Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How I Got My Struggling Reader Prepped for His First Oral Presentation

My son, Dominic (in 2nd grade), just conquered his first oral report!

Yes, we "homeschool" but my homeschooled kids also attend a study center twice a week, which, among numerous other benefits, affords them opportunities that are often unique to a classroom setting.  A couple weeks ago, Dominic was instructed to prepare for his first oral presentation (a report, not a recitation of something from memory.)  The assigned topic was Ancient Roman roads.

Dominic is still not a fluent reader.  To be quite frank, he's still a struggling reader.  When I first heard about the presentation he'd have to make, I questioned whether he'd be able to do it.  Reading a prepared speech from index cards would not be an option.  I knew Dominic could memorize a lot of information about Roman roads, but I couldn't be sure that he'd present it all in the right order, or that he'd remember half of it once he was standing up in front of his classmates.

How could I prepare him and provide him with materials to give him the best chance at success in his first oral report??

Cue the cartoon light bulb above the genius mom's head!  I decided we'd come up with cue cards that were a combination of written and illustrated "cues."

Here's how we did it...

First, we read all the age-appropriate information we could find on Ancient Roman roads.  We read it all twice. 

Next, Dominic told as much of it back to me as he could.

He told me what parts he thought would be the most important to include in his speech, and I jotted down his notes.

Then together we decided what pictures and easy-to-read words would help him recall what he wanted to say about each point.  I created the cue cards, but he was right next to me telling me what he wanted them to look like (it was his report after all... and he'd have to be able to "interpret")  (Now that he's done it once, I think if he were to prepare for another talk, I would let him create the cue cards himself.) 

We arranged the information and numbered the cards.

And then he practiced.  Many, many times :)    

It worked beautifully!  Although I wasn't there to witness the "real" thing, he assured me his presentation went very well.  I was so happy and proud that even though he's still working on writing and reading, it didn't prevent him from giving an informative and organized presentation to his friends and tutors!  

Yay, Dominic!   I'm so proud of you!  

Here's a recording of Dominic practicing the night before the classroom presentation...  
(photos of the cue cards are below - um... they're very rudimentary...AND A WORD IS MISSPELLED.  "Bad Speller" is part of who I am.  Don't judge me.  I'd be sad...) 


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 Things I Do Before Having a New Baby

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes....

(want to try to guess the baby?)
I've had a handful of unfinished baby-related posts waiting around in my drafts folders gathering dust.  There's always the possibility that I won't have any more children, so I figured I had better publish these things before I lose my street cred.  As I've still got a one-year-old under my roof, I felt like I wasn't too far removed from pregnancy, newborns, and postpartum-ness to be taken seriously ;)  

But before I jump into anything super deep and intimidating (like how to recover without shouting obscenities when a toddler jumps on you at "c-section +5" days) I thought I could start with something a little less intense.  How about lists?!?!  Lists are always a great way to ease into a topic :) 

5 Things I Do Before Having a New Baby


Freeze meals.  
Isn't that everyone's No 1??  It is for me.  But I don't just do that if I'm having a baby. 
I do it every fall, new baby or not.
My meals are prepared and packaged with careful instructions on how to defrost, reheat or cook, and serve - in case I'm not the one doing the dinner prep :)
Ready-to-eat meals are probably the best way to take it easy on yourself when there's a newborn to care for. 
It's also a nice thing I can do for my husband while he's home with the other kids - if he has meals ready to heat and eat, he's less likely to give them pancakes, candy corn, and dill pickles for dinner. 


Stock up on all the things.
When I have a newborn, I want to stay at home for as long as possible and cuddle my baby, wear sweats, and nap as often as possible.  Or crochet.  Obviously.  I DO NOT want to be making emergency trips to Target.  (I'm pretty sure being in Target post-partum is one of Dante's circles in Inferno.)
I don't want to go shopping for at least a month after my babies are born.
Before each baby, I make sure we are set - in the pantry, cleaning supplies, health/beauty/bath items, and baby items.
It feels so good, so liberating, to look at my stash of food staples, shampoo, toothpaste, and hand soap, diapers, wipes, nursing pads (and all the other pads necessary during that first post-partum month), laundry detergent, dish soap, Swiffer dusters and wet floor wipes, Comet cleaner, and on and on......   We're usually set for the first month after a new baby arrives.  My stash-building skills also ensure that we could be fairly self sufficient for about a month in the event of a nuclear event right around the time the baby arrives.  Bonus.  


