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Budgeting

18 Jan

Last night was my first (real) class of the winter quarter. My one class is Budget and Financing for Higher Education Administrators. In other words…

Ok. Actually, it isn’t that bad. While my personality type demands that I should never be handed over a bunch of cash and asked to manage it, I do occasionally dabble in the purchases of my office.

It’s rare.

At least the professor is interesting. He keeps it very open and more of a forum discussion. Having a debate over if tenure helps or hurts university budgets was actually… uh… fun.

What wasn’t fun was after a 10 hour work day + 3 hour class, I came home to find my lovely, wonderful, amazing fiance wanting to talk about budgets.

To make matters worse… we’re talking WEDDING BUDGETS.

I really, really do not mind talking wedding budgets. I’m not so indoctrinated to the wedding dogma that is TLC that I am calling platinum wedding shots, but really…

I love you, my darling, but I just spent an entire day staring or thinking at everyone’s money, but mine. Let’s not start.

That might have been harsh. While we have a vague understanding of how much we are going to be spending (*cough* too much *cough*), we do need to set aside a time to look at what our priorities are.

Do we want a house in 5 or less years? How about longer travel? What about kids?

All valid questions that we need to sort through, I suppose. But dear God, not when I just came from a budgeting course.

At this point, I think it would be more productive to throw money at a couple wedding vendors and tell ’em to run free with it. Ugly chair bows? WHY NOT. Overexposed photos of posed drunk family members eating friend chicken off of paper plates? GO FOR IT, REDNECKS!

At least I wont have to deal with a budget.

When and Where

11 Jan

After B and I got engaged, we started the light wedding conversations all normal, newly engaged couples have. We seemed pretty much on the same page with all of the big things (including the highly cringe worthy budget conversation).

But, of course, we ran in to issues when we got to the “where.” I’m from a rural area about an hour and a half south of Chicago. My family is all located in that area. Traveling to and from the city is not difficult at all, but with gas prices being what they are and city traffic being, also, what they are… I felt pressure to have it in my hometown.

Having it in that area would save us thousands upon thousands of dollars. On the other hand, our selection of “unique” location spots would be limited to places with ugly carpets or views of parking lots. It would also force B’s significantly larger family to travel to an area where there were less hotel options.

Some hotel carpet patterns are enough to get me sea sick.

I didn’t want to pick sides. But I knew that one of our families would have to travel. In the end, we chose mine.

This decision wasn’t made without a ton of discussion between all, essentially, 6 sides. Having it in Chicago worked simply because we live here. Families not considered, we want to have a wedding that reflects our love, and the majority of that love was cultivated here. We also think it is a bigger draw to have people travel in to the city where there are a ton of hotel options, activities, and easy transportation methods.

Our second set of questions revolved around “when.” The original plan was to have an extremely extended engagement for January 2014.  Then we considered those we were asking to travel- my family. I grew up in a very rural area where snow plows are pretty much a myth. If snow did fall that morning,  we could call:

 

But how realistic is that?

So, we flipped. Spring 2013 would be too early to raise the amount of money we planned on budgeting. Fall would be both of our busy seasons for work. Summer’s too hot. We found one happy medium: September. With average highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 50s, I couldn’t think of a more perfect time in Chicago to throw a wedding.

Now that we knew the when and the where, we relaxed a bit. That was until I put in my first feeler email to a vendor asking about September 2013. The email started off with this paragraph:

Hi! My fiance and I are looking in to potential vendors for our 120-140 person wedding in September of 2013. I know that it’s very early in the game for us to be looking, but we’d like to get a feel of what our options are. Could you please send me more information about your space, including pricing?

In return, I got this back:

Michelle,
First of all, congrats on the engagement! What an exciting time! Secondly, you are not looking too early. September, by far, is one of our most popular months. Currently, we are booked up until August of 2013 for all Saturdays. We do have a couple of Saturdays open in September, as well as some Sundays.

I pretty much did a spit take when I read that.

The Knot had told me that I could relax for another 6 months. I didn’t have to scramble to do anything I HAD TIME! This vendor, however, threw me a major curveball. Not only did I have to start researching now… I also was already starting to compete for one of the most popular months in wedding-land.

Frack.

So, here we are, 20 months out from our wedding. That’s 626 days, to be exact. And we’re planning like it’s less than two months from now.

Brides of Chicago, you have been warned.

……………………….

In other news, I was the DJ at this Sunday’s Dance Dance Party Party. It was BANANAS. 32 girls were there. 3-2.  For the room that small and the crowds they normally draw, 32 is like inviting the entire Chinese population to move to Vermont. Either way, it was SO MUCH FUN. I’ve never sweat that much before. And it was, perhaps, because my music selection was stellar, as always. I did a Best of 2011 Dance Mix. Each song was either released as a single or on an album that came out in 2011 with one exception- a tribute to Amy Winehouse.

Knitting a Prayer Shawl

7 Jan

Early on in my Christmas shopping, I decided that I wanted to knit something again. Last year, I knitted a very simple scarf for my aunt. This year, I wanted to get more ambitious. I instantly thought of my grandma, who is constantly complaining that someone or some animal is stealing her favorite shawls and blankets.

I found a pretty simple pattern and picked out four balls of yarn that matched the colors of her living room furniture (tan and burnt orange). The day I brought home the yarn, I noticed a different pattern on the back of the yarn ball. It was for a “prayer shawl.” As many of you know, I am not religious… at all. However, my mom is.

My mom has been through a TON this year. But she’s made it out and is doing dramatically better. I know that her new found faith has played a big impact in her life. So I decided to revamp my original plans and use the yarn to make my mom a genuine prayer shawl. It would take a LONG time (3 months, to be exact), but I finished it.

The pattern was pretty simple:
Tie on 84
Knit 4, purl 3
I measured it out around myself and then added a little bit more so it would fully wrap around the shoulders.

In order to be a prayer shawl, you actually had to add the prayers. Since I dont believe in a conventional God, I sent out good thoughts, my hopes for her, and my hopes for her family after I finished each row. This took a bit of time, and after 100 rows or so, you really run out of ideas for wishes and prayers… but I made it.

Here’s what it looked like:

I'm a HORRIBLE model, so I cut my head off of one shot.

The shawl took a ton of patience, something I do not have. But it really made this Christmas a more spiritual one for me.

In other Christmas recap news, I ended up with some pretty awesome stuff… engagement ring included. But I did end up making two big purchases for myself. One of them was a new computer, which I just got on Thursday, thanks to B’s brother. The second one was an Xbox. I’ve been wanting one FOREVER! I ended up getting Portal and Fable 2. It was a pretty exciting holiday, to say the least!

Now, it’s on to wedding planning. We think we’ve got the location down (just have to sign the contract) and I’ve asked a friend of mine to be my Maid of Honor (a sort of shared title with my sister, who is my Matron of Honor). I’ll share both of those details soon.