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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Important Love Stuff (47)

Friday
Aug052011

The Candyman Was Right.

So my friend Michele called me on the day I wrote my whining post about how hard every thing is. I thought for a second she’d read it and called to check in with me (as several of my Blog People did, which I so appreciate). Alas, I know she doesn’t read the blog so knew that wasn’t it. (P.S. I find it sort of strange that my very closest friends rarely read my blog though I don’t speak to them on the regular. Anyone else got this going on?)

Then I remembered that I’d called her over the weekend while The Candyman and I were fighting. I wasn’t going to talk to her about the fight because I just don’t do that. Inviting anyone other than The Candyman into any part of my marriage isn’t something I do. However, I did want  to talk about nonsensical girl-things to get my mind off of the fight while I was getting myself a revenge-pedicure (I’ll show HIM! I’m going to step out of my own self-imposed moratorium on pedicures and get one. That will totally show him. Humph!).

Now Michele is a smart cookie. Really smart. I have no idea what she does, but it’s like behavioral management type shit. She used to work for this company where she traveled the US and coached prison wardens on management styles and such. And she’d go to the prisons. I can’t ever imagine this because Michele is the girliest of girls and trying to plop her into a prison setting, pretty much telling wardens what to do is not something I can see in my mind’s eye. Anyway, she has this ability to listen to what someone says about who they are or what they are struggling with and then BLAMMO! she sees straight through to the bullshit and totally calls you on it. It can be unnerving sometimes.

So I told her about how I think I am the suck and unaccomplished and basically feel like a big, fat, stupid cow munching away on my cud all the live long day. She asked me a few questions about how I spend my days, am I exercising (not enough), what kind of groups am I involved it, etc. Really basic, almost job interview types of questions. And then BLAMMO! she says, “Louise, you need to take more time for yourself. You need to do things for you. You need to take this time and enjoy it. You may not ever have it again.”

There are all sorts of feelings of guilt associated with chilling the hell out on the couch all the live long day, or for even an hour or two. That’s just not me. There’s guilt associated with not bringing home the bacon like I once did, versus frying up The Candyman’s turkey bacon like I do now. And The Candyman knows I’ve been infusing his dishes with resentment, a la Like Water for Chocolate style. That’s just rude of me.

But the point of this post is that The Candyman has been saying the exact same shit to me for the last nine months. “Take more time for yourself, honey” he says, and “Why don’t you skip the blog post today?” or “You should look at this time as a once in a lifetime opportunity.” I totally ignore him and consider him a moron. Then other people, including my really smart friend Michele, start saying the same thing and suddenly I start listening.

Why do we do that?

This scenario has happened in the reverse too. I can’t remember the exact issue, but there had been something I was hammering The Candyman over and he simply would NOT listen to me. It was infuriating. Then we went to one of our pre-marital counseling sessions and our therapist said what I’d been saying to him, like exactly and suddenly he’s all, “Oh, I get it!” and I wanted to clobber him over the head with my shoe. Repeatedly.

So why does that happen? Why do we not hear the people who are closest to us? Why does it take outside counsel for us to hear things our partners tell us all the damn time? I mean, our wives and husbands are the people who committed themselves to us: to have and to hold, till death and all that. And are our partners trying to sabotage us? Make us unhappy? Are the trying to give us false hope and fill our minds with bullshit rhetoric? Well, from a simple strategy position, that would be dumb. There’s a lot of wisdom in that horrid saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” Unless I married a complete asshole, there’s no reason why The Candyman would intentionally do anything that wasn’t in my/his/our best interests. And I didn’t marry an asshole. I married the sweet Candyman. He’s got my best interests at heart, yet I fail to see that or truly listen to what I’m hearing from him.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll be taking every damn thing that comes out of his mouth as gospel. Not my style. However, I do think I need to be a better listener. I hear him all the time, I just don’t internalize what he’s saying unless I am super-focused. Most of the time, I am decidedly unfocused because I’m too damn busy worrying about all the shit I’m not, my failures and lack of current accomplishments. This is where I need to practice some basic listening skills. However, it’s hard to push aside the heavy, musty, dirty curtain of your own self-doubt and see that there is an  audience filled with your biggest fans, The Candyman sitting in the center seat of the front row.