I buy new socks and underwear.
Yep.  Having a new baby about every two years means it's also about time to refresh the sock and underwear drawer.  And I can't lay in a hospital bed or walk around the hospital room in old socks with holes... (shudder) I just can't.  So the timing works out perfectly :)


I make changes to assist the children already living in the home 
be more self-sufficient and helpful around the house.
When I was expecting Clare (my fourth) I had a major brainstorming session about what could be done around the house that would make my life as a mom-of-four easier.  The answer I came up with was hire a nanny, cook, and housekeeper.  
Er, I mean, the answers I came up with were (1) make it possible for my children to set the table and unload the dishwasher without my assistance.
And (2) make it possible for my children to get their own breakfast ready (the three oldest were 5, 4, and 2.)
To facilitate this change I grit my teeth and bought Corelle Dinnerware for 8.  It's not pretty, but it doesn't break and I wouldn't have to supervise it going into and out of the dishwasher.  We cleared out a lower kitchen cupboard and turned it into the dishes and cereal cupboard.  With that small change, the kids were able to set the table without my help (didn't have to get the heavy ceramic dishes from the upper cupboards), they could get their own bowls and cereal for breakfast, they could put the dishes away when they emptied the dishwasher, and they could get their own cup for a drink of water.  It made such a huge difference and was one of the most beneficial changes we've made toward helping the kids become more independent.


I try to get to Confession.
Not because I'm super morbid and think "you never know."  But... you never know.  And also, with a clean soul and light heart, I've been able to joyfully focus on the birth without all the gunk of my sin, mistakes, and shortcomings clouding the first few moments and days and with my new baby.
Plus, since I admitted I try to never leave the house for a month after coming home with the baby, making to Confession after the baby's born is probably not going to happen.  (But I do go to Mass .  I'd never deprive the little old ladies at Mass an opportunity to fawn over a newborn ;) )

*   *   *   *   *   *

So that's my list.  Like I said, I don't know that I'll ever need this kind of list again, but you never know :) 

What do you do when you're getting ready to welcome a new little one into your life and home?

Monday, April 27, 2015

5 "Extras" I Recommend for Your Child With Type 1 Diabetes

Earlier this month was the two year "anniversary" of Aaron's diabetes diagnosis.  Oh man, was I ever overwhelmed when we came home from the hospital two years ago and were thrust into the world of carrying for a diabetic child on our own.  (I invite you read about that story here, here, here, here, and here.)  It was hard.  So, so hard.  

In many ways it still is hard, but since those first days diabetes care has become a part of the daily routine.  Most of it happens without fanfare and out of habit.  We've also picked up a few great resources, gadgets, and "things" along the way that have made managing the disease a little easier on my son Aaron, my husband, and me.

If you have a child that's newly diagnosed with diabetes, you've got all kinds of newness happening in your life.  When all that calms down and you're ready to start considering the next steps toward better care and management, we've found from experience that these are some things worth checking out or investing in...

This scale is so convenient for using at the kitchen counter or right at the dinner table.  Its guide, of nearly 1,000 foods, takes the guesswork out of carb counting.  Simply weigh your food, punch in the corresponding food code, and it displays how many carbs are contained in that particular serving.  It's amazing how much it covers - from every type of produce, to meats, nuts, breads, even things like homemade banana bread and Irish soda bread!  It also has a feature to help you figure the carbs for foods not listed in the guide.  It really is so helpful.  It makes me feel confident that we're getting a lot of Aaron's carb numbers right. 

myfitnesspal is a great website that allows you to input and store recipes from online recipe sites or blogs (or to manually enter your own) and then figures the carbohydrates per serving for that particular recipe.  I use this site for nearly all the casseroles and soups that I make, as well as homemade baked goods like cakes and cookies.  Because I just need carb info, I sometime even use shortcuts by entering abbreviated recipes - leaving out all the ingredients that have no carbohydrates.

