2007: A Year in Review

Every year starts (or should start) with the creation of goals. By New Year's Eve 2006, I had all of mine written out. It was going to be an ambitious year. I'd like to review with you my successes and failures of the year, and share with you some exciting goals for 2008.

2007 goal: Get girlfriends.

Result: Went out with girls from the ward on New Year's Eve. Really hit it off. Was confident that I could now hang out with girls on a regular basis instead of spending all my social time with El Senor. Went out with one for lunch on New Year's Day. Shared with her my "get a boyfriend" goal (see below). She decided to adopt that one, too. She had a boyfriend one week later (so much for my girlfriend goal) and was engaged a couple months later.

Revised 2008 goal: Get couple friends.


2007 goal: Get a boyfriend.

Result: Got a boyfriend, then a fiancé, then a husband.

Related 2008 goal: Get pregnant?


2007 goal: Lose 20 pounds.

Result: Gained 10.

Revised 2008 goal: Lose 30. (Then get pregnant in time to gain again.)


2007 goal: Read 10 books.

Result: Read the last Harry Potter. And 1.5 books about marriage.

Revised 2008 goal: Read 5 books.


2007 goal: Get published.

Result: Well... technically yes... I wrote snippets about sports that have been published and are part of an item that is being sold in stores. Not quite what I was expecting... But I also wasn't expecting to become a designer either, so I think that it counts for something that I also have a bag with a lining I designed that's being sold in stores now. (And when I went to check it out in the store and opened the bag, the lady who worked there said, "Oh! The inside is so cute!")

Revised 2008 goal: Start designing wedding invitations as side-work.


2007 goal: Topical scripture study: Create 26 Doctrinal Resource Sheets that explore different gospel subjects.

Result: Created 1.

Revised 2008 goal: Read the Sunday School and Relief Society lessons each week, even though I will be teaching the sunbeams. (I do not yet know what kind of scripture study preparing my lessons entails... do 3-year-olds know how to speak yet? Do they still pee their pants?)

Other tidbits:

Attended Monster Truck Rally.
Got new design responsibilities at work.
Bought a bike.
Got married.
Moved to Springville.

Places traveled:
Washington D.C. with Switchback.
San Diego and Mexico with Murray (to see Switchback).
Maryland and New Jersey with family (and Murray who wasn't "family" at that point).
Costa Rica with Murray.


In addition to any goals listed above, Murray and I have some great adventures planned for 2008. We have decided that since we both live in Utah, we need to take advantage of everything this state has to give us. So we'll be developing a list of things to do in Utah and we'll work through them over the next several years. This year, I think we'll definitely see the spiral jetty and maybe we'll bike around at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Other things will include Moab and Arches, neither of which I've been to. We'll make a list of other Utah must-dos and make sure that we've done everything by the time we 1) move away from Utah or 2) if we don't move away from Utah, die.

Other 2008 plans of note:
Buy a 24-inch iMac.
Go to Canada (maybe twice).
Go to Texas.
Go to Europe?
Go to San Francisco?
Go to Las Vegas to see Love.
Go birdwatching together.
Make lots of paintings and artwork.
Have fun day trips.

I think that 2008 is going to be a good year.

New Christmas Tradition

I was always jealous of my friend Sophie's family Christmas tradition. They would draw names and make homemade gifts for each other. I know that doesn't work real well in your average family, but Sophie's family is above average artistically. Everyone has a talent that can lend itself to making a wonderful, unique Christmas present.

Now that I'm married to an artist, however, I have the opportunity to start that family tradition and cultivate creativity and artistic talent in our future children. Murray and I started this year by deciding that our main gifts to each other would be handmade. Then we'd fill each other's stockings (and for those who love materialism out there, let me just be clear about the stockings: we went all out and even though the stockings were enormous, some of our "stocking stuffers" still didn't fit).

I took pictures of our homemade gifts for you to enjoy. (And I took pictures where you can actually see the size of the stockings.)

