Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

The holiday season is upon us. There are so many things I love about this time of year. Lights! Christmas carols! Watching a fireplace DVD! (oohhh) Trees decorated with lights! Planning an ultra fabulous meal! Feeling the warmth of loved ones near and far! (ahhh)

It is freakin' cold. The trusty puffy coat I bought from the men's section at Old Navy like 7 years ago that adds 10 pounds to all the wrong places is once again my constant companion. Recently I was wahhhing about getting out of bed and facing...who knows what outside....will it be raining (il pleut)? Hailing (il grêle)? or just burr-tastic (tres froid)?
zero filter!
As I was settling into the idea of finally following the grandpa from Willy Wonka and never getting out of bed again, Joel lured me out with the incredible sunrise over the canal next to our place. Oh my goodness. In an instant, I was re-filled with complete and utter gratefulness.

As of Christmas 2014, I will have missed 4 out of the last 5 Christmases at home. Much to my poor mother's dismay, traveling for long periods of time remains one of my most favorite things ever.

Tree shopping with mom in 2011, my last Christmas
at home. Joel got to partake in the epic and brutal selection
process for the perfect tree.
2012 was my worst Christmas ever as I was SO sick and had to work...therefore, there are no photos. So here's one of the many jolly Dunkin' Donuts ads I saw whilst in Korea.

Christmas Day, Thailand, 2013. All I wanted was to sit here, drink a piña colada, and chill.  
Despite many awesome adult Christmases, none compare to my AMAZING Christmases as a kid.  My mom is generally awesome (and I know she's reading this so hayyyy ma!) but her awesomeness became, like, Iron Man/Ruth Bader Ginsburg status on special occasions. Birthday month, no-holds-barred Halloween candy eating, and the year's crème de la créme, CHRISTMAS. Mom loves 3 things in this world- Jesus, parties, and family, and the trifecta lights up (literally) on December 25th. Adding the fact that grandma's birthday is Christmas Eve and the whole holiday season is just bananas for the Malan crew. There's every single dessert known to human kind, advent calendars, online advent calendars, pre-Christmas holiday festivities, approximately 172 emails, and overall enough hooplah to last a lifetime.

Interestingly, the epic Christmas excitement has not translated to adulthood. I like Jesus fine, but don't care for going to church nor the depiction of him as a blue-eyed white boy (in the Middle East? Schyeahhh right). Far more intense is my STRONG dislike, inching toward the H word, for overconsumption, particularly calendar-dictated overconsumption. I've boycotted Black Friday for years and have expressed my distinct lack of interest in gifts, unless the person really wants to give me something, because that's just nice and fun. My issue is with the, oh I have to get you something on this particular day, the more the better so you know I really care! mentality. I don't think a person is bad or wrong for thinking that, I think it's so ingrained in our culture that many (most?) of us feel bad or wrong if we don't feel that way.

My favorite part of having Christmas away is that I can buck all the traditions I don't care for and just enjoy the stuff I like.

One complication has popped up this year, however. I babysit two girls, ages 4 and 9, who LOVE stuff. Toys, dolls, coloring books, puppets, costumes, you name it. They haven't yet seen trash island or learned about slave labor (God bless 'em), and they think stuff is simply fun. So I've been facing this dilemma- do I buy them something for Christmas?
Photo credit: Start With the Heart

My initial idea was to make some elaborate project, which just didn't happen. I also know that like all children, toys are number one for these little ladies. So, I bundled up and went to the center of town determined to get these little ladies some stuff.

Long story short- I bought no stuff. The Made in China princess toys, the plastic boxes of crap, the overpriced kits they'll forget about in a few months...I just couldn't do it. I wandered from store to store, each bustling with list-carrying adults and children screaming "mama!" from two aisles over. I looked, contemplated, and eventually put the item back, time after time. As you can imagine, this became quite frustrating. Finally, I had a little conversation with myself.