Soon after Aaron was diagnosed I had a mini tantrum out at a restaurant or store or someplace because all his on-the-go supplies were rattling around at the bottom of my purse and were a pain in the butt to find.  I briefly toyed with the idea of making pouches like this, but realized my purse would be a lot less cluttered a lot sooner if I just bought these medi pouches from Karen at Ouch Pouch.  So I did!  I bought the four pack (sizes pictured here) and they have been just perfect for keeping Aaron's supplies and gear organized when we're out of the house.  (I should, of course, mention that they only work perfectly when he bothers to put his stuff into them ;) )  You can clearly see what is stored in each pouch... the snaps closures stay closed... everything diabetes-related stays together.  Aaron tosses these little supply bags into his larger "diabetes-on-the-go" bag and we're out the door.  They can easily be transferred from his backpack to my purse.   Easy peasy and oh so convenient!

This obviously doesn't have to be a bracelet, but should be something (a necklace, dog tags, etc...) to indicate that your child has type 1 diabetes and who his emergency contacts are.  There are many places to purchase ID bracelets from, but I personally recommend American Medical ID.  We have had wonderful customer service from them, including two no-questions-asked replacement bracelets that were covered under the original warranty.  Shipping on the replacements was prompt as well.
I like this sturdy stainless steel chain bracelet, but Aaron's set on switching to the stretchy bands because he gets the metal links caught on stuff (like his sisters' hair and my handmade crochet blankets...) a lot. ;)

Aaron has always had drier skin, but these past two winters he's had very bad chapping on his hands and knuckles, and well as dry patches on his legs, knees, arms, and bottom.  At first I thought this lotion might be a money-grabbing gimmick, but it actually does sooth his skin better than regular lotion, and tends to give him relief for quite a while.  Even though we have a huge bottle at home, he always gets super excited when they have free mini tubes at the endocrinology clinic :)  

*   *   *   *   *   *

If you're just starting out on a journey with a child with diabetes, there will probably be so many other things that you'll run into that will help make your life (and your child's life!) much easier.  These were the things that made a big difference for us right away.  Hope this list can be of help to you!  And, as always, let me know if you have questions for me or for Aaron on living with, and managing, diabetes day to day!  We're not perfect at it, but we're getting better :)  

What things have you found helpful in caring for your child with diabetes?  

Friday, April 24, 2015

Crafty Scraps Jackpot! (a crafty lady's dream come true)

It was like a dream come true... over a year ago a friend called to offer me some upholstery samples to use for craft and sewing projects.   I stored them away and forgot about them until a few months ago when another friend offered me another haul of upholstery samples.   They were added to the pile, and sat, all tossed this way and that, until recently when I dealt with that pile during my craft room clean-up.  

I finally went through all the samples, keeping about three quarters of them.  I can't believe how "wealthy" I feel!  I have scraps of every color under the sun!  Textures and patterns like you wouldn't believe!  Thin and flow-y, heavy and hefty, smooth and satin-y.  They're all mine!  It's truly the jackpot of scraps that sewers dream about.  Problem is... that's all I can do is dream.   Dream about what I'll do with them some day.   Dreaming and scheming are easier to fit into the busyness of life right now.  Actually sitting down to a project is a different story... one that may not be written for quite some time.  

For now, I've contented myself with sorting the stash and taking pictures of it.  I couldn't be surrounded by all that color and texture and color and not take lots of photos! Consider yourself lucky that I'm only giving you a glimpse of about half of them :)    

This is a tiny, tiny, random sampling of some of what I've got.  What would you do with a crafter's jackpot like this?  I have to start collecting my ideas for my future projects.  I've thought about some obvious things like patchwork throw pillows and tote bags, but also keep thinking there's got to be a way to make a gorgeous quiet book for a toddler out of these.  We shall see.  We shall see...

the pile before "cleaning" it up

all "cleaned up" and stored until it's project time

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

6 Reasons to Love (I mean REALLY LOVE) "Wild Kratts"

A few weeks ago, a couple mom friends and I were chatting and the conversation turned to the PBS television program Wild Kratts.  One of my friends said, "I think my daughter has a crush on the Kratt brothers."  "Hahaha, I think I have a crush on the Kratt brothers," I quickly confessed.  (I was in good company, and I knew my secret was safe with my friends ;) )