{A calendar I made of Murray's heroes... and yes, that's a picture of him. I think he should be his own hero. After all, he's mine!}

{A scherenschnitte of Murray's family crest. Yes, now you know our last name...}

{My portrait, done by Murray. Isn't he awesome? The work represents two things I love: 1) Murray's original artwork, and 2) me.}

Another Grandpa Story

If I start telling Grandpa stories, I run the risk of never actually running out of Grandpa stories. That's not such a bad thing. Anyway, I am really regretting not sharing this gem last week when I posted about Grandpa.

Back when we all lived in Canada, we had a cottage on a lake near our city. We built the cottage ourselves (as in, we hired someone ourselves to build it) and right next to our cottage we built a small one-room cottage for my grandparents. We called it Amich Lodge, which is the name of the place where they honeymooned. During the summers, my grandparents basically lived at the cottage. For a long time, we didn't have plumbing, so if you wanted to bathe, you needed to do so in the lake.

When my parents moved to the States, they had to sell the cottage. Luckily, family friends bought it from us, so when we've returned to Canada for visits, we've been able to visit our cottage, too.

Last time that Dad went up to visit, he took Grandpa on a drive out to the cottage. He hadn't told Grandpa that he was planning on swimming out there. So when they got there, Dad got on his suit and told Grandpa that he was going for a swim. Dad swam out a ways into the lake and when he looked back, Grandpa was buck naked, walking into the lake with his cane.

The next day when they went to visit the cottage again, Grandpa packed his suit and a bar of soap.

Here's a picture of the cottage in winter.

Here's a google satellite view of the cottage.

Here's a picture of my grandpa going naked into the lake.

All I want for Christmas is to be a size 8 again.

But that's clearly not going to happen. Corporate America is keeping me down. Please look at all the pictures of the food that's around our office right now. (Please note: It's less than there was this morning... people [including me] have squirreled away MANY items to keep in their office or bring home and share with their families. The food's gotta go somewhere [my ass].)

Merry Jane Goodall Christmas

Every year, Murray makes a Christmas card that's more random than the last year's. This year, when looking for inspiration, he came across a picture of Jane Goodall and decided that she would be the Christmas card this year.

Then we got the idea to see if we could send her one. Yesterday Murray called the Jane Goodall Institute and got her personal assistant's address. So last night, Murray wrote Jane Goodall a personal note, we both signed the card, and we mailed it off.

Yep, that's right. We're the type of people who send Jane Goodall Christmas cards.

Stockings were hung by the tv with care...

Last night I finished Murray's and my stockings for this year. I had to make them big because I've found lots of stocking stuffers for Murray, not because I'm greedy.

I also almost finished two floor cushions that look so great I kindof want to make another one... Because three stacked on top of each other make a great ottoman!! I'll post pictures of our home once we finally find a place for all our belongings.

My Christmas Gift to You

Dear Readers,

This Christmas, it would be impossible for me to send you each a personal gift. First of all, I don't know many of you. Second of all, I don't have that much money or time. But one thing I can give to you this Christmas is some of the best advice I have to offer.

1) When you open a yogurt container with a foil lid, do not just open it. Chances are one in three that it will spurt out yogurt all over your outfit. Before opening it, puncture a small hole in the lid (use the handle of your spoon to do this) to allow it to breathe. Then open normally. No ruined outfit.

2) When you have the hiccups, the fool proof method of getting rid of them is to swallow nine times between hiccups. Why nine? I don't know, only that I saw it on Oprah when I was about twelve years old and I've followed that advice ever since. People who claim that water doesn't cure the hiccups simply aren't swallowing enough water. They're taking a couple sips and then expecting the hiccups to be gone. Either swallow nine times between hiccups without water (sometimes very challenging) or swallow nine times with the aid of a food or beverage. Your hiccups will be gone. Only one person I've shared this advice with has ever contested it. Kelly Roxanne, who hates the hiccups more than your average citizen, swallowed nine times between hiccups and they didn't go away. But then she swallowed nine times between hiccups again and they did go away. Since this is the only anomaly, I must conclude that she had two consecutive bouts of the hiccups.

