Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolutions

It's New Year's Eve - and that means everyone will start coming up with New Year's resolutions.

Every year they're usually the same for many people - lose weight, quit smoking, read more, be a better person.

I'm really no different...except for the smoking thing. How gross to even begin with.

Anyway...I've been doing a lot of thinking lately - and here are a few things I'd like to work on for 2013 (and beyond) in no particular order.

1. Lose weight. Yes...I'm with everyone else here. I'd love to lose 15 to 20 pounds (though my husband thinks I'm crazy). Mainly I just want to become a healthier person. I want to eat better and go to the gym more (maybe start swimming again). And I'm hoping to be better about following Weight Watchers. It really does work!

2. Play piano. I've played piano for most of my life. I started playing around on it when I was between 5 and 7 I think. I taught myself until I took formal lessons for a year when I was 13. Since entering into adulthood (having to hold a steady job, being married, etc.), I have made less and less time for this beautiful instrument...which usually sits neglected in our bedroom covered in clothes. It's sad. So in 2013, I am going to start playing more. I've ordered music flash cards to help me read treble clef a little easier. I'm going to get my old piano lesson books from my parents and go through those again. It's been so long and I'm a little rusty on music composition.

3. Write more. One of my biggest ambitions in life is to write a book. I can't very well do that if I don't make time to sit down and write. So in 2013, I want to take time - even if it's just one night a week - to sit down for a couple hours and write. It shouldn't be that hard! But it is.

4. Become more organized. I don't know if it's just the holidays...or the fact that it's winter and we're stuck inside all the time...but I feel so unorganized! I feel like we have stuff overflowing everywhere in our apartment. I know we have stuff we can give to a thrift store for those who are in need. We are definitely blessed with having too much stuff.

5. Stay on top of saving money. Everyone wishes they had more money. We want to create a nice savings account so we feel safe. And so we can start a family and make sure our kids are well cared for someday - and have the money to send them to a good Catholic school!

6. Become more devoted to my faith. Sometimes life happens and you fall away from God. I feel that's happened to me at times. Things go wrong in life and we always seem to blame the big guy upstairs. So yeah, I want to work on having more interest in my faith. I go to church every Sunday...but sometimes I don't pay attention or think of all the things I need to get done or could be doing instead of being at Mass. I want to not do that.

7. Read more. I watch Netflix, movies and play way too many games on my phone. In 2013, I want to take time to turn the TV off, leave my phone on silent and enjoy a good book. I think I read less than five books in 2012. I want to turn that around this coming year.

8. Give my time, talent and treasure to those in need. I've never donated my time to a homeless shelter. And I've never had enough money to give what I want to those in need. Now that I'm married and have a combined income with my husband, I think it's time to figure out, in our budget, a good way to give to those in need. Or to find time in our schedules to donate a couple hours to helping at a homeless shelter.

9. Get my Etsy store started. This means making pendants and creating paintings to sell. But it's something I've always wanted to do - sell my artwork!

10. Spend more time with family. Especially skyping with my sister in California. I hate missing precious moments with her, her husband and their beautiful little baby, Vera. But I'm so busy and selfish with my free time lately that I have been bad at calling them. So this year, I'd like to make more time to call them regularly...even if it's just for 10 minutes!

This should be fun. And I think if I can do even half of them I'll be a much happier, healthier and thankful person.

XOXO,
MJ

2012

Well...another year gone by! It seems just like yesterday I was saying farewell to 2011 and looking forward to being engaged and getting married in 2012.

But really, what an amazing year. My family welcomed the birth of my sister's first baby...Vera Rose. What an absolute blessing she is for our family! It is heartbreaking that they live in California and we're not able to see them whenever we want. It's weird seeing her grow through Skype but at least we have that! She's turning into a very smart, strong and curious baby - and we're looking forward to watching her grow even more. Now if only they'd move a little bit closer!



2012 also brought me a year of wedding planning...well, almost! Kevin and I got engaged last December and were married just this past August. It was a fun winter/spring/summer full of wedding planning. My favorite part of the entire experience was trying on wedding dresses. A girl only gets to do that once in her life and what an experience it was! Especially the feeling you get when you've found the right dress!

And then the wedding itself...I don't really even have words. It is....as of this point in my life...the best day of my life. It couldn't have gone any better...and we were blessed with having so many family and friends present to share in our special day. I cannot believe I am able to spend the rest of my life with Kevin. I am the luckiest girl ever. Just looking back on that day still leaves me speechless.