It all started last November... remember that November when the majority of the household was sick, and I was nearly at death's door, and Thanksgiving was cancelled??  Yeah.  That November.   I couldn't get off the couch, and the kids (who were a little less sick) needed to be contained, so... Netflix.  Netflix is a vital part of our Standard Illness Management Protocol.  The mind-numbing effect it has on the children allows the mom to be in the room, but not consciously supervising (or doing anything, for that matter) her offspring.  The mom can drift in and out of the restless sleep guaranteed by any over-the-counter cough syrup, and occasionally "care" for her children by saying, "just go to the next episode."  But you can only take so much of some shows until you begin to feel worse instead of reaping the benefits of rest and recuperation that Netflix is supposed to offer. I was so *sick* (haha.  get it??) of The Magic School Bus that I shrugged my shoulders and clicked on Wild Kratts.  And what a wild and wonderful ride it's been!

There's Wild Kratts on Netflix, on DVD's from the library, and on Amazon Prime streaming.  (I hear it's also on our local PBS stations, but we don't have a tv.)  With so many opportunities for watching, it didn't take too long for me to realize that there really was a lot of worthwhile stuff happening during the 25 minutes you get to spend with Martin, Chris, and the gang in each episode.  

So here it is... Six Reasons Why I Really, Really Love Wild Kratts...    

(1) The brothers are brothers.  They're bothers in real life.  They're brothers in the show.  They make a great co-star team.  They clearly love working together and enjoy each other's company, and I think their friendship - in both the live sequence scenes and the animation portions (in which they are the voices for themselves) - is the winning feature of the show.  I mean the show could be about any number of topics, like the change in yearly percentage of rainfall in Albuquerque due to the underpopulation of the Yukon Territory - but I would still let my kids watch it so that they could witness the Brothers Kratt being brothers.  Good, wholesome, crazy fun brotherhood.  They're encouraging and supportive of one another, they come to each other's rescue, their non-cheesy "team work" works because they acknowledge one another's strengths and unique abilities.  But they're brothers... so there's plenty of active and friendly competition, verbal sparring, taunting and daring, and they take their fair share of jabs at one another, but they're always good-natured and never disrespectful or disparaging.  In short, I love the model of life-long sibling friendship  that they model for my children.  

(2) My kids learn crazy amounts of awesome stuff about animals that are not typically featured in your run-of-the-mill "Kids' First Books/Shows About Animals."  This becomes very apparent in games like Charades.  The game card says "monkey" and the kid is acting out "monkey" but my five and three-year-old are guessing things like "proboscis monkey!" or "spider monkey!"   Or someone is acting out "bird" and the little kids are throwing out guesses like "bird of paradise!" "peregrine falcon!" "burrowing owl!"  My kids can give me very detailed information about the habits and habitats of honey badgers, thorny devil lizards, gila monsters, and frog fish.  Words like subnivean zone just roll off their tongues.  They are definitely getting their college Zoology 101 out of the way early, and that's fine with me :)

(3) "Creatures" imply a Creator.  The Wild Kratts are all about "creatures," and creatures, to me at least, imply a Creator.  The brothers and their gang obviously don't reference God, but when they refer animals they speak about creatures and the various ways in which they are designed.  (They do also mention adaptations and Mother Nature, but not exclusively.  I keep an ear out for these things... ;)  )  There might not be anything to it - it could just be the words the writers chose without thinking.  But for me, it's a selling point - nothing in the show is in conflict with our belief that God is the Creator and designer of creatures.  I'll take it.  

