Sunday, September 30, 2007

I Love My Husband

While perusing our blog, I realized that I've praised the people closest to me and have failed to mention my husband. After being together for seven years, I thought that marriage truly would have NO effect on our relationship. I assumed that it would just solidify things, making him my husband and me his wife and give us the legal privileges associated with that union. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to get married; I just thought that we already had the perfect relationship and that marriage would simply solidify that for the rest of the world. I did not think that it would have any effect what-so-ever on the strength or depth of our relationship. But, let me tell you how wrong I was.

I have absolutely no explanation for what happened, but marriage changed things. Before we walked down the aisle, I told Mr. Howard that I was more in love with him than I ever had before and that I couldn't imagine being any happier. Two months later, I can tell you that I couldn't have been more wrong. We are more in love than we've ever been. And even though we've already been together for seven years, I feel like we're in high school again. We are the textbook definition of "newlyweds in love" and my only complaint is that we both have to work and can't spend every waking minute together. I'm so looking forward to this summer's vacation where we can spend a few weeks (solid) together again. Mr. Howard, I love you times infinity to the infinite power!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

It is time to buy a home...Or is it?

So, the time has come for us to truly be adult and buy our first home. We've been lucky the last two years, as we've rented a beautiful three bedroom home in West Sacramento with a nice yard (for the dogs to play in and Mr. Howard to mow) and a garage for me (Mr. Howard's car is too tall to fit in the garage, so I get the whole thing to myself). But, we live in constant wonder. Will the owner of our home try to sell? Will our rent suddenly sky-rocket (doubtfull in this market now...but some day)? Will we ever be able to fix the front garden? How much longer do we have to look at the ugly brick on our fireplace, without painting it? And most importantly, are we, in the near future, going to have to pack up the house and move with a newborn?

As we got more and more serious about braving the "home buying world," it became necessary for us to see a mortgage loan specialist to get pre-approved for a loan. There's no sense in us looking at homes if we can't qualify for a mortgage or, worse, can't pay the loan. The last thing I want right now is to foreclose on a home (like so many homes in California). So, we began the process of getting pre-approved for a loan with Bank of America (and coincidentally are working with a woman who may be distantly related to us: Cathie Howard).

Let me tell you how shocked we are! How do people afford homes? Alright, I guess I should re-phrase....I know how SOME people buy homes. I wonder how young, first-time home buyers (on part teacher-salary) buy a home! Even with the market being what it is, it is STILL so expensive to buy a home in California. I see why Mr. Howard's parents moved from California. I'm sure that we will be able to get into something and I'm even more positive that the second time we buy a home, it will be A LOT easier (we'll have some more money to work with). But I just didn't expect what we found. Even alright looking, forclosed homes right now, in a nice part of town, are going for 325,000 (and that's considered cheap).

Below I've posted some pictures of the home we live in now...ahh how I wish we could pick this home up and move it to Roseville and live there forever.

Our Backyard (and pups) On A Super Cloudy Day
Here's the Fireplace I don't love (but the husband I do)...

Our Living Room and Dining Room

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Wonderful Photographer

While I am in the bragging mood about all the wonderful people in my life, it is essential that I mention my little sister (who has, already, been a regular on this page). Aside from having her first legal entrance into a 21 and over club recently, she has engaged in another truly fabulous first. She has photographed her VERY first wedding all by herself. Below I have posted some of her wonderful photographs (from the wedding this past weekend and from other times). Katie, I'm so proud of you!!!
Through Denny's Eyes
Picture of Me at My Bridal Shower
True Love
Solitude
It's a lonely day
Gorgeous Landscape
Picture at the Wedding
Taken this Weekend

The Most Wonderful Friend

It is no secret that it has been difficult for us to move to Northern California. While we absolutely love living near my family, it is away from the home that we've lived in for the past 22 years: Orange County.

It is also no secret that it has been somewhat difficult for us to make new friends. I made a few friends during my credential program, but most moved away after they finished their credentials. I had one good friend up here when I moved to Sacramento, but after having her as a bridesmaid in my wedding a few months ago, she announced essentially that she was not mature enough to continue our friendship - a blow that was utterly devastating, to say the least. Mr. Howard has made wonderful friends at work, but given the nature of his position, most are old enough to be his father (in fact, some even have kids older than us) and the few double dates we've gone on with them have been a bit of a struggle (its like going on a double date with your parents). The people that are his age, unfortunately, are his employees and who wants to go out with their boss on a friday night? In Orange County we had a whole group of people we would go on group dates with (Allison & Jack, Jen & Brett, Sara & Nate, Lauren & Josh) and then of course, I had all my sorority sisters (Allison, Sara, Mary, Kaylene, Amy, Jen and soo many others). Here, it is not so easy and we currently have NO DOUBLE DATING PARTNERS! :-( All in all, it's been a rough transition.