Our families have been very blessed with good health this past year, as well. Everyone's doing really great - very healthy and happy. You just can't ask for more than that. God has been good to us - and for that I am most thankful. I pray He continues to bless us in the coming year(s).

So as 2012 takes its leave, I can't help but think it's been the best year yet. I think 2013 has a lot to live up to! And I think it just might! I cannot wait to see all the wonderful things 2013 has to offer for all of us - especially Kevin and I.

Much health, happines, peace and love to you and yours this New Year.

XOXO,
MJ

Friday, October 19, 2012

Being left out really sucks.


I always thought I was a nice person in high school. I never made fun of anyone – especially the people normally targeted.

I had some moments with the girls in the grade below me who were conniving, manipulative, devious and just plain mean people. But that’s really only because I don’t take well to people treating other people like crap just because they think they’re better than everyone. That’s just not right.

But sometimes, for reasons still unknown to me, I wasn’t liked by a lot of girls. Maybe it’s because I was pretty. Or because I played sports. Or because I got good grades (because I worked hard to get those good grades). I tried to be honest, friendly and kind. I didn’t do anything illegal and I was considered the “goody-good” by just about everyone – to my chagrin.

And it seems, right after high school, the girlfriends I did have in high school would always do stuff but not invite me. Which just vexed me. And…still to this day…just about 10 years later, I am still being left out of stuff.

I loved and still love all those girls. I always want to be a part of stuff they do. But I am never invited. I am never thought of. And I just don’t know why.

Oh well. I guess life goes on. I know I should just try and ignore it. But it’s hard. I have one good girlfriend – but even she has grown too busy for me with being a mom, getting ready to have another baby, having a boyfriend and dealing with the most ridiculously crazy job I’ve ever heard of.

I’m just being whiny right now…I know. I could invite myself to some things – but that’s not really my style. I just need to take a deep breath and realize that people and relationships change. There's nothing I can do about it. I just have to hold my head up high and realize I have a lot of great guy friends who invite me to stuff – and I have my family and – the most important person to me – my husband. He’s everything I need (well, besides God above) and as long as I have him, I think I’ll be okay. :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

28

Holy crap everyone.

So I'm 28.

That kind of sucks. My birthday was Wednesday. I'm getting old!

I might be getting old but at least I feel more accomplished than I did a year ago. Got married, got a new job. I feel like an adult....which, is a good thing? Maybe?

I dunno.

Babies are next. That is all.

XOXO,
MJ

Friday night

It's Friday night. I'm babysitting. Kids are in bed, house is clean and I'm currently sitting on their couch watching Captain America.

I feel like a teenager.

Babysitting is awesome tho. I love these kids to death - they're at such a fun, inquisitive age. Roe can actually sing the entire song of his favorite TV show. What a doll.

And the pay isn't bad. ;)

Oh and I love this movie. Out of the Avengers, I'd have to say Captain America is probably my favorite. He's such a gentleman...and yet a total bada**. If I were a damsel in distress, I'd want him rescuing me for sure.

Or maybe Iron Man. I mean, it's Tony Stark. What more do I gotta say there?

Anyway...enough of the nerdy girl rant. I'm gonna get back to my movie, whilst keeping an ear open for any screaming babes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

More engagement photos!

Got our engagement photos back. Here are some more for your viewing pleasure. She did a fantastic job!

















Wednesday, August 8, 2012

So, so close...

The last time I updated my blog about wedding stuff, we were one month away. Thinking of being one month away seems like an eternity...now that we're down to about one week. This Friday will be one week from the big day. Ahhh....holy crap!

I keep asking myself...are we ready? Is everything done? Have we forgotten anything? When I'm awake, all I do is think about the wedding. And when I sleep, I have nightmares...I forgot my dress, we're at the wrong church, I'm running late, I can't find Kevin.

Horrible. The best thing I can do is just keep chugging on. And I tell myself, "It's not going to be perfect. Something will probably go wrong (hopefully something small). But the end result will be picture perfect - I'll be married to Kevin. And that's all I'll remember. I won't remember tiny little errors."

Starting Saturday, my life will be a whirlwind of colors, people, events and emotions. My sister arrives tomorrow and other family start getting in next week. I have my bachelorette party Saturday, my niece/goddaughter's baptism Sunday, nail appointment Monday, another wedding shower Tuesday, (nothing Wednesday, surprisingly!), rehearsal and dinner Thursday and then the big day!

I just hope it goes slow enough that I can savor every moment...grasp onto it long enough to make a lasting memory. Everything just seems to be going so fast. And I know that'll only continue. But I'll try my hardest to slow time down...is that even possible?! Ah, well...

Night, everyone!