3) This sweatshirt from Old Navy.
It looks like a sweater. So you can wear it to work. Seriously, go out and buy one right now. Your boss will think that you're adhering to the business casual policy, but you'll know that you've come to work in your sweats.

4) These yoga pants from Old Navy.
Wear them to work with a nice shirt or sweater (see above) and nice shoes. Again, your boss will think that you're dressing nicely for work, but deep down, you know you're wearing lounge wear.

That, my friends, is currently the absolute best advice I have to offer. May it bless your lives.

You Go Girl

Yesterday morning, when I woke up at 5:30 (which I have to do every workday morning), I decided I was going to call in sick. I wasn't really feeling my best, and I already had a doctor's appointment scheduled, so I thought that it would be wisest to stay home and take care of myself. (Please note: Because I am married, you may start to wonder if this has anything to do with pregnancy, but I assure you, none of this is pregnancy related. Please check back next year.)

To call in sick, I had to first call my carpool. Placing phone calls at 5:30 isn't really a habit of mine, but I knew that my carpool buddy would be awake already. So I called her and told her that I wasn't coming, chatted briefly, and then ended with, "You have a good day, girl." I ended the phone call and Murray started laughing. (He's not in the habit of being conscious at 5:30.)

"That sounded lesbian," he said. I admit, I never actually call other women "girl," but my carpool buddy does, and I thought that maybe she'd appreciate something like that at 5:30 in the morning. But it meant that my husband was teasing me about sounding like a lesbian the rest of the day. In fact, he called in to work so that he could use up a vacation day before the end of the year and so that he could come to the doctor's office with me (again: not pregnancy related), which meant that he could, actually, keep teasing me about it for the entire day.

Around noon, a coworker sent me a text message asking where I was and if I was sick. I texted her back, explaining my non-pregnancy-related issue in too much detail. She wrote back, "Oh girl, that sucks!"

I read it to Murray and now I'm sure I'll never hear the end of this.

Better than a Baby

After my wedding, my grandpa went home with my parents to stay with them and my aunt and uncle for a few months and escape the Canadian winter. Ever since, I've been receiving pictures of him from my parents and from my aunt and uncle. I swear, he's the subject of more photo taking than a baby.

I'll share the pictures with you, too, and hopefully you can get a good sense of his personality. He once sent me an Easter card with a Polaroid of him sitting on the Easter Bunny's lap in the mall. Classic. Also, please note the leather cap. He's been wearing caps like this for as long as I remember. In fact, I still have one that he gave me. I'm never letting go of that thing.

Weekend Projects

This weekend has been a fun and productive one. It's been artsy and may yet prove to be a little crafty if I can find the time tonight to make our own Christmas tree decorations.

Friday evening for our date night, Murray and I went to the Beehive Bazaar. It was a little smaller than we were hoping, but there was a lot of cool stuff jam packed into the small space. I bought a glass pendant. Murray bought a cool envelope. Unfortunately, we were limited to only buy what we had cash to pay for because they accepted only cash or check (and who carries around checks anymore?).

To continue with our artsy theme, we went home and I had Murray show me how to paint images in PhotoShop. I chose three of my favorite portraits from his sketchbook (I helped with two of the three by drawing the hair styles, jewelry, and clothing) and then he taught me how to paint them. Unfortunately, I realized that it still requires painting skill (of which I have none) and an understanding of color layering and shading and light source (of which I have none). But on the positive side, I have a husband/slave who can do it all for me anyway.

(Whenever Murray apologizes for one or two manly stereotypes that he's missing---like ability to do plumbing or whatnot---I remind him that I'd rather have a man from whom I can commission any painting than a man who can fix a toilet. It's much more affordable to pay someone to fix a toilet than to pay someone to make me a painting according to my specifications.)

Without further ado, I would love to show the digital paintings that we worked on (or that he worked on while I watched---I got to pick colors though and do most of the makeup).

After completing the women on Saturday afternoon (we affectionately refer to this series as b*tches), we sent them to be developed at Costco. We picked them up an hour later, after having bought three complementary frames from Target.

