big stuff

Curious how quickly things can change.
A month ago, yesterday, I got married. A couple weeks after that a baby was conceived. And a couple weeks after that we found out for sure that I am pregnant and started breaking the news.
About two months ago I quit my job. Having left on good terms, I kept in touch with my coworkers. A couple even came to the wedding, which is where I got some really interesting news. Before, I was told they’re ‘not paying me to be on Twitter’ which was, for the most part, true. My job was customer service and I was so busy I was pulling my hair out. Which led to me quitting. However after I left, some people noticed that certain things stopped. No more tweets, the new website project was getting stale, and no one had a whole lot of time to devote to such things. It was offhandedly mentioned, why don’t we pay Rachael to tweet for a couple hours a week, a fun fact I learned on my wedding day.
Oh the irony.
Which led to the hatching of a seriously great plan to put me in charge of all the social media, and help with getting the website launched (finally).
Late Monday I sent my proposal and by Tuesday afternoon I got the call that they were accepting it and wanted me to come in today to sit in on a meeting they already had scheduled to talk more website stuff.
I’m not going to lie, I’m really excited about this job. Getting paid to connect with people and research technical articles while flexing my creative muscles? From home? Bring it on!
Oh and we’re pretty stoked about the baby too. And some other cool stuff that is just starting to be in the works! It feels like a whole new year (minus the cold and snow) and excitement and change are in the air!

Identity crisis

So it’s been almost two weeks since the wedding. Since then we honeymooned, got insurance paperwork done, I went ten thousand places getting the rest of the world caught up on my name and then I…. did the dishes. And a couple loads of laundry. And hung out with the animals. And cleaned out my closet.
And today, I got my hair cut.
Like a lot.
Pictures from this morning:

And this afternoon:

I’m fairly certain my husband is going to freak out. I’ve told him for at least three months that I would be doing something drastic like this. I even tried to show him pictures.

The funny thing is, to me, it was way weirder to go to the BMV and getting my name changed on my drivers license. It’s something that most people will never see. Nor my new (shaky) signature.
Changing my hair is easy, almost second nature if you’ve known me very long at all. But who am I now? Brandon’s wife? Home maker? That girl rocking the super short hair?
And in time some of these labels will change probably… and new ones will be added. For now I’m just getting settled in my skin. Again.

The Day, part two: The Reception

We stood in the hall waiting to hear the DJ make the announcement. It was beautiful looking into the hall, at all those people gathered waiting to celebrate the joining of our lives (finally!). We made our way to the table for a quick seat and shoe change for me. And then it was time to dance.
That first dance was exactly what we needed: one romantic moment to talk to each other with no one listening. We laughed, kissed, and spun around. And it started to sink in as the rest of the world watched.
After that we waited for champagne (oops!) and the toasts to start. I’m not sure why, but I had decided to let Chuck go first, and he blew us all away.
He made us all laugh with stories of trouble that he and Brandon might have gotten into over the years, about how awesome it was to have his friend move next door, and then about how Brandon had confided in him all the things he hoped to find in the girl of his dreams. Brandon and I were both in tears as Chuck recalled the day that I came over to hang out and somehow all those things that Brandon hoped for were manifested. And how Brandon came over the next day, and looked at Chuck and only could manage one word: “dude.”
The rest of the speech was a blur, but I felt so honored to be one of the pair people were lifting their glasses to. Bryan followed, and then Jessie, bless her. She told me how she started to choke up and skipped to the end and even abbreviated, she had already made me tear up as well.
And my dad. He spoke about how I had always gotten what I wanted, starting with how my name was spelled and how I was changing it again for someone I loved more than anything else before. He thanked Brandon’s family for raising such an amazing man.
And we ate, quickly. We had decided rather than doing a receiving line that we would go to each table and greet and thank them, which took forever. It was nice to get to see everyone, though. I was honestly the most nervous I had been all night as we were doing that. I was starting to come down after all the excitement and emotion, and I was feeling tired. We got through it though, and then came another big detail we were excited to share.
Well, at least I was excited to share. Brandon was pretty proud of how it turned out too, though. We had put together slide shows of ourselves growing up to play during the father/daughter & mother/son dances, partially to take the focus off people who were nervous to be seen dancing. It was beautiful though, and I know our families loved it.
Finally it was time to cut the cake. I had already made the deal that there would be no smashing, but when my mom piped up from her table ‘smash it in her face’, I knew we had to do something. So I asked him if he wanted to get her. And we did…. we took off running with cake in hand and got her what she wanted. Sort of. Mom was a good sport and I helped her clean up before the bouquet & garter tossing.
It was a silly tradition, but fun and (hopefully) a good photo op. Kyle caught the garter for the 27th time, and little Ashton caught my bouquet.
After that we danced and drank, and my exhaustion was drowned in wine and champagne. I did my best to keep things going, while Brandon meandered some more with the people who opted out of the public display of foolishness. The DJ was pretty great, and every time I went over to tell him I needed a slow dance to rest, he already had one queued up.
At some point I found myself pretty tipsy and the reception hall mostly empty and it was time to say good night. We thanked our photographer & DJ, I took a shot from the bar with Jessie & Chuck and got my dress loaded up in Brandon’s car.
I made him take me to McDonald’s for a bite to eat before we headed back to the hotel. I ate and then admittedly drunk dialed family members to thank them for such an amazing day.
And then it was just me and Brandon, and all the love that we share.

