Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On premarital counseling

James and I had our first (of three) session of premarital counseling today. We're getting married in Goshen, by James' pastor in college, but we're not actually going to be in IN again until August, so we're doing our counseling with Vern, one of the pastors at FMC here in Denver. Initially, I was apprehensive. When we met with him, he told us that he uses a family systems model for premarital counseling, which involves each of us laying out our family tree for Vern, and then basing our discussion topics out of information from our family tree. I was expecting that we'd meet several times and talk about subjects like having kids, finances, communication, etc, and wasn't really sure what to expect from the model he proposed.

I went first (we'll devote a session to each of us, and then do a wrap up session), which meant that I did most of the talking. After getting the basics down, Vern asked open ended questions that got me talking about how divorce and conflict (and other topics) is handled in my mom's and dad's families, and how that has impacted my nuclear family's life and my relationship with James. I think this is going to be a useful tool and a good vehicle for discussing those topics above that I was concerned about covering.

I want to also talk about my general thoughts about premarital counseling. I believe that almost every Mennonite church (at least all of the ones I'm affiliated with) requires premarital counseling in order for a couple to get married at their church. I fully support this decision. I think it's important to begin a pattern of a) talking about things and b) talking to others outside the relationship. I had a spiritual director for several years in college who was incredibly helpful to me. When I was doubting things about my relationships with others, when I was wondering if my cynical thoughts about religion were unhealthy, etc, I had a safe space to discuss those questions and issues with a person who was trained to work with me. Having had a spiritual director, I really value conversation with mentors who have been through similar struggles. When I have a really big problem, it's natural for me to find help from another person outside the issue. Now that I'm getting married, I have a safe space to talk about this relationship, and find ways to strengthen our communication patterns. I have hopes that participating in premarital counseling will increase James' and my readiness to find support outside our relationship when we need it. I want it to be natural and possible for us to continue consulting with those more experienced than us. 

All this to say that I value conversation, collaboration, and thoughtful guidance from those more experienced than I. Signing off for now....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wedding Wednesday: a surprise

I think I'll make this a semi-regular feature. This is something I've never tried before. 

On Monday I finally got in touch with the man who I'd wanted to do the flowers for our wedding. I've been super confident about this whole finding people to do things for the wedding thing, since I'm getting married in northern Indiana, not really an area of must-have venues or a destination wedding location. So I didn't really think there'd be many events or other weddings to contend with. Well my friends, I thought wrong. Gail (the flower man) informed me that our wedding happens to be taking place during Quilt Auction Weekend (QAW for short) at the EssenHaus in Middlebury. Since he also works for the EssenHaus, he will be unable to do any flowers for us. Only in northern IN would my florist be previously occupied with a quilt auction. Oh well. Life goes on. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Terrific Tuesday

aka I'm proud to say I'm from the United States today, and I'd like to thank Barack Obama for making this announcement possible.

I don't really have anything else to say. I'm in awe of the celebratory tone of the inauguration today, and how inspired I was by Obama's speech. I loved that it was both thoughtful and realistic. There is work to be done, yes, and I sure am glad Obama's going to be the one to make changes. Let's beat some tanks into tractors, people.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wedding Wednesday (a belated posting)

So far, I've been keeping my blog wedding planning free, a semi-conscious decision and partly just because I don't really want to think about it more than I already do. However, I do read a lot of wedding blogs, a pretty easy way to while away a day/week-off afternoon. You're probably not surprised, but I tend to read blogs that involve the word DIY, budget, simple, practical, or other such thrifty Mennonite words in their description or blog title. For the most part, these blogs are full of practical advice and interesting ideas. But I'm starting to realize that by trying my best to avoid the whole stereotypical wedding industry, I've fallen into another trap: the DIY/personal touch trap, in which I find myself thinking that I need to find a source of vintage vases or antique typewriter keys or some other cute thing with which to decorate. Don't get me wrong, these blogs are awesome, and I'm so glad to find this whole community of people who think weddings should be about showing who you are and should be a celebration of love and commitment (aka actually about marriage), rather than being about fancy cakes and calligraphied invitations and fancy ball rooms with enormous flower arrangements. This is refreshing to me. 