(4) There are intelligent STEM girls on the team.  The Kratt brothers couldn't do what they do without Koki and Aviva helping to power the Tortuga and engineer the guys' Creature Power Suits.  It's refreshing to have active and engaging gals modeling math, science, and technological know-how to support the guys in their adventures and missions.  They're intelligent, inquisitive, and adventuresome.  They're dedicated, faithful, and delightful.  They're not squeamish, they aren't silly or flirty or flighty.  Sound like a list you want to use to describe your daughters?  Yeah, me too.  These girls got it :)  
(5) The villains are so ridiculous they're hysterical. Donita Donata, the fashion designer hoping to find her next show-stopping design in nature (not inspired by nature, but made from nature) -  she cracks me up.  As does her henchman, Dabio.  And somehow Zach Varmitech - a goatee-d tech geek who's afraid of animals but wants to harness their power and use them as workers in his various schemes and developments - is the funniest of all.  They're simple, text book kids' cartoon villains, but their ridiculousness adds a fun dimension to the show.  (They even have the stereotypical over-the-top evil villain laughs.)  (The third villain, Gourmande, hasn't really grown on me.  Sorry, bros :( )

(6) The show Wild Kratts inspires creativity in my kids like no other television show has.  (Well, Mighty Machines has inspired a lot as well, now that I think about it...)  My kids watch other "educational" cartoons, most notably The Magic School Bus, but they don't play Magic School Bus.  Even though my children may zone out a bit when they're staring at the computer screen, what they learn in Wild Kratts sticks and it energizes their non-screen play time.  They use their plastic animals, blocks, construction paper, and old paper towel cardboard tubes to build African savanna scenes on the coffee table.  They'll dress in all dark clothes (including dark hats and gloves), turn off all the lights in the house at night, and slink through the shadows like jaguars, after they remind Russ and I that "you can't see jaguars, but they can see you.)  (It's actually a little creepy for me.  I startle easily...)  Aaron has built the Kratt's Tortuga and Createrra vehicles numerous times out of Legos, each time more elaborate than the last.  And they're always drawing their favorite Wild Kratts animals, or detailed habitats, or Chris and Martin "on the job." 

I'm definitely one of those moms who frequently ponders the benefits of a screen-free life for her children, but we obviously don't live that way :)  Especially in the winter months, the kids often watch about 45 minutes of something "educational" on weekday afternoons because I just need a break.  But I stopped feeling guilty about it years ago, and when the screen time is Wild Kratts, I'm happy as a clam.  There's so much that I love about that show, and now you know why :) 

Thank you, Kratt Brothers, for creating quality children's programming.  It's fun, educational, and doesn't make this mom want to tear her hair out -- a rare and much appreciated combination.   As you can well imagine, you're pretty darn popular around here, and if we ever have any more sons you may realized just how grateful we are when we let the kids name them Martin and Chris ;)  Love, Theresa.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How We Kept our Wedding Small, Thrifty, and Really Special (with some bonus FAQ's)

Russ and I have been married for 10 years this April, so I wrote a few posts on love and marriage.  Click here for the story on how we met... or don't if you're not into those types of things :)

Russ and I are both super practical people.  On top of that, we neither of us worry about convention too much, and we both tend to do things the way we want to even if it's not the way things are usually done.  Russ is thrifty.  I prefer to be unassuming.  And that's why we did our wedding the way we did...   small, thrifty, classy (I hope!) lovely, and faith-filled, but not tradition-bound

Though we had lived near each other for over three years (one of those, dating), I had moved back home and we were "long distance" from then until our wedding.  Russ was living in Ohio, working in West Virginia.  I was living with my parents and working in New York.  We got engaged one August weekend that I was down visiting him.  It was time to start planning...

I planned the wedding.  It was just practical, since we were getting married in my home town, and Russ was four hours away.  And it wasn't really important to either of us to have Russ involved in every detail.  He was involved in big things, like choosing the readings for the Mass, and... well, I can't think of anything else.  I planned it, and passed the info on to him :)   (He wasn't sitting around doing nothing -- Russ planned our honeymoon and found the place that would be our first apartment after the wedding!)

Our wedding was small.  It was very small.  It was a difficult decision but we decided to limit the reception guest list to our immediate family, grandparents, and two or three good friends each. The number of people at our reception dinner was under 25.  We invited about 40 people to the wedding Mass itself (it was a Friday evening) and then all 40 were also invited to a brunch at my parent's home the next morning.  So, the guest list was small... and the wedding party was small.  I had a maid of honor and Russ had a best man.  That was it.  And it was perfect. 