If not for one special friend, the transition would have been impossible. In fact, we probably would have given up and maybe even simply retreated into our home never to be seen again). She has truly been my sister (no...literally...she was appointed my big sister in our sorority). And that person (which, I'm sure by now you have discovered from the picture) is Miss Jen Groover...Jen is truly a best friend - one of those people you pray you'll find in your lifetime. While she remains in Orange County and I don't get to see her as often as I'd like, my life is continually touched by her. She grounds me, serves as my sounding board, and makes me laugh. When I was in my year of craziness (master's degree, wedding, BTSA, first year of teaching, moving) it would have been easy for her to write me off and tell me what a bad friend I was (and, trust me, I wasn't the most wonderful friend), but instead she constantly offered to help me, told me it was okay that I didn't call her for two weeks, and listened to my 12 hour long explanation for why I hadn't returned her calls. It is for this reason that I am writing this blog. Jen, I love you! I do not know what I would do without you! I absolutely COULD NOT have successfully gotten through the wedding without you by my side and I so wish that we could drop everything and move back to be closer to you and Brett, but will just have to settle with a long distance friendship for a while (unless, of course, you and Brett see Sacramento in your future).

Just wanted to share with the blogging world, how lucky I am to have you, Jen, in my life!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

For My Brother...

Colin Street in San Francisco. Who knew he was special enough to have a street named after him, a dorky picture with my parents pointing, AND an entire blog entry dedicated to him?

Colin, even though you weren't with us for Katie's birthday in San Francisco, we thought of you...

By the way, the "street" was a dead-end alleyway.

I love you, Colin!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

21st Birthday Celebration

This past weekend we headed down to San Francisco to meet my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend in order to truly celebrate Katelyn's 21st b-day! On Saturday we spent the day shopping and hanging out and then went back to the hotel to check in and get ready for dinner. At exactly 5:00pm we were all dressed and ready to go to a nice dinner. While waiting for two taxis for all of us, the bellhop asked us if we wanted a limo. Because it was a celebration for Katie, we decided to go for it and ended up taking a little ride. Of course we had no idea what a ride we were going for...first, the driver pulled up to the wrong restaurant and address completely. When we corrected him, he drove to the address we gave him and then realized that we had given him the wrong address to begin with. Mr. Howard called 411 while I got on my phone to look it up on the internet. After a few minutes we realized that the address was only off by a few numbers. Once we discovered our mistake, the driver drove us around the block and finally we arrived at our destination. Upon looking at the restaurant, my dad and mom realized that it WAS NOT the correct restaurant (it WAS the one they had made reservations at, but NOT the restaurant they thought it was). So...we decided to go somewhere else.

Now, picture this...there's six of us. Mr. Howard's in a suit; Katie, my mom, and I are in dresses and heels; my dad and Denny are in dress slacks and nice shirts and we're WALKING down a quite random street (in, what I would refer to as, not the nicest part of town) looking for somewhere to eat. Literally people are STARING at us as they drive past. We're not even sure if there's a restaurant within walking distance and the limo has already left us. We didn't even know if we'd be able to hail a taxi. We found this little hole in the wall sushi restaurant (teeny-tiny) and walked in (all dressed up as if we were going to Morton's Steak House). I think the restaurant may have thought we were crazy, considering it was definitely a jeans/t-shirt type of restaurant!!! But in the end, the food was great and it all worked out.

All in all, it was such a fun trip!! :-) Plus, we found a street sign with my brother's name on it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

This is why I am a teacher...

While I have promised Mr. Howardthat this blog would NOT be about teaching and my students (considering, about half of our conversations at home already revolve around that topic), I must post just one little tidbit, for I fear I won't remember it in years to come!

Last Friday as I was getting ready for my day: writing the journal prompt up on the board, straightening up the floor and computer area, re-stocking the writing center, adjusting the daily schedule, and getting the materials ready for that day...a student came in to see me. Now, granted, this student was already one of those students everyone wishes they had. She raised her hand when she had a question, she sought me out when she needed extra help, she brought in donations for kleenex when I was desperate, she thanked me everytime I brought in snack, and always volunteered to stay in at recess to file or clean or anything I asked of her. And yet, still what she did last Friday shook me to the core.

She walked into my room and very simply said "Mrs. Howard, I just wanted to come in and say thank you!" I think she could tell that I was shocked, as I truly had no response. "I wanted to say thank you because you prepared me for 6th grade." It was so simple and yet, seriously I wanted to run up to her and give her the biggest hug in the world and possibly even cry. Isn't that what all teachers pray for?!? Never in a million years did I expect that in fifth grade, a student would have the maturity and understanding to equate my teaching with her preparation for sixth grade and then ACTUALLY come in and tell me. I thought that, in perhaps 8 years (when they were in college), a student or two might come back and visit and say thanks...but for an 11 year old, it shocked me to the very core.

Of course it reminds me that no matter how frustrated I get with the curriculum I have to teach or the pacing guide that I have to stick to (even moving on to long division when they haven't mastered simple division) or the families who don't understand how hard I work (and always want me to do more), that it isn't about any of that. It's about the kids and the lives I touch.