We're interested in doing more stuff like this in the future but obviously you don't normally print something like this at Costco. We're looking for a printer who would be able to give us matte copies of our work. Does anyone know of affordable printers who would be able to do that?

Also, we're interested in knowing if there's a demand for this sort of thing. To gauge this, we'll sell you Costco prints of all three of these ladies for $10 if you're interested. I think that's a steal, personally. They're 4x6. Just email me at singing [dot] cicada [at] gmail.com.

My Prince

To add to yesterday's post about singles versus marrieds, let me share with you this choice experience.

When Murray first moved into his townhouse, the Relief Society presidency from the local family ward was making the rounds to each home in the ward. When they got to his house, they introduced themselves to him, and he explained that he was actually single and attended a singles ward. Without another word, the sister who had been leading the conversation turned around and walked away. One of the other sisters, as she walked away, apologetically said, "Well... uh... it was nice meeting you!"

So one thing we wondered about our entire engagement was what it would be like to move into this ward and what I would think of the Relief Society presidency. But the thing is, I love my Relief Society presidency. They're all sweet women and I couldn't see any of them doing what Murray described. Also, he doesn't really recognize them, so we're thinking that maybe the offender has moved to a different ward.

Nevertheless, the other night the doorbell rang and it was two members of the Relief Society presidency, coming over to welcome me into the ward. One said that she hadn't realized that Murray and I were newlyweds moving into the ward---she had assumed that we'd been married a while. They asked how we met and why we chose to live in Springville, and I said that Murray had the house here, so I moved in.

Then it dawned on them that like frogs who turn into princes, single men turn into married men and move into family wards. One said, "Oh! We knew it was all families here and that one single guy, so that makes sense, then!"

Singles Sensitivity Training

Wednesdays are my day off work and they are, therefore, my day to get things done. I look forward to the "break" from work, but I am beginning to realize that a Wednesday of errands can be more exhausting than a day sitting in front of my computer.

Among yesterday's errands was going to the jeweler to have my watch battery replaced. I went to the place where Murray and I bought our wedding rings because the service is so great. Our salesperson, T, even greets us by name when we come in, which is crazy because I figure he sees and works with so many people.

So T greeted me this time, and we chatted---he asked me about married life, and I went on about how great it is because I thought that he was married. (I guess the wedding band he'd been wearing every time we went in was just for show.) In the manner of making chit chat, I asked him, "How are things? People still getting married?" I know it's not the most brilliant dialog, but there it is. I said it. His response was completely unexpected.

He said, "Nope. I'm still not married."

With absolute horror I realized that he thought I asked him, "Still not married?" As if three and a half weeks of marriage were long enough to make me lose all sensitivity toward singles. But I couldn't really say, "No, I didn't ask if you were still not married. I asked if people were still getting married... and buying rings and stuff... you know... how's business?" because that just would have sounded lame.

Because of the misunderstanding he ended up telling me all about how he just broke up with his girlfriend and that he's a terrible boyfriend. And then, as a married person, I wisely bestowed wisdom upon him by telling him that if you're really not into the person, breaking up before the holidays is really the only way to do it, because otherwise, you're locked into the relationship until at least Valentine's Day. Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day: Those are three really awkward holidays to go through when you know you don't really like the person you're dating. (Of course, I would have bestowed that same wisdom had I been a single person because it was a lesson that Richie taught me years ago. Not that he followed his own advice, which meant that I had to help him find a slew of non-committal gifts for the holidays. Scarves and mittens anyone?)

And T really appreciated that insight because it hadn't occurred to him, and it made him feel better about his breakup.

Unfortunately, it didn't make me feel any better about the fact that someone misunderstood the words from my mouth and thought that I was asking a horrible, insensitive question that only smugly married people ask.

A Handful of So-So Women

Last night for FHE, Murray and I headed to Borders to pick up a book about great women. We figure it's a nice thing to have on hand, but we also need it for a more immediate project we'd both like to be working on. Anyway, we figured it would be easy. Find a book called "50 Great Women" or "The 50 Greatest Women of the Twentieth Century" or something. Just anything about great women, really---as long as it had lots of pictures.