XOXO,
MJ

Friday, July 27, 2012

If someone doesn't like you...

It's late. And I'm definitely going to regret being up this late. But there's something that's bothering me and not even Transformers can put me to sleep. And maybe...just maybe...if I get it out, I'll be able to sleep.

So tonight I found out a *person* doesn't like me. And, because of that, won't be coming to my wedding with my friend - who this *person* is closely associated with. We'll leave it there.

It's not the first time I have found out someone doesn't like me. But that doesn't make it any easier. I can't please everyone. I won't even try. I'm human...I make mistakes. But I never try and hurt people on purpose. I hate that. So when I find out I have hurt someone, I want to make amends. And probably in the most annoying, persistent way. That's just me.

But this time...there honestly is no reason for this *person's* dislike. My friend has no idea why this *person* doesn't like me (and I, at the same time, found out said *person* also doesn't like my fiance). I'm not going to go in depth into the reasons given, as it doesn't matter - but I will say they are petty and childish in my case and completely untrue in my fiance's case. I barely have any interaction with this *person* - except randomly through my friend and I have always been polite and nice when I was around the *person* (or so I thought).

It must be so exhausting to dislike and hold grudges against so many people for such petty reasons. Forgiving is freedom...and it feels so good. Humans were meant to forgive each other.

I know, logically, not everyone is going to like me. But dangit...I certainly try. I've always been that way. I've always wanted people to like me - even the girls who made fun of me in grade school because I didn't wear fancy dresses to school like them. And when people don't like me - whether they have reasons or not - I feel as though I must fix it!

The first thing I do when I find out someone doesn't like me is usually cry (yeah, yeah, I'm a total girl). Then I try and figure out why. There had to be something I did or said. When I can't think of a reason, I start to beat myself up. I start to question if I'm a good person. Do I think I'm better than people? Do I judge? Am I kind? Or am I completely mean? 

First off: I do not think I am better than anyone. I have never thought that. As a kid, I had the lowest self-esteem. I thought everyone was better than me. And it frustrated the heck out of my mom. Only recently have I gained any self-confidence. And it's wobbly most of the time.

Now, I do tend to judge people. I am fully aware of this. Like I said before, I am human and sometimes I am quick to judge someone before giving them a true chance. And maybe there's an underlying reason to this behavior. But whether or not there is, I hate hurting people and I don't like it when I catch myself judging someone. I try to not do it. So I am conscious of it and it's something I try and work on.

And I strive to be be kind to everyone no matter what - because I do not know what they are going through. I try and remember that a smile or a simple "hello" could possibly make the difference in someone's life.

Oh - and I like myself. I do. I probably wouldn't be where I am if I didn't. And I don't think I'm a terrible person. I try and follow the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have done to you." Overall I think I have a good heart and I really try and follow the path that heart lays before me. I do hurt people. But when I do (whether I really did or not), I feel bad. And I want to make it better - even though sometimes there's just no fixing things.

So that brings me to just accepting the fact that some people just won't like me - no matter what I do. It hurts - but there's nothing I can do and to try and make them like me would be a cruel injustice to myself and to them as a person. I just have to accept it and maybe realize it's not really even about me. If I can't find a reason they don't like me, maybe it's them. And I don't want to associate myself with people who don't like people just because. So maybe this is OK. Sometimes finding out someone doesn't like you really gives you a chance to internalize how you're doing as a human...it gives you the chance to figure out who you are and if you like yourself. Because if you don't...how can other people?

And it reminds me that God likes me. He thinks I'm pretty swell otherwise I wouldn't be here to begin with. So no matter how many people don't like me, lots of people love me - especially God. And that's really good enough for me.

XOXO,
MJ


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ready to leave the single life behind...


OK, wow. One month. Woooo.
Can’t believe it.

Last weekend I moved out of my apartment. MY beautiful apartment. I miss it already! But I’m thoroughly enjoying farm life in Plattsmouth with my parents. Lots of cats, dogs and chickens. Oh and fresh air, peace and quiet – and HOME COOKED MEALS. Not that I never cooked when I lived on my own – I did. But no one – and I mean NO ONE – cooks like your own parents. No one. Well, maybe grandmas.

It’s weird, though, living in a place without most all of my stuff. I have about half my closet and a few other knickknacks I need on a daily basis with me. The rest is currently sitting in boxes at Kevin and I’s new place (which I am totally in love with).

It’s a little chaotic at the moment…we have LOTS of unpacking to do (but it’s on its way). And there will probably be more that needs to go to the Goodwill. But moving just catches you off-guard. You always forget how hard it is until it’s actually knocking at your front door in the form of 10 friends and a moving truck. Geez.

