Our new apartment and house warming party!

We’ve had our new apartment for a couple months now and Tom and I couldn’t be happier with our new place (except if it was less expensive, a little bigger, allowed pets, didn’t have a leaky bathroom ceiling [we’re in the process of getting that fixed], had roof access, and came with a personal chef, trainer, and maid…but we’re not picky).

Our old place was a good starter apartment – it was cheap, a little bit farther into Brooklyn than desired, and not in the best area, but also not in the worst. The landlady was nice but didn’t speak or understand English very well. For example, one time when I was telling her we were having trouble with electricity and a ‘light bulb’ in the bathroom, she said she would send a plumber to look at the ‘toilet bowl’. She was pleasant to us though from day 1 until we turned our keys in, giving me a hug and telling me how sad a day it was that we were leaving.

Our new place, although technically smaller (old place = 2 bedrooms, new place = 1 bedroom), the layout is much more conducive to having company over. Plus, we don’t live so far away from everything desirable, so I feel comfortable inviting people into our neighborhood and don’t feel bad about them traveling so far, only able to get to us via one train. We’re so much more central to everything and our new place is more accessible to friends that live in Brooklyn than our place in Brooklyn was.

Plus, both Tom’s and my commute to work have changed for the better. I went from 8 subway stops to 4; yes, commuting from Manhattan to Brooklyn is quicker than commuting from Brooklyn to Brooklyn. Tom’s commute went from 16 subway stops to 2, so he just walks to work now; I don’t think he’s ever taken the train to work since we moved. And that is great because I think he’s gotten more fresh air, sunshine, and exercise in the past month than he did the entire 2 years we lived in Brooklyn. I’m not even kidding.

So last night, we had our housewarming party with a bunch of my work friends. I have to be honest and say I was super stressed and nervous that A) no one would come and B) whoever did come wouldn’t have a good time. I’ve never hosted a party before and I was thinking the worst.

“We have way too much food; what if no one eats and then everyone thinks, ‘Wow, there’s so much food and no one’s eating it…'”

“What if everyone cancels last minute or only a couple people show up and then it’s awkward because they think maybe they should have canceled because this party is lame?”

Tom kept reminding me that I was supposed to have fun, not be so stressed and pessimistic.

Plus, I know my friends are my friends for a reason, so of course we would have a good time. I can clearly and rationally see it all now that I’m not in that stressful situation. I tend to overthink things a lot sometimes and I’m grateful for Tom’s reassurance and pep talks and help cleaning and grocery shopping.

And, of course, my friends showed up and we all ate and had a good time. I didn’t want it to end and I’m excited to have people over more during the summer. We’ll definitely have other groups of friends as well, we just couldn’t invite everyone due to space confines.

We have so much food leftover (I just had pizza for breakfast and will probably have it for lunch and maybe dinner!) and gained some cookies, booze, and our first house plant. But the best gain was the time spent with good company, laughing, playing geeky games, and sharing our new space because we can.

House warming party

We’re Moving!!!

After 2 years of living in Brooklyn, we’re moving to Manhattan!

Brace yourselfNo, it’s not that far, but we’re moving all the same.

I’m so excited and it all happened so fast. I came home from work one night two weeks ago and Tom was in the home office. Out of the blue, he started showing me some apartments he found in on Craigslist. In Manhattan. I didn’t recall him mentioning moving before this, so I was surprised and quite curious. He said that he wanted to be closer to the WordPress/developer scene as well as his job’s office and clients, which all take place in Manhattan.

I was down with the idea (since we don’t really like our neighborhood in BK anyway), just as long as we didn’t move somewhere that made my commute farther. Even then, I can’t even complain because my commute is currently about 30 minutes, which is about a third of the average time workers in NYC commute daily.

So for two weeks we’ve been scouring Craigslist, Zillow, RentHop, and realty companies’ websites, looking for decent apartments that wouldn’t [totally] break the bank, would keep us in a good location for transportation, and weren’t cardboard boxes.
"Cozy" room

Let me just start by telling you that the cheapest most “too good to be true” apartments are fake. The apartments Tom showed me that first night were immaculate and only a couple hundred dollars more than what we currently pay in Brooklyn. When I started noticing that all of those “BEST DEAL IN TOWN” postings were by people with three names (example: Lydia Jasmine Nancy), I knew they were scams.

We quickly realized that what we needed/wanted would cost us a lot more than we were hoping; isn’t that always the case?

This past weekend, we contacted a couple realty agents about posts we saw on Zillow and RentHop. We had one set up for over the weekend, but they canceled on Friday night – it probably got rented before we even got a chance to see it. Such is the story when trying to rent in NYC: there one minute, gone the next.