The Candyman, basking in the glow of my epiphany,  suggested I write a post about how he was right about all this stuff. So I am. And just to make him feel really good, I’ll admit this too: we totally should have gotten a gas mower. The electric one blows.

Monday
Aug012011

{Sponsored Post!} On-Line Marriage Preparation Course

He doesn’t look over 4000 weddings old, but he is! Who might I be referring to? That would be the Tennessee based non-denominational minister Ralph Griggs! When I asked him how many weddings he’s officiated, he said he stopped counting a few years ago, and it was over 4000 then! Can you IMAGINE the stuff he’s seen? My goodness!

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Via

A few personal words about Ralph, though this is a sponsored post. Ralph was our officiant and he’s punctual, he’s nice, he’s professional and he’s good. Really good. We could not have been happier, particularly since The Candyman and I didn’t have our own church in Nashville. And the thing is, he’s just a super-nice guy. There, my 2 cents on that.

But on to the good stuff! One of the great things about Ralph is his on-line marriage preparation course. I know this sounds, er, lame – but marriage prep is crucial. Marriage takes WORK! Regardless of how easy your relationship is right now, it might not always stay that way, particularly when a crisis rears it’s ugly head. And crises can happen, to both good and bad people. It’s best to know how you and your partner will act in difficult times.

Now when The Candyman and I met with Ralph, we were already in premarital counseling. We knew we had some rough areas of communication that definitely needed smoothing over and we nipped that sucker in the bud. However, that was a specific issue that we needed to work on. Ralph’s course asks questions that took us in all sorts of different directions. One of my favorite questions was, “If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?” It may seem like a pipe dream type of question, but it takes you through each person’s priorities. We answered separately and then shared our answers afterwards. It was surprising (and a relief) to know that we would do EXACTLY the same thing. What’s interesting, is that particular question really gave us insight into our relationship because one of the things we fought about was money (sometimes still do). However, knowing that the core, the things that we see as important, were the same now make those money-talks a lot easier.

Here are some additional things that the on-line marriage preparation course can do for you: 

  • Prevent unhappy surprises in your marriage. You don’t want to get into your marriage and say to your significant other, “I had no idea you thought that!” You should kinda know all the important stuff up front! It sounds simple, but isn’t always.
  • Build confidence in your relationship strengths and explore new areas. Premarital preparation made us feel more confident about our decision to marry. Period.
  • Get a heads-up on tricky relationship issues, and have some compromises worked out already. This was crucial for me and The Candyman and was well worth the time investment.
  • Begin marriage with the knowledge that your mate cares enough about the relationship to put some effort into making it grow. Amen.
  • It’s fun. I’m not blowing smoke here. When done right, premarital preparation is fun. It just makes you feel really good about your partner.

Some other benefits?

  • It’s the marriage course guys love. For real. The Candyman would not lie about something like this.
  • It’s the course anyone can do at home! You don’t have to find a therapist. You don’t have to schedule and drive somewhere. You don’t have to pay a $50 co-pay or more if you aren’t covered by insurance. You don’t have to tell private stuff to a stranger.
  • Yo, Tennessee couples, save $60! Did you know that if you partake in premarital prep you can save $60 on your marriage license?

You don’t have to live in Tennessee and you don’t have to have Ralph as your officiant to take part in the on-line marriage preparation course. You can already be married too! It's never too late to dig a little deeper with your partner, particularly when it's fun.

So go check it out and come back here an let me know what you think. How do you feel about pre-marriage prep?

Sunday
Jun192011

Etch-a-Sketch Poetry

My dad doesn’t read my blog. My mom does. You’ve probably seen comments from her. She’s very supportive of all that I do. Not that my dad isn’t, he just doesn’t get very involved in the girly things. He can’t stand when me, or my mom or heaven forbid, me, my mom, her sisters and their daughters are all in the same room doing what he calls “Tiny Muscle Movements.” That’s when we’re all sitting around knitting, crocheting, needlepointing – whatever, and gabbing until our hearts content. It drives him mad. And that’s OK, because he spends an extraordinary amount of time in the garage doing all sorts of “man projects.” The Candyman and I are trying to convince him to set up a video camera in the garage to record his crazy shit. Recently, he brought me into the garage to show me the extra storage platform he built “for my mother.” It was this whole thing with a pulley system and ropes and knots and wood and it really was kind of amazing. But I stopped him mid-description of the contraption and said, “You built this for Mom?” Bullshit. You got to use all sorts of tools to do this. I see nylon rope with heat finished ends. I see a pulley system. You built this for you.” I got a slight smile and light shove and he continued to describe the system until I wandered away uninterested, as he continued to talk for the next hour or so, most likely to his tools.