At Borders, we asked a guy for help. He checked the computer and said that they didn't have anything like that, but directed us to the Women's Studies section. There, we found some classics like The Vagina Monologues, and a book whose title was simply the C-word... not really books that had pictures (thankfully!) and not books that talked about great women.

We then headed to the history section and that was a bust. We would have hit up the biography section, but they didn't have one. Then we looked through every coffee table book section and still found nothing.

We were sure, however, that Borders was an anomaly, so we headed to Barnes & Noble, who surely would have a book on great women.

At Barnes & Noble, the employee we asked for help was very eager to help and very optimistic. "Oh yeah," he said. "I've definitely seen something like that recently."

Ten minutes later, we were still standing at the help desk as he entered in search after search. He was coming up with nothing. I finally told him that instead of 50 great women, I'd settle for a handful of so-so women. Still nothing. Murray and I decided that maybe we should just write the book since apparently it doesn't actually exist.

Our helper took us through every possible section of the store it could be in. We found a coffee table book of pin-up girls. We found a Play Boy Bunny coffee table book. We found a book called Amazing Men with a picture of Ben Kingsley on it. Great women? Nowhere to be found. Murray, at this point, was on the verge of becoming a raging feminist.

We finally found a book called something like They Changed History. It's a collection of 200 great and influential people. We figure we can possibly find about 50 good women in its pages. In the meantime, I guess we'll have to get started on our 50 Great Women book idea since apparently no one else has done it. And maybe I'll throw myself into the mix and see if anyone notices.

The Honeymoon

CONFESSION: We didn't take a single picture the whole time. It was just so nice to be able to relax and not worry about documenting the whole thing, but just to enjoy it. But we did do a zip line canopy tour, and they took our picture and then charged us our firstborn son for it, so we figured what the heck---anything for a picture of our honeymoon. Of course, I don't know where those pictures are right now and I don't know how to scan them in anyway, so I'll just share with you photos of where we stayed that were taken by other people. (And don't forget the illustrations that are on Murray's blog.)

We went to Costa Rica because Murray's generous boss offered his condo for us to stay in, and really, there's no reason to say no to that! The trip to San José took a while, and I was excited to finally be there, but was not really prepared for the 2-hour car ride to where we were staying. Our taxi driver was so capable of handling the whole thing that we decided not to rent a car at all while we were there, but to allow others to do our driving.

The condo is located in a very small community that had two restaurants, a "convenience store" type market, and a discotheque. The cab driver made sure to point out the discotheque several times. Murray and I. We look like ones who love the disco for sure.

Upon arriving, we unpacked our bags and headed down to the Low Tide Lounge, the restaurant that was recommended to us, for some fish tacos. The restaurant is right on the beach, so we were able to watch the waves and enjoy our food. There are no walls or doors to the restaurant---it's all completely open. And one thing that really surprised us was that dogs and cats just park themselves at your table and beg while you're eating. In fact, when I leaned forward on my chair, a cat even hopped up onto the back of my chair to get a little closer to the food. While we were eating, it started to rain, and there were even drops coming through the thatched roof and hitting Murray and me and our food. The whole experience was charming, and the food was great.

The first and second days we just concentrated on enjoying our surroundings---walks on the beach, more food and pina coladas, bird watching, etc. And then the third day we decided to venture into the nearby tourism-based city. It was nice to have no plans and be able to just play things by ear. It was a nice change of pace after the wedding.

In Jacò, the nearby city, we wandered around shops, booked a snorkeling tour and a canopy tour, and enjoyed a nice restaurant. The cab driver who had taken us into the city (in our own personal van/minibus) had given us his phone number to call when we were through. When I called, a woman answered the phone. The conversation went like this:

Woman: Hola?
Cicada: Hola? Taxi?
Woman: No.
Cicada: No? Taxi?
Woman: Necessitas taxi?
Cicada: Si?
Woman: Donde?
Cicada: Jacò? Esterillos Oueste?
Woman: A Esterillos Oueste?
Cicada: No... Da Jacò a Esterillos Oueste? (Using Italian prepositions... not sure if they translate...)
Woman: Oh, ja, a Jacò. Donde?
Cicada: Mas por Menos? (The store we were standing outside of.)
Woman: Okay. Yo vengo.