The search continued and we contacted a few more agents. We were interested in one apartment whose agent got back to us on Sunday. We set up a viewing for the next day and started getting as much paperwork as we thought we’d need.

On the train ride to the first apartment, we were discussing this apartment and weighing pros and cons of what we knew about the area so far and the apartment before seeing it in person. I told Tom that if it didn’t fit what we wanted, that we would keep looking at the other apartments she had set for us. He seemed pretty set on this apartment before seeing it, though.

Our current apartment was something we both agreed on before we even walked in. We were both so nervous that we were going to miss out on it, but we lucked out so hard. There was actually a girl scheduled to view it before us but she had a family emergency, so we got to see it first; as soon as we walked in and checked the place out, we looked at each other, smiled, and agreed that we wanted it. The poor girl called just as we signed the final piece of paper saying she was on the way and could she still check it out; the realty agent had to break the news, and although I felt bad, I was ecstatic. We had all of the necessary paperwork with us and got the keys a couple days later.

This time around, however, has required a lot more paperwork and patience. More on that in a bit.

When we got to the first apartment in Manhattan, I had a feeling it was going to be underwhelming just standing outside. It was in a nice area, but the outside didn’t seem all that great and I remember the pictures showing pretty small rooms with not much storage space (closets or kitchen storage). The website post for it wasn’t amazing, it was just better than others that we had seen. When we walked in, it looked even smaller than in the photos and didn’t seem like it would fit our wants or needs…other than having a roof over our head and running water. We decided to try our luck at a couple of the other apartments she had within the same price range and the same area.

NYC Expectations vs Reality

The second place was a few blocks away and up three flights of stairs. The hallways were narrow, but we were greeted by a fully renovated, fresh paint-smelling, beautiful, but oh-so-teeny-tiny apartment. The kitchen was part of the living room, which isn’t unheard of in the city. However, I’ve seen friends’ apartments that have this layout, but there’s enough room to serve as the living room that it doesn’t really impede on the kitchen (and vice versa). This apartment, though, left no room for any proper seating area while still allowing cupboard doors to open. Plus, we have to consider space for Tom’s computer setup.

I think it would make a great bachelor/bachelorette pad, but it would be tight for two people plus guests. The bathroom was immaculate – like, you’ll never find a more beautiful bathroom in the city for this price. But, we don’t plan on spending copious amounts of time or entertaining all of our guests in the bathroom, so we had to pass.

The third place was a couple more blocks away, and noticed a police station nearby, so that made us feel pretty safe. The apartment was on the first floor which was such a pro compared to the last apartment. When we walked in, I thought she was showing us a studio apartment because the main living area/kitchen was huge. But to my surprise, there was a whole other room for a bedroom to the left with a really good-sized closet. The kitchen, although open to the living space, had a much better layout to allow us to have a table and chairs without creeping into the living area. The bathroom was..a bathroom – nothing fancy, especially compared to bathroom #2 (ha), but it would get the job done.

We looked at each other, just as we had when we got our current apartment, and told the agent that we wanted to go ahead with it. We went back to the office, signed some papers, realized that we didn’t have nearly enough documents that they required, and agreed to have them in ASAP. We have been emailing back and forth about 100 times with our agent, sending more paperwork, getting clarification, re-sending clearer pictures and scans of documents, etc.

When a good apartment is on the line and you have to wait a whole business day for your landlady to provide a letter stating that you are a good tenant who pays on time, it feels like a lifetime because anyone can jump on the apartment at any time and it’s first come (meaning first applicant with 100% of the necessary documents) first served. Just because we put a deposit down didn’t mean it was ours yet.

It feels like this has taken a week because the waiting and scrambling to get everything together feels like it’s been going on forever.

But it’s only been 3 days.

At 2pm yesterday afternoon, we finally submitted everything we needed. Our agent was super quick with her responses and was supportive the entire time. She was unsure if the new landlord would accept one of our documents, so she left us with an email that said she would get back to us once she got word back about the status, and that this might take a day.

So I sat back, relieved that it was out of our hands, and figuring we wouldn’t hear from her for at least an hour, maybe not until the following day.

Five. Minutes. Later. She sends us an email congratulating us because we had been accepted!!!!!!!!!!

I can haz new howse?

We signed the lease today and it feels surreal since we can’t move in right away; I’m getting a colonoscopy Saturday (fun!) to make sure my Crohn’s is okay, and then we’re going to a concert on Sunday. We’ll move slowly since we have our current apartment for another 30 days or so, which is great because neither of us has huge chunks of free time to pack, move, and unpack. I’M JUST SO PUMPED!!!