And it’s emotional! It never really has been before for me…but this place was different! And no one really tells you, when you’re planning a wedding, how hard it is to move in with your husband- or wife-to-be (I haven't moved in with him yet…he's just receivec all my stuff). All they tell you about is how hard planning a wedding is. Psh. That’s been easy compared to this.

I’ve been on my own since I was 22. I have made my own money, paid my own bills and bought my own stuff. I’ve never had to share that with anyone. Not that I don’t want to completely share all this with Kevin. I do. I very much do. More than anything I can’t wait to start our life together. But it’s hard to get used to the idea of it being our money, our house and our stuff. And I'm not married quite yet.
 
Also…when you live on your own for just about six years, you accumulate lots of freaking stuff. Holy crap. I have boxes full of high school and college stuff, clothes, tons of dishes, couches, art stuff, movies, etc., etc., etc. Now combine all that with someone who also has been living on his own for about the same amount of time (actually a bit longer).

That makes for lots of trips to the Goodwill and lots of breakdowns when trying to let go of things like high school track and cross country spikes. Really?! Maybe some of you out there don’t get emotionally attached to stuff. But I do. I really do.

But at the end of the weekend, when the old apartment was immaculately clean and the last box had been stuffed into my car at 2:15 a.m., I didn’t cry. Either I was too exhausted or I had finally come to terms with leaving the single Ashlee behind (almost). It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride but one that I am SO happy to finally be at the end of.

And though it might seem like I’m complaining, I’m actually very thankful for the experience of being completely on my own. I’ve grown into a strong, independent person and I’ve learned how the world operates (somewhat, anyway). I learned to take care of myself – before I chose the path of being responsible for someone else – and someday, children. It’s been fun.

What it comes down to…is I am SO ready to be married to Kevin…to be his wife and to stand by him through both the good and the bad. I couldn’t ask for a better man to spend the rest of my life with – to build a family and a beautiful life with. It’s going to be wonderful. Let it begin!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Engagement photos!


Back when I was starting to look at wedding photographers, someone gave me a very good piece of advice. They told me that I’ll just feel a “click” when I find the right photographer.

Hmmm…not going to lie – I didn’t really believe it.

And then, when I hadn’t felt that click after email discussions with about 15 photographers, I really didn’t believe it. I figured I’d just find the best priced photographer (who, of course, had talent) and call it good.

But then I ran across maternity photos some friends had taken. I thought, “I really like the style of this photographer.” So I looked her up. I looked through her photos and I watched her video. I think I might have felt a little click. But I wasn’t sure.

So I emailed her. I got her response. More of a definite click this time. First off, she was just SO nice. Her personality just bubbled out of her writing.

Second – she gave information freely (including pricing). That was awesome. I found that most photographers want to MEET you before they give you pricing. Stupid. Talk about wasting my time if you are $2,500 for 6 hours. I know a lot of people have big wedding budgets. But I don’t. Plus, I’m busy. I’m planning a wedding…just give me your info.

Third. She wanted to meet when and where it was convenient for us. So we set something up.

When the evening arrived to meet Rachel, I was super nervous! Kevin just thought I was being utterly silly. But really, it’s like that first date type feeling where you’re super excited to meet someone but 1. You already have really high expectations from either emails or phone conversations and what if they aren’t like that? And 2. Will they like you?

Kevin: “Just calm down, babe. It’ll be great.” I always love his advice. So simple, yet true.

So when she arrived and we talked (not only about photography stuff but she asked us about our story and wanted to see my ring and was just truly and GENUINELY excited for and interested in US) … I found she was just as lovely and nice as I had thought she would be. Exactly how I had pictured her to be from our back and forth email conversations. It was then that I finally understood the advice my friend had given me! I had felt that click. I knew right then that she was our wedding photographer.

After she left, I kept thinking about ways we could cut down somewhere else in our budget so we could hire her. She had brought her price down since we’re having a Friday wedding but it was still a tiny bit higher than the budget my parents had helped set for a photographer. But I was absolutely going to make it work! After all, I had felt the click!

I texted her and thanked her for going out of her way to meet us and said that I would talk to my parents on Sunday and get back to her ASAP. Her response was that she just absolutely loved meeting us and said she wanted to bring her price down to what our budget was because she wanted to work with us THAT much. WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! Who does that? Really, really, really nice people do that.

So fast forward to this past Sunday. We had our engagement photo session. It couldn’t have gone any better. She’s so easy to work with. She just lets us be us, which is really important. And, from seeing a few sneak peak photos, I can really see Kevin and I just shine through. I love it.





