Tag Archives: wedding

Our San Francisco Trip {Brill’s Wedding Weekend}, Part One

19 Sep

Our trip to San Francisco for my brother’s wedding over Labor Day weekend was a whirlwind. It went well overall, and we enjoyed all the wedding-related festivities, but let’s just say that being in downtown San Francisco for a wedding with a 1.5-year-old is CRAZY exhausting and stressful. We weren’t able to relax and enjoy everything like we would have wanted to, but we did our best given the circumstances.

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IMG_5847 (Large)My family rented a VRBO house that had 2 bathrooms, 6 bedrooms and slept 14, so we had my 2 other brothers and sisters-in-law, nephew, 3 cousins and 1 boyfriend, 2 uncles, 1 aunt, my parents plus me, Travis and Emma all staying in the same house. Luckily, our oven was broken when we arrived and the owners compensated us by giving us access to the downstairs unit, which had 4 more bedrooms and a bathroom. So we had plenty of space to spread out in the end.

IMG_5851 (Large) IMG_5848 (Large) IMG_5849 (Large)The first day, we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf with my aunt, uncle, brother, sis-in-law and nephew, and toured the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a ship used during WWII.

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That afternoon, Jill (the bride) had a ‘bridal bash’ where a group of us ladies went on a chocolate tour in downtown San Fran. We learned a lot about gourmet chocolate, the history of the area, and ate/drank chocolate until we were sick of it. It was fun!

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After that, we went to dinner at the Biergarten, a casual outdoor German restaurant. The food was delicious, but unfortunately Emma was not the happiest camper sitting around, so Travis and I had to take her across the street to a park for a bit, and then we headed home early.

Saturday, we hung out at the house and park across the street until the Welcome Picnic in the Redwoods that Brian and Jill (Brill) were hosting. It was a beautiful setting, and the sandwiches, potato salad, chips and dessert really hit the spot (so much so that I ate way too much). Emma loved running around and getting dirty.

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Jen and I got dropped off with the kids at the Conservatory of Music on the way back by our aunt and uncle for the rehearsal and groom’s dinner. During the rehearsal, we decided that Emma would just come in during the procession with me and Travis instead of her walking with the other (older) flower girl – which, it turned out, was a very good decision. The groom’s dinner was on the bottom floor of the Conservatory and was BBQ catered by one of Brian and Jill’s friends. It was tasty! There were also 3 cakes for dessert – the one I tried was pineapple and coconut. Delicious.

Without my aunt and uncle’s car, we had too many people to fit in just the one minivan so my brother Chris and SIL Meg ended up walking the 1.5 miles back to our house – and they had to push our jogging stroller (empty) because it wouldn’t fit in the car either. It was a very hilly 1.5 miles home, but they were troopers.

Stay tuned for Part Two…

The Cheap Way to Clean Your Wedding Rings

25 Jun

{While I’m off RV-ing around Alaska, please enjoy these posts from the archives and random thoughts library of Life, Really.}

Travis picked out my engagement and wedding rings all by himself. I told him that I wanted a diamond (as opposed to a gemstone) but he did the rest.

I’ll be honest – even though I loved it, it wasn’t what I would’ve picked. I had visions of a princess-cut diamond on a plain band for the engagement ring, and an eternity band for the wedding ring.

But I loved the thought that Travis put into the rings – he wanted to get me something that wasn’t really traditional (like what I was picturing) and went to about 10 different ring shops to find exactly what he wanted. He knew that I usually wear small, simple jewelry and wanted to get a smaller, high-quality diamond that would really sparkle, instead of a bigger, lower-quality diamond. He also told me later that he chose a round-cut diamond because apparently, they catch the light better than princess-cut. (Who knew?)

Travis actually bought my engagement and wedding rings together because the wedding ring is a ‘shadow band’. It looks exactly like the engagement ring, only smaller. Travis told me after we were engaged that he thought about giving me the wedding ring (with the smaller diamond) first as a joke, but then realized it probably wouldn’t be funny. (Good call.) And to this day, the cost of my rings is a secret.