Stress and Journaling: An encouragement to write

I’ve been literally filling journals with my thoughts, problems, prayers, memories, joys, and tears since I was able to write somewhat cohesive sentences. I have a few short entries from when I was about 5 years old in a little diary with two little bears on the front of it. Back then, my problems were so simple – one such entry was from 1996, and I wrote “I will never forget my bum bum hurt.” Bless my little heart. And bum-bum. It was nothing a little Preparation-H could have solved. You can read more entries from that diary here.

Journals Bookshelf

From ages 6-12, I would occasionally write but I think I spent more time playing outside (in the street because we were rebels…and lived on a tiny side street that everyone complained should have been a one-way), watching movies and TV and the like. My writing really picked up when I was 13; eighth grade was when boys started showing interest in me, so naturally that was something exciting to write about.

But with that came frustration and heartache as I realized that these boys were not really giving me attention because they liked my good-natured heart, were intrigued by my silly personality, were ensnared by my sense of humor, or because they wanted to be that knight in shining armor that Disney hyped me up for. Nope, these guys [read: high school boys] were only noticing me and showing interest with hopes for physical pleasure. And when they didn’t receive what they wanted, they swiftly moved on to someone else who would gladly give it to them.

So at that time, most entries were about boys, friends, and my life. As high school progressed, my writing became more frequent, the entries became longer, and my ability to write became more fluent. I know that many entries probably reiterated the same feelings over and over – it was my way of dealing with issues because I was not one to lay my burdens on others or tell secrets to friends. I was always close to my mom, but I didn’t want to put my (seemingly) silly, high school level complaints and issues on her; she had enough to deal with already. I know she was always willing to listen and offer advice, but I just could never bring myself to tell her at the time it was bothering me.

So my journal became my friend and confidante. Yep, I know that sounds super strange and quite pathetic, but at the same time, I am now able to look back at how I was feeling for more than 10 years of my life. Not many people can say that, so I think that’s pretty cool. I can go back and see the crazy rollercoaster that has been my life, with lots of ups and downs, knowing that everything in those journals has miraculously led me to where and who I am today. Cheesy, but whatever.

To make my entries and writing more fun (or maybe personal?), I started to write each one in a different color. There was never any pattern or set rotation; I would simply pick a color that I hadn’t used in awhile, maybe the color of the shirt I was wearing, or a color that matched my mood. Many entries are on the sad or frustrated (even depressed, if I looked back at it now) side and were, therefore, in black. Those were days when I honestly felt I had no one else to turn to, so I needed to write my feelings on paper in order to get them out of my head. It was therapeutic in a way.

ALL the journals

I have many memories that I can look back at and know exactly what day they happened. Lots of high school memories with friends, my high school boyfriend, my mom. Then there was college – a lot of difficult ones take place then. The time after college was probably the most depressing of all – that’s when I was still dealing with the emotional impact of the break-up of my long-term relationship, leaving the safety and comfort of college and the new friends I had made, still unsure of things with Tom who moved away after college, trying to figure out a job situation, dealing with my Mom moving into a nursing home, and living in a house all alone at the age of 22. Whew, it stresses me out just thinking about it.

So anyways, I want to encourage anyone reading this to write. If you’re dealing with a hard time at work, at home, at school: write! Even if it’s just a temporary way to let your emotions out, jot ideas down, get your thinking juices flowing (weird phrase, but okay): write! Even if you don’t think you’re a good writer: write! You don’t have to have a poetic flow or use crazy big words or sound sophisticated at all – it’s for your personal use, your eyes only, so who cares? Get it yet? WRITE for goodness sake!

Now, obviously there are other mediums in which you could let your stress out: music, video, sports, other exercise, cleaning, organizing, etc. Part of the reason I have this blog is to share my ideas and get some emotions (whether silly or serious) out of my head! I still write in my journal every now and then, but this is the place where I can share ideas so that I might help others in the process. When I need to get something out and I don’t have Tom to talk to at the moment or if it’s something I want to remember, I write it in my journal.

I also want to encourage you to seek out someone that will sincerely listen to your hardships without judgment or criticism. I know it’s not easy – I know I could have confided in my Mom for these things, but back then I honestly thought I had to figure things out on my own and keep her from unnecessary stress. I have since learned that it is important to hear and share ideas with others because collaboration is an awesome thing!

Talk to a parent, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, anyone who you are close to and whom you can confide and feel comfortable with. Someone who won’t judge you or criticize you, but will also not beat around the bush and throw a bunch of fluff into their advice. Honest but truthful, caring but not judgmental. I know, I know, easier said than done.

Yes, you’re more likely to get an answer you don’t want to hear. Yes, it’s hard to be vulnerable with people and show real emotions. But it’s so healthy to let your feelings out instead of letting them fester inside of you; I’m 99% sure that my Crohn’s flare-ups were caused by my inability to let out my emotions. Honestly, the stress of keeping things in literally started eating away my insides. Gross. I’ll stop now.