I think what I've been most puzzled about while trolling the internet for wedding advice is this: make your wedding personal. I feel like this is a no brainer, and I'm not really sure how to have any other kind of event. So here are some ways that our wedding is personal:
  • I don't really wear much jewelry, other than earrings. So when looking for an engagement ring (which we did together), I wanted something that cost very little (in case I lost it) and was something I wouldn't mind seeing every day. So, my ring was a $20 bargain we found at a crazy store in Goshen.
  • My college roommate-for-life of a best friend is painting some beautiful paintings to hang in the church for the ceremony (and then we get to hang that art up in our house!)
  • A friend from my church in Goshen, a local artist, is going to make our wedding rings.
  • The co-op, much beloved by me before and after working there for a year, is going to cater the majority of the reception, using organic ingredients and local produce.
  • The Soda Shop, where James worked as a grill cook this past summer, will be providing our dessert, awesome homemade pies for all.
  • Our reception is at Goshen's college cabin. We both spent a lot of time together walking on the Mill Race, so it's special, plus, we love the idea of making it more of a reunion-type feel, with croquet & other games available.
We're using local businesses, food, and artists, which are all very important to me, as well as highlighting places and people that are important to us. I care a lot more about these choices than I care about elaborately styling the buffet tables myself with colored vintage linens & potted plants. The DIY wedding world sort of leads me to believe that since I'm doing things the homemade way, I need to make sure they look really, really classy. I like things to look nice, don't get me wrong, but I just can't keep enough space in my brain to worry about hanging the seating assignment cards on a tiny clothesline made with yarn from my grandmother's wedding shrug.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Oh, David Bowie, you warm my heart. When I went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (in Cleveland, OH of all places), I saw a display of costumes from afar. One of them was a jumpsuit with metal wings attached. I instantly knew it was once David Bowie's. And oh, was I ever right. It's that kind of crazy predictability that makes him so awesome. 

But about the changes in my life...
I took out my eyebrow ring this week. I recall a conversation I had with a lovely. grandmotherly co-op volunteer, in which she asked if I thought I needed my eyebrow ring to feel beautiful. The answer, of course, was and still is no, but I don't think I understood how much it had become part of my identity. Last year I was the cool sub with eyebrow ring (that is, until I made students do their actual, assigned work--HORRORS!). This year, my employers remarked on how well it suited me. My fiance has an eyebrow ring. I liked how it looked on me. But now, all of that is gone. I had it for 2 years, meaning that it was starting to grow out and wasn't looking very nice anymore. I had to set a date to take it out or I'd never have done it. However, I still wash and dry my face carefully to avoid snagging my now-phantom pierced eyebrow.

My new job starts Jan 20. I think it's a pretty good sign that I love my job when I leave scheduling meetings and employee trainings thinking, "Man, I'm so excited! I LOVE the Butterfly Pavilion!" Yes, I am a science nerd, and proud of it. But remember, I'm the cool teacher with the eyebrow ring! (Oh wait...) Also, another sign (in my opinion) that you have a good job is that an average day for you involves dressing up like a butterfly in front of 50 2nd graders and handling caterpillars and dead butterflies. But maybe that's just me...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mad Dash

Once upon a time, two young travelers embarked on a journey. Destination: The Midwest. Goal: attend multiple Christmases, stuff themselves with food, and visit family & friends, all without exceeding the amount of carry-on baggage the airlines allow.

Wednesday, Dec. 24: Soup & Pillsbury flaky layers biscuits for dinner. FMC christmas eve service. candle-lighting at home.

Thursday, Dec. 25: We began the day bright and early at 1 am. We encountered no problems getting to the airport, arriving before shuttles or ticket counters opened. Oops. Upon arrival in Chicago, I became incredibly disoriented because there were no mountains to the west. Reunited with my parents and brother.

Friday, Dec. 26: Christmas with my family. Enjoyed a delicious brunch. In the evening, we celebrated Festivus with my Quincy friends. I received a long list of grievances, but also excelled at the feats of strength, and consumed a lot of chocolate fondue.

Saturday, Dec. 27: Christmas with my Nyce family. All but one of our family members were able to attend. I got to see my two favorite cousinlets Caroline and Roman. James learned how to play our family's brand of dominoes (it's really similar to euchre, and was invented by my great-grandpa's brothers because playing cards, as we all know, are sinful.)--he's on his way to being a pro. James and I also received a crash course in driving my brother's stick-shift car that evening.

Sunday, Dec. 28: My attendance at church was overshadowed by 3 engagement announcements. After catching up with many after church, Jonathan, James, and I set off for PA. 1 smashed finger, 7 clementines, and 2 pot roast sandwiches later, we arrived at James' parents house. Naturally, we played Quiddler. 

Monday, Dec. 29: Alana and Travis came to visit us! After hours of chatting, had dinner as a family (Drew and Justine came to visit!) and exchanged Christmas presents. Everyone present got a new game for Christmas, which meant we had to try one out afterwards (Alhambra).

Tuesday, Dec. 30: We all learn a new game, Thurn & Taxis, and Team James and Emily trounce everyone soundly. We take a long walk as a family, have an amazing enormous dinner, and round out the evening with more games.

Wednesday, Dec. 31: We visit Good's Used Appliance and find almost the entire crew there, including Baby Abby, who finds broken copiers a lot more interesting than baby toys. More games, and I finish The Shack, a book I started two days previous. At midnight, you'd have found us in James' bedroom at the top of the house, watching the lighting of the pagoda on the mountain side and fireworks. 

Thursday, Jan. 1: We awake early, at 5 am, in order to drive to the Philly airport. James' dad makes us sprout and peanut butter sandwiches for the trip, which we end up eating at 10 am because we've been awake for so many hours. No one looks strangely at these sandwiches. Uneventful flight back to Denver, and our beloved mountains are back!

So that pretty much sums up our trip. Incredibly short, but impressively filled with visiting friends and family. It's great to be back in Denver!