After this conversation, I turned to Murray and said, "I called the number... but a woman answered... and I don't know if we just called our taxi driver or some random person who has decided that they can make some money by giving us a ride somewhere..."

When the taxi showed up, it was our original taxi driver and his wife. How sweet. And then they remained our loyal chauffeurs for the rest of our trip.

Snorkeling was not everything I imagined it would be. The boat ride to the snorkeling place was great, and it was just me and Murray and the captain of the boat, which was cool. And the ride alone was almost worth all the money we paid. Unfortunately, water conditions weren't ideal for snorkeling, so we only saw a couple of cool fish. Then pretty much everything went to pot when we realized that we were caught in the tide and try as we might we couldn't move from where we were swimming, unless we went closer to the rocky outcroppings where the waves were sure to beat us to death. We called the captain and his boat over to save us and cut our snorkeling trip a little short.

The canopy tour the next day was great, even though we didn't see any monkeys. While we were waiting for our personal chauffeurs to come and pick us up to go to the canopy tour, though, we saw two iguanas in a tree, and a little red squirrel that doesn't look like our local squirrels here. And earlier in the trip we'd seen wild parrots just flying by, so really, we can't complain too much. At the canopy tour, we joined about 25 other people. The tour consists of you getting completely geared up, then attached to a series of zip lines. The zip lines each lead to another platform and another zip line. And it was a lot of fun.

We only ventured into the ocean by the condo once during our honeymoon. I know, it seems like a waste, but there's something disconcerting about being the ONLY ones on the beach and the ONLY ones in the water, not to mention that these were the biggest waves I'd ever seen, and I just had visions of being swept out to see or drownded. But on our last day, there were a handful of others in the water---all surfing---so we grabbed a couple boogie boards and braved the water. That's the first time in my life that I've successfully ridden a wave all the way into shore, so I'm thrilled that I finally got over my fear. And there weren't any sharks. Phew.

The honeymoon, basically, was perfect. It was a great time to relax and enjoy each other's company and not have to talk about wedding plans. There were a couple times that I caught myself thinking, "I should have brought thank you cards because I could have done them on the plane!" and then I'd remember that the honeymoon was there so that we could escape from all obligations. And I think that we did a good job of that.

The condo.

The view from the condo.

More of the condo.

The beach.

View of the condo---it's the white building.

Lots of vultures were around.

Narwhal Co.

Dr. Rice is shamelessly plugging this new site today. Sample conversation:

Cicada: Hello, Dr. Rice. How are you today?
Dr. Rice: www.narwhalcompany.com
Cicada: Oh, that's good to hear. What did you do last night?
Dr. Rice: www.narwhalcompany.com
Cicada: Really? That's fantastic! Oh, I forgot to ask, do these shoes make my butt look big?
Dr. Rice: www.narwhalcompany.com
Cicada: I thought so.

I figured it was worth seeing what she was talking about. Just in time for the Christmas holidays comes this really cool new site that sells used tie fashion accessories. Wallets, iPod covers, iPhone covers, even manly bracelets that are sure to replace those liveSTRONG bracelet knock-offs as the latest trend. Top it all off with a cool line of t-shirts including this United States gem.

Include this site in your Christmas shopping and bask in your smug feelings of having bought handmade this year.

As if I needed another reason...

I'll post about the honeymoon tomorrow, but I couldn't resist sharing with you all another reason why I love Murray. The other night we went to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy a food processor with our gift cards. While I was deliberating between the 7-cup at $100 and the 14-cup at $200, this caught Murray's eye.

To which I asked, "What would anyone ever need that for?"

He responded somewhat sheepishly, "I've got to admit, if I were still a bachelor, I'd buy that up in a second."

How can I not be in love with him?

(We went with the 14-cup.)

My Reception Perception

Daltongirl and Nemesis have done an excellent job of documenting this glorious occasion. And now it is my turn to let you know a little more about what went into making the reception so great.