We bought Travis’ wedding ring from the same jeweler (white gold, very plain band) and had our wedding date engraved on the inside of our rings (I figured that would give Travis an easy way to remember the date! just kidding). We also got ring cleaner solution with a handy little dipper thing – I could just put my rings (which I got soldered together) onto the dipper thing,  plunge it into the liquid, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and voila! good as new.

Well, the first month we lived in Boulder, I ended up dumping that solution out all over our bathroom. I’ve looked for the same thing at Walmart and such stores but I’m pretty sure I’d have to go to a real jewelry store to get it (and actually, I think I have done that but they didn’t have the same thing). The jeweler that Travis bought the rings from will do free cleanings but they’re a local jeweler so no dice when we moved to Colorado.

With the design of my ring especially, it needs to be cleaned every couple of months, bare minimum. So what’s a girl who spilled her ring cleaning solution to do?

Use toothpaste. 


{Disclaimer: Some people say that toothpaste will hurt gold but I’ve been using it for 4 years and my ring looks fine. Other alternatives are dishwasher detergent or Windex.}

All of my old toothbrushes (before I got an electric one) became ring cleaning brushes. The toothbrushes work great for getting into the nooks and crannies of my ring and around the diamond, and the toothpaste makes the diamond sparkle like new.

Put a little bit of toothpaste on your toothbrush, add a little warm water and brush away.

Then rinse it with warm/hot water, dry it and voila! Good as new.

{Side note: In the picture above, you can see the aftermath of me slamming my middle finger in our closet door. It took a couple months for that to grow out!}

How do you clean your jewelry?

Five Years

19 May

Five years ago, on May 19, 2007, I married my favorite person.

Spring will always remind me of the excitement I felt during our engagement. I’d wake up in the morning and stare at the ring on my finger. “It’s true. This is actually happening.”

In some ways, our 4.5-month engagement flew by. There was a lot to do, buy and plan but things fell into place quickly and easily. I tried on 4 dresses and decided this was the one:

We got married at the north campus of the church we had been attending, surrounded by lots of trees and flowers:

We had our reception at a historic old farm, now right in the middle of a suburb:

(My brother and sister-in-law got married there the following year!)

But in other ways, our engagement seemed to last forever. Even just a few weeks seemed like an eternity until I could spend every single minute with my best friend and wake up in the same bed as him.

But that day finally arrived and it was magical. My parents are to thank for that. They were SO generous and made sure that our wedding was everything we had dreamed it would be. The flowers, dress, decorations, food, everything was AMAZING. Thank you Mom and Dad for making our special day so perfect!

I am thankful that I was able to just enjoy the day. Whatever happened, happened. If things didn’t go according to plan, that was ok. Because at the end of the day, we were MARRIED and were going to spend the rest of our lives together. (I did, however, get slightly irritated at Travis when a slow song came on and he didn’t come find me to dance!)

But as all married couples know, the wedding day is the easy part of marriage.  After the excitement winds down, you realize that you’re still the same two people with the same old problems.

That’s where God’s grace comes in.

If it weren’t for God’s grace…

Well, I’m scared to think of where Travis and I would be today if God’s grace hadn’t been actively at work in changing me. I am a different woman than the one Travis married 5 years ago. And praise God that I am! It has taken me FIVE WHOLE YEARS to be able to cheerfully and willingly serve my husband. To desire his happiness more than my own. To set aside my own desires and expectations to please him.

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day that the Lord had made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Edited to add 5/23: I should also mention that our marriage is where it is today because God has been actively at work in changing Travis. He is so slow to anger, quick to compassion and incredibly sweet and thoughtful. He has changed the way he does things (like the dishes) because he knows the way I like them done. A marriage takes two people working together with servant hearts and many a conflict has been avoided by Travis kindly taking notice of and avoiding the things that tip me over the edge.

I am thankful every day to be married to such a wonderful, loving man. I truly do not deserve him. I don’t deserve any of the blessings that God so abundantly lavishes upon me. But He still gives them to me. The Giver loves to give, and gives in abundance, as if He had nothing else to do but to give and give again.

Today, I tell God that His gift to me has not gone unnoticed. I am thankful to the depths of my soul for His giving me the love of my life.

I can’t wait to see how God shows His faithfulness to us in the next five years.