The Day, part one: The wedding

It all started with the cat screaming in my face shortly before 8 a.m.
No matter how many times I pet her or pushed her away, she would not leave me alone. Seriously cat, I have another hour I can sleep.
When my alarm did go off at 9, I got up and checked my phone. One new text message from my sister and one missed call from my mom. I knew it already.
Honestly, I knew it the night before, watching Tiff at dinner. She looked more uncomfortable and on edge than I had ever seen her before. And I’m sure climbing the stairs at the rehearsal didn’t really help matters.
I looked at the text first. Baby Calvin was here. My heart skipped a beat with joy and twinged at the confirmation that my sister would be missing today. I called my mom back. No answer. Expecting  no answer, I called my sister. And she answered. I think we were both feeling the same excitement and sorrow that we weren’t going to be together today. But her new life as a mother couldn’t have started on a better day. She told me that her son had been born shortly before 8 o’clock and was doing well. And she was too.
We hung up & I tried to stay focused. My phone was blowing up with texts and twitter notifications. Mom called me back and she told me about how she had only gotten a couple hours of sleep. We juggled schedules around so that she could spend her time with me and hopefully getting a nap or at least relaxing a little.
Time was getting away from me. I had spent the past hour drinking coffee, thinking about getting in the shower and looking at my phone. Brandon was anxiously trying to figure out how much this baby had disrupted his perfect schedule. I was trying to figure out the quickest possible way to see my new nephew. I remember at one point realizing I needed to get my act together and keep Brandon and the wedding as my priority, and as much as part of me wanted to be with my sister, my new life was also starting today as a wife.
I took the longest shower ever, helped Brandon get organized for all the running around he would be doing while I was getting ready, and headed over to my dad’s for breakfast.
When Brandon & I got there, Jessie and Marc were already there, and dear Abby & Jeff were cooking up a storm. The food was great (muffins, toast, fresh fruit, bacon & sausage, juices, coffee, etc.) and I was trying to ignore my nerves and keep eating since it would be many hours before I got the chance again. The photographer came and took pictures of all of us sitting together as friends and family, and I tried to get mentally accustomed to the snapping and flashing that would be going on for the next 11 hours. I was still spinning a little, but the food helped and shortly after, we were off to the salon.
Mom got there just after us, and my dear Jessie cracked open the margaritas she had thoughtfully packed. I delicately refrained from gulping them down, and floated around between Jessie, Mom & Steve… trying to be photogenic all the while. Mom & Steve left to go rescue Brandon from trying to arrange flowers by himself and Jessie and I chatted about nothing in particular while I tried to keep breathing.
I remember presenting myself as calm and chill, but I think I was a little bit in denial. I was so excited, and I kept thinking about Tiff, and holding my breath for the ‘big one’… that one mistake/accident/major flub that I had to get over & not let ruin my wedding day. It wasn’t until later that Brandon reminded me that Tiff not making it was kind of major, and somehow I held it together with grace.
Before I knew it, my hair was all done and we were heading up to the museum. When we got there, all our family and the rest of the bridal party was arriving as well. I took a deep breath and took everything in. It looked amazing. All that hard work had come together elegantly and I didn’t have to worry about any other details except myself.
It was starting to get late and I knew we had to start pictures soon, so Jessie & I disappeared to start makeup and getting dressed. Again, Jessie was amazing in toting around her photography lights for me to do my makeup by (thank you!!). It seemed to take longer than usual, and I could feel time slipping by as I tried to keep steady hands. Mom finally reappeared just as I was starting to panic about not being in my dress yet, and we quickly got me in it and final touches done. And then the photographer left to check on the boys and coordinate the first look.
I paced for what felt like an hour, but it was probably five minutes. I was wondering if Brandon would think I looked ok, if my dress fit right, if I had forgotten any little thing. And then the photographer came back, and we were off.
I remember walking through the museum and seeing my family standing there with mouths agape. I realized how I must look, and somehow reminded them to get out of the photographer’s shot, and crept up behind Brandon to get the final approval.
I don’t remember what I said, or what he said to me, but I remember the tearful joy he held me with when he saw me in that moment. I held tightly on to him as cameras flashed frantically all around us. We were getting married!
Eventually the moment passed, and it was time to take all the formal photographs. I tried to keep my cool, and lost it a few times as random people started wandering in. I don’t remember who finally got things under control, but pictures were taken, and we split up to make our entrances.
I headed upstairs with my Dad, Chuck and Jessie to wait for our cue. We had twenty minutes.
I listened to Dad & Jessie talk a bit of ‘shop’, Chuck contemplated all the mischief that would later ensue, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I knew Brandon was downstairs, that he loved me and thought I looked beautiful. I was no longer nervous, not even about falling down the stairs. (Which was probably a good thing, since my Dad later told me that his feet were killing him already and he could barely walk himself, and I had been the steady hand to him. Oh irony.)
They came to tell us that it was starting and to get ready to come down the stairs. My  heart pounded as I listened to the music and waited for our the moment that we were finally take that walk. I felt like I was floating as we reached the top of the stairs and cameras were flashing and I heard gasps from the crowd below. We descended and I was handed off to Brandon, with love. The minister began speaking with a resonating voice and I was in a room with just Brandon and him. Well, except for the moment when I saw one of Brandon’s friends making goofy grins at me over his shoulder. I listened to the reading from the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage, and I knew that our union was truly a civil right that everyone deserved to partake in. And as Brandon recited his vows to me, I knew how deeply I wanted to repeat mine to him. And then there were rings and a sweet kiss and we were married!
Music began playing and we all but ran off to the room where we would do the paperwork to make it official.
There was frantic dress bustling (some of which would later come undone in a flurry of dancing), signing of papers (none by me and Brandon, which I thought was weird), and then more waiting as people filed through to get their seats. At some point I realized there was still a lot of things left to do at the reception. I don’t know how that hadn’t occurred to me before. We had agreed on a short, sweet ceremony and then time to party. And party we did.