It was inexpensive.  We planned to pay for the wedding and reception ourselves and we weren't going to go into debt or blow through savings just to get married and have a party.  Our wedding would have to be something we could pay for out of pocket.  I don't remember the spec's, but it definitely came in under $3000 - and that included everything from the airplane ticket for our priest (who we knew from WV) to the gas in the rental car to get to the airport for our honeymoon.  One way we kept our expenditures small was by keeping the wedding small.   Obviously. 

Also, we did a lot of work ourselves and asked good friends to lend their talents.  The fact that so many of our friends and family contributed to our wedding made it infinitely  more special to both of us.  

I made our invitations and Mass "programs."  (there were only about 45 each, after all...)

My good friends who lived next door to us nearly our whole lives helped out also.  One of the neighbors worked at a florist - I bought the flowers, and she made my bouquet, three corsages, three boutonnieres, and two centerpieces for us as a gift.  

Similarly, her seamstress mother made my dress with a pattern and material that I bought on sale (of course!) as a gift. 

My mom and I made my veil.

I did my own makeup (just the same way I did my makeup every other day), another good friend did my hair, and I didn't have my nails done... though I'm pretty sure I used a nail brush on them that day :)  

One of Russ' good friends took pictures for us, and another of his friends played the organ for the Mass.  Not only did we save money, but we had a wedding that was strewn with generous gifts of time and talent from our family and friends.  And we loved that.

We were married in one of the most beautiful churches in Buffalo, St. Louis Roman Catholic Church on Main St.  (or maybe the official address is Edward St.??)  

It has the longest aisle of all the churches in the city, but I didn't walk down it.  It seemed a little ostentatious and quite frankly, ridiculous, to walk over a hundred feet to 40 people waiting for me in the first five pews.  So my mom and dad walked me out of the sacristy to give me away to Russ.  I think (hope!) we tried to focus the Mass on the Sacrament of Matrimony and less on pomp and circumstance.  

Like I said, it's a beautiful church so we didn't do any decorating... in the least.  We were married five days after Easter, so there were plenty of lovely flowers all over the altar - granted there was no color scheme and they were all wrapped in metallic foil wrappers, but somehow we managed not to care!<3!<3!   We saved on decorating! 

Russ bought a suit, tie, and shoes at a department store (probably J. C. Penney, but I don't remember for sure :) ) and he still wears it often.  I on the other hand, haven't had the opportunity to re-use my dress ;)  

Our reception was simple (but hopefully classy, and not dumpy??)  It was at a restaurant at the Lake Erie Basin Marina.  The room we were in overlooked the water!  There were just 25 of us - we all sat at one table for dinner.  There were no seating cards, or table numbers, or charts, or anything.  It was sit where you like and move when you want to :)  It was a buffet.  I don't even remember what was on the menu except one salad that had dried cranberries, goat cheese, and candied pecans.  I think I had several helpings of that salad!  There was no bar, but my dad worked for a liquor wholesale company at the time, and one of my parents' gifts to us was a couple cases of red and white Blackstone wine.  (get it?!?)  We also had a champagne toast.  My parents also generously paid for a four piece "band" (for lack of a better word) because there was no way I was going to have a DJ at my wedding.  (If the band couldn't have made it, I'd have just brought my CD player and a whole lot of Sinatra and Sam Cooke!)  Anyway, the band -- they were musicians I'd known my whole life since my dad had played in a dance band with them for years.  They felt more like guests than "the band."   We had an impromptu "first dance" so that everyone else could get out on the dance floor.  (I do regret a little that I don't remember what song it was...) 

There was no tossing of garters, bouquets, rice, or confetti, but there was a lot of "talent" happening, as over the half the guests sat in with the band - whether singing or on an instrument... because that's just the type of crowd it was :)  

that's my dad on the clarinet and my great aunt singing :)
One of my sisters made the cake as a gift.  It was taaaaaasty!  (And we did save the top to eat a year later.  We went with tradition and convention on that one...)  

The morning after the wedding, my family was very generous with their time (and treasure ;) ) in preparing a lovely brunch for all the guests who had been at the wedding.  It was so delightful to be with everyone in my family's home, to converse and share with the wedding guests, to be casual and celebratory at the same time, to sip mimosas :)

And that was it. 