I have been doing A LOT of self-helping lately. I'm drinking the Koolaid of personal improvement all day err day. I'm reading, meditating, affirming, mantra-ing, thanking, questioning, seeking. It's awesome and challenging. Most recently, I discovered Byron Katie. If you don't know who she is, check her out right meow. She wrote Loving What Is: Four Questions that Can Change Your Life, which is truly extraordinary. To super duper sum up her deal, you put all stressful thoughts under Inquiry aka you do The Work by asking four questions. So I started doing this with my shopping dilemma. I figured out that I felt like in order to show the girls that I care, I had to buy them stuff. But that's not who I am, and that's not how I show people I care. I'm their babysitter, not someone else, so I should express love in my own way.

So, I made them an ornament with their family name on it, and a little card to go with it.
The back. I think they liked it :)

The front of the ornament

The lights of the Christmas market.
We have enjoyed the MANY Christmas (haven't seen any other holiday celebrations out and about) festivities here in Nancy. The French are obsessed with Christmas. The bus reader board's say "Joyeux Noël!" instead of their destination. A Christmas market popped up downtown with 20 stands serving waffles, churros, candy, and vin chaud (hot wine aka the love of my life).

There was a Saint Nicolas parade last weekend. I went with Céline, my awesome neighbor/language exchange partner/friend and my new friend Martha, a British student working as an Au Pair and taking French classes here in Nancy.

An American. French and Brit enjoying the festivities (and free soup!)
We passed by the parade starting point before it began and were surprised to see a big elephant. We kept going and saw a bunch of clowns juggling.
One of the cool mechanical animals. Its eyes moved!
Then we saw some jesters warming up on their stilts. Céline, who is from Lyon (the Fête des Lumieres or Festival of Lights is held here, which is f*cking amazing. The city spends a metric buttload to project elaborate stories onto buildings in the city), only a few hours south of here, but she was equally perplexed about this Cirque du Soleil-esque "Christmas" parade.

It turns out that since Nancy has a parade for Christmas every year, they like to change up the theme. Can I just say how much I love France? Enough people were like, "Christmas themed parade AGAIN? Nah, let's do the Renaissance," which was actually the theme a couple years ago. They've also done "tales," which sounds rad, and this year was circus-themed. Mechanical and elaborately painted circus animals, a merry-go-round, mimes, and marching bands (one of which had a penchant for instrumental Lady Gaga) covered the street.

Another fun event that Joel and I attended was the Saint Nicolas "Pyrotechnics Spectacle," which was VERY interesting. A little background about Saint Nicolas: Here, he is NOT Santa. Saint Nicolas is the Patron Saint of Lorraine (the region Nancy is in). He looks like this:
Credit: Nancy Tourism website
Apparently he has a "big hoop earring" and is "very unpleasant unless he's around children," according to a woman I chatted with. At the pyrotechnics spectac, there were loads of fireworks and an astounding amount of people trying to cram into the Place (town square) trying to see them and hear the story. We couldn't really follow the story from where we were, but at one point we heard a familiar song. "Uhhh is this the song that plays in Kill Bill when Uma kills Lucy Liu?" Indeed, in the snow when Lucy Liu gets the top of her head cut off an epic song plays, which now played during the Christmas spectac. They also featured the main song from Lone Ranger. Lolz.

Clearly confused, I asked one of the girls I babysit to explain it to me. This is the story, verbatim:

All the main streets were lined with confetti
3 children get lost in the woods and end up at a house. One doesn't have a good feeling about it, and all 3 end up being chopped up into little pieces and put into a really old chest. No one knows what happened to them. 7 years later, Saint Nicolas is going to buy beer -

"Wait, what? He's buying beer?"

Yeah. But while he's there, the lady says, I am sad because my children have been gone for 7 years. Saint Nicolas says, I will avenge their death. And he goes to the man's house in the woods and says, I really like your chest, can I buy it and everything inside of it? And then he and the man fight. And then Saint Nicolas makes the kids come back to life.

I asked her about the Western music. She shrugged and said he has a donkey so maybe that has something to do with it. Amazing.

