This is not a wedding blog.

Two posts in one night? Must be a new semester is coming. Maybe if I post often enough now, I can justify orphaning my blog for the next four months….

M.L. and I got ourselves engaged over winter break (enter whooping and hollerin’ family members, popping bottles of champagne, and utterly incoherent squealing on the phone from long-distance friends). It’s going to be a long-ish engagement, so we’re trying not to plan too much yet. Still, it was hard to resist the call of venues, photographers, and quirky DIY projects over the break, so we did some leg work on practical things like…a budget. It was good to begin planning, especially with M.L. teaching twelve time zones away, so we can move things along once he’s home again in the summer.

The happy couple eagerly awaiting Ethiopian food over break. Yes.

That being said, I’ve promised myself (and M.L. and a great number of family and friends who better hold me to it) I will not be consumed by the wedding. I will not let every conversation drift towards bouquets and boutonnieres. I will not neglect relationships, in all their depth, in favor of bridal blogs. And I will not blog about every detail of the wedding. True story. I might post pictures and DIY links and interesting details on occasion, but I really don’t want that to be the focus here. Life is, after all, much, much grander than even the most elegant wedding.

One of the wisdom filled pieces of the internet that’s keeping me in check is 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding. The story is amazing. Instead of starting with the details, Sara and her now-husband Matt sat down and wrote out a beautiful vision for their wedding. (You can read their story here.) They refused to get caught up in what they call the “wedding-industrial complex” (apropos, yes?) and instead opted to focus on their love for one another and their desire to party-hearty with their honored guests. They certainly had some fabulous details – like ‘get to know me’ name tags, a margarita machine, and (yes!) boxed wine – but the little things were never the point.

I want to plan a wedding with as much grace and laughter and calm and love for others as it looks like they did. With as little concern for the details and as much focus on relationships, before, during and after the wedding. Inspiration, indeed.

Gratitude: Not Grousing

My motto for this season of Lent. I’m fasting something, as I usually do, but this year I also want to be disciplined about adding something to life. It’s so easy for me to complain about my finicky car (whose latest trick was to lose its oil cap 90 miles from home), my distance from loved ones (between 300 and 400 miles), and the amount of school work I have to do (three papers and two presentations in two weeks). (See, I told you it was easy.) And I don’t want to dismiss or ignore the parts of life that are difficult. But I do want to recognize what is good about life, and there is plenty. From just this weekend, I am grateful for all of the big things that seem cliché but are the most important parts of life:

Oh Mom...

1.) Family. My mom and grandparents are so wonderful and are always ready to assist me with whatever I need, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Honestly, their generosity is astounding and it’s hard to keep myself from being simply overwhelmed by their love.

K.C. and me in beautiful Western NY on a summer gallivant.

2.) Friends. Of all sorts and varieties. On the drive back to school yesterday I caught myself complaining (yes, out loud to myself) about how unfair it is that we’re all scattered. I had to check myself by remembering the privilege of attending the birthday party of one now-twenty-three L.J. in Buffalo this weekend and was so thrilled to share in the festivities and conversation that surrounded her day. I also had the chance to eat and talk and pray and laugh and watch movies with the wonderful K.C., who I’d adopt as a sister if there was a way to do it. And then there was the time with M.L., who holds the unique place of much-loved boyfriend in my life. Seriously, time with each of these people was so refreshing; it seems so wretched to complain about not having more time with them instead of being grateful for a whole weekend full of dear people.

Oh yes. Whistles and nudges are appropriate. We're this cute.

3.) A car that runs and traffic jams that end. My housemate rightfully refers good old Hermes as a “death bucket” sometimes. He has a special knack for breaking down and just not handling the longer trips well. But yesterday, I didn’t run out of gas in the middle of stop and go traffic on Route 80, the brakes worked the whole time, I didn’t get run over by an 18-wheeler, and the stop only added twenty-five minutes to my trip. That’s a mundane miracle, if I may use the word so loosely, if ever there was one.

The trusty steed.

4.) For work to do. I get paid to read books, write papers, and talk about things I love. And I still complain? Honestly…

Et tu? What are you grateful for? Or grousing about? Both are valid, I’m just working on a balance during this season of life.

Ava’s Song

Just because I love my niece and she turns me into a complete sap.  There are  not many human beings I go completely mushy over, but she does it to me every time…

I’m in love.

With this little one!  Meet Ava Grace Bennett, born June 5th, 6 lbs and 12 oz, 19 inches long and every bit of her just lovely.  Her Mom and Dad (yes, that Dad is my little brother) are of course pleased as punch and I’m going to have some serious competition for spoiling her from all of the proud grandparents and great-grandparents.  Welcome to the world, dear peanut!

My niece!