about three sisters living a dull provincial existence whose permanent refrain is ‘Next year we will go to Moscow.’ Well Cuba is HWSNBN and my equivalent of Moscow. But not next year but next, next year we will go to Cuba. Fact.
ETA: In June 2013 we went to Cuba on our honeymoon. And it was every bit as wonderful as we imagined.
6. Host a party when the cherry trees bloom.
The cherry blossoms blooming always brings me such joy. Partly because they are pretty. Partly because of what is symbolises, the end of winter and the bringing of spring. In Japan when the cherry blossoms bloom they hold parties where they drink lots of saké. I want to host a celebration party too.
7. Set foot on all 7 continents.
Just because. Four down, three to go (Africa,South America (yay Cuba two in one deal), and Antarctica, simple right?). ETA: only one now Antarctica as we visited Egypt in August 2012 for our minimoon and Cuba in June 2013 for our honeymoon.
8. Do two pull ups.
Don’t laugh, my arms are as strong as wet spaghetti.
9. Meditate every day for one week.
Once I’ve meditated I always feel better. It’s the actually doing it part I fall down at.
16. Take passport go to Gatwick go on the next flight I see.
Everytime my train passes through Gatwick I’ve wanted to do this. However it goes against all of my control freak instincts (and budgetary constraints)
17. Hike the Inca trail.
One of my friends trekked the Inca trail on her honeymoon and it looks incredible. I want to go.
18. View the northern lights.
19. Start a group.
I am undecided between whether I want to start a young adult reading book group or a happiness project group. But I know I want to start a group.
20. Go on a night dive with the Manta Rays in Hawaii.
I love the way they swoop and swirl in the water.
21. Grow a vegetable patch.
I have a black thumb, everything I try and grow dies. But over the last two years I’m slowly turning it around. Last year I grew from scratch a herb garden. This year I’m branching out to strawberries too, next year the world mwhahahaha
22. Attend a silent retreat.
I’ve attended many retreats (daughter of a yoga teacher), but never as an adult and never a silent one
23. Fly a kite.
HSWNB and I attended a kite festival and it was beautiful.
24. Go vegan for a month.
I don’t talk about it much on the blog, because I don’t want to preach to anybody, but I’m a lifelong vegetarian. I’ve never eaten meat and I gave up eating fish when I was ten. But although I’ve always toyed with the idea I’ve never tried veganism. As a vegetarian I’m finding it increasing hard to justify consuming milk and other animal products given the intensive and often cruel farming practises involved. I know this will be really difficult, particularly as HWSNBN is a coeliac (meat all the way), but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
ETA: done January 2014 for Veganuary. It was hard, I missed cheese.
25. Go star watching.
Just so I can talk like Patrick Moore from the Sky at Night.
ETA: Done, we went starwatching last autumn at the University and it was amazing.
26. Edit a video.
I am working on top secret project for a special event. All will be revealed soon.
27. Throw a surprise birthday party.
This may be difficult given I am very bad at keeping secrets but it sounds like fun
The short story of how the Boy proposed is that, yes it was as awesome as the rollercoaster proposal above. And a proposal that awesome, well it deserves a blog post.
Here’s the long story. We’d both talked about getting married many times and we’d been together coming up for seven years, so to say the proposal was a suprise would be a lie. However, despite the fact I had an inkling he might propose, he managed to throughly blind side and amaze me.
The day before
The Boy proposed during what I like to call the dead zone. The period between Christmas and New Year where you aren’t back at work but you’re starting to get antsy from all the drinking and stuffing your face. Most of our time had been spent catching up with friends and family over the holidays. So we really wanted to spend some time relaxing together, just the two of us. We planned to go for a walk on the Wednesday and see my family the next day. But my mum called, they were busy on the Thursday, could we meet on the Wednesday instead? I asked him. ‘That’s fine,’ he said through gritted teeth. At the time I wondered why he was getting so upset.