So your assignment is to go (you guessed it) write; you can always open up a Word or Google doc, but I prefer handwriting journal entries. Either buy a composition notebook from the dollar store or one of those fancy journals from Barnes and Noble. Even a napkin will do! Just grab something to write with and something to write on, and start writing! Don’t force it but write what’s on your mind. Let it flow. You can sing that to the tune of Frozen. You’re welcome.

Entries

Anxiety problems

I survived my first week as a “real” teacher! The main battle that I’m fighting? Myself.

I’ve been having a lot of anxiety, always at night, to the point where I’ve been considering seeing a doctor for help and insight.

I either can’t fall asleep for hours after getting into bed or I fall asleep and wake up at all hours of the night/morning and then can’t get back to sleep before work. During these “episodes”, I have trouble breathing, my chest feels tight, my heart feels like it’s racing (although Tom felt it and said it felt normal at the time), my stomach feels knotted, and my mind is racing.

And I don’t know why!

I am always prepared for the next day’s classes, I haven’t had any overly negative run-ins with students, I get along great with all of my coworkers, and I’m completely exhausted! I remind myself of this while I’m laying in bed, but I only end up stressing more because of how little sleep I’ll be getting (yet again). It’s a vicious cycle.

This weekend was great because I got to catch up on sleep that I had lost last week. But I felt pretty groggy and “off” all weekend as well. I think part of it was because Tom was upstate speaking at WordCamp Buffalo, so I was alone (and admittedly had a slight breakdown the day before he left…more anxiety), and the other part was because my body and mind were recuperating.

I worked out after work yesterday, hoping that it would help alleviate some stress and also make my body even more tired so it had no choice but to fall asleep at night. Oh, and also because I need to get back in the gym because I have been enjoying way too many Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Candy Explosion cookies. Win-win-win situation, right?

To make things even better, last night Tom and I tried Headspace, a meditation app, while laying in bed trying to fall asleep. I felt the exhaustion and was hopeful that I would get sleep I was trying to keep my mind on my breathing and not on work or my sleeping problem but I still felt the anxiety creeping in every time I closed my eyes. So we started up the app.

The guy had a very soothing, calming British accent, and one of his first instructions was to have our eyes open. I tried, but my eyelids were just too heavy – a good sign! And then I started noticing that while he paused in between instructions, I was spacing out, like sleep was on its way!

I actually fell asleep within about 4 or 5 minutes of the app (it’s only 10 minutes long)…but then I woke up shortly after.

Noooooo!!!!

Tom was still awake, which was nice because the anxious feelings came back with a vengeance, and talking to him makes me feel better. He told me how quickly I had fallen asleep and how he was happy for me because he knows that this has been a real struggle lately. And then he told me about the very loud truck that roared past our apartment that was responsible for waking me up.

So we started the app again, but to no avail did I fall asleep this time. I eventually got to sleep, but I’m just so frustrated at myself for not being able to contain or even pinpoint these feelings. And I’m tired. Plus, I’m worried that this will spark a flare-up with my Crohns – extreme stress is what exacerbates the disease for me. I don’t want to take any chances and have another flare-up.

Tonight’s efforts included a cup of night calm tea, so I’m hoping that helps…and that I don’t end up having to pee 37 times tonight.

Anyone have similar issues/problems? How did you get over them and how do you deal with stress? Thoughts on meditation vs. medication? Any help would be appreciated!

TEN FREAKING DAYS?!?!

10 FREAKING DAYS!!1!!! I can now count down the days on my fingers! Yay, math!

Also, don’t we look like a stock photo of a happy couple in that picture? It was taken at a rooftop party with a bunch of Tom’s former co-workers last month and I think it’s a great picture!

So the past 10 days (since my last update) have been very stressful on my end. Knowing that I have so many little details to remember and keep track of and accomplish in a short amount of time has been really getting to me. Plus, Tom’s been spending a lot more time at work because they have a huge deadline coming up. So on top of having a lot of things hanging over both of our heads, we really haven’t had much time to spend with each other. Bummer.

BUT! In 9 short days, Tom will begin his weeklong vacation from work for our rehearsal dinner, wedding (EEEEeeeEEe!!!1!!1!!), honeymoon out in Montauk, and then upstate reception. So we will get to spend a ton of time together…and spend it as husband and wife, no less!

PLUS! I’ve been slowly conquering those details and the to-do list has been growing increasingly shorter. And my stress levels have been a little more stable. Thank God!

Let’s see…I’m pretty sure both of us are all set on our bridal party gifts. If not, we still have a bit of time.

My soon-to-be sister-in-law Casey has helped me with a bunch of stuff, so thanks Case! We got welcome bags for out-of-towners staying at the hotel we’re working with and so she helped me decorate the bags. My soon-to-be mother-in-law has done everything else for the welcome bags, so thank you Mrs. Harrigan!