I will end this post with a life lesson from the same evening. As I mentioned, it seemed the whole region (including the two of us ) was desperately trying to see the fireworks, but we couldn't see much of anything.
Our firework view from the plaza...weak sauce!
We needed to get to the other side, which required going around the block. Joel and I kept going back and forth on whether to stay where we were and make due with what we had (mediocre view at best), or try to get the other side, possibly missing the rest of the show, but possibly getting a much better view.

Well, like I said I've been on a big self-help kick, and part of that is a No Settling policy. Instead, I go for it and kick as much ass as possible and, most importantly, trust that the universe has my back. So we booked it out of there, and stood just outside the plaza assessing our next move. Then we realized that right there, 30 feet away from the packed view-less space, was an amazing view with hardly anyone there because they all thought they had to get into the plaza to enjoy the show. The experience really resonated with me. Go for it. If you think you're worthy of something and make an effort to get it, rewards follow.
Our view when we decided to go for it

                              Happy Holidays from Our Home to Yours!!! xoxoxoxo


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Feelin' fancy in Nancy!

Bonjour mes amours! Welcome to France!

Joel had some sun in his eyes :)
We have been here for nearly a month (wow!) and are absolutely loving it. Our town is Nancy which is in the Lorraine region, home of the Quiche Lorraine and Université de Lorraine which has ~53,000 students, including Joelie. It doesn't feel like a college town to me because it's so classic French, but the people are youthful and it gets rowdy on the weekends. I love that the college demographic provides live music and festivals, and the intense cultural appreciation gives us loads of museums, cathedrals, etc. 

For this first entry, I will take you through a day out and about. 
When I wake up in the morning, I immediately look outside to check the weather and admire the beautiful canal. The trail adjacent to the canal goes for miles into town, allowing for a peaceful walk where I likely run into ducks, a kitty (in the 3rd picture, I call her "Très Mignonne" which means "very cute" for females), and sometimes A SWAN. Yeah. One day I saw the swan eating a pain au chocolat. TOO CUTE.

Clear, foggy, or thunderstorm, it's beautiful.

On the walk, I see loads of beautiful buildings and doors.

Brasseries are everywhere, they have coffee, pastries and every other form of gluten, as well as slightly more heavy food (sandwiches or the classic 'croque monsieur,' a sort of savory French toast with meat and cheese)
Fresh, local, organic, and REASONABLE produce might be my favorite thing about France. Processed food is pricier than natural food. Wonderful.
Cafés and little shops have lots of character. Here two men play chess while one smokes a cigar. The stereotype about French people loving their cigarettes is unfortunately very true, even though they cost a fortune!
Once in town, there is a FABULOUS park, Parc de la Pépinière, which includes extensive gardens, A FREE ZOO (monkeys!!!), an area for events and dancing, a bar/café and more. I am going to, uh, borrow some photos from the internets to show you.

This park always has action going on. Last weekend we walked through and noticed American flags around (whaaa?). It turned out to be an old school dance to U.S. music from the WWII era to celebrate the military relationship between US & France at that time. There were French tanks and classic Americana collectibles.

One side of the park opens up to the gem of Nancy, Place Stanislas. It is popular in France to have town squares which have elaborate buildings, gates, arcs and the like.
The opera building

Hotel Deville. In France hotel can mean different things, like this one is an administrative building. Throughout the summer they have a light show on this building...