So much of this wedding was planning long distance. My mom was out in Maryland. We talked on the phone quite a bit and tried to get things together as best as possible. Because the reception was going to be held in a different state from where my family actually lived, we decided it was better to hire a caterer to do all the work. So we went through caterer-choosing hell. One caterer stood us up. Another made it very clear that we knew way more about food than they did. Finally we found a caterer who looked like they could do a very capable job. So we hired them.

And then they sent us their estimate.

For 150 people it was going to be about $6,000. And that was for a minimal, cost-saving food offering. We had meat, fruit, pasta salad, green salad, desserts, and WATER. To add a beverage would have cost $1.50-$2.00 per person, which Squirrel Boy accurately pointed out that for that cost, we could buy everyone their own 2-liter. The wait staff was $150 per person, in addition to the inflated food cost. And on top of all that, of course, we were expected to tip 20%.

My mom kept saying that if we were doing it in Maryland, we could do it ourselves because she has her support group. I kept telling her that I have a very good support group out here and they could do it! Finally, after seeing that ridiculous statement, my whole body was buzzing with empowerment and I went to Costco and walked down EVERY SINGLE AISLE and wrote down any food item that would lend itself to minimal preparation and maximum presentation. I had a large list of foods. I called my mom and went through it with her and we decided that yes, it was doable! We could do it ourselves, and it wouldn't actually be that hard.

At the mention of "I fired my caterer" all members of my wonderful support group without prodding volunteered to be put to work. (This is where I start to get teary-eyed.) I have the most amazing and talented and dedicated friends, and I am so grateful to each of you. I honestly had no idea how much work would actually be involved, but you all rose to the occasion and put on a reception that exceeded my expectations.

It sounds rude to say that: exceeded my expectations. But what I mean by that is that in my head, I had a picture of what I would be able to do myself. But all of you working together were able to do so much more than anything I could have done myself or even thought of myself. And somehow, in the middle of all the preparations before the wedding date, it never really occurred to me that I would be doing none of the work. Everyone did an amazing job and put together for me the most perfect reception I could ever hope for.

And now, for my speech, in which I thank every individual who contributed:

To Murray's family:

Thank you for always offering help, even though I was never good at figuring out which jobs to give you. You came through though and found the things that you could do. Thank you for taking care of the linens and the tuxes. Thank you for handing out the favors. The girls looked so cute, and the boys got involved later in the evening, too. In fact, one of them came up to me and offered me a favor. So cute. Thank you for taking care of the flowers. Everything was so perfect. Thank you for taking care of the gifts for us. Thank you for hosting our out-of-town guests. Thank you for the wonderful breakfast that filled me and Murray up enough that we weren't hungry for the rest of the day. Thank you for your wonderful support. We love you so much.

To Mary Moo and Miss Precocious:
Thank you Mary Moo for doing an amazing job of the decorations. The buffet table was spectacular---words don't come close to expressing the awe that I felt looking at your work. What vision! Miss Precocious, I hear that you were busy all night long as Mary Moo's personal assistant. Everyone was so impressed with you and how hard you worked!

To Patience and Viktor:
Thank you so much for the pumpkins! I didn't even notice that one had a picture of the temple until I was going through the pictures. Such attention to detail! They were wonderful, and Patience, I'm sorry that you took out a chunk of your finger.

Thank you for working hard all night to serve the guests. Viktor, special thanks to you for volunteering to come to our home and braving the possibility of finding us in an indiscreet fashion. I promise you that nothing was going on anyway and will shortly defend my honor. Thank you again to both of you and to Miss Precocious for being friends who are as close as family.

To Dr. Rice:
Thank you for flying out to my wedding from DC just to be put to work. And thank you for doing all that work in stilettos. I think that about twenty people have told me how hard you worked all night---"And she was wearing stilettos the whole time!!" Don't worry. I will never reveal your actual height. Thank you also for wearing a skirt instead of going pantless or skirtless, as you are prone to do. It means the world to me. Thank you for doing the aprons. You. Yourself. All alone.

