Thursday, August 25, 2011

mista chris and jenny jen take jamaica

Chris and I forked up a lot of the money for our Oct. 2009 nuptials. Due to that and the fact that my career is in education, we decided to wait on our honeymoon and go when I didn't have to take sick days. So, July 2010 couldn't come soon enough! When it did arrive, we were off to Couples Tower Isle Resort in Ochos Rios, Jamaica. I knew that I was in for a pretty fun trip. Not only were we going somewhere tropical, which is where we are both happiest, but we are also a pretty vibrant and social couple so I knew we would wind up meeting a lot of folks and having a blast. This definitely happened.
Chris was a huge fan of the swim up bar, as was I because I could be in the shade, in the water, and around everyone else all at once. Chris loved it because it was a place for him to talk someone's ear off and have easy access to alcohol. If you know Chris, this does not come as a surprise...

Me reading Better Homes and Gardens at the swim up bar

As beautful as the beach was, I can't say we sat on it more than once. I was a bit obsessed with my lounge chair on the bluff, overlooking the water from an elevated spot. It gave me access to a nice breeze that would put me to sleep daily. Plus, it was pretty close to the soft-serve ice cream machine I would hit up daily (I will own this!) on my way to check emails and get some A/C during the heat of the day.
The staff at Tower Isle was amazing. So friendly, so helpful, and I loved that they remembered our names and would actually call us out for conversation when we would pass them in the lobby. Our fav bellhop, Byron, called us Mista Chris and Jenny Jen in a good, heavy Jamaican accent.

Here we are with Byron as we waited for the bus to pick us up and take us to the airport, headed home. :(

The Activities Coordinator, Michael, was one of our other favorites. An 18 year-old who had gone to school full time and spent every free hour working at Tower Isle for the last few years. Michael had great communication skills, excelent speech, was unbelievably athletic and looked like Usher, to beat. Chris gawked at him everyday, especially when he tried to get Chris to play volleyball. We are pretty sure Michael fit Barbie's body measurements, with the addition of a 6 pack and bulging biceps. Michael was finishing up his last summer at Tower Isle before heading to the states on a football scholarship to Iowa State. He wound up eating dinner with us a few nights and made Chris get on stage during Friday night's Beach party to do a traditional Jamaican dance.

Chris, an audience hog, then decided to breath fire.

We spent that evening dining with four couples we met the day we got to Tower Isle. They were all such friendly people. I loved that only one other couple was our age and the rest closer to our parents' age. It was nice to be able to enjoy the company of different generations- and it not seem out of the ordinary at all. Everyone is on the same page in Jamaica!

We went snorkeling one day- I didn't do too hot. I absolutely loved the sealife, but for some reason got a little queasy on the boat heading out, and something about the waves slapping me in the head while I tried not to panic while breathing into a tube. I lost my orientation, and then my breakfast. Not fun. So needless to say, I didn't dare try scubadiving.

The piano bar was a hit. I am a music fanatic and enjoyed singing along to songs I love and adore here in my home country. There was even had an Auburn/Alabama fight song rivalry at one point (can you acually go anywhere without this happening?!). We didn't get involved with that one.

             This devil is the Bob Marley. And I do believe it was the cause of what happened next...


We went on the Catamaran cruise one evening and had a blast.

We visited all the restaurants once, but found ourselves wanting the buffet for the rest of the week. I wasn't up for long waits and slim menus. The buffets were wonderful and I could get whatever I wanted (and it was usually more along the lines of things I would normally eat- I am not a cultured diner and could live off of chicken and rice).

We had such a fabulous time and cannot wait to go back! Beautiful, isn't it?!

I was drinking a dirty banana in this pic. to.die.for.

The housing here was unbelievably poor. You have your extra wealthy but those homes are all in a secluded area. I love the looks of the architecture and colors, but from close up, these homes are nothing but shambles.

Gorgeous, right!? You can kind of see my little cliff that I loved by the pool in this picture (behind the far right palm tree)

This is where I took the best nap of my entire life. No joke.

Below is a picture of paradise the day we were going home. :(

Chris's favorite spot? Chattin' up some strangers in the swim up bar. Shocker? I didn't think so.

Conkshell man! He would paddle out every evening and come back with these amazing conk shells.

I just had to have one. Last day there, Chris gave in and bought me a shell and Conk man taught me how to make a foghorn sound out of it. At the time, cool. Now? The shell is a nice keepsake but doubtful that I will ever whistle out of it again.

It was such a fun trip and I am happy to have been able to spend it with hubs. I hated saying goodbye to Jamaica, but as Byron said, "It tis not goodbye, Jenny jen. But, until next time. Yea, mon."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

our big fat italian wedding

Chris and I have been married for almost 2 years now. We were married October 10, 2009 at Our Lady of the Valley in Birmingham, Alabama. He is my best friend and I cannot imagine my life without him. We are polar opposites in many ways, but we just work. Life has a way of doing that- you never really know how things are going to turn out. Chris and I graduated from high school together but not in a million years would I have guessed that one day not only would we date, but we would get married.

Here are some pictures from our wedding day.

Jackie Robinson, owner of Raww Beauty, did my makeup. She is the best! I was her first bride when she decided to venture out from M.A.C. Cosmetics and start her own business. She is now booked up all the time! If you ever want your makeup done for any type event (she has done friends' makeup for dates to halloween), check her out here.

Anyone who knows me knows I have a slight obsession with shoes. So I just had to have a pair for pictures that matched the bridesmaids' dresses, and then I had a different pair for the wedding. And 4" wedge flip flop for the reception. :)

It rained on our wedding day. I was so scared it would ruin pictures outside, but it stopped right in time to set up the perfect lighting. Our pictures were done by a wonderful couple, Erin and Corey Nolen of Nolen Photography. I.Love.Them.