An old man spends his days (and nights?) in front of this building, with his dog and mattress, reading books.
After exploring Place Stanislas, we get lost around town and take model pictures on old cobbled streets.
Built in 1336 ! this throughway has grates on top of it so that when armies invaded Nancy and went through here, French soldiers could pour hot oil or other scorching liquids on them.
There are a few cathedrals in Nancy, and most of them are so massive I can't even show the height of them with my iPod camera. I went in here one day for some peace and prayer, and the man in charge of keeping it up was vacuuming loudly and moving the chairs around. It was a pretty comical sight, him talking to his fellow janitor and noisily cleaning next to Jesus on a cross. I guess a job's a job huh?
A different cathedral, at night.
Woo! What a day. Time to head home.
I can't work in France (per my visa) so my days consist of writing 4-8+ hours, editing, looking for freelance work/building my portfolio, keeping in touch with folks, getting daily groceries (typical for French people, folks don't bulk buy), cooking and cleaning. Since I'm in France and champagne costs 2 bucks (1,29 euros), sometimes it accompanies my housewifery :)
A major job of mine is keeping Joel full of cheese, which makes him happier than pretty much anything else. Cheese is also crazy cheap which is crazy awesome.
Above our bed. I cut out strips of paper to make a hanging photo area. Send me photos and I'll put them up! :) The rose is for my birthday, and since we don't want to buy dishes we use old jars for cups and booze bottles for vases! We had to try genuine article Absinthe, which supposedly contains "the green fairy," which makes you feel floaty/hallucinate. I couldn't get past the taste to really try it and tell but Joel likes it. (BTW the books are The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, INCREDIBLE book about overcoming resistance to getting things done, and Sourcebook on Atomic Energy, Joel's downtime reading material.)
But what about dinner? Normally we eat at home besides occasionally going out for kebabs, AMAZING lamb/pita/lettuce/mystery sauce magic. I saw this gem on a walk around town:
Nailed it ?
But since it's my birthday weekend !! we went to a proper French restaurant where they serve 4 courses- entreé, plat, fromage (cheese plate, because after 2 other plates of food why the hell not?), and dessert.

The full enchilada includes drinks- aperitif before the meal, wine during, and a digestif (cognac, among others) after.

Joel's Korea throwback in the fancy French restaurant
Awesome ambience complete with perfectly stoic French waiter!
The story of our French meal isn't complete without this little tidbit: In France, "doggie bags" or taking leftovers to go is not a thing. This causes an issue for people like me who a) can't eat 4 freaking courses in one sitting, and b) hates wasting food. So we devised a plan that I would run back to our apartment and put a zip-loc bag in my purse, and when the waiter was away, scoop the food into the bag. So as I'm about to do this, the waiter comes back in to ask us if we're ready for the next course! So I'm stumbling around in my purse, and as I am not built for a life of crime, start blabbing in English trying to cover my tracks. It was hysterical. I almost lost my nerve but ended up successfully transporting the food home, leaving some so it didn't seem too far-fetched. Last time I was in France, I smuggled out pizza in a napkin in my pants which was only slightly more successful.
 Just for fun, here's a picture of us back in December 2010, the day Joel met me at the Paris airport. He was studying in Poitiers and I came to visit (paying for the trip by slinging pizzas and sleeping on Julie's couch for 4 months...thanks Jules!). We spent a month hanging out in his sleepy town and backpacking Europe. This was my first trip overseas, and my mind was BLOWN. I adopted the motto, "Save, travel, repeat" which continues to this day.
Look at those baby faces

I hope you enjoyed this day in Nancy. I will update again when I can. Love to you and yours!! xoxoxox

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Our Washington Wedding !!

Thinking back on our wedding day, on the 2nd of August, it seems surreal. I have never felt more loved or honored. The presence of so many truly incredible people all in the same place with so much beauty and deliciousness was simply the best. And it was in fact the best day of my life.

I decided to blog about it because I think it's such an awesome story, and hopefully it will spark ideas for others embarking on the epic, Lord of the Rings-esque journey that is planning a wedding. 

Honestly, the planning and details nearly drove us crazy, despite stating repeatedly that this would be a no stress undertaking. HAHAHAHAHAHA....To be fair, it was extra intense because a) we were living in a tent in Joel's mom’s backyard (long story), and b) moving out of the country a few weeks later, which included but is not limited to getting rid of 5/6 of our worldly possessions and driving to San Francisco for visas two weeks before the wedding. But I digress.