And that one little thank you might actually get me through this upcoming year in its entirety without being bitter (although, BTSA does make me quite bitter...so I can't promise anything).

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Our Wedding (Part 3)

For those of you who missed my past posts, here are Part 1 and Part 2 posts.

 This little balcony was on the back patio of the reception room:
 I think my favorite photos of all time are the ones below. I just love that we have these beautiful shots of us looking so young. Ha!
I didn't feel like we had that big of a bridal party, but looking back - it looks HUGE! I technically had 5 bridesmaids and a ring bearer (but it was basically 6 bridesmaids standing by my side) and hubby had 5 groomsmen.
 Here was Mr. Howard's family who flew in from Alabama and Alaska. His brother was not able to make it because he was in the Coast Guard at the time, but our sister-in-law was his representative. ;-)
 And my family:
And, lastly, these handsome men were Mr. Howard's best friends from high school. They both made speeches at our wedding and made me bawl like a baby. So sweet.
The very last post will be up soon, I promise! And it's my favorite, because it has all our friends and family dancing the night away with us! Partaaaaay! I wish we could get married again, just so we could have all our friends and family (plus all the new special people in our lives!) all together in one room again...with an open bar...and all the music of my choice...and lots of dancing. SUCH fun!

I am linking up with Amy from The Story of Us for her Throw Back Thursday linkup.

Our Wedding (Part 2)

For our wedding ceremony, we had a guitarist, Greg Williams, play during the ceremony. He played an acoustic version of In My Life by the Beatles for when I walked down the aisle. I found a version of it that was similar to ours on youtube (but it's by a different artist).

Here were the rest of the songs we chose:
  • Parents' processional - Joy of Man's Desiring
  • Bridal Party Processional - Ave Maria
  • Wedding Recessional - Wedding March
My handsome grandfather is in the pictures below the chair picture. I was so thankful he could be a part of my wedding. He passed away a few years ago and I am the only grandchild he was able to see get married; although I am sure he was looking down when my cousin got married last summer.
All of the groomsmen and bridesmaids walking down the aisle:
I loved my bouquet. LOVED!
 And my favorite photo from our entire wedding. This was the moment he saw me coming down the aisle. Oh my goodness. Seriously. I love him so much!
My dad walked me down the aisle and then my mom and dad gave us all hugs. When they asked "who gives this..." both of my parents spoke.
This is one of my favorite photos of my mom and me:
And one of my favorite photos of my mom and hubby:
We got married in a beautiful garden of a mansion and Bed and Breakfast with beautiful white chairs tied with pink bows and pink petals in the aisles. Our colors were pink and green and, everyone always asks me this, but it was actually my husband who helped pick the colors. Yes, real men wear pink. I asked him if he wanted the groomsmen to wear pink and then have him wear green and he wanted to wear pink. I think it's uber sexy!  
I mentioned this before, but hubby and I wrote our own vows. We really wanted to say words to each other than no other person on the planet had ever put together. There's something to be said about the fact that we married each other with words we wrote.
 This photo below cracks me up because I was so animated.
 With this ring, I thee wed.
 The perfect kiss:
 We did not plan this, but when they announced us as Mr. and Mrs. Howard, I put my hand up and yelled, "Woo-Hoo!" I had waited 7 years to marry him. We had already been through so much and I was more ready than I've ever been for anything.
 Hubby didn't leave me hanging though. He was pretty happy too.
 And with that, we were married.

Our Wedding

Getting ready:

 What memories these bring back:
My little sister was my Maid of Honor. My friends Jen and Julia and Mr. Howard's second cousins Christina and Kimberlee were my beautiful bridesmaids. My friend Amy was our ring bearer, but she wore a bridesmaid dress and stood up with us. I know this isn't the traditional way to do it, but I wanted someone who meant a lot to us to be standing with us and present us with our rings. I think it was very special. My cousin Alder, my mom, and soon-to-be mother-in-law got ready with us too!

 My friends and family helping me to get ready. The necklace was my gift from my soon-to-be husband on our wedding day.
 The groomsmen. My brother was his best man and his friends Casey, Chris, Jordan (Jordan is a good friend of mine), and his second cousin David were his groomsmen. My dad, Mr. Howard's dad, and some of his family got ready with him. They all looked so handsome:
 We got each other gifts on the morning of our wedding day. Hubby got me a gorgeous necklace to wear on our wedding day. I got him a romantic gift filled with all sorts of inappropriate honeymoon stuff and coupons that were just meant for us. Trust me; it was the perfect gift for him!
One of the things we loved about our photographer, was the stylized shots he took. I just adore these photos of all the men! Such handsome guys!
I think my bridesmaids just looked breathtaking on our day. I am so blessed they could be by my side.
Here are the rest of our Wedding posts:

I am linking up with:

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