I finished the escort/seating card display!!!! You have no idea how happy that makes me – it allows me to check off a bunch of items from my to-do list and it looks great (if I do say so myself)! Casey and I were working on it last night, and I ended up finishing it up this morning.

I won’t be back out in Long Island until probably Wednesday morning/afternoon of next week, so I’m glad I got these big things out of the way. We have to drop all of our decorations and such at the venue on Wednesday evening, so it had to be done before I left today.

My next update probably won’t be until later next week, so until then, go outside and enjoy life! And eat cake – cake makes everything 10 times better!

Wedding Update: 9 Months to go!

Down to the nine month mark! This past month has been more thinking and visualizing rather than actually making concrete decisions and plans. I mean, we have our venue and I got my dress, the rest is a cake-walk, right?

One thing I can happily say is that I haven’t been a bridezilla.

Right, Tom? RIGHT?!?!

But seriously, if I’m being completely honest, I haven’t done any crazy complaining or stressing. I mean, I’ve watched some of those shows with crazy brides, and they totally stress me out. I can’t make it more than 2 minutes before I need to either change the channel or walk out of the room.

Like, these women are nuts. And it makes me question the sanity of the chump that asked them to spend the rest of their lives together. You really want to spend each and every day with her? And then there are her friends/bridesmaids whom she treats like total garbage. How have they not ended the friendship? Why did they agree to be in her wedding? And how on Earth do they restrain themselves from punching her in the face?!

Breathe, Holliday. Breathe.

But since I haven’t been stressing too much, I was so surprised when I had this crazy wedding dream/nightmare a couple weeks ago. I wrote about it here, so check out how strange it was.

I guess the one thing that hit home the most with that dream was the part about my mom not coming. I’ve been stressing about this the most and trying to figure out possible ways to get her down here. And then the guilt sets in.

Am I selfish for having my wedding down in Long Island instead of upstate? It has been less stressful planning it down here, and yet I feel like a horrible daughter in making it more difficult for my mom to come.

So I’ve been looking into finding resources in order to get mom down here:

  1. Her friend offered to pay for transportation down here – plane, train, whatever – so that’s one less thing to worry about. Realistically, a plane would be the best way because she can’t sit in her chair for more than a few hours.
  2. From there, we’d need to find transportation from the airport to Long Island (and vice versa when she goes home).
  3. We would need to have an aide with her to take care of anything she’d need that we can’t do.
  4. Along with the aide, the nursing home uses a Hoyer lift for these transports, so we’d probably need one of those.

Is there such a thing as renting a nursing home room or assisted living space for a night? That would be great!

On top of all this, the most important thing is keeping her stress level as low as possible. Stress exacerbates her condition, so we would need to make everything as easy on her as we could. This was actually one of the reasons we didn’t hold it upstate.

No matter what we plan, in the end, her MS will rule the day and decide how she feels. So even if we did hold it upstate, there’s always a chance that she may wake up that morning and feel like total garbage and be unable to attend anyways. See my dilemma?

Whew, okay, let’s move on. I’m becoming a stress-ball again.

On a lighter note, I’ve been designing our Save the Dates. In the wedding world, they call these STDs for short; I know, weird. Tom suggested skipping the STDs…wait…ahem, let’s just use Save the Dates. Come on Holliday, be mature.

You know you were thinking it too.

So Tom suggested just skipping Save the Dates and going straight to the invitations. Because we are having a wedding that has the potential for a lot of out-of-town guests, it would be a great idea to get a head count earlier than typical timelines suggest. This way we will have an idea of how many hotel rooms we might need to block, how many guests in general for ceremony and meal preparations, and how many would attend a separate reception if we held one upstate.

On top of that, we need to figure out a picture we both like to put on the Save the Dates and/or Invitations; we might need a few depending on what design we go with. Tom and I both like the Save the Date postcard idea, so if we do send STDs, we’ll probably go with something like this:Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 10.47.25 AM copy

Except Tom isn’t a fan of the front picture. Which brings me to finding a photographer…

So an appointment had been made to meet with the photography company that works closely with our venue. Except someone (I won’t name names) slept through said appointment. Normally I think this would stress me (or anyone) out, but to be honest I’m not too impressed with that company’s portfolio.

Since they are based in Long Island, I wouldn’t have been able to attend the original appointment anyways, since I have grad school and work during the week. I’ve had my eye on two other photographers whose work I find so much better, but obviously they’re a bit pricier. I want the photos to be amazing, so I really don’t want to skimp and end up with crummy pictures just to save a few bucks. But I also don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, either.