To Switchback, Maid of Honor:
Thank you also for spending money to fly out to my wedding, only to be put to work. Thank you for being with me pretty much the whole weekend and being my personal assistant. Thank you for helping me with my makeup. I love how I am able to throw you in with a group of my friends who are all strangers to you, and you can immediately bond with them. When anyone meets you, they understand immediately why I would want to have you around as a friend. I really enjoyed our bouquet hand-off instead of a toss.
You really deserve it. I love you so much.

To Nemesis, Jenny, Daltongirl, and Ambrosia:
You are my blog ladies and you all came through as my primary support group. Thank you so much. My parents can't get over all the work you did. In fact, they feel bad that you worked so hard. They keep talking about it again and again, saying that you worked like dogs. You really impressed them and I was so proud to show my parents the high quality of friends I have out here. You are all amazing. You have all proven yourselves to be kitchen goddesses in the past---yes, even you, Daltongirl---and I couldn't have chosen a better bunch to entrust with my reception food.

To Cousin C and her friend A:
Thank you for calling up and volunteering to help. I hardly saw you at all during the reception and I didn't meet friend A, but I hear that you two were wonderful and took charge of the dessert and drink table. I appreciate the initiative you took in offering your services. It's people like you who are needed in this world!

To my Siblings:
Thanks to each of you for the days of work that went into the reception. I think that The Boy was running errands for four days straight. You all did such great work, and as The Boy pointed out, you did it all in your tuxes. I don't even know which things each of you were responsible for, but I know that you were all in charge of bringing all the items to the Art Museum before the reception. As Daltongirl and Nemesis pointed out, the kitchen was full of food when they got there to start helping out. I know that took several trips and several loads. I know that you had to run lots of errands. I am so impressed with all of you, and very grateful to know that I can always rely on you for help. Captain Mom, even though I know you hate that blog name, a special thanks goes out to you. From the very start, you've been available for consulting (which I did many times because you're the pro). I really trust and value your opinion and your help throughout the whole wedding-planning process was invaluable. Most of the time, Mom and I would say, "Well, they did it this way at their wedding, so we should do the same thing." You set a good example a few years ago, and that was really key in helping me know what to do. Thank you for always offering help, and always volunteering exactly what you could do to help. The buffet table looked wonderful thanks to you and your family dishes. Thank you for all the cooking you did ahead of time to try out recipes that could work at the reception. I hear that several people have been asking for the ice box pudding recipe. I am so blessed to have you as my big sister; you came through splendidly this time.

To Mom and Dad:
Where did you get that chef's jacket? Seeing Dad in the chef's jacket on top of his tux I think says it all. Both of you have been working so hard for so long to make this day come together, not to mention paying money to make of all my decisions and ideas into a reality. I am grateful to you for putting on the best wedding I could have ever imagined. It was a lot of work and time and energy. Thanks for figuring out how to do the mums in the pumpkins! Thanks for developing a menu that would really work! Thanks for the days you spent in the kitchen! Thanks Dad for carving all that meat (three minutes per roast!). Thanks for the detailed instructions that you gave my friends so that they could do their jobs. Thank you for really taking my idea and then doing all the work to make it a reality. Thank you for your attention to every detail. And most of all, thanks for being the type of people who make it all fun---who, as Nemesis and Daltongirl pointed out, aren't high-strung and stressed in a situation like this. I have always loved that you two get along so well with my friends---it was fun for me to have you meet them and work with them. I always said that I didn't want my reception to cause anyone stress---I wanted it to be a very relaxed day and fun for everyone. How naive! My reception was a ton of work and a ton of stress, but you came through wonderfully and calmly. The day was absolutely perfect. Absolutely, absolutely perfect. I love you so much and I am blessed to have you as my parents.

I think that does it for this post, especially seeing as how I've sobbed through writing most of it. I am finding it very difficult to express all the gratitude and awe and pride that I feel. The day was perfect.

There are still issues that must be addressed. I will write about the honeymoon (check out Murray's blog for some drawings and details) and I need to defend our classiness in our choice not to enjoy some "afternoon delight" between the ceremony and the reception. But those things will have to wait for another post.