So, I guess, the whole point of this blog is to find that photographer you click with. Find someone with a personality similar to yours…someone who is fun, funny, kind and creative.

I absolutely can’t wait for our wedding day. Not just for obvious reasons but because we get to work with Rachel again to capture all the wonderful, precious moments and have them forever.

It’ll be one for the books!

XOXO,
MJ

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And we’re down to 8 weeks…


Eight weeks from tomorrow, I’ll be Mrs. Coffey. Doesn’t seem that long ago it was eight months away, then six, then four. Now we’re at about two.

I think, through this entire wedding planning ordeal, the most stressed I’ve felt has come from finding bridesmaid shoes. Kevin and I must have picked the hardest colors – or the two that are just not in this year. If I found a pair that worked, they were either super popular and therefore didn’t have enough sizes in. Or they were close to the $100 mark. Finally, I decided on a pair I like well enough – but wouldn’t say I love. They’re a good price and have glowing reviews. And as far as I can tell, they have every size in. So thank you, DSW!

Our engagement photos are Sunday. I am so ridiculously thankful we found such an amazing, wonderful photographer. She is the sweetest person and is just crazy talented. We’re so excited to work with her – and that she’s equally excited to work with us!

But man – finding a red dress for the photo shoot has been IMPOSSIBLE. As of today, I haven’t found one. Thankfully, my sister is sending me a lacy white one that I tried on last time she was here and loved. I’ll just accent it with red…red shoes, red earrings, red finger nail polish and red lipstick. I think it’ll be fine.

I’m so excited for these photos but am, at the same time, really nervous. I’ve never been the most photogenic person (even during my brief modeling stint when I was in grade school…my mom was always there telling me how to stand and to “smile bigger!”).  So I just hope we can have fun and not have to really think too much about the nice lady taking photos.

We have so many fun props in mind – a blanket, tons of comic books, a comic book store, sunlight, a giant frame and a rope with painted letters spelling out our wedding date. Just you wait. It’s gonna be awesome.

But seriously, now that two months is here. We have fun stuff coming up. Stuff like tasting the food at the hall and picking out a menu; sending out invitations; getting my dress fitted; having the bridesmaids get their dresses finished; picking out shoes for me; finishing centerpieces, etc. Lots of fun stuff.

So yeah, let the fun begin!

XOXO,
MJ

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Be yourself...for crying out loud.

Nothing irks me more than fake people.

People with no personality who live to do what others want...at the cost of their own beliefs or morals (if they have any to begin with). People who brown-nose and crap on other people to move up in this world.

All I can say is: "Karma."

Or as Evie says in The Mummy, "Nasty little fellows such as yourself always get their comeuppance. Always."

While these people absolutely bug the crappola out of me, I also really, truly pity them.

I have morals...standards I live by. And no corporate jerk is going to tell me how to be. I'm not going to start off at the very bottom of the totem pole (which is where I undoubtedly am) and then betray the friends I've made just to move up in a company.

I've watched a coworker of mine turn from a pretty sweet, genuinely caring (or so I thought) person, to just being a total backstabbing crazy person. I've watched her grovel at the feet of those above her just to move up. And I have, sadly, been at the brunt of her brown-nosing actions.

I'm all for working hard and moving up. But do it honestly and on your own (by that I just mean don't stand behind others higher than you and bask in their light in a conniving sort of way). I choose to work hard and honestly and be genuinely kind to everyone without expecting something in return.

Anyway, just my thoughts on this summery Thursday.

XOXO,
MJ

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A new home.

Kevin and I just received word we were approved for our first home together. Not that we were worried. But to see the email saying so...well, it was fan-freakin-tastic. And that's an understatement.

We are both ecstatic! (Again, a complete understatement!)

To celebrate, I think we'll go to my parents and have my sister cook dinner for us. Haha. Kidding...she actually wants to...she has some cool California recipe she wants to make for the family.

Kevin also gets to meet Vera...our goddaughter...for the first time tonight. :)

Life is bliss.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

…and we’re quickly approaching three months!

Happy May Day, everyone!

It’s going to be a gloriously beautiful day here in Omaha (we might even get a late afternoon thunderstorm!). It’s only just after 11 a.m. and it’s already 70 degrees. I believe the high today is 78. The rest of the week is even nicer – and more thunderstorms to look forward to! I am happy.

Anyway…enough with the meteorology bit. Kevin and I are quickly approaching three months until our wedding. We’re getting to crunch time, too. Lots to do!