So I made an appointment with one of the other photography companies I liked better, and I’m hoping that things will go well and we can decide to go with them. I’d also like to set up an engagement session with them. This way we can become comfortable with our photographer and we can all get an idea of what we want for the big day.

A couple weeks ago, we asked Tom’s dad to take a few pictures at the beach where we got engaged since he has a pretty nice camera. We have this running joke about not wanting super awkward pictures, so I mentioned poses like the ‘peering around a tree at each other’ pose. So we made a point to take a picture like that for fun, knowing that it is something we want to avoid with actual engagement pictures.tree

Even with our desire not to get awkward pictures, we got plenty of them that day. Not because we were super pose-y or cheesey, but because it was super windy and sunny at the beach. We wanted candid, we got candid. All I have to say is watch what you wish for. Outtakes might be posted on our wedding website, so wear a diaper for that experience.

Speaking of, Tom and I got to sit down and work on the website together last weekend. Tom did most of the work while I sat next to him and made my suggestions for overall look and functions. I’m always so amazed when I watch him do stuff with computers!

How did you know what to do to fix that? How did you know to type that? Where did you learn all this stuff?!

I’ve learned a lot along the way because he knows how to break things down and explain them to someone who is not completely technology illiterate but is nowhere near his level of knowledge. It was a nice bonding time for us and hopefully the site will be up soon.

screenshot 1
October 2011

On top of all that, I realized that this year will be the first time we get to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together! Tomorrow, November 17, is the three year mark since we met, but we haven’t actually spent a major holiday together because of the whole 400-miles-between-us thing. We’ve talked over Skype on such days, but to actually be able to be with each other and share the joy that those days bring makes me really excited.

And (okay, let’s get cheesy for a second) kind of emotional. I mean, you have no idea how long I’ve waited to be able to spend special days – holidays, birthdays, even just going out on dates – with Tom. It’s crazy thinking about all the time we spent so far away, all the things we couldn’t do, all the experiences and memories we couldn’t share because of the distance between us.

September 2012
September 2012

Through the difficult times, the frustrations, the doubts, the short visits, the extreme loneliness following the short visits, and the inability to share all the good times without a screen between us. After 2 years of that, you can imagine how ecstatic I am knowing that Tom and I no longer have to endure these!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. –Romans 5: 1-5

Yes, we will still have frustrating times; I understand that marriage does not magically take away problems. If anything, problems will be brought to light or created as a married couple spending a lot of time together. But we’ll be able to work through them face to face. God seriously tested our relationship, and now we’re going to be joined in marriage! And I’m pumped!

So I told Tom the other day that we might just need to get one of those cheesy “Our First Christmas” ornaments for the tree this year! And we can put one of our awkward beach photos on it. Like this one:IMG_0184 copy 2

Or maybe something more like this:

IMG_0192 copy 2

All I know is there are plenty of awkward pictures to choose from. And all I can say is that we’re a couple of awkward people. And we must embrace it.

So, to put a twist on Romans 5: 3-5,

We rejoice in our shared awkwardness because it produces our endurance to deal with each other’s awkward characters. Let us hope that we can get pictures a little less awkward. If not, we have no shame because God loves us no matter what.

Wedding Update: 10 Months to go!

A little less than 10 months to go! There honestly haven’t been many changes since my last post. But with good reason…

Long Island knows how to do weddings. I mean, it’s like a wedding factory down here. And not in a bad “get in, get out, bring on the next one,” wedding-a-minute type thing. But down here, it’s so competitive that they are all ready to offer you as much as they can, all in one place, to make your wedding and life easier. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?

Some of my friends that have gotten or are getting married upstate were/are so stressed dealing with so many different vendors because each aspect of their ceremonies and receptions were/are being taken care of by a separate entity. Our venue is our ceremony site is our reception site is our caterer. So it was so exciting getting to check multiple things off the to-do list just by booking our venue.

Plus, most venues down here are partnered with photographers, cake bakeries, florists, etc. whom they have worked with and trust enough to recommend. We have an appointment in a couple weeks with the photographer they recommended, so hopefully they fit our vision. Since they have worked at our venue many times, they know all the good spots for pictures.

Bottom line: nothing corny. Like these awkward wedding/engagement photos.

Pricing down here makes much more sense, too; at some of the upstate venues I looked at, it was as if you were casually eating out at a restaurant and had to pay for everything separately. And I mean everything. You want chicken? That’ll be $5 per person. Steak? $9. Choose your sides: you want potatoes? That’s going to be another $4 per potato-eating person. And so on, and so forth.

I realize that’s not how all places are up there, but there is nothing that complicated down here. You get a menu that lays out every single thing offered: you get to choose 8 hors d’oeuvres from a list of 20, then you get to choose 3 entrees which all come with sides, you choose whether you want an open bar or just the beer/wine/signature drink choice, and so much more. And you get all this for one flat rate per person depending on what month you are getting married.