My dress was from Diane's in Jasper. It was the first dress shop I went to. I literally tried on about 10 completely different dresses that day and knew this was the one. I never went to another store. I figured, if I don't look, I won't question my choice. I mean, there are a thousand dresses we will love but can't have em all! When my dress came in, it fit like a glove. All we had to do was hem the bottom. Match made in Heaven, I do believe. :)

Our wedding party was very special. I made sure to include loved ones from all walks of my life. High school friends, college and graduate school friends, childhood friends and family. Most of us all grew up around each other so it was quite the lively, hilarious bunch!

These are my two favorite pictures from the day.

1.In the bridal room, my mom cut a sentimental moment short when her gum flew out of her mouth and one of the girls panicked, thinking it was my mom's tooth. We all lost it at that point. If you know my mom, this is normal behavior! But it made for the most memorable photo that really captured the essence of the day and of our personalities.

And here is a pic of me, my sister, the comical mother I speak of... and her gum. I just love her!

2.My dad and I shared an inside joke right before he walked me down the aisle. This too is a cherished photo.

Chris and I danced to "You Are the Best Thing" by one of my favs, Ray Lamontagne. I hated being the center of attention, but embraced it anyways, knowing this moment only comes once.

Here we all are doing the traditional Italian dance to Mezza Luna Mare.

All of our friends are nuts. I think they were all doing the "jump rope" at this point.

I made the farewell flyers myself. They are wooden dowels with ribbons hanging off of them. Each dowel was dipped in chocolate glaze by none other than PawPaw Lewis and then I wrote our name and wedding date on each one.

And in the blink of an eye, the day has come and gone. But the journey has just begun.

Monday, August 8, 2011

copper comes home

Copper is the love of my life. I don't have any children yet so all of my maternal instincts go straight to this furry ball of preciousness. He is a Cavapoo (King Charles Cavalier + Poodle) from Willowbrook Kennels in Oklahoma. I thank them daily for sending me a pup with the personality and charm anyone would hope for out of a pet. I have always had animals from the Humane Society so I didn't feel morally wrong for choosing a bred puppy. Especially since my criteria including some crate/potty training and no shedding was a MUST after my years with Sandy (who is live and well living the life at my dad's!). How we came to find Copper is another story...
We went to some family friends', the Smith's, house back in November for the Heisman party, rooting on our Auburn MVP, Cam Newton. There I fell in love with Natalie and Sean's Cavapoo, Rebel. Natalie immediately called their breeder and had her email over some pics of Willowbrook's current puppies. As soon as I saw Copper's little face, I knew he was destined to be mine! The kicker? The price tag... and the fact that we had only even begun discussing the addition of a dog to our family for a matter of days. Chris did not even seem interested while we were talking about these dogs for the rest of the evening. The next day, I was still talking about them nonstop and Chris pretty much told me to get real. That next day, Monday, I still couldn't stop obsessing. While at work, I just decided to up and email the kennel and ask about Copper. The quick email response was disheartening: Copper had been adopted the night before. Then, I just had to make sure I got one like him if I couldn't have HIM so I emailed the breeder back, asking if I could put a down payment on one in the next litter (they say the males tend to be more lovable and Copper was the last male in the current litter). Well, she never wrote me back. I was not very pleased but decided to go on with life and hit the puppy conversation at a later time.
Forward to two days before Christmas. Chris is in the oil and gas business and deals with landowners. He travels a good bit and meets with them all the time. So when he told me he had an early meeting with a landowner that morning, I didn't think much of it. I was lazy that morning and had just rolled out of bed and was making it up when I heard Chris's truck pull up. It was a few minutes before he came in the house, which was weird, but I kept on with what I was doing. About that time, the front door swings open but no one comes in. I did a double take to see why Chris would just be standing outside of the front door, and as I did, a little fluffball came trotting through the door. Right behind it was Chris and his mom, camera in tow. I was in such shock that I kind of just looked at the puppy and back at them a few times. I even asked the dumbest question ever, "Is he mine?!" Then I sat on the floor and when that little pup I had loved from afar came and sat in my lap, I started crying.
Chris had been the one who adopted him the night after the Heisman party. When the breeder put two and two together after I emailed her, she never responded to my email because she said I caught her off guard and she didn't know what to say! Due to snow in Oklahoma, Copper arrived a few days earlier than Christmas morning, and I was thrilled.
Since then, he has become a hit with all of our friends and family. He is the sweetest thing, playful, smart and has been an unbelievably good puppy. He loves all people, all animals, and has found a new love for water. Here are pictures of Copper thus far. You will hear A LOT about him in the future!

                                                     This is Copper on his first day home!

Copper and his sister, who was Christmas morning to some kids in Vestavia. This is right when they met the carrier from Oklahoma.

                            Lisa, my MIL, getting Copper ready to come see his new momma!

This is the picture from the breeder that started it all...

                          Rebel needed some credit too. He was the real reason for my puppy love!

Copper and I both experienced our first white Christmas together. He loved it!

                                         So tute! He only fit in this sweater for about a month!

My sister Jessica (a.k.a Aunt Jessie) is a Copper addict. Here they were playing for the camera.

                                                  Copper checking out the lake for the first time.

         Eyeballing the cats next door. He wants them to play so bad! I don't think the feeling is mutual.

                                           Not much help with the yard work, but that's ok.

                                               In the RZR with daddy! This picture is so funny.
                                            Chris is such as guys' guy but has such a girly pup!

                 Copper loves to drink the water in the shower. When I can't find him, he is usually here.

                                                                   Bubba and momma!

Hope you have enjoyed getting to know Copper. But don't you worry, the adventures of Copper are far from over!