My dad wasn’t always around a lot. It’s not because my parents split or that they had a troubled marriage or anything like that. He just worked. All. The. Time. His military career took him away for months. He didn’t make it to all the plays and recitals. He missed a lot of stuff. And he was also kind of a scary dad at times. He didn’t tolerate goofing around, dinner plates that weren’t spotless, sassing of any kind to any person nor poor school performance. We likened him often to Robert Duvall’s character in The Great Santini (a side note: this film was shot in Beaufort, South Carolina, when we lived there. My dad is one of the fighter pilot’s flying the F4 jets in the movie’s flying scenes. We can also point out old neighbors/pilots in other scenes of the movie!).

In these later years, the old dude has chilled the fuck out considerably. He’s still away from home a lot, riding his motorcycle all over Hell’s half acre. In fact, next month he’s going to Switzerland to ride the Swiss Alps. On a motorcycle. The dynamic between us has changed over the years. It becomes more and more apparent how alike we are. When I was young, people used to tell me I was the spitting image of my mother. Now, more people comment on how much I look like my dad. When I get indignant about something with The Candyman, he says, “OK, Gus! Whatever you say!” The Candyman likes to think this an insult. I do not.

Though my dad wasn’t always around, he did teach me a few things:

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He taught me how to laugh at an early age.

He taught me how to water ski. This is me, circa 1978, having jumped the wake for the first time!

He was there for the big stuff, like when I gradumutated from Indiana University.

Summers in the low country made for lots of fun.

I’m sure my mother will cringe at this, but he taught me that the occasional Etch-a-Sketch drunken poetry about a cow is completely acceptable. This is the one time in my life where I’ve seen my dad completely hammered. In fact, there were a few of us who happened to be in the same alcohol-filled boat on this day. Let’s just say it was at the beach, it was raining and there was a one year old SCREAMING ALL DAY. There was no escape, so we hit the booze early and didn’t stop.

me and papy

He taught me to be myself and by example, to stand up for what I believe in. He taught me to have a code in which to live by.

He also taught me how to curse, but not on purpose.

When I was 18, we lived for a moment in Grand Prairie, Texas, where there was an amazing water park. We went there together, just he and I. We went on every slide, jumped off of every ledge and got dunked in every pool. Towards the end of the day, we stood looking up at the three-story slide we had yet to ride. My dad loves to tell the tale of how I told him we HAD to ride it, “Because it’s the rule. You have to ride every ride in the park.”

I think he’s taken that “rule” to heart. There isn’t a place in the world he’s wanted to go to that he hasn’t been to. He has hundreds of friends, most who’d do anything for him simply because they know he’d reciprocate in a heartbeat. He’s been married to my mom for 46 years. He’s seen and experienced more of the world and the people he encounters than I can ever dream of (he takes pictures of random waitresses and bartenders on his motorcycle trips, deeming each one, “the nicest server I’ve ever had!).

He’s 69 and is riding every ride in the park.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Tuesday
Jun142011

Be A Moment Junkie

We can talk a lot about those moments in weddings, whether captured on film or experienced first hand, that speak to us emotionally. Or perhaps the correct thing to say is, I can talk a lot about those moments in weddings.

Right now, I’m following Becca’s (A Los Angeles Love) wedding recaps and I swear, I tear up at every post. The woman is an incredible wordsmith. Couple that fine and amazing talent with a heart so big, you feel like it takes over a whole room, and yeah – the waterworks are gonna happen. Her most recent post discusses her décor, their small-budget-in-a-big-city and the final outcome.

In Becca’s photos, you don’t see a lot of over the top floral masterpieces. You don’t see aisle runners, flower poms, chair covers, up-lighting or pin-tuck linens. There are no fancy chargers. No initials on the dance floor. No gum paste flowers on the multi-tiered cake.