Note: June-October are the most expensive. Obviously. If you’re looking for a bargain, get hitched in December or January – it’s about $30 less per person! But personally I would not want to be trudging around in the cold with the possibility of snow.

So needless to say I’m extremely happy to be saved from all the stress that I’ve heard and seen others go through when planning their weddings. The biggest thing on my mind lately has been getting a dress, but I guess I wouldn’t say it has been really stressing me out. Of course I want to look amazing on my wedding day, but I knew I would find one that I liked. Plus, we have 10 months; I was told to find one no later than 9 months before the wedding in order to allow time for fittings, alterations, etc.

I have been scouring websites and building up my ‘Love and Marriage’ board on Pinterest with dresses for a couple weeks now. Plus, my friend and maid of honor Courtney had been planning to come down this week so that we could go dress shopping with my future mother-in-law, so I wasn’t too worried.

And I’m happy to say that I found my dress!!!!!!!!

There’s an awesome story behind it, but I think I’ll wait awhile to tell you. It’s actually one of the dresses on my Pinterest board, so that’s fun! I thought it was pretty when I saw it online, but it’s so hard to know how a dress flows and what it feels and looks on you until it’s actually on you.Pinterest board

All I know is that as soon as I saw it on me, I was so overwhelmed with happiness. And there were tears. I didn’t get this way with any of the dresses the first time I tried some on, and I was kind of unsure as to whether I would have a teary reaction at all. But I know myself and if there wasn’t a tiny bit of water works, it wasn’t the dress.

And it happened. I cried. Mrs. Harrigan cried. Although she had tears for pretty much all of the dresses I had tried on previously 🙂 But that’s to be expected.

I originally wasn’t much into the idea of a veil, but when the lady at the bridal salon put one on me, it all just fit together. After awhile of ogling at myself, she asked if I wanted to try other dresses on. I was kind of unsure. I figured since we were already out, why not? But when she asked what style I wanted, I just looked at myself, still wearing the dress, and said, “This.” She smiled and said, “So is this your dress?” And I said, “Yes, I love this.” And that was it!

The biggest thing for this next month is to get the wedding website all set and looking pretty so that people can actually start using it. I’ve been putting content on there and trying to make it look nice, and Tom has to do more functionality stuff to make things work better and so that people can RSVP on it. Other than that, this month has been smooth sailing.

It’s been nice without added stress of having to take care of so many things this past month. Especially since I wasn’t with Tom (other than short Skype chats here and there) for 3 of the last 4 weeks. With work, school, my friend visiting from out of town, and Tom going to Amsterdam for a weeklong work trip, it was very hectic for both of us. But then we got to spend last weekend (and it was a long weekend for me with Columbus Day!) together, and it was wonderful. ♥994024_10151628897921526_1623688149_n

My Year With Crohn’s Disease

I realized yesterday that I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease exactly one year ago. Happy Autoimmune Disease Birthday to me! It took me awhile to write and edit this post, so it’s not exactly to the day, but it’ll do. I figured I would write about my journey with this disease – from flare-ups, finally being diagnosed, medications, and now, one year later, how I’m dealing.

Holliday and Becky
November 2010 – My roommate Becky and I

Okay, so I have had two flare-ups in my life, but it wasn’t until the second one that I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. I have no doubt that my flare-ups have been stress-induced. To start off my first flare-up, let’s take a trip to my senior year at Geneseo. Fall 2010 began pretty rough: my 6+ year relationship had become very rocky, I was going to college full-time, working at Walmart part-time, and on top of this my mom’s Multiple Sclerosis was a constant worry.

My health decline started with stomachaches that would not go away no matter what I did. If I was in my dorm room, I would lay down for the 5 or 10 minutes it took for the pain to go away on its own. There was no pattern to them – I thought maybe it was something I ate, but then they began happening before I ate as well as after. I then began noticing little bumps on my legs one day when I was shaving; they looked like whiteheads or ingrown hairs, but they seemed a little more on the green side than on the white side. Weird.

By the end of October my relationship ended, my schoolwork was getting more difficult, and it seemed I never had time to relax, let alone sleep. I was constantly feeling alone and left out because none of my friends had to worry about working and school, so they were able to enjoy their nights watching TV, going to dinner together, just hanging out. But I didn’t have a second to stop and chill.

Sabres game
December 2010 – I was completely exhausted here, but I couldn’t miss out on a Sabres game with friends

Throughout this time, those small “pimples” on my legs grew and became large open sores. At one point, I would try using a cotton ball with either hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean them, put some Neosporin on them, and cover them in band-aids every single day. No matter what I did, though, they never got better. I mean they were getting so deep and wide that I had craters in my legs. Yeah, gross.

