Sunday, February 24, 2013

Birthday Weekend

Yesterday was my birthday; I've officially entered my late 30s. Ed and I had a really great day yesterday, despite the snow that wrought some minor havoc on the roads, making driving (and walking) occasionally tenuous. Ed had a few surprises in store for me, including taking me for lunch downtown to Siegfried's Deli, a German restaurant and store that served muy authentico German food.

We may have raided the store after we were done with lunch. (I do not believe it is possible to have bought too many Wuerste or chocolates with marzipan.)

After lunch, Ed took me to the Mummies of the World Exhibition, which was being held at the Leonardo. I'd had my eye on this exhibit many moons ago, but I'd kinda forgotten about it the meantime. The place was mobbed, and we were glad Ed had bought tickets ahead of time (it was a timed entrance, and the place was full of families). 

It was absolutely fascinating: There were the obligatory Egyptian mummies, but there was also mummies from Asia, Oceania, South America, and Europe, and both human (fetuses, children, and adults) and animal mummies, some of which were comparably recent, many of which were preserved naturally and accidentally in a variety of environments. There were also quite a few interactive displays that demonstrated and explained the various techniques used to learn more about the individual mummies, and shared what was already known. It was mildly disconcerting to come across "new" (300-year-old) mummies whose names, birth dates, and dates of death were known - although some of these recently mummified people we knew nothing about aside from their names. Of course the ancient mummies less is known; sometimes, in the case of young children, not even their gender could be determined. Mummification techniques were explained, as was the materials, linens, and clothing; the positions and locations in which the mummies were buried and found were explained. Really quite the exhibit.

We had planned to go out to dinner last night, but the snow had started up again and we weren't quite up for dealing with slippery roads, so we ordered pizza and decided to go out tonight instead, so off to Joe's Crab Shack we went, and had a wonderfully fishy dinner.

Last night, though, I did get to open my presents: Aside from a vintage 1981 Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox (It's metal! And it comes with a thermos, and an outline of the Thermos imprinted inside the lunchbox! Banged up as all get out, but Ed knows I loved Strawberry Shortcake as a kid.) found on eBay (purveyor of childhood memories), I got a beautiful sterling silver silver and blue art glass pendant and earring set (Etsy is a thing of beauty; I found my wedding veil on Etsy), and a Flip MinoHD. I had a snafu in figuring out how to turn it on, but it's all charged up and waiting for us to go someplace interesting. 

My parents, Justin, and Maria all let me know they had presents on the way, but in the meantime Maria had sent me a dozen New York bagels, which arrived earlier this past week, and my parents had sent some flowers, which arrived on Friday:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Problems with Lists

Even almost two years after my own wedding, I still come across helpful "Do this for your wedding!" lists, or "These things are not necessary!" lists. Both are frustrating, but for different reasons. Really, what it comes down to is that you should do, for your own wedding, what you'd like, because no matter what you do, someone will tell you it's wrong.

This list kinda made me think for a minute, because I know this woman got married in the area where she and her now-husband live. Obviously not everything thinks of everything, and since most people (I think) still get married close to where they live, a lot of this is probably somewhat decent advice, but there are things that didn't get taken into consideration.

What one considers "necessary," others don't, so I really hesitate to outright say that some things just "aren't needed." They may not have been needed for you, but that doesn't apply to everyone.
  • Chairs during the ceremony were for us a necessity. I think that sometimes people who are not religious, who do not have religious ceremonies, don't take into consideration that there are those of us who do have religious wedding ceremonies, that for a segment of the population, the sacrament itself is the important thing. I'm sure there are religious wedding ceremonies that take 20 minutes, but Catholic wedding ceremonies take at least 45 minutes, sometimes a full hour, so noting that chairs "aren't important" for the ceremony is kinda useless advice. There's a lot of sitting and standing and kneeling that goes on - and besides which, very few churches come without pews or the equivalent. I don't want folks standing for an hour. I wouldn't want to stand for an hour.
  • The rehearsal dinner was a helpful thing to have. Most of our wedding party wasn't Catholic, so their learning the timing of the ceremony was beneficial. Not only that, aside from my parents and six other wedding guests, everyone came from out of state, traveling hundreds or thousands of miles - including six guests from Ireland and one from Canada - so this was a rare instance in which we could all see people we wouldn't see regularly. Rehearsal dinners may be irrelevant if you aren't having a religious ceremony, and if everyone lives closeby, but there are times when it's just a really good thing to have.
  • Assigned seating was something I wanted (but I didn't stress over), if only because I didn't want people only talking to people they knew (there was a group I forsaw that being a problem with). I didn't want couples or families split up because people were only thinking of "saving" tables and chairs for people they knew.
  • Agreed that the hoopla of much of the wedding ceremony itself isn't important. I didn't care about the flowers or the dress or the wedding cake so much; we didn't order any flowers for the church, but had some very simply wildflower-type bouquets at the reception. I wanted a strawberry cake with chocolate icing, but I wasn't going to make it myself, especially because Ed and I didn't live in the area where we were getting married. "Make the cake yourself" works if you live in the immediate vicinity, you have the time and space to bake, and can have someone transport the cake, otherwise, you know what? Order the damn cake from a bakery.
  • Bridal parties may not be necessary, but Ed and I wanted people in our wedding party that we loved and were close to and wanted them involved in some capacity. On my side, I had my two first female cousins, my sister-in-law, and my husband's goddaughter; my matron of honor was my closest friend from college. On my husband's side was my brother, my guy first cousin, and a close mutual friend we'd both known for years; and the best man was my husband's closest friend.
  • We probably could have done without a DJ, but we found a guy we liked, who did a good job, who kept things moving, who didn't make us do the stupid cliche-ridden things we didn't want (the bouquet/garter toss and the money dance come to mind), and we didn't have to worry about creating a 5-hour playlist. Sometimes it's worthwhile paying someone to do things so you don't have to worry.
  • Engagement party / bridal party / bachelor party / bachelorette party - didn't happen for us. I didn't especially care, but it also wouldn't have been possible, since "centralized family and friends" wasn't something we had going for us. Plus three of my bridesmaids were under 21, and my matron of honor had a toddler (who happened to be our flower girl), so...that may have limited our craziness. I would have liked an evening out with the bridal party as a whole, but something just along the lines of everyone going out to dinner, but it likely would have been too complicated to arrange, given everyone's travel arrangements.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Chicken Farm and a Sheep

The past few months, I've been donating on the first of the month in various ways ChildFund - the first of the month always seemed like a good way to remember to donate - but this month I dropped the ball and forgot until this evening, so I rectified the situation by perusing their Gift Catalog's Farm Animals section (a section I've never donated from before) and found a couple ways to help:
  • One chicken farm with 25 chicks ($72): This chicken farm generates income for family farmers. The gift of a chicken farm offers real hope for family farmers in Brazil and Mexico. In a community setting, they will learn effective ways to raise free-range chickens. These chickens and their eggs are in high demand in the local market. And by working together, the farmers can generate much-needed income for their familes. Your gift will provide a farm start-up kit of 25 chicks for one family.
  • One sheep for a family in Africa ($99): Sheep are needed in Ethiopia, Guinea, and The Gambia. Families in Africa tell us that sheep are an important, reliable source of income. Sheep provide milk for children to drink, and wool to make into warm blankets or to sell. Sheep manure is an excellent source of fertilizer. And as the sheep reproduce, the lambs can be sold or passed along to other families to start them on the road to financial security as well.