Minnesotan Nostalgia.

4 Oct

I’m back to work today after my wonderful (too short!) trip to Minnesota.

My flight out Thursday night was uneventful and I arrived in Minnesota at 10:30. My parents and oldest brother, Jeremy, and his wife, Jennifer, picked me up from the airport and we drove down to Rochester (where I grew up). After talking a bit, we all called it a night around 1:00 am.

We spent the first part of Friday eating breakfast, getting wedding and baby gifts together, and I went through a bunch of stuff I had stored in my old closet before going to college. I threw away a bunch of stuff – old pictures, old notes, old boyfriend memories, etc. I am not a keeper. If I don’t think I’ll actually use it or look at it, I toss it. Done!

After some frantic rushing due to a car malfunction, we made our way up to Minneapolis for the rehearsal and groom’s dinner – my mom was a reader and my brother was an usher in the wedding. We were about 20 minutes late to the rehearsal because of traffic but other people showed up late as well so all was well. After we checked in to our hotel and I changed, we headed over to the rehearsal dinner at Loring Kitchen + Bar. It was a great time – perhaps because it was an open bar and I probably had the equivalent of 4 glasses of wine (they kept refilling it before it got empty so it was hard to keep track). We returned to the hotel and went to bed around 11:30.

We stayed downtown at The Hotel Minneapolis. The cousin of mine that was getting married is actually part owner of the hotel and was involved in the development of the hotel. We got to see the inside when it was just an empty space with carpeting over the gorgeous marble floors!


Before going to bed on Friday, I discovered St. Anthony Main was only 3 blocks away and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go for a run on my old stomping grounds. So many memories!

The trails I used to run on.

The lab Travis worked at.

The Panera we ate at every Sunday morning.

The building I lived in my junior year of college.

Ahhh… Minnesota.

Even though it was only 47 degrees out and I had only brought a t-shirt and shorts to run in, and I could tell I had drank a bit too much the night before, and I didn’t have anything to eat beforehand, I enjoyed every minute of that run. And I finally got to take advantage of the lower elevation without humidity! I ran 3.93 miles in 39:05 – a 9:57/mile pace. Heck yes!

We went out for brunch at Key’s Grill & Bar (delicous cinnamon french toast!) and then it was time for the wedding. Josh and Laura got married at The Basilica of St. Mary. This cathedral is gorgeous.


Their ceremony was a very traditional Catholic one and was very nice. I’m not generally a fan of Catholic homilies but it’s not my wedding.

After the ceremony, we went back to the hotel (where the reception also was) and ate some snacks in my cousin Colleen’s room (she’s actually only 9 months younger than my mom so it’s weird to call her my cousin). Then we headed over to Nicollet Mall to walk around and look at the shops. I had only brought 2 pairs of boots with heels + my casual slip-on sneakers (which would’ve looked very weird with my wedding outfit) so my feet were very unhappy by the time we were done walking around.

When we got back, the wedding reception had started. We retrieved our gifts and headed downstairs to the open bar. I had a “Laura’s signature cocktail” made with black cherry vodka, ginger ale and some other stuff, plus two glasses of wine. The cocktail hour was held in the lounge area of the hotel and the dinner was in the restaurant – perfect space for a wedding reception if you can swing it!

At dinner, I got to sit with all my brothers, 2 sisters-in-law, my cousin-in-law, and my brother’s and cousin’s girlfriends. Fun! Everyone missed Travis and wondered where he was. I wished he could have been there too but when you live 1,000 miles away, you miss out on a lot of things. I was just thankful that I could make it.

Since my dancing partner was missing and no one else from our group seemed particularly interested in dancing, I didn’t dance at all. We just sat around talking until we all went to bed around 11:30. I actually went to bed before my parents! I felt like such a loser. But when I get exhausted and want to go to bed, I am absolutely worthless so it’s no use trying to stay up.

Sunday morning, I got up early again to do 20 minutes on the elliptical + some strength training in the hotel gym. Then we went to breakfast at Bruegger’s Bagels where I had an egg + cheese on a pumpkin bagel (not as gross as it sounds) and a pumpkin coffee. I miss Bruegger’s. (Although I have to admit that Panera’s breakfast sandwiches are way better because they use real eggs, not egg patties.) And then we went to church at Bethlehem Baptist! It was so fun to be back there, even though I didn’t see/get to talk to anyone I knew. Piper’s sermon on sharing yourself with others was great – you can listen to it here.