The tent we lived in for 2.5 months.
I wanted everything to be perfect, and since people were making such huge sacrifices to come to our wedding, I was afraid of disappointing them! At the height of the intensity, Joel earned major soon-to-be husband points. He said, “All we have guaranteed [them] is that they will witness the love and happiness we feel. That’s all we need to focus on.” Those words echoed in my head, and though things were still hectic, he helped remind me what's important. And truly, amidst all of the fabulous details, the real magic of our wedding (for all of us) was how full of love it was.

A few notes before I get into all the pretty stuff (and I must say I am continually amazed how aesthetically amazeballs everything was): We planned the wedding in basically 7 months. Our wedding photographer is Jamie Johnson. She is fantastic and very reasonably priced.

The first thing to decide is what you value most about your marryin' process. Travel is numero uno for us so our first post-engagement purchase was honeymoon tickets. Our second purchase was premarital counseling sessions through A Heavenly Ceremony in Seattle. The benefits of premarital counseling are well worth the investment. For us, discussing finances was the most useful but we also covered communication, conflict, sustaining passion, and more.

Wedding planning is like dominoes. You need one down to get to the others. The biggest piece is LOCATION.  Probably the best part of wedding planning was getting to go scout locations. It was the perfect excuse for Joel and I to "have to" get out of town. The trips felt like mini-vacations. In addition to seeing many beautiful spots in our beloved Washington, we got to spend entire days together and reconnect.
We stopped to enjoy the magnificent Seattle skyline after a day of wedding prep
Finding the perfect location is a lot like finding the perfect mate. There were loads of options that
were by all accounts very good. But they didn't feel JUST right. We started out with a list of must-have's: outdoors, allows us to bring our own everything (not be forced to use their caterer, bar staff, etc.), ample parking, solid food prep setup (critical because the food would need to be heated), and room for a band & dancing. I wanted to do it somewhere out of town a bit so people would feel like they were going on a little getaway, but that was negotiable. 

A few specific places we looked at: The Grotto at St. Edwards Park in Kenmore, The Cutting Garden in Sequim, Port Townsend in general (gotta book early), and Glen Echo Gardens in Bellingham. I also looked on AirBnb and VRBO at vacation properties, but our wedding was too big (60 people). 

One place we considered was this weird train converted into a restaurant. It's less dismal looking in person :)
Finally it was getting down to the wire. I gave us a time frame to decide and tried not to panic. I spent countlesssss hours on the internet, and when I was almost ready to compromise, I stumbled onto info about weddings in Ocean Shores, Washington. Being from Hawaii, I LOVE the beach. I looked around and found an inn that hosts receptions. I drove down the next day. Joel couldn’t come but trusted me to go for it if it was THE one.

When I arrived at the Judith Ann Inn, I felt at home. The ladies who work there are super friendly and relaxed, and we hit if off right away. All of our requirements were met, and they offered plenty of extras like linens, tables, chairs, dishes and lots more.  In addition to using the deck and lawn, we could rent all of the inn's luxurious but well-priced rooms so quite a few people could sleep there right after the party! The rest of the guests would be able to walk next door to the Ramada, or stay at any number of other hotels or beach houses in town.

Front of The Judith Ann Inn
My decision was finalized when I got to the beach. It was true love. The logs, the sand, the birds…perfection. I stayed for sunset, overjoyed that this was positively, definitely IT!!!! AND the cherry on top is that you have to pay a park event fee of $20 to get married there!

After the location was set, it was time for invitations. I made online Save the Date’s on Paperless Post to make it easy (people can fill in their addresses, which you can export into an Excel doc. Super helpful!). Shopping around for invitations with mah girls, we were discussing options and LIGHTBULB! Who says you have to do paper invites? How about a message in a bottle?  I wrote a poem about the wedding and put it inside with some shells and seaglass, and at the bottom put our wedding website info where people could get details, so as not to muddle up the novelty.

I have no regrets about this, as it was totes adorbs and a really fun way to get people's expectations sufficiently high. But oh my gad it was quite the project. The bottles, the printing, gluing, and oh don’t get me started on the mailing. Boxes, ungodly amounts of tape…the last ones didn’t go out until crazy close to the wedding. But I sent out emails with the info…which some people paid attention to…ha ha. Moral of the wedding story: You do what you can. Moral of the invitation: it’s the first real slice of wedding they get, so why not be creative? (But sanity comes first!)