I also was getting swollen joints – I wore a knee brace under my pants because I couldn’t bear all of my weight on my knee without it feeling like it would buckle. Up until this point, I had really only had my nauseous episodes while in my room, so it was easy enough to just lay down for a bit to let the feeling go away. But then it started happening at work; I almost passed out a couple times during my shifts at Walmart because of the pain, nausea, and lack of nutrients.

Wow, what a mess I was!

Okay, so by this point you’re probably asking, “Why the hell did you not see a doctor?!” Well, you see, I did not have insurance. I had just turned 21 in August and my dad took me off his plan. I didn’t have money to pay for my own plan, let alone a bunch of medical bills. I was in the process of enrolling in a state-funded insurance but that takes forever, so unfortunately I never saw anyone for this until it was well-developed.

I ended up going to the ER, though, over winter break because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Something had to be wrong and things were still not getting better, even after being home on break from school and work. Because I did not have insurance, they were not willing to do much for me. I mean, the doctor tried to give me a pelvic exam – I think she thought I was either pregnant (I assured her I was not) or had cysts. After a long and frustrating night, I went home with no more answers than I had entered with.

I eventually got approved for insurance and started making appointments with a doctor in my hometown as well as the doctor on campus. Cultures of my sores were taken but showed no signs of what they were assuming would be strep or staph infections. Antibiotics and corticosteroid creams were tried but nothing was helping. Strangely though, everything just sort of went away on its own by about mid-March 2011; I wasn’t taking meds or applying any creams at that point, so my mysterious condition was still very mysterious.

powderpuff
May 2011 – Regained my strength in time for the IV powderpuff game

Or so I thought.

Fast forward to 2012. I had been accepted into Columbia University for graduate school in July and decided to defer admission until spring 2013 because there was no way I could go with such little time. And since my mom had been in the nursing home for over a year now, I had been spending my time alone in my house except when I was substitute teaching or working at Walmart. So I was pretty stressed. Add on the fact that I had just gotten a long-term substitute job for a maternity leave for the first 10 weeks of the 2012-2013 school year. I was so excited to get more experience teaching middle and high school kids, but man oh man did the stress get to me.

By the first week of September, my symptoms started coming back. The pain. The nausea. The extreme weight loss. The sores. Everything was back. And with a vengeance. I mean, I was literally waking up in so much pain all over my body, I had to hobble like a 90-year old woman. At one point, I was hardly able to put my shoes on because my one ankle was so swollen. The sores started as painful lumps under my skin before they actually opened. Again, gross, but that was my reality.

Miss Chatt
Looking really gaunt with my teacher ID

She finally referred me to a GI specialist and wanted me to get a colonoscopy. Because of my age, the GI specialist decided to “simply” perform a sigmoidoscopy first. Tom came up to stay with me for a few days and take me to my appointment since I was going under anesthesia and would be in no shape to drive myself home. Apparently I was very persistent in trying to share my cookies with him once I woke up after the procedure. Unfortunately I missed a day of school for this test and it showed nothing.

Two weeks later, I ended up in the ER again. This time, because I had proper insurance, the doctors ran a whole slew of tests. Blood tests and cultures, a CT Scan, and a chest X-ray. Around 2:30 a.m., after about 5 hours of being there, the doctor came in and said that all tests pointed to either Crohn’s disease or colitis, but to get a definitive answer I would need to get a full colonoscopy. Until then, she gave me steroids, antibiotics, and mesalamine (anti-inflammatory meds for those with ulcerative colitis flare-ups). Good. Great. Grand. Wonderful.

Megan and Holliday
September 29, 2012 – In Baltimore with Megan

The GI specialist received my ER tests and made an appointment within the next week; obviously something was wrong or they wouldn’t be so quick in doing this. So on October 8, 2012, I went in for a colonoscopy and came out with a definitive answer: I have Crohn’s disease.

passport
November 2, 2012 – Moonface Holliday

Since that day, things have been great. It sucks that I have to take 12 pills every day (I take Delzicol, if anyone’s wondering: 6 with breakfast, 6 with dinner) but I would much rather deal with that than with the excruciating pain I was in. I’m back to a healthy weight and I haven’t had any problems thusfar with my medications. I try to be a little better with my diet, but the doctor has not restricted me in any way. Many people ask if I’m not allowed to have nuts or seeds, but my GI doctor said, “If you like it, it tastes good, and it doesn’t bother you, eat it.” And I have. And I do.

I even emailed the doctor at Geneseo with my story (a bit more condensed) so that maybe if he ever comes across these symptoms again, that person won’t have to go through this huge mess like I did. I feel like I should be on that show Mystery Diagnosis. That could be interesting…