After church, we hightailed it over to Roseville to pick up the food for the baby shower and then hightailed it back downtown Minneapolis to Colle + McVoy where my brother, Chris, works. They have a cafeteria space that people often use for wedding receptions and parties and it was perfect! Best part, it was free. We were running about 30 minutes late but luckily, so was everyone else! We ate a bunch of food, played some games, and opened gifts. It was a great time (I don’t have pictures yet, but when I do, I’ll post them – my SIL is so cute with her baby bump!)

The shower was only supposed to last until 2 but we didn’t leave there until 5! After we cleaned up and loaded the car, we drove back down to Rochester. We ate some burgers and fries at Newt’s and then got the tour of all the new additions/renovations around Rochester. I really think Rochester is a nice town. If I didn’t have this weird thing about not wanting to move back to the town I grew up in (and if Travis didn’t consider southern MN to be only one notch above Iowa), I would be tempted to move there. It’s changed a lot since I was in high school (for the better). Back at the house, we looked at old pictures of Jeremy until it was 10:45 and time for bed!

Monday morning, Jeremy and Jen took off after breakfast. After I packed up, showered and went through some more old stuff, my dad, mom and I went out to lunch at a new restaurant called Pi Pizza. I had a veggie pizza with red onions, sweet corn, green peppers, tomatoes and goat cheese. It was so good that I ate the entire thing!

Then my dad headed to work and my mom and I went on a walk around Silver Lake, looked at the U of M’s Rochester campus downtown and had some Italian gelato. I ate so many sweets this weekend! (And it hasn’t ended because I ate a cookie after lunch today. But no more! Time to get back on a normal eating schedule/diet.)

At 3:00, it was time to head to the airport and by 4:30, I was inside the airport, waiting at the gate for my flight that didn’t leave until 7:30! I had gotten the time change mixed up and thought my flight left at 6:30. I bought a newspaper, read every article I was remotely interested in, and then did the crossword. Then I got a sandwich and a latte, called Travis, and read some posts on Google Reader. Finally, my flight was boarding.

As we took off, I looked out on the lights of the Cities and was sad to be leaving. For some reason, Minnesota just feels like home. Bugs, snow and humidity notwithstanding, I love Minnesota. And even though we enjoy Colorado and have great friends, a great church and good jobs, it just doesn’t compare.

I can’t wait to move back!

My little bro’s wedding

15 Aug

He did it–he finally got married. And to his high school sweetheart no less. He was the one I always told “You’re never going to get married!” because he was glued to his computer chair in front of his computer screen every waking moment during high school that he wasn’t actually at school. But somehow Meg saw through that pathetic exterior to the kind-hearted, intelligent, witty guy my little brother really is. (And he’s gotten a lot cooler over the past 4 years as well–college did wonders for him).

As I stood up with the wedding party during the ceremony and watched Chris smile at Meg, full of love and excitement, I couldn’t help but think back to my oldest brother’s wedding 2 years ago. Back then, I knew that I wanted to marry Travis but we weren’t even engaged and I don’t think I quite understood the beauty and complexity of the pledge they were making to each other in that moment. I was moved far more during Chris and Meg’s wedding, not because they had a better officiant, music, or readings–Jeremy and Jen had a very lovely wedding as well (and I ALMOST cried at their wedding but I held it off!)–but because my understanding is greater. I have an inside appreciation and respect for the marriage commitment and lifelong intimacy–and I’ve only been married for a little over a year! I can’t imagine what it must be like for those married 25, 35, even 50 years (like my aunt and uncle will celebrate this fall).