There were folding chairs (the metal variety). There were paper picadel strands. There were DIY sprayed spaghetti jars. There were Ikea vases and strands of white Christmas lights purchased on-line at the last minute. There was a trip to the L.A. Flower Mart. There was a food truck.

How does it sound to you? Does it sound cheap? Does it sound ugly? Is it something you cringe to read because a) ohmygod I would never or b) I’m in the same damn boat and I hate it or c) what the hell is paper picadel?

Check out some photos from Becca’s blog that share some of the moments from her wedding.

These are a few of her “décor” shots. You might think, but I want roses! I want Lily of the Valley! I want orchids! Well, sometimes, you don’t always get exactly what you think you want. And realizing this during wedding planning is a fantastic time to learn because when you’re married, you don’t always get what you want. It’s all about compromise and adjusting and learning, so if flowers (or the dress or the venue or whatever it is) is causing a WPM (Wedding Planning Meltdown), it’s time to approach the problem from a different angle. Trust me on this. I knew that our wedding was all about the love, but there were so many times I got lost in the worry. WAY too lost in the worry and I let it take over the love. Please don’t do that. I know Becca got lost a few times, but what she got out of it was exactly what she wanted: a beautiful wedding on a budget that was incredibly meaningful and chock full o’ love. The décor pictures are inconsequential to the photos of her getting ready and her ceremony/reception that can be found here, here and here.

For all the worry and WPM that Becca had, this is one wedding I can’t get enough of. I tear up at the sheer happiness of it. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because Becca and I are friends now. I wonder if I have a few happy-jealousies at all the dancing (not a lot of that going on at my wedding). Mostly, I am just so over-the-moon elated at the sheer wonderfulness of it.

Becca claims her wedding isn’t blog worthy. Au contraire, my friend. It is so worthy, I can’t even stand it.

The point of this post was not to hijack Becca’s wedding. Seriously, it wasn’t! In her last post she shared an incredible link called Moment Junkie. I’d never seen this site before so now I’m totally addicted. I wish I’d seen this in my planning. It’s basically a collection of really cool, funny, emotional based wedding photos. They are the photos that you need to see. They are the photos, like many of Becca’s that capture the love, the fun and the meaning of a wedding and a marriage-to-be. Here are a few pictures that I hijacked from Moment Junkie:

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Dennis Pike Photography via Moment Junkie.

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Mindy Leigh via Moment Junkie.

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Roving Girl Photography via Moment Junkie.

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Mahal Bella Photography via Moment Junkie.

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Heather Nan via Moment Junkie.

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EpLove via Moment Junkie.

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Get Stak via Moment Junkie.

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Brad Ross via Moment Junkie.

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Nordica Photography via Moment Junkie.

And because I just can’t help myself, one of my favorite Wedding Junkie Moments from my own wedding.

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Nashville Photographer Jonathon Campbell Photography, natch.

OK, I have to stop the madness! I could post pictures all day long, but if I did I’d be a big blubbering mess. So go get all choked up on your own!  Check out the Moment Junkie site, check out Becca’s wedding recaps. Whatever you do, remember the love, people. 

Monday
May092011

On Second Cousins, Twice Removed.

A few weeks ago I took a weekend trip to Charleston, South Carolina. The Candyman’s aunt put together a “Cousin’s Retreat” for the Ladies Only. It had been a loooong time since I’d shared a bathroom with that many females….

It was a wonderful experience getting to know these women from two generations, most of whom I’d never met before, who I was now (if not remotely) related to. How strange is that? A single ceremony suddenly creates this whole new family that never existed before, the dynamics of which a new bride (or groom, for that matter) must navigate, and sometimes blindly. I had lots of reservations heading into the weekend. Would my potty mouth get the best of me in front of a slew of born and bred Southern Ladies? Would I be required to sit on a porch and drink Mint Julep’s? Not that I’d mind sitting and sipping, but you know, I wanted to be prepared. Were my Low Country adventures that same as theirs? Do we shuck oysters the same? Are boiled peanuts considered gauche by Charlestonians standards? Would I show my ass to these nice people who welcomed me into their lives and homes?