We have invitations to start. Cake tasting and flower shopping is this weekend. We need to pick a DJ, also. Hopefully the fabric for the bridesmaid dresses comes in soon so I can go see it. I need to find shoes for the bridesmaids and order their jewelry. My jewelry is all picked out – I just need shoes. And Kevin and I need to pick out wedding bands. That’s proving to be somewhat difficult for me – but I have no doubt the right one will reveal itself soon.

This past weekend, Kevin and I finished our marriage prep class. It was all day – 8 to 4 – but absolutely worth every minute. It presented topics for us to talk about that we might not have otherwise thought to discuss. Also, my mom and I went shopping last weekend and finally found her dress – it’s lovely. So everything is starting to slowly come together – and feel more real. Not that the beautiful engagement ring on my finger isn’t a constant reminder that it’s real! But these little things…just make it even more exciting.

In the next few weeks, Kevin and I get to finally start searching for a place of our own. The leases in our apartments are both up in June so that is also a very high priority on our list! I’ll be moving back in with my parents until the wedding in August…but knowing he’ll be living in “our” place is just so thrilling. This is such an exciting time in our lives and we feel so blessed by the people who are helping to make it happen. So if any of you are reading this, THANK YOU.

On an unrelated wedding note, what an exciting week to be a nerd! Avengers comes out Friday (we’re going to the midnight premiere…boy am I going to be tired on Friday). And last night we got ready for the movie’s opening by attending Legend’s Marvel Movie Trivia Night. We got second place. There are just no words to describe how much I love being in love with such a nerdy man. We complete each other so perfectly.

And lastly…Free Comic Book Day this Saturday (May 5) at Legend Comics, 5207 Leavenworth Street in Omaha. If you’re planning on going, bring some non-perishable food items (monetary donations don’t hurt, either) for the Food Bank for the Heartland.

Also, while you’re there, you can purchase tickets for a chance to win Amazing Fantasy #15 – the first appearance of Spider-Man, valued at $5,000. Donations go to the Nebraska Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Your donation also enters you to win one of several other prizes, including a $200 Legend Comics Gift Card.

So, yeah. Visit http://www.legendcomicsomaha.com/ for more info. It’s for a good cause – and to support a very wonderful comic book shop where they not only make you feel at home and welcome, but where Kevin and I got engaged! ;)

XOXO,
MJ

Friday, March 9, 2012

What the heck, Cracker Jack?

I had a box of Cracker Jack today. I forgot about the crappy prizes they have inside. I must admit I was thoroughly disappointed with the “prize” I found inside. See for yourself.


Humorous though it is – now I have two funny little men walking up the side of my pencil – it’s totally craptastic.

If I remember correctly, the prizes were much cooler when I was a kid. They had stuff like rings, puzzles and compasses. Heck, I bet the bottom of my childhood toy box (which is sitting unceremoniously in my parents basement with very sad, sad toys if the world is anything like Toy Story) is littered with toys we received from things like Cracker Jacks and Happy Meals.

Anyway, after seeing my crappy prize, I decided to Google Cracker Jack prizes to see how they’ve changed over the years (I wanted proof) and I came across an article about a woman with an attitude similar to me when it comes to the Cracker Jack toy fiasco.

This woman was having lunch with one of her favorite older ladies, whom she only referred to as M. She noticed the beautiful gold ring M was wearing and made a comment about it. M immediately handed the ring over – to much protest from the younger woman – and when the writer finally accepted it, realized it wasn’t gold at all. And really, it wasn’t as nice as she had thought while she gazed at it on M’s hand over the table.

What was it really? A 70-year-old ring M had gotten out of a Cracker Jack box. Yes! A Cracker Jack box. I wonder if my paper pencil climbers will withstand 70 years? Who knows.

I guess it just goes to show that nothing really is how it once was. I feel sorry for my generation – and those younger than me. We’ve been dealt a crappy hand. Crappy politics, crappy environmental problems, crappy wars … and crappy Cracker Jack prizes.

Sheesh.

XOXO,
MJ

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Am I thankful enough for what I’ve been given?

An article caught my attention yesterday…and it really hasn’t left my mind since.

The article was about Christina Symanski, a 31-year-old artist who suffered paralysis when she dove into a shallow pool, breaking her neck. The article continued to detail her six-year struggle with being a quadriplegic and her decision to end her life by starving herself and refusing medication and care. It was her right…and one she had decided with her family and psychologist.

I must admit I was horrified that someone could end his or her life like that. What about everyone in her life? Her family and friends who loved her? But then I read on.