So that Wednesday, his car broke and he had to get it fixed, as we were walking up to mum and dad’s house he had a work emergency so I went ahead. I had no idea that on top of getting his car fixed and dealing with work he was actually doing top secret preparation for the proposal with the help of his Dad.
Later that evening, he had to pick his car up from the garage and he really wanted to wake my dad who was napping to ask for lift. As anybody knows waking Daddy January during his a) nap b) when he has bronchistis c) to ask for a lift; is the kind of mistake you only make once. Capishe?
So I convinced a rather worried looking Boy to get a lift with my sister into town. Apparently when he told her he was going to propose, she slammed on the breaks and started screaming. Despite the fact that he had told Lauren to keep it a secret she spent the rest of the evening winking at him in a subtle way. Thankfully I didn’t noticed. Later that night my Dad texted the Boy saying he was very excited and he had put champagne on ice if we wanted to pop round afterwards. Luckily, although I had been playing on his phone earlier I was out of the room so he deleted the text message.
They are either the worst spies or they are playing an intricate double bluff game 🙂 You decide.
I woke Thursday morning, feeling like crap. I was coming down with the flu and all I wanted to do was snuggle in bed. But I’d promised I’d go geocaching with the Boy. Geocaching is like a modern day scavenger hunt, where with the help of GPS coordinates you follow clues left by strangers to find hidden caches. Mostly these caches just contain logs (a list of dates and names) but some have toys or coordinates to other hidden caches. He wanted to go geocaching at Waverley Abbey, the ruins of a Cisterian abbey (and my favourite place).
I’ve been going to Waverley Abbey since I was a child. The first time he came to stay in Farnham, I took him there and we’ve been many times since. We’d talked about getting married there, but the logistics and the great British summer would have made it very difficult. Knowing how much I loved it, he had chosen it as where he wanted to propose.
But that morning, I didn’t fancy going to the Abbey, which was weird as I always wanted to go there. I tried to persuade him to change the location not realising that he had spent hours the night before hiding caches in the dark, tripping over mud and sheep. But he was insistent, so a little suspiciously I agreed.
However, when we got to the carpark and I saw the (faked) webpages, I felt really disappointed. We were actually going geocaching.
Looks pretty real, huh? What I didn’t notice at the time was that the username was the Roos which sounds like the ruse. Very cunning boyfriend.
It took ages to find the first geocache hidden near a pillbox. Afterwards, I thought it was great acting on my beloved part, but as it had been so dark he couldn’t remember where he had hidden it. Inside he had even using different handwriting and pens faked a log with other people’s name. Although he did turn white when I remarked the handwriting was similar to his.
The second geocache we ‘found’ by the bridge.
The third geocache was inside a ruined wall next to an old yew tree.
He climbed the wall reached inside a hole and pulled out the film canister. Opening it, he shook something out into his hand (a ring) and then handed the cannister to me. As I unfurled the roll of paper, he got down on one knee. On the paper was written the words ‘Will you marry me?’
I realised halfway through what it was. I started shaking and crying and dropped everying I was holding on the floor. He held up the ring and made a very heartfelt speech of which I remembered not a word because I was crying so hard. I hugged, we kissed, he slid the placeholder ring on my finger, I said YES!
As we walked back to the car, he told me the story of how he managed to keep it a secret. I was amazed. We saw my family, we hugged, we drank champagne, we cried. We saw his family, we hugged, we drank champagne, we cried.
All I could think for the rest of the day was how lucky I was to have met somebody so thoughtful. It was the perfect proposal for me.
ETA, 24/05/11: This proposal in a photobooth is so cute (see below). I love her smile in the third picture. And as for the guy, well timed my friend. Very well timed.
ETA, 26/05/11: via Rock n Roll Bride this video proposal was so sweet. When video his girlfriends return from Paris this guy decided he was going to proposal to her. He spent the next six months planning this video proposal and filming the footage. I cried, a lot.
ETA, 03/06/11: via the Weddingnator this stop motion mural proposal complete with Scrabble tiles (my little geek heart is singing) must have taken ages. I love this!