I hoped not.

I learned a lot about my husband’s family: they shared childhood photos and stories a-plenty. When The Candyman and I first started dating, I was a bit shocked at how well he dealt with me and my general surliness. I am still shocked by this. He told me then that he had “lots of strong women” in his family. Boy howdy, he wasn’t kidding! His aunts and gaggle of female cousins all fit into this “Strong Women” mold. I honestly can’t remember a time where I have sat around with such a variety of women, backgrounds and experiences and had such great conversations. Oh wait, yes I can. It was That Really Cool Thing.  My bad. But seriously, it was so cool. The political representations were clearly divided in both young and old, yet our end goals and objectives always led us back to the same place. Is that a female thing? All the women there were highly educated and it made for thoughtful conversation. Me likey.

Our activities ranged from sitting around the breakfast table in our jammies sipping coffee and gabbing (until well into the morning) to watching the Citadel Knobs become fully recognized cadets. It was a mixed bag of activities, but they all seemed to end with several empty bottles of wine and slow, easy feeling of contentment. One of The Candyman’s first cousins lives locally and opened her lovely home to the festivities. And when I say “lovely home” I mean, a “holy shit” kind of house. I have fantasized about this house. I didn’t know the house actually belonged to anyone except to the house-I-want-to-live-in fantasy movie that plays in my head sometimes. (I know you have them too, don’t deny it.) I’ve dreamed of big, ol’ trees, dripping with Spanish moss (check), a long dock that leads out to a marshy inlet (check), a screened in porch (check), rocking chairs (check), a garden (check) and all the niceties one might want for a home (check, check, check).

Garden&Gun

Only in the South, I swear. The Garden & Gun Club, downtown Charleston.

A very rigid cadet, about to scream his brains out to a legion of “Knobs.”

A church in downtown Charleston.

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Citadel Alum

A very cool chair I found for sale. It was only like, $800. Pa-lease! This is a DIY chair made in HEAVEN!

The following pictures tell the story of the outside of my fantasy house.

As House19

As House5

Mossy goodness.

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Marshy goodness.

We spent a sunset here with a nice bottle/s of wine.

Because who couldn’t use a fountain?

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Saltwater pool = cool.

It’s like an invitation home.

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One of The Candyman’s aunts.

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AH-mazing, right? Check out some shots from the inside (below). We had brunch there our first morning and I took some shots of our incredible table setting, the yummy cheese grits (with LUMPS of gouda cheese…) and everything in between! A word of warning: the homeowners are hunters. The “game” room is literally, just that – their hunted game. The family realizes that hunting is not for everyone and warned us of the room from the start (which I thought was very nice). So if you’re an animal activist, pleas skip the remaining pictures. I felt they made interesting photography subjects myself.

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In the billiards room.

Casserole

Super yum.

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How Southern does it get? A little North vs. South chess set!

Yes, please.

Library Potty

I really thought the wall paper was kick-ass.

As House14

OhmygodItotallyfantastizeaboutthis. It’s the “second kitchen.”Yes, that’s right. Industrial sized everything, for your serious parties. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to steal the 8-eye gas range. Any ideas?

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This reminds me of a Disney movie for some reason.

Pretty pretty tablescape!

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What the fuck is this?

The bathroom off the work-out room. Please note the massage table in the mirror reflection. Nice…

Private whirlpool-style tub with a lovely, private view.

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More tablescape.

I have no idea what this thing is either.

A random hallway.

The piano.

Incredible, right?

So this post brings to mind two questions. I’m assimilating to a new family albeit very slowly. Much thought wasn’t put into this when we got engaged. I mean, we talked about our family differences, but not how to become part of them. I definitely think there are some families that need to  discuss how to manage certain members before the knot is tied. What kinds of talks are you having? Are these tough talks or easy ones? Is there a sense of trial by fire (how we did it) or is there a plan of action? Do tell.

The second question is this: Are these pictures too obnoxiously big? I like to keep the same width for consistency’s sake, but is it a pain in the ass to scroll down a ton? Myself? I prefer large pictures on a blog. I want clarity and details. but sometimes scrolling annoys me.

Weigh in on either or both questions, will ya?