At the time of her accident, she was 24 years old. She was an elementary school art teacher. She’d just moved out on her own and had met the love of her life. In her blog, she said it was the happiest year of her life. But then in the early hours one June morning in 2005, after an impromptu party at her aunt and uncle’s, she decided to go swimming and dove in head first, shattering one of her vertebrae.

She endured a whirlwind three surgeries and weeks in the ICU. She was left in a nursing home at 24. Her dad and stepmom refused to let her boyfriend see her for weeks after the accident, partly blaming him for what happened. They guilted her about drinking that night, about diving into a shallow pool and about ruining her life.

After six months of trying to stay together through the ordeal, she pushed her boyfriend away, wanting a better life for him. But she never got over him…her blog clearly states that. And he never got over her. But both of them knew they could never be together…they could never have the life they had both planned before having it ripped violently away.

In her blog, she wrote about how she was always a very private person. Being quadriplegic destroyed that. She had to rely on complete strangers to dress her, feed her, wipe her nose, take her to the bathroom, bathe her and carry her. She couldn’t do anything on her own…something she had started becoming so accustomed to. She was always in pain. She couldn’t sleep, would develop bedsores and suffered from IBM – a condition made worse by her paralysis.

Can you imagine having an itch and not being able to use your hands to scratch it? Can you imagine getting your hair in your face while you’re laying down trying to sleep and not being able to use a simple wave of your fingers to brush it away? Can you imagine looking down at a body you know is your own…but not be able to feel it? Can you imagine watching it change slowly over six years…until you didn’t recognize it anymore?

It’s a purely heart-wrenching story. In her blogs, she constantly questions her decision to dive headfirst into that pool. She doesn’t know why she did it. She was always wondering… “what if?” Where would she be, had she not dove into that pool and broken her neck? Would she be married to that boyfriend? Would she have children? Would she be a veteran teacher? Who knows.

I can never imagine what she went through. But her blog was so detailed, so full of emotion that I can firmly say I never want to know. And if I was in her shoes…going through exactly what she went through…I have no idea how I would deal with it. In my mind, she was strong and courageous…and completely selfless. She didn’t choose to die to simply relieve herself from the pain, from the prison her own body had become. She did it to free her loved ones. I can’t say I personally agree with her decision because of my own convictions…but then again, I am not in her shoes. So I just don’t know.

I read this today…and I thought it was rather fitting. "To a watching world, the way we die and handle death as believers is as an important witness as the way we live." I think, from what she wrote, that Christina believed in a good and kind God - one who wouldn't condemn her for wanting peace, for wanting to just rest with Him. I don't know…that's just my thought.

But it got me thinking. Am I thankful enough for what I have? Do I take anything for granted? Like walking, running, dancing, playing piano, writing. Of course I take those things for granted. They’re every day things. I’ve been walking since before I can remember. What if it was violently taken away from me? What if today was the last day I ever took a step…walked on my own two feet? So tonight, when I’m running, I’m going to be thankful. When I walk down the aisle in August, I’m going to be thankful.

Every single decision we make affects us somehow…some more than others. Some decisions we make, we’ll never see repercussions of. They’ll disappear and we’ll never think of them again. But others…they’ll stay. But it’s no good worrying and fretting. We must live life every day as if tomorrow might not come…as if tomorrow might be something entirely different and life changing.

So run around, dance, try new things, do what you never dreamed possible. Live life to the fullest. Love deeply, laugh easily. Make peace with someone you begrudge, be kind to a stranger, make a new friend, cherish those you have around you right now.

I hope Christina Symanski is finally resting in peace. I hope she’s walking arm-in-arm with Jesus, her body restored to perfection. I hope her loved ones feel her love and strength coming down on them, helping them get through this horrible time until they see her again someday, walking to meet them. And I hope all of you out there enjoy each and every minute you are given. Life, as cliché as this may be, is precious.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bridesmaid Dresses!

This is proving to be kind of difficult.

First off…I’m trying to keep the cost of the dress low. I love all the girls who have graciously agreed to be a part of my special day! I’m not going to make them go broke just for one day!

I’ve searched at Bridal Traditions and David’s Bridal in Omaha. Bridal Traditions was too expensive…even though they had a huge selection. David’s Bridal was still a bit expensive…but had the smallest selection ever! Very disappointed.

Also, my next problem has been matching the blue I want. It’s a Tiffany blue color. David’s Bridal had colors called “pool” and “Malibu.” Pool was too light, Malibu was a bit too dark. I couldn’t bring myself to being OK with that. I think there are other options to find my color!