My location search wasn't entirely over, because an important part of my wedding vision was to spend the couple of days before the wedding with our crew of BFF’s, eating, drinking, catching up, laughing, and preparing. I naively imagined this time would be very relaxing, which it was not exactly, but having all of us together (including friends from NY & Japan!) is a memory I'll cherish forever. Plus, you know, we couldn't have done it prepared without them!

The helpers :)
For our bridal party, we rented this BALLER place called Gibson House. Complete with soda fountain, a THEATER, and a number of other strange and magical rooms. It’s like a 10 year old decided built it, “I want a room that’s Christmas all the time!” They have it.

It looks normal on the outside...
SO COOL! Guests came over on Wedding Eve and watched When Harry Met Sally :)
Complete with mostly-functional boats!
The day before the wedding, the guys (and Jessica, resident groomswoman) went to the beach to prepare for the ceremony. They saw a sign that two OTHER weddings were going to be on the beach the same day as ours! Luckily they were at different times. BUT this news actually spurred ingenuity. The crew picked a spot further back on the beach, and arranged the rocks and logs into a circle (more on that later). We had as private an area as one could hope for, and when they eagerly unveiled it to me I nearly cried.

We did a very basic rehearsal with the bridal party (also called herding cats) and hoped for the best!

Brandon, the officiant, giving me lip as per usual
The Gibson house actually ended up being a great spot for getting ready photos. I got to wear my mama’s pearl earrings, my grandma’s necklace (which she gave to me…awww), and my bouquet had lace from Patti’s wedding dress. Joelie wore a pin that was his grandpa’s, who loved to collect and sell jewelry.

The soda fountain was a perfect backdrop
The ladder in the Captain's Room was another great spot for pics
To break up the posing into bearable chunks, we decided to do photos with our respective bridesmaids/groomsmen beforehand, but Joel and I didn't see each other before the wedding (he felt strongly about this, and in hindsight I'm really glad we did it that way).

The guys + Jess got ready at the inn, and needless to say had a very good time. 

The ceremony was quite unconventional. See, although Joel and I appear to be your normal everyday people, we are in fact hippies. I wanted the guests to be able to interact and be PART of the wedding. After all, we wouldn’t be here, together, without them. So I wanted everyone to be standing around us in a circle. 

My aunt Audrey lead an activity she often does in her co-op trainings. It's more of a show vs. tell thing, but basically everyone shakes each other’s hands, creating a circle. So she led that activity, which we thought would only take a few minutes, but people ending up chatting, so we were standing in our little gendered circles trying to hide form each other ha ha.

Eventually the “procession” began. Craig, the guitarist in Bonobros, played the guitar softly. The guys went first and the ladies hid me from Joel. I walked down the aisle last, and though I thought I would be nervous, I wasn’t. I was simply elated and SO honored that everyone was there for this moment! Joel looked so handsome too!

Brandon, always zany with an especially adventurous shirt and tie combo, was a grand officiant. He gave a heartfelt speech, and then it was time for our vows. Or so we thought! We got our first surprise! All the members of the bridal party stepped forward one at a time to appreciate Joel or me for something. It was SO sweet and thoughtful! We truly have the greatest friends.
"Wait what? ... AWWWWW."
We exchanged vows, which was teary and lovely and funny. 

Then when the ceremony was over, our homies made an awning for us to run through! The perfect finale to the most magical experience of my life.

But it was just the start! First we all celebrated! Our moms jumped up and down and said something to the effect of, "they're legal!!!" While guests went to the Inn to for drinks and snackin', we took photos with family, the bridal party, and as a MARRIED COUPLE.