Tomorrow

I’m trying to figure out what time I should set my alarm for tomorrow.
It’s the day of my wedding & I don’t want to be running late.
I don’t know if this day has snuck up on me or if it’s been planned out so far in advance that I’m over prepared. No definitely not over prepared; I don’t think anything can really prepare me for the weight of tomorrow’s events. I’ve known this man for five years, every day he makes me laugh. I know that will not change.
I have to put on a beautiful dress & try to remain composed and graceful. I get to tell Brandon, in front of all the people closest to us, that I love and cherish him. And then we will celebrate!
And then, I’m pretty sure life will go on.

Clean

For all intensive purposes, the wedding is two days away.
I have tomorrow, in which I will get my hair done, go decorate, go to puppy class and then hopefully sleep before things start getting really exciting.
And I have Friday, in which friends and family come to town, last minute things are touched up, we rehearse and have dinner, and I get some small measure of sleep before leaping out of bed to be married.
I’m honestly pretty relaxed. And I’m very very proud of how I’ve been taking care of myself the past couple days. Eating a very strict diet, drinking lots of water (about a gallon a day), getting plenty of sleep, and dropping weight because of it. It’s not a crash diet by any means, just buttoning down and doing what I should have for weeks (and months) now.
I’ve also been tracking my calories to make sure I don’t eat too little, which may seem silly. But the first few days of a diet are the hardest, and when ‘punishing’ your body by getting your portions back in line, it’s not that hard to do. If you plan to be hungry you can just as easily under-do it as over.
I planned this week very well with lots of fresh veggies in the house, pre-prepared so I could easily grab them when I needed. And healthy proteins are a staple, portioned out to keep me full throughout the day.
Sometimes I wonder: is it harder to learn what to do, or to actually do it?
For me, it’s clearly the latter, but I grew up learning to cook and to be conscious of the things I was eating because of my food allergies. But I know for many, they might be able to point out healthy foods at the grocery, but would have no idea how to get them on a plate. And still others are completely brainwashed by healthy branding and slogans, they have no idea what is in the food they’re eating.
I know I’m still very far from perfect, but I hope I can spend some time sharing what I’ve learned. And also be better to myself. If I can lose 5lbs in 2 days (water weight, people! Try a low sodium/no processed foods diet!) and feel that much better about myself, what can a lifetime of due diligence bring?

Three days to go

I’ve long since forgotten how many days I’ve been an ‘un-bride’.
But I must admit, all the hard work is paying off in spades. Tomorrow, Brandon & I are going to start setting up for the reception, and aside from a few little odds & ends, we just have to show up and get married.
I really must sing his praises one more time: Brandon has been utterly amazing, and me being off work has kept me from really losing my mind. This week I’ve been able to slack off, have coffee with friends, catch up on blogs & sleep in. Oh and diet (& lose a couple pounds before the big day!)
My dreams are still a little crazy, but when I wake up, I know I’ve done everything the best I could & this wedding is very much about me & Brandon. It has a lot of our personality shining through, and I couldn’t be more proud of how true to ourselves we’ve remained.
I’m going to go ahead and assume this will be my last post until after the wedding, so I just want to thank everyone for tuning in through all the insanity and dullness. Until later, my friends!