So I posed a question on Facebook, asking for advice on where to look for dresses. I received several great answers…but none as good as a woman in Papillion who makes dresses. So I called her up and, to my surprise, found out it’d be cheaper to have them custom made…than by ordering them through a store.

So tonight and Saturday, I’m going with a few bridesmaids and my mom to look at some patterns to email the lady so she can send a quote. I’m also hoping that by going this way, we can more closely match the Tiffany blue I want!

My next issue is the groomsmen’s vests for their tuxes. I want those to be blue but they need to match the bridesmaid’s colors! So do we have those custom made, also? Such decisions! Kevin and I just might look at those swatches first at a tux place and see if there’s one I like and base it off that.

I just hope this works out! I have this vision in my head of how I want this to look! Bridesmaids with short Tiffany blue bridesmaid dresses with red high heels, red jewelry and red flowers in their hair…and groomsmen with black tuxes, blue vests, blue ties and red boutonnieres. Sounds like a weird combination, but I’ve seen photos and it look fantastic together.


See?

My mom told me the other day, “patience grasshopper. It’ll all work out and it will be beautiful!”

I know it will…I do! But until I see it, I don’t think I’ll really quit fretting about it to myself…and my mom. Thank goodness for her patience with me. I aspire to be as kind and patient as her.

So…here’s to a little bit of luck tonight!

XOXO,
MJ

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wedding planning...

First reality check: 199 days until I am Mrs. Kevin Coffey. How cool is that?

Second reality check: Wedding planning is hard. I mean hard.

And stressful, did I mention stressful? Wowza.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful fiancé who is more than happy to stop what he’s doing and help me…or give me a back massage if I need. Mainly he’s great at reminding me to stay on target if ever I lose course. That target is, of course, just marrying him…and for him, marrying me.

Before I met Kevin…what excited me most about getting married was getting a beautiful diamond ring, wearing this fairy tale wedding dress and having a beautiful reception. Of course, getting married to the guy was up there, too. But until Kevin, I hadn’t met “the one.” So my mind was preoccupied with the dress, the cake, the decorations, the ring.

And while those things are still important (and sometimes overwhelming), the main thing I remind myself when I feel overwhelmed, is that at the end of this all, I’m going to be married to my best friend and soul mate. How cheesy does that sound? So really, who cares the type of flower I choose? Or the cake? Or the entrée? In 20 years from now, will it really matter? Probably not.

But as stressful as they are, this wedding is fun to plan also. It’s a great chance to get to know Kevin even better than I do. It’s a chance to spend time with my mom and flex my creative side.

All in all, wedding planning going great.

We’ve got a date locked down (Aug. 17). We’ve booked the church (St. Thomas More) and the priest. We’ve booked the reception site and the caterer. We figured out a DJ and our photographer (she’s probably the most talented photographer I’ve ever seen).

And I found my dress.

Boy, what an occasion that was. It took me one afternoon. A mere two hours. There was a girl trying dresses on when I arrived…and she was still trying them on as we were leaving. My sister must have passed the wedding dress shopping luck on to me (as she also found hers at the same store in one afternoon).

It was the weirdest sensation, trying on the dress I knew was for me. It was one of those days I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. I’ve gone with friends and my sister to watch them try on dresses. I couldn’t wait for my day – and I swear it was better than I ever thought. I wish my sister could’ve been there…but thank God for Skype, right?

The second my mom helped finish tying the dress up (it was the last one brought into my dressing room) and we walked out of the dressing room, my cousin and best friend (and sister via Skype) gasped. I knew by their faces that it was good…it felt good – and looked good looking down at myself. But I don’t know…I guess I just wasn’t prepared for when I stepped up on the pedestal. The bridal shop lady put a veil on me. And that’s when my mom burst into tears.

Then I did. Then my best friend did. We’d found it.

The lady didn’t seem surprised. She was full of smiles. Tears must be a pretty common reaction in a bridal shop.

Each and every time I go to my parents, I steal away into my sister’s old bedroom and take a glance at it as it hangs in its bag in the closet. I softly touch the fine needlework and fantasize about walking down the aisle and the look I’ll see on Kevin’s face when he sees me for the first time. It’s all I can think about.

And then I shake my head and remind myself we have a little over six months to keep planning.

Next is cake testing, then to pick out flowers. We also have to figure out a limousine for the wedding party…bridesmaid dresses, accessories, centerpieces, etc. But I think we’ve done pretty well so far considering we’ve been engaged not even two months yet.

I can’t wait to keep pushing forward. And I am so excited to write “Ashlee Coffey” for the very first time…legitimately.

I’ll keep you all posted.

XOXO,
MJ