I also prayed for Chris and Meg as I stood there. Marriage is a blessing but it’s also a challenge. And I really believe that the only way any of us don’t get divorced–or even seriously think about it–is by the grace of God. We don’t have love naturally as humans. Rather, we are naturally selfish, petty, and angry. And marriage has this uncanny ability to bring out the natural side of someone–just ask my husband. I will be honest that there were times during our first year when I wanted to give up–not in the “I want a divorce” sense but in the “This is too hard” sense. But time and time again–and don’t ask me how–God renewed me through the reminder of my marriage vow, that this was for life and that included the really hard times. Praise be to the Lord that He got us through those times and if you read this post, you know that I am out of the weird funk I was in and am loving and appreciating my husband more than ever before.

I pray the same for Chris and Meg. I pray that their marriage is centered upon and rooted in Christ–because human love isn’t enough to hold together over the years. The divorce rate in the U.S.–even among proclaimed evangelicals–will prove that. They need to run to God for satisfaction first and then they will be able to be content with each other. Because if you depend on that person for satisfaction, you are going to be let down again…and again…and again. They weren’t designed or meant to have that kind of responsibility. Jesus was and is meant to.

And I pray that they have a long life of love and intimacy together. I can see them being the old couple that still kisses and hugs and acts all lovey-dovey after they’ve been together 55 years. But I’m wise enough to not be presumptuous. Such a thing is a gift from God. All married couples need prayer. The biblical marriage dynamic of leadership and submission is so distorted and unnatural (I speak from personal experience) that God needs to be present and working in marriages for it to glorify Him and to accurately represent Christ and His love for the church.

Marriage really is a wonderful thing–so here’s to you Chris and Meg. May God bless your marriage. Enjoy your life together and don’t take it for granted.

Chris and Meg at their wedding

Chris and Meg at their wedding

Travis and me

Travis and me

The other bridesmaids--Meg's 3 sisters and her friend from middle school

The other bridesmaids

Excitement kills the work ethic

29 Jul

It’s not Monday but it still feels like it! For the next couple of weeks, it’s going to be really hard to be at work and be productive–I am so excited about our house that I can’t concentrate!! Add to that, we’re going to have so much going on outside of work that I’m pretty sure by the time my brother’s wedding rolls around, we are going to be exhausted (and might not be able to drive back!)

Tonight, we are going to go look at beds again. We have a full-size bed that I’ve had since my sophomore year of college. It’s getting a little old to be in such a small bed. So we’re going to buy a queen. We went looking on Sunday and found a couple that we’re interested in. It’s just so hard to know which one we’ll like! So we’re going to go lay on our 2 contenders again tonight and make a decision. We’re going to have it delivered to our new house and move our full into the guest bedroom. Yay! But that means I have to buy queen sheets sometime in the next couple days…

Then we’re going to buy paint and champagne for our little party tomorrow night. Except Travis is eating dinner with some friends from church so we won’t be having dinner on the floor. Oh well, I’m so excited to paint and be in our new house that I really don’t mind.

We’re also going to pack up the rest of our stuff tonight (like our dishes, computer, DVD player) and bring as much as we can down to the house tomorrow–I want to get as much set up as possible because we have a limited amount of time. Plus, I want to be able to eat actual food for the next week, instead of getting takeout and fast food every day.

Tomorrow, I am going to stop by the house in the morning to put all our perishable food in the fridge. Then, I have to work 😦 but after work, we’re going to pop the cork, toast to our new house, and get the paint brushes out. I am also going to do laundry (way past due) and try to put away all our dishes and pans in the kitchen.

Until Friday, that’s pretty much it but then on Saturday, we’re moving all of our furniture out of our apartment. Sunday, we’re going back to the apartment to clean everything so that we can just be done with Boulder already! (I am SO excited to not make that drive everyday anymore!!) Monday and Tuesday will be unpacking. Wednesday I go get my bridesmaid dress from the alterations place and a mani/pedi. Thursday night, we leave for Minnesota. Friday is the rehearsal and grooms dinner (it starts at 3 in the afternoon!) and then Saturday is the wedding. Sunday we’re planning on just hanging out with family and then Monday we drive back. Whew! It will be a whirlwind of activity but good thing it’s all exciting stuff. Except that part about going back to work on the next Tuesday.

Anyway, I know that I will want to stay up until midnight every night putting stuff away but I cannot let myself–or else, I will not be coherent for the wedding or the drive to MN. I just have to be patient…which I’m not very good at!