If anyone was unhappy with our small and simple wedding decisions, they didn't say so.  (Except, I do recall Russ' best friend and best man encouraging me to walk down the aisle so that Russ would have the experience of seeing his bride that way, but I just couldn't do it...)   We made our decisions to suit our budget and our personal preferences, while at the same time, trying to offer courtesy and honor to the guests who were with us as well as those who weren't guests.  (I admit, sometimes it was tricky.)  

Looking back, there is nothing that I would change.  Our wedding was a little different, but it was so "us."  I think it was the best start to our life together as the married Russ and Theresa.  Since the small and simple wedding was so reflective of who we were (and still are), it felt like our married life flowed very naturally from that "beginning."  

How about you?  Did you do anything at your wedding that was "different" that you loved and wouldn't change?  

*   *   *   *   *   *

FAQ'a about our wedding 
(some of them are actual questions people have asked... some are things I imagine people have asked me :)  )

Why did you get married on April Fool's Day?  We were married on Friday, April 1, 2005.  No joke.  We chose that day because it was the first available day after Easter that year.  In general, the Church does not permit weddings (or baptisms) during Lent, so as soon as Lent was over, we got hitched :)

Did you really wear a watch at your wedding?  Yes I did.  I wear a watch every day, so it never occurred to me that that might be weird when I put it on that morning.  I didn't even think twice about it until a friend mentioned it after the Mass.  Like I said, the wedding was really just us being us and us not trying to be not us...  hm.

Did your maid of honor really wear a black dress?  Yes.  My made of honor was one of my lovely sisters.  I told her she could wear anything she wanted and she chose (fabulously, I might add) to wear the dress that our mom wore for her own stateside wedding reception!  (She and my dad had their own unconventional wedding in Paris <3 )

Do you have any regrets at all about the wedding or reception?  I do.  My grandfather died 13 months after our wedding and month before his first great grandchild was born.  I wish that I had danced with him more at the reception and that I had a photo of him and me (and maybe Russ) from the wedding.  He and his wife were a really special part of our dating story, as they lived only 2 hours from Steubenville and we visited them often.  He was an avid Star Trek fan and he never had to twist Russ' arm to "watch an episode" with him :)  My grandfather was retired military, a retired police office, and a retired instructor from the Ohio Police Officers Training Academy --  When I first brought Russ to their house, my Grandpa ran Russ' Texas license plates and had some of his law enforcement contacts do a background check on this guy hanging out with his granddaughter.  Russ checked out, and he and my grandfather had a lovely friendship for the next two years!  After his cancer diagnosis that fall, my grandpa was give less than a year to live, so he was one of the first people we told when we were expecting again (this would have been Aaron - after we had had one miscarriage).  Equally special, we spent our first anniversary with him and his wife (my mom was there also) and shared our saved wedding cake-top with them!  That was the last time I saw him.  

Here's a picture of Russ, my grandfather, and me about 5 months before he died.  We are standing next to his Star Trek ornament Christmas tree <3  

Weather in Buffalo is pretty unpredictable in April.  Was the weather good for your wedding?  Our wedding day was cool-ish, warm-ish and sunny.  

The next morning, the morning of the brunch, Russ and I woke up to a strange grating sound outside our hotel window.  It was a snow plow!  It snowed that day and the next, and some of our guests were actually stranded on the Interstate while trying to get home on the 2nd.  (Incidentally, that was the April 2nd that John Paul II died.  We were so pre-occupied with wedding and honeymoon stuff, I don't think we heard about it until we returned from our trip.)

Where did you go on your honeymoon?  We went to Hawaii.  That was a budget affair too.  Like I said, we don't do debt.  Russ had frequent flier miles that got us to the islands and back for free!  Just so you don't think I'm a total stick in the mud, I biked down a volcano there.  I stood at the top, looked into the crater, then got on a bike and zoomed down :)  My sons think that's pretty awesome stuff.  

Is there anything you wish was different about your honeymoon?  Yes, but that's another post for another time :)  

Anything else you're dying to know??  I can't even believe I've written this much.  This post is over <3  
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