My dad's side, the Absher's
Mom's side, the Malan's
My gorgeous mommy!
Joelie's mama, sis & papa
The zoo crew. (we don't call ourselves that, but it's appropriate)

As we were finishing our photos, we noticed a man watching us. Afterwards he came up and told us that he saw the whole wedding and it was a beautiful thing to witness, and wished us the best of luck. :)
Now it's time for the PARTY

When we arrived at the inn, we all sort of milled around talking and slowly made our way to the lawn. Everything was decorated beautifully, which so many wonderful people helped with. I am still in awe of how everyone stepped up with their unique skill set which was perfect for what needed to be done.

Recognize something? 
Yes the rest of our invitations were used for decorations!
Every table was different

There were gorgeous flowers everywhere. Joel and Patti (Joel’s AMAZING mom) planted many of the flowers. What we couldn’t grow, Patti got from a flower wholesaler. Patti used to be a florist and made outrageously beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres. Patti, Ginney (Patti’s soul sister), and Joel made amazing crab enchiladas and veggie lasagna. Joel’s sister Alicia is gluten-free and vegan, so she made an incredible allergy-free mushroom stroganoff.

People ate and we began the speeches! We laughed hysterically, teared up, and had to kiss every time someone clinked a glass J

Next it was time for OUR FIRST DANCE! Joel and I had a little surprise here of our own. We had a friend help us by playing Seal’s “Kissed by a Rose”. Anyone who knows either of us well would rightly be confused by this, as we are not that sentimental. But we danced in all seriousness. 

About a minute in, the song cut out and we heard the loveliest of lyrics- “Gonna have myself a real good time....I feel Ali-i-i-iiiive" Yes that's right my friends, it was "Don’t Stop Me Now” by who else but QUEEN. I don’t think it’s possible not to dance to this song and we ROCKED OUT.

People joined in to the rocking, then a bit later WE GOT ANOTHER SURPRISE, arranged by my always-fun mother. She organized a FLASH MOB!!!! It was incredible!!!!!! The video is hilarious because my friend Maura is not super sure about the moves and is directly in front. Oh Mau Mau.

After a wee bit more dancing, we had Joel’s dad & uncle’s band The Bonobros bring da noise AND da funk with their classic rock. Our friend Karl did a cameo with them. As per usual, their music was enjoyed by all.

Tunin up
They played as nightfall came and people boogied down on the deck.

Our moms are THE COOLEST

I wanted the food to be left out, so people ate more and had dessert at their leisure. Someone had to go out and get more wine. Little note to future wedding havers: buy twice as much booze as you think you need. People. Get. Buckwild. Young, old, conservative, lush- people were getting down with the dranks. I’m glad someone went and got more because I was unaware of the supply, probably because of the drinks I was having!
There was plenty of this left at the end
We had told people to prepare a talent, and my one regret of the wedding is that we didn’t really get to that. Time just sort of went by, and people left little by little, and chatted all over the property. I prepared a song for Joel with my mom on guitar so we performed that later. Joel and Kit did some Monty Python, and Katie and Richard performed “Shoop,” (my karaoke jam). AND there were delicious sweet treats and love mixes for guests to take home as party favors. So all's well that ends well :)

Before we knew it, it was over. Just like that. It got late and we didn’t want to be too noisy because of the other hotels nearby. Joel and I scavenged leftover cheese on the charcuterie platter, opened presents, sat in the hot tub, and had a special bottle of bubbly we saved.

We were woken up the next morning by our haggard friends who thought they were supposed to come over at the break of dawn (is this a prank?). It was mildly irritating at the time, but who can be mad at such a fan-freaking-tastic group of people? I ate leftover stroganoff in a bathrobe on the floor and moaned for coffee for awhile, and then we started the clean-up. Much later, simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated, we journeyed back to Seattle. The next day we flew to Hawaii, and three weeks later moved to France. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

To the many, many people who contributed (some of whom I probably don't even know about), I'll never be able to put into words how grateful I am but let me just that my heart has been filled with a warmth that I don't believe will ever go away. Thank you so much. And if anyone who is planning a wedding has questions, feel free to ask. Cheers!